Which woman was she? The sexy, tattooed, wild woman who ran the hottest sex toy shop on the west coast and who prided herself on convincing her customers that she’d used every one of them? Or the woman who hadn’t had sex in what felt like forever and who’d never once tried anything other than a vibrator?
Sally sighed as she rested her arms on the railings of the Queen of Surrey and watched the gray-blue water pass by. Of course, it was December, so the water was more gray than blue, but at least the sun was almost out.
It felt bitterly cold out on the ocean, and the speed of the ferry made it worse. Sally, used to living in the city where the downtown air was heated by the buildings and the bodies that inhabited it, had forgotten how cold it could be on the water.
She’d brought a jacket and a light scarf, unlined leather gloves and high-heeled boots. Sally knew she wasn’t likely to need anything to keep her warm through the long week it was going to take her to pack up the rest of her parents’ house and turn the key over to the renters. The Sunshine Coast never got really cold. In all the years she’d lived there, she’d never owned more than a light jacket.
It was hard to believe that after sixty years in the small town of Sechelt, her mom and dad had bought a condo and moved to Palm Springs. She was going to miss them.
But she still didn’t miss the Sunshine Coast. Her memory of leaving it wasn’t a good one, and the ferry ride wasn’t going to be anywhere near long enough to get over her discomfort. She hadn’t been back since she’d left right out of high school, and she hadn’t stayed away only because she was tired of small town living, though she had been sick of knowing everyone, and even worse, of everyone knowing her.
She’d left mostly because of Michael James.
He was her first crush and her last one.
Fifteen years had passed, and she still wanted him. And wasn’t that pathetic? She’d fallen for him when he’d walked into her Grade Six classroom, all bronzed and beautiful in a room full of pasty-faced kids whose ancestors were all from the same gene pool—British, French and German, with a smattering of other western European countries.
Michael’s hair was black and straight, his eyes a lovely warm brown. She’d never gotten over the original attraction; in fact, it had grown to almost unmanageable proportions as they went through high school together. She spent most of her time worrying that her crush on him was obvious—not just to Michael, but to the entire school.
Being forced back to Sechelt knowing Michael James was still in town and still single—her mother reported weekly on what eligible men remained on the peninsula, as a preface to her oft-repeated plea to return from the city—might just kill her. Sally wasn’t sure whether she’d faint or throw herself at his feet and beg him to fuck her in all the ways she’d imagined over the years.
She had no idea which idea was worse, and she didn’t have much time to contemplate it.
The drive from the ferry terminal to Sechelt was a simple one. She got off the ferry, followed the highway into the heart of Sechelt, and turned right. She’d booked a room at the Royal Beach because it was slightly out of town and she was less likely to run into anyone who knew her. Plus, she could walk to the bar across the street.
She parked the car, checked in, dropped her bag in her room, and turned on the Jacuzzi on the balcony to heat up for her return. She knew she’d need a lot of relaxation on this trip and she might as well take some of it in the tub.
Hurrying across the street, she walked through the parking lot and into the unexpectedly modern bar and restaurant sitting on the dock. Her dad had told her about it, but she hadn’t pictured this sprawling cedar space or the beautiful view out over the seaplanes and the islands in the bay.
It was gorgeous. And a bit nerve-wracking.
After a discreet check of the other customers and recognizing no one, Sally relaxed enough to order a glass of wine. The last thing she wanted was to run into someone who remembered her from high school, though, according to her mother, that wasn’t likely, as almost all the young people had moved away and all the new people were old.