Preface: To my readers, thanks for all the feedback and encouragement you give me. I hope you like this one.
Thank you to my friend PapaKilo14 for editing this and many of my other stories. He makes them readable. He keeps me on track and all the mistakes are mine.
Sydney was just ten miles from home when her day went suddenly south. She had Mumford and Sons on the stereo and she was singing her heart out. It had been a long drive and a long day. She felt like she had signed a million books and she saw the sign; Pensacola, 10 miles. There was something in the road ahead. It looked like an animal. As she got closer she noticed the familiar sight of a dead armadillo. It was right in the middle of her lane and she was meeting a car. There was nowhere to go so she just straddled it with her car. There was a horrible thump and she thought that she was glad it was already dead. She hated to hit animals! When she heard the ominous thump, thump, thump, she revised her thoughts.
"Stupid armadillo," she thought. "If that thing tore up my car I'm going back to run it over again!"
She thought for a few minutes that it had gotten hung under her car, but the thumping didn't go away. She sighed and turned off her IPod. There was a wide shoulder ahead and she pulled off. Sydney loved her car. She had a two year old Dodge Charger RTS; black with the big hemi. She took meticulous care of it and now she was worried. She got out and knelt beside it, looking under it to see if she could detect anything hanging down. The asphalt hurt her bare knees and it was very hot. She couldn't see anything. She had roadside assistance on her insurance policy and she was looking for the number on her card when she heard the noise of a diesel engine pull up behind her and shut down.
She looked out and saw a red pickup truck with some sort of logo on the side. It was pulling a trailer that had what looked like steel beams on it. A huge man got out. He had red hair and a red beard and he looked very intimidating. She thought about getting her tazer out but he was probably just being helpful. She got out and stood up. He stopped at the back of her car. That reassured her a little and she smiled at him.
"Hey, little lady, are you having problems with your car?" he asked.
His voice was the deepest she had ever heard. She imagined that if a bear could speak, this was what it would sound like. She was still a little uncertain and he sensed that she was afraid of him.
"I know I look scary," he told her. "I won't come any closer. Is everything OK?"
She laughed nervously. "No, I hit a stupid armadillo back there and now my car is making this thumping sound!"
"You want me to take a look?" he asked.
"I'd appreciate it very much," she told him.
"You get back in and lock your door so you feel safe," he told her. "Where is the sound coming from?"
"From the front," she said.
"Ok, I'll just take a look. You get back in now."
She slid back in gratefully and locked the door. He seemed like a really nice guy. He was just so big!
He walked past the door and she saw him disappear down in front. He was down there for a couple of minutes before he stood back up. He motioned for her to roll her window down.
"There's a plastic shield apron torn loose under your car," he called. "It isn't a big deal, but it's noisy because it's vibrating in the wind from you driving. It's rubbed on the pavement a little and you're going to have to replace it. It's a dumb design. I'll get some duct tape and tape it back up so you can drive it. Where are you going?"
"Pensacola," she told him. "I live there."
"Me too," he told her. "We'll just tape it up and I'll follow you to your exit to make sure you get there."
"Thank you so much," she said. "I was just about to call a tow truck."
"No need for that," he laughed. "I'll fix you up temporarily. You can get home and get it fixed tomorrow."
He went back to his truck and came back with a roll of duct tape. He disappeared again and she made up her mind and got out. She walked around and watched him.
"Decided I'm harmless?" he chuckled.
"Yes. You're too nice to be afraid of," she said. "What's your name?"
"Logan," he told her. "Logan Thomas. You got a name?"
"It's Sydney Tate," she told him.
"That's a pretty name for a pretty girl," he said.
He stripped tape off and stuck it up under her car. He did it a dozen times and wiggled out. When he stood up she realized just how big he was.
"You're a big guy, Logan," she told him.
"I get that a lot," he laughed. "You're a pretty tall girl yourself, Sydney."
"Not next to you," she said. "Logan, I want to pay you for stopping to help me."
"Now you're going to make me mad," he told her. "See this red hair? That means I've got quite a temper, so we'll just forget you said that."
"I feel like I owe you," she said.
"You don't, but I'll let you buy me a cup of coffee," he said.
"OK," she said. "There's a Starbuck's at my exit. I'll get you a cup of good coffee."
"It's a deal." He held out a big hand that looked like a shovel to Sydney. He noticed that it was black and grimy from being under her car and he drew it back with a laugh. "Don't guess you want that on you."
"Well, it shows a lot more on you than it would me," she smiled.
"You mean on account of I'm so white and you're not?" he grinned.
"Exactly," she said.
"Well, I suppose they have a restroom at Starbuck's and I'll just wash up. You ready?"
She was and they got back in their vehicles. She pulled out and he pulled in behind her. She breathed a sigh of relief when the thumping sound made no appearance. She kept to the speed limit and when she came to her exit he pulled off too. He had to park in the back of the lot to find a place for his trailer and she waited for him. They walked in together and he went away to the restroom to wash his hands.
She ordered herself a cappuccino and when he got back he ordered a triple espresso. She paid and they took their cups to a booth. She had never heard anyone order a triple espresso before and she was intrigued.
"What does that taste like?" she asked.
He offered her his cup and she sipped a little. It made her shiver and he laughed. "It's an acquired taste," he laughed. "Lots of long hours cramming for tests at the last minute."
"Why didn't you study earlier?" she asked.
"Well, two reasons," he said. "I'm a procrastinator and there was always practice or a game that got in the way."
"Football?" she guessed.
"Volleyball," he said.
She gaped at him and he burst out laughing. "Yes, football. I got you there, Sydney."
She laughed. "I just thought I was sitting across the table from the biggest liar in Florida! You are tall enough though. Do you know; I actually did play volleyball in college?"
"I believe it," he said. "You look very athletic."
"Thanks," she smiled at him. "Thank you for helping me too."
"It was my pleasure," he told her. "I'm very glad to meet you Sydney."
"So, what do you do?" she asked him. "I saw metal beams on your trailer."
"That's what I do; metal," he told her. "I build metal buildings. I sell metal to people that are builders or people that want to build their own building. Anything metal, I've got it. You don't need a metal building do you, Sydney?"
"Would you build me a garage?" she asked. "I just have a carport and I'd like a garage to keep my car in."
"That's pretty small for me," he told her, "but we're friends, right? Sure, I'll build you a garage."
"How much would it cost?" she asked.
"I'll build it for cost," he told her. "You pay my guy's labor and I'll charge you what the metal costs me."
"Can you afford to do that?" she asked.
"Yes, I can. Can you afford the metal?"
"Is it really expensive?" she asked.
"No, it's the cheapest garage you can build," he said. "Are you on a tight budget?"
"No, I just signed a pretty good book deal," she said. "This is my third book and I'm selling a lot of them."
"You're a writer!" he exclaimed. "How cool is that? Will you give me one of your books?"
"I'll even sign it for you," she said. "It should be worth at least, say, 25 dollars!"
They both laughed for a long time. "Well, I know a famous author," he said.
"Yes and I know a guy that's a whizz with duct tape," she giggled. "He's also a very nice guy. You were pretty scary when I first saw you, Logan."
"Yeah, but I'm a gentle giant," he said. "That was always my problem in football. I just wasn't mean enough unless someone pissed me off. I really do have a temper; it just takes a lot to get me going."
She shivered. "I wouldn't like to see that. I can imagine. Listen, Logan. I've got to get home. Will you give me your number so I can call you about the garage?"
He gave her a business card. "Husband anxiously waiting?" he asked.
"No, I'm not married," she said. "I do have a boyfriend though. He isn't waiting or anything. We don't live together or anything like that. Why am I telling you this?"
"I have an extraordinarily honest face," he said. "People find themselves telling me things."
"I'll bet," she said. "We'll see how honest you are when I get the bill for the garage. Will I see you there?"
"I doubt it, Sydney; I've got a couple of big jobs to work on. This is kind of going to be a when I get around to it thing. I have a pretty tight schedule but I'll work it in, I promise."
They stood up and he walked her to her car. She hugged him. "Thanks again for helping me, Logan."
"You're quite welcome. Call me about that garage."
He went to his truck and she drove home. She felt a little odd. She thought about him a lot as she was getting ready for bed. He was a very unusual guy and she realized that she wanted to know more about him. That was very unusual for her. Sydney usually had men swirling around her and she never had any trouble attracting the one she wanted. She looked at herself in the mirror. She was tall and slender with just the right amount of plush to her to make her look very sexy. Her skin was a light brown color, just darker than deeply tanned white people would be. Her eyes were very dark brown, almost black and they were very large and liquid looking. Her nose was aquiline and her mouth was an upside down Cupid's bow. She let her gaze wander down and she could see her full breasts under her camisole. Her nipples were a little erect, making small nubs under the silk and her waist was tiny. Her hips flared and she had a small, tight little butt in her silk panties.
She giggled to herself, thinking what a narcissist she was; admiring herself in the mirror like that. It was Logan's fault! He had made her think like that. When she had asked him if he would be working on her garage she had been hoping he would say yes. When he didn't, it was a bit of a shock to her. Most guys she knew would have said yes just to see her again. Maybe he was married! She hadn't thought about that. Maybe he had a lover and he wasn't interested in other girls. She imagined he would be very loyal if that were the case. He didn't seem like he was gay, so maybe that was it.
She shook her head. She had a boyfriend. She was a little dissatisfied with him though. He was a corporate lawyer and he just seemed a little disingenuous to her, like there was a shell around him she was never able to get through. They had been dating for six months and she didn't feel like she knew him any better than she had after their third date. He was very good looking and the sex had been great at first, but she was finding it harder and harder to get excited about seeing him. She decided she needed to break up with him. Maybe not right away, but unless something changed, she didn't see a future there. She went to bed and read for a while until she was yawning and the words on her screen were blurring. She turned off her light and drifted off. The last thing she thought about was she wondered where Logan lived.
She had a busy day the next day and it was complicated by the fact that her car was in the shop. She had to take a taxi and she hated it. She went out with Ronald that evening and the conversation was lackluster. She remembered how many times Logan had made her laugh over a cup of coffee and she sighed. Ronald wanted to come home with her but she told him she wasn't feeling it. He was a little angry but she didn't care. She went home and got Logan's card out of her purse. She decided she would go and get her car tomorrow and go to his office.
The car turned out not to be a big deal, just like he told her and she drove to the address on his card. There was a large sign that said "Pensacola Supply" over the drive and she was very impressed when she pulled in. There were two huge metal buildings and the grounds must have covered twenty acres. There was metal fencing, rebar in a hundred sizes, wire of all conceivable sizes, shapes and types and fork lifts and utility trucks were everywhere.
When she walked into the office there were half a dozen friendly young people inside that asked her if they could help her. She told them she wanted to see Logan and one beautiful young blonde told her he was in a meeting. She asked if she could wait and the young woman, her name was Julie, got her a cup of coffee. She stirred in cream and sugar and she was almost finished when Julie came to get her.
"Mr. Thomas can see you now," she said. "It's going to have to be quick though. He has another meeting with a contractor in ten minutes."
Julie led her up the stairs and to the end of a hall. There was art on the walls and it didn't look commercial. The carpet was nice and Julie knocked on the door. She stuck her head in.
"Someone to see you, Logan. I think it's personal. She doesn't smell like a contractor."
She heard his deep bass chuckle and Julie showed her in. His jaw dropped a little when he saw Sydney. He jumped up and came around his desk to pull her up a chair.
"My God! It's Sydney! Hey pretty lady, what are you doing here?"
"Well," Sydney blushed a little. She didn't know if he could tell, but she rebuked herself sternly. She wasn't some sophomore! "I need a garage and I was told you might be my guy."
"Well hell, who told you that?" he pretended astonishment. "I only build skyscrapers!"
She laughed. "Looking at your place here I believe that, Logan. You didn't tell me you were a tycoon."
That tickled him. "Hey, Sydney; I have an idea," he said. "I've got one more meeting this morning. I'll give her the brush off. I don't like her anyway. Then I'll take you to lunch. Would you hang out for twenty minutes or so? I promise I won't take long. I'll make Julie entertain you."
"Don't do that," she said. "I'm sure she has something to do. I'll just get another cup of coffee and read a magazine or something. Where will you take me?"
"Do you eat meat?" he asked.
"Yes, do I look like I wouldn't?"
"Well, no; but you never know. I'll take you to the Tin Cow."
"I've never heard of it."
"You're in for a treat then. They have the best burgers in town. They have all kinds of high end bar food. I can't eat there very often, but when a friend shows up you don't worry about your waistline, right?"
She looked at his belly. He didn't look fat at all, just huge all over.
"You don't look like you have a problem with your waistline," she said.
"Well, looks are deceiving," he chuckled. "If I ate like I want to and was as lazy as I want to be I'd be as fat as a toad in a month. This sculpted body is the result of constant work."
Julie stuck her head in. "Your 11:30 is here."
"Thanks, Jules. Show her back," he said.
Sydney got up and Julie took her back to the office. She pulled up a chair for Sydney next to her desk and got her another cup of coffee.
"How do you know Logan?" she asked.
"I had car trouble and he stopped to help me. I don't really know him very well," Sydney told her. "I think I'd like to though."
"Yeah, me too," Julie said. "I've been working for him since I got out of high school. My brother is a friend of his and he got me the job. What do you do, Sydney?"
"I'm a writer," she said. "I'm kind of new at it. I've only sold three books."
"Wow! I'll buy one if you'll tell me the titles."
Sydney gave her a card with her titles on it. They heard an angry voice coming down the stairs.
"I'll get it from someone else then! Jesus Thomas, you act like you don't care if we do business or not!"
They heard Logan's deep rumble. "You don't give me choice. I bid the job, you don't like my bid. That's OK. You think you can get the same quality somewhere else? That's your choice. I fixed the last job you gave someone else and it was a hell of a mess. It cost me money to do it. I run a business here, not a charity."
"We'll see!" An angry woman stalked past and Logan came down the stairs a few minutes later.
"Haven't you ever heard the customer is always right?" Sydney asked him.
"Not this time," he said. "She called me and she was in a jam. She got some fly by night outfit to put up a building and the inspectors wouldn't pass it. She was losing money every day and I went in and fixed it. Now she wants to do the same thing again. I told her I wasn't interested in cleaning up someone else's mess. If she wants me she should give me the job at my rates to begin with. I've spent enough time with her. Jules, I don't know when I'll be back. Cover for me."
Sydney drove and they went to the Tin Cow. She loved the place and she loved the conversation with Logan. He was very interested in everything about her. He asked about her books and she was surprised to discover that he had read one. She was writing a new novel and he asked her all about it. By the time they were through eating she realized that she still didn't know anything about him. The entire conversation had been about her. This was very unusual in her experience. Most guys she went out with couldn't talk about anything but themselves. She couldn't remember the last time Ronald had asked her a question about her life. His conversation was all about his life.
"Logan, tell me something about you," she said.
"I'm not very interesting," he told her. "I'd rather talk about you."
"That's all we've talked about," she said.
"What do you want to know?" he asked.
"Well, are you married?" she asked.
He held up his big left hand. There was no ring.
"Are you in a relationship?" she asked.
"No, not unless you're going to ask me out," he laughed. "I date, but I haven't met the right girl, I guess."
"What kind of girl would be the right girl?"
"I don't know," he said. "Honestly, I'm not worried about it. I like my life the way it is. If it happens, I'm fine with that but I'm not desperately longing for anything. Tell me about your boyfriend."
"He's an attorney," she said. "Sometimes that's all I think he is. I'm beginning to think his job defines him. It's all he ever talks about. I'm thinking about dumping him. I'm beginning to think I haven't met the right person either. I admire you, Logan. I seem to go from one relationship to another and they're all the same. The guys I've had relationships with don't seem to have lives. They're all about one thing."
"Uh-oh," he said. "Well, I can see why they're like that. You're hot, Sydney."
"No, dummy," she laughed. "Not sex. It's different things. They're all about their job or some sport or music or something. They aren't complete people. Sometimes it's partying or it could be cars or boats. They don't seem to have enough depth to be real people. Maybe I should just be like you. If it happens, it happens. I shouldn't go looking for it."
"Well, if you're not happy on your own, I've never seen how adding another unhappy person to the equation make it any better," he said. "Let's talk about your garage."
She told him what she wanted and showed him a picture of where she wanted it.
"It looks like you're going to need some concrete," he said. "Do you want me to just take care of everything or do you want to get the concrete poured and me to just build it?"
"I want you to do it," she said. "I don't know all the people I'd need."
"Ok, I'll get started when I get back to the office," he said.
They went for a little walk to digest their meal and Sydney slipped her little hand into his big one. He looked down at her and she smiled. "I like you, Logan," she said. "Do you think we can be friends?"
He put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her. "I like you too. You're an interesting girl, Sydney. I'm taking a group of my employees to Shell Island Saturday. Would you like to come? You could bring Ronald."
"I'd love to come, but I won't bring Ronald," she said. "Will Julie be there? I like her."
"Yeah, she's sort of like my kid sister," he said. "I went to high school and college with her brother."
"Do you have any siblings?" she asked.
"Two," he said. "Both sisters and both younger than me. They live in Mobile with my Mom and Dad. You'd like them I think. Hey, I should invite them. We haven't hung out in a month or so."
"That sounds like fun for them," she said. "Will they put a damper on your party?"
"No, they're cool. I'd be more likely to put a damper on theirs. I'm not much of a hard partier, Sydney. If you were thinking of a drunken orgy, this probably isn't your scene. We'll probably play volleyball, hunt for shells, have a few beers and a picnic. They don't let you take much over there and you have to bring back everything you take. It's pretty natural."
She laughed. "Well, a drunken orgy does sound like fun, but I would be out of place. I don't drink that much. I like the feeling while it lasts but puking and waking up with a hangover pretty much cured me of that when I was in college."
"Smart girl," he said. "You want me to pick you up?"
"Sure," she said. "Will that be the first time I see you or will we talk between now and then?"
"I'll send my guys over to look at your place for the garage and then give you a call," he told her.
She took him back to work and went to see her agent. The week passed quickly. On Wednesday two men came and did some measuring at her place and Logan called her on Thursday. He gave her a price that the garage would cost her and it sounded very reasonable to her. Machines came and did dirt work around her place and the crew tore down her carport on Friday morning and concrete trucks poured the slab and driveway extension in the afternoon. They put ribbon around it and she was surprised when Logan showed up. He rang her doorbell and she invited him in. He wouldn't come in but he took her around and they looked at the bare pad. He found a nail and they wrote their names in the new concrete.
"You're just like a big kid," she laughed. "I'm surprised you didn't want to make a handprint."
"I did, but I didn't want to get my hands dirty," he smiled. "I better get going, Sydney. I'll pick you up at ten in the morning, ok?"
When he pulled up Saturday Morning he wasn't driving a truck. He was in a red Trans Am. She loved it right away. It had a deep rumble to the exhaust and she liked the sound and the vibration.
"I love this car," she said when he put her in and stowed her bag in the trunk. "What is it?"
"It's a 1977," he said. "I've done a lot of work on the engine. It's still probably not as quick as your RTS but it feels like it. I've had it since I was seventeen. It keeps breaking and I keep fixing it. I plan to own it forever."
"It's very cool," she said. "How old are you, Logan, if you don't mind my asking?"
"I'm 28," he told her. "You?"
"I'm not as old as you," she said. "I'm over 21 though."
He laughed. "I just answered you, but you didn't tell me. That's not fair, Sydney."
"I'm twenty five," she told him. "Don't you tell anyone."
"The secret of your antiquity is safe with me," he told her.
They drove down to Panama City Beach and there were about twenty people there when they arrived. Two tall, slender young redheaded girls detached themselves from the crowd and came running to throw themselves on him.
"Sydney, these are my little sisters," he told her. "They're both brats but I love them anyway. The one with the brown eyes is Kristen and the one with the blue eyes is Shey. Girls, this is Sydney. She murders armadillos so be careful around her."
They both laughed. "Logan told us about you when he called," Shey told her. "You're even more beautiful than he said you were."
Sydney looked up at him and felt her face get hot. "I said nothing of the sort," he protested.
Kristen punched him. "She was just kidding. We could tell by the sound of your voice you thought so."
"They're mind readers," he shrugged. "Ignore them Sydney. Kris, you talk to the boat guys?"
"Yes, they'll be here in thirty minutes. I gave them your card."
The group rounded up baskets, coolers, and bags and they loaded them onto the boats when they arrived. It was a short run out to the island and the water was beautiful around the beach. Sydney was excited and she saw several people checking her out as she stood at the rail beside Logan. She was used to that a little. She had always felt like more people looked at her because she was black than looked at other people and she accepted that. She knew she looked good too, and that drew even more eyes. She forgot about it. There were three other black people with them; a couple and a girl she had seen at Logan's business.
When they landed they all began to set up umbrellas, spread blankets and towels out and open drinks. Logan had some huge towels and so did his sisters. They spread them out under a big green and white umbrella and began to apply sun screen. Sydney took off her wrap and she had shorts and a cropped undershirt on over a bikini. She dug around in her bag and got out her sun screen.
She felt Logan and the girls watching her as she put it on. "What?" she asked them.
"I didn't think you'd need sunscreen," Shey said.
"You mean because I'm black? I can get just as bad a burn as you can," Sydney laughed. "That's a myth. I would get so black you couldn't see me at night. Black people have a high incidence of skin cancer too."
"I had no idea," Logan said. "Well, we can't have that. You'll have to tell us things like that."
"Don't you have any black friends?" she asked.
"Yes, but they don't go to the beach with me much," he laughed. "We mostly play football and you're covered up. We're gingers and we would look like lobsters if we didn't use heavy sun screen. Well, the girls tan, but I just turn red."
She looked him over. He was very pale. It looked natural on him, she decided. He was the most muscular person she had ever seen in the flesh, so to speak. He wasn't grossly muscular like the body builders on TV, but he had huge ropes running over his body and his veins were very large.
"You weren't kidding about working out, were you?" she said.
"No, I weighed 340 when I was playing football," he told her. "I wanted to lose a lot of weight after I quit. It isn't healthy to weigh that much, but I wanted to stay strong. I kind of had a big belly back then. I played offensive tackle and I wanted to be hard to push around. I'm down to 250 and I plan to lose another ten pounds this summer. Want to soak up some sun or go swimming?"
"Let's find pretty shells," she suggested. "This is Shell Island, after all."
Kris and Shey wanted to lie in the sun and so they strolled off together. Sydney squealed with excitement when they started finding shells she liked right away. She ran back and got a zip lock bag out of her bag and came back. They found sand dollars by the dozens and lots of other pretty shells she put in her bag. "I have a collection," she explained.
She danced from one group to another and she could feel Logan's eyes on her. That made her feel a little embarrassed, as if she were out on her first date, and she liked the feeling. Her bag was almost full by the time she tired of searching and they walked together in the edge of the water, her little feet and his big ones leaving tracks in the sand behind them. She slipped her arm around his waist and he draped his big arm over her shoulders. She felt very tiny beside him and she liked that feeling. She was taller than most women and she had never liked being with men that weren't taller than her.
They walked along, talking and laughing until they had gone quite a way from the group. She peeked up at him and he was looking down at her. "Do you want to swim now?" she asked.
"Sure," he said.
She put down her bag and stripped off her shorts and top. Logan pulled his t-shirt over his head and they looked at one another.
"You're smoking hot, Sydney," he told her. "You know that, don't you?"
"Thanks," she smiled up at him. "You're not so bad yourself, Logan. Let's take our mutual admiration society to the water, shall we?"
He reached out and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her in while she giggled and fought to get away. He picked her up in his arms and carried her squealing and kicking into the water. When he was thigh deep he set her down and they waded out until she could barely stand. They bounced up and down in the gentle swell and he went under. He came up with a shell and there was a hermit crab inside. In a minute he found another for her and they played with them for a long time, just laughing and talking together like a couple of kids. They played in the water for maybe an hour and Logan's sisters came looking for them.
They walked back to the group and Sydney loved the interaction between Logan and his sisters. She had been an orphan and she sensed that Logan's relationship with his little sisters was something she would like to be a part of. She had never had a family and she was deeply envious. The rest of the group had their picnic ready and they ate and played beach volleyball. Logan and Sydney were joined by Kris and Shey and they beat every team the rest of the group could put together. Sydney hadn't played competitively in a few years but she still had most of her old skills and she was the star of the show.
They lay under the umbrella and Sydney got acquainted with Logan's sisters. They were both going to the local Junior College and planned to transfer to Troy University when they graduated from the local college. They wanted to go to school close to their parents and Logan. They had plans and they all seemed to involve their family and staying close to that core. Kris was going to graduate in a few weeks and she was going to live with Logan, at least for a while.
"I love how you guys are all so close," Sydney told her.
"Are you close with your family?" Shey asked her.
"I only have an aunt that I've met a couple of times," Sydney told her. "My parents died when I was 13 and I was raised in foster care."
"Oh, my God," Kristen exclaimed. "I can't believe no one adopted you."
"I didn't really want to be adopted," Sydney explained. "I wanted to remember my parents and not have a lot of emotional baggage from having another set of parents."
"That's so sad," Shey told her. "Logan, we need to adopt her! You can be our sister, Sydney."
Sydney laughed but her heart felt warm. She could tell she was really going to like these girls.
"I was thinking a little differently," Logan told them.
"What?" they both asked in unison.
"None of your business," he laughed. "I don't tell you two everything. You'd blab it all over creation and I'm not ready for that."
"Oh, my God," Kris exclaimed. "He wants you to be his girlfriend, Sydney! He does too tell us everything except stuff like that. This is so cool!"
"See how they are?" Logan laughed. "They have no idea what they're talking about and they blab anyway!"
Sydney could feel her face getting hot. "Yes, I do. We're just friends! I hardly know Logan. He helped me with my car and he's building a garage for me."
"Logan doesn't build garages," Shey told her. "He builds huge buildings and sells metal to people that build garages. He must really like you to build you a garage."
"Logan, do you have some nefarious plan?" Sydney laughed.
"Of course," he said. "I always have nefarious plans. They do not include my big mouthed sisters though."
The boats pulled up at the beach to take them home and the awkward conversation was interrupted. The group dispersed to their cars and Logan kissed his sisters goodbye. They both hugged and kissed Sydney and made a date to spend a day with her the next week. They put the girls in their car and walked back to Logan's car.
He opened her door and she caught his arm. "Logan, let's just sit here in the car and talk for a little while," she asked.
He got in the cooler and got out sodas and a bag of chips and they got in. He turned the stereo on quietly and they opened their pop.
"I'm sorry if the girls embarrassed you," he apologized.
She laughed. "I love your sisters and you don't need to apologize for them," she told him. "I really like you Logan, but I have a boyfriend. I'm not a two-timer. As long as I have one boyfriend I won't have another. We can be friends, but I won't go out with you like that while I'm involved with someone else. I know I'm assuming a lot, but I think you like me too. Do you?"
"I do," he told her. "I respect that you don't want to go on dates with me. I won't ask you. Can we just be friends then? Will you go places with me that aren't dates? I mean, stuff like today where we're part of a group?"
"We don't have to be part of a group," she said. "I just don't want to get romantic, OK? If you ask me to a game or something like that, I'll go; but I don't want anyone to have any reason to think I'm a cheater. Do you understand?"
"Absolutely," he said. "I wasn't going to ask you out. I wouldn't like you much if you went out with me while you were in another relationship."
"I could tell that about you," she said. "That's not why I won't go out with you though. It wouldn't take much when I'm with you to make me a cheater. Don't tempt me, OK?"
"No, I wouldn't," he said. "This is a very awkward conversation. I'm glad we had it but do you want to go drive some go karts?"
They went to drive some miniature open wheel racers and played miniature golf and they had a blast. Sydney was enough lighter than Logan that she could beat him at driving the miniature cars if she paid close attention to her driving and he just laughed when she taunted him. He took her home and she kissed his cheek and went inside. She turned her phone on when she sat down and she had nine new messages. Two were from Ronald and she texted him that she had been at the beach. He wanted to come over but she told him she was really tired. She agreed to go out with him Friday night and she went to bed.
She lay awake a long time. Her brain was buzzing with the day and she was very confused about her feelings for Logan. She couldn't imagine why she felt so strongly attracted to him. She wasn't usually very attracted to white men at all and Logan was one of the whitest guys she had ever met. He was a redhead, for Christ's sake! She had never had a white boyfriend and yet here she was, thinking about one and unable to sleep because of thinking about it. She thought about the way his beard felt against her skin when he was carrying her into the water. It was much softer than she had imagined it would be. She didn't ordinarily like facial hair but it seemed right on Logan. She couldn't imagine him without it.
She remembered how strong he was. He had picked her up like a baby and Sydney was a big girl. She weighed nearly 140 pounds and she was six feet tall but she felt tiny around him. She liked that feeling. She loved his sisters and the easy familiarity they showed with each other. She found herself imagining what his parents must be like. Her thoughts turned to Ronald and she compared him to Logan. Her thoughts weren't flattering to her boyfriend. She didn't want to seem as if she were dumping him to be with Logan. That's exactly what she wanted to do, but she felt guilty. She had little respect for people that found a better deal and dumped the person they were with for that deal. She was going to give Ronald another chance. It wasn't like they were married. They really didn't have any formal relationship at all. They had never really talked about it. That was another thing. He just took it for granted that she would be available without really asking her what she thought.
She wondered what she would say if he asked her to marry him. How would she have felt about it two weeks ago before she met Logan and how had that changed since? She really didn't know the answer and it bothered her that she didn't. She finally fell asleep and when she woke up she had a headache. She puttered around the house all morning, drinking coffee and taking Ibuprophen until her headache was gone. She worked on her book for an hour and Ronald texted and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner. She agreed and he told her another couple from work would be joining them. That upset her a little and she was tempted to tell him she didn't want to go.
It turned out to be really boring. Ronald and the other guy talked about work the whole time and Sydney was forced to try to entertain herself with the conversation of the other woman. She was not a stimulating auditor. Her conversation was laced with text speak, which Sydney hated, and anecdotes of her business, interior decorating, which Sydney also loathed. She could feel her headache coming back. Ronald evidently admired the couple because he talked about them the whole way back to Sydney's house. She invited him in and got them a glass of wine. Ronald wanted to get romantic and she wanted to talk.
"Ronald, I need to talk to you seriously," she told him. "I'm confused about our relationship."
"What do you mean?" he asked. "What is there to be confused about?"
"Where do you see us in five years?" she asked.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he responded. "Are we supposed to have some five year plan or something?"
"Or something," she said. "Are we just going to go to dinner, or are we going somewhere?"
"I didn't know you wanted anything else," he said.