When Bluestar’s hometown celebrity unexpectedly returns to the island, there’s a heartbreaking scandal following her…
Country singer Emma Bell is finally making headlines—just not the right ones. Before she has time to heal her broken heart, her assistance is desperately needed. Bluestar’s Concert on the Beach Summer Spectacular is in trouble, and her soon-to-be sister-in-law’s job is on the line.
Financial investor turned carpenter, Noah Sullivan, has retired from his high-stress job due to health issues. He’s moved to Bluestar Island for a quiet, healthy life, but when Emma blows into town, his days are anything but serene.
Everyone in the small town counting on them, Noah and Emma must work past their conflicts to keep a promise to someone special to both of them. Will the summer’s sun soothe their tension and the sea breeze lull them into a peaceful surrender of their hearts?
Includes a recipe for Emma’s Heavenly Angel Food Cake!
The Bell Family of Bluestar Island series:
Book 1 – Love Blooms (Hannah & Ethan)
Book 2 – Harvest Dance (Aster & Sam)
Book 3 – A Lighthouse Café Christmas (Darla & Will)
Book 4 – Rising Star (Emma & Noah)
Book 5 – Summer by the Beach (Summer & Greg)
Get your copy here:
“Em, are you awake?”
Emma Bell groaned as she rolled over, pulling the pillow over her head. She didn’t want to wake up. Not yet. She took a deep breath and then let herself drift back to dreamland.
She’d been having the most amazing dream. The images resumed playing in her mind. She could feel the warmth of the sunshine on her face. The light taste of the salty sea breeze on her tongue was so real. She was strolling along the beach. She felt the sun-warmed sand between her toes and then the rush of sea water.
She felt so at peace. She smiled and turned her head. There was someone standing just ahead of her, but she couldn’t quite make them out. It took a moment for her gaze to focus. The man had his back to her. He was tall with short light-brown hair.
She was drawn to him. As she approached him, her heart beat faster. She loved him. But who was he? His brown hair and height were wrong for JT.
He started to turn to her.
Emma sat upright with a gasp. The man’s image vanished before she was able to see his face. Disappointment assailed her. She knew it was just a figment of her imagination, but something about this particular dream had felt so real. But how could that be?
She’d already found her forever guy. Her thumb toyed with the diamond ring on her finger. It was still there. With a relieved sigh, she sank back against the pillows. How could she be dreaming about some mystery man when she was engaged to the sweetest, kindest man?
She glanced around at the beige walls and beige drapes. The hotel room didn’t look familiar. She tried to remember the name of the city.
“Em, you ready to go?”
Emma cleared her throat. “Yeah. Be right there.”
In that moment she regained her bearings. She was out on the road with her amazingly talented band. Her very first concert tour experience had been a whirlwind of events. And she had faced a steep learning curve. There was nothing to ground her—nothing to keep her from drifting off course.
She yawned as she stumbled out of bed and moved to the window. She pulled back the heavy curtains. The sun was just starting to rise. And as her gaze moved beyond the parking lot to the buildings across the way, she still had absolutely no idea what city she was in or even the state.
She couldn’t keep going like this. No one had told her that chasing her dream of being a singer would be this way. She was the opening act for the opening act.
She wouldn’t admit it to anyone but she was wearing out. Really wearing out. And that worried her.
Because not only did she sing country songs, but she also wrote and sold them too. At the moment, she didn’t have a creative thought in her head. That had never happened before. She had notebooks filled with poems and lyrics. Some good, a lot not so good. But now when she stared at a blank page, the words didn’t come to her. What was a singer without words?
If she lost her creativity—if she couldn’t write the songs that evoked emotions—if she lost what made her her, then what was she doing all of this for?
“Get a move on!” It was one of the band members. “The airport shuttle is pulling out in ten.”
“Be right there.” She turned, spotting her still-packed suitcase near the door.
During this tour, she’d perfected the five-minute shower, followed by pulling her damp hair into a messy bun.
That many messages that close together piqued her curiosity. She retrieved her phone from the end table. It was there she saw a brochure that read Seattle. That was where they were.
With her phone in hand, she sank down on the edge of the bed. She swiped her finger across the screen. Her phone sprang to life and blew up with message after message. There were hundreds of them. What in the world?
Sympathies and virtual hugs abounded. Oh, no. Someone must have died to stir up this much of an outpouring. Her chest tightened. But who?
She clicked on the first link. It took her to a gossip site. Right there on the home page was a photo of her boyfriend, um, her fiancé, JT. He was kissing someone. And it wasn’t some little kiss on the cheek.
The breath hitched in her throat. This couldn’t be real. She blinked, but the image was still there—JT with his arms around someone else.
This couldn’t be right. It had to be an old photo. Yes, that was it. This must be a relationship he’d had before he met her.
She desperately wanted that to be the case, so much so that she almost closed the screen. But a niggling bit of curiosity had her enlarge the photo. And that was when she saw it—his new tattoo.
They were supposed to get matching tattoos, but at the last moment, she’d chickened out. Her fear of needles won out over her disappointing JT. And yet he’d still opted for a new tattoo to add to his collection.
He’d gotten a star. He said it reminded him of her. She was like a star that guided him home. At the time, she’d thought it was the most romantic thing.
Now she wondered if he’d also used that line on the new woman in his arms. Her heart ached. Why had he done this right after proposing to her? Had it all been a lie?
As her gaze drifted down, she caught sight of a small photo of her. The image appeared to show her crying, but she didn’t recognize the photo. She wasn’t a big crier, not unless it was something really important—like your boyfriend kissing someone else. Where did this picture come from? She started to wonder if they’d done a bit of photo editing—make that a lot of editing.
And then she returned to her messages. There were also voicemails and texts. As she held her phone, it rang. Caller ID identified it as Razzled. A gossip site. The hottest site in Hollywood and Nashville. Their website didn’t feature stories unless they were gossipy and messy stories about today’s hottest stars. She wasn’t a celebrity, but JT was Nashville’s biggest star with a foot in both the music and film industries.
Emma shut off her phone. Her nice, quiet life on Bluestar Island had morphed into something so different since she’d won the television reality show Songbird. She’d become an instant national sensation. The only thing was once the show was over, her star had dimmed.
With only one song recorded, producers had been hesitant to take on someone new without a large social media following—well, that had been before her romantic relationship with JT. When their relationship had come to light, her social media numbers had soared.
Without JT in her life, her numbers would ultimately tumble. Just out of curiosity, she pulled up her social media. She did a double take. Her following had been in the four digits. This morning, it was in the five digits and rising quickly. And then she noticed her name was trending. In another scenario this would have excited her, but considering her personal life was on display for everyone to see and pick apart, she wasn’t so happy. Not at all.
JT’s image appeared on the screen of her phone. Tears stung the backs of her eyes. Sobs clogged her throat. How could he hurt her like this?
She refused to let him know how much he’d hurt her. And if she answered this call, she’d never be able to keep her emotions together. She pressed the decline button, tossed the phone onto the bed, and then headed for the shower.
Beneath the trickle of lukewarm water, she unleashed her pain. She cried for the fun times they’d shared that now felt like lies. She cried for the way he’d so casually broken her heart without the respect of calling her to say it was over before he’d rushed onto someone new. She cried for the pain of believing him when he’d looked into her eyes and said she was the only one in his life now and forever.
Minutes later, she gathered herself. She was still damp when she threw on fresh clothes and then put her hair up. She used her sunglasses like a hairband. The still-lose strands were damp to the point of dripping onto her neck. She hated that feeling. But she also knew airline flights waited for no one. After months of being on the road, they were at last headed home.
One last glance in the mirror had her noticing her blotchy complexion and her now red-rimmed eyes. She was a mess. Just as she reached for her purse to put on some makeup there was another knock.
“Last call! We’re pulling out.”
So be it. This was how she was going to look today—not that anyone would notice her. They never did—unless she was with JT. And they were never going to be together again.
She smashed her feet into her cowboy boots, grabbed her bag, gave the room one last glance to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything, and then headed for the door.
On her way to the airport shuttle, other guests of the hotel pointed at her. Luckily, she couldn’t hear what they were saying, but when they pulled out their phones and started taking pictures, she lowered her sunglasses as she ducked her head.
When she stepped onto the shuttle bus for the airport, she spotted her lead guitar player. He was wearing a ball cap. She stopped next to him. “You wouldn’t happen to have an extra hat, would you?”
He looked at her with sympathy in his eyes. “No. But here.” He pulled off the cap and held it out to her. “I think you need it more than I do.”
She wanted to argue with him but couldn’t. She accepted the cap. “Thank you.”
Emma pulled the cap down over her head and sank down into the first empty seat. She turned her face to the window and was relieved to see the people who’d been filming her had moved on. She should be excited to finally be heading back to Nashville. But it wasn’t like there was anyone waiting at home for her, not even a dog or cat or even a houseplant.
When she’d first moved to Nashville, she’d been terribly homesick and still mourning the untimely death of her father, but she thought with some time that she’d settle in, and it’d be like home to her. And though the city was familiar to her, and she had made friends there, it just wasn’t home—not like Bluestar.
About the Author
Award-winning author, Jennifer Fayepens fun, heartwarming contemporary romances with rugged cowboys, sexy billionaires and enchanting royalty. Internationally published with books translated into nine languages. She is a two-time winner of the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, named a TOP PICK author, and been nominated for numerous other awards.
Ends May 18, 2022