Authors: Beth Ehemann
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary Fiction, #Humor, #Romantic Comedy, #Sports, #Contemporary
Copyright © 2013 by Beth Ehemann
Cover Design by Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations
Editing by Lori Sabin
Interior design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.
All rights reserved.
This book is dedicated to Gam, the first person to show me it’s totally normal to stay up half the night reading. I love you.
“Mooooooooooooom, Piper is bothering meeeeeeeeee!”
I rolled my eyes and looked up from my textbook. Lucy was sitting at the kitchen island scowling at Piper, who was poking her with a fork.
“Good Morning, girls!” my mom called out cheerfully as she came into the kitchen, pausing to plant a kiss on top of each of their heads. “How about later, we make bead necklaces together?”
“Yay!” They chimed in unison, all traces of the brewing fight evaporating.
Mom looked over at me and winked, then looked down and nodded toward my book. “Getting a lot of studying done?”
“Not so much. I can’t seem to focus today. I wonder
,” I replied sarcastically, sticking my tongue out at the girls. They giggled, making silly faces back at me.
I had a year of nursing school left and hoped to graduate the following spring. When Zach and I lived in Minneapolis, I worked overnights at the hospital—the front desk in the emergency room, to be exact. From the moment I started working there, I fell in love with the chaotic, high-paced environment. I would sit and daydream watching the nurses, completely envious of their jobs. I wanted that so badly. As soon as we moved in with my mom and I saved up enough money, I enrolled in nursing school.
“So, what’s on the agenda for today?” I asked, pouring myself a second cup of coffee.
“Have you watched the news yet?” Mom pulled her brows together, hooding her dark emerald eyes. She started twirling her already curly hair, something she only did when she was worried.
She glanced toward the girls then back at me, leaning in close to make it difficult for two nosy five-year-olds to hear.
“Well, they’re talking about the rain storm of the century coming our way tomorrow morning. Torrential downpours, flooding, possible power outages.”
Fabulous, summer has barely started and already a huge rain storm
“So, I’m heading into town to stock up on some things. I want to make sure we have enough for the week, just in case. You know how it gets out this way when it rains a lot, especially this close to Snake River.” She grabbed her purse and keys off the kitchen counter and turned back to me. “Do you need anything while I’m out?”
“Nope, I think we’re good, thanks,” I answered, thankful that I stocked up on coloring books and crayons last month.
“Gigi!” Lucy called, causing my mom to halt in the doorway and turn around.
Lucy bit her lip, looking nervously at my mom, only snapping out of it when Piper nudged her side.
“Can you get us popsicles?” Lucy asked sheepishly.
“Red ones!” Piper blurted out on the tail of Lucy’s question.
“Maybe. I’ll see what I can find. You girls behave for your mom, please. I’ll be back in a few hours.” She turned back to me one more time. “Kacie, some of the guests might decide to check out early and be on their way before the rain starts. Can you help me out with that today?”
“Sure, but it will cost you extra,” I teased her.
She winked and returned my smile before disappearing into the hallway.
My mom’s generosity was beyond measure. Four years ago, when a tornado in the form of a piece of paper on my kitchen counter picked up my entire world, spinning it out of control, she didn’t think twice about taking in the three of us. Once the dust settled, I packed up the few possessions I cared about and numbly drove the hour home to Pine City where my mom owned and ran an inn. Not only did she not charge us anything to live with her, she also gave me a small salary, and lots of freedom, to cook for the guests.
“All right, girls, let’s clean up your breakfast, please. You guys can come up front with me and help hold down the fort while Gigi’s gone.”
A couple hours later, the girls and I curled up on the couch in the front room and said bye to the last couple to leave.
“Bye, Dr. Richardson, Mrs. Richardson! Drive safe,” I called out, waving.
“Bye, Kacie dear, we’ll be thinking about you guys. Stay safe in this storm.” Mrs. Richardson waved back. “See you in a few weeks.”
“How are my three favorite girls?” Alexa bellowed as she came through the front door of the inn. Piper and Lucy hopped off the couch and ran over to hug my best friend.
Alexa had been my best friend since the eighth grade. I had just moved here with my mom after my parents divorced. I was the new kid and also pretty shy. Add that together and you don’t exactly head straight to the “cool kids” lunch table. Alexa was definitely a permanent fixture with the in-crowd. She was beautiful, especially for an eighth grader. She had stick straight, jet-black hair that she wore very long, all the way down to her waist. The boys practically drooled when she walked by, even the high school boys.
She sat at the table behind me in science class with a couple of jocks. One day, the guys were bored and decided to pass their time by harassing me. I think it was the fifth spitball I felt bounce off the back of my head when I heard Alexa pipe up.
“Jesus, guys, do you think you’ll ever grow up?” she scolded them.
I was thankful to her for saying something but didn’t turn around to acknowledge her.
“Relax, Alexa, we’re just goofing around,” one of them snorted back.
“Well, if you’re going to continue to act like immature assholes, I’m moving.”
I heard papers rustling, a book slammed and finally her chair scraped across the science lab floor.
I was dying to turn around and watch what was happening, but I didn’t dare. Not to mention, I was incredibly bummed that the girl who got them to stop was now switching seats. I just about jumped out of my skin when her large science book crashed onto the open table space next to me. I looked up just in time to catch the rest of her papers from sliding off the other side of the table.
“Hi New Girl, what’s your name?” she asked, smiling sweetly at me as she sat down. She oozed confidence, and I was instantly envious of that about her.
“Kacie. Kacie Jensen,” I replied, trying my hardest not to sound like a scared little mouse.