Authors: Melody Heck Gatto
By Melody Heck Gatto
Copyright © 2014 by Melody Heck Gatto
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2014
Trina sat on the beach, sifting cool sand between her fingers. The sun was warm on her skin. Little granules of sand caught under her nails, but she didn't care. This was her heaven. After everything she had been through, she was finally at her happy place. Being here made her content. She felt whole again.
She knew her sister was only trying to take care of her. Talia had rescued her, and probably saved her life. But she was starting to feel smothered and in the way.
Talia had taken her in,
and nursed her back to health, got her back on her meds, and out of her funk. That's when Toby came in to her life. She wanted a companion and he was just what she needed. She had been through hell and back and was clawing for some sort of normal. Everyone was walking on eggshells around her and it got old, fast. She had mourned, she had been angry, but she was getting through it.
"Toby!" she called. The golden lab turned at his name and raced over to her, kicking sand up as he ran. His tongue hung to the side, his breathing rapid. "Damn, it's hard work chasing those seagulls, isn'
t it boy?" she said, chuckling.
Leaning down to him, she rubbed his soft head and he licked her cheek. Toby loved to give doggie kisses. "Who's a good boy? You're a good boy! Yes you are!" she babbled to him as he soaked in all the attention.
Toby was her faithful companion. Who needed a man when you had a dog? She lay back again in the sand. Toby plopped his furry body down beside her. She handed him a bone to chew on while he took a much deserved break from his seagull hunting. Not like he was ever going to catch one.
looked up at the clouds; the sun was starting to make its way to the other side of the sky. It wasn't shining directly in her eyes anymore, allowing her to admire the crystal blue sky. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. This was exactly what she needed. The beach was practically empty except for the lifeguards, a handful of boogie boarders, an older man with a metal detector who she had a conversation with earlier that morning, and her. She could not have picked a better time to escape to Bethany Beach. She never knew Delaware was so beautiful.
She pulled her headphones out of her bag. Turning on her iPod, she blasted one of her favorite songs. The bass was loud, rumbling against her neck. She bobbed her head to the beat.
Trina knew her sister meant well. She just wished that Talia realized she wasn't the same lost and pathetic girl she had been a year ago. Hell, she was surprised Talia hadn't popped in yet to check on her! Her sister probably would if she could, but Talia's husband, Michael, needed too much help with the steak house for her to be running off to babysit Trina.
Trina was better. She had not had a relapse since the accident. She hadn't even missed an injection. Not a single one. Talia had nothing to worry about.
If it wasn't for their brother, this trip wouldn't have ever happened. Trina was grateful to him. Tyler knew Trina needed her space after her phone call. She hated to bother him; he was so busy with the playoffs.
His team, the Pittsburgh Renegades, were doing awesome this season. She was so proud of him; she was sure there would be another Cup with his name on it at the end of this hockey season.
Trina owed a lot to her baby brother. At twenty-three, he was hardly a baby, she admitted. Maybe she would stop by Pittsburgh for a visit on her way home.
She tensed at the thought of going home to Canada. She hated the idea of being stuck in Banff again with Talia and Michael. It was a beautiful place and she loved her sister, but it was not her home. She could not stay in Winnipeg once everything fell apart—too many bad memories. Moving in with Talia and Michael in Banff had been her only option. She had been so sick that she hadn't even been able to take care of herself at that point.
Memories of that day started to invade her thoughts. Her whole world had crumbled around her. Her arms were so weak she couldn't move herself out of bed. She would watch her cell phone ring on her nightstand, see the light coming on and Talia's name flashing on the screen, and be unable to reach for it. She knew Talia would be worried since she wasn't answering.
She didn't want to think about that time; she wanted all those memories to go away. She could feel her throat tensing up, as if struggling to breathe. Her body stiffened as her brain kept trying to remember.
The house had been quiet for what felt like days. She had been barely able to keep her eyes open. She heard keys jingling in her front door; then Talia, frantically calling for her. She knew Talia would come. Her bedroom door opened. The light from the outside world lit up her bed. "Trina!" Talia gasped. Trina was too weak to move or speak.
She clearly remembered
all the chaos that had ensued. Talia had called the paramedics; they checked her vitals, and quickly gathered her up on a stretcher. Next thing she remembered she was in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV.
, she told herself, shaking off the memories. She was as far from Banff as she was going to get. Taking in a deep breath of the salt-water air, she tried to relax. She was at the beach, her favorite place; she refused to have a panic attack. Breathing slowly, she counted. Ten... Nine... Eight...
She rested her head back again, concentrating on the soft sand, letting the sun warm her body as she listened to her music. She hummed to the beat, feeling the bass pulse through her body.
she thought with a smile, letting out a slow breath, one she felt like she had been holding for a long time.
Sam was glad to be away from everyone, sitting in his quiet beachfront condo. He needed time to think, time to himself. Although he did miss his niece, and he was sure that she missed Belle. Silly dog; she was sound asleep on the couch. "Make yourself at home, fluffy butt!" he said, chuckling.
Belle didn't even flinch. With her nose tucked under her tail, she just kept on snoring as Sam shook his head.
The landlords are going to love all the dog hair everywhere
, he thought, laughing to himself because Belle shed like crazy.
His niece Morgan had already called him five times in the last day and a half. He sure missed that little munchkin. Summer was coming, and he needed this trip to get some time to himself.
This season had been rough. His hip injury had him on injured reserve for about two months, and if he was being honest with himself, it had still been giving him problems after he had returned to the ice. He couldn't stay out any longer; he heard the trade rumors and he wasn't going to let that happen. When he left, it was going to be on his terms. He forced himself to get back on the ice quickly and prove to the general manager that he was worth keeping.
Sam sighed. The Crushers had not played well enough this season to make the playoffs and that wasn't sitting well with him. He didn't like losing. Sam laced his fingers behind his head and let out a breath. He needed to leave this season behind him. The
beach was just what he needed.
His sister, Amy, had said that he was crazy for flying all the way to the East Coast to go to the beach, when all he had to do was walk out his front door to be at the ocean. Sam crossed the room and grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. Flipping it open, he looked out the living room window. The petite, soft waves crashed gently against the sand. He could see a handful of boogie boarders and a few lifeguards. Closing his eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath, he inhaled the calm. Back on the West Coast, the beaches would be crawling with college kids as well as vacationers. Then you had the hockey fans that would be all over him the second he climbed out of his Camero. He wanted peace and quiet to clear his head. He needed to deal with the reality that the Crushers' season was over way too soon.
"Belle, here girl!" he called. Her ears perked up at the sound of his voice. "You wanna go for a run?" he cooed. He had been extra lazy today. This was the first time today he had even put on shoes. He had only been out of the game about a month and his workouts were non-existent. Shaking his head, he didn't even want to think about how poor his diet had been.
Belle's collar jingled as she leaped off the couch and ran to the door. They had been there a little less than a week and she already knew the layout of the condo and had made herself very much at home. Sam felt bad she was sleeping a lot. He was afraid that Belle missed Morgan. Tho
se two really were inseparable.
"Where are my shoes?" he wondered out loud as he searched the living room. Maybe he left them on the porch? He grabbed Belle's leash and hooked it onto her collar. Leading her out to the porch, he saw his tennis shoes sitting by the railing.
," he commanded, and as always, Belle listened. She was such a good dog. She probably didn't need her leash; back home, she loved running free on the beach. He'd have to see how she behaved here before he let her off of the lead. "We'll go for a little run, what do ya think girl? Sound good?" he babbled as he slipped on his shoes.
Belle cuddled up next to him and started to rub her head on his hand. He obliged and sat petting her for a few minutes. She sure loved to be loved. He watched as she moved her face to exactly where she wanted to be petted. When he started to scratch her head, he must've hit the right spot, because her body went limp and she almost fell over. Sam laughed at the sight of that. "You're a nut, Belle."
He was getting ready to grab Belle's leash and get on with their run when he heard someone singing. He was sure it was a female voice. Man, she was amazing! He looked up to see an attractive girl standing on the boardwalk, not far from his porch railing. Her voice breaking through the silence of the empty beach startled him, but now he couldn't look away. Her voice was beautiful. Who was this girl?
She had yet to realize that he was there, either that or she didn't care that he was sitting just feet from her as she sang. The young woman moved her hips around to the rhythm of the tune. A yellow lab sat calmly at he
She was barefoot, holding her sandals in her hand. Sam noticed that her feet were covered in damp sand. Sam quietly watched and listened; he couldn't help but stare. She had headphones around her neck, but they didn't seem like they were on. He listened as she sang. Even Belle sat silent, listening to her.
The woman knelt down and started singing to her dog. The dog panted and tried to lick her face as she sang.
Sam's eyes wandered over her body. She was still facing the ocean, but he liked what he saw from behind. There was rarely a female view from behind that he didn't like. He wasn't a pig, he just appreciated a beautiful woman.
Her light gray shorts were tiny, showing off long toned legs. Being a runner himself, he liked athletic women. He was used to the typical surfer girl, but she was definitely not that. She had more of a edgy look to her.
Her long, blonde ponytail bounced as she moved. She wore a pink sweatshirt jacket. He could not see much more from this angle, but she had the voice of an angel. Still not realizing he was sitting there, she sang and hummed staring out at the ocean.
Trina walked up the beach to the boardwalk, Toby trotting behind her. She loved the sound of the waves crashing, and the seagulls squawking. She had been humming her favorite song all day. Stepping onto the boardwalk, she began to sing. She was quiet at first, the crashing of the waves muffling her sweet voice.
She sang the first verse softly, dancing to the imaginary beat that only she could hear. Before she got to the chorus she paused and looked down at Toby; he sat on the boardwalk, not far from their condo. He looked tired. His tongue hung out of the side of his mouth as he panted. She decided to let him take a little break. It wasn't a super warm day, but the sun was probably hot for him with all of that fur. Trina bent next to him petting his soft head as she sang the chorus.
She loved singing to Toby. He was a very animated audience with his silly facial expressions and tongue hanging out all the time. She sighed. She really did miss singing at the Winnipeg hockey games. She needed to get back to that as soon as she figured out what she was going to do and where she was headed. Maybe Tyler could help her get back into the hockey arenas.
Trina was sure he could get her in to the arena in Pittsburgh; he was their captain and the face of their franchise. Anything would be better than sitting at Talia's house in Banff, being watched over like a damn child. Looking out at the ocean, she took in a slow breath and continued to sing. The ocean breeze wasn't blowing as much now and she was warm again. Trina unzipped her jacket, sliding it off and tying it around her waist, all the while dancing around and humming. She pulled her long blonde hair out of her ponytail, running her fingers through it while she sang, this time louder, not realizing that she was really belting it out.