Authors: Nicole Smith
"Uh, sure. But don't you want Jason to show you
"He didn't grow up here. He wouldn't be as familiar
with the place as you. I'll see him later, maybe for lunch."
"Okay. I need to get dressed, and then I'll come get
you. See you soon."
Holly threw on pale blue linen pants with a loose,
long-sleeved abstract print tunic top of pastels. She rushed past her father in
the kitchen. "Later, Dad," she called out and was out the back door
before he had time to turn around from the oven.
Gloria was ensconced in one of the newer vacation cabins
that had a good view of the water. Holly found her sitting in a rocking chair
on the small porch outside. She parked the car and waved. Gloria grabbed her
cane and stood up.
"Don't bother coming up here," she said, and began
to move down the walkway. Holly went ahead and met her halfway, ready to lend
an arm if necessary.
Once in the car, Gloria said, "First, I want to see
that bakery of yours and get a muffin or scone for breakfast. You have good
"The best," Holly replied. It was early enough
that she found a parking spot right in front of the bakery. They walked in,
with Gloria looking at everything.
"Cute isn't always a good thing, but this works."
"That is good to hear."
They looked in the case at all the pastries and Gloria shook
her head. "That's a lot of sugar right there."
"Well, we are a bakery after all, not a health food
Gloria gave a short laugh. "Right you are. What do you
"Our Harvest Muffins aren't too bad for you, or we have
two different varieties of scones."
"I'll try the muffin," Gloria said, decisively.
The two women got their food and coffee, and then sat at the
table by the window looking out onto the square. After a few minutes of eating
and drinking, Gloria said, "It looks like a nice little town,
"We're aiming to add a bohemian feel to it when the
project is completed. Our hope is that it will be a mecca, of sorts, for
artists of all types. Speaking of which, I want to be sure and take you to meet
Lucretia, our jewelry artist. She does phenomenal work."
"I've always been interested in good quality
"This necklace is one of hers," Holly said,
lifting the necklace she had on to show the older woman. It was a
delicately-wrought pendant, with opals, on a fine gold chain.
"That is lovely," Gloria said, leaning forward to
look at it. She sat back and said, "I wanted to tell you that the cabin
you got for me is perfect. Great view and the place was absolutely
"Good, I'm glad. Tell me something, Gloria. Why did you
really ask me to be your tour guide today?"
"Do I need to have a special reason?"
"No, but I think you have one anyway. Is it something
"Perhaps." She took a sip of coffee and shook her
head irritably. "Oh, all right. I wanted to enlist your help. I think
Jason is running away, staying here to work on the project. He needs to be back
in the city. You know as well as I do that he can do the work from there as easily
as here. After what happened, the attack on his reputation, he took a hit--but
he isn't going to bounce back from it by hiding out here."
Holly frowned. "I don't think he's hiding out. He
needed to get away for a few days, to clear his head and get his equilibrium
"It's been more than a few days. When I told him I was
coming down for the weekend, he talked about my staying for the following week
to really get to know the place. Holly, he can't just walk away from his
business. He has employees. He has contracts he needs to follow up on. There
have been at least two or three new scandals in the news since the one about
his building. It's time to begin picking up the pieces."
"I agree with you, but I'm not sure why you're telling
Gloria's eyebrows rose above her steely blue eyes.
"Because he cares about you, Holly, you must know that."
Holly squirmed. "I'm not so sure of that lately."
Gloria waved a hand to the side. "Of course he cares.
It was obvious to me when he brought you to meet me, that you're important to
him. And since you are, I think you could have an influence on getting him back
to the city."
"I don't know about that." Holly sighed.
"Lately...let's just say, I think he may be interested in someone
"Piffle! I know my grandson, and I know how he keeps
himself so controlled and closed off emotionally. What I've seen in him since
he met you has been an opening up, a willingness to feel again, that hasn't
been there since his parents died. That's significant. And you're the one who
got him to that place."
"Gloria, you don't understand. Things aren't going very
well right now and--"
"Whatever it is, you'll work it out. In fact, I insist
that you do, and soon. I can see in your eyes, in your face that you...care
deeply for him. Don't let some trivial upset come between you. Fix it, and then
get him back to the city!"
* * * *
Maggie walked into the kitchen at her brother's beach house
and headed straight for the coffee machine. She vaguely registered that her
brother was in the room, standing at the stove making what looked like oatmeal.
She shuddered, and took her first sip of the dark roast brew.
"Oh, God, this is good."
Sam laughed. "Still not a morning person, are
She shook her head, and then ran a hand through her messy
hair. Even though her hairstyle was one of wild and free curls, it wasn't meant
to look quite so disheveled. "I heard cartoons. They woke me up."
"Cartoons are a Saturday morning tradition around
"Sleeping in is my Saturday tradition," Maggie
said grumpily. She sat on one of the bar stools at the counter and tried to
"What are your plans for the morning?" Sam asked
as he sprinkled raisins and cinnamon into the oatmeal.
"I have an early meeting with Jason to finalize some
ideas that will get presented in the big meeting later."
"You and Jason seem to be getting along pretty
"Yeah, we do. But why are you looking at me like
"I just wondered if you and Jason..."
"No! No way, big brother, you're totally off. He's a
good guy to work with, but that's it. Besides, he's totally gone on Holly. And
on top of everything, he's just not my type."
Sam laughed. "Ah, I see. So rich, handsome, and
creative aren't your type?"
She shook her head. "That's not what I mean. He's just
got a more driven personality than I'd be comfortable with. I want a guy who
can be laid back and relax when he's not working. And he doesn't have to be
rich. Handsome...okay, you got me on that one."
Sam smiled at her gently. "Don't worry. You'll find the
right guy soon enough. You're too cute not to."
"Cute! Why am I always the cute one?"
"Because you just are, my elfin friend. Do you want
some of this oatmeal?"
"Uh, no, and don't even show it to me. I'm gonna go get
* * * *
Gloria looked across the table at Jason with a smile on her
face. He appeared to be okay again. They were having lunch at the deli in town,
Holly having dropped her there earlier before Jason arrived. They had toured
the town shops during the morning, along with spending some time resting in the
The jeweler, Lucretia, had completely impressed her, and she
was now sporting a new brooch made of silver, lapis, and onyx.
"Is that new?" Jason asked, pointing to the pin.
"Yes, I got it at Lucretia's place. This town has some
very nice shops."
Jason ate some of his roast beef sandwich, and watched as
Gloria poked at her chicken salad. "What is it, Gloria? You aren't
"I've got something to tell you. I was going to wait,
but I just can't!" The last words had come out in a rush.
"Go ahead then and tell me. What is such a big
"Several of us, people I know, have been working on a
deal actually. And I got the call today. The Trenton building owners have
agreed to interview you to be the architect for the renovation."
Jason stared back at her blankly. "What?"
"I know that it's unexpected, but I finally convinced
them that you'd be the architect they should use. This way you can work on the
She was startled to see a flush or redness rising from his
neck into his face.
"What have you done? You know that the owners are the
Greystone Consortium. I would never work for them--I believe I told you that a
while back. And they 'agreed to interview' me? Last time, I interviewed them.
Right before I turned them down. How they hell could you put me in this
"But--Jason--I thought you'd be happy. To be able to
re-do the building where your mother and father--"
"Shut. Up. Don't bring them into this. I can honor
their memory without having to build a great big tomb for them. They don't need
that kind of monument."
"Tomb? Jason, that's not what I meant!"
"What I don't understand is how you could have thought
I'd lower myself to work for a group of men I don't even respect. You can tell
them I won't be attending the interview. Really, Gloria, I'm quite angry about
She felt stunned. Jason never got angry with her, even when
he disagreed with her. "I just wanted you to come back to the city. I
thought you wanted to be the one to do the Trenton. I didn't realize--actually,
no, I just didn't think about you not liking Greystone. I've been so worried
since everything happened. I wanted to fix it, somehow. I'm sorry, Jason. I
His green eyes glared darkly at her for a moment. He took in
a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "Grandmother, I love you, I do. But
sometimes you go too far. I understand that you wanted to help me. I get that.
You just can't do this kind of thing again, okay? If, or when, I come back to
the city, it will be because I feel ready. I've got the employees on vacation
at the moment. Marla, my assistant, keeps tabs on any calls that come in. There
are no contracts currently pending, so I'm staying here until I'm ready to take
it all on again."
"I'm sorry. I thought you were just--I don't know,
wallowing in grief or goofing off or something. I should have known that wasn't
what you'd do. Do you want me to leave today? Go back home?"
He gave a short laugh. "No, Gloria, I'd like for you to
stay. Meet everyone, see everything, and look at the plans I've been working on
for the project here. I've made a lot of progress this week. I forgive you,
She knew her smile was tremulous, but it was sincere.
"Thank you. Who can take me out to see the area for the project?"
He smiled back at her. "Actually, I can. I'm free until
the party later at Frank's house. Eat your lunch and we'll go check it
She smiled more firmly at him, and then picked up her fork
and dug into her food.
* * * *
Frank was hauling in fish from the car for the early evening
seafood fest he had planned. Lobsters, shrimp, crab, haddock, and more, filled
his arms when Betsy Gilchrest arrived and hurried up the drive to help him.
"How many are coming tonight? An army?"
"I think I counted a total of eleven adults to be
here," he replied.
"Will Marla be staying?" Betsy said, with an edge
in her voice.
"Marla? Sure, I think so. Listen Betsy, I need to talk
to you about something."
They had reached the kitchen and were dumping parcels on the
"Okay, I'm ready, just tell me. It's Marla, isn't
Frank stared at her in confusion. "What? Marla has nothing
to do with it. The thing is, I think we should go public about our
Frank was surprised at how shocked she seemed. "Yes. I
know you don't want to get married yet, but I think--"
"Oh, yes, I do! I want very much to get married."
Frank felt a big smile spreading across his face. He reached
out and took her in his arms, squeezing tightly. "Ah, Betsy, really? That
would be terrific." He leaned away from her and looked into her eyes.
"Are you sure? All this time, you always said no."
She looked down and then up again. "Lately, I've
realized that what we have is very special. We should have done this a long
"This is gonna be great. Is it okay with you if we announce
She laughed, a very carefree laugh. "Yes, let's
"I wonder if anyone ever guessed, all this time. I'm
sure we'll be surprising a few people."
"I think we've surprised ourselves!"
He laughed. "Yep, I'd say so."
"What made you decide to bring up going public
His brow furrowed. "I'd been thinking I needed to let
Holly know that it was okay to fall in love, to not be scared of it. That maybe
she thought I never got past her mother dying. That I never felt love again. I
want to be sure she understands that it's worth it, that love is worth it, no
matter what happens, and to not be afraid. I was thinking if we went public,
she'd see that."
"Then it will only help more if we tell her we're
getting married," Betsy said.
"Yes, I think that's true."
Betsy began putting things away in the refrigerator.
"So, what do you think--should we live in your house or mine after the
Frank went quiet and froze in place. Finally, he said
carefully, "I always thought we'd live here..."
Betsy turned to face him and burst out laughing. "The
look on your face is too funny. I was kidding. I didn't imagine you would want
to move into my house. Too frou-frou for you. But there are things we'll have