Tea & Comfort (Madrona Island Series Book 2)(5)

By: Andrea Hurst


Jude, perky as ever, walked into Tea & Comfort, pulling Kyla from her memories. Her deep brown hair shone in the overhead light, set off by her red velvet scarf wrapped expertly around her neck.

“Busy day?” Jude asked.

Kyla shrugged. “On and off. How about you?”

“The locals are always hungry, and Chef Ryan’s butternut squash soup was a hit today.” Jude leaned an elbow down on the counter. “When do you want to go over the plans for the Halloween party?” she asked.

A chill ran through Kyla’s body.

“Earth to Kyla, are you there?”

“What?” Kyla asked.

“The Halloween party, remember? Your biggest event of the year.”

The sound of the door chimes rang in the air and Kyla glanced up to see Kelly’s energetic entrance as she pushed through the door.

“Go ahead and help her,” Jude said. “I can wait.”

Kyla walked over and greeted the reporter for the local paper.

Kelly handed her a copy of the Island Examiner. “Hot off the presses,” she said. “I thought you’d want to take a look.”

“Thanks.” Kyla stared at the image on the front page.

Jude leaned over her shoulder. “What’s so interesting?”

The headline read: “Madrona Island Winery purchased by Alexander Lucas Bradford II.” There was a picture of Luke holding up a bottle of Pinot Noir in front of the tasting room.

“Oh,” Jude said.

Kyla looked up and the room spun. No wonder she’d been thinking of him today.

“Did you know about this?” Jude asked.

“I do now.” Kyla turned back to Kelly, who flashed her a sympathetic smile. “Thanks for always having my back.”

Kelly gave her a quick hug. “Let me know if I can do anything. Talk to you later.”

“That’s the guy from the grand opening, isn’t it?” Jude asked. “The one you left behind in New York.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Kyla said.

Jude placed a hand on Kyla’s shoulder. “Well, maybe we need to.”

“You’re right,” Kyla sighed. “Soon. But not today. Now, what can I help you with in the store?”

Jude stared at her but finally relented. “Hand cream, please. The strong stuff. Running a café is tough on the skin.”

Kyla led her to an oak corner bookcase she’d painted a bright periwinkle. Creams and lotions in jars and bottles lined the floor-to-ceiling shelves.

“In this one, I blended shea butter, calendula, and lemon verbena. It should do the trick.”

Jude squeezed a little cream from a sample tube on to her hands and sniffed the citrus-scented cream.

“Divine,” Jude said. “I’ll take the super size.”

Kyla’s shaking hands reached for the large glass jar. It slipped from her fingers, shattering on the tile floor. The pattern of broken glass spelled out a warning in her head. She backed away and willed her body to stop shaking.

Jude put her arms out. “You look like you could use a hug.”

Kyla laid her head on Jude’s shoulder. How could Luke still have so much effect on her? She had to pull herself together.

“Can you stay, Jude? I’ll make us some tea.”

“Happy to. I suggest something calming, but you’re the expert.”

After brewing a pot of rose petal and chamomile tea, Kyla joined Jude at the round wooden table with the hand-embroidered placemats by the front window. The china cups with a crimson rose pattern were delicate and beautiful. Kyla looked out the lace curtains to the peaceful view, watching puffy white clouds move across the water of the sound. At this moment, she wished she could float away on one. But she’d worked too hard to get healthy and establish her new life here on Madrona Island.

“A penny for your thoughts,” Jude said.

“Just a penny?”

Jude’s warm laugh filled the shop. “As if you’d share them for even a million.”

Kyla frowned. “Perhaps I have nothing interesting to tell. Actually, I hired a part-time assistant named Rebecca, but she prefers to be called Becca.”

“About time,” Jude said.

“With her short red curls and her nose sprinkled with freckles, she looks just like Shirley Temple in the Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm movie.”

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