Shore Leave Cafe (Book Three)
Twelve years ago, Jillian Henriksen cut off all her hair and placed it in her young husband's hands as he was buried. After his tragic accident, she clung to the only remaining stability she had - her young son Clint, her family of women, and her job at their lakeside diner, the Shore Leave Café.
Now it is summer again, and change is in the hot and humid air. Jillian's sister, Joelle, and her teenaged nieces, Camille, Tish, and Ruthann, have come home to Landon, bringing a welcome distraction.
And then there is Justin Miller, longtime family friend, brooding and sexy, but damaged after a terrible accident five years earlier. Will Jilly and Justin risk their broken hearts - and the Davis family curse - to take a chance on lasting love?
Trade Paper: 978-1-77168-107-0
FICTION | Romance - 240 pages
$13.95 - January 2017
Praise for Abbie Williams
"Williams populates her historical fiction with people nearly broken by their experiences." ~ Foreword Reviews (Soul of a Crow)
**Independent Publishers Awards Gold Medalist 2015** (Heart of a Dove)
"Set just after the U.S. Civil War, this passionate opening volume of a projected series successfully melds historical narrative, women’s issues, and breathless romance with horsewomanship, trailside deer-gutting, and alluring smidgeons of Celtic ESP." ~ Publishers Weekly (Heart of a Dove)
Orr new pink radio was plugged in and positioned on the back of the toilet tank, blaring my current favorite song, “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart. I swayed my hips to the beat as I carefully curled my bangs; last week I hadn’t been paying enough attention and burned the crap out of my forehead. Seconds later my older sister Joelle flew into the bathroom and slapped her hip against mine, grinning as she effectively bumped me over and then leaned close to the mirror to reapply her new lip gloss. She’d just picked it out yesterday, on her seventeenth birthday. I watched her critically before saying, “It already looked fine.”
Jo rolled her eyes at me, rubbing her lips together and then miming a kiss in the mirror. Everyone is always saying we look so much alike, and I guess we do, but I always thought Jo, being older, had an edge on me in the looks department. I mean, she’s my best friend and I love her like crazy, and I’m happy with how I look—mostly. It’s just hard when your older sister is tall and has D-cup boobs, and you aren’t tall and yours are still (hopefully) growing. We both have long hair and good tans from being on Flickertail Lake all summer, and I know looks aren’t supposed to be important in the long run. Gran is always telling us that it’s far better to know how to catch and clean a fish, make a proper margarita, and be a considerate human being. And Great-Aunt Minnie says looks fade but spirit always glows. But still.
“Happy birthday,” Jo said for the hundredth time today, meeting my eyes in the mirror, a smile crooking her glossy lips. “You look so pretty, Jilly Bean. What time is Chris getting here?”
I couldn’t help but grin at the mention of my boyfriend, Chris Henriksen. His sixteenth birthday was back in June and his mom was letting him drive her car until he could afford his own, which would probably be around the time he turned twenty-five or so. I shook out my hair, fluffed my bangs one last time and said, “Pretty soon. How about Jackie?”
“I think I just heard his truck. Here, let me fix your shirt before I go.”
She reached and turned my hips so I faced her, then hiked up the bottom of my hot-pink tank top and tied it in a knot, exposing my belly, just like hers. Then she tugged my jean shorts down about two inches and stepped back, satisfied.
“I hate showing my belly button,” I grumbled, but Jo slapped my hands from adjusting her handiwork.
“But you have such a cute little belly,” she teased. “Now leave it!”
There was no point in arguing. I asked, “Did Mom say anything else about the tattoo?”
Jo rolled her eyes again, complaining, “No, still no. Even though it’s all I wanted for my birthday. I mean, it would just be a little daisy, right near my hip. I could cover it up anytime I wanted. I don’t get why it’s such a big deal.”
“Yeah, but what about what Gran said, about when you have a baby someday, and it would get all stretched out?” I reminded, leaning to click off the radio before following her out of the bathroom.
Jo thumped down the stairs, calling over her shoulder, “Believe me, that’s something I’m not doing for a looooong time! Shit, Jills, can you imagine?”
“No,” I said honestly. “Not really.”
Outside, the late-afternoon air was clear and mellow, scented by the campfire that Dodge was tending over by the café. Jo, spotting her boyfriend Jackie Gordon pulling into the parking lot, sprinted ahead. He climbed down from his rusty F-150 and pushed back his sunglasses as she jumped into his arms and they kissed like it was months since they’d seen each other, instead of just a few hours.
“Lookin’ good, babe,” I heard him say, his hands all over her.
I would have considered this obnoxious except that when Chris got here I planned to cover him in kisses, too. My heart sent a rush through my blood as I thought about Chris, who’d been my boyfriend since last spring. I’d known him forever, of course, like basically everyone in Landon. I hadn’t paid any attention to him in middle school, but all of a sudden in tenth grade we had four classes together and he just seemed to be in my mind…a lot. A lot, a lot.
I would think of him as I lay in bed with my headphones on, trying to block out Jo, talking incessantly to Jackie on the phone in our room, at least until Gran would get on the extension from the kitchen downstairs and tell her it was time to quit yakking and go to bed. Gran thought that was funny, rather than just sticking her head in our bedroom door. But every song I heard as I lay there in my twin bed somehow reminded me of Chris. His eyes were brown, with a gold sheen and flecks of green sprinkled throughout. It wasn’t something you could see unless you looked directly into his irises.
The first time he’d asked me to hang out was last March, after geometry but before lunch. He was with a group of his buddies and I was walking with my good friend Jenny Hull, and he pushed off from the locker he was leaning against and followed behind us.
“Hey, Jills,” he said, the nickname just about everyone in school used, but for some reason when Chris spoke it I felt a little extra thud in my heartbeat. I turned and walked backward for a couple of steps so I could look at him, until he laughed and grabbed my elbow, the one not cradling a pile of books, and said, “Don’t crash!”
We all stopped, Jenny included, and Chris shot her a slightly flustered look, but then his eyes came back to me and he asked, “Hey, you wanna swing by Dairy Queen with me this weekend?” His voice cracked just a hair on the last word. I found myself studying the face that was so often in my daydreams. He’d grown about six inches between the beginning of the year and March. His hair was chestnut brown, cropped close to his head. He had a square jaw and the kind of laugh that made everyone around him want to laugh, too. His eyes seemed to be sparkling at me as he waited, though I could sense he was really nervous.
By Abbie Williams