Kevin & Chelsea
Their age difference doesn’t matter…until one of them wants to put down roots.
A year after his 31-year marriage imploded, Dr. Kevin McCarthy is enjoying life on Gansett Island. He’s opened a small practice, goes fishing with his older brothers any time he wants and has his sons, nieces and nephews close by. Best of all is his all-consuming relationship with sexy bartender, Chelsea Rose. What started as a one-night stand a year ago, has turned into something much more significant for Kevin and for Chelsea. The sixteen-year age difference between them has never mattered, until they realize they may have differing plans for the future. Will they be able to reconcile their divergent paths or will their hearts be broken when they go their separate ways? Find out in Gansett Island Episode 2: Kevin & Chelsea where you’ll also hear about Big Mac’s latest business venture and have a visit with the Gansett Island characters you’ve come to love!
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!
Gansett Island Episodes,
Episode 2: Kevin & Chelsea
By Marie Force
The meeting had been called by his brother Mac. As Kevin McCarthy made his way to the abandoned property at the far side of town, he had no idea what Mac was up to this time, but he’d know soon enough. Mac was known for his big ideas and even bigger personality, thus the nickname “Big Mac.” They didn’t call him that only because he had a son named Mac. Whatever he was up to now was sure to be interesting—and probably fun.
Kevin walked past the ferry landing, bustling with activity on a late August afternoon. Even after the peak summer season had passed, the ferry landing remained the epicenter of Gansett Island. Everything they used on the island, from gas to water to beer to cash to milk to mail, arrived via the ferries that also brought scores of tourists to the island. They came in cars, on bikes, pushing strollers, toting beach bags and coolers.
Though Kevin had visited his brother’s family frequently through the years, he’d never given much thought to how island life functioned until he became a somewhat permanent resident and truly began to understand the essential role the ferries played.
He’d come to the island a year ago to attend his niece Laura’s wedding to Owen Lawry. At the urging of Mac and their other brother Frank, who’d moved to the island after retiring as a Superior Court judge, Kevin had decided to stay for a while. He hadn’t left the island once in the last year, and that had been just what he’d needed after the sudden demise of his thirty-one-year marriage. The three McCarthy brothers were back together for the first time since Frank left home, and no one was happier about that than Kevin.
He had a lot to be happy about these days, which was a stark improvement over the condition he’d been in a year ago, right after Deb left him for a younger man, sending him reeling.
The reek of dead fish hit him when he approached the pier where the fishing boats brought fresh catch to the island. Despite the stench, he enjoyed watching the skill with which the fishermen filleted and deboned the fish before selling them to island restaurants.
At first, he’d feared that island life would bore him. But with his sons, Riley and Finn, choosing to stay after the wedding and surrounded by his boisterous extended family, Kevin was never bored. His sons’ decision to stay had surprised him, but with hindsight, he’d realized they’d initially stayed to support him after the demise of his marriage.
They continued to stay because their cousin Mac kept them so busy working for his construction company that neither of them had time to contemplate whether they’d rather be somewhere else. For now, they seemed content, and Kevin loved having them with him, so he didn’t ask any questions about whether their move to the island was permanent.
As much as he loved having his sons living with him again and being close to his brothers and their families, the very best part of the last year had been his surprising relationship with Chelsea Rose. He hadn’t been looking for love or sex or anything other than a cold beer when he ventured into the Beachcomber bar. But what he’d found with the sexy bartender could only be called true love.
In fact, as much as it pained him to admit it—even to himself—he was in love, truly in love, for the first time in his life. Yes, he’d loved Deb and the life they’d shared. But he’d never felt the kind of explosive passion for Deb that he did for Chelsea. Sometimes that realization made him feel a little sick—for himself and mostly for Deb, who’d deserved better than what she’d gotten from him—and vice versa. He’d tried his best. He’d been a faithful husband, a loving father to their boys and a hard-working psychiatrist who’d provided a nice life for his family.
It had taken a while for him to realize that Deb had done them both a favor by ending the marriage, leaving him free to pursue a relationship with Chelsea that made him happier than he’d ever been.
So, he had no immediate plans to leave the island that had become home to him. He’d even opened a small practice to stay busy, and most of his appointments were booked weeks in advance. People on an idyllic island like Gansett still had problems. People everywhere had problems, which kept him busy.
He liked helping people and feeling like he made a difference for others. Doing that on a smaller scale worked for him because it gave him more time to spend with Chelsea. They had fallen into a nice routine. He took appointments from two to seven most weekdays—except for Wednesday, when he spent the afternoon fishing with his brothers—and was done by eight, when he’d venture over to the Beachcomber for dinner and a beer or two with his favorite lady.
On many a night, he hung out until she closed the bar and then drove her home. They stayed up until all hours talking, laughing, making love, watching movies and enjoying each other. And in the mornings, they slept in. The guy he’d been a year ago, with the rigid nine-to-five schedule, barely recognized who he was today, but he liked this version of himself. This version fit in ways the previous version never could have, and much of that was due to Chelsea.
He walked up the sagging stairs to the old Wayfarer restaurant and hotel, which had been closed for several years. The owners had gone through a nasty divorce, and the property had been tied up in court ever since. It was a shame, since it occupied a prime spot in South Harbor due to its beachfront location and proximity to the ferry landing.
Back in the day, the Wayfarer had been the go-to destination for day-trippers right off the boat. He’d spent many a day on that beach in his younger years when he’d come to visit Mac and Linda after they were first married. The ladies and the liquor had been plentiful, and Wayfarer Beach had once been one of his favorite places.
Now the stairs weren’t the only thing that sagged. The porch was nearly impassible as the ravages of salt air, wind and weather had left their mark. Shingles were missing, window panes broken, and the entire place was covered in a thick layer of seagull poop.
Kevin was almost afraid to touch the main door, even to push it open to step inside the cavernous room that had once been a shore dining hall and bar with a stage and dance floor to the right. Every surface was covered with grit. Ceiling tiles were missing, and the bar was littered with broken glass. Vandals had covered the walls in graffiti, including a sweeping mural someone had done of the beach and breakwater. Who ever said graffiti wasn’t art?
Kevin followed the sound of voices coming from the other side of the building, which overlooked the beach, the one part of the property that had remained somewhat pristine despite the lack of care.
Passing through a door that had been propped open, he came upon Mac and Frank as well as Frank’s kids, Shane and Laura. Mac’s kids were there as well, Mallory, Mac, Grant, Adam, Evan and Janey, who was so pregnant, she looked like she could topple over if the passing breeze hit her just right. His gaze shifted to the beach, where his sons were standing together, sharing a laugh. They were both about six foot two, with wavy dark hair and the McCarthy blue eyes.
He marveled, as he always did, that he’d been part of creating two such handsome, funny, charismatic men. He loved them more than anything in the world and was so damned proud of them.
“Ah, there’s Kevin!” Big Mac said, his volume set to High as always. “Everyone’s here.”
“What’s this about, Dad?” Grant asked, checking his watch.
“It’s about the Wayfarer,” Big Mac said, spreading his arms to encompass the building and the beach.
“What about it?” Evan asked. He and his wife, Grace, were home for a week between dates on his tour with superstar Buddy Longstreet.
“I want to buy it,” Big Mac said, drawing gasps of surprise and stunned looks from his children, brothers, niece and nephews.
“You wanna run that by us one more time?” his son Mac said.
“You heard me right the first time,” Big Mac replied, grinning from ear to ear. “What you’re looking at here, my friends, is what’s commonly known as a gold mine.”
“It looks like a dump to me,” Janey said, rubbing her back as she spoke.
Kevin spotted an abandoned stool and grabbed it for Janey, testing it with his weight before he encouraged her to take a seat.
She sent him a grateful smile as she lowered herself onto the stool.
“The marina was a bigger dump than this when I bought it, and look at what that’s become,” Big Mac said. Turning to his oldest son, he said, “Do you think you and the boys could take this on over the winter, get her fixed up in time for next summer?”
Mac ran a hand through his hair as he took an assessing look at the building, seeing it now from the perspective of a contractor staring down a big job. He glanced at his cousin Shane, his second-in-command at McCarthy Construction. “What do you think?”
“We’d need to bring in more people,” Shane said bluntly, “especially if Riley and Finn are leaving at the end of the summer.”
Wait, what? Kevin turned to his sons, both of whom wore noncommittal expressions. They were planning to leave? That was news to him.
“What does this have to do with the rest of us?” Frank asked.
“I was thinking it might be fun to do it together,” Big Mac said.
“Define ‘together,’” Adam said.
“We go in on it together as joint owners, and we’ll call it McCarthy’s Wayfarer,” Big Mac said.
Grant and Evan exchanged glances while Frank stared at Big Mac.
“I just retired from one job,” Frank said. “Not sure I’m looking for another.”
“I’m not suggesting you go back to work or any of the rest of you abandon your existing careers—or your retirements,” Big Mac said. “I’m suggesting we put up the money together, hire people to run it for us, and hopefully, we’ll all profit together, too.”
“How much would you be looking for from each of us?” Mallory asked.
“Whatever you want to invest,” Big Mac said. “It’s going to take some coin to get this place back in shape, and it’ll take a few years for investments to pay off, but I believe we’re looking at a can’t-lose operation here.”
“For ten weeks a year,” Laura said. “The rest of the time, it lies idle, needing constant upkeep.”
She ought to know, Kevin thought, as the owner and proprietor of the Sand & Surf Hotel with her husband, Owen. “Laura makes a good point. With ten weeks a year to make or break, it could take a decade or more to recoup initial investments.”
“It won’t take that long,” Kevin’s nephew Mac said. “We went to high school with the former owners’ kids. Their parents made bank here in the summer, enough to take the rest of the year off.”
“How’d they let it get to this?” Janey asked, gesturing to the broken-down building.
“The parents went through a nasty divorce,” Big Mac said. “They fought over it for years in court, and in the meantime, nothing was done to maintain it. They recently decided to cut their losses and sell. That’s where we come in.”
The usually boisterous group fell silent as they contemplated the idea.
“I have one concern,” Mac said.
“What’s that?” his father asked.
“I don’t want any family strife. If we’re all in business together, it needs to be hammered out ahead of time with no loopholes or other traps that’ll lead to family crap. We don’t have any now, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we don’t want any in the future.”
“That’s where I come in,” Dan Torrington said. Wearing a pink button-down shirt with madras plaid shorts and loafers, aviators covering his eyes, the hot-shot attorney grinned as he joined them. “Your dad and I have already started to put together an airtight partnership agreement that would prevent any issues down the road.”
“The very last thing I’d ever want,” Big Mac said to Mac before expanding his gaze to take in the rest of them, “is family strife. We’ll make sure we’re locked and loaded from a legal standpoint so there can never be any gray area in who owns what or who gets what or anything that could cause trouble.” Pausing for a minute, he said, “I picture rentals on the beach—lounge chairs, beach chairs, umbrellas, boogey boards, as well as servers bringing drinks and food to beachgoers. We’ll have tiki bars right there on the sand, and live entertainment every day all summer. Evan, I thought this would be a great place to showcase some of the talent coming here to record at your studio.”
Evan glanced at the abandoned outdoor stage area. “I love that idea.”
“We could do weddings on the beach, receptions in the restaurant and other events from May to October,” Big Mac continued.
What he suggested went far beyond what the previous owners had offered, and Big Mac was right. It was a potential gold mine.
“No pressure,” Big Mac said. “Go home. Talk to your significant others. Think about it, but think fast. It’s officially going on the market next week. If we’re going to do it, we need to act fast.”
“I’m in,” Frank said.
“Me, too,” Kevin said. What the hell? Why not?
“Excellent,” Big Mac said, beaming at his brothers. “It’ll be just like old times when I was getting the marina off the ground, only you guys will be here to help this time around.”
“It sounds like a fun challenge,” Frank said.
“Everyone else can get back to me,” Big Mac said. “Let me know if you want to invest, how much you’d like to invest, or if it’s not a good time for you. Either way is fine with me.”
“Thanks for the opportunity, Dad,” Grant said. “I’ll admit to being intrigued.”
“Me, too,” Adam said. “I need to talk to Abby about it, but I’m definitely interested.”
“Same,” Evan said. “Need to talk to Grace.”
“And I need to figure out if we can make it happen from a construction standpoint,” Mac said. “Shane and I will put our heads together to get you some numbers.” To Riley and Finn, he said, “We’ll also need to know if you guys are staying or going.”
“We’ll let you know,” Riley said, his brother nodding in agreement.
Kevin wanted the answer to that question himself—and he wanted it soon. Island life wouldn’t seem quite so great without his sons there with him.
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