Casey’s Last Chance by Skye Michaels
The Golden Dolphin, Dodge Island, The Port of Miami, Miami, Florida, August 23, 2014—Saturday morning, day twenty-three and final day of the Panama Canal cruise
Con was extremely glad that this Panama Canal cruise was over. He was anxious to get home. It didn’t help that Alex Dragados, his best friend and second officer, had been riding him over the entire cruise about the fact that he and Casey Campbell had had a falling out that he’d been unable to bridge. Casey, who had bottomed for Con for the first three Dolphin cruises, took exception to the excessive attention he paid to Barbee Baxter on the singles cruise. When he looked back on his behavior, he realized he could have handled it better—much better. Con knew that Alex only had his best interests at heart, but he could be a pain in the ass.
* * * *
Casey was anxious to close up shop. The passengers had all departed the ship. It was almost four o’clock, and Con had left hours ago. She was to join him at the condo he and Alex shared on Biscayne Boulevard nearly across from the entrance to the port. She knew that Alex had also left shortly after Con. None of them had been home since before the Alaska cruise in the beginning of July. She packed a small overnight case with cosmetic necessities, two bathing suits, some shorts and tops, and one dress with a pair of killer shoes just in case they went out. She didn’t know what plans Con had for the weekend, but she was sure a good portion of their time would be spent in bed—no clothes needed. She grinned.
She made her way to the port entrance, turned onto Biscayne Boulevard, spotted Con and Alex’s high-rise building several blocks up the street, and made her way in that direction. She parked in the underground parking garage and took the elevator up to the twentieth floor.
* * * *
Con was pacing the huge kitchen of the condo he and Alex had bought out of foreclosure at the lowest point of the real estate crash. It had had a killer view over the Port of Miami, Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, and out to the ocean. Con perched on a barstool at the granite island. “Where the hell is Casey? She should have been here at least an hour ago.”
Alex took a swallow of beer and looked up from the fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, and baby squid he was cleaning for a huge bowl of ceviche he and Baylee were preparing for the preseason football game on Sunday afternoon. Baylee Baxter, Barbee Baxter’s twin sister, had flown down from New York to spend a few days with Alex. She was busy chopping onions, garlic, cilantro, and juicing limes for the acid sauce that would marinate the fish overnight in the refrigerator. “Chill, man. You know last minute shit always comes up, and she is the one who usually has to deal with it. She’ll be here.”
“I know. Just anxious.” Con had spent two hours trying to relax at the rooftop pool and wishing Casey was there with him. He was looking forward to this weekend with her in his own home and not in a theme room or the dungeon. That was all fun, but having Casey at home with him was different. He rarely brought women home. He preferred to go to their place or just see them onboard or at a club. Since he spent so much time away, home was special to him, and he wanted Casey there to share it with him. He hadn’t been able to sort out what this actually meant for the long-term. He just knew it was what he wanted now, but he could still feel that she didn’t quite trust him.
When the doorbell rang, Baylee had just dried her hands and put the bowl of dressing aside. “My hands are dry. I’ll get it.” She walked to the carved mahogany double doors in the foyer and opened one of them. “Hi, Casey. Good to see you.”
* * * *
Casey stared at the woman opening the door in shock. Barbee Fucking Baxter. She couldn’t believe her eyes. What the fuck is she doing here? She hesitated a moment and made a decision. “Hi. I’m just dropping this off for Con. Please give it to him.” She rooted around in her tote and handed Barbee a manila envelope that had grocery receipts she had already entered into her laptop spreadsheet—anything to have an excuse to turn around and leave. She couldn’t go through this again. It was her worst nightmare, and she was wide awake. She handed the envelope to Barbee, who looked more than a little confused, and turned back toward the elevator.
Casey walked to the elevator, which was still open, turned to the control panel, and punched the button for the parking garage. She had to hold it together. She would be back in her car in minutes, and then she would be out of here. She didn’t know what she would do, but she wasn’t going to hang around here. Son of a bitch. He’d done it to her again. By the time she got to the parking level and trotted to her car she had made up her mind. She would return to the ship, get her bag, and go to the airport. She might be able to get on a flight to Chicago on standby. She was usually able to work those little transportation miracles for passengers, why not for herself? Her fondest wish was to be out of here.