“Holy shit!” Shelby yelled as she pointed her finger toward Sara.
“What?” Sara worked to keep a blank expression as she stared at the screen of her phone.
She and Shelby FaceTimed a couple of times a week, but when the call from her sister had come in this morning while she was getting ready, Sara had almost ignored it. She would’ve, but she knew her sister would just keep calling back until Sara answered.
“You hooked up with Stranger Danger!” her sister exclaimed.
Sara knew she should’ve never told her sister about that nickname.
“Shhh.” She pressed her forefinger to her mouth.
The walls of the B&B were thin, which Sara had tried to keep in mind when she and Austin had hooked up, as her sister had so eloquently put it. Just because her munchkins weren’t there and she and Austin were the only two people on the first floor, didn’t mean they were alone. The entire second floor was occupied.
In the past, Sara had never been particularly loud during sex. She’d enjoyed it. It had been fine. But honestly, when she’d seen movies where people cried out in abandon, she’d figured they were just putting on a show. Last night, and again this morning, had proved her wrong on that count. It was all she could do not to scream like a banshee. Austin took her to places she never knew existed.
Which was the reason she’d suggested they go get breakfast at the Drawbridge Diner this morning, instead of eating here at the B&B. As much as she’d tried to mute herself during their hot encounters, she didn’t want to sit in a room full of people wondering if they’d overheard her escapades.
“Why do I have to shhh?” Shelby asked.
“Because,” Sara whispered. “The walls are thin, and I don’t want anyone to hear you.”
“By anyone you mean Stranger Danger?” Shelby waggled her eyebrows.
“His name is Austin.”
“Oh, I know his name.” The waggling continued. “Austin Stone. It sounds like he’s an action star.” Shelby mimicked an announcer’s voice as she said, “Austin Stone heats up the screen in Inferno of Retaliation, coming this summer to a theater near you.”
Sara’s head fell back as she cracked up. Her sister drove her crazy, but she could always make her laugh.
“But seriously, I’m so glad you went for it. I haven’t seen you this happy in…well, ever.”
“No one said that I went for it and what do you mean? I’ve been happy. I’m always happy.” No matter what was happening in her life, Sara had always tried to put on a brave face and look at things with a glass-half-full mentality.
Shelby hissed through clenched teeth as she grimaced. “You’ve been happy in a fake-it-’til-you-make-it kinda way. You plastered a smile on your face and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Which I’ve always appreciated. Believe me, it was a lot nicer than if you’d been walking around miserable. But now you’re glowing, radiating, shining with happiness.”
“Okay, I seriously doubt you can tell all of that over FaceTime.” Sara knew she might be smiling a little more than usual, but radiating, shining, and glowing was a stretch.
“I’m your sister, of course I can tell.”
“Whatever.” Sara grinned and shook her head. She had no intention of wasting time fighting over whether or not she was happy.
“So how long is Jack keeping the kiddos?”
“Until tomorrow evening.” Sara still felt odd not having them with her.
The next two full days, and one night, were free of responsibilities. She had no one to answer to—or, more accurately, no one asking her questions she had to answer. As amazing as it was to have a break, it also felt like part of her was missing. She was completely at loose ends.
Of course, waking up wrapped in Austin’s arms while he kissed her neck, with the evidence of just how happy he was pressed against her hip, had been a nice distraction. And the half hour they’d spent making love had done an amazing job at keeping her mind and body completely occupied.
“So you and Stranger Danger have two days to Marvin Gaye it up. Nice,” Shelby enthused.
Sara was afraid to ask. “Marvin Gaye it up?”
“Yeah, you know.” Shelby’s voice dropped an octave. “Let’s Get It On.”
“Stop!” Sara laughed. “Can we please talk about something else? How are you? How’re Matt and the girls?”
“We’re all fine, Mom.”
“Good.” Whenever Matt or Shelby thought Sara was being overprotective, they called her Mom. She knew they meant it as an insult, but Sara actually liked it. When she heard it, she felt like she was doing her job.
Shelby shook her head back and forth slowly. “I still can’t believe you sold the house.”
“How did Jack take it?”
“Fine. I think he was a little surprised, but when he and Valentina picked up the kids, he said he was happy I’d be closer to family.”
“Wait.” Shelby’s eyes lit up. “So does that mean you got to meet stair mom? I got so distracted when I saw your post-coital glow that I forgot to ask.”
Sara ignored her sister’s assumption, which just so happened to be correct. “Yep, I met her. The kids seemed to like her. They were a little shy, but Charlotte had just woken up. When I talked to them this morning, though, Charlotte was sitting on her lap while Valentina did her hair, so I think she’s warmed up to her. She seems nice.”
“That’s it. She’s nice? Come on, I want dirt.”
“There’s no dirt. She is nice.” And tall, and skinny, and gorgeous.
Last night, those things had made Sara feel a little self-conscious, but after spending the night with Austin, her self-esteem was at an all-time high. The way he looked at her, touched her, kissed her, made love to her made her feel like the sexiest woman in the world.
“Well, I guess that’s better than the alternative. I mean, I respect this Mary J. Blige no-more-drama thing you’ve got going on. But, I have to admit, I was kind of looking forward to bashing her. At least a little bit.” Shelby held up her finger and thumb to demonstrate the amount.
Once again, Sara had to laugh. Leave it to her sister to be disappointed over the fact that Jack’s fiancée was nice. “Sorry to disappoint you.”
“That’s okay. You can make it up to me soon enough, since you’re moving here,” Shelby squealed. “I’m so excited. I already talked to Lauren and told her what you were looking for, and she said she’ll have several houses to show you when you get here.”
“Oh, good.” Sara waited to feel the rush of adrenaline she’d experienced every time she’d thought about the move.
Not only was Lauren the premier realtor in Hope Falls, she also co-hosted a TV show called Home Sweet Vacation Home with her husband, Ben, which Sara had seen every episode of. She was a huge fan. Sara’d met Lauren several times when she’d gone to visit her brother and sister. Originally, when Shelby had brought up the idea of Lauren helping her find a home, Sara had been excited. Ready to start the new chapter in her life and ecstatic over the fact Lauren would be a part of it.
It surprised her that when Shelby brought it up now, Sara’s reaction was less enthusiastic. In fact, she wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Maybe it was just the drive she was dreading. Dealing with the kids in the car by herself sounded only slightly better than the time she broke both of her arms when she’d fallen off the roof trying to put the Christmas lights up the first year she’d owned her home.
Or maybe the problem was she’d gotten too used to Austin helping her. Over the past few days, she’d started leaning on him. It was a whole heck of a lot easier navigating the world with another adult at your side. When she took the kids out with Austin, she was no longer out numbered. Unfortunately, he was just a temporary crutch. In a few days, Sara would be back to standing on her own.
“Good? That’s all? Just good?” Shelby’s forehead creased.
“Yeah, it’s good.” Sara did not feel like discussing her lack of enthusiasm with her well-meaning but nosy sister. “Shelbs, I gotta go. I’ll call you later.”
A smile spread on her sister’s face. “All right. Enjoy your Marvin Gaye time.”
“Ha ha, brat. I’m going to breakfast and then a volleyball game.”
“You’re playing volleyball?”
Sara understood her sister’s shock. She was not the most athletic person in the world. “No. I’m watching volleyball.”
“Ah, that makes more sense. Is Stranger Danger guy playing?”
It was obvious Shelby was never going to let that not-so-creative nickname go.
“Yes, Austin is playing.”
“He’ll be playing, playing with the boys.” Her sister quoted the song from the iconic volleyball scene in one of their favorite movies Top Gun.
Sara laughed, but she had to admit her sister’s cinematic reference was pretty spot on. The boys here in Whisper Lake could give the Top Gun guys a run for their money any day.
There was a knock at the door, and Sara’s heart skipped a beat.
“I really gotta go. I’ll call you later. I love you.”
As she disconnected the call she thought about the fact that this time next week, her time in Whisper Lake would be over. She’d be arriving in Hope Falls. Lauren would be showing her homes, and she’d be on her way to starting her new life.
That should make her happy…but it didn’t.
Knowing that Austin was on the other side of the door…did.