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My Kind of You

By´╝ÜTracy Brogan

Chapter 1

The Wawatam County Municipal Airport had all the charm and amenities Emily Chambers had expected, which, unfortunately, meant none. The terminal building, aptly named because its pale beige paint and jaundiced lighting made it appear to indeed be terminal, was the size of a parking space and boasted four dingy, mustard-colored plastic chairs on which to wait. A hand-painted red, white, and blue sign adorned one wall while glossy lacquered trout, mouths gaping wide in one last perpetual gasp for air, clung to simple wooden plaques above each doorway providing the only hint of décor, if one used the term décor as loosely as possible, of course.

“Mom, that airplane is not legit. It’s nothing but a soup can with wings.”

Emily’s twelve-year-old daughter gazed with practiced consternation out a long, narrow window at a seven-seater plane sitting on the gravel tarmac. It was an astute assessment of the decrepit, duct-taped aircraft, but instead of agreeing, Emily did what any good mother would do under those particular circumstances. She lied.

“It’ll be fine, honey. It’s a short flight.”

Chloe tossed red-gold hair over one slender shoulder. “A short flight? I’m sure it will be. I doubt that thing can stay in the air for long. Where’d you get these tickets? Podunk Airlines? Deathtrap.com? Fly the deadly skies?” Chloe bore an air of perpetual disdain that only a preteen girl could truly master. It was a new skill that Emily did not find particularly endearing, but she didn’t have the energy at the moment to point that out, and in Chloe’s defense, they were both exhausted. They’d been traveling toward Michigan since five o’clock that morning, starting back home in San Antonio, Texas. Two quick layovers meant no time to eat, and Chloe had devoured their stash of granola bars and grapes before the first plane had even left the ground. Now it was dinnertime, and here they were, stuck in this rustic wasteland waiting for one more plane to fly them over the lake to their final destination. Trillium Bay on Wenniway Island, Emily’s hometown, and a place she hadn’t returned to in seven years.

“Honey, I know you’re not thrilled about spending the entire summer on the island, but I really need you to be a good sport about this. Your great-grandmother has hired me to renovate one of her rental properties, and it’s going to take a while.” That was essentially the truth. Not the entire truth, of course, but a reasonable facsimile of it, and it was the version that protected Chloe from having to worry about things no kid should have to worry about—like, for instance, how to pay the rent—because, not to put too fine a point on things, Emily was broke. Flat, busted, nothing-but-lint-in-her-pockets kind of broke. On the rather colorful list of questionable decisions she’d made in her lifetime, her most recent blunder had landed them in this cash-strapped predicament, but Chloe had no idea how dire their circumstances were. No one in the family had any idea except for her grandmother, Gigi, and Emily wanted to keep it that way.

“Gigi is so excited to have us stay with her, and Aunt Lilly and Aunt Brooke can’t wait to see us, and there will be all of your cousins. And Grandpa Harlan, too, of course.” Her voice stumbled on that last bit. She had no idea if her father was looking forward to their visit. Chief of Police Harlan Callaghan did not radiate warmth, nor was he the type to forgive lightly, and since Emily had given him quite a few things to be upset about, not the least of which was running away at nineteen to marry a boy she hardly knew, there was just no telling how he’d react to seeing her. She’d come home just twice since marrying Nick, but both times she’d left the island feeling worse than when she’d arrived.

Still, Gigi had promised Emily that this visit would be fine. Just fine. Enjoyable, even. She’d promised that Harlan would be nice. Quite nice, and that everyone from Trillium Bay was thrilled to have Emily and Chloe stay for a nice, long stretch. Simply thrilled. And even though Emily knew that Margaret “Gigi” O’Reilly-Callaghan-Harper-Smith was a master manipulator who would say just about anything if it served her purpose, Emily chose to believe her. Not that she had much choice.

“It’s going to be fun, Chloe. I promise. You had fun the last time we were there, right?”

“I was five, Mom. I don’t remember anything about it.” Another flip of the hair.

“Well, see? You were just a little kid then, but this time you’ll be able to do so many more things, like hike and bike and ride horses with your cousins. There’s the big Lilac Festival, and fireworks and a parade. And fudge. You like fudge. Right?” Emily nodded, as if agreeing with herself made it that much more true. For them both. Emily knew this trip wasn’t going to be fun. It was going to be hard work interspersed with periods of elongated denial and punctuated by acute dysfunction.