A Nantucket Affair
An instant Wall Street Journal and USA Today best seller.
Lisa Hodges has always thought her best friend Sue had a dream marriage. She'd married Curt, her high school sweetheart and current business partner. After thirty-five years of marriage, she never doubted him once--until Brandi Morgan joined their thriving insurance company. Brandi is thirty-five, blonde and beautiful and is also excellent at her account manager job. All the clients love her and business is up. Sue liked her quite a bit too--until the rumors started swirling.
And it all began with A Nantucket Affair, the island's biggest charity gathering with a catered dinner and dancing on the beach. As usual, Curt is the chairman for the gala, and this year, he has a new second in command, Brandi. Sue didn't give it a second thought, until Curt suddenly dropped the fifteen pounds he'd been whining about wanting to lose and a few well meaning friends started asking her what was going on.
Meanwhile, Kristen's boyfriend, Tyler is dealing with a devastating loss and Kristen wants to be there for him, but isn't sure how best to support him, especially when she discovers a secret he's been keeping, one that could have devastating consequences for both of them.
Abby is busy learning how to be a new mother, and Lisa is madly in love with her first grandchild. And Chase and Beth have discovered a new passion project--flipping houses. Beth does the research to find the undervalued homes and Chase works his magic to renovate them. But then they get in over their heads when a project requires more than they could ever have imagined.
Release date: February 25, 2020
Publisher: Piping Plover Press
Print pages: 228
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A Nantucket Affair
“What do you think? I’m not sure if I like this or the other recipe better?” Lisa took another bite of the artichoke and spinach quiche. It was a new recipe, and it was delicious.
“I like it. Maybe a little more than your other, although that’s really good, too. Sorry, I’m no help.” Her best friend, Sue, laughed and helped herself to another small slice. It was early, just a quarter past eight, on Friday, and she and Sue were heading off-island to do some shopping. Sue was taking a rare day off, and they were planning to have lunch in Hyannis and maybe see a movie before hitting Trader Joe’s and then taking the late afternoon Fast Ferry back to Nantucket.
“This is good, but I think I actually like your other recipe a little better. Something is different about this one. A missing spice, maybe?” Angela said. She always shared breakfast with Lisa before heading upstairs to clean the guest rooms. Angela hadn’t been on the island long, less than six months, but she’d quickly become like a member of the family. Angela’s life had changed so much since she left San Francisco and moved to Nantucket when her grandmother, whom she had never known, left her a cottage on Nantucket. Angela’s original plan had been to make a few repairs, sell the house and move back to San Francisco.
But then she met the Hodges family, and through them, Philippe Gaston. Now, the two were practically engaged and Angela decided to stay on Nantucket—which Lisa was very glad about. She enjoyed Angela’s company, and it was a godsend having her do the cleaning. Lisa still did it on Angela’s days off, but it was a huge help to have someone else do it most of the time. Her knees and back protested when she did it more often.
And fortunately, her home, now also known as the Beach Plum Cove Inn, had a steady business going. With the help of her son, Chase, she’d turned the five upstairs bedrooms into guest rooms and served breakfast each morning in the dining room for those who wanted it. She always had a selection of juices, coffee, breads, pastries, cereal, fresh fruit and usually one hot item, like a quiche.
Usually, her fiancé, Rhett, was the first one to breakfast, but he was away for a few days visiting his daughter and his other restaurants. They’d met when Lisa first started the bed-and-breakfast, and Rhett was her first guest. He liked to joke that he came and never left. But it was true. He came to open a restaurant in Beach Plum Cove, their area of Nantucket. And he and Lisa were both surprised to find themselves drawn to each other as neither was really looking. Rhett proposed at Thanksgiving, moved out of his guest room and into the main house with Lisa.
“So, it sounds like you two have a fun day planned,” Angela said.
Lisa smiled. “We do. It’s been ages since we’ve done this. Sue’s business is booming, so we’ve had to reschedule a few times.”
“It has been crazy, but in a good way. Brandi is working out so well.”
“Brandi is the pretty blonde girl you pointed out a while back?” Lisa hadn’t actually met her, but thought she remembered Sue mentioning when they were out to dinner a few months ago that a woman sitting at the bar with an older man worked for her.
Sue nodded. “Yes, she’s a gorgeous girl. Long blonde hair, a figure I’d kill for and big blue eyes. Though she’s in her early thirties and we all looked much hotter then.” She laughed and patted her stomach which, like Lisa’s, had grown a bit soft over the years.
“She’s done a great job, though. She just landed a huge client. You know the Lawson family? Cory Lawson runs Lawson Financial Group, a hugely successful hedge fund. They are insanely rich, and Brandi closed him and now we are handling all their insurance needs. And the policy for his business is one of the largest we’ve ever written.”
“That’s incredible.” Lisa was happy for her friend. Sue and her husband Curt had started their insurance firm when they were first married. Curt handled sales while Sue did all the back end operations of running the firm. They had a bustling office right on Main Street with about a half-dozen people working for them, but Sue mostly worked from home. In addition to the insurance firm, she also ran a related online business, a new venture that she was having a lot of fun with, and it was easier for her to focus at home. When Lisa had once asked if she missed working in the office, Sue had said that she got so much more done at home without people constantly interrupting her.
“I know them. I just started cleaning for the Lawsons a few weeks ago. Mandy is really nice. I haven’t met her husband Cory yet, though. She said he’s a workaholic and is never home.”
“Kate and Kristen graduated with them. I think they were high school sweethearts and married young, right after college. They’ve done well for themselves. Chase mentioned that he is going to be doing a kitchen remodeling project for them soon. He said their house is stunning.” Lisa’s son, Chase, was a successful contractor.
“They bought that house a few years ago. I remember when it went on the market and one of the girls in the office brought in a real estate brochure. It looked like something out of the Great Gatsby, with French doors that opened out to a sunroom that was practically hanging over the ocean. Just gorgeous.”
“They are so young to be so rich. I wonder if they’re happy?” Angela said.
Sue chuckled. “How could they not be with that much money?”
Angela smiled. “Right. I just can’t imagine it myself. Not to that level, anyway.”
“You have quite a business going now, too. You might need to hire people soon to help you handle all your new clients.” Lisa was proud of Angela, and how well she’d done. She recommended her to everyone she knew as Angela was the best cleaner she’d ever used, and it was clear that she enjoyed the work. She’d worked as a cleaner while putting herself through college and was finishing up her last few classes online. Her original plan had been to get a job in marketing at a tech company in Silicon Valley. But now, she was using what she’d learned to market her own cleaning business.
Angela grinned. “I already have hired two people.”
“That’s fantastic. Is one of them Harriet?” Lisa had told Harriet, the woman who had cleaned for her before she went to Jamaica for the winter, to call Angela. Her original plan had been to hire her back if she could, but now she had Angela who could work year-round, and she liked her company each morning.
“No, but she did call, and I told her to just get in touch when she’s back for the season and I can probably keep her busy.”
When they finished breakfast, Angela headed upstairs to start cleaning, and Lisa and Sue set off for the ferry.
* * *
Lisa loved taking the Hyline Fast Ferry. The Grey Lady grew bigger every few years as demand grew. The Steamship Authority was the other option, and they only used that if they were going to take a vehicle off island—which they were not doing, because the nickname for the Steamship Authority was the ‘slow boat’. It took just over two hours to make the trip, and they much preferred the Hyline, which was half the time. It would be easy enough once they got to Hyannis to get an Uber or Lyft to do their shopping.
They had a lovely day, hitting the mall and the Barnes and Noble bookstore. Nantucket had several lovely independent bookstores, but Lisa loved to go to Barnes and Noble when she was off-island as the selection was huge. As much as she loved living on Nantucket, there were limitations, and many more of the bigger stores and businesses were on the mainland. The movie theater was ten times the size of the one on Nantucket and after a delicious lunch at Tiki Port, a Chinese restaurant right across from the mall, Lisa and Sue saw a new romantic comedy they’d heard good things about.
They stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way back to the ferry and stocked up on all their favorite snacks. Lisa particularly liked a cheddar cheese that had a hint of parmesan flavor, and she picked up a few bottles of Josh Cabernet when she saw that it was a good three dollars cheaper per bottle than on Nantucket. Everything was more expensive on Nantucket.
When they were settled on the ferry and waiting for it to depart, Lisa took a sip of the chardonnay that Sue had bought for her. The boat had a full bar, and it was nice to sip a glass of wine as they made their way back to the island. Sue frowned as her phone dinged to announce a text message.
“Is everything okay?” Lisa asked.
“Oh, it’s fine. Curt just let me know that a few of them are heading out to dinner. He didn’t think I’d mind since I won’t be back until after six.”
“Do you mind? You could probably join them? What will you do for dinner?”
“No, I don’t mind. We went out for lunch so I don’t need to go out to dinner, too. I have plenty of food at home. I’m just annoyed with Curt in general. That’s part of the reason I wanted to take today off. I just needed a break. I’m sort of hating him today.”
Lisa laughed. She knew her friend didn’t really hate her husband. She and Curt had been together forever. They’d met in college and married a year after graduating. Curt’s family was from Nantucket, and Sue had fallen in love with it the first time she visited the island. They were both finance majors and at first, Curt worked as an accountant in the family practice and Sue got an entry-level job at an insurance agency. She’d loved the work and ten years later, when their two children, Travis and Stephanie, were in elementary school, the owners of the insurance agency asked if she might be interested in taking over the business as they were eager to retire.
She and Curt discussed it and decided to invest in the new business and work there together, and it had worked out well. Curt was outgoing and energetic, and it turned out that sales and account management suited him well. Sue was the opposite, quieter and more organized. So, it worked, but like any marriage, occasionally they got on each other’s nerves.
“What did he do?” Lisa asked.
“Well, you know how stubborn he can be sometimes? He insisted that he was going to pay the club membership. That he wouldn’t forget. I said I’d be happy to do it, but he insisted. And then, of course, he forgot, so we have to pay a late penalty. And also, he hates to go out to dinner. I always have to beg him if I want to go and then he usually orders a burger and complains that everything is too expensive.”
Lisa laughed. He did do that.
“I don’t think he appreciates food the way we do. He likes everything.”
“He does. And now he’s going out to dinner. It’s just frustrating because whenever I suggest it, he rarely wants to go. And to make matters worse, he announced a few weeks ago that he needs to get rid of some extra weight, and just like that, he’s already down twenty pounds.”
“Ouch. That really isn’t fair. How did he do it?” Lisa could sympathize. It seemed like it was always easier for men to lose weight.
“He just stopped eating anything white. Skips breakfast. Doesn’t eat lunch and is now terrified of carbs, apparently. But it’s working for him.”
“Ugh. That doesn’t sound like fun. I’d miss carbs.”
Sue laughed. “I know. I would, too. It’s fine. I don’t really hate him, of course.”
“I know you don’t. And you got some delicious stuff at Trader Joe’s.”
“I did. I’m looking forward to putting on my sweats, maybe having another glass of wine and diving into the jalapeno and cilantro hummus we just bought.”
“That sounds good to me, too.”
It was nearly nine by the time Curt finally got home. Sue was in her pajamas by then, and curled up on the sofa watching the movie Jerry Maguire for the third time while polishing off a pint of Ben and Gerry’s Cherry Garcia. She raised her eyebrows at Curt when he walked in the room.
“Well, hello there. Dinner was fun?”
Curt flopped on the love seat adjacent to the sofa that she was lying on.
“It was a good time. I didn’t realize it was so late. You don’t care, right? I figured you’d be tired after shopping all day.”
Sue sighed. “No, it’s fine. Lisa and I had a big lunch today. We had fun. Who all went to dinner?”
Curt grinned. “The usual suspects. Bill and Tom, Mary and Brandi.” Bill and Tom were the other agents in the office. They were in their forties, both married with children. Mary was the receptionist, and Sue was surprised that she went out with them. She usually rushed home to get dinner on the table for her husband. Brandi didn’t surprise her. She was always up to go out. Sue wondered how she liked Nantucket, and if there was enough here to keep her around more than a year or two. She supposed it depended on if she met someone that she could be serious with. She imagined that Brandi probably wanted to marry and have kids and her window of opportunity for that was narrowing, as she was already in her mid-thirties.
“I’m surprised Mary went out.”
“I was, too. Her husband is out of town.”
“Ah, that explains it. Where did you go?”
“Brandi wanted tacos. So we went to Millie’s and practically closed the upstairs bar. It was a good time.”
Sue loved Millie’s. They had the best Mexican food on the island and it was California style, so more authentic and a bit lighter, with really fresh ingredients.
“I’m glad you had fun.” A thought occurred to her. “What did you eat? Mexican isn’t very diet friendly.”
Curt laughed. “You’re right. It was hard not sharing the nachos that they ordered for the table. I just had a piece of fish and some veggies. It was fine.”
Sue shook her head. “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t have resisted.”
Curt patted his stomach proudly. “Down twenty-two pounds as of this morning. Eight more to go. I’m fitting in pants now that I haven’t worn in years.”
“Congrats.” The weight loss was definitely noticeable. Curt looked leaner and toned, too. She frowned as she took a good look at his slightly brown face.
“Have you been tanning?” The gym that they belonged to had a tanning bed, but neither one of them had used it before. As far as she knew.
Curt looked a little embarrassed. “Yeah, I checked it out the past few times I was in the gym. Figured why not try it out? I read somewhere that you look thinner with a tan.”
Sue shook her head. “I didn’t realize you’d been hitting the gym that often.”
“Yeah, I started back up again about a month ago, after I lost my first ten pounds. I suddenly had more energy and wanted to get back in the routine of going.”
Sue wondered when he was fitting it in, and realized he probably went at lunch, instead of eating. Since she was rarely in the office, she’d had no idea.
“That’s good. I should probably get back there one of these days myself.” They had a family membership and Sue cringed whenever she’d get the occasional email from the gym, saying how much they missed her and inviting her to come in soon for a workout or a smoothie. She felt guilty for not going, but still didn’t get in there. And it was irritating to think that now Curt was regularly working out again.
“I don’t think that tanning beds are all that good for you.”
Curt grinned. “Everything in moderation, right?”
“Right. Well, I’m off to bed. Are you coming?”
He hesitated. “No, I’m going to stay up a bit. I’m not really tired yet. I’ll see you in the morning.”
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