Where There's Hope(14)

By: Marianne Rice

Living simply was always his style, even growing up in the lap of luxury in Darien. His parents had been embarrassed that Cameron didn’t want a nice car; he preferred his heavy-duty truck. Which was a nice vehicle for a teenager. But it wasn’t an Audi or Mercedes or Land Rover.

He’d opted out of suits and ties, sticking with whatever brand of jeans he found at the mall, and a work shirt.

Laughing at the memory of the look on his dad’s face when he’d come home wearing a pair of Dickies work pants and a flannel shirt, Cameron picked up his keys and headed down the stairs of his apartment. Making his father angry amused him as a teen and apparently still pleased him today.

He started the engine to his nineteen-year-old truck and headed to work. It was the one thing he asked of his parents when he went to prison. That they didn’t get rid of his truck. He promised his dad if his truck was waiting for him when he got out, that he’d hop in and never look back.

And that’s what was waiting for him sixteen months ago. No mom. No dad. No note. Just his lawyer, an envelope with the few things he had on him when he went to jail, and his keys.

Message spoken. Loud and freaking clear.


HOPE SAT CROSS-LEGGED in bed, a notebook in her lap, and rested her head against the wall. The pale pink room hadn’t changed much over the past two decades. She’d miss the nostalgia of being in her childhood room but looked forward to being in her own home. In a grownup bedroom.

The last week had been crazy busy, picking out paint for Delaney’s room, packing their few belongings, cleaning the house on Farmhouse Road and keeping up with work. With the town hustling about getting ready for its first Fall Festival, she didn’t feel right taking friends up on their offer to help spruce up the place.

As the most popular carpenter in town, Ty’s phone had been ringing off the hook all week. He’d apologized dozens of times for not being available, and Hope felt bad that he thought he was responsible for taking care of her. He’d offered to come late at night to clean the carpets and sand the wood floors, but Hope wouldn’t let him. Besides, this was his annual hunting weekend with his dad. She didn’t want him canceling it for her.

They’d been best friends for years, even dating in high school, and supported each other through crisis after crisis. She was the only one who knew the story behind his scar, and he was the only one who knew all the details about Delaney’s father.

At first, when she’d returned home from college scared and pregnant, she thought Ty could be the one. The man to step up and be the third member of her family, but it never felt right. They were too good of friends. He was more like an older, protective brother, and she knew he thought of her like a sister.

He’d cried on her shoulder more than once—each time he was drunk out of his mind—and he’d told her as much. They were both relieved to find the other felt the same.

Her best friends were all busy getting their businesses ready for the festival as well. Lily’s spa was booked solid this week and next, while Jenna had bunkered down in her home painting and making her stain glass to sell at the festival.

Ben and Alexis had their hands full with baby Sophie and getting the function hall at Coastal Vines ready for the influx of traffic. Even if the festival didn’t bring in many outsiders, everyone in the nearby towns would be out and about.

Which meant the restaurant would be busy as well. She put Mia on the schedule for extra shifts, fitting her in between the times Lily needed her at the spa.

Hope looked down at her lap and read through the two-page list of things she needed to get done. It wasn’t like moving in was a priority. Her parents had made it clear that she and Delaney were welcome to stay as long as they needed.

Once the festival was over, she’d have the house in move-in condition. It would only take a few trips to get their stuff in. And then she and Delaney could go to outlet stores to shop for furniture.

Putting her notebook aside, Hope swung her feet out of bed and went to the bathroom to shower and prep for the day. With only one bathroom in her parents’ house, she didn’t take the long, hot showers she used to love as a teen.

Soon, though. Very soon.

Hope washed her hair and skipped on the shaving to save time. Heck, she hadn’t shaved in weeks. In the colder months when she didn’t wear shorts, and there was no man in her life to know the difference, there was no need to.

Stepping out of the shower, she towel dried her hair and wrapped another towel around her body. Her skin care and makeup ritual were short and sweet. She opened the jar of coconut oil and scooped out a chunk, warming and melting it between her palms. She rubbed it across her arms and legs, then through her hair.