Taking a moment tonight to post this excerpt from my latest book, GOODNIGHT, MY LOVE, which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo & more. Enjoy!
“Hey, Gina. You got your head in the clouds?”
She had been staring glumly at the phone. That was a possibility, wasn’t it? Tony could always call the phone at the bakery. He could hang up if Donnie or anybody but she picked up.
“Hi, Kelly. Whaddya need?”
Kelly Whelan arched an eyebrow at her. “How ’bout, ‘Hello, Kelly? Haven’t seen you in while.’ Not just ‘Whaddya need?’”
Gina glared sullenly at him and folded her arms across her chest. If he was teasing, she wasn’t in the mood for that; if he was seriously scolding her, then she wasn’t in the mood for that, either.
“Hello, Kelly. Haven’t seen you in a while. Catch any fish out there?”
He rested one arm on the counter, leaning over the glass. “Yeah, we did. Lots of ’em. Made some money.”
“Well...good.” Easing up on the attitude, she grabbed a slice of parchment paper to take a cookie from the tray beneath the glass counter. “That’s cause for celebration. Congratulations.”
It wasn’t Kelly’s fault she was upset over Tony seemingly having disappeared. To make up for it, she offered him a cookie, one of the ones she knew the fisherman liked, with the raspberry jam in the center.
His expression softened. “For me?”
“Yes! Enjoy it. Congratulations.” She wasn’t apologizing. Maybe she’d been rude—a little—but he’d been rude, too, and he wasn’t apologizing to her, either. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re home safe.”
Finally, he broke into a grin. He also looked better than usual. Not as straggly, like the other rough-and-tough fishermen. He was wearing a nice shirt and pants, and he’d gotten his hair trimmed. She had to say, Kelly looked decent, even sort of cute, when he was clean-shaven and dressed well.
“See any mermaids out there?” Now she was the one teasing.
“Yeah. One that looked like a crazy, little Italian bakery girl I know.”
Gina didn’t know quite what to say to that. She tried to mask the fact that she was mildly flustered with a laugh.
“Really, did you ever see anything out there? Anything...like a mermaid?”
Donnie stepped out of the kitchen with a fresh tray of pastries. He and Kelly exchanged nods in greeting.
“Kelly, how’s it goin’?” Her brother smiled.
“Good. Taking a little break.”
“Yeah? Must be nice to be rich, man.”
They both laughed. Donnie didn’t seem at all troubled that Kelly was sharing a conversation with her. He liked the fisherman. Kelly was his neighbor and he’d known him for years. They’d hung around together, though Donnie was a couple years older. There was mutual respect between them.
Why couldn’t Donnie have liked Tony as much as he liked Kelly?
Because he’s not even trying. Maybe he’s jealous because a lot of guys are jealous of Tony. He’s handsome and he’s had a lot of girlfriends, so naturally the other guys are all jealous of him.
“I haven’t been lucky enough to see one myself. But I’ve heard stories from fishermen who swear they’ve seen them out there.”
It was slow that morning. Gina welcomed the downtime, since many days she was busy and barely had time to catch her breath.
To Kelly’s credit, too, he wasn’t treating her like a silly kid. He even came across as if he were enjoying their little talk.
Gina felt comfortable to be herself at that point. “I believe them. I believe they’ve seen them.”
“Hey, so do I. Just because I haven’t seen one myself, doesn’t mean something’s not out there.” He grinned. “I’ll keep in mind you like mermaids. If it’s possible, if I ever see one, I’ll get my picture taken with one for you.”
That made her giggle. “Get her autograph on the picture, too, if you can. Not—not getting anything today?”
“Cup of coffee. That’s it for me today.”
“Okay. The usual? Two sugars and light with cream?”
“You got it.”
Was he impressed that she knew that? Gina remembered how all the regular customers took their coffee. It was nothing special, yet she did pride herself in that.
“Uh...I heard my sister saw you this weekend. Getting ice cream at the beach?”
Gina had just finished pouring his coffee and placing the carafe back onto its burner when she heard those words. Instinctively, she glanced at the door, almost expecting Donnie to emerge at that very moment.
“Yes, it was nice to see her,” she said, quickly changing the subject. “How is your mom? I don’t see her much. Or your other sister and brother. I always seem to be here, you know?”
Please, God, don’t let him say anything.