Golden sand, pounding surf, a sense of endless possibility--and four unforgettable stories of love, friendship, and second chances. . .
The Brass Ring by Lisa Jackson
It's a beautiful June day, perfect for a wedding--until Shawna learns that her fiancé, Parker, has been involved in a car crash. Though his injuries heal, his memories of her are gone. Yet Shawna won't stop reaching to reclaim the love they once shared. . .
June's Lace by Cathy Lamb
June MacKenzie is done--with her high-pressure legal career, her difficult soon-to-be-ex, and the stress of city living. In her studio on the Oregon coast, she creates beautiful lace wedding dresses, with no intention of ever wearing one again herself. Then songwriter Reece rents the house next door, and sets out to change her mind. . .
Second Chance Sweethearts by Holly Chamberlin
Thea Foss is putting a bad marriage behind her in the pretty vacation town of Ogunquit, Maine. What's past is past. . ..Until her first love wanders into the local diner, reminding Thea of the person she once was, and the life it's not too late to claim. . .
Carolina Summer by Rosalind Noonan
Jane Doyle needs to get out of New York--the farther the better. She's headed toward Florida, but thanks to a storm along North Carolina's Outer Banks, she finds herself stranded in a beautiful, remote town that soon feels a lot like home. And thanks to the local sheriff, she finds herself staying longer than she planned--and feeling less lost at sea than ever. . .
Ten Things I’m Worried About
1. Too many wedding dresses
2. Not enough wedding dresses
4. Going broke
5. Losing my home
6. Never finding an unbroken, black butterfly shell
7. The upcoming interview with the fashion writer
8. Not having peppermint sticks in my life
9. Turning back into the person I used to be
10. Always being worried
“No. Absolutely not.” I gripped the phone with white knuckles as
I paced around my yellow studio. “I will never agree to that.”
“Ha. I knew you wouldn’t accept those unacceptable terms,
June,” Cherie Poitras, my divorce attorney, cackled. “Your soon-tobe-
ex-husband has a monstrous addiction to being a jerk but don’t
worry, we’re not quitting. Quitting causes my hot flashes to flare.”
“I don’t want your hot flashes to flare, Cherie. And I’m not
quitting, either. I can’t.” I yanked opened the French doors to my
second-story deck as lightning zigged and zagged across the night
sky through the bubbling, black clouds, the waves of the Pacific
Ocean crashing down the hill from my blue cottage. “If I could
catch a lightning strike, I’d pitch it at him.”
“It would be thrilling to see that,” Cherie declared. “So vengefully
“What a rat.” I shut the doors with a bang, then thought of my
other life, the life before this one, and shuddered. I could not go
back to it, and I was working as hard as I could to ensure that that
wouldn’t happen. There wasn’t enough silk and satin in that other
life. There wasn’t any kindness, either. Or softness. “I so want this
“He’s sadistically stubborn. I have been buried in motions, requests
for mediation, time for him to recover from his fake illness,
his counseling appointments, attempts to reconcile . . . he’s tried
everything. The paperwork alone could reach from Oregon to
Arkansas and flip over two bulls and a tractor.”
“That’s what we’re dealing with, Cherie, bull.” I ran a hand
through my long, blond, messy hair. It became stuck in a tangle.
“Sure are, sweets.”
“He’s doing this so I’ll come back to him.”
“That’s true. He’s a tenacious, rabid possum.”
“I don’t ever want anything to do with the rabid possum again.”
I was so mad, even my bones seemed to ache. Cherie wished me a
“happy wedding dress sewing evening,” and I wished her the best
of luck being a ferocious attorney who scares the pants off all the
male attorneys in Portland and went back to stomping around my
My studio is filled with odd and found things. I need the color
and creativity for inspiration for the nontraditional wedding
dresses I sew. Weathered, light blue shutters from a demolished
house are nailed to a wall. Two-foot-tall pink letters spell out my
first name. On a huge canvas, I painted six-foot-tall purple tulips
with eyes, smiles, and pink tutus. I propped that painting against a
wall next to a collection of mailboxes in the shapes of a pig, elephant,
dragon, dog, and monkey. The monkey mailbox scares me.
I dipped a strawberry into melted chocolate and kept stomping
about. I eat when I get upset or stressed, and this had not proved to
be good for the size of my bottom. Fifteen extra pounds in two
years. After only four more strawberries, okay seven, and more pacing,
I took a deep breath and tried to wrestle myself away from my
past and back into who I am now, who I am trying most desperately
“Remember, June,” I said aloud as my anger and worry surged
like the waves of the Oregon coast below me. “You are in your skylighted
studio. Not a cold, beige home in the city. You are living
amidst stacks of colorful and slinky fabrics, buttons, flowers, faux
pearls and gems, and lace. You are not living amidst legal briefs and
crammed courtrooms working as an attorney with other stressed-
out, maniac attorneys hyped up on their massive egos.”
My tired eyes rested, as they so often did, on my Scottish tartan,
our ancestors’ tartan, which I’d hung vertically on my wall. When
I’d hung it in our modern home in Portland, he’d ripped it down
and hid it from me for a month. “Tacky, June, it’s tacky. We’re not
I am a wedding dress designer in the middle of a soul-crushing
divorce. I am a wedding dress designer who will never again marry.
I am a wedding dress designer who has about as much faith in marriage
as I do that the Oregon coast will never see another drop of
A blast of wind, then a hail of rain pummeled my French doors.
I ate yet another chocolate-covered strawberry. I have been told
my eyes are the color of dark chocolate. Not a bad analogy. I
washed the strawberry down with lemonade, then ate a carrot.
No, I have no faith in marriage.
It was a bad day. A very bad day. And I knew there were more
bad days to come with my ex.
I did not see the wave erupting from the ocean like a sneaky,
amphibious water assault. The Oregon coast, stunning and breathtaking,
can, infrequently, whip out dangerous waves that arch and
stretch and cover anyone in their path with freezing cold water, a
bit of foam, and a mouthful of long seaweed. If you are lucky, it will
not pull you out to swim with the whales.
But I had committed the cardinal Oregon beach sin: I put my
back to the ocean. Never do that.
An hour before, I’d pulled on a raincoat and rain pants and
headed out for my usual five-mile “Sanity Walk,” which I do each
day to settle my worries. I need to get away from work and my
sticky workaholic tendencies, and an overload of him, whom I try
not to think about because he contaminates my brain synapses and
makes them explode.
Between the raindrops, off in the distance, I could see rays of
sun slanting through the clouds, a promise of a reprieve from an
early summer rain. To my right, near the rocks and tide pools, I saw
a black butterfly shell and turned to pick it up, to see if it was
whole, unbroken. I am always searching for whole butterfly shells.
I have never found one. The left wing of this shell was halfway broken
I was soaked and choking as a wave poured down on my head.
Another wave knocked me off my feet, then covered me in salt
water. I struggled to find my footing, to figure out which way was
up, as I fought vainly against the pull of the waves and the freezing
cold. My face at one point was planted straight into the sand.
I tried to pinwheel my arms, but that didn’t work. I tried to hit
the ocean floor with my feet, but they were tossed up and over my
head. I was under a wall of water, heading out into the ocean, a
rock scraping my back. The water sucked and spun me out and
around, as if I was a black butterfly shell and it was trying to crack
me in half.
I tried to breathe and choked, inhaling water, the cold claws of
panic paralyzing my mind as I fought against drowning, seawater
pouring over me, my head bopping through to air, then churning
waves covering it again. I struggled and fought against the undertow,
still not sure which way was up.
I felt a hand grab mine.
Within a millisecond, I was hauled up as if I weighed no more
than a seagull. An arm curled around my waist, and I was thrust up
against a wall of steel, the freezing water pouring off my body. A
hand pounded my back as I doubled over and indelicately wretched
out sea water and, I think, part of a shell, maybe a seahorse or a
shark, and sand. I made another gagging sound, more water
poured out, that strong arm still linked around my waist as body-
freezing water swirled around us. I wretched again.
I spit out sand, my whole body going into semishock as I shook
and shook. Sucking in air with a gurgly, gasping sound, my lungs
totally depleted, my legs shaking, my hair glued to my head, I held
on tight to the wall of steel as another wave rolled in. The wave receded,
as fast as it came, the chilly water circling our thighs.
“It’s okay,” the wall of steel soothed, both arms tight around me.
“I got ya. You’re okay.” He hit me on the back again, and once
more I released part of the Pacific Ocean. I inhaled again with a
jagged breath, vaguely thinking I sounded like a hyperventilating
octopus, however that would be.
Seconds, that was what it took. Seconds before my life was suddenly
in danger. Seconds after that and I’m being pounded on the
“Sorry about that,” the man drawled. “I’ve never hit a woman,
but this seems to be an occasion where it might be beneficial.”
I leaned against his chest, arms around his waist, my whole body
trembling, and between long strands of sandy, soaked hair, I eyed
He was a giant. I was being rescued by a green giant with
blondish wavy hair.
“How ya doing?” he asked, his emerald eyes concerned, brow
furrowed. “Can you get enough air?”
I studied those eyes for a minute. Honestly, they were hard to
look away from, bright and intense, steady on. “Yes,” I gurgled out,
“I have air.” I then leaned over, coughed in a particularly disgusting
fashion, and this time spit up seaweed. I dragged one end of it out
of my mouth until I had about six inches hanging from my fingers.
“Better now.” My voice was still hoarse, sand crunching between
my teeth. “I had not planned on seaweed for lunch.”
“Good.” He still held on to me so I wouldn’t collapse. “I personally
prefer clam chowder. Garlic bread. Less green, more flavor.”
Ah. A man with dry humor. If I wasn’t busy spewing out more
sand, I would enjoy the verbal sparring. Leaning over again, his
arms supporting me, I choked out yet another piece of seaweed
and a mouthful of water. “Tastes terrible.”
“Some people eat it with a dash of salt. Me, personally, it has
never held appeal at all. At least you didn’t swallow a fish.”
“For that, I am grateful.” I wiped my mouth. I was stunned.
Overwhelmed. Two seagulls squawked above. “Thank you very
“You are quite welcome. Any time.”
“Thank you,” I said once again, my teeth now chattering, as he
guided me out of the water and onto the sand, an arm still slinked
around my waist. He took off his green rain jacket. “Here, take off
your jacket, we’ll put this one around you instead.”
“That’s chivalrous, but I’m soaked. You take it. It’ll get wet.”
My body jerked as if it was being electrocuted.
“Please. Wear it. Let me help you. You’re shaking too much to
do it yourself.”
That was true.
He unzipped my jacket and took one of my arms, then the
other, both rattling around from cold and shock, and pulled my
rain jacket off. He threw his jacket around me, stuck my arms back
in, and zipped it up. I was instantly dwarfed by the giant’s jacket.
He pulled the hood over my head.
“But you’ll get wet now,” I gasped.
“I am not going to get anywhere near as wet as you already are.
Please. Wear it.”
He was wearing a blue sweater and I noticed that his chest was
flat and the type you could sleep on, not that I would sleep on a
man’s chest ever again. No way.
“Thank you. I’m so, so glad you were here.” A sense of utter relief,
utter gratefulness flooded over me. Had he not been here, not
taken action . . . I could have died. That had not been on my agenda
for today. I bit my frozen lip and tried not to cry.
“Happy to be here. I did have to run faster than I’ve ever run in
my life, but I’ve got my exercise in. I’m renting a place up the hill,
just arrived today, came out for a walk, and saw that huge wave hit
you. It came out of nowhere, didn’t it?”
“As if it dropped out of the sky.” I pushed my dripping hair out
of my eyes and stared at him, the wind lifting that blondish hair
around a supertough and strong-looking jaw and prominent cheekbones.
“Good of you to make a run to rescue me.”
He bowed. “My pleasure.”
Those green eyes stared right into mine, as if the drowned rat in
front of him was interesting and appealing. I could not look away.
The rain sprinkled down, and there we stood, staring at each other.
My, how his eyes were a light and wondrous color, bold and sure, as
if he wasn’t afraid to look away from life . . . the trustworthy, strong,
I have a deeper side to me and I want to know the deeper side of you
sort of gaze.
He shook his head, blinked a couple of times, and smiled again,
his eyes crinkling in the corners.
Wow. Rough and tough and manly. Wow.
“Take off your shirt.”
What? I felt myself prickle under his jacket, a blast of fear
shooting through me.
“No, no, no.” He put his hands up. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it
like that. But you’re all zipped up under my jacket. Can you take
off the wet clothing on your upper half so you don’t get colder on
our walk back?”
“Oh, okay.” That made sense, since I was shivering so spasmodically.
“I’ll turn around to give you some privacy and keep an eye on
the ocean while you wriggle out of whatever you can.”
I thought of taking my clothes off in front of this macho he man. One graphic picture jumped into my mind after another, and
my breath quickened. Honestly, June. You almost drowned and
you’re thinking about getting naked? You haven’t thought about a
naked man in over two years.
“Are your hands too cold to do it?” His face creased into worry
“No. Yes. No and yes to you.” I coughed. Please, June, don’t embarrass
yourself. “I’ll be fine.”
The water off the Oregon coast is so absolutely freezing it hurts
your brain, even in summer, but as we stared at each other from
inches away, my head tilted back; I felt a blush climbing up my
He blinked again, as if he was somewhat rattled, too, then
turned around. I started to strip while sneaking peeks at his backside.
Huuuuge shoulders. A solid man, not skinny. Tall, rangy.
I wriggled underneath the jacket, still warm from his manly man
heat, and managed to pull my sweater and T-shirt off. I hesitated on
my bra, then thought, what the heck. I was going to freeze to death
if I didn’t. The rain coming down wasn’t helping. I dropped everything
in the sand, stuck my arms through the jacket’s sleeves, then
rolled my soaking, sandy clothes into a ball.
“Okay, I’m undressed,” I said, then stopped. Come on, June!
Think! Don’t say it that way! “I’m undressed but dressed. I’m
dressed in your coat. Not naked undressed.”
He turned around and I could tell he was chuckling on the inside.