Love on Lido Key
The Keys to His Heart, Book 2
By Meg West
Champagne Books: http://champagnebooks.com/store/index.php?id_product=721&controller=product
A young widow has to fight off a host of naysayers to win the heart of a handsome Greek.
Every night Janie Alexander drove to south Lido Beach to watch the sunset. Some nights it was a bust. But most of the time the she was treated to a spectacular show, with the sky bursting into every color of the palette.
She hoisted her red sand chair out of her Fiesta and padded in her flip-flops through the sea grapes and thick grass. The dunes were studded with burrs, so she didn’t kick off her sandals until she was on the beach proper.
Tonight the tide was low, the wind was still, and waves lapped at the shore. She unfolded her chair halfway between the dunes and the water’s edge, covered it with a striped towel, then waited for the show to begin.
She wasn’t completely alone. A trio of solitary regulars kept her company. First came an older man passing a metal detector over the sand. Janie didn’t know what he hoped to discover—a gold watch, a diamond ring?—but he never seemed to find anything. Another barefoot guy, dressed in dirty Hawaiian shorts and torn white T-shirt, brought bread crusts to feed first the seagulls and then an enormous raccoon that waddled out of the sand dunes, sending the gulls into a frenzy of flight over the water.
Lastly, on the tip of the island, always stood a salty old fisherman wearing a khaki cap and rolled waders, casting his line to catch the leaping mullet.
These were the single men who surrounded Janie. They nodded at her; she nodded at them. But they never waved or said hello. She watched them go about their business in the fading light, the way she used to when Matt had sat beside her in his matching chair. Then the sun swelled to a fiery circle that hung in the red and orange sky before it dropped to the horizon as quickly as a tennis ball released from God’s hand.
Janie pulled down her floppy hat to shield her eyes. Tonight the sun seemed especially bright as it sank. Then she realized why. Somewhere on the dunes, maybe when she bent to pluck a burr off her ankle, she had lost the tortoiseshell sunglasses Matt had given her on her last birthday.
Panic rolled through her. Everything she saw in the world, from the abandoned pillows on his side of the bed down to every grain of sand below her feet, reminded her of Matt. But those Wayfarer sunglasses were her last link to him. He had picked them out of a catalog and had them delivered to the nurses’ station on the fourth floor of Sarasota Memorial.
“Happy birthday, Janie,” he told her. “Take these to the beach and watch the sunset for me every night you have the chance.”
“It won’t be the same without you,” she said.
“I’ll be there even if I’m not there. And then, don’t worry, there’ll be somebody else.”
“I don’t want anyone else.”
“You’ll find him. I know it.”
It had been almost a year, but seemed like yesterday that Matt sat next to her in his matching chair, handing her another bottle of beer and telling her, “Let’s stay a little longer and watch the stars.”
The pink sky dimmed and blossomed into a blue and purple bruise. Janie gripped the arms of her chair, ready to leap up and search for her dead husband’s last gift to her, when a voice behind her asked, “These your sunglasses?”
Matt had been tall, thin, and pale, and his light brown hair bordered on blond. This guy was dark-skinned and dark-haired, with a roughness about his face that told Janie that no matter how closely he shaved, within half an hour he was going to look unshaven again. He had on olive-green surfer shorts and rubber fisherman’s sandals. She tried hard not to stare at his muscled bare chest as he stood over her.