The Release Day Blitz Tour for SUMMER ON FIREFLY LAKE, by Jen Gilroy, Is Making A Stop Here Today!
“Did you enjoy the play?” Nick leaned over to speak into her ear.
She jumped and then blinked as the overhead lights went on. “It was nice.”
“Nice?” He raised one dark eyebrow and grinned. “It was a murder mystery where the villain killed his so-called friends with poisoned martini olives. Nice isn’t the first word that comes to my mind.”
“I meant it had a good plot. I didn’t guess who did it until the end.” Probably because she hadn’t paid attention.
“I knew it was the town clerk all along.”
“The town clerk? I thought it was the caterer.”
“When he isn’t on the boards, the actor who played the caterer is the town clerk over in Kincaid.” Nick chuckled. “He’s always cast as the villain in local theater productions. Cat says it’s because he has evil eyes. He grew up in Firefly Lake, and every Halloween when we were kids, he dressed as a monster and scared her half to death.”
“I’m a city girl, remember?” Easy banter, keep it light and pretend everything was like it had always been between them. “I’m still not used to the kind of community here and how everyone seems to be connected to everyone else.”
“There’s a lot that goes along with that community.” Nick got to his feet and shepherded Mia through the crowd to the exit. His big frame sheltered her and made her feel safe and protected. “People know your business and think they have a right to talk about you because their grandmother’s second cousin was related to your great-aunt by marriage three times removed. They post pictures of you on Facebook.”
Mia’s face heated. A copy of that Facebook picture had appeared on Gabrielle’s kitchen table. She should have gotten rid of it but instead, Mia had taken it upstairs and tucked it into the bottom of her suitcase. Then ignored Gabrielle’s pointed looks.
“Do you want to get ice cream? Simard’s Creamery has a stand across the street from where we had dinner.”
The intimate bistro with tables for two, where the muted candlelight had softened the planes of Nick’s face, and they’d bumped knees under the small table to send jolts of awareness through her.
“You like your tiger tail ice cream, don’t you?” Although Nick’s voice held a teasing note, something hot and elemental sparked in his eyes. Then his expression changed again, and he was the Nick who’d helped her with her mom’s foundation on all those late-night phone calls last winter. The friend she called when she wanted to talk about anything and everything.
Mia stopped in the middle of the rutted track in the field where they’d left the car. The long grass tickled her bare legs below her sundress, and she shivered in the cool night air. They’d go for ice cream and then Nick would take her home. They’d drive the familiar highway back to Firefly Lake and talk about the play and how well Charlie and Lexie were doing. Safe, easy topics.
He’d drop her off at Harbor House, and she’d go upstairs and get into Georgia’s single bed beneath the tattered travel posters. Alone. Like all those other nights she’d spent alone, denying what she wanted and making excuses.
“I changed my mind. I don’t want ice cream.” Her voice shook.
“Mia, I—” He made a choked sound.
“I thought about what you said.” If she didn’t go for this, she’d always regret it and wonder about what might have been. And maybe a fling with Nick was exactly what she needed to put the last ghosts of her marriage behind her. “You’re right. We’re both single and neither of us wants something the other one can’t give.”
“Are you sure?”
She tried to laugh. “We’d have to be discreet.”
“Of course.” The raw desire on his face was replaced by a glimpse of what might have been vulnerability.
“I like you, and I know you won’t hurt me.” Because she’d locked the part of her that could be hurt deep inside. “We both have needs.” She kicked the grass with her sandals and rubbed her bottom lip.
“I like you, too. What Jay did was wrong, and I want to make sure you understand I’d never do anything like that.” A pulse fluttered in Nick’s throat. “We might not have a relationship, but I wouldn’t sleep with anybody else if I slept with you.”
Mia looked at the night sky, where stars twinkled above the forested hills. When she was little, she’d wished on stars and believed in a happy-ever-after. But she was an adult, and life had made her wiser and destroyed her childish belief in magic and wishes. “Where do we go from here?”
“I’ll take you back to Mom’s if you want me to.” Nick’s arm brushed the curve of her shoulder through her light sweater, and the tremble inside her kicked up. “If you’re not ready.”
She was ready all right and had been even before he kissed her the first time. “I want this.” She lifted her face to his as a cloud scudded across the moon. “I want you.”