Memory of You (A Misty Cove Love Story)

BOOK: Memory of You (A Misty Cove Love Story)
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Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

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Memory of You

(A Misty Cove Love Story)

 

By Dori Lavelle

 

Memory of You (A Misty Cove Love Story)

Copyright © 2015 by Dori Lavelle

All Rights Reserved.

 

Cover Art: Dori Lavelle

Editor: Samantha Gordon

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Chapter One

 

The one job I prayed I’d never have to do was waitressing. My math skills sucked rotten onions, and the thought of dealing with disgruntled customers caused me to break out in a sweat.

But what choice did I have? When I returned to Misty Cove, Florida, two weeks ago, I took the first job that landed in my lap.

Thanks to a decision I’d made five years ago, most Misty Cove business owners refused to employ me, even if I was desperate enough to take any job… at least for now.

That was the thing about small towns. Everybody knew about everybody’s dirty laundry. But Misty Cove was my home, and the first place I wanted to escape to after my life in New York crashed at my feet.

If it weren’t for my best friend, Erin Miles, one of the few people who stuck by me, I would still be pounding the streets in search of a second chance. Or I’d be contemplating returning to my empty life in New York, where I could dust off my rusty marketing and branding education and put it to use again. There was always a chance that Jill Winters Communications would give me my job back, the one I had turned my back on soon after marrying Milton Saylors three years ago.

Milton had not wanted me to work, saying he wanted to take care of me. I had found it romantic at the time. If only I’d known then what I knew now. Sure, we had not been in need of money. Milton had been a successful criminal lawyer and sat on inherited wealth, gained from his family’s luxury cruise business. But I learned the hard way that a job was more than a way to earn money. A job would have been my ticket to freedom.  If I had stood my ground and kept working, I would not be starting from scratch at thirty-two.

It only took a week of working at
Gayle’s Diner
to come face to face with my worst nightmare, in the form of Jerome Hinkel, a forty-something drunk with ratty hair, a braided beard, and stale beer breath. He claimed I had given him the wrong change when he ate at the diner yesterday.

“I want my money.” His voice boomed into my ears, over the sound of rock ‘n’ roll pouring from the jukebox, and the clinking of cutlery as the other servers laid it out on the tables.

I shoved a hand through my thick, ginger hair and tried to push through my memories back to yesterday.
Gayle’s Diner
had been packed with customers, as tonight was—and they all glanced my way now, hungry for Jade Lane to bring drama back to Misty Cove.

I pushed my notebook back into the pocket of my jeans and inhaled a large dose of meat, onion, and pine cleaner-tinged air. “If I served you last night, I'm pretty sure I gave you the right change.” I wasn’t even sure I was the one who’d served him, but I needed him to back off.

“You liar,” he retorted, and moved a step closer to me, his stale breath on my face. “Hand over my five bucks, woman. I’m not leaving here without it.”

I moved back a step. I wanted to tell him to get himself and his bad breath out of my face, but the customer was king. Good thing Linda Gayle Winston, my boss, was not around to witness this scene. Either way, I had to stay professional, as the other waitresses and the customers were all watching. I forced a bitter smile. “Jer—”

“Don't you dare say my name.” Drops of spit flew my way as he spoke. “Having a pretty face doesn't give you the right to squeeze money out of customers.” He swiped the back of his hand across his moist mouth. “I want to have a word with Linda Gayle.”

He attempted to push past me, but I blocked his way, even though he towered over me. As I did so, the music stopped and I heard laughter coming from the bar. How they would love to see me humiliated because of five bucks. It stung that no one came to help me. If Erin had been on duty tonight, she would have stepped in. But so what, I would stand up for myself. For all I knew, they were all in this together.

“Jerome, Linda Gayle is only coming in for the night shift today. Please leave.”

“Bullshit.” He jabbed a finger at my chest, right between my breasts, and I backed off on instinct.

“Don't you touch me,” I said, a sour taste in my mouth. I was so close to losing it. 

He shot out a hand and grabbed my upper arm, squeezing hard. “I’ll make sure you get fired for this.”

“Let her go, Jerome.” The deep voice came from somewhere at my right and sent chills racing down my spine. I heard shuffles and creaking stools, and then the diner went dead quiet. The moment they had been waiting for, for five years, had arrived.

Jerome loosened his grip on my arm, but didn't let go. His beady eyes were still glued to mine.

“Don’t mess with me, Jerome. I said let go of her.” The familiar voice was steely and authoritative, slicing through the sudden outbreak of whispers.

Trying to harden my heart, I turned my head and saw him standing in the doorway. He must have just stepped in.

I swallowed hard but my throat felt way too dry, and my eyes filled with sudden tears, all without my permission.

Last time I had seen Bryce Colman, he was wearing a tux, his honey blond hair brushed back and shiny, his striking blue eyes warm. Last time I had seen him, he had looked so happy. Now, he was older, close to thirty-five. He looked different and the same all at once. The long hair I knew had been cropped shorter into a cut that made his face look even more chiseled. As our eyes met, I watched a storm brewing in his, and his strong jaw was set to stone.

I swallowed hard and looked back at Jerome, whose gaze shifted between me and Bryce.

“You're defending the bitch after what she did to you? She doesn't belong in this town. She should go back to New York or wherever she went to hide her shame.” He squeezed my arm tighter, his dirty nails digging into my skin, but I recovered from the shock of seeing Bryce and yanked my arm away from his grasp.

“That's my business. Stay out of it. If you touch her... or another... woman again, I'll make sure your ass is thrown into prison.” Bryce’s eyes were fixed on mine as he spoke. Even as he defended me, his eyes were chilled and unemotional, unrecognizable to me. He could have been a stranger.

Jerome gave me a seething glance and then turned to leave, shoving past Bryce, whose gaze was still locked on my face.

“Thank you,” I mouthed and nodded to him. It was the polite thing to do.

Bryce didn't acknowledge my thanks. He simply turned and followed Jerome out the door. It swung closed.

Not looking to see the expressions on the diners’ faces, I sank into a chair at an unoccupied table and buried my head in my hands. I should have returned to work but I was still too shaken.

Starting over in Misty Cove was going to be even harder than I had expected.

 

Chapter Two

 

The sun was slipping behind the horizon like a ball of fire as I hopped off my bike and pushed open the small white gate of the picket fence. As I walked down the polished, wooden path to the front door of my grandmother’s cottage, I noticed that Gran’s roses were in desperate need of pruning. I made a mental note to do some gardening over the weekend, a love Gran had once shared with me.

Like every other cottage in town, Gran’s was painted in peach and buttery yellow pastels.

After the ground fell from under me, the only place I wanted to be was in this cottage. It had been my childhood home after my mother dropped me off when I was three to run off to Europe with a man.

My mother’s rejection had been a blessing in disguise. Gran had offered me the love and security my mother, the party girl, never had. She never stayed in one place longer than six months, and when Gran called her several times to ask her to return to me, she didn’t bother to hide the fact that there was no space for a child in her life.

Gran’s cottage was the one place that was home inside my heart, my secret place of comfort. After all the complications of my life in New York, I had felt the mess I’d left behind in Misty Cove was no comparison. I couldn’t let it stand in the way of coming back home, hoping—eventually—for a simpler life in Misty. The price I’d had to pay for a life in luxury had been way too high, and the consequences devastating.

I pulled out my key from my leather purse and slid it into the keyhole, my heart feeling lighter at the thought of entering my safe haven. I would forever be thankful to Gran for leaving it to me, with its lingering scent of citrus, when she died two years ago. She must have known I’d need the place one day, and she didn’t move one piece of furniture.

Instead of going inside immediately, I decided to stay on the porch for a moment. I lowered myself with a deep sigh into one of the two worn rocking chairs, closed my eyes, and inhaled the briny sea air. I opened them again and gazed ahead, watching from a distance as waves rolled and crashed on the shore, imagining them washing my worries and doubts far away at sea. The encounter with Jerome, and seeing Bryce again, had been uncomfortable and left me shaken, but there was nothing like fresh sea air to calm the nerves.

I felt still inside, but I couldn’t stop my thoughts from racing through questions I didn’t even know I wanted answered. One thing I could not understand was why Erin hadn’t warned me that Bryce was in town. In fact, she had told me that she hadn’t seen him for a while and rumor had it that he’d moved to Serendipity, Wisconsin, where his mother was born. I thought I would have time to prepare myself before meeting him again. Time to think of what to say to him, how to explain myself for breaking his heart.

Had he forgiven me? He must have or else he wouldn’t have stood up for me at
Gayle’s Diner
. But even if he had, he would never forget. And I don’t know if I could blame him for that. I rose from the rocking chair and disappeared into the cottage with the intention of unpacking more boxes before calling it a day. I caught my reflection in the framed hallway mirror and stopped a moment, gazing into my own hazel eyes with determination.

“You’ll be fine,” I said. “Bryce or no Bryce, you’re in Misty Cove to stay.”

Feeling pretty confident, I walked away. If I had to face my past, so be it. My reasons for leaving Bryce had been justified. I had done the right thing for me at the time.

 

Chapter Three

BOOK: Memory of You (A Misty Cove Love Story)
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