Summer in Madison Creek
is full of fun and bright sun
in Book Three
of this delightful small town series
History drew them together and then threatened to tear them apart.
Despite her attempt to portray a woman in control, Karen Borgman’s life is a mess. Living with an uncaring, unfaithful husband had been bad enough, but his death sent her life into a humiliating tailspin.
Only her fight to revive for her town, Madison Creek, and sharing its deep history with tourist kept her sane. When history professor, Kelvin Fairbanks, sailed into her life, Karen’s hope of a life with a good man is ignited. What could go wrong?
But when her heart’s desire, a desire she could never attain on her own, is dropped on her doorstep, her reputation and relationship with Kelvin are threatened.
Another heartwarming story from Madison Creek Bed and Breakfast and the characters you’ve grown to love.
~Available for Pre-order~
Sun Kisses Playlist- Music that inspired the story
Here's a little sneak peak of what's to come...
Karen Borgman stared down at the letter addressed simply to Karen Black. She’d never gone solely by her deceased husband’s last name. It had always been hyphenated with her maiden name first. The name she’d been able to take some pride in. The name that was listed in the town hall as one of the founding families of Madison Creek.
And this person…. This interloper. This marriage breaker had addressed her by only his name.
Karen’s hand fisted around the envelope, crumpling it into a ball when she stopped herself. Her eyes scanned Second Street for anyone who might be watching. There was old Bill Walters who liked to rummage through the trash bins for what he called “unappreciated treasures.”
She’d need to speak with the Sheriff again about telling Walters to not do his rummaging during peak tourist times. The town would soon be flooded with visitors, she hoped, and Madison Creek didn’t need Dumpster Bill being on the welcoming committee.
Karen tucked the wrinkled envelope behind the gas bill. She’d toss it in the fireplace where nobody would ever find it. That’s all she needed. More scandal for the rumor mill to turn into a raging storm. Already everyone knew Milton Black had a mistress. And not just one, but a few women, no less. He was so low, he cheated on those he was cheating with.
Swallowing down the bitterness rising up in her throat, Karen hurried down the sidewalk, her leather ankle boots clomping like a horse racing down the track. Nobody could ever know what Milton left behind in his tsunami wake.
She’d finally climbed out of the pit of shame after his sordid funeral, ditching his last name and erasing it from everything they’d once had together. Her family home which she’d turned into a small museum, despite Milton’s objections and claims that it was a waste of time and space. She’d taken over his position on the town council, and had been a driving force in getting the town renovations going with the philanthropist Ludo Herchinger. Best of all, she’d gotten rid of his smelly little hunting cabin located outside of town. She’d considered burning it down after finding out that’s where he’d had most of his rendezvous but had sold the land instead for a nice little nest egg she’d be able to live on for some time to come.
Her life had been fine before he waltzed into her world with his savvy business ideas and classy manners. She’d make her solitary life even better now that he was gone.
Karen headed toward her pretty Colonial Revival, blue with white trim and finally restored to its former glory. The large family home had been built in the early 1900s by her great-great grandfather Matthew Otis Borgman. At one time, acres of cherry and apple orchards surrounded the estate. But most of the land had been sold off as the town grew. All that remained were a few apple trees in the corner of her vast backyard.
When Karen reached her home, she headed around to the back entrance and found her sister, Leslie Nicks, sitting in the gazebo with a tablet resting on her lap. Karen’s prize roses circled the enclosure and adorned much of her garden. The bushes were thriving with fresh buds in an array of colors: heritage red, marmalade orange, snow white and even sunny yellow. The sisters loved to sit out here and enjoy the quiet Karen’s closed in property offered. Leslie especially cherished the infrequent moments she was able to get a break from her four children and busy job at her daycare.
Karen took a quick look around, searching for the little munchkins. “Where are the kids?”
Leslie stretched her legs before her, crossing them at the ankles as she leaned back on the bench with a pleased smile. She had Karen’s straight brown hair, but Leslie’s was long and usually swept up in a messy bun. They were both tall and slender, like reeds growing next to a river, Daddy used to say.
“Swimming at aunt June’s house. I told you Steve’s sister got a pool last year. The kids love it.”
Great, now Karen would have to compete with Auntie June’s pool. She shook her head with a sigh. Those kids had big enough hearts for all their aunties. Karen had never been able to have children of her own and had settled for living vicariously through her sister’s wild brood.
Karen sat beside Leslie while sorting through the stack of mail. She needed to stop letting it pile up so much at the post office. The only things to show up in her box anymore were bills, advertisements, and…other things she wasn’t interested in receiving. “Well, I still have Lake Michigan practically across the street and fishing poles. They’ll come begging for me to take them fishing when they get tired of that tub of chlorinated water.” She set the letters down beside her.
“Do I sense a hint of jealousy?” Leslie grinned. “You have room to build a pool if you wanted.”
“Which I don’t. I love my roses. I’m happy with what I have.”
“Are you?” Leslie crossed her leg over her knee as she turned on the wood bench to face Karen.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Leslie shrugged her shoulder. “Don’t get me wrong, I like your new haircut. It’s short and spunky. I like seeing your pretty face again. I even like your new clothes,” Her gaze traveled over Karen’s usual dark, plain business suit. “When you wear them.”
Karen rolled her eyes at the compliment. The good thing about her new pixie cut was fixing her hair in the morning. It only took five minutes tops. She had, now that she thought about it, received a lot of compliments on her new look.
Leslie looked Karen over from the top of her navy business suit, stopping at the bright green scarf, then moving on down to her comfortable matching boots. “I doubt you’ll ever give up your bland council attire, but I’ve seen a couple of those new dresses, and if I didn’t know better I’d think you were looking to meet—”
“I’m not.” Karen stopped her sister before she had a chance to go there. “I enjoy being single. Nobody to answer to. Nobody to worry about. No more wondering where someone is or when he’ll come home. Or if….”
“Milton was a jerk. I agree that you are better off without him. Now you’re free to have a do over. Start again, make a fresh life for yourself. And choose wiser this time. Find someone who values you and will love you—”
“Is that what you came over here for?” Karen stood. She had so much work to get done. Going over the plans for the Fireworks Festival was her mountain to climb this week. She needed to contact all the booth holders and confirm that everything was in order and they knew where to locate their spots. She had no time to sit and chat about her non-existent love life. Karen was done with all that.
She enjoyed lavishing all her love on Leslie’s kids who she could send home at the end of the day after she’d spoiled them rotten. She had plenty of friends to keep her from getting too lonely. People mainly respected her in Madison Creek, despite Milton’s embarrassing antics. That was certainly more than she ever got from her so-called husband.
Hopefully, the twisting pain she always felt in her stomach at the thought of him would eventually go away. Forgiving was easier said than done.
Leslie shaded her eyes from the mid-morning sun and shook her head. “No, I came over to visit while I had a free moment. Oh, and to ask you if you could watch the kids next Friday. If you’re too busy with the festival, I’ll ask June. Steve and I want to go see a movie over in Muskegon, so we’re probably talking a sleepover.”
“What? You won’t be here? Why not?” Karen was hoping for a big turnout over the 4th of July weekend. Especially since so many new businesses had opened. The council decided to go all out this year to bring in tourists, first with the Independence festival and fireworks, then ending the summer with the Labor Day Music-fest. All her spare time had been taken up with planning and advertising for the events.
“Steve isn’t fond of large crowds. So, I suggested we head down to Muskegon and get away for the night. They’re having their fireworks celebration this weekend.” She picked the polish off her nails. Between her children and running a daycare, Leslie had little time to take care of herself.
But the children are excited about the weekend. So to please both camps, I’ve decided on a date night away with my guy while you take care of the kids.”
“Right.” She smiled at her sister who had everything Karen had always wanted. A house full of children and a loving husband who adored her.
Why had life been so cruel to her? Leslie was truly blessed. “Of course they can stay with me. I love having them over.”
“Are you sure you won’t be too busy?”
“Let me double-check my planner.” Karen stood and motioned for her sister to follow her inside. “Come on in. I have some pop in the fridge, and Mrs. Pat brought over a cheesecake I need help eating.”
Leslie followed her inside. “If you had a guy you’d—”
“Give it a rest, Les! I’m not interested. You’re going on like you have someone…oh, wait.” Karen stopped at the door, staring at her sister in horror. “Please tell me you aren’t trying to fix me up.”
“Who? Me? I know better.” She had Karen’s letters and was shuffling through the envelopes. “Steve mentioned that he has a coworker that’s new to town. And single. He was thinking of inviting him over for steaks tonight.”
“Sounds great. For you. I’ll be busy if you were thinking of inviting me. I have the—”
“Festival to run, I know, I know. Blah, blah, blah. You need to have more fun, Kare-bear. All you do is work, work, work.”
Remembering the letter, Karen reached for her mail before unlocking the door, but she was too late.
“What’s this?” Leslie waved the letter from Milton’s mistress. “Is this from… her?”
Karen snatched it from Leslie’s hand and quickly jabbed the key into the deadbolt. “Hush, will you?”
“It is! But why? What can she possibly want?” Leslie followed her inside.
“Money, I’m sure. But I’ve not opened any of the letters to check, and I don’t care to.” Setting her bag and keys on the kitchen counter, Karen brought out her planner to make sure she wasn’t over-committing herself for the weekend.
Once the Festival was rolling, all Karen needed to do was be at the ending ceremony to announce the contest and game winners. This year, they were doing a fundraiser to update the children’s hospital wing by having a bed race down Main Street. Daisy and George Alton, who owned the antique shop, made the suggestion at the planning meeting. The town had had one before, many years ago and the elderly couple remembered the event fondly.
Since the fundraiser was for the hospital, a bed race seemed appropriate.
“I can bring the kids with me to the Festival. I can even get them into the carnival. I’ll expect Jimmy to help me keep track of his little sisters.”
Leslie’s grin widened. “They’ll love that. They always count on you for free tickets. This year, would you please cut back on the cotton candy and other sweets?”
“Not on your life. That’s my ace against Auntie June.” She went to toss the letter into the trash, then remembered she planned to burn it. Nobody could read ashes.
“Wait,” Leslie stepped forward, snatching the letter from her hand again. Karen glared at her, but her sister ignored it. “Aren’t you going to see what it says?”
“I couldn’t care less. That woman is nothing to me. Whatever problems she has, they are her problems. Not mine. Now give it back. I’m going to toss it into the fireplace. It’ll make nice kindling tonight when I light a fire.”
Leslie stepped back, putting the kitchen counter between her and Karen. She ripped into the envelope before Karen could stop her.
“That’s personal, you rat!”
Her sister’s mouth dropped open. “I can’t believe this. Why haven’t you told me there was a—”
A whistle from out in the garden froze her words. Both women glanced out the bay window to find a horse peering in through the kitchen window.
“What in the world?” Leslie gasped.
Karen rolled her eyes. “Haley Madison. For goodness sake, I’ve told her not to bring that beast into town.” They both rushed out the back door and paused on the deck as Haley climbed down from the saddle on a shaggy brown horse.
Leslie leaned close to Karen’s ear and whispered, “Is she trying to save on her fuel expenses?”
Karen bit her bottom lip to hold in the laugh. The southern girl had been a real pill when she first returned to Madison Creek to take over her family’s land. The very founding family that the town was named after, and she wanted to sell off their beautiful historic house. Karen had fought her tooth and nail at first, trying to do everything possible to stop her.
“Haley, what have I told you about riding that… beast through town?” Karen asked.
“Cress needed some exercise. Since Ethan’s so busy these days with his studio, I’m left to take care of Cress and Molly all on my own.” She tied the horse’s lead to her deck as if this was a hitching post. “Seeing how I’m busier than a hound during flea season, I gotta make the best use of my time as I can. So I decided to ride in to talk to you about my new guest.”
A burst of laughter came from her sister who quickly turned and headed back inside. Haley Madison was a piece of work, but the young woman had grown on her. Both she and her fiancé, Ethan Winters, had become stable members of the community, along with her silly horses.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be so darn chilly this morning or I’d wore my jeans and coat.” Haley rubbed her hands over her bare arms. As it was, the southerner was foolishly wearing her cut-offs and a tank-top. Sure it was summer, but the mornings were still chilly, especially for someone from the warmer regions.
Karen narrowed her gaze on her friend. “That beast better not nibble on any of my roses Haley Madison! And you could have called me by phone.”
Goosebumps covered the girl’s tanned legs that Karen tried not to be jealous of. When she was in her mid-twenties, she was considered a real looker, too. “Why don’t you come inside, dear? I have a blanket you can wrap up in, and I’ll start a fire.” She snatched the letter from Leslie’s hand on her way in. Crumpling it up, she tossed it into the hearth and turned on the gas flames. That would take care of that problem.
“So what brings you into town today?” Karen asked.
“I’m here about a guest that’s fixin’ to stay with us,” Haley explained. “He’s a professor at a college north of here. And he’s a writer. A history writer.” Haley’s pale brows rose as if some stodgy old history professor would be of any interest to Karen.
“Why does that warrant a visit from you today? Would you like me to heat up some tea or coffee?”
“Tea would be wonderful.”
Leslie started a pot of water to boil, then went to the cake and cut three slices.
“Professor Fairbanks is writing a book, like I said,” Haley explained from her spot by the hearth. The only parts of the first floor that Karen used were the office and kitchen. The rest was dedicated to her museum. “A history book. He’s traveling through the towns along Lake Michigan, looking for interesting stories. He wants to explore Madison Creek, and I know we have some interesting stories for his book. So I promised I’d introduce him to people who knew our history. And the first person I thought of was you. And then, of course, Aunt Daisy and George. They have all their elderly friends they can introduce him to, as well.”
Karen immediately began to see the advantages of having an author visiting Madison Creek which was indeed rich in historical facts. She couldn’t pay for that kind of advertising. “Sure. When is he arriving and how long is he staying?”
“He’ll be here this afternoon. Not sure for how long. He has a boat he lives on but wanted to get off the water and stay on dry land for a spell. I can’t blame him none. I’m a landlubber, too. Give me open fields and blue skies, and I’m happy.”
Karen handed her the steamy cup. “I’m sure I can make time to speak with this professor. I can even show him around my museum. I have a wonderful collection of old photos from when the town was first being built.” The third-floor attic was packed with items she couldn’t part with but didn’t have room for downstairs. Journals, old photographs, clothes, and even some old hunting rifles and knives from the early 1800s filled her collections.
Haley sat on the ledge in front of the fireplace. Leslie took one of the wing-backed chairs and silently ate her cake. Karen took the one opposite her sister. “Any idea what type of information he’s seeking?”
“Not sure.” Haley finished her tea before she went for the cake. “This is delicious. Did you make this, Leslie?”
Her sister shook her head. “With four kids, I don’t have time for baking anything that doesn’t come from a pre-packaged box.”
Haley scowled at the bit of information, but Leslie didn’t seem to notice. “So what did you say the professor’s name was? He has other books?” she asked.
“Yep. Name’s Kelvin Fairbanks. Seems like a right friendly fellow. Been in touch with him since you listed the B&B on the town’s website. He was one of the first people to contact me about a place to stay. I’m eager to finally meet him. Promised to let him browse the old boxes down in the basement. I still haven’t found time to go through all that. I bet he’s just looking for good stories.”
Leslie was on her phone, probably texting her husband or kids. A slow smile crossed her face as her eyes widened. For a moment, she was sure Les had mouthed, Wow! Karen threw her a questioning look, but her sister shook her head and went back to the cake. Yet that smile remained. That one she reserved for when she knew a secret that Karen didn’t.
“Well, I’ll give you one of my cards, Haley dear. He can call me when he’s ready to talk.”
Leslie’s grin grew wider and more impish. “Karen should be able to help him a lot with his book.”
Karen’s brows drew tighter together. Now what was Les the Pest up to?
“That’s great. And so is this cake.” Haley stood and set the blanket aside. “I better get going, though. I need to get Cress back to his stable before he gets antsy and…well, you know. He does love flowers.”
Oh yes, it was time for her to go. “Well, come back when you have your truck and can stay longer.” Karen took the cup and plate and followed her friend into the kitchen. “Have you and Ethan signed up for the big race next weekend?”
“Race?” Haley pushed a strand of curly blond hair from her face.
“Yes. I expect all of our business owners to donate to the hospital cause. Set a good example. Winner gets a hundred dollar cash prize and bragging rights about having the fastest bed.”
“Oh, Good Lord, you mean that crazy bed race Aunt Daisy suggested? You really doing that?”
“Yes, we are. I hope the two of you will participate.”
Her mouth moved as if searching for an answer. “Well… I…Ethan’s been so busy with his studio. And…” Karen stared her down. It normally worked. Haley liked to please people and had a generous heart. Karen didn’t mind taking advantage of it every now and then. Especially since only a handful of people had signed up so far. She’d need to start pushing that event a bit harder.
“You own the Bed and Breakfast, how can you even consider not representing your business? You have to enter. I hear the other two B&B’s have already begun working on their entry. Are you going to let them show you up?”
“What?” Haley sputtered as she backed toward the door. “No way. I’ll…think of something. Thanks for the reminder.”
Karen handed her a business card and told her to give it to the professor. “He can call my cell.”
Les made an odd little noise. When Karen glanced at her sister, she busied herself with washing the dishes they’d used.
“Great.” Haley took the card. “Glad to see you again, Leslie. You and Steve should bring the kids out to the Adventure Lodge this summer. Pop Winters just set up an area for archery and horseshoe games. And there’s a nice dock where they can do some fishing. We had a fish fry with the bass we caught a couple of weeks ago.”
Leslie, her face now all void of her previous merriment, replied, “We’d be happy to stop out there sometime. I’ll tell Steve and have him make a reservation.”
Haley gave another wave, then retrieved her horse which had drifted dangerously close to the roses. Karen watched her easily hop back into the saddle like the cowgirls on the old westerns. “She’s a sweet girl. I’m glad you found her extremely amusing.”
“Who, Haley?” Leslie waved her hand dismissively as they returned to the kitchen. “She’s a card. We’ve dined at her restaurant a couple of times. Had a great evening.”
Karen propped her elbows on the counter. “So, what did you find so funny.”
Leslie also leaned on the other side of the counter. “First you tell me about this woman who’s writing you. She has a baby?” Her eyes narrowed. “Is the father of that baby who I think it is?”
Karen did not wish to discuss this. “He’s gone, so it doesn’t matter. I’ll not discuss it. And don’t you dare tell Steve or anyone else. The last thing I need getting out is that my deceased husband has an illegitimate child. Besides, nobody really knows who the father of that baby is? I’m sure she knew he had money and is trying to get a cut of his estate. I’m not having it.”
Leslie opened her mouth, but Karen cut her off. “End of discussion. I mean it.” She grabbed her planner and bag. “I have work to do. Bring the kids over early Friday afternoon.” With that, she took up her keys and rushed outside. “Lock the door when you leave.” Her sister had the spare keys.
As Karen rushed down the deck stairs, she halted at the bottom, her breath catching. Bits of chewed rose peddles littered the grass. Great. She prided herself on her immaculate yard and beautiful flower garden. Why couldn’t people be more respectful of her hard work?
* * * *
Kelvin Fairbanks made one last check to make sure he’d secured the boat properly. “Would say I’m going to miss you, but that would be a lie.” He smiled at his own joke, patting the door to the cabin before he locked it. His luggage lined the deck, along with his computer case and all his research notes.
There were two more towns he’d thought about exploring, but he hoped to stay here for a while. The pictures of that old Victorian, one of the first few homes built in this area, was somewhere he could definitely find comfort in. Hopefully, they hadn’t ruined it with too many renovations. The Bed and Breakfast website said there was a restaurant in the garden room. This he needed to see.
Either way, he was sure, from what he’d already studied of the town, that he would find a few historically intact homes and buildings here. The proprietress swore she knew several people who could give accounts of the town’s early days. One of them was the president of the local DAHP society.
The woman was also a council member. Her picture reminded him of some of those uptight librarian hags that he had to deal with at the university library. Hopefully, there were other historians in town.
Kelvin sat on the front deck, watching the parking lot for his ride. So far, this trip hadn’t produced the stories he’d hoped for. Most of the towns started from logging camps and farmers. Not many people were willing to share their family’s dirty laundry. He couldn’t blame them, but he needed some stories with a bit of meat to them. His books needed to take off in sales. With the cuts going on at the University, he feared his tenure might be short lived.
An old blue Ford rumbled into the parking lot. Surely that wasn’t his ride.
A young fellow climbed out of the pickup and headed for the docks, pushing his sunglasses up on his head. His long, stringy bangs fell under the glasses and into his eyes. He was dressed in dark ripped jeans and a blue flannel shirt stained with paint splatters. He looked like one of those punk kids that thought his class was their designated nap spots. An easy A.
Man, did they have another think coming when he was done with them.
The punk was heading his way.
Kelvin stood, wondering if he should hop off the boat and protect his computer. That thing was his life at the moment.
“Mr. Fairbanks?” The man came closer, and Kelvin realized he wasn’t fresh out of high school, after all. Extending his hand, he said, “I’m Ethan Winters. You said you needed a ride to the B&B?”
He had not pictured Mr. Winters as such a young guy. Kelvin hopped down onto the deck and shook the man’s hand. “That’s right. Call me Kelvin. Are you the owner of the Madison Creek B&B?”
“Part. My wi— … er, fiancée, Haley, she runs the inn and restaurant. My parents are building the hunting lodge next door. I’m working on opening a recording studio that’s kind of in the middle of the two.” Mr. Winters kept staring at him with an odd expression.
“You’re a musician then?” Kelvin probably should have started gathering his luggage, but he had a nagging suspicion that maybe he should just stay on his boat.
Kelvin’s brows shot up his forehead in surprise. “Not what I would have guessed to be your instrument of choice, Mr. Winters.” He looked more like a rock guitarist or drummer.
“Ethan.” He folded his arms across his chest. “Just what kind of instrument do you think I would play then?”
“Well,” Kelvin tried to backtrack. Great, his mouth ran on overdrive and had a way of getting him in trouble more than he cared to admit. He meant well but had a way of saying the first thing that popped into his head. He ran his fingers through his thick crop of brown hair knowing it would probably end up sticking straight up all over his head. “You don’t seem the classical type, you know? Your clothes are pretty…um, hip.” Did anyone use that word anymore? He had trouble keeping up with the latest college jargon. “Or… you know.”
Ethan threw back his head as he laughed heartily. “Well, I’ve been painting and didn’t care to wear my good, um classical violinist attire.” He smacked Kelvin’s arm as if to say there were no hard feelings. “If it makes you feel any better, you weren’t what I was expecting either.”
Kelvin looked down at his orange shirt and purple shorts. “You probably expected someone with gray hair, wearing beige pants and plaid shirts, am I right?” That described most of the professors in his department. He really was the odd man out. He hoped that wouldn’t mean he was the one they’d boot out when they made their cuts. The students loved him, and his classes filled up first. But that was probably because the students thought he’d be easier on them than the more seasoned professors.
“Exactly.” Ethan looked at the cases lined up on the deck. “Looks like you’re planning to stick around a while.”
“Long enough to hopefully collect a few good stories. You’re, uh,” hadn’t he almost said wife at first before correcting himself? Kelvin pushed the thought aside. “Miss Madison, said she knew of a few people to introduce me to. But I’m hoping to take it easy this weekend. Enjoy being back on land. I’m tired of this swaying boat.”
Ethan looked it over with a low whistle. “It’s a nice one.”
The eager look in his eyes told Kelvin he was dying to have a look around. “Would you like to see inside?”
“You bet. Uh, if you don’t mind. My uncle used to have a boat like this. I loved sailing. We’d go all over the lakes during the summers.”
Kelvin motioned him to follow him on board and unlocked the door. The more he spoke with Ethan Winters, the more he started to like the man and regretted judging him so quickly. Another habit he’d developed while teaching, making quick assumptions as a new brood of students filed in each semester. He was usually given the freshmen, fresh out of high school, who didn’t know yet they were in for a whole new world at college. However, by Thanksgiving, they had their come to Jesus moment as they realized how easy they used to have it.
As Kelvin showed him around the interior, Ethan shared stories of his own experience with sailing. He talked with the ease of being with an old friend. In return, Kelvin ended up sharing more about himself than he was usually comfortable offering.
“So,” Ethan surmised as they made their way back to the main deck, “this is essentially your home since you gave up your apartment for the summer.”
Kelvin reluctantly nodded in agreement. “I didn’t see any point in paying rent on a place I wasn’t living in. It’s not like I have a lot of stuff, I’ve moved around too much over the past few years. You know, looking for a place to settle down and call home. I enjoy teaching history, but….” He shrugged. “It wasn’t what I saw myself doing with my life. I’d always hoped my books would…eventually find a wider readership.”
“I get it.” Ethan set his sunglasses back in place before brushing his long bangs from his face. “It’s the same with my violin playing. I’ve always wanted to cut soundtracks. Maybe even sell some of my music. I almost settled for working with an orchestra, but at the last minute, I bailed. I simply couldn’t do that. Even if it meant I’d spend the rest of my career playing in bowling alleys and at weddings.”
Kelvin turned the lock, then headed back for the dock. “So? Is that what you’re doing? You said you’re opening a recording studio? Do you record your own music?”
“We’ve done a couple of tracks and put them out to the public.” At Kelvin’s questioning glance, Ethan added, “We, being my partner and I. My best friend Stephen Gaines plays the cello. But we don’t really play classical music. Or at least, not your standard classical.”
“Interesting.” Grabbing his computer case, he slung the strap over his shoulder. Ethan grabbed the two cases, leaving the smaller one for Kelvin. “How are your songs doing? Will I have a chance to hear you two play?”
Ethan’s smile was tight. “They’ve managed to draw some interest, but we’re just beginning. I keep reminding myself this is a marathon, not a sprint. And yes, you’ll be able to hear us play this Saturday night. We always do a couple of sets for the diners of our restaurant.”
They headed toward the beat-up truck. As they neared, he realized the plates were from Texas. Motioning toward the grill, he said, “Well, what’s this old machine doing way up here?”
Ethan grinned. “I’m sure the owner has asked herself the same question. This is Haley’s truck. She drove it up from Texas when she came to Madison Creek last summer. It’s a beast, but it gets us where we want to go.” They set the luggage in the bed before climbing into the cab.
As Ethan started the engine, he asked, “So I get why you want to write what you know, but have you ever thought of taking what you know and writing different kinds of books? Maybe some fiction? My sister loves historical stories and reads them like there’s no tomorrow. So does my mother.” He backed out of the spot and turned onto the main road that headed toward town. “I mean, I’m sure those nonfiction books are useful, but your normal Joe reader likes to read for escape. Maybe even a little bit of enlightenment while they escape. That’s kind of how I see my music.”
Kelvin slipped on his sunglasses. The day was exceptionally bright off the white sands of the shoreline. Already, the tourists were cluttering the beaches. He was glad to hear the B&B was on the far outside of town. He wanted, no needed, somewhere quiet to think a few things through.
“What do you mean?” Kelvin asked, wondering what book writing had to do with music. The truck bumped along the road, its shocks long worn out so that every little rut in the road felt like they’d driven over a rugged mountain range.
“When someone sees me pull out my violin, I can almost see them sinking in their seats, thinking they’re in for an hour of stuffy, boring elevator music.” His smile slowly widened. “But that’s not my style. The shock on their faces when I start playing some Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones is simply priceless. Not at all what they expect. But even those who love listening to a violin aren’t disappointed because I’m still playing my violin. Only I’m playing tunes that appeal to a wider audience. Get what I’m saying? Maybe you need to expand your audience.”
“Perhaps.” Kelvin considered his explanation, but wasn’t so sure anyone would actually buy his silly fiction stories.
Ethan went on, undaunted. “You know what I enjoyed most about history? It wasn’t the dates or the cold hard facts. It was the stories. They made all the difference.”
Kelvin stared out the dusty window as they passed through the center of town with its red brick buildings and fancy store fronts. Soon the view changed to wooded stretches that eventually turned into open green farmlands.
Maybe the young man was on to something. Maybe he did need to expand his audience. Climb out of his comfort zone and try something new. Kelvin was getting tired of this rut he’d fallen into. He still clung to the thin thread of his tedious job at the college. If that ended up breaking, he’d be in free fall, tumbling into the abyss of the great unknown.
Hopefully, he would find the rip cord to his parachute before he crashed and burned.
More coming soon!