With a housing shortage on the island, making a deal with the man who broke her sister’s heart becomes the only way to reunite her family.
Sara Chen enjoys working at the Brass Anchor Inn and hopes to be promoted to manager. And so when the inn’s new owner goes on vacation, it’s Sara’s chance to step up and impress her boss while doing whatever is necessary to help her sister move back to the island—even if it includes dealing with a man from her past.
Kent Turner works in his family’s furniture business, but he feels stifled. Every new idea he has to expand the business is shot down. Wanting to do more than the finances, he decides to put one of his ideas into action. He starts a refresh project at the local inn.
But with a big wedding coming up, the project has to be done quickly. It will mean hiring help…unless he makes a deal with the beautiful yet stubborn inn employee. If she’ll help him complete the refresh project, he’ll rent the apartment above the furniture store to her sister. But as they work together, secrets are revealed, relationships are given a second chance, and love is found.
Includes a recipe for Sara’s apricot blondie bars!
Read an Excerpt
“Please. I need you to do this.”
Friday afternoon, Sara Chen stood behind the registration desk of Bluestar Island’s most popular inn. She was the front desk clerk of the Brass Anchor Inn, with hopes of being promoted to manager. She held the phone to her ear, listening to her older sister’s plea.
“Can’t you just call Kent yourself?” Sara struggled to keep her voice low.
She couldn’t believe her older sister was so desperate that she’d be willing to rent an apartment from the man who’d broken Cari’s heart. Even though it’d happen a while ago, interactions with Kent Turner remained awkward.
“I tried,” Cari said. “The number I have for him has been disconnected.”
“Well, try the furniture store.”
“I did. He wasn’t in the office. It might be easier with the time difference if you talked to him.”
Sara sighed. “Cari, I don’t want to get in the middle of this.”
“Please… I need your help. I’ve tried everyone I can think of to get a place to stay on the island, and Kent is my last hope.”
“Besides, I don’t think the units above the furniture store are short-term rentals.”
“Just try. Please.”
Sara’s body stiffened as a tug of war waged within her. She wanted to help her sister. Really she did. But the last thing she wanted to do was to go to Kent and ask him for a favor. And yet she owed her older sister so much.
Sara sighed. “What makes you think Kent will be able to help you?”
“Well, Agnes Dewey told Peggy Weston, who told Sally Nash that one of the units over the furniture store was going to be available by the end of this month.”
The gossip mill in Bluestar was definitely alive and well. The island was crescent-shaped and sat not far off the coast of Massachusetts. And summertime was their busiest season. If you didn’t have reservations months in advance, you were out of luck. Even the Brass Anchor Inn was booked until September.
Sara rolled her eyes. “If that’s the case, what makes you think they don’t already have someone lined up to take the unit?”
Cari sighed. “I don’t. But I hope it’s still available because I… I’m coming home.” There was a pause. “To stay.”
Had she heard her sister correctly? Or was it just wishful thinking on her part. “Really?”
“Yes, really. I’ve missed you. And I’ve been gone too long.”
The thought of having her sister back on the island permanently filled Sara with happiness. She couldn’t think of anything she would like better. And with both of their parents gone, Cari was her only family. Thankfully, the small community on the island was a lot like family—a gossipy family but family all the same.
Cari had traveled for a while before taking a teaching position in Malaysia for the past couple of years. With the great distance and expense of traveling, she hadn’t seen her sister in a few years. And she missed her so much. Phones were nice, but they just couldn’t take the place of face-to-face conversations.
She also owed her sister for helping to raise her after their mother died when Sara was twelve. Their father had done his best, but their mother’s absence left him deeply depressed. He’d submerged himself in his work at the docks until a heart attack stole him away when Sara was twenty-one.
A couple of years later, Sara and her sister had decided to sell the family home. It was too big for just the two of them. In all honesty, Sara never wanted to sell, but she knew her sister did, and after all Cari had done for her, she’d reluctantly agreed to the sale.
They’d split the money. Cari had paid off her student loans and used the rest of her money to see the world, or at least some of it. After paying her bills, Sara placed the rest of her money in the bank and tried to use as little of it as possible. It was her nest egg—her emergency fund.
After Cari left Bluestar, Sara had never felt more alone. And so, if this was what it took to get Cari home, then she would do it.
With hesitation, Sara said, “I’ll do it because I love you.”
“Thank you.” The joy rang out in her sister’s voice. “I owe you big time.”
“Yes, you do. Just wait until you find out what it’s going to cost.” She let out an ominous laugh.
There was a slight pause. “And what’s it going to cost me?”
“I don’t know yet.” Just then one of the inn’s guests headed in Sara’s direction with an expectant look on their face. Right behind them was her boss, Josie Turner. “Cari, I have to go back to work.”
“Okay. But talk to Kent today before someone else scoops up the place.”
“I will. I will. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
As Sara slipped her phone into her pocket, she smiled. Nothing could be better than having her sister home again. If only she didn’t have to deal with Kent.
She pushed aside her problem and took care of the inn’s guest. She pointed the person in the direction of The Bluff’s restaurant and then turned to Josie, who was typing on the computer used for registrations. “Shouldn’t you be on your way to the airport?”
Josie shook her head. “I’ve got too much to do here.”
Wait. Was Josie saying she wasn’t going to California to visit with her hunky boyfriend? That couldn’t be right. Just yesterday Josie had been so excited about seeing where Lane lived. What had happened between then and now?