Charlotte Jones pulled her heavy mane of dark red hair into a knot and inhaled the witching hour morning air from her Juliette balcony. Her fingers shook when she rested them on the wooden rail that overlooked the front of the inn, the place she’d grown up. She looked toward the quiet Maine forest that lined the property before spreading out to the bay.
The sky was filled with ancient stars, bright beacons that pulled her upward from the place of dormant sadness within in her that tonight would not let her sleep. She hadn’t thought about him in months, why tonight? She inhaled the saltwater sea spray the came from the back of the inn where the waves broke against the rocks. Something was coming. She could feel it. And whatever it was it wouldn’t let her sleep.
She had checked Ian, her sleeping toddler earlier then checked him again before coming out here. She wondered if he was coming down with something, another childhood illness creeping up on what most people considered an ideal normal life. A single mother from old money, running a quiet bed and breakfast and seaside inn, tempering her high-strung guests and raising her toddler along the way. A more or less normal life, until you added in that she also dealt with the Greek mob.
A faint stench of cigarette smoke lifted toward her. Seriously?
She wrinkled her nose. “Iannis.” She didn’t have to look down to the porch below to know it was her son’s grandfather puffing on one of those disgusting things. Even though his son questioned Ian’s paternity, Iannis never had, and even though that hadn’t made him her official father-in-law, she viewed him as one. “Those things are going to kill you, you know?”
He grunted. “Hasn’t so far.”
She rolled her eyes. “Ian doesn’t need to be inhaling that shit.”
“He still breathes in his sleep.”
“Room’s on the other side of this shack.”
Shack. She rolled her eyes again. Her inn was over ten-thousand square feet on the Westhaven coast, the most expensive borough on seaside Maine. It was not a shack. Of course, Iannis had been calling it his fishing shack since she was a little girl and her mother ran this place. He and his buddies had first come down here from up in Canada during the hunting season. Now that he’d made it his permanent home in his ripe old age of sixty something, she shouldn’t be surprised at his consistent referral of shack.
She sighed as more smoked drifted up to her.
“What are you doin’ up, Lighthouse?”
She shook her head. He’d been calling her Lighthouse since his first season here. He said there wasn’t much to her. Plain. Simple. Functional. But when the time came, and she lit up with something to say or do, people stopped and took notice. Otherwise, she stayed quiet in the background just doing what needed to be done. Like a lighthouse.
She looked into the calm peace of the forest. “I couldn’t sleep. You?” “I’m old. I don’t sleep no more.”
“Same.” She lifted the side of her mouth in a wry smile.
He chuckled. “Waitin’ for that boy to come home—lightin’ up his way?”
She pressed her lips together in a hard line at the referral to Thyssen, once her Greek god, now nothing but a God-damned Greek. “Definitely not. Just woke up and can’t get back to sleep. That’s all.”
“Uh huh.” Fresh smoke drifted upwards.
“Stop it.” She leaned over the balcony. ” You’re incorrigible.”
“Incorriga–what? Let me get my dictionary. Told you not to use those ninety-nine cent words with me.”
She stared down at his sea weathered olive-colored skin. Darkened from a lifetime on the Aegean Sea, lined from years of calculation during his time within his country’s organized crime, and creased from constantly frowning at people, and maybe the occasional smile. He was a quintessential Greek man. Proud. A fisherman. A businessman. A stoic tribute to the meaning of family. Thyssen hadn’t been there for Ian’s birth, but Iannis had been. He’d been the first to hold him, his only grandson, and had actually smiled for hours on that day.
“Incorrigible is worth at least a buck,” she informed him.
“He’s comin’, Lighthouse.” She watched him toss his cigarette over the balcony onto the slabs of rock that surrounded the house. “Been feeling it for days.”
She inhaled, looking up and out into the dark forest of trees again, the primeval things here since the dawn of man, tall, sheltering and beautiful. They endured.
She’d never admit to knowing something was coming. Thyssen? Maybe. But he’d been gone three years, even since the day she told him she was pregnant and the first words out of his mouth were,“Is it mine?”
She still remembered the stone of shock that dropped into her stomach at his words. After she’d managed to breathe past the waves of pain she ordered him out of her life. And he left exactly three years to this day.
Was he coming back?
Charlotte stared at the treetops then down into the forest floor, the grasses and brushes naturally tangled and spread out to create a haven for the nighttime critters.
“Go to bed, Lighthouse,” Iannis words broke into her thoughts. “Waitin’ won’t make it come any faster or make it any easier when the time comes.” He didn’t give her time to respond before he shuffled back into his room and pulled the sliding screen door closed.
Get it now on amazon!