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from Return to Sandy Shores by Shirley Holder Platt

Copyright © 2019 Shirley Holder Platt

Chapter 19 - Sam

Aunt Millie bustled into the café like a train arriving at the station. She was a big woman, and despite the fact that she lived in a beach town, insisted on wearing almost all black. On this evening she wore a black caftan over flowing black pants with black sandals. She swished when she walked, and people noticed. Being a local, she knew most of the patrons and stopped to speak to them as she passed each table.

“How’s that carpel tunnel?”

“When will your grandbabies be coming?”

“Did you hear about Diedre falling off her own porch? Poor thing. I wonder if this’ll be the straw that makes her stop drinking?”

“Are you coming to the clean up next weekend?”

This last question was directed at me. She hadn’t even sat down yet and was already giving me the guilt trip.

“I’ll be there if I don’t have to work.”

“Oh poof! I know Cat. She’s been campaigning for a beach cleanup day for ages. She better give you the time off, or I’ll…”

“What?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll bonk her on the head. How’s that?” She started laughing. It came from her belly and broke out on her face. It was infectious. Before long, I was chuckling like an idiot. Aunt Millie slapped me on the back. I’d taken a sip of my soft drink, and it came out my nose. I’d just reached for a napkin when the door opened and in walked the customer from earlier in the day. She wore a sea green blouse that fell in all the right places and wore the earrings she’d purchased. They matched her shirt amazingly well. She was laughing at something the person behind her said.

As I wiped my nose, I got a glimpse of him. I threw my hands out in surprise and knocked my drink over. The cola spread across the table and dripped onto the floor. Everyone’s head turned in my direction. Aunt Millie reached over and closed my mouth.

“Who is he?” she asked in her overly loud voice.

I wanted to climb under the table. How could this be? It was him. Dr. Right. Trent. The man I’d been day dreaming about for weeks. I ducked my head and tried to hide behind the paper menu. Of course, this didn’t work. He walked straight to our table.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” he said. His eyes were laughing and his lips twitched with merriment.

“Aunt Millie.” I motioned to Trent. “Meet Trent Jensen.”

“And just how do you two know each other?” She stood up and wrapped him in a hug that probably broke three ribs. He peeked over her shoulder at me with eyebrows raised high.

“I’m a vet. We met when she brought her cat into the clinic. We’ve become besties since then. Always running into one another at the oddest times.” He grinned. His teeth were straight and white. He motioned the woman over that he’d arrived with.

“Any friend of Sam’s a friend of mine. Why don’t you and your lady friend sit with us? We haven’t ordered yet, so timing’s perfect.” She let him go and pulled out two chairs.

“If you insist,” Trent said. He spoke to her but directed his gaze at me. I wanted to die. Here he was with his wife, or mistress, or lover, and Aunt Millie had put him in the hot seat. Not to mention embarrassing me to death.

“You don’t have to…” I started.

“Oh, I think it’ll be great. We don’t know anybody else. This’ll be fun.” He pulled the offered chair out further and sat in it. The woman slid into her seat and gave me a smile I wasn’t sure how to interpret. Was she happy to be here? Mad at the situation? I couldn’t tell. The waitress handed both of them menus and left us with a swish of her pony tail.

“Hello,” the woman said to Aunt Millie. She nodded at me. “So nice of you to share your table. I had no idea this place would be so crowded. The food must be as good as you said it would be.” This last part was directed at me. She put her hand on one of her earrings and smiled. “I just love these. Did you know that this young lady works in the shell shop in town?” This to Trent.

“No. How interesting.” He turned his body to face me and smiled that killer smile. “You got a job quick.”

“Uh huh.” Brilliant conversationalist. I drank some of my soft drink, this time, keeping it in my mouth and out of my nose.

“I’m sorry, but what’s your name?” Aunt Millie said. She slathered butter on a slice of French bread and took a bite.

“Oh dear, how rude of me. Since I spoke to Samantha already, {make sure she knows Sam’s name from their first meeting} I simply forgot to introduce myself. I’m Tessa.”

“And are you here for work or pleasure?” Aunt Millie locked eyes with Trent.

“I’ve moved my boat down from Seabrook,” Trent said. “Tessa is staying at one of the condos here, so I drove up to Sandy Shores from Port Isabel to meet up with her.

“What kind of boat?” My aunt was nothing if not direct.

“Sailboat.”

“I figured that.”

“Oh. It’s a Nantucket Island 38.”

Aunt Millie whistled. “Nice.”

“I think so.”

“Don’t get him started on that boat. He’ll talk until your ears fall off.”

“Now, Tessa, don’t be that way.”

“It’s true. He loves that boat more than anything.”

“Even you?” Aunt Millie asked Tessa.

“Even me.”

“So, you’ll be staying in Port Isabel?” Millie was pumping information out of him. She had a way of making anyone feel comfortable. I was glad to let her ask away.

“Got a slip there for a month while I figure out where to call home. I’m thinking of docking here for a while. This is a nice town.” He cut his eyes at me. Was he looking for a reaction? I hadn’t said a word. I was still in shock. What were the odds? This guy kept popping up. Was it kismet?

I texted Vee under the table.

Me: He’s here

Vee: Mr Hottie?

Me: Yes

Vee: How?

Me. IDK

Vee: Koinkidinki much

Aunt Millie slapped my hand. “What are you doing? We’re talking here. Put that up.” She looked at our table mates and made a clucking noise with her tongue. “Kids.”

Trent laughed. Tessa looked uncomfortable. At least they weren’t acting all lovey-dovey and holding hands. I stuck my phone in my purse. The music was loud, so I had no idea if Vee was texting me back madly or not. Probably, but I dare not look.

“Aunt Millie, I’m not exactly a kid.” Kerry, Patsy’s daughter who waited tables for her mom, brought me a replacement soda.

“Can I get you two something to drink?” she asked. She had her eyes all over Trent.

“Dos Equis for me,” Trent said.

“Water with lemon?” Tessa disengaged from Kerry and turned to Mr. Hot Stuff. “I bought this lovely set at Samantha’s shop today. Don’t you just love it, Trent?” Tessa touched the earrings again. I watched as his eyes moved to see if he would check her out. He didn’t. So maybe they’d been married a while.

“It’s lovely. Did you suggest it?” Trent turned to me.

“Um..” Still tongue tied.

“The young woman working with her did, but Samantha is the one that told me about this place. She works at a nice shop. You know how much I love a shell shop.”

Trent laughed. “I’ve never seen her be able to walk by one without stopping and buying at least one shell.”

“You and me both.”

“You a collector?” Aunt Mille asked. I wasn’t sure which one she was asking, but they both shook their heads.

“I have a sea theme at my place in Chicago to remind me of my childhood days down here,” Tessa said. “It’s pretty full, so now I stick mostly to jewelry. I love unique pieces, like these.” She flicked a finger and started one swinging.

“And I live aboard, so there’s no room for a collection of any kind. I love the ocean and everything about it, though. Never been able to resist picking up shells on the beaches where I’ve traveled. I tend the give them back to the sea, though. Found this one today.” He rummaged in his right front pocket and pulled out a perfect calico scallop. We all oohed and aahed.

Aunt Millie kicked me under the table.

“Ouch.” I rubbed my shin. She cut her eyes at Trent and bobbed her head in his direction. I wanted to say, “What?” but Kerry came by to take our orders.

Trent ordered the biggest platter on the menu. Tessa h...






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