The Parker Cafe
Olivia is determined to get the new cafe up and running. She just hopes she can prove to herself, her mother, and the town that she's capable of making it a successful venture.
When the charming Austin Woods comes to town and offers to help with promotion and social media, how can she refuse?
But someone returns to town and threatens to ruin everything...
Read more about the lives of the Parker Women in this delightful continuation of the Moonbeam Bay series.
Heather and Jesse are still at odds... and why is that?
Evelyn's uses her cooking talents to plan out the menu for the cafe and hopes to finally have a career she can be proud of. Donna and Barry continue on with their romance despite some road bumps along the way.
Try this feel-good beach read!
MOONBEAM BAY - the series
The Parker Women - Book One
The Parker Cafe - Book Two
A Heather Parker Original - Book Three
The Parker Family Secret - Book Four
Grace Parker's Peach Pie - Book Five
The Perks of Being a Parker - Book Six
Release date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Zura Lu Publishing LLC
Print pages: 282
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The Parker Cafe
Olivia Foster walked arm in arm with her cousin into the lobby of The Cabot Hotel. She looked around in amazement at the grandeur. “Oh, Heather. Look at this. It’s… wonderful.”
“It is.” Heather’s awestruck voice floated through the air.
“Aunt Evelyn, everything looks so perfect.” Olivia turned to her aunt. “You did a great job getting the hotel ready for the gala. It looks like we stepped onto the set of a 1920s movie.”
“I just hope everything goes smoothly.” Her aunt swept her gaze around the room, taking in every little detail.
“I’m sure it will. You’re the best organizer in the world, Mom.” Heather hugged her mother. “Be sure and ask us if you need any help.”
“I will.” Evelyn hurried off to check on one of a million little things, Olivia was sure. Her aunt had organizing events down to a science.
Heather tugged on her arm. “Look at that.” She tilted her head over to the edge of the lobby. “Aunt Donna is already deep in conversation with Barry. See? Looks like he’s pointing out some of the things he did with the remodel. Do you think something is going on between those two?”
She glanced over at the flushed look and shy smile on her mother’s face. “I think so? Maybe. She hasn’t said anything to me, though. Nothing since that one date with him.”
“I definitely think something is going on.” Heather glanced over at the couple again.
“I hope so.” Olivia started to say more but stopped as her daughter came rushing up to them, taking one swirl in front of them before stopping.
“Isn’t this great? And my dress. I can’t stop twirling in it.” Emily grinned and spun around once more. “And the history alcove I helped set up? It looks great. I just checked it out. I’m going to mostly circulate in there. Mr. Hamilton—Delbert—said I should answer any questions the guests have when they go in there. He said I know more about the hotel than anyone now.”
“I think you do after all that research you did.” Olivia nodded, pleased to see her daughter so animated and happy.
“I’ll catch up with you later, then.” Her emerald green dress shimmered as she sped away.
“She’s really turned into a stunning young lady.” Heather nodded toward Emily.
Olivia sighed. “When did she get so grown up? Wasn’t she just running around with skinned knees and braids?”
“Seems like it.” Heather laughed. “Though, if it makes you feel any better, sometimes I feel like we were just running around with skinned knees and braids, too.”
“Okay, now you’re making me feel old.” Olivia grinned back at her cousin. Though she didn’t feel old tonight. She felt like she’d stepped into some mystical other-world.
“Enough of this, let’s go check out the grand ballroom. I can’t wait to see what Mom’s done with it.” Heather took her arm as they walked across the lobby and entered through one of the many open doors to the ballroom.
“Wow.” Heather stopped beside her.
Wow was right. White twinkle lights lined the edges of the ballroom and huge chandeliers glistened from the ceiling. A small band played at the far end with a dance floor spread out before it. Servers wandered around with champagne glasses on shiny silver platters. Most of the guests had come in costumes right out of the roaring twenties.
“I feel like I’ve stepped back in time,” Heather whispered as she reached up to touch the stylish hairband that circled her forehead with a small pearl flower attached to it. She’d twisted her hair into a knot on the side.
“I feel like I’m inside some movie,” Olivia whispered.
“I know. It’s just… magical.”
She spun around at the sound of their names.
“Hey, Jesse. Wow, look at you,” she took in his dashing vintage attire. “You dress up pretty great.”
“This is Austin Woods.” Jesse gestured to the man beside him. “Friend of mine. Here on vacation.”
“Nice to meet you, Austin.” She smiled at the tall man standing beside Jesse.
“Nice to meet you two.”
She glanced over at Heather and frowned. Her cousin looked like someone had broken the magical spell and it had disintegrated into sharp tiny bits of crystal. Olivia elbowed her. “Doesn’t Jesse look great?”
Heather nodded with one slight dip of her chin toward Jesse, her face a stony look of social politeness. “Austin, nice to meet you.”
At least she acknowledged Jesse’s friend.
“I heard your mother was in charge of organizing the grand opening. This looks great. She did a good job.” Jesse’s prior warm, welcoming tone of voice now matched Heather’s perfunctory expression.
“Uh, thanks. I’ll tell her you said so.” The words sounded awkward, standing like a barrier between all of them as Heather stood like a statue beside her.
“Mom said she went on a dinner cruise on your boat and it was wonderful.” Olivia ushered the conversation along as she tried to figure out what was going on between Jesse and Heather. They used to be great friends, but now the air had turned frigid around them.
“I do like owning The Destiny. Really enjoying it. Kind of a dream of mine to be able to purchase her.”
“She said you have the boat all updated, and it looks fabulous.” Olivia continued talking while giving a quick eye to Heather to question what the heck was going on.
Heather ignored her.
Austin stood awkwardly at Jesse’s side, glancing between Jesse and Heather. So he’d noticed the friction, too.
“I should go find Mom and see if she needs help,” Heather said, still deliberately ignoring Olivia’s questioning look. “Austin, great meeting you. Hope you have a nice visit.” She spun around and hurried off without saying another word to any of them.
“So… what was that?” Olivia turned to Jesse with her hands on her hips.
“What was what?” His tone held way too much false innocence.
“You and Heather. The icy stares. The forced niceties. What gives?”
“I guess you’d have to ask Heather that question.” He sighed. “Anyway, hope you have a nice evening. Austin, let me introduce you to some more of the townspeople here.”
The two men walked away, both looking striking in their historical attire. With his quick smile and twinkling eyes, Austin seemed like the kind of guy that everyone automatically liked. Not that it mattered. She hadn’t dated in forever and had no time to think about something like that now. She took one last look over at the two men, turned, and grabbed a couple of glasses of champagne from a passing server. Something was going on between Heather and Jesse, and she planned to find out what it was. She hurried off after her cousin.
* * *
Donna hadn’t missed the appreciative look in Barry’s eyes when she’d walked up to him this evening.
“You look stunning, Donna.”
She did feel sensational. The long silvery gown sparkled under the lights of the chandeliers. The elbow-length gloves felt peculiar on her arms but fit in well with the theme of the evening and lent an air of elegance.
Barry looked dashing in a suit that was cut in a throwback 1920’s style. “You look pretty dapper yourself, sir.”
He handed her a glass of champagne. “You have to come see what your sister has done to the grand ballroom.”
She took his arm, and they walked over to the large doors lining the entrance to the ballroom. She stopped in awe just inside the room. “Oh, look. It’s just enchanting. Evelyn did such a great job.” She looked up at the massive chandeliers casting flickering light down on the crowd below. The low strains of music came from a small group at the far end of the room.
“I couldn’t have done all this without her.” Barry took her elbow as they walked deeper into the crowd. They stopped and chatted with people Barry knew, and she introduced him to more of the people from town who’d come to gawk at the hotel that had stood in ruin for so many years. The hotel now threw open her arms invitingly, welcoming all to see her in her new, restored glory.
Delbert Hamilton, the owner of the hotel, walked up to them. “Barry, Donna, good to see you. A fine turnout, don’t you think?”
“I think Evelyn did a great job with the invites.” Barry nodded as he looked around the room.
“Not to mention the open invitation she put up on the town’s website. I’m fairly certain every single person in town is here.” She laughed as she glanced around the crowd and waved to Stan Winkleman, a man she’d dated a long time ago. He was here with the town’s librarian, who was actually quite a good fit for him.
“I couldn’t have asked for a grander opening.” Delbert’s face held a wide grin. That is until he glanced over toward the open doors to the ballroom and his smile faded.
“Anything wrong?” she asked.
“What? No.” But his forehead creased in a slight frown before a carefully crafted smile settled on his features.
She glanced over at the door and saw what had caught his attention. Camille Montgomery. Making a grand entrance into the ballroom as she swept through the crowd, heading straight toward them.
“Camille, you’re… here,” Delbert said as she approached, his smile only slightly fading before he pulled it back carefully in place.
Camille Montgomery was a vision of 1920s glamour. Her black drop-waist dress clung to her every curve, and rows of fringe danced around at knee-length. “Of course I’m here for your grand opening, Delbert, honey. Don’t be silly.” She placed her hand possessively on Del’s arm.
Donna glanced quickly at Barry. She swore Barry told her that Del and Camille had broken up. Barry silently shrugged at her unasked question.
Delbert lightly took Camille’s hand off his arm. “Camille, I didn’t know you were coming. I’m sorry, I have some business I need to attend to. You can keep yourself entertained, yes?”
“Barry, Donna, enjoy yourselves.” Delbert smiled at them—a genuine smile—and turned and walked away.
“Well. I never.” Camille’s eyes flashed. “I thought he’d get over our little spat. He always does. And he was being so unreasonable. I came all the way from Lighthouse Point for his little opening of this old hotel. I much prefer it when they build new hotels for the Hamilton Hotel chain. Then they can make them… well… nice. New. Modern.”
“This hotel is… glorious.” Donna couldn’t think of any other word to describe it. Well, maybe she could. Fabulous. Beautiful. Majestic.
Camille sniffed. “If you like… old.” She whirled around, a dismissive look on her face, and stalked off toward where the mayor was chatting with a congressman.
“I thought they broke up.” She stared after the woman.
“As far as I know, they have. Del did look surprised when she showed up, didn’t he?”
“Well, that’s theirs to work out. What do you say we take a spin on that dance floor?”
“I’d love that.” Because then she’d have a chance to be back in his arms. It seemed like an eternity since their first kiss.
Was that only last night?
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