I still needed to do that. “No, not at all.”

She looked relieved. “I thought maybe we could do some shopping, have lunch at Nate’s grandfather’s place, and visit a few friends of mine. All girls this time,” she blushed as she said the last part. I was glad we weren’t going to recap that breakfast and my night with Nate. Bliss wasn’t the nosey type. I liked that about her, too.

“Okay, yes, that sounds nice. I don’t want to keep you from anything, though. Don’t feel as if you need to entertain me.”

Bliss beamed at me then. “When Nate said you were coming to visit I took off work. I wanted to have plenty of time to show you around.”

If I lived here, I think Bliss and I could be good friends. But I wouldn’t live anywhere for a long time. This was just my first stop.

“Thank you, that’s very thoughtful of you. I felt as if I sprung this on you and Nate. It was very last-minute planning.”

Bliss’s eyes seemed to understand more than I had told her. “I had to get away too once. I didn’t get far, but it was enough. Sometimes space from what we know is needed.”

I simply nodded. Because she was correct. Although there was much more to mine. I didn’t imagine she needed to recreate herself. Find a new Bliss. She seemed perfect as she was. My mother was perfect like her. My father was outgoing and handsome. Everyone loved being around him. How had I turned out so . . . so . . . different?

I couldn’t blame them. They’d do anything to give me a full life. We were a close family. They’d been excellent role models. But I was the odd little duckling. I preferred books and solitude. I was proper and polite. That I did blame on my mother. However, my mother appeared dainty and elegant when she did things like eat potato skins with flatware.

“I’m ready whenever you are. Just come on down when you’re ready to leave.”

I wasn’t about to have her waiting for me downstairs. That was rude. And although I was trying to be less of a rule follower and more carefree I wouldn’t be rude.

“Let me brush my hair and find some shoes, then I’ll be ready.”

She seemed pleased with that, then left the room closing the door behind her. Nate’s mother, Blaire, had come over for coffee the morning after Nate had brought Bliss for a visit to tell us all about her. She’d been thrilled for Nate. She loved Bliss, and she had been right. Everything she raved about. The dinner party Blaire held at her house the last night of their stay I had met Bliss. I’d even spoken to her a few moments, but that was all. She’d been whisked off by Ophelia, Nate’s sister, to meet other guests. I was surprised Nate even allowed his mother to plan an event like that. He seemed protective of Bliss.

But then he had never really been able to control his mother. If he tried to say no to her about something, his father would step in. Bliss seemed to enjoy herself that night though. It had been no problem at all that she was cast into a large, close-knit bunch.

I went into the private bathroom that was connected to my room and finished drying my hair with the dryer. Then added some lip gloss. I thought about doing more but didn’t. I left the bathroom to find some sandals and slipped them on. After a quick inspection, I put on a pair of small silver hoop earrings and a few of my favorite bangle bracelets.

Satisfied, I left the room and went to find Bliss. The house was lovely inside. Bliss had obviously done some decorating of her own. It had a homey feel even if it had wide hallways, tall ceilings, elaborate crown molding and chandeliers in most rooms. Somehow, she’d given it a touch of comfort. I respected that.

When I arrived at the foot of the stairs, Bliss was walking out of a backroom with a smile on her face that was somewhat dreamy. I didn’t need to know she had been in there with Nate. I’d seen that look on my mother’s face many times. I guess some people did get fairy tales. Even if they had to live through tragedy first.

I had no dramatic tragedy in my life. I had nothing. My life roadmap was bare. No excitement, just the same thing. Every day. I should be thankful for that I guess. Tragedy wasn’t exactly something to wish for.

“Oh, you’re ready. That was fast. Let me grab my purse and we’ll go.” Her tone chipper and her cheeks a little flushed.

“No rush,” I said hoping I hadn’t been interrupting anything. Having me stay here during the newness of their engagement was probably difficult for them. I hadn’t considered that. I should spend some time tonight figuring out my next stop and get moving along. So far, there was nothing keeping me here in Sea Breeze.

I DIDN’T CALL Larissa. I knew she’d be awake. Jilly, her daughter, was three and she woke up with the sun, even after Larissa worked late nights. She refused to leave her with a sitter until the next morning. She sent the sitter home when she got there, and she was Mom until she had to work again. Sometimes I wondered if she had superhuman powers.

I rang the bell, and heard sounds of kid’s shows coming from inside. Then I heard Jilly call out, “Someone is here!”

The kid was cute. It was a shame her dad was missing out on her life. The guy had been a complete jerk. I’d told Larissa that when she was dating him. When he left, though, I didn’t say I told you so. That was cold, and I knew Larissa was hurt enough. She was a great mother. She never needed his sorry ass. Neither did Jilly. It was his loss.

The door opened and Larissa stood there with her hair in a messy knot on top of her head and a cup of coffee in her hand. She looked wide awake. Guess getting up at six gives you plenty of time to drink the coffee.

“Surprise, surprise, if it isn’t the drunk Romeo,” she said with a roll of her eyes. She turned around leaving the door open and walked back into the living area. Jilly was there playing with her toys and watching some show where a little girl was a toy doctor—or it looked like that anyway.

Larissa walked over and sat down on the sofa.

“Eli!” Jilly cried out with glee when a commercial came on. She ran over to hug my leg. I bent down and picked her up.

“Hey, squirt,” I said then kissed her head.

“Hey,” she replied giggling and curled against me. Then just as quickly, she squirmed to get down and went back to her toys.

“Want to know how you got home?” Larissa asked.

I wanted to know more than that.

“Or what happened after our third dance,” I said.

Her eyes went wide. Then she burst out laughing. “You’re kidding me, right? You weren’t that bad off!”

“It wasn’t my best night. Started out being frustrated with life. Drinking away the shit things had turned out with Micah and Jimmy. Then I saw her walk in and acted. Thought the no-women rule was dumb and moved over there. I regret it now. Trust me. My head is still pounding.”

Larissa was curled up on the sofa with her cup looking amused. “Well, she was one you wouldn’t want to forget. Beautiful, but so proper it was funny. You were taken with her.”

I knew all that. “Tell me what I don’t remember. Not a recap of what I do.”

Larissa sighed. “Well, okay. You danced a lot more than three dances. Then you left. You dropped your keys off with me because I insisted. You told me y’all were going for a walk on the beach. You were gone two hours. Then you came back when I was walking out after closing. I drove you home then had Micha drop your truck off. That’s it.”