Read Wishing Lake Online

Authors: Regina Hart

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #General Fiction, #African-American storys, #Fiction

Wishing Lake (26 page)

“I can’t imagine how devastated you must feel at the loss of your daughter.”
“Doreen.” He choked out her name.
“We understand you need time to grieve. But, Jack, it’s been almost two years. It’s not healthy to close yourself off from human contact. People care about you. We can help you.”
“Can you bring her back?” The words were harsh, rough, and raw.
Doreen looked stricken. “I can no more bring back your daughter than I can resurrect my late husband.”
Paul Fever had died from cancer more than a year ago. He’d been sixty-seven. In contrast, leukemia had cut his daughter’s life tragically short.
Jack struggled to reel in his emotions. “People grieve in different ways.”
Pity reappeared in Doreen’s warm brown eyes. “I went through the same feelings. But, Jack, at some point, you have to rejoin society.”
“Not today.” Some days, he feared he’d never be ready.
Caring about people hurt. He’d loved his ex-wife and his daughter. He never again wanted to experience the pain losing them had caused. If anything, the experience had taught him that it was better not to let people get too close.
The persistent ringing shattered Audra’s dream. She blinked her eyes open. Had she fallen asleep?
Her gaze dropped to the song stanzas scribbled across the notebook on her lap. Was it the red-eye flight or her lyrics that had lulled her to sleep?
She stretched forward to grab her cell phone. “Hello?”
“Did we wake you?” Her mother asked after a pause.
Audra heard the surprise in the question. “It was a long trip.” She refused to believe her writing had put her to sleep. “Is everything OK?”
Ellen Prince Lane sighed. “That’s what we’re calling to find out. We thought you were going to call us when you arrived at the resort.”
“I sent you a text when I landed.” Audra scrubbed a hand across her eyes, wiping away the last remnants of fatigue.
“A text is not a phone call.” Ellen spoke with exaggerated patience. “How do we know that someone didn’t kidnap you and send that text to delay our reporting you missing?”
Audra rolled her eyes. Her mother read too many true-crime novels. Her father wouldn’t have suspected foul play was behind a text from her.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to worry you.”
“This whole idea worries me.” Her mother made fretting noises. “Why couldn’t you have stayed in Redondo Beach to write your songs? Why did you have to go to some resort in Ohio?”
Audra wanted to laugh. No one would mistake Harmony Cabins for a resort. But this probably wasn’t a good time to tell her mother that.
“We discussed this, Mom. Benita thought a change of scenery would cure my writer’s block.” And even though she had her doubts, Audra didn’t want to add to her parents’ worries.
Ellen tsked. “How long will you be gone?”
They’d discussed that, too. “About a month.”
“You’ve never been away from home that long.”
“I know, Mom.”
“You don’t even know anything about that resort.”
“Benita’s friend owns the cabins. I’m sure I’ll be comfortable here.”
“How will you eat?”
“There’s a town nearby. I’ll pick up some groceries in the morning.”
“What do they eat there?”
Audra closed her eyes and prayed for patience. “I’m in Ohio, Mom. It’s not a foreign country. I’m sure I’ll find something familiar in the town’s grocery store.”
Ellen sniffed. “There’s no need to take that tone.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Your father’s very worried about you, Audra.”
Yet her mother was the one on the phone. “Tell Dad I’ll be fine. The cabin is clean and safe. There are locks on all the doors and windows. I’ll be home before you know it.” She hoped.
Audra looked toward the windows beside the front door. She needed curtains. She didn’t like the idea of the windows being uncovered, especially at night. She’d feel too exposed. She checked her wristwatch. It wasn’t quite three in the afternoon. It wouldn’t be dark until closer to nine at night. She had a few hours to figure something out, like hanging sheets over the windows for tonight.
Her mother’s abrupt sigh interrupted her planning. “Your father wants to talk with you. Maybe he can get you to see reason.”
Audra rubbed her eyes with her thumb and two fingers. This experiment was hard enough without her mother’s overprotectiveness.
“My Grammy-winning daughter!” Randall Lane boomed his greeting into the telephone. He’d been calling her that since she’d been presented with the Song of the Year Grammy Award in February. Before that, she’d been his Grammy-
Audra settled back on the overstuffed plaid sofa. “Hi, Daddy.”
“Will you be home in time for my birthday?” She frowned. Her father’s birthday was in October. It was only July. “Of course.”
“That’s all that matters.”
“Randall!” Ellen’s screech crossed state lines. “Give me back that phone!”
“Your mother wants to speak with you again. Have a nice time in Ohio, baby.”
Her mother was as breathless as though she’d chased her father across the room. “Aren’t there coyotes and bears in Ohio? And mountain lions?”
Audra’s heart stopped with her mother’s questions. She was a West Coast city woman in the wilds of the Midwest. Talk about being a fish out of water.
She swallowed to loosen the wad of fear lodged in her throat. “They don’t come near the cabins.”
“How do you know?”
“I just do,” she lied. “I’ll be fine.”
“I think you should come home, Audra. What does Benita know about writer’s block? She’s your business manager, not a writer. I’m your mother. I know what you need. You need rest.”
Her mother had a point. Audra hadn’t had a full night’s sleep ever since she’d taken the Grammy home.
She stood and paced past the front windows. “Benita may be right. Maybe I need to get completely out of my comfort zone to jump-start my writing.”
Ellen sniffed again. “Well, I disagree. And so does Wendell.”
Audra stilled at the mention of her treacherous ex-boyfriend. They’d broken up three months ago. Her mother knew that. “What does he have to do with anything?”
“He’s been trying to get in touch with you. He wants your forgiveness.”
That made up her mind. She was definitely staying at Harmony Cabins for at least a month. “Please don’t tell Wendell where I am. Even if I forgive him, we’re never getting back together.”
“What has he done? You never told me why you broke up.”
Shame was a bitter taste in her throat. “Wendell used me. I’m not giving him or anyone else the chance to do that again.”
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Copyright © 2015 by Patricia Sargeant-Matthews


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ISBN: 978-1-61773564-6
First Kensington Mass Market Edition: February 2015


eISBN-13: 978-1-61773-565-3
eISBN-10: 1-61773-565-5
First Kensington Electronic Edition: February 2015


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