Sailing out of Darkness (Carolina Coast Book 4)(5)

By: Normandie Fischer

“I know,” Sam said. “I wish I’d listened.”

“So, now what?”

“What do you mean, now what? I’ve made a mess of things.” Her voice quavered. She didn’t want to cry again. That’s all she seemed to do these days when Rhea called to check on her. Rhea was the One Who Knew All.

“Girl, are you closing off again?”

Sam didn’t answer.

“You stop that. Right now.”

“It’s so hard. I want to be good. I do.”

“Well, honey, you tell me how you’re gonna do that, right there in that town with him? A man you trusted ’cause he was your buddy way back when? And after all that mess with Greg?”

“I know. I know.”

“So, now what?”

“You already asked that.”

“I did. But you didn’t answer.”

How could she? She hadn’t a clue. “You said flee. But that’s not an option. I mean, I’ve got two shops and a house and a boat. And now I’m a grandmother-to-be.”

Rhea hooted.

Sam pulled the phone away and stared at it. “What’s so funny about that?”

“That baby’s not coming for a long time. And you think you’re indispensable at the shops? You think you haven’t trained me and that girl, Tootie, to do just fine without you hanging over our shoulders? What’s got into you? You’ve got Stefi studying in Italy, right there in that beautiful country. And don’t you try to tell me you can’t afford to go visit her.”

Sam pulled up her knees and hugged them to her chest. She hadn’t even considered traveling. And to Italy? Oh, my. “I always wanted to see Rome, Florence,” and on a whisper, “Venice.”

“You think I don’t know that? How many times did you tell me that fool husband of yours promised to take you? You think I wasn’t counting? That I didn’t see your face time and again when he disappointed you?”

Dropping her feet to the floor and letting out a breath from deep in her gut, Sam nodded to the room and to her glass of wine, which she tilted to her lips. The dark liquid slid down her throat. Maybe it would help her decide what to do.

“You think it’s really possible?” she asked, her voice smaller than she’d heard it in a while. “That I could leave everything?”

“Honey, it’s not just possible. It’s a got-to-do.”

“And you think Tootie could manage without me?”

“Why not? I’ll only be a couple of hours away. I can help her with the bookkeeping and payroll. Didn’t you say you’d hired a part-timer?”

“Her fiancé’s older sister. I told you about Holland, the banker.”

“And how’s that working out?”

Sam laughed. “We’ll see, won’t we? At least Holland’s a good foot taller than his sister. He can stand at Tootie’s back if she needs him.”

This time, Rhea’s laugh loosed humor. “So, you go on and buy yourself a ticket. Get healed and free.”

The idea settled, took hold, and started to bud. “I’ll try.”

“Good. Now you call me with the details soon as you make them, hear?”

“Thank you.”

“No need to thank me. You just come back whole enough not to need some man to fill in the gaps.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Sam disconnected and wandered outside to the top of the cliff. The rain had stopped, and the sun eased below the horizon, throwing everything in shadow. Alice bobbed below, salvaged, but not yet beautiful. If she left, someone else would have to take care of finishing that job. Or maybe she’d just haul her boat in for the season.

Was leaving really possible?

She turned on her heel and headed inside to her computer. She’d just check on fares and schedules. Find out how much she had in her savings account. How much she could spare.

For healing.

Did ex-wives and ex-lovers attend some sort of twelve-step program? Or did they just evolve and explore until they found new ways to cope? New words to define themselves after all the old ones failed.

Maybe this could be her Betty Ford Clinic Abroad.



Lonely isn’t lonely if one looks from outside in;