The sheriff returned to our porch in exactly one hour. He wore a white t-shirt with a fishing logo, a pair of khaki shorts, and a ball cap with the same fishing logo as the shirt. Even wearing very casual clothing, he still somehow managed to exude an aura of authority. He quickly looked at my messy packing and figured out the best way to get everything into the house. Avery, Grace, and I followed his orders as he handed boxes off the truck and kept us moving. His methodical ways had the truck unpacked and in the house in almost no time.
"I just realized I didn't actually introduce myself when we first met," he said to me as he lifted the last box from the truck. Grace and Avery had gone inside to get more lemonade and cookies ready. "I'm Matt Grinswald. I'm the sheriff here in town."
"Nice to meet you, Sheriff Matt," I answered with a grin. He laughed and hoisted the box onto his shoulder. Despite the limp, he carried the heavy boxes with ease.
"Your sister says you race sailboats?"
"Yup. I like to sail double-handed races. So, two sailors on one boat." I held the front door open as he walked in. The box joined a neat pile in the room that was once Betty's. I wasn't looking forward to unpacking, but at least everything was out of the truck. It was a good thing too because rain started to splatter on the windows. We walked into the living room where Avery sprawled across the couch, tired from carrying in boxes. Grace was bustling around in the kitchen.
"You'll like our marina here then. I'm told it's perfect for sailboats. I prefer something with a motor myself, but Robbie says it's the whole reason he docks here," Sheriff Matt said.
I felt a shiver go through me. No way was he talking about my Robbie.
"Robbie?" I asked, trying to keep my voice level.
"Yeah, Robbie Saunders. He keeps a boat here when he's not racing. I don't give him any trouble, though. I know he's a billionaire and all famous, but around here, we treat him like he's local." Sheriff Matt gave me a serious look. "He's part of the town, and I don't like people messing with him."
"Oh, I won't bother him. I've actually met him already; I used to sail with him when we were kids." I said it like it was nothing; like Robbie hadn't been my best friend. I said it like I hadn't tried to contact him and failed. I had given up on ever finding him and talking to him. And here he was in my new little town. Fate was funny sometimes.
"Well, when he finishes his racing season, you'll have to go say hello. He usually shows up in town around mid-September. He's a good kid. Takes himself way too seriously, but he's got a good heart. He's been real good to the town. He's even donated a wing to the hospital and keeps the marina in good condition."
I nodded. Sheriff Matt continued on about the marina and the town, but I stopped listening. My brain raced. After we had moved, Robbie and I lost contact with one another. I had tried calling him a few times like when my parents died, but it had been a long time and his number had changed. I figured he had probably forgotten about me anyway. I had looked him up on the Internet, but all I ever found was his racing stats and tabloid rumors. After so many years of us being apart, it felt strange that I could run into him again. I wondered what he was up to, and if he was happy.
"Do you have a boat?" Sheriff Matt asked. I realized he had actually asked twice, but I was so lost in my own thoughts that I hadn't heard him the first time.
"No, I don't. I don't like to sail alone, so there isn't much point in me having one all to myself."
He nodded as if he understood. There was a lot more to it than that, but I didn't want to get into it. Thunder rattled the window panes, and Sheriff Matt peered out into the storm. His phone went off, buzzing in his shorts pocket.
"I figured that was going to happen. We're short-staffed today, so I'm on call if anything happens, and something always happens during a storm." He hit a button on the phone to check the message, and then put it back in his pocket with a sigh. "I'm needed at the station."
"Thank you for helping us get everything in before the storm hit," I told him with a smile. He waved his hand as though it were nothing.
"That's what neighbors are for. It was a pleasure to meet you, Sam. Avery, Grace, good to see you," he said, tipping his baseball cap. He picked up a cookie from the tray and headed to the front door. Avery waved from the couch as he stepped out into the storm.
I closed the door carefully behind him and went to my new room. Grace started working on dinner while I began to unpack the mounds of boxes. My mind still buzzed with the idea of possibly running into Robbie again. Despite the years, I missed one of the best things from my childhood: our friendship. I didn't hold out any hope he would remember his old sailing partner or the girl who gave him his first kiss. He was a billionaire and professional sailor, while I was just some girl he used to know.
Opening a suitcase and hanging the clothes in the closet, I wondered if he had ever tried calling me. We had moved all over the country when my dad started his new business, and our phone numbers kept changing. I eventually gave up learning our new addresses. I used to pretend Robbie called one of those numbers to look for me, but I knew he was probably too busy. As time went on, the possibility of the two of us ever reconnecting became slim. We had been just kids, and kids grow up. They change. They find new friends and forget the old ones; it was just the way the world worked.
"Dinner's ready," Grace called from the kitchen. I glanced around the room, already imagining my things hanging on the wall. I felt comfortable here. A soft smile crossed my face as I headed toward the dinner table. I felt comfortable here. Even if this wasn't where I wanted to be, I knew it was where I belonged.
"Bye, Mike, I'll see you in a few hours," I called out to my boss, stepping out of the restaurant and into the warm autumn sunshine. The job at the restaurant wasn't the best, but it had paid the bills over the summer. Fall was just starting to touch the trees, turning them into glorious balls of fire against the blue sky. The change had come early this year, but I was enjoying the extra color in the trees. "Make sure you're back in time!" Mike yelled after me. I raised my hand to acknowledge him, but I kept on walking. I had three hours before I had to pick up Avery, and then once her mom got home, I had to go back to the restaurant for a second shift. It was going to be a long day, but the extra time was going to ensure we could pay the bills this month. I walked down the pier, heading to a small shack by the water. It was technically for boats bringing fresh fish in to the restaurant, but it was the perfect place for me to store my windsurfing gear during a shift. I had three hou
A quiet beeping and a steady hiss woke me. The late afternoon sun was shining in through the windows, coating the strange room with a buttery warmth. I blinked hard, trying to clear my vision and make sense of where I was. My nose itched, and as I rubbed at it, my fingers caught the small plastic tubing. I frowned as I realized I was in the hospital. A large white-board on the adjacent wall proclaimed that my nurse was Jaime and my doctor was Dr. Robins. It took a moment, but I could remember his concerned face above me. He had nice eyes. I groaned and leaned back on the pillow, letting the memories of the ER wash over me. I recalled the kind brown eyes, the calls to the nursing staff and the glorious relief when they pushed some sort of liquid into the IV in my arm. The entire experience was blurry and surreal, but at least I remembered something. Grace would laugh when I told her about this. Grace. Avery. I sat up in a panic, adrenaline flooding through my system. I was supposed
I stared at the book the nurse had given me, but I wasn't really reading the page. It was some sort of romance novel, but I wasn't looking for love. I was looking for something to keep myself from freaking out. Despite Grace's calm assertion that we would somehow make it work, I was panicking. My boss was pissed, if the two voice-mails and three texts complaining about my not being there were any indication. He was probably going to fire me. Or at least reduce my hours for being "unreliable." I wanted to scream. My extra shift was supposed to make sure that rent and Avery's private school tuition were going to get paid without us having to skimp on groceries. It was going to be another lean month, especially since I knew my boss wouldn't schedule me for an extra shift ever again. Throw in the lack of health insurance, and this medical bill-- I was going to be broke until I was a hundred and two. A knock on the door caught my attention and made me look up. An attractive woman in her
The water splashes against the hull of my boat, a soft comforting sound. The sky is bright blue without a cloud in sight. I am at peace. This part of the dream is always pleasant. I like this part of the dream. Evan is alive and happy with Grace. Mom and Dad are safe at home, and we are going to have meatloaf for dinner. Then, the rigging starts to tangle. Impossible knots form on the lines, turning the sails into flying monsters that catch the wind and threaten to tear my boat apart. A storm is rising from the depths of hell, the sky going black in an instant. The peace and calm is gone. I have to move quickly; if I'm fast enough, I can escape the storm before it gets to me. If I just go fast enough, maybe this time I can avoid the storm. My hands fumble on the rigging, and every movement seems delayed. Wind howls through the now ripped and tangled sails, and giant waves slosh over the deck, threatening my every step. I wasn't fast enough. The storm has found me, and I can't escape
I lay in bed watching bad TV. Some girl was waiting to hear the paternity test results for her baby and had narrowed it down to five possible guys. I shook my head at her, wondering exactly how she got herself into that situation. Two guys, I could understand. But five? That must have been some party. At least a celebrity dancing show was supposed to be on next. That I could understand. I glanced at the clock. It was still early afternoon, but I was ready to get home. The concussion checks, as well as my nightmares, had made for a poor night's sleep, and the food was the usual terrible hospital fare. I was looking forward to going home to my own bed and my own fridge. As soon as the doctor came by to release me, I could leave. It was going to be a little while, though, as the nurses said he was stuck on an emergency case. Since the Saunders were covering my medical bills, I didn't really mind the wait. If nothing else, I was catching up on my trashy TV. A soft knock on my door drew
I blinked as I stepped into the bright afternoon. After the dim restaurant, the sunlight seemed almost unnaturally bright. The sky was still a cloudless blue, and the water smelled salty and clean as it came off the ocean. The afternoon was almost unseasonably warm, and it felt surreal to have the warmth with the fall colors filling the trees. Despite my manager's best efforts to make my life miserable, it was a beautiful day. "And Sam, if you miss another shift-- you're fired!" Mike called out before the door swung shut. I didn't even turn around; I just kept walking. It was a gorgeous day, and I wasn't about to let him spoil it. He had been pissed about my missed shifts and had cut my hours just like I suspected he would. Normally, I would have been panicking, but I knew the money Rachel had promised had already been wired into my bank account. The freedom of knowing that my credit cards were going to be paid off and that the tuition for Avery's private school was covered, despite
The coastal town of Winchester was not that big. It was a really nice tourist town, with a big, beautiful marina, three restaurants, and a bar that is more local than tourist. Technically, Grace and I didn't even live within the town's limits, but the sheriff still looked after us like we did. New York City was about an hour away by train, so if any of the small town's inhabitants wanted to treat someone or have a night out, most of them usually hopped on the train. Unless, of course, they happen to be the son of a billionaire. It was just before five, and Robbie was right on time. I peeked out the window and nearly didn't recognize the man walking up. I still saw him in my mind as the gangly, awkward twelve-year-old boy who liked wearing basketball shorts and t-shirts. I had only ever seen him in sailing gear or khakis since we became adults, and I was surprised to find he even owned a suit. Where I was expecting a sailor, a prince stood on my front porch. He had tamed his wild sa
The hostess greeted us and hurried us to a table for two next to one of the big pane-glass windows. The lights from the city twinkled like fireflies in the dark, the Empire State Building directly in front of us. Robbie pulled out my chair before sitting across from me. The sounds of tinkling laughter and playful chatter filled the restaurant as the guests enjoyed themselves. "This is amazing," I whispered, looking out the window and seeing the buildings shift. I realized the floor moved slightly and the view changed as the entire restaurant slowly rotated. "It's moving!" I gasped, and my eyes went wide. Robbie laughed and reached across the table to take my hand. I was glad, because I really didn't ever want him to let go. Even just the short time apart between him pulling out my chair to that moment seemed too long to not touch him. "It will make a full 360° turn every hour. This way, you'll be able to see the whole city and still get dinner," Robbie said. His green eyes danced w