A Star Tribune serialized novel by Jane Fredericksen

Chapter 2

The story so far: Kacie has trouble accepting her mom's engagement to Bernie.

A soft breeze rustled the wind chime on the window ledge.

Gina touched the sketch of the Pirate, tracing the lines of his face. "For a long time, I really believed that. But sometimes the wind takes what you love and it never comes back. Sometimes you have to let go of old dreams, to find new ones."

Kacie couldn't look at her. "Do you …?" She could hardly say it. "Love him?"

"Bernie?" Gina considered the question a moment before answering. "Bernie's a good guy, Kacie. He's kind, he's generous, and he makes me laugh. I guess I do."

Kacie continued to gaze at the Pirate. "So he makes you happy."

"Yeah," said Gina. "But I'd be happier if you'd try to love him, too. Or like. I'd settle for like."

Kacie pushed herself up and faced her mother. "He's no Pirate."

"I know," said Gina. "Maybe that's a good thing." She reached out her hand and traced her daughter's face. "Kacie, we'll always have our stories. Remember," she lapsed into her best pirate accent, "I'm here for ye, Lass." She pulled Kacie into a bear hug.

Kacie hung on, troubled. "I want you to be happy, Mom. You deserve to be happy."

"Thanks, kiddo," said Gina. "So do you."

A sudden gust from the window ripped the cartoon Pirate from the sketchpad. Gina, still hugging her daughter, didn't notice.

But Kacie watched him sail across the room, out of reach.

* * *

One hundred fifteen nautical miles northwest, in a different apartment …

The young sailor pressed a bag of frozen peas to his bruised eye. His lip was cut and swollen. Every muscle ached. Fortunately, nothing appeared to be broken.

Hockey players knew how to fight, he'd give them that.

He'd survived another day, but the night was hazy. It would be a restless sleep, no doubt.

He felt in his blood that a storm was building on the south shore. He was rarely wrong about such things.

He just didn't know if it would reach him or not.

Chapter 3

Kacie studied the card in her hands. A cartoon sketch of Bernie and Gina decorated the front, along with block letters proclaiming, "They're Engaged! Let's Party!"

She flipped the card open. Inside, she'd printed in her best freehand: "Regina Rae Aldrich and Bernard Alvin Macklebury request the honor of your presence (not presents) at a pre-wedding party June 25th, 8 p.m., at Lakeside Pavilion. Let's toast the bride and roast the groom before this couple jumps the broom!"

Kacie winced and set the card on the dresser.

"Could've done better," she announced.

"Could've done worse," answered Gina from the bathroom, as she hooked a gold earring into place. "Where'd that other hoop go?"

Kacie moved to the bathroom door, dangling the missing jewelry from her hand. "I still think you should've let me say, 'As they march on to certain doom. ' "

Gina snatched the earring. "Thanks for the vote of confidence."

A sudden knock at the door made them both jump.

"Thea's here!" Kacie shouted. She raced to the door and flung it open.

Thea stood with hand in mid-knock.

"You bring it?" whispered Kacie.

"Shhh!" Thea glanced around, as if being tailed. She called to Gina, "You still here? You're gonna be late to your own party!"

"Fashionably late." Gina stepped from the bathroom, smacking reddened lips together. "What do you think?" She pirouetted as Thea whistled and Kacie gave a thumbs-up.

Tomorrow: Chapter 3 continues.