Nubble Light Series
Each novel consists of a female main character who has a personal obstacle to overcome. Some learn about the importance of second chances, while others are challenged to love without hesitation. Whatever the lesson may be, they learn from the experience of other characters, as the action toggles between multiple time periods such as 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
There are currently three books in the series with the fourth book on the way. These stories take readers on a journey of big emotions and leave them satisfied and happy for the characters, while also leaving them wanting more! They can’t wait to pick up the next book to check in on their old friends and meet new ones.
The Hundreth Time Around
The intensity of his gaze as he stared down at the sand between his bare toes would make a person stop and wonder if he was counting the grains. He wasn’t counting anything, actually, other than his uninvited tears. He didn’t want to cry in front of her. He didn’t cry in front of anybody.
She reached out and grasped his hand. The calluses on his fingertips brushed ever so slightly against hers, so slightly that they almost didn’t touch. But she knew they were there. She had practically memorized every detail about him: how he awkwardly brushed one hand through the hair on the back of his head when he was nervous, the steady rhythm of his heartbeat when he held her in his arms, the way he smelled first thing in the morning, the look of melancholy in his eyes when she pleaded that he stay. Except today. Today, there was no begging. No asking. There was just silence. How could there be words on a day like this? There would be no laughing, no dancing, no dreaming of tomorrow. On a day like today, there was only room for goodbye.
The frigidity of the ocean water startled me as it slapped up against my ankles. I should have
known better than to comb the beach during high tide. Had Grandma taught me nothing? I would never find anything good out here tonight. My thoughts skipped and scattered, kind of like how my Pearl Jam CD was skipping in my head‐ phones. Why was it that when I made an effort to clear my head, it felt most cluttered? I tossed away the broken clam shell I had just pulled out of the soggy muck and wiped my hands on my shorts. I clutched my Discman horizontally in front of me in an effort to stop the skipping. It’s just you and me, Eddie Vedder. You, me, and the sea.
It had been days since Emma and I had moved into our summer beach rental. My twenty-second birthday had been spent lugging boxes and suitcases into our tiny version of paradise. The Seaberry felt like more of a cabin than a beach house, really. The rustic maple woodwork that framed the walls and ceilings was welcoming. I sensed immediately the familiar vibe that this house had once been loved. For some, it might have seemed too small or too many miles from shore. But to two twentysomething girls straight out of undergrad, it signified nothing but a summer of possibility.
I lost my train of thought once again due to the breath‐ taking view before me. I stared out at the horizon and the open water. The ocean went on farther than I could imagine. Long, thin but puffy cumulus clouds stacked against each other in rows with tiny spaces in between, allowing the smallest bit of light to peek through. Aside from a few sail‐ boats in the distance, the water was all I could see. The surfers and tourists were gone for the evening. Pearl Jam wasn’t skipping anymore. Eddie’s voice was raspy and intox‐ icating, and I breathed in the salt from the air.
I inhaled again, and the dampness of salt mixed with wind took my breath away. Sometimes it seemed almost impossibly easy for the sea to calm my anxieties.
As a hand on my shoulder jolted me back to reality, I stopped in my tracks and jumped at least two feet off the ground. I gasped, unable to catch my breath, as my heart raced and thudded. I lost my footing as I tried to get a look at this person who had invaded my calm beach moment. I tripped over an unexpected rock, almost dropping my Disc‐ man. I didn’t know this guy. But the hand, his hand, reached down and caught my device centimeters before it hit the water.
“I’m sorry! Can I help you?” I exploded. I stood up as fast as I could, brushing wet sand off my denim cutoffs.
“Calm down, there, killer!” He laughed.
“Calm down? You can’t just frolic around the beach, grab‐ bing girls! You’re lucky I didn’t kick you in the…”
He looked amused. He stared at me for a beat. “Kick me in the what?”
I rolled my eyes, but he smiled back and handed me my Discman. I nodded my thanks and plugged my headphones back into the jack, trying with great effort to get my hands to stop shaking.
“What are you listening to?”
I chuckled as if to say “No way, not gonna happen” and turned to face the other direction, very much aware that we were the only two people on Long Sands Beach.
“Are you just going to walk away?”
I turned, paused, and checked him over. He didn’t appear to be a serial killer or a stalker, but what did those really look like? I wished I had a cell phone like Emma did. I would flip it open and call 911. But instead, I speedily studied his profile just in case I needed to give the police a description later on. I imagined myself sitting at the station like they did on TV, trying to give an estimate of his height, when all I could really tell at this moment was that he was taller than me (six foot one maybe?) with brown hair and dark eyes. They would want to know his weight, but I stank at that, and I was distracted by his dimples.
“I don’t talk to strangers,” I sassed, satisfied with my response. I continued strutting away from him and carefully placed my headphones over my ears.
He touched my shoulder again. I flicked his hand off. “Are you nuts?” It was more like a statement than a question.
He froze and held both hands in front of his face as if to say he surrendered. It wasn’t until now that I realized that whoever he was, he was actually kind of cute. I sighed and turned to face him. His lips curled into a smile, and he extended his hand to mine to shake it.
“Sean,” he stated. “Sean Anderson.”
I was hesitant to shake his hand, but when I did, I was surprised at how mine didn’t feel cold until now.
“Cassidy,” I replied as if I was repeating my McDonald’s order for the third time.
“Well, Cassidy.” He retrieved his hand from mine and put both of his hands in his pockets. “I was only trying to tell you that I think you have a beautiful voice.”
I blushed. I hadn’t realized that I had been singing out loud. I shook my head as if to say “Not going to happen” again and hung my headphones around my neck.
“Pearl Jam,” I mumbled. “I was listening to Pearl Jam.” I turned and continued walking. “It was nice to meet you, Sean.”
I didn’t turn back around even once. But as I changed course and cut through the center of the beach and up the steps to the parking lot, there was no doubt in my mind that he remained close behind.
“DID YOU FIND ANY?”
“You are going to have to be a little more specific.” I play‐ fully tapped Emma on her shoulder.
She rolled her eyes. “Any sea glass?”
“No. It was high tide. Not so sure if Long Sands kicks up much of that. Maybe I’ll try Short Sands next time. But I did…kind of…meet someone though,” I mumbled.
“How do you kind of meet someone?”
Emma stirred the spaghetti on the stove in the small kitchen. Hot steam surrounded the pan as she reached in with a fork and pulled out a fresh, squirmy noodle. She tossed it at me, and I caught it in midair, flinching briefly as it scalded the tips of my fingers. I blew on it and then sucked it up, making a popping sound with my lips.
“Is it done?”
“Al dente,” I mumbled while chewing.
“A few more minutes then,” she decided. “Anyways, don’t change the subject. How do you sort of meet someone? And who was it?”
“I met a guy,” I started. But I didn’t get anything else out before she was in my face, her brown eyes popping out of their sockets like something from a horror movie.
“Hello?” she shrieked. “Um, ‘by the way, Emma, I met a guy.’”
“It wasn’t like that. He wasn’t anything special.”
“Oh dear, Cassidy,” she sang with dramatic flair. “That right there is how you know he actually is.”
I stared blankly at my friend. After a few breaths and with no comeback in sight, I replied, “Hey, Em. The spaghetti is done.”
“What’s his name?” she asked, obviously ignoring me.
I twirled a strand of my red tresses around my finger. Playing nervously with my hair was a trait I had inherited from my mother and grandmother. All three of us shared the same hair and eye color. As a child, I had never liked being called Pippi Longstocking but was okay with Anne from Anne of Green Gables. Anne with an E, they would call me. Hair as red as strawberries and eyes as green as the sea.
I walked toward the fridge and brushed past Emma, who followed me around with a fork, waving it almost frantically in the air. I took the fork from her, grabbed the metal strainer, and dropped it into the tiny sink.
“You really need to get a life.” I chuckled. I stepped back, and steam exploded in front of me as I drained the pasta.
“What was his name?” she repeats. “Sean, I think.”
“Where does he live? What does he look like?”
I opened a jar of sauce and added it to the pasta pan, pretending that I didn’t care to talk about Sean, his residence, or his physical description, when the reality was that the thought of him consumed me.
“I don’t know where he lives. I was over by the rocks at Long Sands, and I don’t really remember what he looked like,” I lied again, thinking back to the description I had been ready to give the police. I was certain that I would end up mentioning the curve of his half smile and the familiarity of his brown eyes. I stirred the sauce and shrugged. I pictured his face: his defined cheekbones, his dark-brown hair, the way his biceps peeked through his white T-shirt just enough… “He had brown hair,” I said.
“That’s a start,” she replied, using her teacher voice. “Our age?”
“Maybe,” I answered. “Maybe a little older?”
We both leaned over the kitchen counter with our bowls. Emma turned to me with a mouthful of food. “I like the mystery guy.” She giggled, slurping a piece of pasta into her mouth. The sauce splattered the side of her face, and she wiped it away with the back of her hand.
“I guess,” I replied, trying to match her tone.
She adjusted the elastic holding her ponytail. It was so black in color that it camouflaged itself into the pile of thick, dark hair on the top of her head.
“Anyways,” I started, “let’s talk about work tomorrow.” “Blah,” she whined. “Boring.”
“It’s our first day.” I giggled. “Aren’t you the least bit excited?”
“Excited?” She dropped her fork. “Excited to wait tables at the lighthouse?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “Excited to make some cash so I can begin to chip away at the cost of four years of undergrad. And it’s not a lighthouse. The restaurant is next to the lighthouse.”
“Right.” She nodded. “The Nimble.”
“No.” I laughed. “It’s the Nubble Lighthouse.”
“I’m excited to make money,” she replied, ignoring my correction.
I smiled and nodded. A friend of her mother’s had set us
up with jobs. Our plan was to spend the summer waitressing and enjoying the perks of living by the ocean. Then Emma would finish up her bachelor’s degree with her student teaching, and I would continue with my education in Boston at Harvard Law. That would only be made possible by my own blood, sweat, and tears (and a few scholarships), whereas Emma would graduate in a few years with not one student loan, her master’s fully paid for by her parents.
“Anyways,” I continued, slurping up the last of my pasta, “we need to leave by eleven o’clock tomorrow.” I placed my dish in the sink and started to rinse it out. “I was thinking that we could hit the beach in the morning?”
“And try to find Mystery Guy?” She giggled.
I tossed the sponge at my friend, and it hit her square in the face. She laughed and chucked it back at me. I caught it and continued washing our dishes, distracted by thoughts of tomorrow and what the summer could bring. The idea of seeing him again tickled my insides in a way that wasn’t so familiar but was a tiny bit fantastic.
Hundredth time Around
#1 Amazon Best Sellers
She stands at the door in anticipation. After all, she has only waited her entire life for this night. Everything is perfect, what she has always imagined it would be, knowing that now, after all this time, she will be the one smiling in the pictures and she will be the one dancing in the spotlight. It is nothing short of a dream come true. She has envisioned it many times: her arms wrapped around him tightly, their feet moving together in unison to her favorite song. She imagines the smiles on their faces as they watch in admiration, knowing that happily ever after does exist. She knows because she is living it. She has sat back and watched, time after time, other people living their dreams… so it seems only right that now, after all this time, it is her turn to live, her turn to love.
She presses her lips together and closes her eyes. Her stomach flips and flops, and her heart races, faster and faster like a beat of a drum, picking up at a steady pace and building dynamically. Any minute now, she will open the door. She will step over the threshold, and he will be on the other side. He will take her hand in his. He will smile in that familiar way he does, nothing short of perfect.
The night won’t last forever, and this saddens her. But when the last song ends and the dance floor clears… it will be only the beginning. They will walk out together, hand in hand. Not just into the perfect sunset but into a life full of love and a future full of promise… just as she had always planned.
The Nubble Lighthouse. Just when I thought I had seen it all. The spectacular colors of the greeb gardens in Paris, France. The wonders of the Rocky Moun‐ tains in Colorado. The crystal-clear night sky of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; so clear, in fact, that I believed I could reach up and pluck a twinkling star from outer space with my bare hands if I tried. I was blessed to have traveled to so many places at such a young age, fortunate enough to experience the authenticity of many different countries and cultures. But this setting, this place, it was breathtaking. The light‐ house had appeared miniature to the naked eye at first, but upon studying the way it towered over me up on the hill, its rocky coastline and lifelike waves that crashed one after another, the way it reflected the golden sun as it started to rest, specks of pink and purple glistening back at me on that evening, an overwhelming sense of inspiration took over, and I allowed myself to dream.
I had never been much of a dreamer. It was a rare occa‐ sion that I allowed myself to get too attached to any one place. My father was a pilot. He flew the new and improved
jumbo jets that only recently became popular about a year ago. Although I loved flying around with my parents and seeing the world, I sometimes longed for a normal life. Of course, at twenty-three years old, I could have suggested that I stay back home in London, alone. After all, I had friends and family there; I had a life. But there was something about traveling to new places that I couldn’t resist. And it was moments like this, when Mother Nature met the power of man, and landmarks like this lighthouse reminded me that anything was possible, that deep in my heart, I knew there was something special waiting for me. My imagination over‐ took the power of my rationality, and the quiet prison I sometimes created for myself would just melt away. It was times like this when I felt as though I was home.
I placed my blanket over the rocky ground beneath me and sat down. I crossed my legs and pulled my skirt over my knees. The blank canvas appeared clean and fresh as I retrieved it out of my bag. I found my pencil and my oil pastels and placed them down in front of me, all the while keeping my eyes focused on the masterpiece that stood before me, the tiny lighthouse and its little piece of Earth. It had been my intention to sketch the lighthouse first and then come back another night to shade in my creation. I couldn’t resist the way the delicate colors danced above me, so I decided that I would need to capture all of these magnificent elements tonight. I would need to start working quickly before it got dark, as my father would be very unhappy if I didn’t return to the Anderson Cottage prior to nightfall, and I didn’t have much time.
“Are you a famous artist or something?”
My shoulders tightened at the sound of the stranger’s voice. I jumped to my feet and glanced down the cliff toward the large mountain of rocks. A young man, who looked to be my age, was climbing up them toward me. It wasn’t until then that I also noticed a group of people, about fifty yards to my right, perched on the rocks, bottles of beer in hand.
“I like to paint,” I replied. “But I’m not sure I would consider myself to be an artist.”
He made his way over to where I was sitting. “Can I sit here?” he asked, like he had known me for years. He was dressed more appropriately for a night out, not a night on the beach. His tan polyester leisure suit stood no chance against the brown soil at my feet.
I smirked. “Aren’t you worried about ruining your trousers?”
“My trousers?” He laughed. “You mean my pants?”
“Yes, your fancy pants,” I affirmed. “If you sit here, with me on this ground, you are sure to ruin your fancy trousers.”
He laughed, and when he did, his brown mustache seemed to take on a life of its own. He chuckled and ran his fingers through his brown hair. “Not if I sit on that,” he said, pointing to the navy-blue blanket I had borrowed from the Anderson Cottage.
“Well, all right, then,” I agreed. “Have a seat.” I sat back down and stretched my blanket out as far as it could go. He sat down next to me. He smelled like cigarettes and beach air.
“Looks good,” he said as he studied my sketch. “Well, I didn’t get very far.” I sighed.
“Why is that?”
“Well, you came along, for starters.”
He crossed his arms over his chest. “I can take a hint,” he said, his eyebrows raising slightly. He began to stand back up, but I placed my hand on his arm.
“You don’t have to go,” I said, realizing for a quick beat that I really didn’t want him to leave. “Are those your friends down there, getting pissed?”
I laughed. “Drunk,” I explained. “Where I come from, we call it getting pissed.”
He laughed, and it sounded like music to my ears. I studied him closely and considered the possibility that underneath his shaggy brown hair and trendy mustache, there might have simply been a real person under there who just wanted to talk.
“Yes, those are my friends. This has always been… kind of where we hang out,” he explained. He gestured toward the small hangout. A girl who looked a tad bit younger than me was sitting on the ground with her acoustic guitar on her lap. Her voice echoed through the night air. It was soft and angelic. I struggled to make out the song she sang, but it was difficult. I brushed off the sudden and unexpected urge to be a part of it.
My eyes grew wide, and I studied him carefully. “Well, are you getting pissed?” I asked, a small giggle escaping from somewhere inside me.
“Me? Drunk?” “Yes, you. Pissed.”
“No, but I can. I mean, can I get you a drink?”
“Me? Heavens no. If I came back smelling like booze, my father would have my head.” I ran my finger horizontally across my throat to signify my inevitable beheading.
He laughed. “Well, we wouldn’t want that,” he replied, his tone turning serious.
“No, we wouldn’t,” I agreed. A slight chill ran through me, and I shuddered. It was remarkable how quickly the air turned cool here. I rubbed my arms in an attempt to ease the prickliness of the goose bumps that were forming on my bare skin.
“Are you cold?” he asked. “Yes,” I confessed. “Just a bit.” “Want my jacket?”
I thought about it for a moment. “You don’t even know me. Why would you want to give me your jacket?” I asked, making an effort to remind him that we had only just met.
His eyes found mine. The playfulness of the moment faded away, like the end of a romantic scene at a major motion picture. “You’re right,” he affirmed. “I don’t know you, but I would love the chance to try.”
“To get to know you.”
I smiled and met his stare. The blue in his eyes reminded me of the way the dark colors of the ocean had hypnotized me just moments earlier. Now, this person… this stranger and his ocean-blue eyes had me feeling just as captivated. “Sure,” I whispered.
“Sure?” he asked, confused. “You want to get to know me?”
“No.” I snickered. “I will take your jacket.”
He exhaled, and I realized he had been holding his breath in anticipation of my response. He removed his jacket and placed it around my shoulders. I slipped one arm in at a time, growing fond of the smell of him. I reached under the back of the sport coat and pulled my long blond hair through the top and collected it over my shoulders. I closed the jacket over me and hugged my arms to my chest. I recognized the smell of his aftershave. “Old Spice,” I declared. “Very nice choice.”
He folded his arms over his chest. “I’m impressed.” “Nothing gets by this nose,” I bragged. I pointed to my
nose and laughed to myself, thinking of my father’s love for Old Spice. My mother gifted it to him in his Christmas stocking year after year.
“I guess not,” he agreed. He moved closer to me on the blanket, and my knees grew weak. His arm brushed up against mine. “What’s your name anyways?” he asked.
I smiled, thankful that he finally asked. “You tell me yours first,” I insisted.
“Why is that?” he asked, pretending to nudge my arm. “Because,” I started, “if you tell me first, then I can tell you
mine, and you won’t be a stranger.”
“True again.” He laughed. “Jason,” he said. “Jason Davis.” “It’s nice to meet you, Jason.” I hadn’t meant to whisper.
But for some reason, I was suddenly incapable of forming words in the way I intended. He was closer now, and if I wanted to, I could rest my head on his shoulder—and I wanted to. “My name is Emiline. Emiline Wilson.” I extended my hand out to him for a handshake, but instead of shaking my hand, he pressed it to his mustache and kissed it. The bristles of his whiskers tickled my fingers.
“Well aren’t you just the ladies’ man?” I giggled.
“No, just a gentleman,” he insisted, which was something I could already sense about him.
I pulled my hand back and fiddled with my pencil. “Your friend has a beautiful voice,” I said, gesturing to where his friends were seated.
He nodded. “That’s Beverly,” he explained. “You will never see her without that guitar on her lap. Beverly is my buddy John’s kid sister.”
I listened again and this time could hear a familiar Joan Baez tune. I wondered if someday, when I would be old and gray, I would think of Jason Davis each time I heard it. I quickly shook away the thought. “Do you live here?” I asked, trying desperately to control the pounding in my chest.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “Right here in Cape Neddick. I graduated a few years back. I’ve been bartending downtown ever since. How about you? Are you here on vacation?”
“You could say that,” I started. “My whole life is sort of a vacation in a way.”
“How so?” he asked as his hand moved closer to mine.
“My father is a pilot.” “Like, in the air force?”
“No, just a pilot. He flies the 747 jumbo jets,” I explained. “My parents love to travel, so my father’s job is their ticket. I’m along for the ride, I guess you could say.”
“Groovy!” he exclaimed.
I turned to study him once again. I wondered what his smile would look like underneath the mop of fuzzy hair on his upper lip. From what I could tell, it was quite nice. His mustache was so… I don’t know… unfortunate. “Yes, groovy,” I repeated. My accent made the word seem generic and out of place.
“Where are you from?” he asked. “My accent doesn’t give it away?”
“Well, you obviously aren’t from New England.” “I stick out like a sore thumb, don’t I?”
His smile turned serious, and he studied me for a beat. “I think it’s beautiful, your accent.” His voice trailed off into the night.
It was dark now, and my father was sure to be furious. I wondered if he had already sent out a search party. I blushed. “London. London, England,” I said, glancing down at my watch. “So, Jason from Cape Neddick, Maine… it’s getting late.” I started to gather my things, but he placed his hand on my arm. The warmness that ran through my veins was invig‐ orating, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave. It wasn’t my usual behavior to befriend strangers. It especially wasn’t typical of me to feel so connected to one.
He seemed to sense it, too, and he pressed my hand to his lips once more. “I’m glad I met you,” he whispered.
“I’m glad I met you too.”
His eyes locked on mine, and I was torn between what felt appropriate and what felt right. He reached forward and kissed the top of my forehead. I closed my eyes and envi‐
sioned standing up and walking down to his party with him, hand in hand. He would introduce me to his friends, and I would join their circle. We would sit together, Jason and I, listening to the angelic voice of Beverly and the sweet sound of her guitar. I would rest my head on his shoulder, and he would sing into my ear. I could see it so clearly and wanted it so badly that I almost believed it to be true. But it wasn’t. And the reality was that in just two short weeks, I would be flying home to London, and I would be leaving Jason Davis behind. “I… I have to go,” I said. I stood. “Can I have my blanket back? I borrowed it from the cottage I am staying at.” “Of course.” He stood, reached down, and collected the blanket. He brushed it off against his leg and then handed it
to me. I hugged the soft fabric to my chest.
I turned to leave but stopped in my tracks. “Bloody hell, your jacket!” I exclaimed. “I almost took it with me.”
“You take it,” he insisted.
“I can’t.” I laughed. “It matches your fancy pants.” I started to take it off but winced in pain. My hair had gotten stuck in one of the buttons. “Ouch,” I cried. “My hair is stuck.”
“Let me look.”
I held the jacket in my hands and leaned my head close to him. He worked quickly and, without much effort, was able to untangle the few tresses from the wrath of his button.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
He tucked the rescued strands of blond behind my ear, and his eyes grew serious. “You really are beautiful, Emiline.” I blushed and looked away. “It was really nice to meet you, Jason.” I turned and started to walk away, ready to leave him and his trendy tan leisure suit and his hip group of friends behind.
“Where are you staying?” he called from where I left him.
I stopped and turned back around and considered giving him the address. I could tell him where I was living, and
there was a chance we would meet again. I could lie and tell him that I was unsure of the address. I could also tell him that I didn’t share that sort of thing with men I didn’t know, which would in fact have been the truth. But as I stared back at him and examined the genuine way he looked at me, I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it was the way the moon reflected off the water and shone on him like a spotlight, moving me in such a way that made me want to paint his portrait. Maybe it was the way he had kissed my forehead; I had never been kissed so gently. Whatever it was, I knew I was falling, fast. I needed to see him again. “The Anderson Cottage,” I whispered. “Anderson Cottage, third floor.” I adjusted my bag on my shoulder and hurried up the hill, eagerly anticipating our next encounter, already dreaming of what was yet to come.
curse under my breath as the heat from the leather seat scalds my legs. I make a mental note to steer clear of a color that attracts the southern Florida sun next time I purchase a car. Although the discomfort of a minuscule burn seems insignificant in comparison to owning my dream car, a royal-blue 2018 Ford Mustang convertible with black interior. Standard transmission, obvi‐ ously. I only drive stick.
I take a sip of my water and start my car, confirming with myself that my automobile is in fact perfect. I close the top of the car and crank the air conditioner. Even though I have lived in southern Florida for the past fourteen years, I find that I still have difficulties with the humidity and heat, espe‐ cially this time of year. When I first moved down south for college, I was so overwhelmed by the temperature that I almost moved home freshman year. Air-conditioning was the only thing that kept me from fleeing back up north. There were times I had felt as though I was roasting in an Instant Pot, simmering from the inside out.
“Dial Franny,” I order my Bluetooth.
Franny picks up after one ring. “Hi, Hazel,” she sings with her usual peppiness.
“How is it going on the Peterson wedding cake?” I ask. “I’m good. How are you?” she jokes.
“I’m sorry, Franny.” I chuckle. “How are you?”
“Great. Thanks for asking.” She laughs. “How was your date last night?”
My shoulders tighten in response to her question. “Not conversation worthy,” I respond. Images of my evening flash through my mind. It wasn’t completely lousy, just nothing to write home about.
“I see.” She sighs. “Not your dream guy?”
“Nope,” I respond. “Can I have an update on the Peterson cake, though? I’m trying to get home for Ellie’s game, but there are just too many things I still need to confirm before the weekend.”
“I will have it finished tonight, and I will deliver it to the venue on Saturday morning,” she confirms.
“You’re the best,” I say, shifting into fifth gear on the highway.
“Anytime! Tell Ellie good luck at her game.”
I press the phone button on my steering wheel and end the call, shifting gears again. I am thankful for Franny and her cake business. Of course, I appreciate all of my vendors, but Franny literally takes the cake when it comes to desserts. She was my roommate for all four years of college, and if it wasn’t for her support and confidence in me, I might have run back home to Maine before graduation. Now, I own one of the most successful event-planning companies in the region.
I turn the stereo up and find my favorite song on my playlist, quickly passing the car in front of me. I am only ten minutes from home. Surely I will have time to make Ellie’s game. My ten-year-old daughter is one of the girliest girls around, but when she takes the flag football field with her team, she never ceases to amaze me. The boys on the team have nicknamed her Lightning, and I don’t think she minds that name one bit.
My phone rings and interrupts my thoughts. “Events by Hazel. This is Hazel Lavigne.”
“Hazel, it’s Dale calling from Floral Inspirations. I’m afraid I have bad news about the flowers for the Peterson wedding.”
No, you don’t, I think. There will be no bad news about the arrangements we talked about and contracted months ago. No bad news regarding the coral and pink arrangement of oriental lilies, along with the green monstera leaves with white orchids. The flowers for Melissa Peterson’s wedding are nonnegotiable. She has a dream and a vision, and I bring it to life. That is why I am successful. So, Dale from Floral Inspirations, there will be no bad news.
I press my lips together in anticipation. “What’s going on?”
“I’m afraid there was a mix-up with our order, and we don’t have what we need for tomorrow.”
I feel my cheeks grow pink, and I turn up the air condi‐ tioner. “What exactly didn’t come in?” I try to stay calm, but it really pisses me off when details and plans that have been contracted for months fall through last minute.
“The lilies… and the orchids,” he starts. “We have them out for order next week. I’m so sorry.”
I clear my throat. “Dale,” I say. “We have a contract, a binding agreement. I am going to need you to help me get my hands on an assortment of pink and coral oriental lilies and white orchids.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Lavigne.” He sounds like he is trying to catch his breath. “There is just nothing I can do.”
“Dale, I understand the situation is out of your control, but I’m not going to let you off the hook here. Falling apart on me now is completely unacceptable. I will be at your store in twenty minutes. Put your thinking cap on, Dale. This is going to be a long night.”
OF COURSE, I don’t make it to Ellie’s game. Dale and I end up making the trip to Miami to retrieve the missing flowers. Surely he will be up all night putting the arrangements together. By the time I pull up to the security guard post at the entrance of my gated community, it is well past ten o’clock at night.
“Late night for you, ma’am,” Gus states. Gus has been the security guard at the entrance to my neighborhood since Ellie and I moved in five years ago. I appreciate Gus and his desire to make small talk. Honestly though, all I want to do is make myself a martini and get to bed.
“Yup,” I reply. I wait for him to open the gate so I can go home.
“Ellie scored three touchdowns today!” he exclaims.
I smile. My Ellie is a beast on the football field. She is tiny but quick on her feet. “Awesome,” I sing. Now, can you please open the gate?
“Have a great night, Ms. Lavigne.” “You too, Gus.”
The gate opens, and I drive through my neighborhood. I pass the small lake on my right that Ellie and I fell in love with when we first came to see the house. The light from the moon reflects on the water, and I pause to appreciate the serenity I find in quiet moments. Sometimes I feel as though life is happening so fast around me. I know that I am successful in my career, and that I am very accomplished for a woman in her early thirties. But there have been times when I feel like I am moving faster than the speed of light, and I can’t help but anticipate a crash.
I turn down my street and drive underneath the weeping willow trees that line the road. They border both sides of the street and lean into each other, creating a tunnel-like appear‐ ance. Ellie once asked me why they are called weeping willows. “Are they sad?” she had asked. “Weeping means sad, doesn’t it?” She was always thinking, that Ellie.
My response had left a lot to be desired. “Maybe you can look that up when you get to school,” I had suggested.
BY THE TIME I get inside, eat dinner, and begin getting settled for bed, it is well past midnight. The house has been cleaned up from dinner, and Ellie and Gabrielle are already both in their rooms fast asleep. The house is so quiet that it is almost eerie.
Gabrielle, or Gabby for short, is my live-in nanny. She has been with us since Ellie was a year old. Being a single mom has not been an easy feat, to say the least. When I got preg‐ nant with Ellie, it was my senior year of college. My parents begged me to come home and live with them. I was stubborn and determined to start my company myself. Day care was helpful, but when Events by Hazel really started to take off, I began missing pickup deadlines and pediatrician appoint‐ ments, feeding fast food to my daughter for at least two of her meals every day. There were nights I cried myself to sleep, thinking that I really would not be able to do this. I never had huge plans of becoming a mother. Once I had Ellie, I struggled to fit in with other moms. I had the utmost respect and appreciated those who were able to hop on Pinterest and brainstorm ways to pack their child’s healthy lunches or the moms who organized the playgroups and car pools. It just wasn’t natural for me. My business was reviewed as being in the top ten event-planning companies by the time Ellie was eleven months old. Balancing my career and my daughter had started to feel impossible.
It was Franny who suggested I hire a nanny. The two of us together found Gabrielle, and she was, in fact, a dream come true. I am pretty sure that Ellie thinks of her as a mother, too, which sometimes hits a funny nerve and some‐ times is almost a relief. Gabrielle is responsible for mostly everything when it comes to Ellie. I am thankful for the school lunches she packs and for all the drop-offs, pickups, and transportation to activities. Gabrielle is actually the reason that Ellie started taking an interest in football in the first place. The two of them always have a football game on the TV, and they hoot and holler at the players regardless of what game they are watching.
I finish brushing my teeth and pull my dark hair up into a messy bun. I stare at my reflection. I sigh and reach for my eye cream. Dark circles peek out underneath my blue eyes. I would need to get some sleep for the big day tomorrow. “Miss Peterson better be very happy with her floral arrange‐ ments,” I say out loud. I turn off the light and get into bed, almost falling asleep before my head hits my pillow.
#1 Amazon Best Sellers
Never in a Billion
Definition of never/not in a thousand/million/billion years—used as a strong way of saying that something is extremely unlikely or impossible. —Merriam Webster
IMPOSSIBLE. Such a crummy word. The mere principle of identifying something as extremely unlikely, or not going to happen, disturbs me in ways that are unexplainable. I often come across as overly optimistic, naïve, or even childish at times, simply
because I truly believe that nothing is unattainable or unsolvable; there is simply always a way. Consider the New England Patriots in Superbowl XLIX. My party guests vanished back to the comfort of their own sofas long before the end of the game. Although I insisted that two minutes was plenty of time to pull around, they disagreed, leaving me to witness the greatest comeback of all time unfold before my very eyes—victory.
A simple Google search will reveal concepts throughout history that were once considered impossible. Automobiles, lightbulbs, air travel, television, and computers for starters. I sometimes chuckle to myself when I think of the satisfaction that must have amounted when award-winning inventors or well-educated scientists stared down their critics with glee and gloated, “Told you so.” And what about those that allowed their dreams and greatest desires to be oppressed by others? Imagine the billions of ideas, successes, and relationships that could have been?
So, if that’s the case and impossible things can be possible, then why is it that we get so irrationally stuck and paralyzed with fear when we consider what we desire to be unlikely, impossible, or in simpler terms… not going to happen? I, for one, will jiggle that Magic 8-Ball until as I see it, YES, appears in the blue triangle, securing my destiny in my own hands.
What I hope you can take from today’s article, dear reader, is never give up hope. Just because the thing (or person, for that matter) you desire seems remarkably out of reach doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The only thing worse than giving up hope on something you want more than anything… is regret.
“Never in a million years will that happen,” you say… never in a billion? Well, my friends, you just might be that one in a billion. Never give up hope.
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
The familiar click-clack of my black Jimmy Choos against the newly paved parking lot provides an unexpected sense of comfort as the last drop of my morning coffee trickles down. I nod and smile at the familiar faces of my coworkers and stop only to toss my coffee cup in the nearest waste basket. I am already running twenty minutes late this morning, and an overwhelming sense of panic ripples through me. Today is the day, I think.
I reach for the metal handle of the front door to Wells Valley Cove and Retirement Center, but it swings open before I even make contact.
“Morning, Miss Thatcher,” Seth greets me.
I roll my eyes and adjust my burgundy Kate Spade tote bag with one hand and fix the collar of my black suit coat with the other. “Seth,” I snarl, determined to avoid eye contact. “We dated for like three years. I’ve told you before— you don’t need to call me Miss Thatcher.”
“Just doing my job, Miss Thatcher.”
I cave and unglue my gaze from the floor and make eye contact with him. He smirks at me, and it doesn’t take long before my insides tingle, and I am immediately sucked into another universe through his irresistible baby blues. Of course, my ex-boyfriend must be Zac Efron’s doppelgänger. I pause and make a mental note to keep my next relationship out of the workplace. “Have a nice day, Seth,” I state politely, just as I have practiced every day for the past three weeks and two days since our breakup.
I squeeze by him, allowing the sides of our bodies to touch, and collect my ash-blond hair awkwardly over one shoulder.
“You look nice today, Maggie.”
I stop short and turn toward him; the warmth of his breath against my cheek weakens my knees. I pause, face him again, and wonder if he means it or if he is simply kissing my ass. “Thank you.”
He sticks his hands in his pockets and looks me up and down. “Interview day?”
I feel blood rush to my face and pray that he can’t see the effect he has on me. “It is,” I say, rummaging through my bag and retrieving my favorite berry lipstick. I pop it open and begin reapplying, a nervous habit of mine.
“Maggie, I—” he starts but stops because a family is entering the building and he needs to open the door. I use this opportunity to deposit my lipstick back in my bag and scurry away.
“Welcome to Wells Valley Cove and Retirement Center,” he says, his voice fading slowly from a distance.
I retrieve my phone from my pocket and sneak a peek at the time; there are two hours until my big interview.
“Maggie!” he shouts. I stop in my tracks and spin around once more.
I raise my eyebrows, clearly annoyed, and mouth the word What?
“Happy birthday!” he hollers.
I shake my head and sigh, annoyed because Seth knows how much I hate my birthday. “Thanks, Seth, really.”
“Twenty-eight has never looked so good!”
I cringe and pick up the pace as I hustle down the carpeted hallway toward my office, trying my best to disre‐ gard the happy-birthday wishes from those around me thanks to Seth Jenson and his pathetic attempt to win me back. I grasp the brass doorknob and pause for a beat. My lips form into a soft smile, and for some reason, I can’t remember why we broke up in the first place.
MY FINGERS TAP briskly against my laptop keys as I finish my last email response of the morning. The clock on the upper- right part of my screen is taunting me. My interview is in exactly one hour. I sigh and reach my hands up overhead in a long and extended stretch. I inhale, exhale, and reassure myself that this will be a piece of cake. Although I love my job as director of activities and wellness, it has been my dream to be promoted to an administrator position. My experiences and my time at WVC ensured that I would be a perfect fit for such a position, but until now, I didn’t have the necessary degree to back that up. However, my newly completed master’s degree in the field is sure to seal the deal; the opening as nursing home management and administrator is sure to be mine… I just need to make it through the inter‐ view in one piece.
I close my laptop and nervously spin from side to side in my office chair before rising from my seat and checking my skirt for wrinkles and evidence of dog hair in the mirror. I don’t always wear suits to the office, but this is in fact inter‐ view day, and my father instilled in me the importance of dressing for success since my kindergarten graduation.
The buzzing of my cell from my mahogany desk startles me, interrupting my thoughts, and I smile when I see a text message from West on my screen. I lean against my desk and swipe open the text.
West: Happy 28th to my best friend (insert inappropriate shirt‐ less strippers in party hats)
I smile and shake my head, realizing that he is the only person in the entire world who could wish me happy birthday and live to talk about it.
Maggie: LOL. Thank you.
West: Any big birthday plans?
Maggie: Nope. Just here at work, hoping everyone forgets that it’s my birthday.
West: Don’t you have your interview today? Maggie: Yup… soon actually (insert scared emoji) West: You are going to crush it, Mags. You always do.
I start to type back, but my screen is taken over by an incoming call. Kendra’s name appears on my screen, and my heart crumbles. “Not today!” I plead with the universe. “Please, not today.”
I shake my head from side to side and answer the phone on speaker, kicking off my shoes before I start to speak. I already know this is bad news because Kendra Ferguson only calls me during the day about lunch—or if Art Young has gotten into trouble again—and it isn’t time for lunch.
“Please tell me this isn’t what I think it is,” I beg into my cell.
“Oh, I wish I were calling for your Chipotle order.” “What happened?”
“Art is down at the water, and he is refusing to come in. I can get someone else to handle it, Maggie, you have a big day today. It’s just that you told me to always call you first… you know… when it comes to Art.”
I dash over to the large picture window that overlooks our private beach and pull back the turquoise curtains. The view from my office is truly breathtaking. The sunlight resonates against the dark surface of the ocean water under almost-cloudless blue sky. When I arrived this morning, it was low tide, the sand extending out for what seemed like miles. But now, the tide is coming in, leaving a significant amount of ocean and very little beach.
“I don’t see him, Kendra,” I groan. “What happened this time?”
Kendra sighs, sounding openly frustrated. “He just really wanted to go to the beach. I explained to him that our day is structured now that he is no longer in independent living… but he just barked at me like he was some kind of… I don’t know… animal or something.”
I shield my eyes from the sunlight with my palm and scope out the area, searching for Art Young, my eighty-two- year-old beach-going fugitive. “I still don’t see him. Are you sure he went outside?”
“Yes, I am sure.”
I switch my gaze from the shore and scan the ocean. Sure enough, Art Young, fully clothed in his khaki pants and Hawaiian shirt, is wading knee-deep in the Atlantic. “What the—”
“What is it?” Kendra asks.
I reach for my bottom desk drawer and grab the flip-flops that I keep for times such as these. “He’s in the freaking water!” I squeal. I toss my suit jacket onto my chair and head out of my office, phone in hand.
“Oh, no, Maggie. Why don’t you let me handle this? Or security, even? You have your interview.”
My hand slides along the banister as my feet flip and flop down the concrete steps. “Because.” I sigh. “It’s Art Young we are talking about. You know how important he is to me.”
I CHECK the time on my cell phone, realizing that I only have forty minutes until my interview. I need to act fast; I fling my cell down on a blue-and-white-striped beach chair and begin rolling up my blouse sleeves. I’m about twenty yards from Art, who is now waist-deep in the water, floating over the waves like a pesky seagull, grinning from ear to ear.
I kick off my flip-flops and call out to him as calmly as I can in this moment. “Nice day for a swim?”
If he hears me, he is choosing to ignore me. I clench my fists by my sides and count to ten before calling to him once more. “Art! You need to come back in! Swimming time isn’t until after lunch.”
I’m not concerned about Art’s swimming ability. Not only was he a lifeguard during his prime years, but he was also quite the surfer. I tighten my jaw and shake my head in aggravation. Of course, he can hear me; he is simply choosing to pretend I don’t exist. I look around again, searching for signs of WVC Security. If Art gets in trouble with security, he could lose outside time all together or even get kicked out of the facility. Not on my watch, I think to myself. I tug my skirt up to my knees and begin to kick through the chilly ocean water. He peeks at me with one eye open and grins again, almost like he has planned this little excursion. “I have my interview today, Art! Why don’t you come in, and we can talk about it?”
With this, Art lies down on his back and continues float‐ ing. His khakis have become transparent, and I can see the outline of his tighty-whities. His Hawaiian shirt sticks to his skin like a wetsuit, and his thinning silver hair glistens against the early-afternoon sun.
I side-glance over my shoulder and spot a security guard heading our way. I hold up a finger as if to say, One minute, and turn back toward my friend, thankful for the positive rapport I have established with the WVC Security Team. But I know that I only have so long until they, too, will need to follow typical processes and procedures. “Art!” I snap, less patient this time. “You are going to get in trouble again,” I warn like I am scolding a four-year-old child.
Art shoots his eyes open just as larger waves crash over him. “That’s the problem, Maggie,” he barks. “I should be able to come out here whenever I damn well please.”
I nod my head in agreement, attempting with every piece of my soul to empathize with him. Art was one of the first residents at Wells Valley Cove. He came to live at the facility when he was in his early sixties. Back then, he started as an independent-living resident; basically, he was functioning on his own and could utilize whatever amenities at WVC and could come and go as he pleased. That was, until Art started to show signs that he couldn’t take care of himself like he used to. He had fallen in the shower, and it had been almost twenty-four hours before anyone realized. Transitioning into assisted living and needing more care than before was a tough pill for him to swallow. I, too, would struggle with my freedom being ripped away. The idea of needing to ask permission before taking a swim was enough to soften my tough exterior and genuinely level with him. I mean, the guy hurt himself in the shower, not in the ocean. “I know. Why don’t we go talk about it up on the beach?”
“Why don’t we talk about it out here?”
I sigh and shimmy my skirt up as high as I can without exposing my rear end to the audience of retirement folk that has gathered on the beach around us—most of them being from the crew that Art was spending most of his time with prior to his transfer to assisted living.
I kick through the waves and shudder as chilly water splashes up around me, but I am no stranger to the sixty-degree waters of the Atlantic. I cringe anyway, envisioning myself sitting before the interview panel, looking like a drowned rat.
“Hi, Maggie,” Art greets calmly.
I bite my lip and try to hide my aggravation. “What’s going on, Art?”
“Interview today?” He is speaking to me, but his eyes remain closed as he floats over the waves, happy as a freaking clam.
A large wave heads our way, and I turn my back to it, allowing the frigid water to smack my backside and lift my skirt. “Ugh,” I cry out. “I’m trying to help you, Art, but this is ridiculous.”
Art sits up, chuckles, and collapses into an incoming wave. He emerges from the tide and shakes the water out of his silver tresses and frowns. “I should be able to swim when‐ ever I want,” he barks. He sinks into the water and swims back toward me, his long strokes those of an Olympic athlete, not of a man in his early eighties.
“Okay,” I respond. “Like I said, we can talk about it on the beach. Maybe… maybe I can even talk to my father about it.”
I hate to play the dad card, but there is no better time than the present. My father, Gary Thatcher, purchased WVC back in 1999. He is known throughout the Maine community for one thing and one thing only: investing in and remodeling one of the most successful retirement communities and nursing homes in New England. Not only did he purchase the land and the original facility, but because of the large sum of money my grandparents left him in their will, he was able to invest in the project on his own, creating a luxurious and affordable way for the southern Maine folk to retire together, by a place dear to their hearts—the ocean. The truth is, however, that he won’t have much leverage when it comes to Art’s privileges. I know this because it won’t be the first time I bring up Art Young with my father.
Art hesitates for a moment and studies me carefully. “We go way back, you and me,” he reminds me, his tone solemn and steady.
“Yes, we do.”
“Don’t you remember what I taught you? All those years ago?”
I examine him closely, and for a moment, I am not twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Thatcher anymore. I am a naïve and vulnerable seventeen-year-old girl, a troublemaker who got caught up with the wrong crowd. Standing before me is Art, my friend and mentor, and I realize that although this whole situation is silly, he isn’t entirely wrong. Art should be able to go to the beach whenever he damn well pleases. Art needs the ocean like most people need air. “Yes,” I state firmly. “I remember what you taught me.”
“Then why, after all this time, do you need a new job? Why would you leave the activities department? Why would you leave me?”
My heart all but shatters into a million pieces as I realize that this isn’t about Art and his recreational swimming restrictions; this is about me. Art is afraid of losing me. This isn’t completely a surprise, as I understood that taking a position on the admin team would, in fact, mean less time with the residents. But I made a promise with myself to stay connected with them, even if I’m not directly involved with their daily living situations.
“You are a people person, Maggie. They are going to lock you up in a cubicle and put you on the Zoom all day. You know that, right?”
I chuckle at his comment as I wade through the icy water and take his hand in mine. “The Zoom doesn’t scare me.” I laugh. “Art, I’m not leaving WVC. I will still be working—”
Art holds his free hand up, stops me midsentence, and grins like a child up to no good. “Swim with me, Maggie,” he pleads. “Swim with your old pal Art.”
Something about the urgency in his voice causes me to plop down next to him without hesitation. My body temper‐ ature is finally regulating, but now the water is causing my new and very expensive skirt to float up over me like a para‐ chute. But Art is right. As I lay my head back, allowing my hair to flow freely over each breaking wave, an unexpected sense of peace surrounds me. Art Young has a way of reminding me who I am and where I come from. If he needs me to swim with him, then, well… I am going to swim.
We lie there, Art and I, floating for what feels like hours but is probably just minutes, and I am reminded of some of the life lessons and principles he has taught me over the years; suddenly, my job interview is the farthest thing from my mind… which is good, because I don’t have anything to wear.
“Hey!” A familiar voice jolts me back to reality, and my eyes snap open in surprise. “Nice day for a swim, or what?”
Standing over me is the tall and handsome figure of West Young. I shriek, unable to believe my own eyes, forgetting for a second that I am swimming in my interview clothes. I care‐ fully remove my hand from Art’s as he struggles to rise to his feet. My attempt to stand fails, and after two awkward steps backward, I am trapped in an incoming wave. My skirt puffs up around me once more as I flounder to regain my balance, wiping the water out of my eyes with my fingers. My vision is blurry, but when he comes into focus—his brunette hair, dark eyes, athletic build, boyish grin… I realize I’m not dreaming. West has come home.
“What are you doing with my grandfather?” he chuckles. “West! West! Is it really you?” I shriek.
“Westly,” Art stammers. “Westly, you’re supposed to be in Arizona.”
West kicks through the waves, grabs my waist, and picks me up, allowing my toes to tickle the surface of the water. I wrap the soaking-wet sleeves of my blouse around his neck and kiss the side of his cheek as pure happiness floods my soul. “You’re really here!”
“I’m really here.”
“What are you doing here, Westly?” Art asks through his laughter.
West puts me down and turns toward his grandfather, drawing him close in a tight embrace. “I had to see my best friend Maggie on her twenty-eighth birthday,” he explains, turning to me and winking in the charming way he often does.
“It’s your birthday?” Art asks, mouth gaping wide.
“Yes,” I say, gathering my blond tresses into my palm and squeezing the water out. But it has been years since West has come back to New England. Surely, he is not only here for my birthday. “But that can’t be why you flew across the country.”
I canvas his eyes for answers but come up empty. He sticks his hands in his back pockets and hesitates for a beat. “Catch up after work?”
I’ve known West long enough to know he has something important to tell me, and my stomach flips in a way I hadn’t expected. “Yes,” I affirm, turning toward Art. “But can we get out of the water now? I have an interview I need to get to.”
West looks from me to his grandfather and back again, his eyes wide. “You haven’t had your interview yet?”
I smile and throw my hands out by my sides. “Nope.” I laugh because there is really nothing else to do but that.
“Yes.” Art nods. “We can get out now, Maggie. But only because it’s your birthday. Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?”
Skillfully written, with artful character development, and exciting plot development, twists and turns. The start of the story hooks you in, and it’s difficult to put the book down until the very last page, where you’re left wanting more!
I really enjoyed this book. Hard to believe Stacy is a first time author. It is well written, easy to follow the plot and you can actually see the ocean in your mind while you are reading. I see great things in this authors future.
What a wonderful, well written story. Visiting Wells and York Maine every summer for the past 25 years made the book more enjoyable to read. I could visualize the beach,the lighthouse and the smells of the ocean. An unexpected twist at the end of the story, that I didn't see coming, made me cry happy tears. Well done..
Once again Stacy Lee has given us an engaging story of love, life and lessons learned! Ten Percent of my Heart captured me from the moment I read the first page. You are reunited with Cassidy and Sean as they help to tell the story of Tessa. Through a series of unexpected twists, you become emersed in Tessa’s life, emotions, and journey to understand the importance of listening to your heart and doing what makes you happy. Ten Percent of my Heart is another incredible addition to the Nubble Light Series, set in the beautiful backdrop of York Beach, Maine making this book a must-read!
I was so excited to dive into Stacy Lee's new book, Ten Percent of my Heart. I love her Nubble Light Series! From the first page I was hooked with Tessa and her love story, but I also loved how she wove the characters from her other books into this one and we got a quick update into everyone's love lives. This is a love story between mothers, between what our heart wants, but more importantly how our choices shape not only our lives but everyone who plays a part in it. I can't wait to read her next book in this series!