Each week, I will share a chapter of Meet Me In Maine, the first in The Blue Harbor Series. I’m working on the second in the series, which will further explore the Penobscot Indians and their unique history and culture.
I slammed the front door and peeked at the retreating figure through the living room curtains. Martin’s black hair glistened in the bright sunshine, his rugged face pensive, as he dodged pedestrians on the busy sidewalk and strode to the BMW parked at the curb, glancing over his shoulder to see if I’d changed my mind. It was too late for second chances. After folding his long body into the sleek car, he revved the powerful engine. A New York cabbie honked as the morning rush-hour traffic swallowed the black car as it cut in front.
My favorite melody, The Point of No Return from The Phantom of the Opera, drifted through the empty apartment. I grabbed the cell phone vibrating on the coffee table, and my mood lightened once I spotted Scarlett’s name on the screen.
“Elizabeth.” My best friend’s sultry voice rose with excitement. “Is Martin gone for good?” Scarlett hated Martin right away, while it had taken me a long year, laden with arguments and tears, to recognize the arrogant doctor’s faults.
“Yes, he is.”
“That’s all you have to say?”
“What else can I say? I’m relieved but lost.” I paced the Persian rug covering the polished wood floor between the brown leather couch and matching chairs.
“Are you packed?”
My luggage sat as a tall mound at the front door. “Yes, and I can’t wait to leave this depressing place.” The apartment I shared with Martin held sad memories; we had good times, but the hard times outweighed the happy ones.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes.” The line clicked, and Scarlett was on her way.
I sank into the buttery soft leather couch, part of the set Martin had purchased for our perfect life together. A dream that his possessiveness and violent temper had soon turned bitter. Later tonight, after he finished his shift at the hospital, the expensive furniture and empty brownstone apartment could comfort him and cook him dinner. As thoughts of Martin swirled through my mind, the discordant medley of loud voices and car horns faded into the background. Why did I allow the abusive relationship to continue for so long? Did I become immune to his angry words, accepting them as my due? No. I didn’t deserve his cruel attacks. I deserve respect. Even though no one was there to witness it, I lifted my chin in defiance, with the confidence I hoped one day to achieve. I was free from him and his tyranny. By the time he comes home, I will be long gone.
The doorbell rang. I jumped to my feet and rushed to the front door. Scarlett’s brown eyes glittered back at me through the beveled glass. Her lipstick-red lips curved in a decadent smile. The bell chimed again, and I swung open the heavy wood door.
“How is my baby girl?” Scarlett swept into the hallway. I stepped back as she strolled past me, poking her head into the all-white kitchen outfitted with brand-new appliances.
“I’m only two years younger than you.” She was twenty-six to my twenty-four. “And yes.” I grimaced. “He’s gone.”
Scarlett grinned. “At last.” A sidelong glance at the mountain load of luggage, and she added, “You’re ready. So am I.”
“You’re packed? But you just called.”
“I packed this morning.” Her sultry smile widened. “Once you told me Martin was history, I quit my job.”
“What?” The room spun around me. “Why?”
“I found the perfect bed-and-breakfast for us to buy.” Scarlett perched on the edge of the couch. “Our appointment is tomorrow afternoon.”
“You don’t have to uproot your life because of me.” Butterfly wings fluttered in my stomach as I sank into a chair.
She watched me through sparkling eyes that reflected her brimming-over-the-top delight with her plans. “It’s a beautifully furnished two-bedroom apartment; I saw the pictures online.” Scarlett, a romantic who watched too many Hallmark movies, planned to open a bed-and-breakfast and meet her soulmate in Maine.
“You’ve been busy.” I gave a cautious grin. Since meeting in college, a bed-and-breakfast was our dream, and I refused to return to Long Island and hear I told you so from my family, who’d disliked Martin from the start.
Scarlett scrambled to her feet. “It’s a five-hour drive between Manhattan and Blue Harbor, and I want to reach Maine before dark.”
“We don’t have to leave this minute.” I scrunched my nose. “Do we?”
“We do if we want to stop for a bite to eat.” She grabbed two wheelie bags, dragging them through the doorway and down the front steps. After storing the pieces in the red Mustang’s trunk, Scarlett removed her high heels and switched for sneakers. “I can’t wait to leave the City.” With her hands fisted on her hips, she stood on the sidewalk glaring at me, orange and yellow leaves swirling at her feet. “Aren’t you going to help?”
“I fell into a trance watching you.” I stood frozen on the top step with bags clutched to my body. “You’re a whirlwind once you get started.”
She climbed the steps, yanking the luggage from my hands. “Once I make a decision, I’m eager to begin.” A snicker flew over her shoulder as she hurried to the car.
“Yes, Captain.” I saluted. “Ready for duty.” I raced back into the brownstone, collecting the rest of my stuff before locking the door behind me.
Scarlett gave me a thumbs-up as I settled into the passenger seat beside her. “And we’re ready to go.” She eased into traffic, honking at jaywalkers and swearing at cab drivers.
I won’t miss the traffic, crowds, or Martin Pierce, the world-famous heart surgeon.
Beneath a hazy September sun, honking cars, and slow traffic lights, we left Manhattan for a new chapter in our lives.