Unraveling the pieces, p.1

Unraveling the Pieces, page 1


Unraveling the Pieces

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Unraveling the Pieces

  “Jonah showed up today at the shelter with his nanny. And he presented me with flowers. He said they were from his dad because his dad wanted to say he was sorry.”

  “Well, now that’s what I call a true gentleman,” Mavis Anne said. “That was a very kind gesture.”

  “It was,” Iris agreed.

  “What’s this dad look like? I wonder how long his wife has been gone,” Yarrow asked, making me laugh.

  I shrugged and realized I had given barely any thought to the father. It was the boy who had stirred emotion in me. However, when I recalled the father I had to admit he was rather sexy in that nerdy sort of way.

  “The dad is good looking,” I told her. “But I have no idea how long his wife has been gone.”

  “Hmm,” Mavis Anne said. “Well, you never know what can develop.”

  “Yeah, right,” I retorted. “The father thinks I’m a busybody. Not much chance of a romantic involvement there. Besides which, I’m definitely not looking for a relationship.”

  Iris laughed. “Famous last words.”

  Also by Terri DuLong

  In the Cedar Key series

  Spinning Forward

  “A Cedar Key Christmas” in Holiday Magic

  Casting About

  Sunrise on Cedar Key

  Secrets on Cedar Key

  Postcards from Cedar Key

  Farewell to Cedar Key

  In the Ormond Beach series

  Patterns of Change

  Stitches in Time

  Unraveling the Pieces

  Terri DuLong


  Kensington Publishing Corp.


  All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

  Table of Contents

  Also by Terri DuLong

  Title Page

  Copyright Page



  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Author’s Note

  Petra’s Shrug


  To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

  LYRICAL SHINE BOOKS are published by

  Kensington Publishing Corp.

  119 West 40th Street

  New York, NY 10018

  Copyright © 2016 by Terri DuLong

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

  Lyrical Shine and Lyrical Shine logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

  First Electronic Edition: November 2016

  eISBN-13: 978-1-60183-555-0

  eISBN-10: 1-60183-555-8

  ISBN: 978-1-6018-3555-0

  For Rose White. Thank you for many years of

  friendship and for your support


  Readers ask me where I get my inspiration and ideas for characters and plots. The answer is: everywhere. So I want to give a big thanks to my high school classmate, Cheryl Crotty. We lost touch after school and like so many others we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. Cheryl frequently posts photos of her handsome grandsons Liam and Jaxson. I was captivated with the younger one, Jaxson. His photos melted my heart and over time, the character of Jonah emerged in my imagination. Although Jonah is about seven years older, Jaxson’s photos were my inspiration. So thank you to both of you.

  Another huge thank you to my BFF, Alice Jordan, for your help coming up with the title for this story. I’m looking forward to celebrating both the book release and our seventieth birthdays in Florence, Italy in the spring!

  I’m very fortunate to have such an extraordinary editor. A multitude of thanks goes to Alicia Condon—for all of your assistance, suggestions, and most of all, for always making my story better.

  As always—thank you to my loyal readers for your support and especially to all of my Facebook followers. You’re the best!

  Chapter 1

  My mother had been a firm believer that the past should remain in the past. Maybe she was right. Maybe not. But Rhonda Garfield kept the identity of my father a secret that she took to her grave three years ago.

  I glanced at the black-and-white photo in my hand—my mother holding a baby in her arms, sitting beside a good-looking fellow on a beach, and the name Peter Maxwell written on the back—and I let out a sigh because I was no further ahead in figuring out whether perhaps this man was my father.

  The name Peter Maxwell had never come up when I was a child. Whenever I questioned who and where my father was, the only answer my mother would give me was that he had died and that was the end of the conversation. After a while I simply stopped asking.

  “Yoo hoo, Petra,” I heard Mavis Anne call from downstairs. “Are you busy?”

  I smiled as I stood up and replaced the photo in the box I had found after my mother passed away.

  “No. I’ll be right down,” I said, heading to the staircase.

  I had arrived at Koi House for an extended stay the day before. This gorgeous Victorian structure had been the childhood home of Mavis Anne Overby and her siblings, David and Emmalyn. Mavis Anne now resided next door with her brother and his partner, Clive. Emmalyn had passed away years ago in a tragic car accident at age twenty-eight, leaving behind a daughter, Yarrow.

  The house had then stood empty until Chloe Radcliffe Wagner discovered it when she relocated from Cedar Key to Ormond Beach. When my best friend, Isabelle, was going through difficult times, Chloe was in the process of marrying Henry Wagner. She invited Isabelle and her daughter, Haley, to relocate from Atlanta and stay at the house while Isabelle attempted to start over. Call it fate, but my best friend ended up meeting the love of her life last year and was now married to Chadwick Price. So Koi House had once again become empty. I wasn’t going through a crisis, nor did I need a place to stay. I owned my house in Jacksonville, had a well-paying job I could do from home, and although my social life was lacking, I could have stayed put. But I was lonely. I loved visiting Isabelle in Ormond Beach. During the past year I’d gotten to know Mavis Anne, Yarrow, and the women at the yarn shop. And when Mavis Anne and Isabelle suggested I stay at Koi House for an extended visit, I decided to accept the offer.

  “Hey,” I said, walking into the kitchen to find Mavis Anne removing dead leaves from the begonia plant on the table.

  “How are you, sweetie?” she asked, and I found myself enveloped in a bear hug. “Did you sleep well your first night at Koi House?”

  I smiled. “I did. Very well. I was just going through some of the boxes that I brought with me and getting settled in.”

  “Oh, good. Well, the reason I came by is because we’re having leftover turkey this evening for dinner. David and Clive insist that you join us, especially since you missed Thanksgiving this year. Yarrow will be with us and Isabelle, Chadwick, and Haley are coming too.”

  I had be
en busy packing and getting things ready at my house in Jacksonville so I could leave my home in the capable hands of a property manager; having a turkey dinner two days before hadn’t been important.

  “That sounds great,” I said. “And I’ll enjoy that turkey so much more sharing it with all of you. So yes, I’ll be there. What time?”

  “Come over around five-thirty. Cocktails on the patio first, of course.”

  Lotte must have realized we had company and came running into the kitchen.

  Mavis Anne smiled as she bent down to scoop my Yorkie into her arms and place a kiss on the dog’s forehead.

  “And of course Lotte is invited,” she said. “She’s such a sweet, well-mannered girl.”

  I laughed. “Thanks. Lotte accepts your invitation. We’ll be there.”

  “Okay.” She placed Lotte on the floor. “I have to get going. Louise is picking me up shortly. She has to drop off towels at the animal shelter and then we’re going out for lunch. Oh, would you like to join us?”

  “Thanks, but no. I have some more chores to finish around here, but why is Louise dropping off towels at a shelter?”

  Mavis Anne waved a hand in the air. “Oh, you know Louise. Always getting involved in something. About a month ago she began volunteering at the local shelter. They can always use towels for the animals, so she cleaned out her closet to donate her older towels.”

  “What a nice thing to do,” I said.

  Mavis Anne nodded. “Okay. I’ll see you later today.”

  I was heading back upstairs when my phone rang. I answered to hear Isabelle’s voice.

  “Hey, my BFF, all settled in?” she said.

  “Not quite, but I’m getting there. I didn’t bring that much with me, so I’m mostly sorting clothes in the closet and bureau. What’s up?”

  “I just wanted to be sure that Mavis Anne contacted you about dinner this evening.”

  “She just left and I accepted. I’m looking forward to seeing the three of you.”

  “Same here. Great. Then I’ll see you at Mavis Anne’s later. Love you.”

  “Love you too,” I said before hanging up.

  I walked into my bedroom and smiled. I had a lovely home in Jacksonville, but Koi House was special. Picturesque and filled with vintage charm. My room here had a turret that jutted out to overlook the front driveway and French doors that led outside to a small balcony. According to both Chloe and Isabelle, who had also stayed in this bedroom, the spirit of Emmalyn Overby still lingered in this room. I had to admit that the temperature was always a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house, but I had no belief in ghosts. Even though Mavis Anne insisted that Koi House had a soul and was at its happiest when inhabited by people.

  I shook my head and smiled before I resumed getting my room in order.

  * * *

  Carrying Lotte across the lawn to the gate that separated the two houses, I could hear voices coming from the back patio of David and Clive’s home.

  “Hey,” Isabelle said, jumping up to hug me. “You’re here. Oh, Petra, I’m so happy you’re going to be living close by.”

  I laughed and returned her hug. “For a while anyway.”

  “For a very long while,” I heard Mavis Anne say as Chadwick and Haley came to embrace me.

  “Right,” Haley said, as she took Lotte from my arms. “You can’t leave us, Petra. Ginger would miss Lotte.”

  I laughed as I watched Lotte reacquaint herself with Haley’s small dog.

  “See,” Haley said. “They’re BFFs.”

  I marveled at how fast my best friend’s daughter was growing up. Having recently turned fifteen, she’d had a couple of difficult years with the death of her grandfather, the divorce of her parents, and bullying at her school in Atlanta. But Haley had managed to come through all of it more self-assured and even more mature than before. She was a daughter to be proud of.

  “Here we go,” I heard Clive say and looked up to see him walk onto the patio carrying a tray of champagne glasses. “We need to toast Petra and welcome her to Ormond Beach.”

  When everybody had a flute, David raised his and said, “Here’s to Petra. May you be so happy here that you’ll never want to leave.”

  All of us laughed, and I felt moisture sting my eyes. Growing up an only child with a single parent had been lonely. Isabelle always said that I was her rock, when in truth she had been mine. Always there for me since we first met in kindergarten, through high school and then college. And because of her, I had acquired this group of people who made me feel welcome.

  “Thanks,” I said, swallowing the lump in my throat. I took a sip of champagne and looked around. “Where’s Chloe and Henry?”

  “Oh, they took the dogs and rented a place in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. They’ll be back tomorrow,” Isabelle said.

  “Yeah, isn’t that romantic?” Haley nudged my arm. “They retreated to the mountains.”

  I laughed. “It is,” I agreed.

  We sat around the table and conversation flowed. Isabelle and Mavis Anne caught me up on the news at the yarn shop.

  Just then Yarrow came through the house onto the patio. She was out of breath and her cheeks were red.

  “I’m so sorry I’m late. The traffic coming over the bridge was horrible,” she explained.

  She bent to kiss Mavis Anne and accepted the glass of champagne that Clive extended in her direction.

  “Thanks. Cheers,” she said, lifting the flute. “What have I missed?”

  We laughed as Mavis Anne said, “We were just welcoming Petra to Koi House.”

  Yarrow shot me a smile and nodded. “It’s so nice that you decided to come here. Let me know if I can do anything to help you settle in.”

  “Have you heard from your mother?” Yarrow asked Isabelle.

  “That’s right,” I said. “Wasn’t she going to Key West for a few days?”

  Isabelle nodded. “Yes. She’s with her friend, Charlotte, and two other women. They rented a condo there over Thanksgiving weekend. They’ll be back on Monday. I spoke with her yesterday and it sounds like she’s having a great time.”

  I smiled. Iris Brunell was another problem my best friend had had to sort out the previous year. Iris had left home when Isabelle was fifteen, and after a thirty-year separation, they had been able to reconcile after Isabelle moved to Ormond Beach. They now shared a close mother-daughter relationship.

  Following dinner, we sat around the dining room table, enjoying coffee and pumpkin pie.

  Coming to Ormond Beach had been the right decision for Chloe and Isabelle. Each of them had found her direction and in the process had even met a man she planned to spend the rest of her life with. Not that I was looking for a special relationship, but staying at Koi House made me feel that I was in my element.

  Yes, Petra Garfield, I thought. You are precisely where you’re supposed to be.

  Rhonda Garfield January 1969

  The bus made its way along I-95, heading south. With each mile we left behind us, I felt the coal dust from my small western Pennsylvania home town drifting away. I glanced beside me and smiled as Cynthia quietly snored, preferring sleep rather than looking out the window to watch the landscape flash by.

  If not for my best friend, Cynthia, I wouldn’t be on this bus heading to Amelia Island in Florida, where a new job and a new life await me.

  It was Cynthia who had seen the ad in the classified section of the Pittsburgh newspaper. We were finishing up our waitress shift at the only eating establishment in town that served more than hot dogs or burgers. It also offered better tips.

  “Look,” she had said, pointing to a square at the top of the page. “This swanky hotel in Florida is looking for winter help.”

  I leaned over her shoulder and saw the name, Broadglen’s. The Broadglen family was well known in the Pittsburgh area. Originally their wealth came from the coal mining industry but over the years family members had branched out to own various enterprises. Charles Broadglen was the ow
ner of the hotel catering to winter residents from the north and prestigious Amelia Island families.

  “What’s that have to do with us?” I asked.

  “We could apply for a position. We could be spending the winter in Florida making money. Away from this godforsaken town. Mr. Broadglen is known for hiring staff from this area. He likes to give people a chance. Why shouldn’t it be you and me?”

  At the time I had doubted Cynthia’s optimism. We were nineteen, out of high school one year. Leaving western Pennsylvania wasn’t something I thought we would ever do. But we had.

  We had mailed the applications along with two letters of recommendation; three months ago we had been notified that we were scheduled for an interview in Pittsburgh. Within a week following the interview, we each received a large packet in the mail, informing us we had been hired. If we agreed to the employee regulations included in the envelope, we were to get a doctor’s letter stating we were in good health and had no physical limitations.

  I smiled as I recalled Cynthia’s excitement. She had flown into my house waving the envelope in the air, jumping up and down.

  She pulled me into a bear hug before grabbing both my hands to include me in her jumping. “This is it,” she had said. “We are finally going to get out of this town and do something with our lives.”

  My mother had walked into the living room and joined our excitement. I knew she would miss me, but she encouraged me to leave because she didn’t want to see her daughter stuck in a small town the way she was. With only a high school diploma and no money, a good position wasn’t easy to find.

  My plan was to work at Broadglen’s until I had saved enough money to attend a secretarial college, which would, I hoped, secure me a decent job with a good company.

  I felt Cynthia stir beside me. She sat up in her seat, rubbing her eyes, and yawned.

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