Tea & Comfort (Madrona Island Series Book 2)(4)

By: Andrea Hurst

The bells rang over the front door of her shop, bringing Kyla back to the present day. She left her workroom and walked out to the front of the store to greet her customer. Morning sun lit the front window, casting tiny rainbows through the crystal prism along the walls. Audrey, the local librarian, waited at the smooth oak counter where purchases were made.

“Good morning.” Audrey straightened her glasses. “Do you have my package ready?”

“It’s right here under the counter. I freshly blended it this morning.”

Kyla retrieved the monthly herbal tonic she’d prepared. Yellow dock, turmeric, red raspberry, and dandelion with a little molasses taken daily kept the iron up. She placed the bottle in a lavender tissue paper and tied it closed with a piece of silver yarn.

“Thanks so much,” Audrey said. “This really helps.”

“Don’t forget to eat your greens.”

Audrey laughed. “I’ll try.” She held up a jar with a heart charm attached to it. “Love spells?” Audrey asked blinking. “Do they work?”

Kyla hesitated. They certainly hadn’t worked for her yet, but then again, her heart was already taken. “They’re for focusing your hopes and dreams,” Kyla said. “A pink, rose-scented candle helps as well.” She pointed to the corner shelf where her handcrafted beeswax candles were displayed.

“Maybe next time.” Audrey turned and headed for the door before waving goodbye.

Kyla checked the wooden shelves for stock and placed dried lavender arrangements on the tea tables. She glanced outside and admired the crisp fall day. Hopes and dreams, she thought. She looked down at the empty ring finger on her left hand. Almost.

Her wedding to Alexander Lucas Bradford II—Luke—would have been a huge society affair. Luke’s parents would have taken charge and held it at their mansion in the Hamptons. His brother, Stefan, would have made their life hell if Luke had been the first to wed. Kyla caught her breath. The potential for disaster had put her in bed for days with a blazing migraine.

She hadn’t told her wealthy-born husband-to-be that her grandmother, Mona, was from a long line of Irish healers and she was proud of her lineage. And her mother was a professional herbalist. Not exactly the type of people Luke was used to associating with at home or school at Harvard. She’d left New York a few days after her diagnosis and never looked back.

Kyla sat back down at her worktable and placed another lovers’ sachet in the woven basket. Merlin, her rescue cat jumped up on the counter and rubbed his furry black body against her. The cat’s purr was loud and comforting. She scratched behind his ears.

“You always know when I’m feeling stressed, don’t you, little guy?”

She looked around for her Siamese cat who had meowed at her door loudly until she had eventually let him in to stay. , Ozzie was curled up asleep on the old velvet chair. Oz was more like a dog than a cat. He fetched rolled-up balls of paper and often greeted people at the door with a full conversation of meows. These two furry angels were great companions during these last couple of years.

She had a lot to be thankful for. Owning and running Tea & Comfort in the charming town of Grandview had brought her more joy than she could ever imagine. Going back to her roots, cultivating herbs and spices, creating products, and helping her customers felt right in a way being a fashion model never had. She was content here on this faraway emerald isle in the Pacific Northwest. She’d finally found a place where she fit in and friends who accepted her for who she was and kept her secrets when she asked. Madrona Island took care of its own, from the lonely seniors to the orphan dogs. Even to runaway women like her, the island and its people opened their arms in a warm embrace.

She stared out the back window of the shop. The maple tree was dropping its amber- and rust-colored leaves, opening up the view to her 1904 cottage behind the shop. Its shake roof and vintage windows beckoned, cozy and welcoming. Tea roses grew profusely up a tall trellis, and flowerpots lined the porch. The first few months, it had been her refuge, a place of healing. Then it had become home.

But seeing Luke again had opened up the lonely places inside her heart. It also brought back the memories of the crazy, narcissistic modeling business and the high-powered players that had run her life until she’d met Luke. The first time Luke smiled at her, a light went on in her heart. Kyla would never forget the day he proposed in the sand. It had been the happiest day of her life. For almost two years she’d tried banishing him from her memory and telling herself they were better off apart. But denial could only last so long.

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