MEET ME IN MAINE

Lizzy gets ready for her first date with David. Is she eager? Let’s find out.

CHAPTER 7

Scarlett stepped through the front doorway, halting in surprise. “I thought you’d still be asleep.”

“Where were you?” I asked from my perch at the kitchen counter, eyeing the white paper bag clutched in her hand. “You’re never an early riser.” 

With a grin, she sauntered into the kitchen, placing the bag beside my coffee cup. “I bought muffins at a cute cafe around the corner.”

“No diet?” I asked.

“Not today.” Scarlett popped a Keurig cup into the machine, withdrawing two plates from the kitchen cabinet and settling beside me before reaching for the bag. “I’m hungry from scouting the town.”

“What?”

She set a chocolate chip muffin on a plate before sliding it toward me. “Everywhere I visited, people were discussing the explosions.” Scarlett bit into a corn muffin, her voice muffled as she continued, “No one was hurt, but plenty of boats were damaged.”

I quirked a brow.

“Ten boats burned to ashes, and many residents believed it was arson. The shipowners have insurance, but it takes time to collect; for now, they’ve lost their livelihood. The cafe owner handed around a collection to support them, and I pledged money from the both of us.” She glanced at me. “Is that okay?”

“Of course, it’s okay. The boat owners need our help.” Losing my appetite, I shoved the plate away. “Were these people shocked?”

“Nope.” She shook her head, her long ponytail bouncing around her shoulders. “A wave of violence has plagued the town for the past six months.”

“That’s strange; the residents should be more concerned their harbor exploded.”

Scarlett stopped eating and looked at me. “I don’t know the details since people are closed-mouthed, but I’ll find out.”

“Are you canceling our appointment at the bed-and-breakfast for this afternoon?” I stood and began pacing the tiny kitchen. “New York City was dangerous enough; I don’t want to move to a place where I’m afraid to walk home in the evening.”

“I’m not canceling.” Scarlett swiveled to me. 

“We can find a town with no crime wave. The coast of Maine is lined with towns offering picturesque harbors and inns to purchase.”

“No.” Scarlett scrambled to her feet, retrieving her cup from the Keurig and bringing it to the counter. “I want to live here.”

“Why?” I sat as she sipped her coffee. “Is it Jonathan?”

She peeked at me from the corner of her eye. “Yes, it’s him. Then there’s David and Logan. Blue Harbor has interesting characters.”

“Are you seeking characters for a murder mystery or a Hallmark movie?” 

Scarlett pulled a plastic knife from the paper bag and cut my rejected muffin into bite-size pieces. “I don’t want to live in a boring town.” She offered me a piece, but I shook my head. “Blue Harbor offers a unique way of life.”

“The town offers more options for dying.” 

She popped a chunk of muffin in her mouth. “Every town has crime. Once the police catch the ones responsible, the town will be peaceful again. Blue Harbor has the best shops and harbor, and I don’t want to live farther north.”

“The explosions destroyed the harbor.”

“The planks are being replaced as we speak.” Scarlett gave me a pleading look. “Blue Harbor has other piers.”

“Okay. We’ll keep the appointment.” I took a sip of coffee.

“What will you wear on your date with David tonight?” 

“I forgot.” My head pounded. How did I forget?

“Don’t tell me you forgot a date with a gorgeous man.”

“I’ve been trying to forget yesterday; the bleeding man, burning boats, and chilling screams gave me nightmares.”

“Are you keeping the date?” She gawked at me. “No way are you canceling it.”

“I’m going.” I shrugged. “But I don’t need a man to feel whole; I can find happiness without being half of a couple.”

“You can still date and have fun.” Scarlett winked. “You remember how to have fun, right?”

I turned my face to the window where white puffy clouds coasted along the blue horizon. “It’s been a long time.”

“One date doesn’t have to lead to another.” Her expression becoming somber, she added, “I’m not looking for a commitment either.”

I nodded.

“You can’t help men falling for you; you’re blessed with blonde hair and green eyes.” Scarlett tossed her ponytail. “While I sport a frizzy mop of brown with boring brown eyes.”

“Nothing about you is boring.” I laughed. “And you have no problem finding men.”

“But I’m always one step behind you.”

“And I picked Martin.” I stared at the shredded napkin clasped in my hand.

“Forget Martin; he’s history.” She took my hand, peeling pieces of napkins from between my fingers. “Turn your thoughts to David, tall, dark, and handsome.”

“He has those Nordic blue eyes.” I gave a soft sigh.

“Nordic blue?” Scarlett chuckled. “Is that a color?”

“Yes.” I wrinkled my nose. “I found it on Google.” A side glance at her confirmed my suspicions; she sat there grinning like a cat who consumed a bowl of cream. “When is Jonathan taking you on a date? Tonight?”

“Yup.” She slid from the stool. “I’m excited; he’s taking me to a new restaurant on a pier.”

“Nice.” I swallowed. “A pier that didn’t burn?”

“Blue Harbor has many piers.” Scarlett shook a finger at me. “Remember, happy thoughts.”

I planted a smile on my face.

Scarlett gave me a smirk before continuing, “I checked the restaurant online, and it’s fancy.” She leaned her hip against the counter. “Should I wear my strapless red dress?”

“Perfect choice.” I grinned. “You’ll catch the big fish.”

She laughed. “I won’t tell Jonathan you called him a big fish.” Scarlett tilted her head to the side. “What will you wear?”

“I have my little black dress.”

“With an emphasis on little.” With a snicker, she added, “Perfect.” 

I got to my feet and began rinsing the dishes. “Who gets Logan?” I turned to her.

She canted her head to the side.

“If I pick David, and you choose Jonathan, who gets Logan?”

“Can he be the spare?” She clapped her hands together in delight.

A giggle slipped from my mouth. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Men refer to women as spares, so why can’t I?” 

“As long as they don’t hear it.”

“I’m sealing my lips,” Scarlett replied, running an imaginary zipper across her lips.

A FIELD OF BLUE BONNETS

As I walk in a field of bluebonnets,

I desire to compose for them sonnets.

The sweet fragrance fills my soul

until I am again whole.

I’m tired, but I smile

like I’ve walked a mile.

I’ll make my flowered bed

and rest my weary head.

My thoughts drift below,

somewhere over the rainbow.

THE DESERTED MANSION

The mansion is dreary.
One should be leery
of entering its gate.
Better leave it to fate.

Each room offers a view
of history for you.
Beautifully furnished rooms
swept clean by invisible brooms.

“Who lives here?” you might ask
if you dare take him to the task.
“Only I,” he might reply
with a twinkle in his eye.

He steps closer to me.
His eyes are red I can see.
Is he a creature of the night?
My heart pounds with fright.

THE DEAD GAME
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THE HARBOR BURNS

As explosions rocked the harbor, the blackened sky mirrored the orange and yellow flames consuming the pier. People screeched as the panicked horde surged toward us.

Chapter 6

People strolled the sidewalks beneath the street lamps’ hazy yellow glow. Bright window displays beckoned to visitors as music wafted from the open doorways. Boats rode the soft swells on either side of the long dock, jutting into the dark water. I stood beside Scarlett at the curb, taking a deep breath of the crisp, salty air.

David and Logan exited the parlor, taking positions on either side of us. 

I glanced at Logan, feeling uncomfortable in his presence after the intense interrogation in the ice cream parlor. His haughty mien lifted as he caught my glance, and his gray eyes softened. He nodded to me before turning and heading back to the store.

The ground beneath my feet shook as flames shot to the sky from the moored vessels and ear-shattering explosions cut through the air. Time turned sluggish and unreal, like a movie reel playing in slow motion.

I stood frozen, transfixed by the orange flames sweeping across the wooden planks at the heels of the fleeing pedestrians. Scarlett grabbed my hand as the crowd headed our way, jostling us in their frenzied path. As an intense heat hit our faces, people screamed; sirens shrilled; fire engines pulled alongside the marina. Police cars swarmed the streets.

His face a blotched red, Lively strode from the parlor, puffing. “Take them home and then hurry back,” he shouted to David before rushing across the street with Logan to join the officers arriving at the dock.

“I’ll walk you home.” David snatched my hand, transporting me back to reality. 

I hurried to keep pace with him, the hazy fog clouding my vision cleared. Scarlett strode ahead while Bella hobbled beside us on a broken heel. I glanced back at the burning harbor. “I don’t understand; the advertisements depict Blue Harbor as a peaceful town.”

“It used to be.” David shrugged. “Things have changed.”

“What things?” I asked, but he refused to look at me. “David?”

He faced me. “Maybe you shouldn’t move here.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“No, then I won’t see you again.” He halted as people rushed around us. “But the town hasn’t been safe for the past few months, and I don’t want you hurt.” David took my hand, and we continued walking.

“Do you believe I’m in danger?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been working with Logan and the chief, but we’ve made no headway.” He checked over his shoulder. “Where’s Bella?”

“I’m here.” Bella emerged from the crowd. “The broken heel is making it difficult to walk.” She removed her shoes and loped toward us barefoot. “That’s better.”

As explosions rocked the harbor, the blackened sky mirrored the orange and yellow flames consuming the pier. People screeched as the panicked horde surged toward us. 

David dropped my hand and looked at me. “I’m sorry. The police need my help; I must go back.” He pushed his way through the throng and headed back to the pier. “Remember to lock your doors,” he yelled over his shoulder before disappearing.

“What’s wrong with this town?” I eyed Bella.

“What isn’t wrong with it?” she replied before stumbling ahead to our building.

Scarlett stood on the front steps, gaze riveted to the burning harbor, her arms wrapped around her shivering body.

Bella unlocked the front door, and we trailed behind her into the dark hallway.

“Are you going to explain this creepy town to us?” Scarlett stepped in front of Bella.

Bella hit the light switch. “No, and don’t shut the hall lights. Tomorrow, I’ll explain the town’s strange history.” She rushed into her apartment, throwing the bolt on the door.