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       Adrift, p.1

           Robin Wainwright
 
Adrift
Adrift

  The Widow’s Walk Trilogy: Book One

  By Robin Wainwright

  Copyright © 2014 Robin Wainwright

  All rights reserved.

  1

  No noise. No light. No life. Heather sat in the dark waiting. Waiting for a call that would never come again. “Heather?” It was his voice she heard in her head. She looked around, searching, even though she knew it wasn’t real.

  She sat in a state of stasis. There was nothing she had to do. No where she had to be. No responsibility. Heather felt frozen.

  Full darkness fell and she knew she should turn on the light, but why? Instead, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

  Sunlight bathed the room and Heather groaned. She rolled over, to hide her face in the pillow, but her eyes popped open. Oh god! What time is it? Dad’s going to want his coffee! She jumped up and was half way to the kitchen before she remembered.

  For a moment, she froze and felt the knife in her heart twist. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she continued into the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee.

  She sat with her coffee at the kitchen table she had shared with her Dad, Tony, for the past 18 years.

  Heather had moved in with him after her Mom had died ten years before, and as the years had passed her father had needed more and more assistance, until the day he received the diagnosis—liver cancer.

  Because of his advanced age, he chose to enter Hospice care instead of undergoing invasive medical treatment. Heather had supported his choice and had done her best to make his final days as happy and comfortable as possible.

  Her life had become more and more absorbed by her father’s needs. Heather didn’t begrudge him his care; after all, he had always been there for her. She thought back over all the nights her father had come to her middle school and high school choir concerts. At the time, she hadn’t realized what a chore this must have been, but now, as an adult Heather understood. He must have been so tired after working a full day, and yet he would come and sit through what must have been a mind-numbing two-hour concert. Heather hadn’t been in a show choir with amazingly talented teenagers who could sing and dance without breaking a sweat or losing their breath. Heather’s choir had consisted of enthusiastic kids who could manage to carry a tune in a bucket, but not much else.

  After a concert, her father would praise her and say how proud he was of her. Throughout her life, Heather’s dad had never made her feel like he was anything but enthusiastic and proud of anything she attempted.

  She was proud that she had managed to give him the gift of passing in his home with her holding his hand. But now what?

  Suddenly it hit her, she couldn’t stay in the house another minute. She had to get out of there.

  Now that she had something to do, she moved quickly. Down came her luggage; in went whatever she could grab. She locked up the house, threw her suitcase in the trunk and was off—to the end of her driveway.

  There she froze again. “Now what?” She asked. She looked around her and thought, this isn’t much of a change of scenery.

  Defeated she went to see what mail had accumulated while she had vegetated in the house. The envelopes addressed to her Dad pierced her heart and drained what little energy she had managed to gain.

  Returning to her car, she tossed the mail on the passenger seat and prepared to return to the garage. As she turned the car around, the mail slid off the seat and under her feet.

  “Dammit!” She screamed as she slammed the car into park and pulled up the hand break. Then she began to gather up the spilled mail. She could reach it all, except one annoying card that was jammed under the gas pedal.

  She threw open the door and got down on her knees to yank the offending postcard out from under the pedal. The postcard was an ad from a travel agent showing a quaint village on the edge of a beautiful beach.

  Heather looked back to the house and then down at the postcard.

  “Okay Dad, I got your message,” she said as she wiped the tears off her face, climbed back into her car, and headed for the coast.

  2

  As Heather drove up Highway 101, she felt her sadness lifting. She rolled down the windows and allowed the cool salt scented air to fill her car. She had no destination in mind, but already her soul felt lighter.

  The waves played peak-a-boo with her as the highway wove north up the California coast.

  She only stopped when her gas tank was low, and then she would immediately continue on her journey. Twilight began to fall and she decided she had better find somewhere to spend the night.

  Heather drove around a sharp bend in the road and her breath caught in surprise. Perched on the edge of a steep cliff, silhouetted against the dramatically colored sunset, was a lighthouse. The sight was so beautiful that it was hard to believe it was real. Heather sighed, wishing that she could have a closer look, but the sun was quickly setting and darkness was falling.

  Heather saw a sign, Next Exit - Crescent Bay, and decided to pull off and look for lodging.

  Signs directed her to the town center and soon she was driving down Main Street.

  The village seemed mostly empty with the exception of one business; the sign over its eaves declared it to be The Foghorn Tavern.

  With no hotel in sight, she pulled up to the tavern and went in to ask where she might find lodging.

  The first thing that hit her was the heavenly scent of fried food. Her stomach let out a war cry and she realized that she hadn’t eaten all day.

  A feminine laugh startled Heather and she turned to see a cute full figured brunette with laughing brown eyes smiling at her.

  “Well it sounds like your stomach votes yes. What about you, table for one?”

  Embarrassed, Heather chuckled and nodded her head. The laughing brunette led her to a table and gave her a menu. “I’m Maggie and I’ll be your waitress today. What can I start you with?”

  “Coffee please.”

  “One coffee coming right up.” Maggie moved quickly toward a set of swinging doors that must have led to the kitchen.

  Heather glanced up from her menu and caught a few people looking at her. They turned away quickly, seemingly embarrassed to have been caught staring. The stares didn’t feel aggressive, just curious.

  Heather wondered what they saw when they looked at her. In the past when she had looked in the mirror she had seen reflected back at her a woman with green eyes, chin length mouse brown hair (that she pumped up with golden highlights), and a medium build. Lately she had lost a little weight, due to the passing of her father, but she still felt like she was heavier than the ideal. She had always thought her appearance was closer to cute than beautiful.

  She glanced at the menu in her hand and then put it down without bothering to read it. She knew what she wanted and so did her stomach.

  Maggie returned with her coffee, “Have you made up your mind?”

  “Yes. I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries.” Heather’s stomach rumbled again and both she and Maggie laughed.

  “Good choice. I think I’d better put a rush on that.” Still laughing, Maggie moved back to the kitchen to place Heather’s order.

  Heather settled in with a contented sigh and realized that for the first time, in a long time, she felt relaxed.

  As she sipped her coffee, she took in her surroundings. The tavern was decorated in warm browns with golden accents. A fireplace dominated one wall and above the mantel was a large oil painting. She couldn’t see all the details from her seat but it looked like a beautiful painting of a foggy sea and a large ship with tall masts.

  The tavern was not crowded but there was enough clientele to keep Maggie hopping. Heather watched Maggie as she maneuvered around the tables with a grace gained from years of practice, with a laugh here and a light touc
h there. She seemed to make everyone feel that they were her special guests and that their every need would be cheerfully fulfilled.

  Heather felt a small touch of envy as she realized that Maggie was a woman who seemed happy and content with herself and perhaps her life.

  Heather shook her head and thought, How can I know that, she’s just good at her job. Bigger smiles mean bigger tips right? Yet, it didn’t feel like Maggie was faking it.

  Heather looked away from Maggie to study the other patrons. Most likely, some were locals and some were visitors like her. She made a game out of trying to figure out which was which. The older gentleman at the bar, dressed in the flannel shirt and jeans, must be a local. The couple holding hands in the corner booth were probably visitors. Those three were easy, but the balance of the patrons were harder to figure out. Considering the apparent lack of a hotel, they were probably mostly locals.

  Maggie returned with Heather’s order and the smell made Heather’s mouth water. The hamburger was still sizzling and the cheese was a slice of molten goodness. The fries were thickly cut slices of potato with the skins still on, sparkling with a dash of sinful salt. Oh yeah, Heather thought I’m hungry!

  Maggie refilled Heather’s coffee cup and asked, “Is there anything else I can get you?”

  Restraining herself for just one more minute, Heather looked up at Maggie. “Yes. I’m on a road trip and I was wondering if there is a hotel
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