Sunsets at Seaside(6)

By: Addison Cole

“Vera will be glad to hear it, and she loves Pete’s sister.” He glanced down at the pool, then headed for his cottage.

“Wanna bet who’s gonna bang the new chick? Tony or Jamie?” Jenna’s voice trailed behind him.

Jamie slowed to hear the answer.

A crack of hand on skin told him that Amy had shut Jenna up with a friendly swat.

Chapter Two

JESSICA OPENED HER eyes at the sound of her cell phone ringing. She was lying poolside, having a nice little fantasy about sinfully sexy and ever-so-helpful Jamie Reed. Her phone rang again, and she reluctantly shoved the thoughts of him away and dug through the bag for her phone.

Her father’s picture flashed on the screen, and she smiled.

“Hi, Dad.”

“Hi, honey. How is the Cape?” Ralph Ayers was in his mid-fifties. Jessica was blessed with his dimples, blue eyes, and light brown hair—though his was now graying at the temples. Unfortunately, she was also blessed with her father’s passive personality, which she was working this summer to change so she didn’t end up railroaded by her mother her whole life.

She remembered how she’d thrown her phone over the deck. Maybe I’m working a little too hard on that.

“It’s beautiful. I’ve been lying out by the pool all day.” When Jessica was young, their family vacations were more like cultural lessons overseas with only a day or two spent on a beach, and always with her cello in tow. Her mother insisted she keep up her practicing. Jessica could still remember begging to stay on the beach rather than tour museums and countrysides. But her mother insisted that the more well rounded she was, the better she’d be accepted as a cellist.

Unfortunately, life as a cellist, with no social life to speak of, left her feeling like a culturally adept square.

“Not the beach? I’m surprised,” her father said. “I was sure you’d be camped out on the sand all summer long.”

“I will be.” But today I followed Jamie off my deck. “Tomorrow maybe. How are you, Dad?”

“I’m well. Just worried about you. Your mother’s been on the phone night and day with her symphony friends. She’s concerned that you’re jeopardizing your seat with the orchestra and any chance you have with the Chamber Players. I’m not so sure she’s wrong. Are you sure this is what you want to do? After all that hard work at Juilliard?”

The Boston Symphony Chamber Players was one of the world’s most distinguished chamber music ensembles sponsored by a major orchestra. It was made up of principal players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including first-chair string and wind players. It would be a miracle for Jessica to be invited to join such a prestigious group. Everyone in the industry knew how unique it was for a twenty-seven-year-old to hold a seat in the BSO in the first place. Although her manager had agreed to the hiatus after weeks of discussion and they’d found a suitable replacement, she knew just how cutthroat the industry could be. There was a chance she’d lose her place—and any chance she might ever have at the Chamber Players—and that realization made her feel sick and free at the same time.

“Yes, I’m sure.” I think. “We’ve talked about this. Dad, I feel twenty years older than I am most of the time. I live in orchestra land, and that doesn’t really lend itself well to experiencing life outside of the orchestra. And I’ve never done anything else. I just want to be normal for a little while. Live a regular life. Daddy, I’m twenty-seven. I love Mom, but I don’t want to live my life like she does.” Her mother played the cello in several smaller orchestras but had never made the cut for the larger ones. Eventually she gave up trying and put all of her energies into Jessica’s success.

“I want to experience life a little, and besides, I have a summer project I’m working on. Something fun.”

“Okay, sweetie. As long as you’re happy. I trust your instincts, and you know we’re here if you need anything.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Want to say hello to your mom? She’s just upstairs.”

Jessica shifted the phone away from her mouth and sighed. The last thing she wanted to do was talk to her mother, but, like her father, she tended to avoid confrontation. At least until that morning, when she’d forgotten and barreled headfirst into creating it with Jamie.

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