Happy Monday! I hope everybody’s summer is off to a great start. Mine got off with more of a gasp and a wheeze, resulting in a delay in finishing All’s Fair In Love And Weddings, but hopefully things will start going smoothly soon.
In the meantime, here’s the current opening excerpt of the book in which our heroine Prue first encounters our hero…
Prudence Collier’s first thought as she stood in the drizzling rain and stared down at the smoke rising from her borrowed car’s engine was that this certainly didn’t bode well, did it? As far as signs and portents went, if one believed in those sorts of things—and Prue usually felt it couldn’t hurt—this was hardly the most auspicious one with which to begin her trip. Disconcerting might be a better way to describe it. Maybe downright ominous. And of all the weeks when she could have used something more promising than ominous, this was the one.
“This baby? Purrs like a kitten. Sure, she’ll get you where you need to go,” her friend Jacob had assured her when Prue had raised an eyebrow at the sight of the car. It looked, after all, like little more than spare parts he’d scavenged from a wrecking yard and welded together—which, knowing Jacob, he might very well have done. He’d patted the hunk of metal then, and Prue could have sworn she heard something clunk to the ground immediately after that. She ought to have handed him back his keys then, but beggars couldn’t be choosers, and this was the kind of thing one was left with when time was short and one’s bank account balance was small.
Taking a deep breath at a time like this was supposed to be helpful, so Prue tried that. Then she tried another, and another. Nope, nothing. There was no crystal-clear epiphany about what course of action to take. Her car—or rather, Jacob’s car—was still smoking just as much as ever from mysterious places only now she felt lightheaded from overdoing her oxygen intake. So much for that idea.
She glanced at her watch and resisted the urge to kick the old jeep’s tires. Now what? Another ten minutes, and she’d miss the ferry. Sure there would be another one later, but showing up an hour behind schedule was exactly the kind of thing she didn’t want to do when she saw Natalie again. Same old Prue, she could hear her sister’s voice say in her head, cool and disapproving. Nothing’s changed.
Only Prue had changed. At least, she hoped she had, and she was not going to waste this chance to prove it. Nat’s invitation had been an unexpected but very welcome olive branch, and Prue had every intention of seizing it with both hands. She just had to get to the right island first.
Well, there wasn’t a lot of other traffic on the St. Thomas roads today, but maybe she could hitch a ride with someone else the rest of the way to the ferry. Failing that, she could always try running for it, but even though she had packed lightly, her one bag was not exactly small. She, however, was, and she was not likely to set any sprinting records while dragging her luggage behind her.
She frowned at the jeep. What the hell, she thought then with a shrug, and she kicked one tire anyway.
At least the rain was sputtering out. Downpours rarely lasted long here on the islands. Prue could say that with some degree of confidence because her family had made annual pilgrimages to the Virgin Islands since she was old enough to remember, and although she’d stopped coming along for the ride right around the time she’d dropped out of college during her freshman year, at her current age of twenty-six that was still a hefty number of family vacations she had under her belt.
But she had not been invited along on those in several years, which was largely her own fault. And that, she thought, was why she was not going to let a broken-down junk heap cost her this one. No offense to Jacob’s car.
So Prue left Jacob a voicemail message to let him know where the smoking remains of his vehicle sat safely off to the side of the road and then hauled her purse and her bag out of the jeep with the intention of setting off on foot. As she did so, the email from her sister that she’d printed out only two days earlier fluttered to the floor, dislodged by her movements. As wedding invitations went, it was hardly the most formal, and it made her suspect she’d been a last-minute invite, but she was so happy to get it at all that she didn’t care. Her older sister was getting married, and she actually wanted Prue there to help her celebrate it. The water might not be under the proverbial bridge yet, but maybe it was getting close.
Thrusting the email back into her bag, Prue swung it over her shoulder and locked up the car despite the fact that potential car thieves would probably just find the prospect of stealing the vehicle offensive. She then got just two steps away from it before the rain began to drizzle again. Frowning, she reached into her bag to feel around for a hat before remembering that she hadn’t packed one.
Swell. Well, that was the kind of thing that happened when someone packed in a hurry. And then just as she was wondering if she was ever going to catch a break today, another jeep—this one a rental, she noticed—slowed as it passed her and then pulled over to the side of the road.
“Need some help?” the driver called through an open window, and when Prue put her hand up to shield her eyes from the raindrops and caught sight of the speaker, she thought that as far as breaks went, this particular break was one a girl could really take a liking to…