As one of the #CMCon18 featured bloggers, I get to have a little fun with a few of the fabulous authors who will be hitting the beach for Coastal Magic 2018 by showcasing their many stories. We had so much fun with last year’s At the Beach feature, that we’re doing it again.
Today April Alieda is taking us to the beach with Miss Sadie, Alex, and Duncan from her Flower Moon Cafe series. The fifth book, X Marks the Heart, was recently released; so if Sandy Escape gets your interest, make sure you check out the first book, All Who Wander.
Miss Sadie entered the kitchen and found her family’s ancestral recipe book on the island in the middle of the kitchen. Its proper name was Ricette di Amore, but she called it Ric for short. “Hmmm, really?”
The book vibrated on the island.
“I can see ya. Can I stoke the smoker first?”
The book vibrated for a second and then stopped.
“Isn’t that nice of ya.” Miss Sadie smiled and went out behind the cafe. The air smelled of hickory and pork. Few things went together so well. The pulled pork for the lunch special would knock it out of the park.
She reentered the café and removed her necklace with the arrow charm. “OK Ric. Whatchya got goin’ today?” She used the arrow charm as a key to open the heart-shaped lock on the soft, leather cover which protected the well-worn pages inside. The book fluttered and opened to pages that glowed blue with gray streaks and white sparkles.
“You’re kiddin’ right?”
Ric slammed closed and reopened to the same page. This time the words Desi can rest appeared in the glow.
“OK. OK. Geesh.”
Miss Sadie put on her baking apron and went to the cabinet she’d inherited over 150 years ago. She tapped her index finger against the upper cabinet door and flicked the metal hook off the cabinet knob. Cha-chink-chink-chink. The hook circled and hit against the other knob then swung back and forth like a pendulum.
She ran the palm of her hand around both doors. She and the cabinet had witnessed so much over the years. She smiled then rubbed the arrow charm of the necklace she’d put back around her neck. She could almost hear Ellie giggle; she’d loved helping bake the pies before she ran off. It had been decades, but the hurt in her heart still rang strong. She shook her head to erase the memories but only shifted them to the back of her mind.
She opened the cabinet and on the middle shelf waited the mixing bowl decorated blue, black, and purple with silver flecks like the night sky and a wooden spoon, carved from an olive tree, rested inside the bowl. She smiled. Did Desi know she wasn’t needed or was she playing hard to get? She closed the cabinet, turned to the island to set the bowl next to the recipe book, and then returned to the cabinet. She didn’t tap this time, just opened them and there on the middle shelf were the ingredients needed for the apple pie. It was fabulous to have the cabinet do the shopping. Definitely one of the perks.
Miss Sadie mixed the ingredients and placed the pie in the oven just as the bell at the front rang to announce someone had entered the café. She wiped her hands on the apron, removed it, and placed it on the island.
She closed and locked the book then placed it on the shelf above the stove. “Thanks Ric, even if you do annoy me like a two-year old asking why it’s nice to have you back.”
“Can I get some service out here or do I need to get myself a cup of coffee?”
“Keep your pants on Jacob; I’m on my way.”
Duncan Cordova had a plan. Since opening Magnolia Inn and Alex learned she was pregnant, they hadn’t spent a day outside of Anastasia, but that was about to change.
“Close your eyes and hold out your hands.”
His wife smiled, and it was as if the rest of the world no longer existed. “What are you up to now?”
“It’s a surprise. Go on, close ‘em.”
“I swear if you put a frog or a snake in my hands I’ll never forgive you.”
“Hey! I resemble that remark.”
“I know,” Alex smirked but closed her eyes.
Duncan placed the items into her hands. “OK, you can open them.”
Sitting on her hands were postcards for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and a keychain with a sand castle. She didn’t say anything.
“We’re going to Hilton Head for the weekend,” Duncan explained.
“No, we’re not.”
“I made reservations, we’ve got a waterfront room near Coligny Circle. It’ll just be you and me. You’ll love Hilton Head.”
“I’m sure I would, I mean it’s the beach, but we’ve got the Inn and Ashley.”
Duncan grabbed Alex’s hand and pulled her to his chest. “Anastasia’s existed for over 200 years without an Inn; I’m sure it’ll be fine. We don’t have reservations until Thursday night and….”
Tires squealed in the driveway and interrupted Duncan.
“Aunt V?” Alex raised an eyebrow.
“And Uncle Harry. They’re staying here, so they’ll get to spend time with Ash and watch the Inn just in case. I packed a bag for you, and it’s already in the convertible.”
“You think of everything don’t you?” If his smile were any brighter, it would have burned her retinas instead it ignited her heart, among other things.
“Every now and then I get it right.” Duncan mused.
“More than often than not but you better kiss me before she gets in here.”
“If you insist.” He smiled and then kissed her as if she was a glass of water after a week in the desert.
The door to the Inn burst open, and Aunt V stormed into the foyer. Uncle Harry still somewhere outside, probably trying to find his stomach.
“Where is she?” Aunt V clapped her hands together like a child looking for elephants at the circus.
“She’s sleeping, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep it that way.”
“Oh pish-posh. Ashley Elizabeth misses me as much as I miss her and you’re not going to be here, so I get to do what I want.”
“Except I have to deal with the consequences when we get back.” Alex practiced her mom face.
“Child put that face away; it has no impact on me.”
“Well, it was worth a shot.” Alex Hugged Aunt V.
Uncle Harry stuck his head through the doorway. “Looks like there’s a floorboard loose on the porch. Mind if I fix it?”
“Uncle Harry you can fix whatever your little heart desires. AS long as you don’t wake the baby.”
Alex handed Aunt V a piece of paper.
“What’s this?” Aunt V searched for her glasses which happened to be on the top of her head.
Alex pointed to them and answered “The pediatrician, my cell, Duncan’s cell, poison control….”
“Sakes alive girlie. I’m not new to the rodeo. Now get before we change our minds.” Aunt V winked at Alex and gave her another hug.
“There’s milk in the fridge and bottles in the drainer.”
“I don’t hear you.”
Alex laughed, gave Uncle Harry a hug and made her way to the car.
The drive toward the coast reminded Alex of the fun she’d had, minus the identity crisis, on the road last year. This drive was better though because she shared it with the love of her life. Two years ago, she would have laughed in the face of anyone who hinted she might fall in love again. She realized now the part she got wrong was “again.” Her love for Duncan was ten million times stronger than any love she thought she’d felt before.
He looked at her as if he knew what she as thinking, grinned, and then turned the volume up on the radio.
It took them just over an hour to reach Bluffton, and Alex pulled into a gas station.
“We need gas?” Duncan leaned to look at the fuel gauge.
Alex hooked her finger under his chin and guided his lips to hers for a kiss. “No, but would you mind driving? I wanna take in the sights, and I really shouldn’t do that behind the wheel.”
“I guess, but you’ll owe me later.”
Alex grinned. “I already owe you forever, and I’m good with that.”
They followed the Cross-Island Expressway, and Alex threw her arms over her head and inhaled deeply. The sky was a vibrant blue, and the air held the promise of adventure. She couldn’t get her toes in the sand or her feet into the saltwater over quick enough.
Duncan parked near Coligny Beach. “It’ll be a couple of hours before we can check into the hotel. Let’s hit the beach first.”
“If you insist.”
“You say that like that was the only option.”
Alex winked and got out of the car.
“I put a hat in your bag if you want it.”
“Nah, I’m good for now. I’ll use it later.”
Duncan held out his hand, and Alex grabbed tight. The area bustled with vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians. No one seemed to be in too big of a hurry which Alex liked. It made it easier to maneuver around them so they could get to the beach faster.
“We’ll have to stop and swing on our way back to the car.”
“We could now.” Duncan slowed.
Alex kept moving toward the water and pulled him toward her. “Ocean first.”
They followed the path, and when they reached the top of the dune, Alex stopped. Duncan’s reflexes were quick enough he didn’t bump her.
“It’s so beautiful.” The sun partially obscured by a cloud lit the water like fireworks. The waves were small but left no doubt an ocean was in front of them. A mat path led them toward the compacted sand and water. Alex jogged toward the water and didn’t stop until her sandaled feet were covered.
She turned to him, and her smile hit him like a lightning bolt to the chest. He hadn’t thought it possible, but she seemed to be more beautiful with the ocean as her backdrop.
“Put your feet in the water and let’s walk.”
“If you insist. I’m surprised there aren’t more people.”
“Don’t jinx it.” Alex pseudo punched him in the shoulder.
“Next time we should bring Ash. I think she’d like the water.”
“I won’t argue, I kind of miss her already.”
“Phew! Glad I’m not the only one. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the ocean, but I love her more.”
“Maybe we can get a place on the island.”
“I like the way you think, but I’d rather stay at one of the hotels. We won’t be able to get away that much with the inn, and before you know it, Ash will be in school.”
Duncan groaned. “Don’t remind me. I think it’s time to get checked into the room and grab a bite. I know a place with a celebrity chef.”
“I never would have guessed you were a beach bum.”
“Bum? Why I oughta….”
Duncan laughed, pulled Alex toward him and did just that.
“We could check-in and order room service instead.” Duncan offered.
“Let’s. I hope it isn’t far.” Alex wiggled her eyebrows.
“Even if it was on the other side of the island, the island isn’t that big.” Duncan pulled out of the parking lot, went less than a block and turned into the hotel.
“Why didn’t we park here initially?”
“Because I’m sneaky and didn’t want you to know where we were staying until I was sure the room would be ready. Wait here I’ll be right back.”
“OK.” Alex smiled and lifted her chin toward the sky. When Duncan was out of sight, she pulled the top of the convertible up. If she’d learned anything since moving to South Carolina, it’s that rain was always a possibility.
“We’re all set. Thanks for putting the top up.”
“I may have had ulterior motives.” Alex grinned.
“Once again, thank you. Let’s grab our bags and change into something a little more comfortable.” Duncan winked.
“You’re a mess.”
“And you love it.” He opened the trunk and began to laugh.
“She never ceases to surprise me.” Duncan pointed into the trunk.
“Is that a picnic basket from Miss Sadie’s?”
“Yep.” Duncan opened the basket. “And it’s apple pie.”
Alex smiled. “She does know what we like. Do you think Aunt V helped?”
Duncan lifted an eyebrow and grinned. “Do you love the ocean?”
Meet April Alieda!
April Alieda is the internationally selling author of the Flower Moon Cafe series which is salty-sweet (PG-13) contemporary romance with magical elements. Her debut, All Who Wander, is a full-length novel and the other titles in the series are Zip Romance – little stories big on fun. In addition to her current series, she’s currently writing a much steamier paranormal romance trilogy to be released in early 2018. She’s married to a wonderful man she affectionately refers to as Mr. Citadel and is blessed his three sons have welcomed her into their lives with open arms. Currently residing in the Charlotte, North Carolina area she looks forward to living on the South Carolina coast in the not so distant future.
Want to purchase April’s novels?
Flower Moon Cafe
Don’t miss your chance to meet over 50 fabulous urban fantasy, paranormal, and romance authors at Coastal Magic next February! This super casual book-lover weekend happens on Daytona Beach, and gives everyone the chance to hang out with fellow readers and amazing storytellers.
REGISTRATION is now open! If you haven’t been to Coastal Magic yet, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. Be sure to keep up with all things Coastal Magic, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | RSVP at the Facebook Event.