“You’re such a traitor,” Caleb said to Sparky when they drove by McGuire’s B&B on the way home and the dog hopped into the backseat, then ran over behind Caleb to get a better look at Celeste’s house.
The dog didn’t respond, not that he expected him to. Once they were out of view of the B&B, Sparky’s considerable form jumped to the front seat again and sat on the passenger side.
Celeste had said no one should be lonely, but he guessed she had no clue what that was like. It looked like she was the Pied Piper and all she did was open her mouth, with the sound of her voice drawing everyone in.
Hell, even he seemed almost mystified by it and that was saying a lot.
Hardened, that’s what he was told he was now. He didn’t deny it. No, he mastered it. Do what you can to survive, he reminded himself.
He parked his truck in front of the falling-down beat-up old garage. His next project was to tear it down in a few weeks so a new, much bigger one could be built.
He could do it himself, but he’d need help and didn’t have anyone he could call. Even if he did, he probably wouldn’t ask anyway. He never wanted to be indebted to anyone—friend, family, or foe. Life was simpler that way.
Sparky jumped out of the driver’s door after Caleb climbed out. The dog ran toward the side door to wait while Caleb got the cans of paint.
Once inside the house, Sparky went over to his bed by the glass doors and lay down to take his normal mid-morning nap while Caleb climbed the stairs to the enormous loft and got to work in silence.
Celeste had wondered if she’d ever get a close-up look at the stranger in the truck that drove by her house once every few weeks. He probably drove by more, but she wasn’t always outside.
Still, she was curious who he was, but didn’t even know who to ask. She liked to know who was in the area of her business.
It was a precautionary move. Yeah, sure it was, she told herself.
She wasn’t being nosy. Not like so many other people in this area. Having grown up here, she knew how small towns could be.
Sure, they had tons of tourists in and out all summer long. Not just her B&B, but others, as well as hotels, resorts, and the houses that people rented. It was hard to keep track of everyone, but the tourists tended to stand out more.
Though Caleb stood out, it definitely wasn’t in the form of a tourist.
Actually he fit in a bit around here as a local that either lived in the woods or on the lake. There were two types of locals in Lake Placid. The locals that had second homes and vacationed here—those with money that you saw a mile away.
The second type were the locals that were more down to earth. That was Caleb. Down to earth, even on the grouchy and simple side.
And the lonely comment she’d made, well, that was more in regards to him. Sparky didn’t look all that lonely to her. She recognized the dog the minute she came out of the store and could have sworn Sparky recognized her, too.
She knew enough to not pet strange dogs, and though Sparky was definitely intimidating in his girth, he was all but drooling as he stared at her when she walked to her car. Which happened to be parked right next to Caleb’s truck. Talk about luck. Sometimes the universe had some tricky moves up its sleeve and she took it as one of those times and decided to introduce herself.
“What has you smiling so prettily over there?” Nancy asked.
Celeste had waved to the sisters that were sitting in the sun on her dock as she opened the back door. They must have been waiting for her, because they got up and returned to the kitchen.
“Oh, just thinking of someone I ran into in town.”
“Only a man can put a smile like that on a woman’s face.”
Celeste giggled. These two ladies had been a hoot for the three days they’d been here. She was glad they booked a week and was going to miss them something fierce when they left.
“Well then, I guess you know the answer.”
“Do tell,” Sue said, walking over and opening the refrigerator and grabbing the pitcher of lemonade.
She loved that her guests felt enough at home to help themselves. That was part of the experience she wanted to give them.
“Not much to say. I’ve seen his truck on the road several times for months now. I just ran into him at the hardware store.”
“Please tell me you introduced yourself,” Nancy said eagerly.
“Of course I did. I was raised to be polite.”
“Polite,” Sue said laughing. “There’s nothing polite about it if he’s hot. Is he hot?”
Celeste thought it was funny the conversation was bouncing back and forth between the sisters and her. It was almost like a routine with them, alternating questions.
“I think he could be.”
“Hmm,” Nancy said. “Possibilities. That’s even better.”
They were just a riot. And yes, she did see possibilities there with Caleb. It was kind of hard to tell, but she had a feeling they were there, just hidden deep. His beard was pretty scruffy, his hair messy and his clothes wrinkled, but there was a wounded look to his eye.
A look that said, “Just leave me the heck alone and we’ll all be happier.”
Only Celeste had never been one to walk away from a wounded soul before. She had her own wounds, so she knew what it was like. At times, part of her felt like she was spared to help others. And because she was one of the lucky ones, that’s what she decided to do with her life. Bring some comfort and maybe joy to others.
“For now, I know his name. So that’s something, don’t you agree?” Celeste asked.
“It’s a start,” Sue said. “What’s your next move?”
“I don’t have one,” Celeste said. “I’ve got a business to run, and another one to work on.”
“Really?” Nancy asked. “What business is that?”
“A local plastic surgeon often has patients fly in from out of town for his services. A few have stayed here in the past and some of his staff thought it’d be a nice business move to open up a small B&B next door for patients only. They can recover and relax on the lake before they return home. I’m going to run part of it while his staff come in and care for them, too.”
The sisters looked back and forth at each other, their faces lighting up. “What types of things does he do?” Sue asked.
Oh boy, looks like she might have sparked some interest here. She’d have to think about this some more and talk to Max. See if there was a way she could get some brochures on site.
“He can do pretty much anything and his staff is awesome.”
“I’ve always wanted Botox,” Nancy said. “Maybe now is our chance. What do you think? Think our husbands will even notice if we have anything done this week? How is the availability for appointments?”
Celeste rolled her eyes. “I’m going to stay out of this conversation. I don’t want your husbands to come back and blame me for anything they may not approve of.” She walked over and pulled open a drawer. “But if you happen to see this card right here on the counter, I’ll pretend I didn’t leave it lying around.”
She walked out of the kitchen, listening to the sisters as they talked back and forth over whether they should make the call or not reminding her of another set of sisters that stayed with her months ago. Ones that had received services from Max’s office.
This little business venture might turn out to be much more than she ever envisioned. She was an entrepreneur after all, so a profit was always a good thing.
See, the universe working in crazy ways again. Nothing like a diagnosis of melanoma to bring her in contact with someone that could create possibilities in her life.
There’s that word again. Possibilities. And those thoughts went right back to Caleb.
If she knew which house was his, she could bring him some cookies or a cake. Welcome him to the area, even if it was a little late. Better late than never, as her grandmother would say.
Since it was her grandmother’s house she’d turned into a B&B, maybe she should listen to the wise woman that everyone said she took after.
The woman that loved and nurtured so many. A midwife in her earlier years. One who helped birth her and Cole much earlier than they should have been delivered. The woman that probably saved their lives back then when she recognized something was wrong when the doctors brushed it off.
It seemed only natural that Celeste would take this home and turn it into something her grandmother always thought it should be, but never had the time or ability to make happen.
But Celeste made it happen, turning her dreams into reality. Those dreams of this place were what kept her going during her treatments.
Goals and dreams. Possibilities of things to come. Things she wanted to see through and make happen. Promises she made to herself that if she survived she’d do.
Here she was, doing what she always wanted, and was thrilled to say she was able to wake up each morning enjoying what she loved.
Maybe she needed another goal though. One besides the project with Max next door. A more personal goal. It’d been so long since she’d had a personal goal.
A man maybe. Her life had always been so busy that she never had much time for a relationship. She wanted one, always, but not too many people liked what she did for a living…among other things.
They didn’t understand why she spent so much time and energy on her home and caring for others. Of course growing up in this area limited her contact with most people, too.
And tourists just wanted a quick fling that she had no interest in. Sure, she’d tried it, and enjoyed it, but she was beyond that now. Now she wanted something more stable.
Now she wanted a challenge. A challenge in the form of a man that probably wanted nothing more than to be left alone.
You can purchase the book here on Amazon.