Home > Coming Home to Seashell Harbor (Seashell Harbor #1)

Coming Home to Seashell Harbor (Seashell Harbor #1)
Author: Miranda Liasson

Chapter 1

 

Hadley Wells managed to pee, buy two large chai tea lattes, and grab her luggage from the carousel before racing to her grandmother’s usual pickup spot at door number 7 at Philly International Airport. She tugged off her big sunglasses and her floppy hat, blowing out a sigh of relief when no one looked her way. Then she took a seat on her Big Daddy Samsonite and chugged a gulp of her latte. Her phone told her that she was early, with a minute to spare. Good, because Gran had no tolerance for lollygagging.

Hadley couldn’t wait to wrap her arms around her grandmother. And she couldn’t wait for her grandmother to wrap her arms around her, enveloping Hadley in that wonderful lavender-scented squeeze, the cure for all heartaches.

Grandma’s hugs might not be a magic bullet for heartbreak like they’d been for her many skinned knees, but they sure would help. Hadley was excited to spend the summer with her family in their quaint Victorian seaside town, where she planned to relax and read escapist fiction on the beach. And eat real food. Maybe then she’d have a chance to recover from the stress, exhaustion, and heartache that had marked the past few months.

Hot tears stung her eyes. She was getting emotional again. Breathing deeply, she reminded herself that she was just thirty-five, even if the tabloids were calling her over-the-hill with no prospects. Getting over a breakup was one thing, but her high-profile split with Cooper Hemsley, the beloved A-list actor, hadn’t made that any easier, that was for sure. Just more public. She’d watched all her dreams of love and a family of her own disintegrate with millions of people watching.

But in Seashell Harbor, she’d just be Hadley, not Cooper Hemsley’s jilted ex. She’d get some full-scale pampering from her family, reunite with her two best friends, and help out Gran at Pooch Palace, her dog boarding business, Hadley’s favorite place in the world. Because dogs didn’t cheat on you, run away with their costars, or publicly embarrass you.

And PR firms that you worked for didn’t insist you take an entire summer of paid leave because the damage from your giant, scandalous breakup couldn’t be repaired any other way.

Twenty minutes later, she’d unconsciously gulped down her latte and half of Gran’s but still no sign of her grandmother.

Gran had a cell phone for emergencies only, but Hadley didn’t want to call while Gran was driving. She was just about to text her parents when they pulled up to the curb in their black Lexus.

Her mom got out of the car, a book tumbling from her lap and hitting the pavement with a thunk. The big, dusty tome on Victorian something-or-other was no doubt for her research as an English professor at Rutgers. Then her dad also got out, in the no-parking zone no less, which completely freaked her out. As did the too-cheery smiles on their faces.

“Hey, Pumpkin,” her dad said, preparing to envelop her in a hug, but her mom got to her first.

“Hey, Mom, hey, Dad,” she said, now too nervous to fully appreciate the hugs of her loving but very type A parents. “Where’s—”

“Aw, honey!” Her mom gave her a big squeeze, then held her at arm’s length to examine her with shrewd eyes. “You’re too thin. And you look exhausted.”

Great. Her mom had seen through the concealer and fresh lipstick, neither of which apparently hid her heartache.

“But you look as beautiful as always,” her dad said. As she hugged him, she could feel his phone vibrating in his pocket, which was pretty typical in his role as a high-powered financial advisor. “We’re thrilled to have you home for the summer.”

“Me too. But where’s Gran?” she asked, a creeping sense of dread ruining her chai tea zen. Plus she had to pee again.

“She’s fine,” her mom said as she inhaled deeply, “but she had a little…accident. We didn’t want you to panic, so we decided to tell you in person.”

Accident? The loud no in her head exploded at full volume. She didn’t want to think of Gran getting older. Of bad things happening. Not when she needed her sage counsel, her advice, her love, and her killer double-chocolate brownies.

“She’s fine,” her dad repeated in a reassuring voice, still holding on to her. “Breathe.” He waited patiently while she took several breaths. “Atta girl.” When he seemed convinced she wasn’t going to lose it right there at the pickup entrance, he continued. “She was chasing after Mayor Chaudhry’s dog this morning and fell and broke her hip. She’s going to be fine and the dog is fine. Except she’ll need to go to the rehab hospital for a few weeks because the break is a little complicated but she should do just fine.” He glanced at his watch. “Her surgery’s at five.”

“I could’ve caught an Uber—”

“She insisted we come and get you,” her mom said. “We’re going to head right back to the hospital.”

Hadley’s heart sank. It was an hour-and-forty-minute drive back to Seashell Harbor. And Gran was alone while Hadley and her parents were here.

“Paul’s with her, but he has to work at four,” her mom said, reading her mind. Paul Farmer was Pooch Palace’s next-door neighbor and ran the local ice-cream shop, Scoops. Gran and he were great friends. “She even wrote you a note.” Her mom pulled a bright yellow pack of sticky notes out of her purse.

Hadley instantly recoiled, then caught herself. She still despised sticky notes after all these years, ever since her high school boyfriend had broken up with her on one, serving up her first big heartbreak. Silly, she knew. But to this day, her hatred of sticky notes was still fierce, extending to all colors of the rainbow.

Gran’s practical, no-nonsense tone rang out loud and clear:

 

 

Hadley had to peel that note off to get to the rest of the message:

 

 

Gran was an optimist if, one, she believed she was going to be hungry for a milkshake post-op, and two, she made it sound as though Hadley had done the dumping when the whole world knew that wasn’t true. She’d just pocketed the note when the airport police pulled up and signaled to her dad to move his car or else, thank you very much. Her mom hooked her arm through Hadley’s elbow and whisked her to the back seat.

For the next hour-plus, Hadley had no choice but to sit back and watch the familiar sights of her home state. The Garden State Parkway ran right along the ocean, displaying the picture-perfect summer day, the sun hitting the water and scattering it into a thousand diamond sparkles. It was the kind of day for heading down to the beach with a book and a folding chair and sticking your toes in the sand, your cares blowing away like the puffy little clouds that sailed by.

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