Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(3)

By: Ella Linden


“Great. Business is steady, and they’re able to do a lot of events for the community. Holly and Lauren are actually thinking about expanding the shop soon if they can manage it.” She walked Jack to his truck, glancing over at him.

“And… how is Lauren?” she asked. Her cousin looked down at her and smiled.

“She’s good. She’s looking forward to seeing you.”

“And you two…?”

Jack sighed and let his head drop forward. Olivia laughed.

“Same as we’ve always been. I don’t know why anyone expects that to change.”

Jack Weston and Lauren Bailey had been best friends since ninth grade, and just about everyone who knew them, including Olivia, expected them to take that next step toward something more. All Olivia knew was that her high school summer visits had been spent as much with Lauren as with Jack, but that she’d never seen the two of them do anything more than push or smack at one another while the three of them played video games at Jack’s house.

“Give her a call about the job, okay? She already said it’s yours if you want it. You’ll have to have a sit-down with Holly first, but that’s mostly a formality.”

“I will. Thanks, cuz,” Olivia said. Jack climbed into his truck, gave her a wave, and pulled out onto the dirt road, heading back toward the highway. She watched the truck until he turned off, then she turned to look at the cottage.

Olivia took a deep breath. This was really happening. She’d really driven the over two hundred miles from Detroit. She’d really left all of the garbage, including Jon, behind. She’d either find a permanent place in Paradise Bay or rent until she could afford a down payment on something nice. She’d keep working on her art. Hopefully, she’d finally make some headway on getting hired for work at one of the two major comic book publishers.

She’d been supporting herself with her freelance illustration and design work for a few years, and her webcomic had a decent fanbase. Which was great. What kind of jerk would complain about being able to work for themselves, from wherever they want, and make decent money at it? But it wasn’t her big dream. The big one was drawing the superhero comics she’d loved as a kid. She’d keep trying. She’d keep putting herself out there, and killing it on her webcomic. She’d keep improving. She knew it was a long shot. She knew there were a hell of a lot of talented artists out there and her chances were almost nonexistent. It didn’t make her want it any less.

She let her gaze wander toward the lake. She peeled off her sweater and kicked off her shoes and took a running leap off the end of the dock, clad in her shorts and t-shirt. She was here now, finally. She was going to make the most of it.





After Olivia pulled herself out of the lake and dressed in some dry clothes, she spent a little bit of time getting settled in. Unpacking the books and the few decorative items she’d brought took about an hour. Her clothing went in the armoire in the upstairs sleeping loft, and she spread the faded old quilt she’d inherited from her grandma over the double bed. She smiled as she did so. This one simple thing, using the blanket she wanted to, was indicative of just how real this life change was. Jon had hated this quilt, and after a while, she hadn’t felt like he was worthy of sleeping under it anyway.

Why she’d agreed to marry him still mystified her. At first, she’d mistaken him for her knight in shining armor. Mostly, she supposed, the idea of not being alone for the rest of her life appealed to her. What she knew now was that being alone was better than being with someone who sucked the life out of you with their constant bellyaching. What had seemed like sarcasm and bad-boy cynicism at first had turned out to be nothing more than negativity from someone who couldn’t envision something bigger, something better. He was never happy, so he didn’t want anyone else to be happy, either.

Olivia ran her hand over the quilt, smoothing it. She fluffed the pillows on the bed and glanced out the small round window that looked out over the lake. Waking up here would be a nice way to start the day.

She sat down on the freshly-made bed and pulled her phone out of her pocket. She looked up the number for Gutters Comics and Books and sat listening to the phone ringing. After a few rings, a female voice answered.