It was killing her. The constant moving around, the feeling like a thief in the night.
She’d spent the last two days working at a high-end interior designer shop that catered to the rich and wealthy second-home owners in the area. She was exhausted when, after being on her feet and running around for ten hours, she boarded the boat where she’d left it at the day dock at the campgrounds on the south side.
She levered the throttle and let the sun and wind hit her face, and for a moment, just a single beat of a moment, she enjoyed herself. But eventually reality sank in. She needed to find a place before nightfall. She’d used up all her secret spots and after half an hour ended up at the cabin where everything had started. It took her a few minutes to tie the boat properly, but a lot less time than it used to.
She was out of options and had nowhere else to go, no one to turn to—at least no one she was willing to turn to.
She could leave town entirely. She knew this. She could sell the boat and go. But it wasn’t Cedar Ridge making her unhappy. In fact, she loved it here. She wouldn’t let Lucas take this town from her. He’d taken enough, and she was over it.
Besides, where would she go? Back to Dallas? Brooklyn, her sister, was a few years older than Sophie. She had her life together and didn’t need the hassle of a baby sister whose life was in the toilet. Her parents were in Dallas, too, but she couldn’t go there.
It wasn’t until she’d left for college at age eighteen with two hundred bucks in her pocket and an ancient VW that she’d realized there was nothing normal about a father who, on good days, would sit like a zombie on the couch with a month-old beard, unshowered because he was too “tired of living” to get it together to help his daughter with her math homework—even though once upon a time he’d been a brilliant physicist. And on bad days…She closed her eyes at the memory of having to shut all the shades in the house and keep the lights off, not making a single sound for sometimes forty-eight hours or more at a time, not even the creaking of the wood floors beneath her feet, because her dad’s migraines had been so bad.
No, she was satisfied with the semiannual visits she made to put in her time, to help out however she could. But more than that and she was afraid she’d end up like her dad and forget how to be happy, afraid she’d return to that shell of herself.
She was over doing that, for anyone.
The sun had begun to sink behind the mountain peaks now, casting the water in a brilliant glow, making it glitter like a bed of diamonds. In a single heartbeat the air shifted from warm to chilly, and she shivered.
She hadn’t been able to get the heater below deck going, not once. And since she wasn’t at the campground, her shower would be short, have the water pressure of an eye dropper, and be holy-shit icy cold. But she’d been saving something that would cheer her up.
She went to the tiny galley and grabbed the bottle of Glenlivet she’d found hidden on her first night out here. It’d been shoved way in the back of a cabinet, forgotten, though the moment she’d seen it, she’d known what it was.
The Scotch that Lucas had purchased on the same day he’d bought the boat and kept on board to show off to his guests. She’d asked him once why he never drank it, and he’d barked out a laugh.
“It’s special,” he’d said mysteriously. “I’m saving it for something special.”
She had no idea what that something special might’ve been, but she suspected divorcing her had been high on the list of options.
Good thing the last laugh was on him. “Finders keepers,” she murmured, and grabbed it, along with the small can of paint she’d purchased at the hardware store on the walk home.
Knowing it would be cold on deck, she searched for her jacket but couldn’t find it. Then she remembered she’d had it in her car—the one Lucas had taken back.
Shrugging, she pulled her fuzzy, thick pink bathrobe on right over the sundress she’d worn to work and headed up to the deck.
She went out to the dock and eyed the words on the hull—The Lucas.
Who named their boat after themselves? Asswads with egos bigger than their dicks, that’s who.
She opened the can and very carefully made an adjustment. The Lucas became…The Little Lucas.
She stood on the dock and eyeballed it with a pleased smile. Better. Much better.
She’d just finished with another extra swirl and was feeling righteous when someone with very long legs crouched at her side.
She looked up, and her gaze collided with Jacob of the dark sunglasses and darker smile. He stood there in a white long-sleeved Henley and an unbelievably fine-fitting pair of faded jeans. “You I’m not speaking to,” she said.