Violet Ugly(The Granite Harbor Series Book 2)(3)

By: J. Lynn Bailey


“How?”

“Get here on time.”

Abbey rolls her eyes. Her phone sounds again. “Fuck,” she whispers. “It’s my mom.”

“When’s the last time you talked to your mom?” Eddie asks from the copier.

“Whatever, Eddie.” Abbey picks up her phone. “Hey, Mom.” She rolls her eyes.

Eddie walks to my desk as we both stare at Abbey. “She realizes, I know she’s late every morning, right?”

“I’d hope so.”

He looks at me. “Doing okay, kid?”

Define okay.

“Never better.”

Eddie’s thick white eyebrows pull together. “You know what my dad used to say?” His words are drawn out—and not because he smoked too many joints when he lived on the beach, but because that’s his pace. No rush to do anything. Methodical. He’s brilliant actually. “If you don’t let the turtles in close, you’ll die alone.”

Eddie is notorious for ocean metaphors. He’s like a wise owl that quietly whispers the answers to life, hoping you’ll come to your conclusions. And, God forbid, you ask him to explain. He’ll give you a smug look, draw up his shoulders, and say, “Dunno. What do you think?”

“Mom. Mom. My phone’s going to die. I’ve gotta go. I’m at work.” Abbey pretends her voice is cutting out. “M—ca—hea—me? M—” And, just like that, Abbey hangs up and shoves the phone in her bag. Her phone probably is dying. It’s always dying. But also, she and her mother don’t have the best relationship.

“All right, ladies, see you out on the floor today.” Eddie turns, his flip-flops squeaking with each step as he leaves our main office.

Abbey goes into work mode. I think work is a welcome distraction from her family issues.

Her dad left her mom about five years ago. Left the Mormon Church. Just upped and left everything. I think it really took its toll on Abbey. An only child, she was really close with her dad. He’s tried to call her. Make it right. But Abbey refuses to talk to him. I think that’s what has attributed to her infatuation with the male body.

I left Granite Harbor, Maine, at eighteen to attend college at the University of San Diego for their marine biology program. I needed as much space from Ryan Taylor as I could get.

“Drinks after work?” I hear Abbey calling me from my thoughts.

“Yes,” comes from my lips before I can protest.

“Mingo’s?” she suggests. “Oh, no. No, wait. Can’t go there.”

“Why not?”

Abbey searches her desk with overly eager eyes, trying to escape our conversation.

“Abbey.” My eyes narrow.

She briefly looks at me, and then her eyes fall back to her desk. “I thought I put that paper clip—”

“Abbey O’Brien, did you sleep with Brad the bartender? Come on. He was off-limits. Mingo’s was our neutral spot.”

She nervously bites her lip. “Merit, in my defense, he came on to me.”

I roll my eyes. “Abbey, he comes on to everyone. That is not an excuse.”

“There’s a new place down on Pacific Street. We could try there?”

My phone illuminates. It’s Alex. I debate on picking up. Our normal mode of conversation is text. She doesn’t call me often, and the last time she did, it was to tell me that Pop was really sick.

I hit Talk. “Hey.” My voice changes to something softer.

“Thank you, Mer. They’re beautiful,” Alex says.

She’s received the bouquet of red peonies I sent her.

“Hey, it’s not every day your sister-in-law releases a book.”

“How are you?” she asks.

“Good,” I lie. “The otter count out here on the West Coast is thriving. Ethel is about to give birth any day now.” Biting my lower lip, I wait to see if she buys this.

There’s a short silence on the other end. She could have bought my excuse, my feeble attempt at a life lived to its fullest, or she isn’t buying it but doesn’t feel comfortable with calling me out.

Instead, I change the subject. “How are Pop and Meredith?” Meredith is Alex’s mom who moved out to Granite Harbor from Belle’s Hollow.