Lakeshore Legend (The McAdams Sisters, Book Two)
Peyton McAdams doesn't want a thing to do with Colt Patterson…except she has had a crush on him since they were little. Recently, they also had a nice little romp in the shower together. But Peyton thinks she’s just another notch in Colt’s belt and is determined NOT to fall in love. Love is just a game and it destroys people. She decides to focus solely on the new all natural soap store she’s opening with her sisters and NOT on Colt Patterson.
Colt Patterson is Willow Valley’s hometown hockey hero…or rather fallen hero. He is trying to make sense of his recently ruined life and his attraction to Peyton throws off his plans to wallow in his apartment, drinking away his sorrows. He finds himself drawn to her…and back to Willow Valley.
“Lakeshore Legend” is the second in the “By The Lake” series, about the McAdams sisters, from author Shannyn Leah.
LAKESHORE LEGEND BOOK TRAILER
PEYTON MCADAMS STARED around the white sheer curtains hung across the window of the newest−soon to be open−business in Willow Valley: The Old Town Soap Co.
Only months earlier she’d moved back to her hometown where she’d been born and raised. Her and her three sisters were planning a huge grand opening for the first of March...less than two weeks away.
After hiring a contractor to completely gut and refinish the inside, the store was transformed into a quaint old-fashioned soap shop front with a manufacturing area in the back. They had been working months hand making their products.
Owning her very own business was Peyton’s lifelong dream come true and she was thrilled to have the opportunity to be in business with her sister’s.
She’d roped her twin sister Kate in almost instantly after conjuring up the idea. But, it was their youngest sister Abby, belonging to a second set of twins in the family, who was the brains behind the recipes. Before the idea to open the shop had even transpired, Abby had been making and selling soap with their grandmother (whom they all referred to as Gran) out of her house just behind the shop. Abby had created an excellent clientele, so good she couldn’t keep ahead of the orders.
After Gran passed away, and left them the disaster of the empty building, Peyton had been inspired by her sister’s side job and envisioned it on a much larger scale. Supply and demand was their goal, plus an increase in selection available in the shop rather than the few products out of Abby’s tiny little cottage size house.
Peyton pulled the curtain back just enough now to glance down the main street and watch the morning crowds. They parked diagonally across the street and jumped out of their vehicles dressed for the cold February morning, knit being a staple for everyone. Knitted hats, knitted scarves and knitted mittens flocked the snowy trampled beach like colorful seagulls celebrating Family Day.
Peyton touched the fuchsia pink knitted hat on her own head. She was going to blend right in. Perfect. Blending in was her goal this weekend to avoid bumping into him.
Of course, like most events in Willow Valley, the town went all out. Instead of simply having events on Monday, Family Day holiday, they were kicking off Saturday morning right through to Monday afternoon with activities town-wide. There were lists posted throughout the town and available at local businesses with a three day schedule of horse drawn sleigh rides, scavenger hunts, bon fires on the snow covered beach, an ice maze, ice sculptures...the list went on and on.
Peyton’s attention was snagged by the outdoor ice rink constructed by the town and maintained each winter along the shoreline down a distance from her shop. Typically, all winter families spent time on the rink before finishing with hot cocoa and popcorn in the beach house; an octagon wood and glass heated structure built by the town for hosting events. However, today before they made it that far the people were engaged in a long line up beside the rink where he was signing autographs.
This was ridiculous. How long had she stood there just staring at the distant figure, she could hardly make out, envisioning his amazing sculpted sports body naked...naked...naked. Ridiculous didn’t even begin to sum up her behaviour.
Was she hiding from him? Maybe, but she wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like he was going to see her and forget that he was the most popular man on the beach to say, “Hey Peyton, I’ve been meaning to call you...” And he certainly wasn’t going to search her out as though he had missed her. Because he hadn’t meant to call her and he certainly hadn’t missed her.
Then why are you hiding? And why was he so damn popular? Yeah, so he’d been playing pro hockey for the last five, six or ten plus years...whatever, big deal. Okay, it was sort of a huge deal...if you were a fan. Or if you were a town business owner trying to make a buck off his fame, which soon she would fall into that category whether she wanted to make a buck off him or not.
Did the whole damn town forget during the last season of his career he’d been suspended just under a dozen times, or his speeding car crash and not to mention the bar fight he’d been involved in? That was the only reason he was here signing autographs. His autograph. Were the people of this town so star struck they didn’t remember that tiny detail? Bar fight...arrested...charged...hello!
She wondered if he was giving them that drop-dead gorgeous smile or that serious flip-you-off-your-feet stare. Probably both, it just depended who he was talking to and what mood he was in.
He was a charmer. He’d been a charmer before he left and he had been a charmer when he’d returned. And he’d charmed the pants right off of Peyton...literally. It wasn’t one of Peyton’s proudest moments. A very memorable one. But not the proudest. Even his name was charming, sexy and slipped off the tongue with ease...Colt...mmm...ugh!
That was the reason Peyton was cowering away waiting for him to abandon his obligation so she could comfortably enjoy the Saturday she had planned long before he decided to show up. And he would abandon his post because he was selfish. She was surprised he was even taking the time out when there wasn’t anything in it for him. She’d looked up what he made each season and his bank account had to be deep into the eight digit numbers. He could easily be vacationing permanently in Italy or Paris, maybe not now with assault charges hanging over his head, but that was his own damn fault.
Lunch hour was quickly creeping up on her like the panicking feeling in her chest and the rest of her family would soon be gathering on the snow covered beach for a bite to eat together before a tour of the events.
I could cancel. There were still lots she had to do in the shop, including finishing the big red formula book. Abby might be the brains behind the recipes but the girl hadn’t quite mastered penmanship and Peyton was playing a game of Sudoku trying to make each out and line them up correctly. Fake work pile up was her plan to escape lunch and any chance of a run-in with Colt Patterson.
Peyton shied away from the door whenever a person passing by paused to gander in with curiosity at the gorgeously designed window displays. She hadn’t been ready for the body that materialized swiftly in front of her accompanied by a loud holler. The visual scared a scream out of Peyton and she dropped the curtain and jumped back grabbing her chest.
She could hear her Kate’s laughter through the glass. Her sister popped her head in the door with a satisfied look across her porcelain face. The cold winter had given her pinched cherry cheeks to match her painted red lips. “What are you doing?” she asked playing innocent, her flawlessly manicured eyebrows arching and hiding behind the rim of her red hat.
Peyton glared. “Me?” she practically yelled at her. “What are you doing sneaking up on me like that?”
Kate laughed slipping into the shop and rubbing her leather covered hands together. “Warming up. It’s freezing out there.” As usual, Kate was dressed in her sophisticated attire. Today a turquoise Pashmina scarf tied in a perfect knot above her dark grey wool jacket just above the knees of black wide brimmed pants that swished over her heeled black boots. She tapped the tips of her boots on the wood planks as she danced the warmth back through her body.
Although the same age, Peyton dressed less formal than her sister and more modern chic; she enjoyed staying up on fashion. When flare jeans were in−she wore flares, when bootleg came around−she slid into them and now that skinnies were all-the rave she had a closet full plus a great selection of chiffon patterned blouses.
“Is Dad here?” Kate glanced around quickly.
Peyton shook her head. “Just me, but barely. Are you trying to scare me to death?”
“You looked like a peeping tom.”
“I was checking out the events from the warmth of the shop.” Liar.
Kate scuffed the snow from her boots onto the floor mat before walking through the off-white painted room. They had chosen a nice neutral colour and added accenting antique wood cupboards and bookcases displaying the natural soaps, lotions, cream and everything one needed to line their bathroom cupboards with.
Kate stopped by the large curved antique library counter and leaned against it. “You were peeking when we drove past.” She dusted some fallen snow off her jacket. “And still hanging out after we grabbed coffee and croissants at Mrs. Calvert’s...” That was the bakery next door and had the most delicious homemade baked bread. Peyton’s tummy growled just thinking about it glazed with butter and honey. Maybe if she ditched her family she would scoot by there for lunch. “And you’re still here, staring out the window like you’re waiting for your Prince Charming.”
Prince Charming...that was a name she didn’t relate with Colt.
Peyton over-exaggerated a roll of her eyes and joined Kate on the opposite side of the counter. She grabbed the file, aka the escape plan opening Abby’s scribbled notes. “Do you see this?”
Kate turned and leaned her arms on the counter, slowly spreading some of the pages out. “Quite the artist,” she observed, admiring Abby’s pen doodles instead of the written catastrophe. They were everywhere, little well-detailed pictures in the corners, in the middle, on the bottom, sometimes one, sometimes two...Abby was easily distracted.
“Speaking of which.” Kate stood and shut the folder proceeded with a little push and slid it down the seven-foot counter.
Peyton held her breath until it safely stopped at the end without spilling open like flower petals in the wind and landing every which way on the floor. She could strangle her sister. She’d already spent hours sorting some of the recipes out.
“What are you doing in here? This weekend is a ‘no work weekend’ remember?”
That was a dumb rule made up by her sister’s who thought there was nothing left to do until the rest of the ingredients came in for the bath bombs yet to be created. They really had no idea the work Peyton was putting in day and night. They just moseyed their little selves over whenever she had recipes to be made or a shop to decorate, and that was the extent of their work load. Naive fools.
“Pretending not to work,” Peyton said swiftly moving to the end of the counter and slipping the file safely underneath and away from her sister’s destructive hands.
“Dad said he was grabbing my old hockey stick for Rosemary. You know that little mini stick one? He’s still not here so do you want to go over to Dad’s with me and get it?”
That was a much better plan than standing here like a peeping tom. “Sure, I’ll drive.”
Peyton’s Escape was behind the shop in one of their designated spots.
They pulled into the driveway of their small beige-sided childhood home in less than five minutes. Like the rest of the town, most of the houses looked like picturesque cottages from paintings any season of the year. The residences maintained that look with wood fences, stone walkways and colourful flower beds. Willow Valley was a charming town to live in. Even the older sections like the street her dad lived on had character that made it unique and beautiful. The newly developed area alongside the lake housed million dollar properties that only people like Colt Patterson could afford to buy.
Peyton parked right behind her dad’s older truck.
“He’s home,” Peyton pointed out the obvious.
Peyton was currently staking out residency in her old bedroom until the shop was up and running and solid paycheques started flowing. She had rented condos in the city and could have easily found a little place to rent in town but when her dad welcomed her home to the four bedroom house she hadn’t argued. Instead she completely revamped her old room and took “winter cleaning” into her own hands.
“Have you seen the stick?” Kate asked following her to the back door, the one they had been accustomed to using since they were young. Before their mom had passed away, when they were much younger, she’d detested them dragging dirt and mud into the front door of the house. Direct orders to use the entrance through the back mud room came into effect saving her floors. Five kids running around made quite a mess. The rule stuck.
“Maybe in the laundry room cupboard. Above the washer and dryer with the hats and mitts,” Peyton said catching a glance of herself in the hallway mirror. She pulled the hat off, fluffed her long brown waves, put it back on, slanted her head, puckered her pink lips, and then realized why she was re-checking herself. Colt.
Ugh. There were countless other women in town doing the exact same thing and it irritated her that she was among them...unconsciously, of course. She waved at the mirror as if dismissing it before walking into the kitchen where Kate had become side-tracked by a now unwrapped plate of cookies.
“Who made these? They are delicious.”
Peyton shrugged. They weren’t there this morning. “Don’t know. Maybe Dad got them in town at a bake sale before he came to look for your mini stick.”
“Oh yeah.” Kate replaced the plastic. “The laundry room right? Thanks.” Kate bee-lined from the kitchen and down the hall.
“Don’t make a mess,” Peyton called.
Kate turned amidst her walk and crossed her heart with her fingers. “We are in a hurry and everyone’s waiting but I promise not to make a mess.” It didn’t sound sincere and Peyton envisioned her sister dragging all the boxes down and digging through them, mixing them all up and setting her cleaning back a step.
“Wait!” She caught up to her down the hall where three doors were closed. The end door was her father’s master bedroom, the right door was the downstairs bathroom−which she’d been avoiding for over a month−and the laundry room was across. “I will just show you.”
“I can manage.” But she smirked her glossy lips deceptively.
Peyton didn’t believe her and wiggled in front. “I don’t trust you and I’ve been spending hours de-cluttering for Dad.”
“I’m insulted. For years I kept this house in check. You weren’t a molly maid back in the day.” It was true, Peyton enjoyed actually hanging out and living not playing mommy like Kate had done raising their younger siblings for so many years. In reality Kate had been a blessing to this family and Peyton would never forget her sacrifices...or forget how unreliable she herself had been.
“More like ‘see spot run’...” Kate continued but the last word was cut short when Peyton pushed the door open and the image that unfolded before them burned their innocent eyes like red-hot prods.
Peyton and Kate both gasped loudly in horror.
Elaine Patterson, the next door neighbour probably in her late fifties screamed in surprise. At least Peyton hoped it was surprise and not the alternative. Sitting on the dryer she tucked her head in an attempt to hide her face into Kent McAdams−their father’s−far shoulder. He grabbed a clean towel that Peyton had just laundered to cover her naked body pressed up against his naked body and there was flesh everywhere and heavy breathing and nakedness...everywhere. There was no escaping it no matter which way Peyton’s eyes flew.
It felt like forever but doubtless lasted only seconds. Peyton turned, colliding into her sister whose eyes were also darting in every direction horrified. They both stumbled backwards awkwardly into the hallway with their dad hollering at them to shut the door.
Still against Kate and unsure how she managed to reach behind her she slammed the door shut.
They stopped moving. Kate’s tight hands gripped Peyton’s shoulders and standing at the same height they stared at one another with open mouths and shocked expressions. Their dad was banging the neighbour in the laundry room. The laundry room Peyton used on a regular basis.
They couldn’t help the laughter that erupted from them at the bombshell they’d walked in on.
“We can hear you,” Kent yelled through the door.
Immediately they stifled their laughter but couldn’t control the smiles across their faces. This was a child’s worst nightmare, walking in on that!
They pushed each other down the hallway into the kitchen.
Oh my gosh, Kate mouthed. “Did you know about this?” she hissed at her sister in a low tone, leaning toward her.
Peyton shook her head. “No. I had no idea.” Was it serious? Were they a couple? How long had it been going on? All these questions jangled around in her head like one of those annoying bells hung on a business door to chime each customer’s entrance. Peyton couldn’t stand those bells. Peyton had no idea the seriousness of this situation, but it concerned her.
Both their eyes fell on the plate of cookies and they knew exactly how that plate got there.
“We should wait outside.”
“Outside? That’s not weird, Kate,” she said sarcastically.
“Cause that would be the weirdest thing to happen right now,” Kate hissed then laughed again.
“Shut up!” Peyton grabbed her sister’s arm and dragged her into the modest living room. Her dad only had the bare necessities: leather sofa set, flat screen television and three-piece wood coffee table set. He wasn’t big on decorating but he’d kept all the pictures her mom had proudly displayed. Peyton had upgraded and added a few over the years...such as one of her niece Haylee’s birth and one of Rosemary’s arrival.
The first floor formed a circle from the front foyer and staircase leading down a hall and into the kitchen then through the living room and back into the foyer. They hovered close to the doorway by the front door so they couldn’t see into the kitchen.
“I just cleaned that dryer.” Peyton made a face at Kate.
“I would clean it again before you use it,” Kate teased.
Peyton playfully slapped her.
“And, I would sanitize the table and counter tops. I mean for that ladies age, I’m shocked she climbed on the dryer. The kitchen table would be nothing in comparison.”
Images! Images! “Stop it!”
Kate smirked. “I can’t believe Dad still...you know.”
Peyton held her hand up. “Gross Kate. What is wrong with you? I live here.”
Peyton didn’t need to envision images of her father and Elaine doing anything of the sort, especially not even ten feet away from blissful reminiscence that had been stealing her dreams the last month. Now they were going to be spoiled by images of that laundry room. Good, you shouldn’t be dreaming about him anyway.
“Bye Peyton. Bye Kate,” Elaine called from the kitchen. Their positions kept them out of sight and out of awkwardness.
The sister’s shared an uncomfortable look. “Bye Elaine,” they replied in unison.
The back door shut.
A few seconds later their father, fully dressed looking a little shaken up, appeared in the living room entrance. He was running his hand through his wavy coarse brown hair peppered with grey.
“Dad?” the girls questioned together.
“Girls.” He looked uncomfortable. This was the first time since their mom passed away that there was another woman in their dad’s life and that was over fifteen years ago.
Peyton would have been ecstatic for him if he’d chosen anyone else to fill in his lonely nights...or days.
If it was serious Peyton could envision her future already: special occasions, Christmas, Easter, etc...being forced to dine and smile. It wouldn’t have been a dilemma if Peyton hadn’t played bath time with Elaine’s only son.
And if the sex hadn’t been so damn amazing she might be able to get him out of her mind. I bet that’s what all the women say.
“What’s going on between you two?” Peyton had to know how serious this was.
“Elaine and I were um...just...well...”
“Tapping?” Kate supplied.
Peyton would have laughed out loud if it wasn’t Elaine he was tapping. Instead panic was filling up her chest, suffocating her and not allowing her to enjoy her sister’s teasing.
How would she sit at a table across from Colt for an entire meal without picturing water droplets tracing down his biceps on every area she had touched? It sounded impossible!
“It’s more than...” he paused although trying to think of another word but finally settling with, “tapping.”
This is terrible news!
Kate stifled her laughter trying to hold a serious face.
Peyton nudged her with an elbow and sent her a glare before turning back to her already embarrassed father. “Don’t say tapping Dad. What do you mean it’s more?” she asked.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of each other.”
Oh no...they were dating! Like a couple. Seeing each other on a regular basis. Stop jumping to conclusions. One question at a time. “Like dating?”
He nodded and for the first time a smile of relief pressed his face. “Yes, we are dating. I guess you would call her my girlfriend.”
“Long term girlfriend?” Peyton pushed.
Peyton crossed her arms. “Like long term girlfriend attending all our family gatherings that kind of girlfriend?”
Kate sent her a questioning look. “Is there another kind?” she asked.
“I’m just clarifying Kate,” she snapped.
“Yes.” Kent raised his voice, making it clear.
Oh great! Oh, bloody hell beautiful man body I tapped in the shower and have been trying to avoid is now going to be thrown into my life and I will have to act oblivious by the mere sight of him. This was the worst news she’d had in months.
“Seriously Dad, I do laundry in those machines,” Peyton said, needing to distract her mind to anything but Colt, even if it ended up back in that laundry room with their parents. It was better than the shower across the hall.
“How did you even get her up there?” Kate inquired.
Peyton lips curved upwards against her better judgement. “Kate honestly. It’s like I’m standing beside Abby.” Abby wasn’t afraid to say anything no matter the consequences, which was one reason she wasn’t good at maintaining a job and made the success of their business vital.
Kent cleared his throat. “I’m going to leave now,” he said. “The mini stick is on the kitchen table, Kate and I will see you two in a bit at the beach for lunch.” Oh that darn mini stick was accountable for all these events.
“Do you want a ride?” Kate offered.
“I’m going to drive Elaine.”
He had to make it public now? While Colt was in town? She needed more time...this wasn’t enough time!
This was all that mini sticks fault and Peyton knew exactly why Kate was getting it, which in turn brought all the blame to Colt and his autograph.
“Ohh,” Kate teased following their dad to the kitchen.
Peyton lagged behind, considering what the next holiday was...Easter. Maybe she was going to get sick Easter weekend, that was if Colt was coming home that weekend.
When they were back in Peyton’s car Kate said, “He’s driving her to the festivities. Like a date.” She flashed a smile. “That’s so sweet.”
“I don’t think that’s sweet.” It slipped out.
Kate looked at her surprised. “Why not?”
Why not? It was as if Kate hadn’t been thrown into the disaster that occurred when their dad lost their mother? Wasn’t it obvious? Love destroyed people. Her dad, even though he was all googly-eyed for Elaine right now, spent the years since their mother’s death sad, missing her, longing for her and having a hard time living his life. That was what love did to people.
Peyton didn’t dare share her opinion with Kate, who’d recently married the man she loved. They’d been torn apart for five years and that loss had destroyed Kate’s days without him. Another prime example. If Kate hadn’t given Marc her heart in the first place she wouldn’t have been so damn miserable all those years without him.
Peyton wasn’t playing the love game. However, if her dad wanted to jump back on that unsteady wagon of doom, Peyton wasn’t going to stand in his way.
Now Kate was waiting for an answer to her big mouth. “I had sex with Colt.” She winced, waiting for her sister’s reaction.
Kate didn’t reply right away, but Peyton could see her fingers had stopped tapping her cell phone screen.
“Patterson?” she finally asked, doubt in her voice that she had the correct Colt. Why was it so unbelievable? Why does it matter if it is?
“Colt Patterson?” There was still scepticism dripping from his name. Thanks Kate for making me feel like I’m not worth a douche bag who nails any woman he wants.
Peyton sighed. “Yes, Colt Patterson. Pro hockey star, next door neighbour, Elaine Patterson’s son, Colt Patterson,” she clarified naming off every title for her debating sister.
Kate was quiet for another moment taking the announced titles in. Then she squealed like Peyton had when Kate had agreed to open the shop with her. “When did this happen?”
“And you didn’t tell me!”
Peyton shook her head. Kate had been a little busy adapting to her new life and Peyton had been preoccupied building a business. Yeah, that’s the reason you didn’t tell her. It was more that she was horrified she was another puck he scored in the net.
“I cannot believe you two...and I didn’t even notice you acting different...” She gasped then laughed. “You were watching him at the shop like a peeping tom.” She gasped again. “Looking for your Prince Charming. Awe...”
Peyton was beginning to regret her decision to tell her sister. She didn’t want to get into...
“Details,” Kate pried, and Peyton groaned inwardly. “How did this happen? When did this happen? Where did this happen? Oh, please don’t say on the dryer.”
“Yuck. Gross. Katherine!”
Kate laughed uncontrollably. “I’m sorry but there’s so much humour in this whole situation.” She threw her hands in the air.
Peyton bit her lower lip trying to decide whether to add to her sister’s humour. What difference did it make now?
Peyton grinned inwardly guessing she should stop being such a prude and find the humour with her sister, even if it wasn’t going to last. She knew the second she stepped out of the warmth of her vehicle the reality would slap its cold hand across her face and send panic down to her toes.
Peyton cleared her throat to get her sister’s attention. “In the shower across the hall.”
Kate gasped. “No way! This is like your teenage dream come true. Tell me everything.” She stretched out the last word until she was out of breath.
That wouldn’t be awkward. “I’m not telling you everything.”
Kate pouted. “Oh come on, at least give me the lead up. Like was he all handsomely flirtatious and sucked you into his tight snake grasp with those strapping man hands...”
Peyton was shaking her head. It was absolutely nothing like that. But the sight of his strapping man hands popped into her head as they ran up her thigh...“You’re ridiculous,” she scoffed shifting her slouching, warming body straighter into an uneasy position in the seat to help her straying thoughts.
“Are you kidding me right now? I get nothing?” Kate’s tone was only half kidding...she wanted details.
“I accidently sprayed him with the outside hose while I was icing the rink in the backyard and he locked himself out of his mom’s house, so I offered to dry his clothes.”
Kate gasped. “That damn laundry room again!” she squealed almost bouncing in her seat. She settled down and her stare was lost past the windshield. “Oh, I remember doing laundry in there when I was eighteen and Marc was over helping after all your girls were tucked away in your room and...”
Peyton held her hand up. “No, no no! Don’t share that with me. You and Marc. Dad and Elaine...it’s too much in one day.”
“And you and Colt Patterson!” she squealed his last name like she was sure many fans did.
“Kate, get some control.”
“I can’t. I remember you chasing him around and we were three years younger so he wouldn’t give you the time of day. He actually threw hockey pucks at you to get you off the property. Remember?”
She did. “No.” She had thrown them right back at him. He had liked that as much as he liked her; not at all. “And it was just a one-time thing. Just like all the other women.”
Kate sighed. “If you say so.”
“I do say so. Look at his track record.”
“I don’t follow that stuff. Sorry, I have a life.”
“Oh, I have a life.”
“A life with the memory of tapping Colt Patterson in your teenage home.” Tapping...what was with that word and her family?
“This is the last time I tell you anything.”
“Alright I’m done.” She calmly folded her hands across her lap. “So, have you talked to him since?” Done, huh?
“Now Dad’s dating Elaine. That’s going to be super awkward.” She had no idea. “Or exciting.”
“It’s not exciting.”
Peyton was glad when the shop came into view because Kate seemed to remember her daughter was waiting for the darned mini stick and together they rushed across the road. Some of the family was waiting down the snow covered beach by the skating rink. Kent and Elaine were nowhere to be seen.
“Holla sista’s!” Abby shouted, raising her leather and studded covered arms. She was a rebel at heart and black spilled out of her closet and dressed her like a shadow of the night. She also liked anything studded and was a regular customer at the local tattoo shop.
Marc was holding Rosemary, a recently united family member who fit in as though she had never been absent. The small, curly brown-haired five-year-old had only come into their lives before the new year after Kate and Marc rekindled their love and secrets from their past brought the sweetness into their lives.
“Hi Momma.” Rosemary had adapted quickly to Kate and Marc. Kate was mother material through to her deepest bone. Unlike herself, when their mother had passed away Kate had jumped in to raise them all while their father went on a constant MIA drinking binges and Gran had taken a leave of absence from their lives to sort out the loss of her daughter.
Peyton was better at working. Babies and kids, although she had no problem with them, weren’t her thing. Just like love and romance. That’s why she was so annoyed Colt had been a popping into her thoughts like an unwanted two-dollar bill.
Kate scooped Rosemary up for a hug and she giggled. “Hi Aunt Peyton.”
“Hi Rosemary. Are you excited about the wagon ride?”
Rosemary nodded. “I’m going to see Colt Patterson,” she said, excited. She proceeded to name off the team he was on the previous year and his playing position, goals and stats and lost Peyton in the process. Rosemary, the little hockey fan. Colt had even star-struck her niece. How annoying.
Peyton kept her smile
“Here’s the mini stick.” Kate pulled the wooden piece of doom out of her purse. “For Colt Patterson to sign.” She sent Peyton a wink.
“You didn’t say that’s what it was for,” Peyton said. Although she’d already suspected.
“I was a little distracted.” It had certainly been a distracting visit home Peyton couldn’t argue about that.
“Well, I’m starving,” Abby announced. “Oh there’s Dad. Thank goodness!” She started waving to catch her dad’s attention. She stopped abruptly. “Why is he holding the neighbours hand?” Her tone was flat.
Peyton and Kate laughed.
“What did we miss?” Sydney, their middle-aged sister snuck up behind Peyton and gave her arm a squeeze.
Peyton turned and smiled at her. Sydney was the odd one out when it came to the McAdams sibling’s good looks. Her stark contrasting natural blonde hair and light eyes were distinctly opposite to the two sets of twin’s dark brown hair and hazel eyes, although Abby’s visit with blonde hair in a box was frequent.
“Don’t you want to know,” Peyton teased. “Hey Haylee.” She hugged her teenage niece, who was a replica of her mom except for the McAdams brown eyes. They both looked like beach girls with smiles of innocence.
Haylee greeted the rest with her sweet, soft voice and a round of hugs. Haylee would be starting her first year of high school in the fall and, knowing the kind, gentle-hearted girl, Peyton worried she was going to get walked over. The McAdams sisters had gone to school and backed down to no one with their attitude and spunk. Haylee lacked all those qualities. Time would tell.
“So what’s so funny?” Abby asked.
“We are going to wait in the lineup.” Kate grabbed the sleeve of Marc’s wool jacket and pulled him away before Peyton poured out all the details of the last half hour, leaving out the x-rated version since Haylee was present. And definitely leaving out the Colt part.
“You did not.” Sydney’s hands covered her shocked grin. “They were not.”
“That’s so gross.” Abby’s young smooth skin was squished together disgusted. As she processed the information a big smile crossed her face. “But go Dad,” she cheered.
“How long has this been going on?” Sydney inquired.
Peyton shrugged. “We didn’t really talk about it.”
“Look at them,” Abby fussed in her high pitch tone. “They have that sex glow.”
“Abby!” Sydney scolded, making eye gestures towards her daughter.
Abby waved her hand. “Oh please, at her age you were almost pregnant. Pretty sure she knows all about sex. Have you been on social media in her generation? It would be weird if she didn’t know.”
“I can pretend I don’t know,” Haylee offered, sending her worried mom a grin. “I could do earmuffs.” She teased, placing her gloved hands over her ears.
Sydney pulled her hands away. “It never worked anyway,” she said. “They’re coming this way.”
Sydney waved them over.
“I was thinking of making some new Mommy jokes.” Abby turned towards them.
“Not appropriate,” Sydney said. She was the serious one in the family.
“But they would be hilarious,” Abby protested, starting to run a couple off that got her a slap on the arm from Sydney.
Peyton couldn’t help but grin as she turned towards Kent and Elaine. Did they have a glowing look about them? She couldn’t tell if it was Jack Frost nipping their faces or if they’d had another session before getting out of the car.
She shuddered at the thought and blamed the winter wind.
They were holding gloved hands as they crossed the distance. They were about the same age however Elaine looked much younger than her father. Her beautiful skin had a soft, smooth complexion like that of a young woman, but the way she wore her long greying hair twirled in bun on top of her head added years to her appearance. Peyton could envision cutting those locks into a nice above-the-shoulder, angled bob. With the texture of her coarse hair it would make the locks easily manageable and would enhance her face and scrape years off her appearance. That was the hair dresser in her, always ready to hack someone’s hair.
Her father on the other hand although a handsome man, had the years of drinking etched across his face. He hadn’t touched a bottle in years, but there was no fixing the damage done.
“Hello Daddy. Elaine.” Abby greeted with a huge smile that read, I know what you two have been up too.
Peyton watched as Sydney breathed out a lungful of fresh air, relieved by their sister’s appropriate greeting, even if her face told another story.
They said hello in unison and Kent sent Abby a fatherly “behave” glare which likely went completely unnoticed by his youngest.
“I’m starving and I’m cold. Let’s go eat.”
“The ladies at the auxiliary club are hosting a lunch.” Sydney knew about the lunch because her mother-in-law, Joan was part of the ladies group and they would be raising money for the events they hosted all summer.
“Where’s Kate?” Their dad scanned the beach of bobbing heads.
Haylee pointed at the lineup by the ice rink. “Colt Patterson is signing autographs and you know Rosemary. She gave us a thorough description of Colt’s career.”
“Oh she did?” Elaine said. Her proud smile cast past them to her son who was easily scoped out at the front of the line. Did she not read the papers? The only thing to be proud of with that man was the way he hit a puck and since he retired at the beginning of this season that didn’t really leave much pride left. The man was just like his father who had ducked out on him and his mom for a woman half his mother’s age.
“If you go grab seats, I will tell Kate where to meet us for lunch when they’re done,” Peyton offered.
As she crossed the packed snow trampled on by hundreds of people, she compared it to Colt tramping across all the hearts of the women he bedded. That was Colt’s style: bouncing around from one woman to the next.
Peyton couldn’t believe she’d allowed her teenage crush to fluster her adult awareness long enough to end up splayed against the tub wall by the all muscles and strength mass that was Colt Patterson.
It hadn’t initially seemed that problematic to ignore him since he had done it to her for so many years. That was until she found her dad doing the same thing to his mother just across the hall. Happy avoidance now, Peyton.
Standing by her sister and explaining the situation, she couldn’t control her eyes from finding him at the front of the lineup. Of course he wasn’t sitting in a chair provided; he stood basically towering in height over every person in the line with his muscular sports body wide and full through his black jacket and boot cut denim washed jeans. Hiding his medium length hair was a black toque with his signature embroidered across the front.
Really? He was that conceited he wore his own name on his attire. His face was shaven unlike last month when he had decided to intervene in her ice rink. He was a famous hockey player so that automatically made him a pro at ice rink construction, which had totally ticked her off.
That’s how he’d ended up soaked through and they ended up naked together in the shower. The memory of his touch almost warmed her body. They had been yelling at each other one minute in the kitchen then entangled in each other’s arms the next, ripping their wet clothes off. That unshaven face had tickled her entire body. How had that happened?
Peyton wasn’t about to stand in the lineup with every other girl and face him while he was looking all handsome and gorgeous. He probably didn’t want to see her anyway. From all the town talk all week and the never-ending display of social media pictures, he was never seen with the same woman more than once. Player.
Stay away from him. How hard could it really be?
In all the years she’d lived next door it hadn’t been a problem so how hard could it be now? She turned and walked away feeling confident the weekend would be Colt-free.