I was away on vacation last week, so yes, the blog languished a bit. First, some housekeeping, then on the the good stuff.
Congrats to Victoria and Carrie, the winners of the Spring Into Summer giveaway!
Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I asked if I should keep the door locked on, or share some of, the new project which leapt into my head while I was relaxing on the beach.
The sharers won the day, and so I give to you an excerpt from the opening of my beach writing project, working-titled Buck’s Landing.
… Below her, Hampton’s Ocean Boulevard was already awake and bustling. Salt and sand seasoned the breeze blowing in off the water. Motels, restaurants, and tourist traps like the Landing lined the sidewalk of the boulevard as far as she could see before the coastline curved to the east at Rocky Bend. She smoothed out the cat’s long tail while her eye traced the farthest point where the year-round colony sat on the bluff.
In front of her, the beach was filling in with umbrellas and tents. A half-dozen kites flew over the boardwalk. Vacationing families were using the new bathhouse at the State Park—far better than the old one, she thought with a shudder. Kids and gulls shrieked from the high tide line, and the scent of Coppertone drifted over the piped-in music on the course. The kitten rested contentedly in the crook of her arm.
“You like it here, don’t you?” She stroked one silky, steel-gray ear. “You don’t know that there’s a whole world outside this tourist dump, a whole universe outside of New England.”
The kitten’s pleasant rumble was disturbed by the buzzing in her pocket. With her free hand, she fished out her phone. “Sofia Buck.”
The tenants in 2B had clogged the toilet again. “I’ll be right down.”
Pocketing her phone again, she shifted the small bundle on her arm. He blinked sleepily and flexed his paws, the size of half-dollar coins at the ends of his skinny, fuzzy legs.
“You’re going to have to stay here alone for a few minutes. Can you do that?” Her companion yawned.
Sofia took him inside and carried him to the bedroom. She focused on finding a pair of khaki shorts and a Buck’s Landing polo, deliberately avoiding the photos her father had left on the dresser. There was a kind of madness in nostalgia, and Hampton was not going to be her asylum.
Her guest began to knead the bedspread, and Sofia scooped him up. The kitten squeaked in protest. “No way, little man. This is the people bed, not the cat bed.” And she shut the bedroom door behind her.
Plopping him down on the sofa, she headed for the utility closet. She grabbed a pair of long rubber gloves, a bucket, mop, and plunger. Giving the kitten a stern look, she said, “Be good.”
She jogged down the stairs to one of the two vacation rental apartments that made up the second floor of her father’s building. This week, a family from upstate New York had 2B. During their brief exchange on Saturday afternoon, the mother—Shawna?—had fretted over her.
“I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad, honey. He was such a nice man. Nick and I’ve been renting this place since before we got married. He was part of our vacation tradition.”
Sofia had murmured the correct responses before showing them a few of the updates she’d arranged for over the past few weeks.
Pinning her smile on, she knocked brightly on the door. The mother opened the door. Her small child, a kindergartener named after a character from a movie—Trinity?—peered our from behind her legs.
“Hey, Sophie.” The mother pushed a mop of sweaty curls from her forehead. “We’re just heading across to the beach. Thanks for taking care of this.”
Sofia swallowed the name correction that surfaced on her tongue. “Have fun. The waves are up this morning.”
Thankfully the toilet was only clogged with an abundance of quilted toilet paper. As she worked the plunger, she wondered as what the fascination was with little kids and toilet paper rolls. Sofia cleaned up behind herself, and locked the unit. She stowed the supplies and washed up before pouring herself a cup of coffee and leaning on the counter to write up a to-do list, ticking off her duties for the day.
The water in the fountain shared by the fourth and fifteenth holes was looking brackish and she was running low on paper goods. Buck’s Landing wasn’t enough in the black to warrant a delivery service, which meant she’d be trucking over to Manchester to provision and stop at the pool supply place. And at some point she was going to have to call someone about the kitten.
She stood upright so quickly she nearly rapped her head on the upper cabinets. The kitten!
Her gaze flicked to the sofa, where a slight depression in her mother’s once-favorite throw pillow was the only evidence of the feline adventurer’s existence. She clucked her tongue and kissed the air in her apartment, willing the fluffball to appear from beneath some piece of furniture. A saucer of half-and-half and a bowl of chunk light tuna didn’t coax the little monster out, either.
For twenty minutes she scoured her apartment for him, but the kitten was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until she went out on the landing that she realized where he was. The ghost of a smile played over her cupid’s bow lips at the sight. Her furry friend had scaled another miniature landmark on the course. Not just any miniature, but the massive, scale-replica Easter Island head at the seventeenth hole.
Down again, and out into the course she went, grabbing the ladder from the utility room on her way. Stacey spotted her coming. “He’s awfully cute, Sofia. Will you keep him?”
“I’m sure the little beast belongs to someone.” She propped the ladder against the statue and spoke to the three parties queued up at the tee. “Play through, folks. Stacey will comp you all a soft-serve in the snack bar for your trouble.” Stacey herded everyone through while she surveyed the head, looking for the best way to get to her little pal, who batted a passing white butterfly and mewed at her from his perch.