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Authors: Antoinette Stockenberg

A Month at the Shore

BOOK: A Month at the Shore
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A Month a
t
the Shore

 

"
An addictive, captivating story of love, family and trust."

--
Romance Reviews Today
 

He was her childhood knight in shining armor ... but she wasn't a fairytale princess.

Kendall Barclay III was a skinny, nerdy kid when he single-handedly took on a gang of bullies assaulting Laura Shore, a thirteen-year-old girl from the town's most notorious family.  The childhood trauma became one more reason for Laura to flee the small Cape Cod town for the opposite coast and make a name for herself there.  But now her tyrannical father is dead, her murderous uncle as well, and her beloved sister Corinne wants Laura and their black-sheep brother to come home and restore Shore Gardens, the family nursery fallen to rack and ruin, back to its former charm.

 

Reluctantly, they promise Corinne one month.  One month, for Laura to face down past memories which are anything but fond and to come to terms with the wild range of feelings she has for the man who is no longer either skinny or nerdy.  It's a daunting assignment -- made more so when a shocking discovery is made on the nursery grounds.  Have knights in shining armor gone out of fashion?  Laura will soon find out.

"A MONTH AT THE SHORE is a most enjoyable contemporary romance.  The book illuminates the power of childhood experiences in shaping lives. Rooted as it is in their past, the attraction that sparks to life between Laura and Ken makes eminent sense ... Ken is the perfect hero, clearly a gem.  Stockenberg has created an interesting cast of characters, provides a most satisfactory romance, and integrates the suspense element seamlessly into her story. This is a perfect book for a summer day -- or any other day, for that matter."

--
The Romance Reader

"Antoinette Stockenberg has a reputation for creating stories of small-town romance tinged with suspense, and this is the case with this superb book as well.  A rich tapestry of complex emotions, the story is guaranteed to hold the reader immersed and interested.  Fulfilling.
"

--
The Road to Romance
 

For
Doris

 

Pro
l
o
gue

 

The day after eighth-grade graduation was the best and worst of
Kendall
's life.

He was minding his own business, which happened to be tracking down a snowy owl that had been sighted in a woods just outside of town, when he heard boys' voices farther up the trail.

He was sorry to hear them. He didn't want to be caught with a pair of expensive binoculars around his neck and looking for birds, so he got back on his bike with every intention of leaving the way he had come: quietly. As he pedaled off, the voices got more shrill—whoops and yelps, the sounds of small-town kids on the warpath. He would be fair game for them, he knew from experience, so he picked up his pace.

And then he heard the scream. It was a girl's cry, frightened and angry at the same time, and it sent chills up his back and arms. He slammed on the brakes so violently that his bike skidded on the soft path and went out from under him, falling on top of him and scraping across his pale, thin legs.

He righted the bike, but his hands and legs were shaking as he mounted it again and set off in the direction of the scream. Part of him was hoping and praying that it was all just fooling around; but part of him knew better.

He found them in a clearing next to the trail where he knew kids liked to hang out drinking and smoking—and, he had always assumed, having sex. Four boys had a girl cornered.

She was standing in front of the campfire rocks. Ken couldn't see her very well because she was shielded by the four boys. They were practically shoulder to shoulder, but one pair of shoulders stood higher and broader than the rest: they belonged to Will Burton, the doctor's son, a bully who had squeezed more than one allowance out of Ken on a Friday afternoon. Will's younger, red-haired brother Dagger was there, too, and two other kids
that
Ken didn't recognize.

"Hey!" he yelled at their backs, almost before he could think about it.

They all turned around at the same time, surprised and therefore pissed. But Ken wasn't looking at them, he was looking at her. He was stunned to realize that she had breasts; how had he never noticed that? She was clutching her torn shirt to herself, but he could see her dark pink nipple. Instantly he looked away. When he looked back again immediately, he saw that her face was all flushed and her cheeks were wet, and he felt desperately ashamed.

"Leave her alone," he said in a voice filled with fury.

Will
Burton
just laughed. "Ooh, I'm scared. What're you gonna do? Run and tell your daddy?"

The other boys snickered and approached him as he stood astride his bike.

He could have taken off. He didn't, because he wanted her to make a break for it. But she stayed right where she was! He couldn't believe it. She wasn't moving. It was like she was hypnotized or paralyzed or something. She was looking straight at him and nobody else. He was ashamed in advance for what he knew was going to happen to him.

He became aware of the crack of branches underfoot as one of the boys he didn't know took up a position behind him. Instinctively he glanced over his shoulder at him. At the same instant, Dagger Burton grabbed his binoculars out of his bike basket.

Dagger turned away and aimed the binoculars straight at her breasts while Ken and the others remained in their standoff. Everything seemed to go on hold while Dagger did his thing.

"Shit, I can't see anything," Dagger said after fiddling with the adjustments. "Everything's blurry. I must be too close."

Stupidly, Dagger began backing away from her in an attempt to get in better focus.

So that left three.

"Leave her alone," Ken said, controlling the quaver that hovered at the back of his voice. "Get out now, and I won't tell anyone."

Will
Burton
was only a year older than Ken but just then seemed twice his size, minimum. He snorted and said, "Who's gonna make me? You—Skinnykenny? What a dork."

Ken tried to make his voice sound strong. "Leave her
alone."
But his voice broke and the last word came out like a hiccup, and everyone laughed, except her, of course.

He didn't dare look at her; he was so totally mortified. For her, for him, for both of them. He was rich and she was poor, but at that moment both of them were equals.

Hulking Will Burton waited until the snickers died down, and then in a voice that was way calmer and deeper than Ken's, he said: "Dork."

It was true. Ken was a dork; he knew he was a dork. But there was something about being called one in front of
her
that made something inside of him snap. He threw down his bike and went wading into Will Burton: head down, arms flailing, landing punches half in the air. But he made contact, too—for the stolen allowances, for the snickers, and mostly for that exposed nipple, which he knew was now burned into his memory for life. He hated them all, hated them for their contempt for anyone who wasn't as cool as they were.

They punched him and kicked him and he tasted his own blood, but still he kept flailing. His eyes were shut, so he couldn't tell if she was taking off or not. Before he could get the chance to look, he felt a hard whack on the back of his head—he was pretty sure, from his brand-new binoculars.

Chap
t
er 1

 

"Here he comes at last."

Against a blood-red sun sliding into a dark blue sea, a beat-up Subaru without a muffler wheezed its way toward the two sisters standing on the knoll.

Laura
Shore
was dismayed by the bedraggled sight: it was so typically Shore.

"Well, he missed Dad's funeral," she said, sighing. "Why should I be surprised that he's missed the memorial?"

"You're not being fair," her sister protested in their brother's defense. "Six months ago, Snack was in jail for stealing a car."

"Yeah. Obviously not the one he's driving," Laura said dryly. "Will you look at that wreck? I'll bet he went out of his way to drive right down
Main
in it, tooting to everyone in sight."

Corinne grinned and said, "That's our Snack."

It had always amazed Laura that her sister was so willing to accept their brother's outlandish, provocative behavior. But then, Corinne had managed to live at home with their father until the day that he died. She'd been tempered in a very hot fire.

"What do yo
u want to bet he stopped at Fox
woods?" Laura said.

"Today?
Snack wouldn't do that."

"Wouldn't hit the slots? Since when?"

"Not today," Corinne insisted.

It might have been the ocean damp, it might have been their father's grave: suddenly Corinne shivered in her thin cotton sweater and had to hug herself. "I'll bet he had car trouble. It's a miracle that he made it all the way here from
Tijuana
in that thing."

"
Tijuana
. God." Laura turned her back on the noisy, smoking car in time to see the last sliver of orange dip below the horizon, leaving behind a rich tapestry of gold, blue, and lavender sky. It was a spectacular
Cape Cod
sunset, and despite her resentment at being summoned back home by her younger sister, Laura felt the pull of the moment.

"Why," she asked with grudging wonder, "would Snack move to
Tijuana
when he could have stayed here?"

Corinne shrugged. "Why did you go off to live in
Oregon
? To make a mark, I suppose."

"I could just as well have made my mark in Chepaquit," Laura said quickly, rounding on her younger sister. "That is
not
why I left. I left to get as far away from Dad as I could."

"And from everyone else around here, Laura. Admit it."

"If you mean, from some of the people in this stifling, small-minded town—then, yes, I suppose so."

"M
m
-hmm. You and Snack. You're more alike than you know."

It was a startling comparison, and Laura didn't like it at all. Corinne was a shy, sweet, totally naive homebody who'd virtually never ventured off the
Cape
. How could she possibly have any insight into people?

Laura had to ask. "Corinne—just what, exactly, did you mean by that?"

Corinne shrugged. "You know. Big chip on the shoulder? You and Snack just deal with it in opposite ways, that's all." Her gaze was locked on the Subaru now, and she was waving her arm in broad arcs.

"I do
not
have a chip on my—"

Snack beeped loudly half a dozen times in return, making Laura wince. "The man is driving in a graveyard," she snapped, "not in a St. Patrick's Day parade."

"Laura, stop. You haven't seen one another since Mom's funeral.
Bend
a little, won't you? It's been so long since we've all been together."

"Three years isn't so long. Anyway, Snack could have come to visit
me
this past Christmas, when you did."

"How? He had to be in court."

Laura smiled grimly. "Case closed. So to speak."

But she was still smarting from her sister's observation. Laura and Snack, two sides of the same warped coin? It wasn't possible. Corinne didn't know what she was talking about. She hadn't taken a psychology course in her life—hadn't had the chance to go to college, period—whereas Laura had worked and scrimped and saved and earned not only a degree in computer science, but a minor in psychology as well.

A
n
d never once, during all of the psych courses she'd taken at Oregon State, had it occurred to her that she and Snack shared the same motivation for their respective behavior. The same genes, yes. Apparently. But not the same motivation.

BOOK: A Month at the Shore
6.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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