I had an amazing weekend at an author event on the Queen Mary, only problem was I was not able to post everything I needed to, the Wi-Fi was very spotty. So I had more of a break then I was anticipating, simply because so many things would not load for me, but I am back!
About the Book
From the New York Times bestselling author of California Girlscomes an all new original Blackberry Island novel told with Susan Mallery’s trademark humor and charm. Sisters by Choiceis a heartfelt tale of love, family and the friendships that see us through.
Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…
After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.
Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.
Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?
While the Blackberry Island Inn restaurant offered break¬fast and lunch, it didn’t serve dinner…except on alternate Wednesdays when the doors were opened for a traditional fried chicken supper. Sophie had been told by the nice lady at the front desk, and two women who had come by to “take a look” at the warehouse, that it was a do-not-miss event.
After confirming that Amber and Heather could make it, Sophie had made reservations for three. The restaurant didn’t have a liquor license, so she’d swung by one of the local tasting rooms to pick up a bottle of chardonnay and returned to the inn in time to meet Heather and Amber in the main reception area.
Sophie saw Heather first. The twenty-year-old held the front door open for her mother. Sophie had heard about Amber’s car accident, but hadn’t expected her to be using a cane or walk-ing so slowly.
Other than that, Amber looked much as she always did. A little rumpled, with a disapproving expression. Her hair was a medium brown, nearly the same shade as Kristine’s, but without the pretty highlights. Heather was taller than all of them, with hazel eyes, instead of the brown the cousins shared. Sophie al¬ways figured Heather had inherited the color from her father—a rodeo cowboy who, according to Amber, had seduced her into a one-night stand that had left her pregnant and with a ruined life.
On second thought, maybe she should have only invited Heather to dinner.
The wishful thinking made her smile as she hurried forward to greet them.
“You’re back!” Heather hugged her close. “I’m so excited to see you and hear about the business. I can’t wait to see the ware¬house you rented. It’s so exciting.”
Amber’s hug was less enthusiastic. “I can’t believe how far the parking is from the front door. I should have made my doctor give me a handicapped sign so we could have parked closer.”
“Mom, I let you off at the front door, then went and parked.”
“Where I had to stand by myself, waiting for you.” Amber rolled her eyes.
“You’re here now,” Sophie said, touching Amber’s arm, knowing the best way to handle her was to defuse the situation as quickly as possible. “Thanks for joining me for dinner. Shall we go get our seats?”
Amber set a snail’s pace that made Sophie instantly antsy. She distracted herself by linking arms with Heather.
“How’s school? Do you still have forty-seven jobs?”
“I took my last final yesterday. I should be able to see my grades anytime now. I only have three jobs.”
“You’re such a hard worker,” Sophie said. “You’ve been work¬ing since you were what, twelve? You must have a lot of money saved. Good for you.”
Heather looked at her mother then away. Sophie felt an in¬stant uptick in the tension between mother and daughter and wondered how she’d managed to step in it during the first three minutes of the conversation.
“The warehouse is huge,” she said, hoping to change the topic to something more neutral. Normally, she wasn’t bothered by the emotions of those around her but lately she was more sen-sitive to what everyone was feeling and that was a serious drag.
“It’s nearly double the square footage of what I had before. There’s less office space, but that’s okay. I don’t need that many employees and if necessary I guess we could easily frame in a few offices. I’ll have to see.”
“Because you’re too successful?” Amber asked, her tone more annoyed than playful. “Poor Sophie, overwhelmed by how glo¬rious it all is.”
“Mom! She had to move because her business burned down,” Heather said. “We’re glad she’s back but it’s not as if she moved by choice.”
“I’m okay,” Sophie said brightly. “Or I will be. It is a little hard, dealing with everything. A lot of work.”
They reached the restaurant and were quickly shown to a table with a view of the water. A sailboat caught the wind as it headed toward the setting sun on the horizon. The hostess handed them a slim piece of paper.
“The menu is fairly simple,” she said, waving at Heather. “You can order two, three or four pieces of chicken, along with two sides each. There’s a choice of cobbler for dessert. Your server will be by shortly to take your order and open the wine.” She smiled. “Heather, iced tea for you?”
“Just water’s fine, Molly.”
“A friend of yours?” Sophie asked, thinking they looked to be about the same age.
“I waitress here in the morning. They’re always busy and the tips are great.”
Sophie wrinkled her nose. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you worked here. I could have picked a different restaurant. You must be tired of their food.”
“I know I am,” Amber said with a sigh. “The same thing, every morning for breakfast.”
Heather visibly stiffened. “I didn’t know you felt that way, Mom. I always get the special, whatever it is. I’ll stop bringing you breakfast after my shift.”
“There’s no need to do that,” Amber told her. “I can make do.”
Heather’s expression was unreadable. She turned to Sophie. “Believe me, the chicken dinner is a real treat. I’ve only had it once before and it was delicious.”
“When did you have dinner here?” Amber asked sharply. “I didn’t know that. I never get to go anywhere.”
“You’re here now,” Sophie said quickly as she waved the menu. “Yummy. All the sides look delicious.”
“I can’t believe they only have cobbler for dessert.” Amber sighed. “I wanted pie.”
They were rescued by the server’s appearance. She opened the wine and poured two glasses, then brought water for Heather and biscuits for the table.