This chapter is Rated PG
Author’s note: I know its been over a week since I posted the last chapter, but I’ve been busy with real life stuff. I’ve had this chapter done for a while actually, just never been able to get around to posting it. I know its kind of a filler chapter, so the next chapter should be more entertaining 🙂 I hope you like it anyways!
The early morning breeze blew over the ocean lifting my blond locks slightly, making them whisper softly over my skin. I drew my eyes towards the sky-it looked like rain. I drew in a sharp intake of breath, I could smell the rain on the air.
I closed my eyes and leaned back against my comfortable new lounge chair, and felt at peace. Something I haven’t felt for so long.
I had taken Michael’s money he had left to me in his will, I had used that money to buy a beautiful home on the water, and had given away the rest to various charities, especially to those who catered to abused and battered woman.
In addition to the money left in the will, I had also received a million dollars from Michael’s life insurance policy. I couldn’t believe it, I decided to follow my life long dream and open my own restaurant, and Tessa was going to help me run it.
I looked up at the sky and saw the clouds parting revealing bright blue skies. I could feel the humidity on my skin, and knew it was going to be a hot one!
I whistled a happy tune as I walked down to the lighthouse point, stopping along the way to gather sea shells from the shore.
I stooped, digging my hands into the cool sand and throwing rocks out into the ocean. I smiled wistfully, it reminded me of childhood.
One of the first things I had done after receiving the money from Michael’s will, was to call my parents. The first phone call in years was awkward,, only on my part alone. My parents had been so happy hear from me. I remembered my mom sobbing happily. They were flying out next week to come visit, and I was full of anxiety and guilt. I had even talked to my little sister, who wasn’t as happy to hear from me as my parents.
“Mom and dad haven’t been the same since you left.” She had said in ways of greeting. “All they could talk about was you. Wondered if you were happy, if you were ok. They stopped giving a shit about anyone else.”
Her words filled me with guilt, and I wasn’t sure if my little sister would ever forgive me for choosing Michael over my own family.
I pulled off my black top and skirt revealing a bikini underneath. I spread out a bright pattered beach towel and lay down enjoying the way the hot sun felt on my skin.
Woof! I heard a dog bark from somewhere down the beach. I could hear the sound of quickly approaching paws.
“Moxie!” A familiar male voice said sharply, clapping his hands to signal the dog back.
I cracked an eye open and saw a familiar dog approaching quickly, her tail wagging so fast it was almost a blur.
I sat up sleepily on my towel yawning, I rubbed my cheek feeling a ridge where the towel had left its mark on my face.
“Hey Moxie.” I smiled.
“I’m sorry about that.” Ryan said sheepishly. “I guess she likes you. I tried calling her back but the minute she saw you, she just took off running.” He smiled. It was the first time I had seen him since the morning of Michael’s death out to sea. Last time he had been wearing mirrored sunglasses, this time I noticed this eyes were a soft golden brown.
I looked down awkwardly, not sure how to act around him. I didn’t have the best track record with men. I suddenly felt embarrassed standing there in my bikini, but knew if I covered up my body with my arms it would draw attention to my insecurity and possibly make him feel bad.
His eyes never strayed down looking at my chest or body, he kept them focused on my face, making me trust him instantly.
“So….” I finally said.
“I have been wondering about you, the morning I took you to the police station I had been worried sick about you since.” Ryan said.
I looked down at my feet. “I’ve been fine, just had been dealing with a lot of stuff.”
I looked up into a pair of concerned golden brown eyes. “Well I’m glad that everything seems to be ok, Grace.” He smiled.
“It will be.” I said finally, trying to smile.
Moxie lay at my feet whining for attention. I was grateful for the interruption.
“Hey girl.” I bended down and pet her behind the ears. Her back leg twitched with joy.
“Here,” Ryan said smiling handing me a well chewed ball. “This is her favorite toy, if you play fetch with her she’ll love you forever.”
At the sight of the ball Moxie twitched with joy, her eyes bright and focused, her tail wagging back and forth thumping against the hard packed sand.
“You want this ball?” I smiled holding it up high. I threw my arm back and released the ball throwing it down the beach.
Moxie let out a sharp bark that sounded joyful to my ears and took off running. She was very agile, catching the ball before it landed. She brought it back and dropped the ball at my feet, her eyes pleading with me to throw it again, so I did.
“You started something now.” Ryan laughed, his golden eyes twinkling as he watched Moxie bounding after the ball.
I threw the ball into the ocean once more, and Moxie took off running into the water, bouncing lightly over the small waves.
I smiled at Ryan. “Well I guess I better get going back home.” I bended to pick up my clothes off the sand, and pulled the black shirt over my bikini top.
“It was nice to see you again.” I smiled. “Bye Moxie!” I took off in the direction toward home.
It was a very short walk from the lighthouse to my house. I smiled as I approached my home, my own personal slice of paradise on the beach.
Still, deep down, I felt guilty about accepting the money from Michael’s will, even though Tessa, Holden, and Gwen told me repeatedly how much I deserved it after all the hell he put me through for years.
Frowning, I hurried inside.
Cooking had always calmed me down in times of emotional distress. As I rummaged through my well stocked fridge I couldn’t help thinking about Michael. Even though he was dead, he still haunted me. Would I ever be able to move past him and focus on being happy?
I pulled out the ingredients to make my famous key lime pie, it sounded delicious and would keep my mind occupied for a while.
I was just about to set the pie on the counter when a knock on the door startled me, causing me to almost drop the pie on the floor. I set it down quickly on the counter and looked in the direction of the door.
Ryan, I thought. What is he doing here, and how does he know where I live? Goosebumps rose on the back of my neck despite the warmth of my home.
“Hey.” I greeted him opening the door. “Come in.”
“Hey, I’m sorry about following you home. I tried calling your name back at the beach, but you must not have heard me. You left your towel at the beach, and I wanted to return it.”
He handed me the towel, neatly folded and smiled.
“Thanks.” I said.
“Ok then, we’ll I’ll see you around. Have a great day Grace.” Ryan started to turn.
“Wait!” I exclaimed a little more loudly then I intended.
Ryan turned back around a puzzled smile on his face.
“I made a key lime pie, and I was just going to make some salmon steaks with wild rice for dinner. Would you like to stay for dinner?” I said shyly. “I never did get a chance to thank you for that day you found me on the beach. Please, it would make me happy to have the company.” I babbled.
Ryan looked down at the pie. “It looks wonderful. Sure, if you would like the company I would love some pie. Key lime is my favorite.”
I smiled. “Mine too. Go ahead and sit down in the living room, and I’ll prepare dinner.”
Ryan and I kept up a steady stream of chatter as I prepared dinner, he was easy to talk too, and had a quick wit that put me instantly at ease.
“You have a beautiful home, Grace.” Ryan said gazing out the window, overlooking the ocean and expanse of beach.
I smiled, but with my back turned he couldn’t see my smile. “Thanks.” I said.
“I live on that small little island, I can almost see my house from here.” Ryan said.
“Living on an island must be tough.” I said.
“Not really. I mean, I have to take the boat to get anywhere, but I love the privacy, and its beautiful there.”
“I bet it is.” I smiled finishing up the salmon steaks.
I gave the steaks one last pat with my spatula and flipped them onto the plate setting them down on the counter.
“Dinner’s ready.” I said shyly, not used to having guests over, even though it was my idea.
“It smells wonderful.” Ryan said sitting down at the kitchen table. I sat beside him.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” He asked a puzzled look on his face.
“Oh. Yeah. I will in a minute. Can I get you anything to drink?” I babbled, my hands twisting anxiously. Old habits don’t die easy, I thought. I was still used to eating last, because Michael was always to eat dinner first before I could eat.
He closed his eyes with bliss as he bit into the salmon which was nice and flaky. “This is wonderful.” He said with his eyes closed as I watched him chew. “I haven’t had a meal this good in ages.” He laughed. “You should open your own restaurant.”
“Funny you mention that. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve never ran a business before. I wouldn’t know the first thing about running a restaurant.” I smiled softly. “It’s something my friend Tessa and I are talking about looking into.”
“I’m a commercial fisherman, and I sell a lot of my catch to a couple of restaurants around town, I don’t know a whole lot about the business aspect of it, but I’m sure I can get you in touch with some people who can help you out.”
“That would be great.” I said gratefully.
Ryan stood lifting his plate to take to the sink.
“Let me.” I said, indicating the plate as if to say I would do the cleaning.
“My mom raised me that the cook never does the cleaning. After such a wonderful meal, It would be my honor.” He smiled, “After such a wonderful meal, it’s the least I can do.”
True to his word Ryan had my house spotless, I wasn’t accustomed to having a man clean up after me. I had to admit to myself that it felt nice, even if I did feel a little guilty for his generosity.
“I better get going.” Ryan said facing me. I followed him outside to the dock where his boat was parked. “I know Moxie is at home waiting for me, and I don’t want her chewing my furniture apart because she hasn’t been fed yet.” He laughed slightly, his eyes twinkling. “Again, thank you so much for dinner.”
“It was my pleasure.” I smiled in return. “Well…It was nice to see you again.”
“And you as well Grace.” He smiled down at me, his eyes were beautiful. I looked away, and swallowed the lump in my throat and turned away before he could see how awkward I was.
“Goodnight Ryan.” I said hurrying away, feeling horrible for basically running away from him. He probably thinks I’m some sort of lunatic now, I thought sadly, feeling my eyes fill up with tears as I hurried down the dock as quickly as my legs could carry me. I turned around once to see Ryan standing there looking puzzled, with his hand lifted in a slight wave. From inside my home, I watched him climb into his boat, and disappear into the darkness.
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