[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Dan, the brother of Lexi’s deceased husband, has discovered where Lexi lives and is raging angry about what he believes has transpired.
Here are the posts in order so far:
Lexi didn’t hear her phone buzz with Vicky’s message warning her about Dan because she was in the middle of a Very Serious Task and had her favorite Taylor Swift CD blasting.
Yep, Lexi was baking her famous peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and she wanted the first tray done and cooled by the time Kevin was due here in about an hour. She creamed the butter and sugar, smiling at the memory of how kind he’d been to her last week at the festival. She’d put the cute otter beanie baby on her dresser upstairs, right next to her jewelry box.
Maybe once they got to know each other a little better she could confide in him. Tell him about what happened in the city, Jim’s depression, their separation, his crazy anger. That horrible day. It would be nice to have a strong, comforting shoulder to lean on. But not yet. She needed more time. Attraction happened in a second, but trust had to bake. Like these delicious cookies, it couldn’t be rushed.
Kevin left the hotel early, deciding he needed a beach run before showering and going over to Lexi’s place. So many thoughts whirled through his head. He wanted them to settle down before he saw her again. He knew who she was now, and he understood why she hadn’t said anything.
Being a curious guy with a good memory, Kevin knew he’d seen Lexi’s face before. Spending time with her at the otter festival had made him even more certain of it. Yet, he was sure they hadn’t met before the day he’d helped her after she’d fallen off her bike. He wouldn’t have forgotten a woman as pretty as Lexi Brown. He must have seen her online. So, he did a search. It didn’t take long to find her picture, since the news orgs had uploaded so many versions of it last spring. Wow. He felt so bad for her when he read the story of her crazy ex coming into her store and threatening people. She could have been killed!
The idea of Lexi lying on the floor in a pool of blood left Kevin shaken. He pounded his way down the packed sand in hopes of dislodging the awful mental image. It didn’t happen; she was safe! Her brother-in-law had negotiated her rescue, along with her coworker, and then another cop had shot and killed her ex. Kevin wondered if Lexi blamed herself for that.
Kevin’s ex-girlfriend Emily had been tangled up in guilt over her parents’ death in a car accident she thought she caused, and it had affected their relationship to the point that Kevin had broken off their engagement. He’d felt terrible about it, but when Emily had repeatedly declared she’d never have children because something bad might happen to them, he couldn’t deal with her any longer. She’d refused to see a counselor, telling him there was nothing wrong with not wanting kids. There wasn’t. But he wanted them.
He had also escaped, like Lexi, taking this job in a remote town to avoid the censuring eyes of all their mutual friends, along with his own family. Everyone thought he’d been “mean” and should have given Emily more time. And, ironically, she was now married to someone else… and had a baby. Oh life!
Kevin kept running, then abruptly turned around. He loved how deserted this place was. The sun was setting ~ it was a perfect evening for a jog ~ and yet he was alone on this stretch of sand. He slowed to cool down. Took deep breaths of the fresh, salty air. Even though it had been a couple years since Emily, he still felt a bit raw. And Lexi was certainly still grieving. Much too soon for either of them to get involved.
But… she was so pretty. And she had such wonderful sparkling brown eyes. It was so sweet of her to invite him over for dessert tonight when he’d stopped by her gift shop yesterday. He didn’t even know why he went in there… he never went to souvenir row. But he had convinced himself he was hungry for a vegan sandwich from the place next door to her. Yeah right.
They could just be good friends though. Kindred spirits. Have smoothies together. Pick each other up when they fell off their bikes. And if they weren’t doing anything special for Thanksgiving, maybe they could spend the day together. No biggie.
Kevin showered, changed, walked over to Lexi’s place. Knocked three times.
She opened the door and the scrumptious odor of something baking wafted out. “Hi, Kevin. Come in.”
“Hey.” He immediately noticed that her eyes weren’t sparkling and her face was paler than the dusting of flour across her chin. “What’s wrong?”
[to be continued]
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