Chick Lit

The Ocean in a Thunderstorm

By

This book will launch on Aug 20, 2020. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒
Synopsis

Aurora Bradley is left seeking solace after ending her ill-fated engagement. A trip to visit family in a small Southern town gives her the perfect chance for a peaceful retreat. Hope’s Bluff, Georgia. Population 3,744.A clandestine accident steers Aurora’s course to firefighter Brick Starling. The chemistry between them is undeniable, but are either of them ready for each other?

Decisions

Chapter One – Decisions

“Aurora, haven’t you decided yet?”

It was impossible not to hear my mother half-shouting at me from

across the room, and I sighed. I knew her voice well enough to hear the sour

impatience under the strain of forced sweetness. The two of us along with my

Grandma Ruby had been at my wedding planner’s office since my dismal

bowl of raisin bran had long worn off. It was only the early afternoon, but it

had already been such a long day.

And to my mother’s great dismay, I had failed to make a single

decision.

Nonetheless, I realized that if I chose to answer her question truthfully,

there was a very good possibility that she might strangle me. As I examined

her, it was clear to me that the optimism she had originally possessed this

morning had withered away, much like my breakfast, and was now replaced

with a forced smile and a tempestuous tone that she couldn’t hide well.

I sighed again. It was involuntary. In all my twenty years, my mother

Evelyn and I had somewhat contentious relationship. She liked to exercise

dominion over almost everything and everyone, including me.

My mother’s glare sharpened and interrupted my thoughts.

Oh, right.

She had asked me a question and was clearly beyond frustrated that I

wasn’t even pretending to scramble up a reply as far as she could tell. I knew

it was better to give her a response she wanted to hear.

“Yes, Momma. I think these invitations are nice,” I started, and cleared

my throat to continue when I realized my response plainly lacked the proper

enthusiasm I knew she was seeking. “Very pretty! And I like the design.”

I forced a tight smile of my own and tried to give my best impression of

a cheerful bride to be. I glanced at my Grandma Ruby who was seated

silently in the corner. I knew by her face that my poor façade had not

persuaded her. The old sage knew me better than the back of her own hand

and fooling her was never an easy feat.

Still determined, I smiled wider and stifled another sigh. Thankfully my

mother broke the tense silence.

“Well darling these are wonderful! These will do just fine. I only wish

that you had made this choice hours ago, when the invitation samples were

first laid out for you to choose from, but well – that’s fine. Now we only have

about a hundred other decisions to make before your wedding day.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I was sure I witnessed Grandma Ruby roll

her eyes. I was sure she had picked up on my mother attaching herself to the

responsibility of the wedding decisions.

“Evelyn,” Grandma began, “will you quit badgering her? She will pick

what she likes, and she has more than enough time to be choosy.”

Her tone alone challenged my mother to say another word. Grandma

Ruby was the indisputable matriarch of our family, and she rarely held her

tongue. It was widely respected that she was not to be crossed or trifled with

in any fashion. She spoke plainly, and she was always willing to let you

know when she thought you were out of line.

For a moment I thought I saw my mother open her mouth to reply, but

she thought better of it.

I turned to look around the room. Shayla Andrews was my wedding

planner. Her office was chicly decorated and contained samples of nearly any

wedding-related items you could imagine. My fiancé James had hired Shayla

a week after I accepted his proposal last month, at his mother’s insistence.

James had proposed to me at a dinner in front of both of our families.

News of our engagement had not surprised anyone.

We had known each other practically all our lives, and it seemed a

widely accepted fact that it would happen. While I loved James, the concept

of this foregone conclusion had begun to bother me. Our mothers, Evelyn and

Shirley, were schemers. They had been good friends for years and could not

imagine anything better than marrying their children off to one another. The

old hens were pushing for a spring wedding. They wanted lilacs, orchids, and

freesias. They wanted lavender bridesmaids’ gowns, and nine of them to

boot. They wanted a 200-person guest list comprised mostly of people I

barely knew. They wanted a raspberry crème cake with vanilla bean fondant.

They wanted me in an ivory Monique Lhuillier with a hand-beaded train.

I wanted to scream. This past month had been such a whirlwind.

I could not seem to free myself from wedding conversations. I was

inundated with questions too frequently for my liking.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been a time marked with

the giddiness of pre-marital bliss. Instead I found myself increasingly agitated

and prone to feigning enthusiasm that was lackluster at best.

“Alright, is anyone else hungry?” I asked, eager for a shift in scenery.

I spoke briefly with Shayla about the invitations I had rather hastily

chosen. I gave her a flimsy excuse for why I could not book a dress fitting

before I was able to escape the office. Grandma Ruby was waiting for me in

her Lincoln with a knowing expression. I climbed into her car and shut the

door. She studied my face wordlessly.

“What?” I managed.

“Alright…. Then I guess we won’t talk about it yet,” she replied as we

entered the roadway.

“I didn’t know there was anything to talk about,” I responded

ambiguously.

Grandma Ruby gave me a quick glance out of her peripheral vision, her

left eyebrow arched so severely it almost reached her hairline. “Aurora, don’t

try to bullshit a bullshitter. Now you know that I know what’s really been

going on.”

I made no effort to respond. She continued driving in silence and I was

thankful. When she parked her car in front of her favorite Italian restaurant, I

giggled softly to myself. Grandma Ruby was most assuredly a creature of

habit, and that didn’t just pertain to restaurants. This was a woman who had

used the same shade of Clairol hair color since 1972. Occasionally for kicks,

someone would tell her the company was planning to discontinue R72

Autumn Sunrise and wait for the fireworks to ensue.

Grandma Ruby was indeed something special. She never hesitated to

lay a good cussing on someone who deserved it, unless it was a Sunday.

While she was only about 5’1, her feisty personality made up for it by a wide

margin. She had a stronger Southern accent than the rest of us, and she

frequently added a mild mispronunciation to a few of her words, but it was

always wise not to correct her.

I checked the visor mirror before stepping out of the car and did my best

to smooth my strawberry blonde hair against the formidable opponent that

was Florida’s humidity. As I closed the car door, I heard my mother, who had

reunited with my grandma at the front door, bickering over her restaurant

choice.

“All I’m saying is we always come here!” my mother complained. “It

might be nice to try something different for a change. If you are so set on

Italian food, we could try that new bistro that just opened. It’s much more

authentic, too.”

“Dammit Evelyn- this is authentic enough for me!” Grandma Ruby

countered as she brushed past my mother with full authority.

I barely contained my laughter. Grandma Ruby had pronounced the

word authentic with a contempt that overtly emphasized her accent. Yes, it

was more than apparent that my mother and grandmother had clearly spent

too much time in each other’s company today.

As we were seated at the table, I felt relief wash through me. I didn’t

want to think of color schemes, flowers, dresses, or any other wedding

nonsense. I only wanted to concentrate on pasta. I knew my mother would

likely derail both desires. In addition to the wedding inquisition, she was also

fixated on dieting currently – an obsession that she was also projecting onto

me. She had been peddling rice cakes and Lean Cuisines on me incessantly

lately. Defiantly, I eyed the linguine in white wine sauce.

“Aurora, have you given any more thought to gowns? I know Monique

Lhuillier’s spring collection was exquisite. You would be stunning in a

classic A-Line,” my mother stated with a smile.

There it was. If I was being honest, I was only surprised she had taken

so long to begin.

“The Lhuillier dresses are nice,” I replied blandly. I was patient, but I

was losing the will to placate her. Grandma Ruby followed my lead.

“I’ll have the steak marsala,” Grandma Ruby announced a bit too soon

to the approaching waiter, who fumbled for his notepad to write down her

order. Next, he looked to my mother.

“I will have the spring mix garden salad with the lite dressing on the

side and no cheese,” she informed him. She glanced at me. “Aurora, would

you like the same?”

“No thank you, Momma. I’ll have the linguine in white wine sauce.”

As the waiter scurried off with our order, my mother’s sharp grey eyes

shot daggers at me from across the table.

Usually I could tolerate my mother very well. I would rather simply

catch whatever curve ball she was throwing than listen to the consequential

aftermath.

But occasionally, I felt like throwing that curveball right back at her.

“Momma,” I began with a hopeful smile, “I love you, but I don’t want

to talk about wedding plans. I just want to relax and enjoy our meal.”

“Aurora if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you didn’t want to marry

James. You’re lacking in excitement over this special occasion, and frankly

I’m at a loss for why.”

“Momma, it’s – no it’s not James. I just – “

“What then?” she interrupted shrewdly. The flush of her skin held a

stark contrast against her flaxen hair.

Could she really not see what was so painfully obvious? My mother was

a smart lady. The only ignorance she could be associated with was the willful

type. But if she wanted to pretend she did not realize what was going on, I

was willing to be the one to fill her in. My temper edged precariously close to

the boundary of containment.

“Is it so hard for you to understand that I don’t want to talk about the

wedding? Have you been paying attention to me at all lately? What about

what I want? Or have you been too focused on what you want?”

She gave me a stern look – the one I knew from childhood that

translated to ‘don’t embarrass me,’ and sipped her iced tea before she

responded. “Young lady… I did not raise you to speak to me this way, and I

don’t know where you got that attitude from. I just don’t understand you,

Aurora.”

“I’m not surprised!” I half-shouted as I impulsively arose from my chair

and stormed out. As I made my way to the front door, I heard the beginning

of another argument between my mother and my grandma.

A quick scan of the parking lot for my own car proved useless when I

remembered I did not drive myself here. I lamented over that decision,

knowing I was stuck there until Grandma Ruby finished her meal inside. I

sulked in my own turmoil and plopped down to let myself melt on a hard

metal chair outside the entrance. My anxiety flared as my mind poured over

the restaurant scene. I shook my head as if to shake the unpleasant thoughts

away. My mother may have been wrong in her approach, but she was

oblivious to my wedding aversion because it did not make sense to her. She

had always been so set on James and I living happily ever after that she

hadn’t noticed I had been doing the happily ever after thing just fine all on

my own.

I sighed deeply and realized I was still hungry.

About the author

Robyn Locksley is a wife, mother, writer, and gamer. She enjoys interacting with all her readers on a personal level and is very active on social media. Locksley is currently working on the next book of The Magnolia Series, as well as her first original work of supernatural-based fiction. view profile

Published on June 26, 2020

20000 words

Genre: Chick Lit

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