Dare to Dream (Carolina Beach #1)(6)

By: C.A. Harms



I turned to look at her then, shocked at her offer. “What?”

“It’s vacant, more of a vacation home they rent out when they aren’t using it, really, but it’s beautiful. Fully furnished, within walking distance of the beach and the marina.” She brushed my hair aside and offered a smile. “It’s an escape, a place for you to go and find yourself again.”

I was lost, and I think I had been even prior to losing my father, and his death had made me face that reality.

“It’s a great neighborhood, full of not only vacationers but locals too. I’ve been there a few times, Greer, and you’ll love it,” she assured me.

“I can’t just leave,” I told her. “I have responsibilities and a job.”

“Sweetheart, you hate your job.” She tilted her head to the side and smiled wider, daring me to argue. “You have the means to walk away and take some time to find yourself. It’s yours for a month, longer if you need it.”

She was right. Just recently I’d found that my father made sure my mother and I would be taken care of if anything should ever happen to him. Though of course I would have gladly given back the money if I could have him here with us instead, I was thankful for it. That was just the kind of man he was.

But could I do this? Could I pack up and leave everything behind in search of the person I know was inside of me? The person who had been hidden for so long?

I looked at my hand when she pressed something into my palm.

It was a key.

“Your mother and I plan to leave this weekend, and I hope you’ll be ready to leave then too. Take this opportunity, sweetheart. Please, you need it. And we both know I’m right when I say your father would want so much more for you than being this lost girl I see before me.” Tears pooled in her eyes as she leaned forward and pressed a kiss to my cheek.

Without another word, she rose from the bed and left the room without looking back, leaving me alone with my thoughts.





Chapter 4


“I want you to take all the time you need,” my mother whispered as she held me close. “Don’t worry about me, or anything else for that matter, and focus on you.”

The strength of her embrace surprised me. Her ability to remain strong in light of her current loss gave me the hope that I, too, would be able to find my own way. I always knew my mother was the glue that held our family together. I guess I was wrong to think that after losing my father, we would both fall apart. Her strength was inspiring.

“I love you, Greer, and I’m gonna miss you,” she said, still holding me tight. “But you need this escape, and I need one too. Let’s find our way. It’s what your father would have wanted for us.”

Every time she mentioned him, I struggled to hold back the tears. I guess I was still trying to accept that he truly was gone. It seemed so unreal. All I could do was nod, fearing I would break all over again if I attempted to speak. I stepped back from her hold and offered her a smile. She and my aunt stood side by side as I looked back over my shoulder toward the airport entrance.

This was it, the start of my search to find myself and to move away from the dark path I’d found myself on.

I only hoped it led me in the right direction.

***

The flight from St. Louis to Myrtle Beach was long, and the two stops and layovers made it even longer. When we landed, I was happy to once again have my feet on the ground, but being stuck at the car rental counter was weighing heavily on my patience. I still had ninety miles to drive before I reached the beach house. I just wanted a long, hot shower and a comfy bed, so now was not the time to get trapped behind a man that I swear was asking every possible question known to man. The poor kid behind the counter looked as if he was barely holding on to his own patience.

I think we both sighed in relief when the guy finally signed the rental agreement and took the keys.

“I’m so sorry about the delay,” the clerk said with a forced smile as I stepped up. “How can I help you?”

I fought the urge to laugh. “You can take a moment to finally breathe through the irritation, because I wanted to throat-punch the guy too.”

The clerk’s shoulders sagged in relief as he realized he didn’t have another unpleasable customer before him. “Thanks.” He shook his head with a laugh. “It’s times like these I wish I would have taken my father up on his offer to work for him.”

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