Forever and a Day(2)

By: Jill Shalvis



“I don’t want you to leave Lucky Harbor,” Mallory said. “But one of these interviews will work out for you. I know it.”

Grace didn’t necessarily want to leave Lucky Harbor either. She’d found the small, quirky town to be more welcoming than anywhere else she’d ever been, but staying wasn’t really an option. She was never going to build her big career here. “I hope so.” She stabbed another pancake from the tray and dropped it on her plate. “I hate fibbing to my parents so they won’t worry. And I’m whittling away at my meager savings. Plus, being in limbo sucks.”

“Yeah, none of those things are your real problem,” Amy said.

“No?” Grace asked. “What’s my real problem?”

“You’re not getting any.”

Grace sagged at the pathetic truthfulness of this statement, a situation made all the worse by the fact that both Amy and Mallory were getting some.

Lots.

“Remember the storm?” Mallory asked. “When we almost died in this very place?”

“Right,” Amy said dryly, “from overdosing on chocolate cake, maybe.”

Mallory ignored this and pointed her fork at Grace. “We made a pinky promise. I said I’d learn to be a little bad for a change. And Amy here was going to live her life instead of letting it live her. And you, Miss Grace, you were going to find more than a new job, remember? You were going to stop chasing your own tail and go after some happy and some fun. It’s time, babe.”

“I am having fun here.” At least, more than she’d ever let herself have before. “And what it’s time for right now is work.” With a longing look at the last stack of pancakes, Grace stood up and brushed the crumbs off her sundress.

“What’s today’s job?” Amy asked.

When Grace had first realized she needed to get a temporary job or stop eating, she’d purposely gone for something new. Something that didn’t require wearing stuffy pencil skirts or closed-toe heels or sitting in front of a computer for fifteen hours a day. Because if she had to be off-track and a little lost, then she was going to have fun while she was at it, dammit. “I’m delivering birthday flowers to Mrs. Burland for her eightieth birthday. Then modeling at Lucille’s art gallery for a drawing class.”

“Modeling for an art class?” Mallory asked. “Like…nude?”

“Today they’re drawing hands.” Nude was tomorrow’s class, and Grace was really hoping something happened before then, like maybe she’d win the lottery. Or get beamed to another planet.

“If I had your body,” Amy said, “I’d totally model nude. And charge a lot for it.”

“Sounds like you’re talking about something different than modeling,” Mallory said dryly.

Grace rolled her eyes at the both of them and stood. She dropped the last of her pocket money onto the table and left to make the floral deliveries. When she’d worked at the bank, she’d gotten up before the crack of dawn, rode a train for two hours, put in twelve more at her desk, then got home in time to crawl into bed.

Things were majorly different here.

For one thing, she saw daylight.

So maybe she could no longer afford Starbucks, but at least she wasn’t still having the recurring nightmare where she was suffocating under a sea of pennies that she’d been trying to count one by one.

Two hours later, Grace was just finishing the last of the deliveries when her cell phone buzzed. She didn’t recognize the incoming number, so she played mental roulette and answered. “Grace Brooks,” she said in her most professional tone, as if she were still sitting on top of her world. Sure, she’d given up designer wear, but she hadn’t lost her pride. Not yet anyway.

“I’m calling about your flyer,” a man said. “I need a dog walker. Someone who’s on time, responsible, and not a flake.”

Her flyer? “A dog walker?” she repeated.

“Yes, and I’d need you to start today.”

“Today…as in today?” she asked.

“Yes.”

The man, whoever he was, had a hell of a voice, low and a little raspy, with a hint of impatience. Clearly he’d misdialed. And just as clearly, there was someone else in Lucky Harbor trying to drum up work for themselves.

Grace considered herself a good person. She sponsored a child in Africa, and she dropped her spare change into the charity jars at the supermarket. Someone in town had put up flyers looking to get work, and that someone deserved this phone call. But dog walking…Grace could totally do dog walking. Offering a silent apology for stealing the job, she said, “I could start today.”

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