The Chesapeake Diaries Series 7-Book Bundle: Coming HOme, Home Again, Almost Home, Hometown Girl, Home for the Summer, The Long Way Home, At the River's Edge

Coming Home
,
Home Again
,
Almost Home
,
Hometown Girl
,
Home for the Summer
,
The Long Way Home
, and
At the River’s Edge
are works of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

A Ballantine eBook Edition
Coming Home
copyright © 2010 by Marti Robb
Home Again
copyright © 2010 by Marti Robb
Almost Home
copyright © 2011 by Marti Robb
Hometown Girl
copyright © 2011 by Marti Robb
Home for the Summer
copyright © 2012 by Marti Robb
The Long Way Home
copyright © 2013 by Marti Robb
At the River’s Edge
copyright © 2014 by Marti Robb
Excerpt from
On Sunset Beach
copyright © 2014 by Marti Robb

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and the H
OUSE
colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Coming Home
,
Home Again
,
Almost Home
,
Hometown Girl
,
Home for the Summer
,
The Long Way Home
, and
At the River’s Edge
were each published separately by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York, in 2010, 2010, 2011, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming title
On Sunset Beach
by Mariah Stewart. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-804-18071-9

www.bantamdell.com

v3.1

Contents

Coming Home
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

A Ballantine Books Mass Market Original

Copyright © 2010 by Marti Robb

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-0-345-52034-0

www.ballantinebooks.com

v3.0_r1

Contents

Diary—

Whatever did we do here in St. Dennis before our little village was “discovered”? I remember a time when the first warm days of spring brought buds and blooms, not tourists and day-trippers, the likes of which we get these days. But no complaints! Thanks to our visitors, St. Dennis has had a rebirth in every sense. From the shops on Charles Street to the Realtors, just about everyone in town has benefited from the “new” St. Dennis. What with the monthly special attractions over the winter to tide us over till the real season begins once again in May, every business in town is faring quite well. Lord knows my little newspaper would have folded long ago if the local merchants hadn’t kept advertising twelve months each year. And the Inn has certainly prospered—my son was saying just the other day that he’s had to add to his off-season housekeeping and kitchen staff for the first time since he took over from Daniel and me. Good news indeed!

Aren’t we lucky to have such a pretty town to show off? And I hear the Chamber of Commerce has been busy organizing even more events for the new season! Lord give me strength to keep up with it all!


Grace

Chapter 1

At 6:02 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, Vanessa Keaton turned the key in the back door lock of her sweet little boutique on Charles Street and flicked off the lights. Foot traffic had been scarce, and would be, she knew, for another two weeks, at least until the St. Dennis Secret Garden Tour brought the first of the serious visitors to town. And that was just fine with her. Once the tourist season began in earnest, there would be fewer opportunities for dinners with friends or for closing early to enjoy slow walks through the town she had come to call her own.

She turned the dead bolt on the door leading down into the basement, then let herself out through the front and locked that door behind her as well. She paused to take a deep breath of the spring fragrance which she found unique to St. Dennis: salt from the Bay mixed with the scent of the hyacinths, daffodils, and early tulips planted in the wooden barrels—compliments of the garden club—that stood outside each of the shops along Charles Street. The very colors of the flowers said spring to her: purples and
pinks, yellows and whites. Just to see them made her smile.

She stepped back to take a good long look at the window she’d spent most of the day designing. Was it too early to display the tennis whites and the pastels that many of the local ladies liked to sport while golfing at the new country club outside of town? Maybe she should move those items to the smaller windows on the side of the shop, and dress her mannequins in something other than sportswear. Maybe those pretty cocktail dresses she got in from New York last week, and maybe a few of those darling evening bags from that designer she found in Cape May over the winter.

The promise of warm weather put a bounce in her step, and as she crossed the street, visions of all the new items she’d recently ordered for Bling danced in her head.

“Step lively there, miss,” the driver of the car that had stopped to let her cross called out. “Or I’ll have to arrest you for jaywalking.”

“Oh, you …” Vanessa laughed. “Why aren’t you out chasing bank robbers or car thieves?”

“There hasn’t been a bank robbed in St. Dennis for as long as I’ve lived here.” Gabriel Beck—chief of police and Vanessa’s half brother—pulled his car to the side of the road and activated his flashing lights. “And the last report of a stolen car we received turned out to be Wes Taylor’s fifteen-year-old son sneaking out in the middle of the night to see his girlfriend.”

“Slow day, eh, Beck?” She walked over to the car and leaned into the open passenger-side window.

“Just another day in paradise.” He hastened to add, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

“Well, wait another few weeks. Once the tourists start pouring into town, you’ll be wishing for a day like this, when you can cruise around town in your spiffy new official police-chief car and stop to chat with the locals.”

“Only way to stay in touch, kiddo.”

“Well, I admit I like the calm before the storm. I like to be able to close up shop at six and have the evenings to myself. I know it won’t last—and I’m grateful that my shop does so well. But it’s nice to have some quiet days to enjoy this glorious weather before the crowds arrive.” She stood to wave to the driver of a passing car. “So where’s the fiancée?”

“I dropped her off at BMI early this morning. She’s on her way to Montana to see her brother.” He glanced at his watch. “Actually, she should be arriving at his place anytime now.”

“Is this her brother the hermit?”
The one I like to think of as Mountain Man?

Beck nodded. “She’s hoping to talk him into walking her down the aisle.”

“Your wedding’s in five weeks.” Vanessa frowned. “Isn’t she cutting it a bit close?”

“She already asked her other brother, Andy, and he’s on board. But she wants them both to give her away, since their dad died last year.”

“Well, I wish her luck with that.”

“Yeah, me, too. I offered to go with her, but she thought she’d have a better chance on her own. Mia doesn’t think he’s left his place for any length of time
since their dad’s funeral. We’ll see.” He didn’t appear optimistic. “So where are you off to now?”

“I’m meeting Steffie for dinner.”

“I don’t think she’s closed up yet. There was a group in town this afternoon for a lecture over at the Historical Society. From the crowd gathered outside Steffie’s, I’d say they all stopped at her place for ice cream before getting back on their bus.”

“Thanks for the tip. I’ll walk on down and see if I can give her a hand.”

“You just want ice cream,” he teased, and put the car in drive.

“You know what I always say.” She stepped back onto the curb. “Eat dessert first.”

She waved good-bye as he pulled away, and glanced back at Bling, the front window dressing still on her mind. She mentally slapped herself on the forehead.
Duh
. The display should reflect the upcoming wedding. Pretty dresses and shoes to wear to the event. Flowers—maybe some terra-cotta pots planted with something colorful across the front of the window. Pansies, maybe. Vases of budding flowering cherry in the corners. Lots of white chiffon, puffed like clouds …

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