Authors: Helen Brenna
Tags: #An Island To Remember
“Better late than never,” he mumbled as the adrenaline he’d been running on finally fizzled. His legs fell out from under him. He hit the wall, keeled over and collapsed onto the porch floor.
“Jonas? Jonas.” Her hands touched his chest. Nice, soft hands. Hands that spread warmth all the way to his limbs. Hands he’d dreamed of more than he cared to remember.
I can’t believe this is already the fourth in the Mirabelle series. It seems like just yesterday I was writing about Sophie and Noah, and Mirabelle’s islanders were still a mystery to me.
When Missy first appeared in Garrett and Erica’s story, I had no clue she’d once been married. But when Natalie came to the island in the third Mirabelle book, Missy’s story started taking shape. Trust me. Jonas was as much a surprise to me as he was to Missy. That timing thing really does make life interesting!
My next book, due out in November, is Kate Dillon’s story. Some of you might remember her as the feisty younger sister in
Finding Mr. Right.
She and a certain bodyguard have some issues to figure out and it should be fun!
And with any luck you’ll have three more Mirabelle stories to look forward to in 2011. I think Sarah is due for her own story, don’t you?
I love hearing from readers, and I answer all correspondence. So drop me an e-mail at [email protected], or send your letter to P.O. Box 24107, Minneapolis, MN 55424.
1425—DAD FOR LIFE
1519—FINDING MR. RIGHT
1582—FIRST COME TWINS
1594—NEXT COMES LOVE
1606—THEN COMES BABY
FROM THE OUTSIDE
“I think they’re cool.” Brian, Sarah’s young son, went to stand beside Missy near the front of the store.
Together, they peered through the droplet-spattered windows overlooking the center of Mirabelle Island’s old-world quaintness. Other than an odd tourist or two caught unprepared in the sudden downpour and running from under one green-and-white awning to the next, the cobblestone streets were deserted. Slim, the black, short-haired cat Missy had rescued many years ago, rubbed against her leg, and she scooped him up.
Another bright and fiery flash lit the sky, and Brian grinned at Missy. “That was awesome!”
“Totally. It means we’re going to have lots of wind tonight,” she predicted, scratching the cat’s ears. “And a hotter than normal summer.”
“How do you know?” Brian asked, his eyes wide and round and oh, so innocent.
“I just know.” She winked. Where would be the fun in explaining her predictions came straight from Zuni weather lore?
“Missy can predict the future,” Sarah said, grinning.
“Tell my future!” Brian held out his hand. “Read my palm. Please, please, please!”
Missy glared good-naturedly at Sarah. Sarah may have beaten Missy to Mirabelle by a few months, but it seemed the two had been destined to become best friends. Not only were their businesses located side by side on Main Street, but, most important, they’d both seemed lost in the world. That is, before they’d found Mirabelle and each other.
“Bri, hon,” Missy said, shaking her head, “no one can tell the future from someone’s palm.” She’d learned that the hard way.
“You can. I’ve heard you talking about it with Mom. There’s a life line and a line that tells you how rich you’re going to be and—”
“Okay, already.” Missy laughed. Setting Slim back down, she took the little boy’s hand and ran her fingers along his palm, pretending to concentrate. “I see…hmm, that’s interesting.”
“Oh, she’s pretty.”
“A girl? I don’t want to know about girls.” He cringed. “I wanna know if I’m going to be a pitcher for the Twins.”
“Baseball?” She shook her head. “Trust me. Love’s more important.”
Brian pulled back his hand and rolled his eyes. “
more important than baseball.”
“If only that would last.” Sarah shook her head. “Do you want us to stay and visit with you while you eat?”
Given the bad weather, Sarah had only one or two customers shopping for flowers the entire day, so she’d closed up a little early to be with Brian. As the island wedding planner, Sarah was smack-dab in the middle of her busiest time of the year. Even so, knowing Missy was stuck alone in her store until closing, she’d dropped off a tomato mozzarella salad from Duffy’s Pub.
“You and Bri take off,” Missy said. “I don’t want you to be late for your movie.”
“You’ll be okay here?”
“It’ll be quiet.” She smiled. “A good night to get some things done.”
She could make several chakra bracelets or dust a few shelves or simply sit and enjoy the thunderstorm with a cup of herbal tea. It would be lonely, but Missy had grown used to being alone. At least that’s what she told herself every day. She glanced at Brian and the ache that had steadily grown stronger over the past several years pierced her heart like a jagged spear.
As if Sarah had read Missy’s thoughts, she gently touched her son on the shoulder. “Brian, go use Missy’s bathroom before we take off.” After the little boy had dashed toward the rear of the store, Sarah cautiously asked, “Any news on the adoption front?”
More than anything in the world Missy wanted a child, but it seemed the one thing in the world she couldn’t make happen. For now she’d have to settle for Slim. As if sensing her sudden turn of emotion, the cat wove himself around her legs. Slim may have had free rein of Mirabelle, running in and out of his kitty doors at will, but he usually chose to stick by her side.
“Actually.” Missy picked up the cat again. Holding him, petting his soft fur, always calmed her. “Barbara called earlier today to tell me she’s hopeful about a new match.”
“That’s great! Why didn’t you say something earlier?”
Because Missy’s representative at the adoption agency had been
about the past five matches and they, too, had gone absolutely nowhere. Years ago, after the agency had explained that a stable, safe, supportive community would be essential, Missy had decided to settle here on the island. How could there be a better place on this earth to raise a child than Mirabelle? But, as it turned out, place hadn’t been enough to tip the adoption scales in favor of a single young woman.
“I was afraid I’d jinx the deal by getting my hopes up,” Missy said softly, unable to keep the disappointment from her voice.
“Maybe you should reconsider the alternatives?”
After a great deal of thought, Missy had decided to go the private adoption route. She’d finally found the right agency, filled out all the necessary applications and paperwork, and gone through the grueling home study process. “I’m not switching horses midstream.”
“I’m talking about the old-fashioned route. You know. Man, woman, marriage, child.”
“Not an option.” Missy shook her head. “I met the one true love of my life, and we both know how that turned out.” She believed in Fate changing lives, always had, but over the years she’d come to accept that every once in a while Fate managed to screw up.
“Well, there’s a certain someone on the island who seems darned close to wanting you to reconsider.”
Sean Griffin. Sarah had to be referring to the new doctor. “We’re friends, Sarah. That’s all.”
“Well, if Natalie can do it,” Sarah said, giving Missy a quick hug, “so can you.”
Natalie, their friend who ran a summer camp for disadvantaged kids on the northwest end of the island, had adopted four adolescents this past winter
she’d married Jamis. Although Missy preferring a baby or young child made her chances for adoption more difficult, their friend’s success as a single woman had given Missy the first real hope she’d had in years.
Brian came running through the store. “Come on, Mom. Let’s go.”
Missy grabbed her raincoat from the back of the chair by the cash register and held it out toward Sarah. “Why don’t you take my slicker?”
“You’ll need it when you go home.”
“I don’t mind getting wet. Besides, I think it’s supposed to clear up for a while before another band of storms comes through.” As Missy held open the front door to her shop, she took in a deep lungful of air. And frowned.
Something wasn’t right.
She glanced out the windows with a partial view of Lake Superior. Beyond the marina, waves crashed against the breakwater and sprayed into the air. Down the rocky coast, turbulent water hit the shoreline with damaging strength. The clouds in the early evening sky boiled and churned, shifted by an unseen but powerful force.
Sarah shrugged on the rain slicker and glanced at Missy. “You all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I’m fine.” Missy swallowed, trying to compose herself. “I’ll be fine.”
“Okay, then.” Sarah stepped partway through the door and grabbed Brian’s hand. “See you at lunch tomorrow.” Then she took off down the wet sidewalk.
“Bye, Missy!” Brian called as he followed his mom.
“Bye, Bri!” Missy said absently as she watched the flower baskets hanging from the black lampposts swing and sway in the storm. The wind chimes hanging near her gift shop entrance jangled fiercely in a sudden gust, and an uneasy feeling settled in the pit of her stomach.
Something was in the air out there that had nothing to do with a cleansing rain, or a possible adoption match, or the droves of happy tourists already flocking daily to Mirabelle for long-awaited summer vacations and holidays. This was bitter and acidic. Unexpected. Fierce. And it was blowing Missy’s way.