Friday, July 6, 2018

A Summer Love, Chapter 4 by Valerie Hansen




     Jenny's heart was in her throat as she urged Jake out the back door onto the patio. His dog, Ralph, followed and made himself at home, stretching out on the cool deck.
    
     A setting sun was painting the sky a lot rosier color than Jenny's mood. Yes, she was taking a chance on being misunderstood until she had time to fully explain herself but that couldn't be helped. There was no way she and her former fiancé could coexist in a small town like Summer Shores unless they had an understanding.

     Jake's warm hand brushed hers in passing and she jumped as if she'd been hit by lightning. His, "Sorry," did little to relieve her nervousness. For years she'd insisted that he'd been in the wrong and she'd merely reacted to his stubbornness but now that he was back and she could see his face, sense his nearness and empathize with him more easily, she was having to admit that half of their arguments were her fault.

     Instead of choosing one of the folding porch chairs, Jenny sat down on a bench and patted the place next to her. Figuratively speaking, if she was going to play with fire she may as well roast a few marshmallows. The silly thought made her smile.

     Jake took immediate notice.  "It isn't funny, " he said with a scowl. "I can't help limping."

     "What?" She was totally taken aback. "You think I'm laughing at you?"

     "Aren't you?"

     "Of course not." She made a face and tried to mask her feelings. "Actually, I was remembering how we used to build bonfires on the beach and toast marshmallows on sticks." And how you used to draw a heart in the sand with our initials in it. A wistful smile lifted the corners of her mouth. "Those were good times."

     "And long gone," he added. "What was so secret that you had to talk to me about it out here?"

     "Well," she clasped her hands in her lap, hoping to control her nervousness and express herself without giving him the wrong impression. "First of all, I've been doing some soul searching. I think I owe you an apology."

     "For what?"

     For breaking your heart. For ruining our lives. For being a spoiled brat when I should have loved you enough to let you be yourself What she actually said was, "For being in too big a hurry to grow up, I guess."

     Jenny could tell Jake was waiting for more. What she'd hoped was that he would reciprocate and accept some of the blame. Not that she wanted to take up where they had left off. Too much had happened in the past fifteen years for that the work. She had, however, thought her overture might lead to a renewal of their childhood friendship. That was the Jake Watkins she had missed so much; the one who made her laugh, who doused her with water balloons, who swept her up in his arms and carried her into the surf while she screamed and pounded his chest pretending she wanted him to put her down.

     Finally, he nodded. "I suppose we both were."

     "That's it? That's all you're going to say?"

     Jake got to his feet, steadied his balance on his injured legs and faced her. "You and I said it all in the past, Jenny. That's all there is left."

     She jumped to her feet, startling Ralph and bringing a half-hearted growl. Her glance went from the dog to Jake and back again. "I see your furry buddy is about as friendly as you are. You're perfect for each other."

     He reached toward the faithful Shepherd. "He saved my life, Jenny. More than once. Now that he's old and stove in like me, I intend to give him the best years of his life."

     "All the more reason for you to keep your mother's place," she countered. "Or make a private deal with me."

     "I knew it," Jake said with derision. "How did you find out? I asked Clayton to keep it to himself until I'd had a chance to look the place over and deal with you personally. I just thought it would be via email or on the phone. You floored me when I saw you were back home."

     "What are you talking about?"

     Jake grimaced. "The house, of course. If I had known my mother had failed to change her will after you broke our engagement I would have found some way to come home sooner and see to it." He paused and squared his shoulders. His jaw jutted out, emphasizing the scar she'd noticed before.

     When he said, "It's already half yours," her knees weakened and she plopped backwards, almost missing the bench.     


4 comments:

  1. Ohhhh, nice! Who’s going to keep the house? Love it.

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  2. Such a great twist, Val!!! I'm eager to read tomorrow's installment. :)

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  3. Love this, Val. Now what will happen? Jenny is going to be shocked!

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