The decapitated, plastic pink flamingo, standing
ass-feathers deep in what looked like poison ivy was Jamie Newman’s first clue
that doom had followed her from New York. The pictures of the “cheerful,
cozy, inviting” beach house posted on the rental internet site for the North
Carolina coastal barrier island of Seaside Cove must have been seriously
There was absolutely nothing cheerful, cozy, or inviting about
this ramshackle bungalow which sported peeling paint, grimy windows--two of
which bore jagged cracks--and a second story porch whose screens drooped like a
flag on a windless day. The ten foot stilts raising the house off the ground
resembled weathered toothpicks and the entire structure looked a single ocean
breeze away from dropping into a pile of rubble. The headless flamingo’s faded
color was the only bright spot in the tiny yard choked with weeds and thorny
Like all the neighboring dwellings, a plaque hung on the front of
the rental proclaiming the house’s name. She turned and read the names of
several homes across the street--Beach Music, Kickin’ Back, It’s Five O’Clock
Somewhere. Unlike those colorful, beautiful plaques however, her cottage
sported a splintered oval of wood bearing sun-faded sand dunes and the words
Paradise Lost. It hung at a drunken angle, above the cracked front window.
While “Lost” was appropriate, someone clearly didn’t know what
“More like Hell Found,” she muttered.
“Good luck, ma’am,” came a male voice.
Jamie yanked her gaze away from the house of horrors and saw that
while she’d been gawking, the cab driver had set her luggage at the end of the
driveway. He made a beeline for the driver’s seat.
“Whoa--you’re not leaving me here,” she said, hurrying after him.
“My shift ended twenty minutes ago, ma’am, and I promised the
wife I wouldn’t be late. As it is she’s goin’ to be hoppin’ mad.”
“She’s not the only one. There’s obviously been a mistake in my
accommodations, and I’ll need a ride once it’s straightened out.”
“I’m afraid you’ll need to call the cab company and arrange for
another driver. Don’t worry--they’ll send someone quickly if you need them to.
You have a good evenin’ now, ya hear?” With that he slammed the door and took
off like his gas tank contained rocket fuel.
“If I need them to?” Oh, she’d definitely need them to
send someone else. There was no way in hell she was staying in this tumble-down
shack. “We came to Seaside Cove to get away from disasters, not take on
any new ones, right, Cupcake?”
She looked down at Cupcake who glared at her through squinty eyes
from the confines of her cat carrier. Poor kitty. Jamie hated putting her in
the carrier as much as her beloved pet hated being in it, but safety first.
“Don’t give me that look. Believe me, it’s no better out here.”
Cupcake answered with a pissed off hiss.
“I know exactly how you feel.” In fact, pissed off
didn’t begin to describe her mood as anger and frustration burst through the
wall she’d so carefully erected around her emotions since her life had fallen
into a sink hole a week ago.
With a muttered curse she sat on one of her three overweight
suitcases that had cost an arm, leg, and part of a kidney to check in at the
airport and pulled her cell phone from her pocket. Ignoring the flash that
announced three missed calls, two voicemails and seven text messages, she
scrolled through her contacts until she found Jack Crawford. Right now the
Realtor from whom she’d picked up the keys to Paradise Lost less than ten
minutes ago when the cab had stopped at his office was number one on her hit
list. Jack Crawford had seemed like a nice man--fatherly and
oozing southern hospitality--but clearly he was insane, not to mention severely
mistaken, if he thought he could pawn off this dump on her.
After two rings, Jack’s cheery voice came through on his
voicemail stating he wasn’t available but would return “y’all’s call as soon as
“Mr. Crawford, this is Jamie Newman,” she said through her
clenched teeth. “I picked up a key at your office a few minutes ago. I need to
speak with you immediately as there’s been a mistake with my rental. Please
call me as soon as you receive this message.”
She ended the call and heaved out a disgruntled breath as she
glared at the house. The absolute last thing she wanted to do was go inside,
but given that she had no idea how long she’d have to wait for Jack Crawford to
return her call and the bottle of water she’d sucked down during the hour-long
cab ride from the airport had made its way to her bladder, she was going to have
to brave it. Not to mention that Cupcake could use a few minutes of freedom.
Pulling in a resolute breath, she grabbed the carrier then picked
her way up the crushed shell pathway--a construction material that should have
come with a warning label as she discovered when a piece of shell found its way
inside one of her flat-heeled sandals.
“Youch!” She shook her foot to dislodge the sharp shell, and
tried to recall if her tetanus shot was up to date. “Clearly I should have
worn Nikes,” she mumbled. “And a Hazmat suit.”
She cut across the cracked cement of the carport, praying with
each step the house wouldn’t collapse on top of her, then stared at the steep
wooden stairs leading up to the door. The two bottom treads were missing. Not
even broken--just completely gone. Like giant termites had come and hauled them
“Perfect. Really adds to the ambiance. Hold on, Cupcake. This
first step is gonna be a doozy.”
Jamie hauled herself and Cupcake onto the third step then
carefully climbed up, testing each tread before putting her full weight on it.
Holding the screen door open with her elbow, she inserted the key in the lock,
then pushed the door inward. And was immediately enveloped in a noxious cloud
of hot air that reeked of something fishy. Something dead and fishy.
“Holy Stink Almighty!” Jamie said, wrinkling her nose. Breathing
through her mouth, she shouldered her way in and rolled her eyes at Cupcake
whose quivering nose was pressed against the carrier.
“Yeah, sure, that’s your favorite smell but Eau de Old Man
and the Sea doesn’t make my top ten fragrances. There’s fifty bucks in it if
you find whatever that stink is and drag it outside.”
Leaving the door open so she wasn’t asphyxiated from the stink
fumes, she unlocked the carrier. Cupcake shot out so fast Jamie was shocked she
didn’t leave a vapor trail behind her. Knowing her pet was simultaneously
pouting over her confinement and scouting out potential hairball hacking
locations, Jamie looked around the shadowed interior, which was--no shocker--as
shabby as the outside.
She stood in a small, dingy kitchen complete with a linoleum
floor that peeled up in the corners, and a chipped Formica countertop. The
appliances--which she noted with horror didn’t include a dishwasher--screamed
Circa 1958. Beyond the kitchen was the living area, furnished with a
dirt-colored sofa, two folding chairs, a cracked leather beanbag chair, and a
coffee table made out of two plastic crates emblazoned with the United States
Postal Service logo topped with a piece of sway-backed, splinter-ridden
plywood. A pair of doors, both ajar, one on each side of the living area, led,
Jamie presumed to bedrooms, and hopefully a bathroom.
“Probably there’s a frat boy somewhere who would think this is
very chic,” Jamie grumbled. “No doubt the bathroom has all the elegance of a
She crossed the living area and opened the nearest door. As she
suspected, it led to a bedroom. She hit the light switch.
“Perfect.” Probably whoever owned this dump forgot to pay the
electric bill. Although that could be a blessing as the room definitely
benefited from a lack of illumination. There was no headboard or bedspread on
the bed, and the dresser was missing three of its four knobs. Clearly a garage
sale find. No blinds or curtains covered the windows, but given how dirty the
glass was privacy probably wasn’t an issue.
She stuck her head in the tiny adjoining bathroom and groaned.
Porta Potty with a shower. It had looked way larger on the internet photo. The
internet photo had also featured a shower curtain. Now there was merely a liner
of dubious cleanliness that drooped off the curtain rod as half the hooks were
Her jaw clenched. How could anyone possibly think they could get
away with renting something like this? And so grossly misrepresenting it on the
internet? It was fraud! By God, when Jack Crawford called her back he was
going to have to offer her the damn Taj Mahal of Seaside Cove to make up for
Because the pressure on her bladder had reached emergency
proportions, she made quick use of the facilities. When she finished, she
explored the rest of the house. The door on the opposite side of the main
living area yielded an identical bedroom/tiny bathroom/no light situation. The
only difference was this bed did have a bedspread--depicting the New York Mets
logo. Figures. She was a Yankees fan. Cupcake had taken up residence on the
bedspread and currently had her hind leg hoisted in the air to clean her lady
bits. She spared Jamie a single glare then resumed her cleansing ritual.
“Feel free to hack one up on the Mets,” Jamie said, sitting
gingerly on the edge of the bed.
Her cell phone buzzed and she quickly pulled it from her pocket.
When she saw the caller’s name, she was sorely tempted to hit ignore--as she’d
done the last two times he’d called--but since he obviously wasn’t taking the
hint, she might as well get this over with.
“Thank God you picked up.” Patrick Wheeler, the normally
unflappable maitre d’ of Newman’s restaurant, sounded like he was about to cry.
“Everything has gone to hell in a handbag here. The seafood delivery truck
hasn’t come because the drivers are on strike, which could continue for God
knows how long. Laurel pissed off both our beef and vegetable suppliers and
they’re now refusing to deal with anyone other than you. Not one, not two, but
three waiters and the new hostess have all called in sick--yeah,
right, like they’re not out in the Hamptons and just don’t want to come back to
the city during the worst heat wave in a decade. And don’t even get me started
on Eduardo! He’s simply impossible. Why do we have such a diva chef? Plus--“
“Patrick. Stop. Deep breath.”
She heard him pull in a shuddering lungful of air. “Okay. I
breathed. Look, I’m keeping things afloat here as best I can, but it’s like the
Titanic after the iceberg--only a matter of time before we sink. You need to
come back. Now.”
“Patrick. I told you. I’m not coming back until the end of
summer. Consider me temporarily resigned.”
“You can’t temporarily resign. Newman’s belongs to your family.”
“I’m not the only Newman.”
“But you’re the only one capable of running the restaurant. God
knows I love your mother, but a manager Maggie is not.”
Jamie couldn’t argue with him on that point. Maggie Newman was a
perfect hostess for the busy, upscale restaurant located in Manhattan’s theatre
district. But she had no talent--or interest--in anything managerial or
“Nathan is perfectly capable of handling things, she said,
referring to her assistant manager.
“Yes, but he’s off for the next two days.”
“Then call him at home.”
“I already left him two voicemails.”
“Then you’ll need to speak with Laurel about these problems,
Her voice caught on her half-sister’s name, and the sense of
betrayal that she’d fought so hard to swallow, rose up and grabbed her by the
“Laurel is part of the problem. She’s great when it comes to
schmoozing the patrons and getting her rich, fancy friends to frequent the
restaurant, but she doesn’t have the rapport with the staff or suppliers that
you do. I told you--she’s completely pissed off the beef and vegetable
suppliers with her attitude.”
“I know she can be difficult--“ Difficult, abrasive, snobby,
and oh, yeah, a back stabbing Judas, “but you need to find a way to deal
with her because for now the restaurant is out of my hands.”
“Your father is turning over in his grave to hear you even
whisper such a thing. You know that’s not what he wanted.”
Jamie gritted her teeth. Her mother had already heaped a ton of
guilt on her. The last thing she needed was more guilt--and pressure--from
Patrick. Nor did she need any reminders of her dad .
Even after three years, grief still wrenched her heart at the
mention of him. The pain had dulled with time, but it still cut deep. And no,
Tom Newman wouldn’t have wanted her to walk away from the restaurant he’d
founded thirty-five years ago--even temporarily--and where she’d worked in one
capacity or another since she was fourteen. Just one more burden for her to
deal with. Which was why she’d had to get away.
“Dad’s not here,” Jamie said quietly, “and I have to do what’s
best for me.” For the first time in my life. “I’m sorry Patrick, but
I’m off the clock until the end of August. Call Nathan again. Call Laurel or
my mother. But don’t call me.”
“I can’t help you. Good bye, Patrick.” She ended the call then
pulled in a slow deep breath. Before she’d even fully exhaled her phone rang
again. The only name she wanted to see on her caller id was Jack Crawford.
Unfortunately that’s not what she saw. That’s what she got for turning the damn
phone back on. She was once again sorely tempted to ignore the call, but she
sucked it up and answered.
“Hi, Mom.” She braced herself--Maggie Newman attracted drama
like bees to honey, and this phone call no doubt would bring some form of
“Jamie! Finally. I’ve been so worried, honey. I sent you half
a dozen texts. Are you all right?”
“Of course. I texted you when I landed.”
“Yes, but that was ages ago. Are you in Seaside Cove yet?”
“I just arrived.”
“How’s the house?”
“It’s...” her gaze darted around the bedroom and she winced.
“Perfect.” In her mind’s eye she pictured the decapitated flamingo.
“Gorgeous. A veritable palace.”
She looked upward, praying she wasn’t about to get sizzled by a
lightning bolt for that whopper. But there was no way she could tell her mom
the truth. One of Mom’s many, many arguments against Jamie leaving New York,
and going to Seaside Cove for the summer had been that any rental available on
such short notice and for such a cheap price had to be a dump.
Damn it, she hated it when Mother Knew Best. Granted, it
didn’t happen often, but still. Galling. Especially in this case.
“Oh, well I’m glad,” Mom said, not really sounding glad at all.
“I was afraid it would be awful.”
“Nope. It’s great. How are you doing?”
Her mom hesitated. Uh oh. A sure sign something was wrong.
Which meant Drama Time. “I’m fine.” The cheerful tone would have led anyone
other than Jamie to believe her words. “I just miss you.”
“I’ve only been gone since this morning,” Jamie teased.
“I know. But you’re so far away. And Newman’s simply isn’t the
same without you.”
“Mom--please. Don’t go there.”
Jamie heard an unmistakable sniffle--the sound that meant Mom tears
were on the way--and guilt smacked her. Her mom didn’t cry often, yet it seemed
that over the past couple weeks she’d shed an enormous amount of tears. Jamie’s
heart squeezed, knowing her situation and decisions were the cause.
“I understand why you left New York, honey,” her mom said. “
Really I do. But I hate that you’ll be gone for such a long time. Who’s going
to help me balance my checkbook and do that online bill pay thing you set up for
me? You know what a financial disaster I am.”
“I e-mailed you step by step instructions. I also e-mailed you
all your passwords to access your online bill pay account and a list of which
bills get paid automatically and the ones you need to pay each month. You’ll be
fine. And if you can’t figure something out, I’m only a phone call away.”
Jamie drew a deep breath, then continued gently, “But Mom, you
can’t call me every five minutes, okay? I need to...breathe.”
Jamie could practically feel her mother’s sadness oozing through
the phone, and it filled Jamie with a guilt she didn’t want to feel. “I know,”
Mom said. “I just miss talking to you. You’re always so...”
“I was going to say decisive. And smart. And
practical. You always know how to make things right.”
Yeah, I’m a regular Ms. Caretaker Fix-it. She
could solve everyone else’s problems but not her own. Could see the cracks and
flaws in everyone else’s relationships, but not her own.
“Well, as I said, I’m only a phone call away. I need to go,
Mom, but we’ll talk soon. Love you. Don’t forget tomorrow is trash day.”
The instant the words left her mouth, Jamie cringed. She had to
stop doing that. No wonder her mother depended on her so much--Jamie enabled
her to do so. Her mom was smart--she’d figure it out.
The problem was that her mom had never had to figure out
all the pesky little details that life involved, like remembering what day the
trash was picked up, filing tax returns and paying bills and making a household
budget. Jamie’s dad had taken care of all that, and upon his death, Jamie had
stepped in. Maggie Newman had married young, gotten pregnant right away, and
been a fabulous stay-at-home, never-miss-a-game/class trip/school outing mom who
could whip up a batch of cookies at a moment’s notice and whose artistic help
always resulted in unusual and tres cool school projects.
But practical she was not. She could make her own curtains,
decorate the hell out of a room, but had no idea how to pump her own gas,
operate the lawn mower, or have the oil changed in her car.
Well, at the age of forty-six, she was going to learn.
Jamie’s phone rang again and her lips pressed together in a grim
line when Jack Crawford’s name appeared on the caller id.
“Brace yourself, Mr. Crawford. The Wrath of Newman is about to
fall on you.”
She answered with a brisk, “Hello Mr. Crawford. Thank you for
returning my call so promptly.”
“What can I do for you, Miss Jamie?”
“There’s been a mistake with my rental. The house you gave me
the keys for is not the house I rented--the one pictured on your website.”
“There’s no mistake,” came Jack Crawford’s deep, slow--reeeaaaly
slow--southern drawl, “You rented Paradise Lost.”
“No,” she said, with her usual outward calm. She’d learned long
ago that even if she was raging inside, losing her cool accomplished exactly
nothing. “I rented--and I’m quoting from your website—‘a fully furnished, cozy
beach cottage only minutes from the ocean where you can relax, unwind, and
breathe in the fresh ocean air.’”
“And that’s exactly what Paradise Lost is. Oh, she needs a
little TLC, but you sure are lucky to have gotten her.”
“The house requires more than some TLC--an Extreme
Makeover is needed. The point is, it’s not the house you advertised on
“Well now, I’ll admit those photos are a bit out of date,” Jack
said with a chuckle, “but that’s Paradise Lost all right.”
A bit out of date? Surely it broke about seven hundred
laws to advertise with photos taken in oh, about 1972.
“I rented, and paid for, the house depicted on the website,” she
said slowly and distinctly, “and that is what I expect to have.”
“And it is.”
“No, it’s not. The condition of the house is
completely unacceptable. There must be something else available.”
“There sure isn’t. Every other house on the island--as well as
every other beach in the area--has been booked for months. I sure am sorry
Paradise Lost isn’t all you wanted it to be, but there’s no need for anything
fancy here--life on the island is real casual. Different from what you’re
accustomed to, I reckon. Manhattan this is not.”
Jamie doubted truer words had ever been spoken in the entire
history of mankind. She could actually feel steam seeping from her ears.
“You’re telling me there’s nothing else? Nothing?”
“Not a thing,” he said cheerfully, as if that was fabulous news.
“And even if there was--which there isn’t--I can promise that you’d never find a
last minute, full summer beach rental for the bargain price you’re paying for
Paradise Lost. Most houses here rent for a single week for what you’re paying
for the entire two months.”
Jamie closed her eyes. No other accommodations on the island.
Her Manhattan apartment sublet for the summer. Good lord, if she didn’t have
rotten luck, she’d have no luck at all. “So I’m stuck here.”
She hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud until Jack replied,
“Best place in the world to be stuck, if you ask me.”
Clearly Jack had never traveled. Anywhere. She drew a long,
slow breath. “While remaining in this house for the next two months is not an
option, it appears I have little choice but to spend the night. Which means
there are two problems that need to be remedied immediately. First,
there’s no power.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. Paradise Lost has a new owner--Nick Trent
bought the place only a couple of months ago. Could be he didn’t pay the
electric bill. And you’ll need to take that up with him since Paradise Lost
isn’t actually a Seaside Cove Rentals property. I just let Nick list it on our
website as a personal favor.”
Un. Freaking. Believable. That probably broke about seven
hundred rental laws as well.
“How do I get in touch with this Nick Trent?”
“Shouldn’t be too hard as he lives right next door to Paradise
Lost. Name of his place is Southern Comfort. Pretty fittin’ name.”
“Because we’re in the south?”
“No because...well, I don’t like to talk out of turn, but when
you live in a community with only ninety full time residents, there are no
secrets to be had, so you’ll find out quick enough. Southern Comfort is fittin’
‘cause it’s a brand of whiskey and since Nick Trent took up residence on the
island three months ago, he’s been known to disappear for days at a time. Word
is he goes off on benders. Either that or he’s a hit man. Or a CIA agent. Ha
ha ha. Just funnin’ with ya. Nice enough guy, friendly to everybody, but he
don’t talk much about himself. One of those Men of Mystery types. Nobody’s
seen him for the past couple days. Most likely drunk as a skunk.”
Jamie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.
This day has to end. This day has to end...
“If you look out your kitchen window, you can see Southern
Comfort. If his truck is in the carport that
means he’s home.”
Jamie pressed her nose to the kitchen screen and looked across
the weed-choked, untrimmed hedges that separated Paradise Lost from Southern
Comfort. No truck, and not a single light glowed from any of the windows.
Maybe Nick On-a-Bender/Hopefully Not a Hitman/Maybe a CIA Agent Trent had
forgotten to pay the electric bill there as well.
“It doesn’t look like he’s home,” Jamie reported.
“Could be he’s at the Shrimp Festival over at Breezes Beach.
It’s a huge event around these parts--folks come from
all over to attend. And it’s especially big this year because it’s the
Centennial Shrimp Festival. In fact, I’ll be heading that way as soon as
we get off the phone.
“’Course the Shrimp Festival can’t hold a candle to Seaside
Cove’s annual Clam Festival at the end of August,” he continued in that
unhurried drawl that in spite of its leisurely pace somehow didn’t allow her to
get a word in edgewise. “It is a sight to behold--a parade through town,
arts and crafts, music at the pier, bonfires on the beach, and the best food
you’ve ever tasted. My wife Cecelia makes a hot clam dip that could charm the
scales off a fish. You have any good clam recipes, Miss Jamie?”
“Not really. About the power--“
“Oh, right. Could be it got knocked out by the storm that blew
through last night. Have you checked the circuit breakers?”
“Bless your heart. You should do that. Do you know what a
breaker panel box looks like? My Cecilia wouldn’t know one if it jumped up and
bit her in the butt. Bless her heart.”
Hmmm...didn’t sound like having one’s heart blessed was
necessarily a good thing. In fact, it pretty much sounded like it was
interchangeable with “you’re a dipshit.” “Yes, I know what a panel box looks
like. Where is it?”
“In the storage closet in the carport. The same key that
unlocked the house opens the door.”
“I’ll check it. The other immediate problem is the smell in
“Smell? Now that’s just impossible. While Paradise Lost may be
a bit run down and worn, I can promise you it’s clean. The Happy Housekeeping
service was there just a few days ago and they’re top notch.”
“Well, the Happy Housekeepers must have missed something because
the entire place stinks like fish.”
Jack chuckled. “Well, you are at the beach, Miss Jamie.
I reckon it smells like car exhaust in New York City, but not around here.
Around here stuff smells fishy.”
“Fishy is one thing. Dead fishy is quite another.”
“Aw, it’s probably just a forgotten clam. Sea gulls drop clams
on the roofs all the time to crack them open. Or could be something one of the
island cats dragged onto the carport.”
“Yes, ma’am. There’re several colonies of feral cats on the
island. Real good at keepin’ down the mouse population.”
“Who takes care of them? Who feeds them?”
“They take care of themselves, but they’re monitored by a group
of colony caretakers. Dorothy Ernst--she lives right across the street from
Paradise Lost in Beach Music--heads up the Cat Colony Committee--she can tell
you all about it. They trap any new ferals to the area and bring them to Doc
Weston on the mainland who gives them their shots and spays and ear-tips ‘em for
identification purposes for free. Then they’re released back here at the
beach. You’ll see them wandering around like they own the place. As for feedin’
them, well, just about everybody on the island leaves out food for them.
Believe me, they never go hungry.”
“But about the smell,” he continued, “you’ll need to take up with
Nick as well. Lucky for you Milton’s General Store and Bait Shop on the corner
sells air freshener. They’ve got one called Blueberry Muffin that’ll make the
place smell like you’ve been baking all day. We use it in the rental homes all
Yeah, lucky for me. ‘Cause Dead Clam Blueberry Muffin is my
“I’m afraid that’s not good enough--“
“’Course, Milton’s is closed up for the next two days, so you’ll
need to head to the Piggly Wiggly ‘bout ten miles down Route 4 for any supplies
between now and then.”
“Luther Milton, the general store’s owner, is recuperating from
gall bladder surgery and closed the store for a
few days. But don’t you fret, Miss Jamie, Nick’ll be back soon. Paradise Lost
may not be fancy, but I predict you’re gonna fall in love with the place. It’s
sure to grow on you.”
Yeah. Like mold on cheese. Before she could state that opinion,
Jack said, “Try the circuit breaker--that’s most likely the problem. If not,
there’s sure to be emergency candles and a flashlight in the house. No need to
worry about air conditioning--far as I know Paradise Lost doesn’t have any. So
just do what the locals do--open the windows and enjoy the ocean breezes.
That’ll air the place out and take care of your fish smell problem, too.”
Had he just said no air conditioning? Holy Freakin’ Heat Wave.
She was going to die here. In the dead clam inferno. “But--“
“Oh, and just in case you were planning a walk on the beach,
don’t go too far. Another frog strangler like the one last night is fixin’ to
blow through in the next little bit.”
Jack chuckled. “A sudden, heavy rain--comes down so fast the
frogs can’t escape.”
Jamie didn’t particularly fancy herself a girly-girl, but yuck.
An image of hundreds of poor, struggling frogs being strangled by a wall of
rainwater flashed through her mind. Damn it, who thought up that crappy
expression? She’d probably have nightmares. “Uh, thanks for the warning.”
“My pleasure. Oh, and a word to the wise--you might want to
steer clear of your neighbor on the other side, Melvin Tibbs.”
“Why? Is he an ax murderer?” Which would be just her luck.
“No. At least not that I know of. Ha, ha, ha. But he’s as
ornery and grumpy as they come.”
Swell. But grumpy Melvin wasn’t going to be a problem because
she wouldn’t be staying more than one night.
“Oops, the wife is callin’,” said, Jack. “I gotta get a move
on. Welcome to Seaside Cove, Miss Jamie. There’s no other place like it in the
Uh huh. She didn’t doubt that for a New York minute.