Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(11)

By: Ella Linden

Andrew nodded. He thought back to how happy his friends in Paradise Bay had been for him when he first started publishing. Their support had meant everything then, and there might not have been a second book if Scott hadn’t kept pushing him. “Okay.”

“Thanks, man.”

Andrew suppressed a groan and took another gulp of beer. Now he’d agreed to go do the whole event, schmoozing thing. This would require more beer.

Olivia bent over her drawing table, sketching out some ideas for the next week’s worth of Welcome to Paradise installments. An internet oldies station played in the background, and she sang along to Elvis’s Suspicious Minds as she sketched. She’d had a good few hours at Gutters with Holly, getting familiar with the place. She’d done some shopping, swam in the lake again, eaten, and taken a long nap. Now, it was well after midnight and she was in her happy place. She’d work until early morning, going to sleep after the sun rose, and then she’d have her first full shift at the shop.

She smiled a little to herself as she drew. Holly would be a good boss. She’d already known that. She was still the same slightly bossy, smart, impatient person she’d been as a kid and teenager. Holly, Jack, and, later, Lauren, had been the older ones in their little group, and they’d been relentlessly bossy to Olivia, who was a few years younger than all of them.

Still, there had been a certain level of comfort in having three older kids at your back when some tourist kid acted like a jerk to you on the beach, Olivia thought with a smile.

Once she was satisfied with her sketches, she hopped onto her computer to check her email before getting to work on finishing up the illustrations she was currently working on for a client. She’d been hired for the third time to illustrate a picture book by an up-and-coming children’s author. It was fun work and it had been kind of thrilling seeing her drawings peeking out at her from bookshelves in the local bookstores in Detroit. She felt like a jerk sometimes for wanting more. The things she did now were things that other artists and illustrators dreamed of doing, but she wanted it all.

And, scanning through her email, she was quickly informed that she’d been knocked down a peg. The latest submission she’d sent to one of the comics publishers had been rejected.

“That’s number twenty-three, girl,” she murmured. She printed out the rejection and added it to the others, clipped together and hanging on the large magnet board near her desk. She’d started doing that when she’d read something by Stephen King where he said he’d put every rejection notice he ever received on a nail in his room. It was a visual reminder that he was still working, that he was still trying. She’d liked the idea. One of these days, it wouldn’t be a form rejection letter.

Olivia checked her site and social media accounts for comments and responded to some of them. The comic had a nice following and had been recommended on several of the comics blogs she read, including one major one. She kept hoping that would get the attention of someone at the big two, or at least one of the other comics publishers out there, but so far, she’d had nothing but crickets.

What the hell am I doing wrong? she wondered as she looked at her most recent comic again. Then she shook her head. That was ego and her love of control talking. She was doing all she could. She kept drawing, kept building her audience, kept improving. She kept trying. It was all she could do, but damn did it frustrate her that it just didn’t seem to be enough. She opened her email program to scan for anything important before she got back to work, and then groaned when she saw her ex’s name. She rolled her eyes and opened it.

I just wanted to let you know I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’ve been thinking about us a lot. I miss you. I know I messed up. But we were good together, and I know we can get through this if we just give it a chance. Please consider coming home, babe. Or I can come up there to talk to you. We just need to work through this. Maybe we can go for counseling, if you want to. I think we’re worth fighting for.

I love you.


Olivia rolled her eyes. “Yeah, not on your life,” she muttered. She hit “reply.”