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Victoria & Shannon

She wanted something more, but it may be more than she bargained for.

Gansett Island midwife Victoria Stevens loves taking care of people, in her job and in her personal life, especially when it comes to her boyfriend of one year, sexy Irishman Shannon O’Grady. Fueled by combustible chemistry, her relationship with Shannon has been H-O-T from the first night they met. But she’s begun to wonder whether theirs is destined to be a short-term fling or possibly the love of a lifetime. When she goes looking for answers about his past, she learns something she was better off not knowing and isn’t sure what to do with her newfound information. What will happen when Shannon finds out she’s been asking questions about him, and will they be able to overcome the obstacles standing between them and happily ever after? Find out in this first Gansett Island Episode, which also includes the arrival of some long-awaited island babies!

About the Gansett Island Episodes… 
From Marie: My fictional island has become such a huge part of my life—and yours—over these last six years, and I’ve created so many characters who speak to me between books and during the writing of new ones. I can’t possibly give them all a new story in every book, but I still have so much to say about them. With that in mind, I’ll be launching a new “Gansett Island Episodes” series in 2017, featuring shorter stories about past characters who readers love and want more of. Mixed in with these episodes will be at least one full-length book a year. So we’ll have plenty more from our favorite island, with new stories for past characters as well as all-new stories, too. I’m looking forward to this new adventure and hope you’ll take the ferry to Gansett for the new episodes!





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Gansett Island Episodes,

Episode 1: Victoria & Shannon

By Marie Force
Chapter 1

Desperate times called for desperate measures, or that was what Victoria Stevens told herself as she took an early lunch break for an errand she’d put off long enough. She had tried everything she could think of to get her boyfriend, Shannon, to open up to her without success, and there was only one person on this island who could help her figure out what to do next.

On paper, Victoria was one half of a perfect relationship. Together nearly a year, she and Shannon O’Grady enjoyed a lot of the same activities, TV shows and friends. They’d lived together for almost a year, laughed often, hardly fought and had the hottest sex she’d ever had with anyone almost every day. Though she told herself it couldn’t be better, that was a big, fat lie. It could be better. It could be a lot better.

What they had, she’d finally been forced to acknowledge, was a lovely, wonderful surface relationship that lacked the kind of true intimacy she craved. She saw what she wanted for herself every day in the couples she worked with as a Certified Nurse Midwife, and refused to settle for less in her own life. So even if her relationship with Shannon seemed perfect on the surface, the foundation was shaky.

For one thing, they never talked about anything important beyond their work schedules, what was for dinner or whether they should go to a party they’d been invited to. In some ways, she felt like she didn’t know him any better now than she had the day she met him, and that was a problem she couldn’t continue to ignore as much as she might want to.

Five years ago, she would’ve ignored it. She would’ve told herself to stop being melodramatic and enjoy what she had. The future would take care of itself. But staring down her twenty-ninth birthday had her taking stock of where she’d expected to be by thirty—and it was not in a go-nowhere relationship with the hottest guy she’d ever met, let alone dated.

She’d waited until Shannon, a deckhand for the Gansett Island Ferry Company, departed on the eleven o’clock boat to the mainland. As she walked into town from the clinic where she worked, she saw the boat he was on way off in the distance. That meant the coast was clear for her trip to the ferry landing, which bustled with activity on a Friday in late June.

This was the right thing to do, or so she told herself. If she allowed in any other thought, such as the propriety of asking Shannon’s cousin questions she probably ought to ask Shannon himself, she might chicken out, and that was not an option. Outside the door to the ferry company’s main office, she took a deep breath and knocked on Seamus O’Grady’s open door.

He was on the phone and waved her in.

Victoria went into his office and took one of the chairs that sat in front of his desk.

“I understand,” he said in the lyrical Irish accent that was so familiar to her after a year with his cousin. “I appreciate the call. I’ll have a talk with him tonight and get back to you tomorrow. Very good. Thank you.” Sighing, he ended the call and placed his cell phone on the desk. “Sorry about that.”

“Everything okay?”

“Jackson is having a few challenges at summer camp,” Seamus said of one of the two brothers he and his wife, Carolina, had taken in after their mother died of lung cancer. “Getting into some scrapes with the other kids and ‘acting out,’ or so the director says. I’ll admit to being out of my league with things like this.”

“You’re doing great, and you’ll figure out what to do.”

“I hope you’re right, but you didn’t come by to talk about my woes, did you?”

“No,” she said with a smile, “I came to talk about my woes.”

His brows knitted with concern. “What’s wrong?”


“What about him? I thought things were going great for the two of you.”

“Things are great.” Victoria paused and shook her head. “No, that’s not true. It could be great, but it’s like there’s this gigantic brick wall standing between us, and I can’t get around it or over it or through it no matter how hard I try.”

“Ahhh,” Seamus said, nodding. “I see.”

“I hope you know… I’d never bother you with this if I wasn’t feeling sort of desperate about what to do.”

“First of all, love, you’re never a bother. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“I’d like to think so.” She and Shannon spent a lot of time with Seamus and Carolina and now their boys, too. The four of them regularly went out to dinner, played cards and spent holidays together.

He stood. “Take a walk with me. This isn’t a short conversation.”

Victoria got up to go with him, eager to hear what he had to say even if part of her was afraid, too.

They walked to the pier where the fishing boats came and went, bringing in fresh catch-of-the-day that was sold to island residents and restaurants. In the middle of the day, the pier was mostly deserted, with many of the boats out on the water.

“Has he told you about Fiona?” Seamus asked after a long silence.

“Who?” Victoria immediately thought of the woman who worked with Grace McCarthy at the pharmacy, but clearly Seamus meant someone else.

“I didn’t think so.”

“Who is she?”

“She was his first love back in Ireland.” He rested his arms on one of the pilings and stared out at the ocean. “It’s still hard to talk about her even after all these years.”

Suddenly, Victoria was sorry she’d sought him out and particularly sorry she’d asked questions she had no business asking. “I, um, maybe it would be better if I didn’t know.”

“Would it?”

He was giving her an out, and Victoria wanted to take it because she sensed that whatever he was about to tell her would change everything. Was that what she wanted? To change everything? “I… I don’t know.”

“You want to understand him, right?”

She nodded.

“Then you need to know about Fiona.”

Resigned to hearing the story, Victoria leaned against the next piling, needing the support it provided.

“I can’t remember a time when they weren’t together. They met in school and were inseparable from then on. After they finished school, they moved to Dublin so she could pursue a career as a model. Shannon got a job as a bartender to help make ends meet so she could focus on her career, which was really taking off. She had a top agent and a couple of photographers who loved to work with her.”

Victoria wanted to run away from whatever was coming next. “Wh-What happened?”

“I’m only going to tell you this much, love. She was murdered.”

Victoria felt like she’d been punched. “Oh God,” she whispered.

“I’ll leave it to him to share the details, if he chooses to. I’ve already said more than I should have. He’s intensely private on this topic. He doesn’t talk about her at all.”

Her heart ached for Shannon. Tears flooded her eyes, spilling down her cheeks.

“As you can imagine, he’s never been the same since she died. For a long time afterward, we worried he’d take his own life rather than have to live without her. So we made sure someone was always with him the first year. We watched him around the clock. The second year, he started drinking and spent most of that year and the next drunk. By the time he finally snapped out of that stage, we were about to send him to rehab. But one day, he got up, took a shower, got dressed and went back to work at the bar, as if nothing had happened. That’s what he did for years—got up, went to work, did what he had to do to survive. Then, eight years after he lost Fiona, he came here and met you, and he’s been different.”

“How so?” she asked, her voice scratchy. “How has he been different?”

“He smiles again. He laughs. He participates. You have no idea what a huge improvement those things are from the way he was for so long.”

Using her sleeve, she tried to mop up the tears. “I’ve wondered,” she said haltingly, “why it seemed he was willing to go only so far with me. Now I know it’s because he isn’t capable of more.”

“A year ago, I would’ve agreed with you. Now, I’m not so sure that’s true.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’ve spent a lot of time with the two of you. I’ve seen the way he looks at you and watches you when you’re in the room, looks for you when you’re not. He’s as invested in you as he’s able to be, even if he doesn’t say so.”

“I’m not sure what to do with this information, Seamus.” She’d gotten way more than she’d bargained for from Shannon’s cousin.

“What do you want to do with it?” he asked.

“I want to find him and hold him and tell him I love him and I always will even if he’s not capable of loving me back.”

“He’s capable. He just doesn’t know it yet. You’ll have to lead him to it if you’re interested in a future with him. Is that what you want, Vic? A future with him?”

“I think so,” she said softly. “But I can’t compete with her. I feel awful even saying that.”

“I understand, and you shouldn’t feel awful. For what it’s worth, I see the way he is with you, and I think he cares for you more than either of you realize.”

“Do I tell him what I know?”

“That’s up to you, love. I can’t tell you how to play this. I wish I could.”

“Will he mind that you told me?”

“If he does, that’s between the two of us. Don’t you worry about me. I can fight my own battles. I told you what I did because I like you for him. I like you two together, and I wanted to help. My intentions were pure, and that’s what I’ll tell him if it comes to that.”

“I really appreciate this, Seamus.”

He held out his arms to her, and she walked willingly into his embrace. “He’s lucky to have you in his life, and he knows it. Have some faith in that.”

“I’ll try,” she said, smiling up at him. “Your wife is lucky to have you, too.”

“Aye, I tell her so every day.”

Victoria laughed at the predictable comment. “I’ll see you later.” She walked back to the clinic lost in thought and grief-stricken over what Shannon had been through losing his first love in such a horrific way. So many things made sense to her now that she knew what’d happened to him.

Most of the time, he came off as a happy-go-lucky sort of guy. However, every so often, the darkness would swoop in, and he’d punch out of their relationship for a day or two, even if he never physically left the home they shared. Victoria had learned to give him space during the dark moods, even as she wondered what caused them. Now she knew, and understood, for the most part anyway. If only she could figure out how best to use the information Seamus had given her to improve their relationship.

In her heart of hearts, she believed they had what it took to make this the kind of love story that lasted a lifetime. But that could happen only if they both wanted it. She couldn’t do it on her own. She was still pondering her predicament when she walked through the main doors to the clinic. Dr. David Lawrence stood at the registration desk, speaking with Katie Lawry, their nurse practitioner, and Anna, the receptionist.

“Oh, there you are,” David said. “I was about to call you.”

“Why? What’s up?”

“Tiffany Taylor is in labor in Exam Three.” He took a closer look at her. “Have you been crying?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Vic… What’s wrong?”

“Let’s talk about it later.” As her colleagues looked at her with concern, Victoria took Tiffany’s chart from David and went through the double doors to the exam rooms, knocking on the door to number three. “Hi there,” she said to Tiffany, owner of the Naughty & Nice boutique, and her husband, Blaine, the island’s police chief. “What’s this I hear about labor?”

“We were in bed, and she woke up in a puddle,” Blaine said, seeming incredibly stressed.

“Any contractions?”

“Over the last day or two, I’ve had like a rolling ache that comes and goes pretty regularly, but since it didn’t feel like the labor pains I had with Ashleigh, I thought they were Braxton-Hicks contractions. Not the real thing.”

“Let’s take a look.” Victoria washed her hands and put on gloves before helping Tiffany into position. As this was Tiff’s second child, she knew the drill.

Victoria performed an internal exam and discovered Tiffany was fully dilated and effaced. “You work fast, Mrs. Taylor. You’re about to have this baby.”

“Right now?” Blaine asked, sounding panicked. “She’s not due for another week. This was supposed to happen on the mainland.”

“Well, it’s happening right here and now.”

“What if something goes wrong or she needs a C-section?”

“We have everything we need if that should happen.” After David had delivered his ex-fiancée Janey Cantrell’s baby by emergency C-section last year, they’d taken steps to bring in the proper equipment to perform emergency surgery, if necessary. They never again wanted to be unprepared for an emergency of that magnitude. “The best thing you both can do is relax and breathe. Tiffany had an easy labor with Ashleigh, and there’s no reason to believe this one won’t be routine, too.”

As she said the words, Tiffany’s face tightened with obvious pain. “I’m feeling the need to push.” She clung to Blaine’s hand. “Can I push?”

“Not quite yet. Let me get everything ready, and then we’ll get that baby out.” She left the exam room to round up help.

“What’s going on?” Katie asked.

“She’s ready to deliver now, and I think it’s going to be quick. Can you give me a hand?”

“I’m all yours in five minutes. I’ve got to move a few things around.”

“Ask Anna to clear my afternoon, will you?” In Victoria’s world, nothing took precedence over a mom in labor.

“You got it.” Katie went to speak to the receptionist.

“You’re sure you’re all right?” David asked when they met up in the hallway.

“Can we talk after work? I’ve got a baby to deliver.”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” David was one of her closest friends, and there was no one else she’d rather talk to about what she should do with the information Seamus had given her.

Victoria put her long dark hair up in a bun, donned a gown and thoroughly washed her hands. Right now she needed to focus on the new life that Tiffany was about to bring into the world. She’d have plenty of time later to figure out what she was going to do about her own life.

Chapter 2

Victoria used the sleeve of her gown to wipe sweat from her brow. “Come on, Tiffany. One more big push.”

“I can’t,” Tiffany said, weeping.

“Yes, you can, babe,” Blaine said, cheering her on as he had for two hours now.

It was taking longer than Victoria had thought it would to get the baby out. She was keeping a close eye on the baby’s heart rate and Tiffany’s vital signs. So far they were both hanging in there, but she was anxious to see the baby safely delivered.

“Why’s it taking so long?” Tiffany asked. “I had Ash in thirty minutes. Aren’t second babies supposed to come faster?”

“They’re all different,” Victoria said, eyeing the monitor. “Here comes another contraction.”

Tiffany pushed as hard as she could, but the baby was obstinate.

“We’re almost there.” Victoria tried to stay cheerful and upbeat during deliveries, hoping the moms would take strength from her positive attitude. “Rest for a minute, and then we’ll do it again.”

Blaine sat behind Tiffany on the delivery table, his arms around her, and spoke softly to her between contractions as he wiped her tears with a tissue and her face with the cool cloths that Katie handed him after every contraction.

A knock on the door sent Katie to find out what was up. She came back with an odd expression on her face. “Jenny Martinez is here. She might also be in labor.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Victoria said.

“Wish I was. David is with her for now.”

Didn’t it figure that all hell would break loose on a day when she wanted nothing more than to go home and be with Shannon?

Tiffany’s sister, Maddie McCarthy, came to the door, looking frantic and overheated, which wasn’t recommended due to her own pregnancy. “I came as soon as we got back from the mainland,” Maddie said.

“Come in,” Tiffany said, holding out a hand to her sister, who rushed to Tiffany’s bedside to hug her.

“How’re you doing?” Maddie asked.

“Terrible. The baby won’t come out.”

“She’s doing great,” Victoria said. “Her little one has a mind of his or her own.”

“Just like his or her mom,” Blaine said, drawing a small smile from his wife.

Victoria eyed the monitor and noted the start of another contraction. “Let’s do it again, Tiffany.”

“Come on, sweetheart,” Blaine said, his arms around her as he supported her from behind. “You got this. I can’t wait to meet our baby.”

With Maddie holding her hand and offering added encouragement, Tiffany pushed harder than she had in a while.

Victoria watched as the baby crowned. “That’s it. Don’t stop now, Tiff. You’re almost there.”

Tiffany screamed from the effort it took to keep pushing.

Victoria delivered the baby’s head and then the shoulders. “One more good push.” And with that, the baby slid into Victoria’s waiting hands. Holding the squalling infant, she stood to show her off to her exhausted parents. “You have a little girl. Congratulations! Dad, do you want to cut the cord?”

“I’ll let you take care of that,” Blaine said, wiping tears from his own face as well as Tiffany’s.

Victoria took care of the cord and handed the baby to Katie to be cleaned up before she got to officially meet her parents. Victoria delivered the placenta and determined that Tiffany needed a few stitches to deal with some tearing. She worked through the post-delivery steps one after the other with single-minded focus on her patient.

David evaluated the baby and declared her perfectly healthy. He wrapped her in a receiving blanket and brought her to meet her overjoyed parents.

“Oh my goodness,” Blaine said on a long exhale. “Will you look at that face?”

“Another girl who looks just like her mother,” Maddie said.

“Three of them will be the death of me,” Blaine replied as he contended with a new flood of tears.

“Hi, baby,” Tiffany said, running her finger over her daughter’s cheek.

“What’s her name?” Victoria asked.

“Adeline Francine Taylor,” Tiffany said. “Adeline is Blaine’s grandmother’s name, and Francine for my mom.”

“That’s beautiful,” Maddie said. “I love it, and Mom will be thrilled. Do you want me to call her?”

“Yes, please. Everything happened so fast that I never got around to calling anyone. How did you hear?”

“Katie told Shane.” Katie’s fiancé, Shane, and Maddie’s husband, Mac, were cousins. “He called Mac. We got back on the first ferry that had room for the car.”

“I feel bad that your trip got cut short.”

On Victoria’s recommendation, Maddie and Mac had gone to the mainland to consult with the specialist at Women & Infants in Providence. After her last pregnancy ended in miscarriage, they were leaving nothing to chance.

“Only by a day that we were going to spend at the beach,” Maddie said. “Nothing to worry about.”

“And everything is okay?” Tiffany asked.

“So far so good. It’s the waiting that’s the hard part.”

“You’re already past the point you were when you lost Connor.”

“I know.” Maddie smiled at her sister. “No talk of sad things today. This is baby Adeline’s day. Let me call Mom to get her, Ned and Ashleigh over here to meet their new granddaughter and sister.”

“Thanks, Maddie.”

“I’m going to check on another patient,” Victoria said. “I’ll be back to look in on you guys shortly.”

“Thanks for everything, Vic,” Tiffany said. “I never could’ve gotten through this pregnancy and delivery without your support.”

“I’m so happy for you all.” Victoria left them with a smile, removed her gown and tossed it into a hamper. Then she went into her office to send a quick text to Shannon. Outbreak of babies around here today. I’ll be late.

He responded right away. No bother, love. I’ll keep dinner warm for you.

Don’t worry about dinner for me. Will grab something here.

Okay, see you when you get home.

Every time she helped bring a new life into the world, she wondered if she’d ever get to share that experience with a man she loved above all others. Seeing Blaine and Tiffany with their newborn baby made Victoria yearn for a child of her own with the man she loved. Interestingly enough, she’d never had such yearnings until she met Shannon O’Grady.

She took a deep cleansing breath, the kind she encouraged her laboring moms to take, and left her office to see to Jenny Martinez, a first-time mom at age thirty-eight. Victoria had kept a close eye on Jenny, especially during the last few weeks. Like Tiffany, Jenny had planned to deliver on the mainland, but her baby apparently had other plans.

Victoria couldn’t wait to see what these strong-willed babies would be like as two-year-olds.

“Hi there,” she said to Jenny and her husband, Alex, when she entered the room where Jenny was hooked to monitors. Alex stood next to the bed holding her hand, looking as stressed as Blaine had earlier. “How’re you doing?”

“Not so great,” Jenny said. “The pain is pretty bad. Worse than advertised.”

“I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that from a first-time mom in labor,” Victoria said. “Let’s take a look.” During the internal exam, Victoria determined that Jenny was fully effaced but only seven centimeters dilated. “You’ve got a little ways to go before you’ll be ready to deliver.”

Jenny groaned at that news. “How little of a ways?”

“Three more centimeters, but you’re doing great.”

“We hadn’t planned to have the baby on the island,” Alex said, looking a little wild around the eyes. “Are you sure it’ll be safe?”

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure it’s perfectly safe,” Victoria assured him. “As we’ve talked about over the last few weeks, there’s always a possibility of complications. I don’t expect any problems, but if we encounter something we can’t handle, we can have a chopper here within minutes and get you to Providence. Okay?”

Alex nodded in agreement, but she could tell he was only partially pacified by her answer.

She didn’t blame him for being concerned. Island deliveries were never recommended, but they happened. Not usually two in one day, but Victoria delivered, on average, about six babies a year in the clinic. She’d delivered Laura Lawry’s twins in March when they arrived early. In her line of work, best-laid plans often went awry.

“What’re you thinking about pain meds?” Victoria asked Jenny.

She glanced at Alex and then said, “I’m going to try to go without.”

“Are you sure? If we wait much longer, it’ll be too late.”

“I think I’m sure.”

“Babe, if you need it, do it,” Alex said. “Victoria wouldn’t give you anything that would hurt the baby.”

“I know, but I really want to be drug-free.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Victoria said, patting Jenny’s knee. “I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.”

“Thanks, Vic.”

David met her in the hallway. “You need food.”

“I’m okay.”

“Could be a long night. I’ll order from Mario’s. You want your usual?”

She wasn’t sure she could eat, but she nodded anyway. “Sure, that’d be great.”

“Coming right up. Go take five while you can. I’ll find you when the food gets here, and I’ll keep an eye on everyone in the meantime.”

“Thanks, David.”

“No problem.”

Victoria went into her office, took her hair down from the bun and stretched out on the sofa she’d bought at a yard sale for occasions such as this when she was required to stay at the clinic after hours. Rarely did she have to spend an entire night, but it happened once in a while. In a way, she was thankful for the outbreak of babies, because it bought her some time to figure out her next move with Shannon.

Looking up at the ceiling, she thought about the night she’d met him at the Beachcomber, the same day he’d arrived from Ireland with his aunt Nora, Seamus’s mother. He’d planned to stay for two weeks and go home with Nora. Victoria wasn’t particularly proud of the fact that she’d invited him back to her place the first night they met. That wasn’t something she’d ever done before him. But it had been a while, years really, since she’d connected with a man the way she had with him. And, let’s face it. The man was smoking hot.

She smiled thinking about how bowled over she’d been by his charm, the accent and a face that defied description. He was male beauty personified, with longish brown hair infused with red highlights that went blond in the summer, hazel eyes, a body built for sin and lips made for kissing. To this day, when he spoke to her in that lyrical Irish accent, she went stupid in the head. He could be talking about taking out the trash, and it had the same impact as when he whispered sweet words when they made love.

Closing her eyes, she thought about that first time, when he’d silently helped her out of her clothes and then let her do the same for him. She’d been slightly appalled at how easily she’d capitulated to his overwhelming charm, but once they were in her bed, she hadn’t had the mental capacity for regrets or recriminations.

She’d had the best sex of her entire life that night—and just about every night since then. It was safe to say she was completely addicted to sex with him. Just thinking about it made her want him. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to indulge in thoughts about the part of their relationship that worked effortlessly. All he had to do was look at her, and she was ready. It had never been like that for her before with any guy, even Stuart, the man she’d dated for two years after college.

Marrying him would’ve been a huge mistake. What if she’d been married to him or someone else when she met Shannon? How would she have resisted the instant temptation he presented? She’d wanted him from the minute he sat next to her at the Beachcomber bar and asked for a beer. He had her at “I’ll have a Guinness, please, love.”

Even Chelsea, the bartender, had reacted the way any normal red-blooded American woman would in the face of so much Irish hotness. The “holy cow” look she’d given Victoria had been priceless. But Shannon… He’d had eyes only for her, something that still had the power to amaze her so many months later.

They’d had an intense two weeks, fueled by the time limit on his visit. She’d actually taken vacation days so they could spend more time together before he had to leave. Okay, truthfully, they’d spent all those vacation days in her bed, getting up only to shower and eat before going back for more. Then, when the time had come for Nora to depart, he’d asked Victoria if she’d like him to stay.

She’d cried from the relief of knowing she got to keep him—for now anyway. He’d moved into her place that day and had been there ever since, paying his half of the rent and other expenses by working as a mate on the ferries that were managed by his cousin. Seamus had secured a work visa for Shannon that allowed him to stay in the country. Since then, they’d fallen into a satisfying routine that consisted of spending every free minute together. She still couldn’t get enough of him or the way she felt when she was with him.

But the longer they’d been together, the more she’d begun to wonder about what he wasn’t telling her. The dark moods, his refusal to say much of anything about his life in Ireland and his seeming intention to keep things light rather than serious between them had driven her to seek some answers. She’d gone to Seamus wanting to know why Shannon seemed only capable of a satisfying domestic and sexual relationship but nothing more than that.

Now she knew, and after hearing what he’d endured, she wished she’d left well enough alone.

A knock on the door snapped her out of the introspection. She sat up and ran her hands through her hair. “Come in.”

David poked his head in. “Food’s here. Katie said for us to eat first, and then she will. Is it okay if we eat in here?”


He came in with the bag from Mario’s and set up their dinner on the coffee table she’d bought at the island’s weekly flea market.

She opened the fragrant container of pasta primavera and poured Italian dressing on the tossed salad. As usual, David had gotten chicken parmesan for himself. “I hope Jenny likes the aroma of garlic in her delivery room,” Victoria said.

“She’ll be too busy having a baby to notice. I just looked in on her, and she’s doing okay. Tiffany is taking a nap while Blaine is with the baby. All is well.”

“Thank you. What a crazy day.”

“Good thing this doesn’t happen very often.”

“No kidding. Let’s hope Sydney Harris behaves herself and doesn’t go early, too.”

“Don’t even say it.”

They ate in companionable silence for a few minutes. Then he glanced over at her. “Are you going tell me why you were crying when you came back from lunch?”

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Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 

~ Calvin Coolidge

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