Home > The Honeymoon Cottage (Cemetery, Indiana #1)

The Honeymoon Cottage (Cemetery, Indiana #1)
Author: Lori Foster

 


1


   Groaning, Yardley Belanger dropped the pencil and stretched her back. She’d been at her desk too long today and her body didn’t appreciate it one bit. She spent far too much time trying to find clever ways to play off the town name. Cemetery, Indiana. There was only so much she could do with that. Why couldn’t it have been Bliss, Indiana? Or Romance, Indiana. Those names would have worked perfectly for a wedding planner. But no, Cemetery it was, and apparently Cemetery it would stay.

   Sentiment and tradition, especially when it came to horrible old names, could really crowd out practicality.

   Raising her arms high, she twisted this way and that, unkinking her muscles before attempting to focus again. She loved her work as a wedding planner, and she even enjoyed creating meals for herself, her mother and her aunt. They were tasks she’d grown into, and she took a lot of pleasure in them. She also found immense satisfaction in rehabbing their Victorian-style home.

   Paying the bills, though? Not so much. And cleaning? Ugh. She really hated that. She did it anyway because she ran the business through her home, and customers expected things to be nice. Unfortunately, her mother and aunt were messy divas who forgot a cup here, a napkin there, a pair of shoes at the bottom of the stairs... Yardley had fallen into the habit of tidying up after them.

   One upside to Cemetery? She loved the area, and she loved... Oh yes, she loved the Honeymoon Cottage. Opening the email window on her computer, she again scrolled through the photos that had arrived yesterday. The owner had updated things to Yardley’s suggested recommendations, and it was just so incredibly beautiful. Not that it had needed much. Nestled in mature trees with wild honeysuckle all around, within a few feet of a private cove on the lake, the cottage could be utterly bare and newly married couples would still adore it.

   Yardley certainly did.

   Somewhere toward the front of her house, a screen door slammed. Her mother, she thought with a grimace. Or her aunt? They were supposed to be out until dinner. Right now was not a good time for her to have to deal with their constant bickering. No one could out-insult the Belanger sisters.

   Seconds later she recognized the sound of her best friend’s fast footsteps. Amelia “Mimi” May never did anything leisurely, including walk. She had one speed: full go.

   Like a gust of fresh air, Mimi sailed into her open office space, saying, “Oh good, you’re alone.” She dropped into a chair as if someone had poured her there, legs stretched out, spine slouched, elbows draped over the padded arms. Her short, curly blond hair bounced once before settling around her oval face.

   Yardley grinned. “Good thing. A customer would’ve thought we were under attack the way you shot in here.”

   “Time, you know,” Mimi said. “I never, ever have enough time these days.”

   “You always rush,” Yardley countered. From grade school on, Mimi had left her breathless. She’d also befriended her, backed her up, offered defense and alibis, and once she’d even punched a boy for making Yardley cry. “That’s not a complaint though. I’m glad to see you. I needed a break.”

   Mimi closed her big blue eyes and sighed. “Me, too.”

   Yardley didn’t storm through life the way Mimi did, but her mouth often resembled a runaway train. For the most part, she’d learned to temper it, to slow down and think before speaking. But in moments of excitement? Few people could keep up with her.

   Even fewer cared to try.

   And around Mimi? She didn’t need to temper anything. That’s why she and Mimi were such a good fit. She loved Mimi’s energy level, and Mimi never failed to mentally keep pace with her wild ramblings.

   “Not enough sleep last night?” Yardley asked. “Did the baby keep you up?”

   “Well, it sure wasn’t Kevin.” One eye peeked open. “Sammy slept fine for once. She’s six months old now but Kevin hasn’t yet...” Pausing, she made a face. “It’s like I had a kid and became this sexless lump taking up space in the house.”

   Yardley sympathized—with both of them. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard this complaint. “You had such a difficult birth.” With two early miscarriages prior to that. “Plus, it took you a while to recover. Kevin was scared to death for you. Maybe he’s just still worried.”

   “Not so worried that he doesn’t want to fish at every available moment.”

   “Every available moment?” Yardley asked. “So that wasn’t him cooking dinner the other day when I came by? Or the time before that when he was cleaning all the floors?”

   “Or when he mows the lawn or does the grocery shopping or cleans my car.” Blowing out a breath, Mimi groaned, “Never mind me. Kevin is great.”

   “He is, and so are you.” Mimi could complain to her all day long and Yardley would still know the truth. Sometimes, though, a girl needed to vent. She wanted Mimi to feel free to talk to her anytime, about anything.

   “The thing is, I know he wants to be fishing. He might not say it, but he loves being out on the boat. Probably the peace and quiet.”

   “If he wanted to fish, he would. A lot of guys wouldn’t even ask. They’d just disappear on you. I’m betting Kevin is as busy being a parent as you are.” With such an adorable baby to focus on, she doubted either of them wanted much time away.

   “Right again.” Mimi made a face of disgust. “I’m just horny and I have cramps.”

   The horniness Yardley took as a good sign. It meant Mimi was getting back to normal. But the other alarmed her. “Cramps?” she asked, sitting forward.

   “My period. Since giving birth, it’s like my PMS is on steroids or something. The cramps last a good seven days—before and during my period. Honest to God, I wouldn’t have let Kevin touch me last night anyway.” Half under her breath, she complained, “But he should have tried, damn him.”

   Yardley stood and snagged her friend’s hand. “Come on. We’ll make that cinnamon tea you like, and I have some fresh lemon cookies that I was saving for customers.”

   “Customers...and best friends?”

   “Exactly.” With Mimi’s hand held in her own, she headed to the kitchen. “Have you asked the doctor about your cramps?”

   “Yup. I’m the picture of health, so no worrying.”

   She’d worry if she wanted to—and with Mimi’s history, she had good reason for it. “Let’s relax for a while. I finally got the buzzer fixed in here, so I’ll hear anyone who comes in the front door—even if they don’t slam the screen.”

   “Ha ha.” Mimi dropped onto a stool at the island, close to where Yardley would heat the water for the tea.

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