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Excerpt from Gillian’s Island

An excerpt from Gillian’s Island, one of my current projects.

Synopsis: A socially anxious divorcee confronts her greatest fears after she is forced to sell her island home and falls for the handsome and arrogant new owner.

Chapter 1

Today, my life changes forever.

Gillian Foster unclipped the last clothes peg and hauled the stiff, white sheet from the line. It went into the laundry basket beside her with the rest of the bedding, all of it done for a man she’d never met. As resort owner, she’d often done laundry for strangers when an extra pair of hands was needed, but this time, it was different. This time, it wasn’t for someone coming as a guest but for the new owner, and that made her every motion heavy and reluctant.

The heat didn’t help put a spring in her step. The day was uncharacteristically hot, the air oppressive. It was mid-May and felt like July. Gillian sighed and ran her fingers through her mahogany curls, which always frizzed up in humidity. She fisted the long hair into a ponytail to cool her neck with a passing breeze.

The wind that had dried her sheets so quickly would also blow in a cold front. She could tell by the way the puffy, white clouds overhead now showed hints of grey. Sooner or later, a storm would blow in. She hoped it wouldn’t be until after Daylin Quinn, the new owner, arrived on the island. Unless it rolled in fast. Then she could use it to her advantage. She could suggest he delay the visit until tomorrow. Sure, it put off the inevitable, but it was a legitimate reason to procrastinate.

Gillian hefted the basket onto her hip and walked from the garden through the sunroom to the large living room. She set the basket on the floor and arched backward, rubbing her back. A stereo system in the corner next to the fieldstone fireplace had a radio, and she switched it on. Eventually, there’d be a weather report, and if a storm was in the forecast, she’d call Daylin and insist he wait until tomorrow to visit the island.

Damn it, if she was forced to sell her home, why did it have to be to an arrogant developer like Daylin Quinn? When he had made the offer through his real estate agent, Gillian had researched him on the Internet. That had been both enlightening and infuriating.

He had a history of buying up properties, demolishing the buildings, and redeveloping the lots. It had made him a wealthy man, but the prospect of her beautiful century home being torn down turned her stomach. She pictured a cheesy souvenir shop and tacky cabins; the porch swing gone, a snack machine in its place; the quaint restaurant making home-cooked meals replaced by greasy fast food. Blood boiling at the thought of what he might do, Gillian wished this city boy had stayed there despite how close to her asking price he’d come.

Most of the photos she found of him showed a stunningly handsome man with a variety of gorgeous women on his arm—sometimes one on each arm. There had been no mention of a wife or steady girlfriend. Not that it was any of her business, Gillian thought. But it was a reflection of his character.

Worse still, he was an American. A New Yorker. The locals weren’t pleased when the news had gotten around that the Fosters had sold the island to a foreigner. Most of the folks allowed that no one living in the area could afford the millions it would take to buy the resort. But they considered it a betrayal that the purchaser was not only not from Ontario, but wasn’t even a Canadian.

It didn’t matter that she hadn’t had even a nibble on the property in two years, and Daylin’s had been the only offer so far. Nor did anyone care that Joshua, Gillian’s ex-husband, had forced her to agree to the deal so he could get his half of the money and use it to buy a house with his girlfriend. They simply expressed their resentment at what she had done without regard to the extenuating circumstances.

Now, Daylin was coming to claim what was legally his though he’d contracted Gillian to stay on for a month and show him how the resort operated.

Gillian carried the laundry basket into the master bedroom and made the bed. She’d already moved most of what possessions she had into a storage unit on the mainland in the town of Fiddlehead, Ontario. The meagre wardrobe and personal items she’d need for her month here had been moved into a room in the staff quarters. She assumed Daylin would claim the master bedroom in the main house for himself until he destroyed the place.

Stop it. You don’t know that’s what he wants to do. She shook her head. It wasn’t being cynical if history showed that’s what he’d always done.

The weather report on the radio caught her attention, and she cheered and did a little skip-dance when the announcer said the storm watch had now upgraded to a warning. Gillian immediately rushed to the kitchen where she’d left her cell phone and called Daylin’s office. His assistant answered, and took the message, assuring Gillian she’d call Mr. Quinn to tell him to stay in his hotel tonight and head out to the island the next morning.

Relief flooded through Gillian when she disconnected the call, and she sent a quick thank you to whatever weather god might be responsible for this turn. Admittedly, it was silly to get so excited over a one night reprieve, especially when she wasn’t going to leave for another month. And she’d already said her goodbyes to her beloved island and everything on it, emotionally detaching herself from all she’d known and loved. Nevertheless, the rescheduling sent her heart soaring.

When that Daylin person stepped foot on shore, the place would be well and truly his. Until then, though, she’d spend her last night curled up in front of the fireplace with a book and a glass of wine. First, she’d batten down the hatches before the storm hit.

 

***

 

Daylin Quinn ended his call and started his Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. He sat in the hotel parking lot for a moment, gazing up at the sky. The sun speared through grey-tinged clouds devoid of menace. Carol, his assistant, had caught him in time to abort the trip to the island, but Daylin wasn’t going to let a little rain spoil his plans.

Rain was a remote possibility anyway, judging by the sky. If he was wrong, it might hit while he was crossing the channel between mainland and island, but he wasn’t worried. His boat was a sturdy one and would get him across.

He’d waited long enough to see his new place.

Light traffic on the highway ensured he’d quickly get to the marina where he’d leave his car and pick up his boat. After that, it was ten minutes to the island. He looked forward to meeting Gillian Foster. Daylin had investigated the former owner of Loon Island Resort and liked what he saw.

She’d lovingly cared for the place even after her marriage had broken down and she’d been left to run it alone. Her insistence on putting into the sales contract a clause that forced him to honour the reservations she’d taken before the sale impressed him. He’d agreed to it readily. If he ran the resort himself this season, it would give him a feel for the land before he made any changes. It didn’t hurt that the pictures he saw of her showed a toned, fit, sexy woman even if she tried to hide herself under sweatshirts and baggy pants.

As he sped toward the turnoff to Loon Island Marina Road, a flutter of excitement and happiness flooded through Daylin. Life had taken a thrilling turn. This was the start of an important new project, and perhaps a new woman to distract him for the next month. Could it get any better than this?

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