“Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Ocean Quest Gourmet. Luxury diving at a cost that a vacation diver can afford.” She continued moving through some more images, ending on one of a beautiful sunset.
“Can you picture that? A place where a diver can enjoy all the wonders of the ocean and then relax with a delicious meal and cocktails?”
“I’d do it!” Maddy grinned. “Obviously not the cocktail part now, but when I’m not pregnant.”
Carly nodded, and I started to hand out the prospective information she’d put together.
Colin leaned forward in his seat. “Carly, this is a genius idea, but where do you think you’re going to find all that money? That’s a lot of zeroes.”
She smiled sheepishly. “I was hoping you could help.”
“I can’t come up with that kind of money, Carly. I can maybe swing thirty percent.” He turned to Maddy. “That is if my future wife agrees.” Maddy nodded enthusiastically.
Colin sighed. “You know I hate saying no to you, but I don’t think we can do more.”
Kim studied the papers. “I can contribute some. Maybe 5-10%. I think this is a fantastic idea.”
Carly’s jaw dropped as she looked at her sister. “What? You want to invest?”
“Absolutely. I’m really impressed.”
Carly looked at me, and I shrugged.
“Excuse me, I hope you don’t mind the intrusion, but the door was unlocked.”
We all turned to look at Max.
“Max? What are you doing here?” Carly twirled her hair nervously.
“I’ve been thinking this over since yesterday. I think this could be the perfect investment for me.”
“What?” It was my turn to show surprise. “You want in?”
“I’ll do 49%. That way you guys still run the show. I’ll want updates, and I expect you kids to view this as the serious business venture it is.”
“Of course. This is amazing.” Carly sat perched on the arm of the couch.
“I like the business model. I like the plan. You obviously have the chef already,” he nodded to Brody. “I’d like to be present when you negotiate the deal. I happen to know your boss well, Macon, and I have a feeling he’d listen to me more.” He turned to Carly. “No offense to your hard work.”
“None taken.” She beamed.
He walked over and shook her hand. “Great. It looks like we’re going into business.”
We had a business. Max was right, his presence did help seal the deal, and with only a small loan to make up the difference, we were the proud owners of Ocean Quest Gourmet. We were starting small, using the off-season to get everything perfect for the next summer. Maddy was going to be working in the business as well, she wanted to run the front of the updated shop. Considering the shop would now house a bar near the dock, she was the perfect one for the job. Brody was busy brainstorming ways to bring gourmet food on the boat, and Macon had successfully convinced all of the current employees to stay on—except for Caleb. He’d happily taken his part of the sale money and left the beach behind. Hopefully he wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
Kim had gone home to have it out with Jasper. I felt for her. No matter how much of a jerk he was, telling him it was over wouldn’t be easy. Sometimes my sister could be stubborn as hell and could push my buttons, but she was still my sister. I made sure she knew the door was always open. I might have been the youngest, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t there for my family.
Labor Day came and went, and I found myself looking forward to the off-season. I didn’t mind the tourists, and I loved the warm weather, but I was looking forward to the quiet. It would also make for an easier transition from working at the Grille to working at Ocean Quest. Working through the rest of the high season was part of the deal we struck with Max.
Macon and I headed out for a late night walk. Being out on the beach at night always reminded me of the night that changed everything for us. I still replayed every moment of it in my head, and it never failed to put a huge smile on my face. When I first arrived in Corolla my life was a mess. I was the boat that kept slamming into the rocks no matter how hard I tried to steer. But then everything changed, and I knew Macon had a large part to do with that.
I was thinking about it when Macon pulled me out of my thoughts.
“I have to ask you something important.” Macon stuffed his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts. The moon was full, casting an ethereal glow over the beach.
“What is it?” I tried to stay calm, but I hoped he wasn’t about to do something crazy. I loved Macon, and the thought of spending my life with him made my heart soar, but we weren’t ready for that level of commitment yet. I thought over what I’d say. I couldn’t say no without ruining everything.
“Will you move in with me?”
“What?” I breathed a sigh of a relief. “But I already live with you.”
“Yeah, but the last time I asked it wasn’t to share my bed. Besides, I thought it would be funny to make you think I was proposing.”
I pushed his arm. “How do you know I’m not disappointed?”
“Because when I do propose, which I will be doing at some point, love, you’re not going to have that freaked out expression on your face. It’s going to seem so natural that you don’t even have to consider the answer.”
“And here I thought you weren’t super confident.”
“I’m not about everything, but I am about you and me. I’ve never been more confident about anything in my life.”
“Then, the answer is yes.”
“The answer to what?” He gave me a confused look.
“I’ll move in with you.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.” He pulled me into his arms, and his lips crushed into mine. I devoured the earthy and slightly salty taste of his mouth. Macon had every reason to be confident.
Sometimes love is best served on the rocks, especially when it’s the kind of love that changes you forever.