All three of her friends regarded her with identical expressions of fierce loyalty. It was that quality that had drawn her to them in the first place, the reason she kept coming back to the library summer after summer. The reason she could bare her heart to them, stripped of all artifice and exaggeration.
Penny's brows drew together. “Okay. Now that we understand the problem, it's time to solve it. Who here feels comfortable teaching Sarah to ride a bike before . . .” She turned to Sarah. “When is the retreat again?”
“In four days.”
“Okay,” Penny said. “Who has the time and ability to be her cycling instructor before then?”
Angie frowned. “Shit. Grant and I promised to visit my sister and my parents over the Fourth of July weekend, so I have to leave right after work tomorrow. I'm sorry, Sarah.” Angie's attention shifted to Penny. “What about you?”
“I would. Honestly, I would. But I'm not exactly the outdoorsy sort.” Penny spread her hands. “I wouldn't feel comfortable teaching Sarah, given that I can barely keep from falling off a bike myself.”
They all looked in Mary's direction.
Her brow creased in an apologetic wince. “I said I would babysit my nephew the next few nights so that my brother and his wife could have some alone time. I could call them and try to reschedule, though, if you'd like.”
“No, no.” Sarah waved a hand. “No need to do that. I'll figure out something. Who else might be able to teach me?”
“I know!” Angie slapped a hand down on the table. “Helen's not a fan of the outdoors, but her boyfriend is. Wes does triathlons. And those involve bikes at some point, right?”
Sarah stared at her. “You want me to ask the mayor of Niceville, who also works at the local pool and is creating a nonprofit in his nonexistent free time, to give me a riding lesson?”
Even for her, that seemed a little demanding.
“Why not?” Angie asked. “If he can't do it, he'll probably know someone who can. Let me call Helen.”
Five minutes later, Angie was writing down the name of one of Wes's friends, since Wes himself didn't have time to teach Sarah how to ride.
Angie tapped the screen of her phone to end the call. “So Helen says this guy owns a bike-repair shop and goes on training rides with Wes all the time. Chris Dean. Apparently, he might have time to give lessons after the shop closes. However . . .”
When Angie didn't say anything for another moment, Sarah leaned forward. “What?”
“Helen also says he can get a little grumpy. Probably because he's still getting over a bad breakup. So you may need to do a little convincing.”
Renewed hope stiffened Sarah's spine, not to mention her resolve. “No problem. He'll never know what hit him.”
“Um . . .” Mary winced again. “Maybe you should tread lightly when asking him, Sarah.”
“Nah.” Sarah stood and started putting her notepad and pen into her purse. “I've got this. I'm a woman on a mission, and nothing can stop me now. Especially not a grumpy cyclist. I'll go see him after my early shift tomorrow.”
“Are you sure you wouldn't rather call him first?” Penny asked. “Maybe give him a little warning?”
Sarah's plan was finally coming together. In a mere four days, she'd spend the entire day with Ulysses. She'd finally get his full attention. And once she did, surely he'd see how perfect they were for each other. All she had to do first was convince one cranky business owner to do herâthe friend of a friend, kindaâa favor. Easy peasy.
Sarah winked at Penny. “No way. The element of surprise will work in my favor. Who can say no to the Drama Queen when she's right in front of him, begging for his assistance?”