The Parker Women (Moonbeam Bay #1) by Kay Correll

Chapter 1

Donna Foster closed and locked the door to Parker’s General Store. She paused and swept her glance down the long brick road in front of the store. Couples leisurely wandered the sidewalk and gathered together, talking and laughing. Luckily for her, Moonbeam was a safe little coastal town sitting right on the edge of Moonbeam Bay. Most nights she walked home after closing up Parker’s.

She glanced up at the clear blue sky. Full moon tonight. She couldn’t wait to get home, sit out, and watch the stars come out and the moon rise.

She deserved a small break, didn’t she? She’d worked ten days straight, which wasn’t that unusual. As owner of the store, it wasn’t like she could just walk away and let it run itself. But a day off now and then would be nice.

She smiled and touched the small plaque by the door that proclaimed, established in 1926, like she always did as she left. Whether it was a superstition or just her way of thanking her great-grandparents who opened the store all those years ago, she wasn’t certain. But a quick touch as she closed the shop had become her routine after she took over running the store.

She turned and headed down Magnolia Avenue, anxious to get home.

“Donna, wait up.”

She turned when she heard Evelyn’s voice.

Her sister hurried up to her, dressed in what could only be called country-club casual, or cruise-casual, or something much nicer than Donna’s own work outfit. But then, Evelyn looked just as put together for an evening out on the town as she did for a brief run to the market.

“Hey, Ev,” she greeted her sister.

“Do you want to go get something to eat with me? I was thinking of trying that new place on the wharf, Portside Grill.”

“Is Darren still out of town?”

A flicker of uneasiness passed across Evelyn’s features but was quickly hidden with a bright smile.

“He is.”

“He’s been gone a long time this time, hasn’t he?”

“His business keeps him very busy.” Evelyn didn’t quite answer the question about her husband’s whereabouts.

Torn between her desire to go home and relax and the fact her sister obviously wanted some company, she held back a sigh and nodded. “Sure, dinner sounds great.”

“Perfect.” Evelyn bobbed her head, and her thick hair, carefully curled, bounced around her shoulders without a strand of gray in sight.

Donna knew that if she looked in a mirror right now, there would be clear evidence of gray hair at her temples and her mostly brown hair would be an unruly mess of curls. But then, Evelyn had always been the pretty sister. The popular sister. The one who got the admiring looks, while she got the well-that’s-unfortunate sympathy looks when compared to Evelyn.

Not that any of that mattered. It was what it was. And they were friends. Usually. Mostly. Except when they disagreed with their strong opinions that often went in divergent directions.

“Come on, Ev. Let’s go. I am starving.” They linked arms, headed down the street, and turned the corner to walk out onto the long pier at the wharf, ready to try the newest restaurant in their small town.

Olivia Foster waved to her cousin, who was threading her way toward her through the packed tables of Jimmy’s, their favorite restaurant on the wharf. The wooden high-top tables with layer upon layer of lacquer polished by years of use provided guests with the best view of the bay out over the long railings.

Although there was some inside seating, hardly anyone ever sat in there except maybe on especially cold days in winter, which were few and far between. And still, even then, Olivia preferred to sit outside. Jimmy’s served up fried food, cold beer, and the best hushpuppies in Florida, if she was any judge of hushpuppies—and she was.

Heather smiled and waved back, then enveloped Olivia in a hug when she got to the table. “Livy, so great to see you. I’ve missed you.”

“Sit down. Tell me all about your trip to Portland. I was going to order you a drink but wasn’t sure if it was a beer night or wine night for you.”

“I’ll have a beer.”

“Me, too.” Olivia caught the server’s attention and motioned for two beers. The server was a regular and knew their favorite beer was a local craft beer.

Heather slipped into the seat across from her and let out a long breath. “Ah, I really do love this place. It always feels like I’m really home when I get here.”

“I thought about checking out the new restaurant, Portside Grill, that just opened on the wharf, but why mess with a good thing?”