Thank you for visiting my website!
I loved writing this book about a young widow wanting to restart her life and give her young son the best summer possible in the beach town where she grew up with her 2 lifelong best friends.
She’s not looking for love…but it just might find her anyway!
Hope you enjoy!
Read Chapter 1 of Sea Glass Summer!
Sea Glass Summer Copyright Ó 2022 by Miranda Liasson The scanning, uploading, and distribution of the book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property.
Oliver Wendell Blakemore looked like a cute, round marshmallow as he stood at home plate, the bright May sunshine bouncing off his helmet, a cartoon shark grinning on his bright white jersey. His teammates sat on the nearby bench, a few watching, others, being five-year-olds, wiggling and laughing and fooling around and earning a semi-sternish look from their coach.
“Go, Ollie, go!” Kit, his mother, gave a whoop and a big thumbs-up as she watched nervously from the stands. The warm day, with the promise of many more to come, and the vision of the sapphire-blue ocean sparkling in the distance beyond the baseball field belied her anxious feelings. She’d made certain her son had everything he needed. Helmet, check. Striped socks, baseball pants, and glove, check. Cleats, double check. She’d even studied the rules of Tee ball on YouTube so she’d understand what was going on. And bought herself a glove so she could practice with him.
She’d wanted Ollie’s first team sport to be a big success, even if his dad wasn’t here to cheer him on.
I miss you, honey, a little voice inside of her whispered. She felt the familiar heart squeeze that she felt every single time she thought about Carson. Which was only about a hundred times a day.
“Don’t forget to cheer,” Kit said to her best friend Darla, who was sitting next to her. “Do you think I should go sit with the dads?” She glanced down at the front row, where said dads lined up, yelling out occasional tidbits of advice and encouragement to their sons.
“Only if you want to make the other moms angry,” her other best friend, Hadley, said from her seat on the other side of Kit.
“Why would I make them angry?” Kit asked.
“Because you’re gorgeous,” Hadley said, brushing Kit’s long ponytail back, “and while you mean well, they might interpret it as flirting.”
“It’s not right that that bench is just for dads. Also, I don’t even remember what flirting is,” Kit remarked as she smiled widely and hiked another big thumbs-up to Ollie. “And I’ve been too busy to get a haircut. And I think I have chocolate icing on my shirt from the brownie I grabbed this morning on the way out the door.”
“I can barely see the icing,” Hadley said. “And maybe you’d better remember about the flirting quick because Coach Bryan keeps looking at you.”
“Coach Bryan is newly divorced and hot,” Darla said as she poked Kit with an elbow. Most people would think at first glance that Darla, who was barely above five feet tall with curly blond hair and pretty blue eyes, was demure and unassuming, but her friends knew that she was about as subtle as her elbow nudges.
The three women were as different in personality as in physical characteristics—Kit’s hair was nearly black, Hadley’s was light brown, and Darla’s was blond—but they’d been bound together as best friends since the age of five, their parents calling them the Three Musketeers.
“And his little boy is on the team. That’s sweet,” Hadley said.
“You’re missing the point,” Kit said. “I don’t want to flirt with anyone. I just want to make sure Ollie has some representation down there.” Not that she would do much since she barely understood the rules, but she was learning. Should Tee ball be this stressful for a parent?
Maybe when you were a single one, it was.
A dark-haired, well-built man walked up the bleachers to join them, smiling, joking, and fist-bumping with people on the way.
“Here comes your guy,” Kit said to Hadley. For the past year, Hadley had been dating former pro footballer Tony Cammareri, or “Cam” as they all called him. And was blissfully happy.
“My guy is currently on my Z list,” Hadley said. Okay, make that blissful most of the time.
“How come?” Darla asked.
“We’re having wedding stress,” Hadley confessed. “Tony knows so many people—football players, coaches, owners, managers, sportscasters—and he considers all of them friends.”
“Cam’s always had a big personality,” Kit said. “He does tend to like everybody.”
“Plus, with his new restaurant,” Darla added, “he probably knows even more people.”
Hadley threw up her hands in frustration. “If the guest list grows any more, we’re going to need a bigger backyard.”
“Oh, you’ve decided to get married in your own yard?” Darla said. “That will be amazing.” Hadley and Cam’s backyard was…on the ocean. Enough said.
“Maybe we’ll just elope,” Hadley said. A little wistfully, Kit thought.
Cam sat next to Hadley and kissed her solidly on the lips. “Eloping is like fumbling the ball on the ten-yard line. We’ve come this far—we just have to agree on a few more things.”
Hadley smiled sweetly. “You’re not going to make it over the finish line if we can’t get this resolved.”
Cam chuckled good-naturedly.
“Oh, you two are so perfect for each other, it’s sickening,” Darla said.
“Ollie’s up.” Kit pointed to home plate. Down on the field, Ollie shuffled his feet, his eyes darting around. She made sure to send him an encouraging wave. “He looks nervous,” she said as she sat on her hands so she wouldn’t bite her nails.
“Go get ’em, Tiger!” Cam yelled. “I mean Shark. Go get ’em, Shark!”
That got a little smile out of Ollie. And a few envious glances from the other boys, who well knew that Cam was a legendary football player, born and raised right here in Seashell Harbor, their quaint Victorian beach town in south New Jersey.
Kit cast him a grateful smile. Her friends and family had done all they could to make the past two years as normal as possible for her and Ollie after Carson’s death in action as an air force fighter pilot. She was lucky to have such a wonderful support system.
Ollie wound up his bat, focusing on the ball perched atop the tee, which seemed bigger than he was.
He swung wildly, the bat hitting the tee with a reverberating clang.
A few of the kids tittered. So did one of the dads, which Kit instantly took note of. Maybe she would have to head down there after all.
“Easy, Kit.” Darla grabbed hold of her elbow in case she followed through on her obvious impulse. “Look. Bryan is walking over to Ollie.”
“It’s okay, bud,” the coach said, replacing the ball on the tee. “Try it again.”
Ollie whiffed the air.
“How many strikes in this game?” Darla whispered. “Is it like regular baseball?”
“They get five tries,” Hadley answered.
“Five?” Darla exclaimed, her eyes wide.
Yes, Kit confirmed with a nod. Five excruciating strikes.
That realization made her nerves jangle. Not only because she’d wanted Tee ball to be a fun, confidence-building experience for her boy but also because it was slowly occurring to her that Ollie might be terrible at it. And if Ollie had inherited her athletic ability instead of his dad’s, they were in for big trouble.
“What’s the Admiral think about all this?” Hadley asked, nodding to the bleacher seat a few rows down from theirs, where Kit’s parents sat. Her dad, a four-star navy admiral, sat with his arms crossed, assessing.
“He made him do drills last night to get ready.”
“What kind of drills?” Darla asked.
“I was making dinner, but when I looked out the window, Ollie was doing sprints across the yard.”
“Oh.” Darla made a yikes expression.
A few more painful flails, and it was finished.
Ollie had made the third out. The game was over. And while there was no score in T-ball—the game simply went an hour and then it was called—the kids still knew.
One of Ollie’s teammates said something to him as he passed. Ollie scowled and then pulled off his helmet, tossing it to the ground, where it rolled to a stop in a puff of dust.
All Kit had wanted was for him to have fun, make friends, and fit in. Especially lately when he’d suddenly become aware of his long-standing lisp, which she’d always regarded as sweet and adorable. It never occurred to her that this could make things worse.
Kit met him near the front of the now-emptying bleachers, where he plopped himself down in the third row. “I’m not playing anymore,” he huffed, crossing his arms and sticking out his lower lip. The combination of his summer buzz cut, deeply knit brows, and soulful blue eyes all gave Kit another pang in her heart. How would she ever stop grieving Carson when their son looked exactly like him? Ollie’s bat clattered into the aisle, bumping its way down the metal steps and falling underneath the seats.
She chose not to scold him for dropping the bat into no-man’s-land because she wasn’t sure what was going on.
Carson would have known exactly how to handle this and maybe even why Ollie seemed unlike his sweet, happy self lately. Help, she sent up silently into the ether, squinting at the bright yellow sun shining so cheerfully over the seaside park.
Be brave, Kit imagined she heard back. That’s what Carson would have said. With a wink and a jaunty smile that would have made her melt a little. And she truly wanted to be brave, for his sake, because he’d been all about brave. Carson had died on a mission over Afghanistan. He’d known the dangers, yet he’d gone gallantly and done his job.
So she could do hers.
All the five-year-olds were disbanding, gathering equipment, and talking excitedly with their families. Except Ollie, who sat there very grumpily.
Darla reached under the bleachers and fished out the fallen bat, casting a reassuring smile in Kit’s direction. “It’s okay, Ollie,” she said in a soothing tone. “Everyone has bad days.”
Kit’s mother, who looked perfectly pressed in spotless white tennies, white pants, and a crisp tailored shirt, patted him on the back. “Maybe Tee ball’s just not your thing.”
“This is just the first game, Mom,” Kit said, a little more firmly than she’d intended as she sat down next to her son and gave him a little squeeze. Besides, she thought a little wryly, Ollie couldn’t quit yet. It had cost a small fortune to buy those special cleats and pants and a glove and sign up for the league. More seriously, Kit understood that making things easy for Ollie all the time wasn’t right, even though her own family had done that—for her as well—often during these past two years.
“It takes a little while to get the hang of it,” she amended, trying to convey that it wasn’t time to jump ship yet. Her parents had been a godsend to her and Ollie. But sometimes she longed to simply do things the way she saw fit.
It wasn’t their fault that they were trying to lighten the load. They’d swooped in to rescue her many a time, like in the beginning when her grief was so weighty that she could barely get out of bed, let alone take care of a toddler. Kit often felt that she was still slogging through the fog of sadness, but at least she was functional now. More than functional. But she sometimes wondered how much her grief had allowed her to give up her independence and lean on her loved ones a little too much.
As she rummaged around in her bag for her car keys, her fingers caught the stiff edges of a folded flyer she’d grabbed hurriedly from the library a few weeks ago during her lunch hour. She’d been drawn to it first because it was bright green. And second because its message seemed eerily targeted straight at her.
It was just a notice from the local community college making a pitch for next semester’s classes, which would start in the fall. And announcing transition help for adults who’d been out of school for a while, like her. Which included taking a summer class or two with some reorientation guidance and support along the way.
Right before Carson died, she’d signed up for classes to complete her college degree in psychology, planning to become a mental health therapist. But then her entire life suddenly derailed.
And so had her drive to finish her degree. Not to mention the means to finance it.
She was busy enough with her job as the front-desk person at Seaside Auto Body, and thank goodness she had Ollie, who she was determined to be a good mom for. But lately the numbness she’d felt for so long had been blossoming into a deep unrest. And while she would never be envious of her friends, she couldn’t help noting that Darla was a successful author of best-selling thrillers, and Hadley had found her happiness opening an animal rescue downtown. And that bright green flyer kept poking at her. So much so that she found herself scribbling a list of things on the back. Dreams, goals, wishes.
On her better days, she thought maybe that was a good thing because it meant she wasn’t numb anymore.
And on her bad days—well, she didn’t want to talk about those.
“Aunt Darla is right,” her dad said in his firm but gentle way to Ollie as Kit gathered up his sports bag. Her friends hung out nearby, waiting to walk out with them. “You just had an off day. That doesn’t mean we give up, right, buddy?” Her dad playfully knocked Ollie’s shoulder. The lip jutted out more. “We’ll just practice harder. Do some fun drills.”
Oh geez. For her dad, fresh air and calisthenics was the cure for…just about everything.
Cam, coming to the rescue, put a big hand on Ollie’s little shoulder, which sent another wretched pang to her heart. Cam was kind and so good with Ollie. He really made an effort to be an important male influence. But even an innocent, thoughtful gesture like that sent up an unnatural wellspring of anger inside of her. Why wasn’t that Carson’shand on his son’s shoulder? Something they’d all been robbed of.
“What do you say we practice some this week, huh, buddy?”
“I bought a bat and ball,” Kit offered. She’d tried to practice throwing with Ollie but she probably needed someone to help hone her pitching skills more than her son did.
“I think we might have one of those little stand thingies in our garage,” Hadley said.
“It’s a tee, Aunt Hadley,” Ollie said, and went back to his slumped-down position. Because of his endearing little lisp, her name came out Hadwey.
Ollie’s lisp gave her mother’s heart another prick. Now that he was about to start kindergarten, she feared that it would make him a target with the other kids. Plus their pediatrician had recommended speech therapy twice a week, and Ollie wasn’t very happy about it despite their therapist trying to make it fun and positive.
Kit had tried so hard to protect him these last few years from the perils of life. But life had a way of creeping in anyway, even for a five-year-old.
For the millionth time, she catalogued yet another way she was falling short. Of course she was, because trying to be two parents made her feel stretched thinner than a fruit roll-up.
That almost brought her to tears. Sometimes it didn’t take much, at the most unwelcome times. But she forced herself to think of something to distract herself. It was a beautiful day, the promise of summer in the air. That meant beach days, barbecues, and giving Ollie the best summer ever—summers like she remembered, growing up in Seashell Harbor, a magical place, with long, lazy days playing in the sand and running into the waves and the salty taste of ocean water in your mouth. Finding shells and sea glass and creatures and enjoying clambakes and fires on the beach. A place where the stars were so bright at night they looked like tiny diamonds.
That’s what she wanted for Ollie. A carefree, happy childhood. And she’d do anything for him to have that.
As for herself, her goals were more short-term. She just wanted to survive Tee ball. And maybe curl up at the end of the day with a good romance novel…which happened to be the only thing she was curling up with lately.
“I hate Tee ball,” Ollie said with passion as he walked side by side with her dad as they all headed to the parking lot. “I want to quit.”
Hadley put an arm around Kit as they walked off the field. “There you go,” she said, placing the fallen strap of Ollie’s bag back on her shoulder.
“He’s like Carson,” Kit said, unable to shake her worry. “Once he makes up his mind, it’s super hard to reason with him.”
“Ollie will be fine,” Hadley said. “This is just a little bump in the road.”
“Hey,” Darla said, jogging up beside them. “Don’t forget, we’re knocking on your door at seven tomorrow morning. Be awake. And wear your running shoes.”
“I’ve changed my mind,” Kit said. “I’m tired from work this week, and Ollie’s upset and…” She knew exactly what her friends were doing—staging an intervention. Something that she’d taken part in at various times in their lives for both of them too. But she hated being on the receiving end of one. “…and I’m meeting Carol Drake to discuss the house at nine.”
The house, known in town as the McKinnon house, was the big, behemoth train wreck that was Carson’s inheritance—aka the Ball and Chain.
“No excuses,” Hadley said. “You pinkie-swore.”
“That was after two glasses of wine.” Why had she mentioned that flyer to her friends? Because she was a glutton for punishment, that’s why. One whiff of her unrest and they were off to save her. Note to self: no more wine!
“We’ll be done way before then,” Darla said. “Don’t forget to bring your list.” She glanced down at Kit’s hands. “And why aren’t you wearing the ring?”
Oh no. Last summer, they’d found Darla’s great-great-grandmother’s ring hidden in the toe of an old sock when they were helping her move. The ring looked like a precious stone but was actually a Seashell Harbor “diamond,” made from bits of quartz that washed up on the beach after a long journey down the Catskills. Most of them made their way into local tourist shops. But Darla’s courageous ancestor had used hers to fake a marriage and buy an old property on the outskirts of town where unwed mothers could learn life skills.
Pretty amazing for 1906.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” Kit slid her hand along her empty finger. “I meant to give it back.”
“No, you’re supposed to be wearing it,” Darla insisted. “All summer long. That was the deal.”
“Look, it’s big and I’m constantly getting my hands in cookie dough or washing the dog or—”
“Hadley wore it last summer and look what happened.” Darla was referring to the fact that Hadley had reconnected with her first love and was now engaged.
“It can’t hurt, Kit,” Hadley, always the optimist, chimed in. “Of the three of us, you’ve always been the romantic. So wear it and see what happens.”
Kit used to believe in true love and poetry and romance. But the truth was, her romantic well was…bone-dry, thanks very much.
She was about to just tell her friends that fine, she would wear it to get them off her case, when Ollie’s best friend, Corey, and his mom Cindy passed by. Corey, who had freckles and a mop of curly red hair, ran up to Ollie and put his arms around him. “It’s okay, Ollie. You’ll get a hit next time. You want to come over and play Transformers tomorrow?”
Kit loved that kid and so, apparently, did Ollie, as his face brightened immediately. Kit smiled at Cindy. “How is it you have such a wonderful child?”
She shrugged. “Yours is pretty wonderful too. Can Ollie play? It’s my turn to host the Saturday playdate.”
“Sure,” Kit said. “Thanks.”
“Would you mind hosting next weekend?” Cindy asked. “My finals are coming up, and I could use some study time. Or nap time.” She chuckled. “I’m not sure which one I need more.”
“I’d love to have the boys over tomorrow,” Kit said. “And next weekend too so you can study. Just plan on that. If it’s a nice day, I’ll take them to the beach.”
“You sure you wouldn’t mind?” Cindy wore that sudden look of relief that moms know well.
“Not at all.” Kit shook her head incredulously, in awe of her friend. “Full-time job, full-time student, full-time mother. What’s your secret?”
“Caffeine,” Cindy said. “Anger helps too.” She gave Kit a squeeze. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Not that I’m an expert or anything, but an idiot ex is probably a lot easier to deal with than losing a great guy you genuinely loved.”
Oh geez, there Kit went, feeling like she was going to tear up again. “Thanks,” Kit managed. “And good luck with the studying.” As they all headed off the field, she felt even more unsettled.
Kit used to be a go-getter like Cindy. Determined. Hardworking. A goal setter.
Used to be. That was a terrible way to define yourself.
As she rummaged in her purse for her car keys, the flyer poked her again. Reminding her of her shortcomings, no doubt.
Hadley touched her elbow. “Hot single dad alert,” she whispered in a singsong voice. “Don’t turn around.”
Kit froze. She would’ve brushed off her friends’ teasing as bluster except that Ollie’s coach had been making a lot of eye contact with her. And she was awfully rusty at the dating game, but she wasn’t dead, and she’d definitely noticed him too. “Who is it?” she asked, hoping it wasn’t Bryan Dougherty. He was…unsettling. Handsome. A male. Single.
All the moms joked about how good-looking he was behind his back. And some of them blatantly flirted with him. Like Astrid, a mom who never showed up in shorts and a T-shirt, always had a fresh manicure, and who happened to be frowning at her from twenty feet away right now.
“Someone tall, dark, and athletic,” Darla said with a grin. “Former college hockey star, with a gorgeous smile. All teeth present and accounted for.”
Kit gave Darla a puzzled look. “Teeth accounted for?”
“It’s a hockey joke,” Darla said.
“A bad one,” Hadley added.
Darla hurriedly tidied Kit’s flyaway wavy hair, a staple of living by the ocean. Hadley pulled out her tinted lip balm and nudged her to use some.
“I’m not putting that on,” Kit said.
Hadley persisted. “Chapped lips are not attractive,” she said.
Kit rolled her eyes and took the offering, swiping it over her lips and then rubbing them together. “You haven’t done that since high school,” she said, but Hadley’s response was a quick backward wave as she turned to go.
“See you bright and early.” Darla gave a knowing nod as they both walked away.
“Hey, don’t leave—” Kit dearly loved her friends, even if they were sometimes pushy and annoying. Like now.
“Hey, Kit.” Bryan combed back his stylishly longish hair, which might require too much work for some men but looked great on him. “How are you?” His deep blue gaze swept her up and down in a way that should’ve flattered her but instead just made her feel more jittery. Yep, she was waaaay out of practice.
“Hey, Bryan,” she said. “Do you have a second?” Maybe if she talked first, he wouldn’t ask her out. Which she feared might be on his mind. Not that he wasn’t cute but…she wasn’t ready. The way her heart was beating like she was having a heart attack told her so. Maybe she’d never be ready. But right now, Ollie was foremost on her mind. As he should be. Right?
“For you, I have two,” he said with a chuckle.
“I’m a little concerned about Ollie,” Kit said.
Bryan scratched his very attractive stubble. “Hmmm, well, he is a little shy and cautious. He just needs to toughen up a little, not be afraid to take a little hit.” He playfully knocked her elbow to bring home his point.
“Oh.” A thousand questions flew through her mind. Including the phrases toughen up and not be afraid to take a little hit, both of which made her a little uncomfortable. Carson would probably laugh and tell her that it was okay—even necessary—for Ollie not to be overly sensitive. You can’t pad the crib forever, he’d say with that wonderful laugh as he gathered her into his arms.
She couldn’t protect her son from all the bumps and bruises of life. Or the fact that his dad wasn’t here to help him—or her—through this.
“I’ll look out for him next practice,” Bryan said. “Don’t worry.”
“Okay. Thanks.” There. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe that’s why he was approaching her. To discuss his concerns about Ollie. She turned to go but his voice. Made her turn back. “Say,” he said, suddenly at her side, “I had a crazy idea.”
He was smiling in a nice, easy way. Her guy radar, rusty as it was, sensed what was coming. “Oh. What was that?”
He dropped his voice. “It’s actually not about the boys. I was wondering if you’d like to grab some dinner sometime. Whatever you can work out with your babysitter.”
Kit’s stomach churned. She imagined Carson standing behind her shoulder, chuckling softly. I don’t trust him, Carson would say. His teeth are too perfect.
She wished he was standing behind her.
If she was ever going to get a date, she had to stop picturing her dead husband laughing at the guy who was asking her out.
And that almost made her laugh. Starting over seemed impossible. And she was an absolute disaster.
“Kit?” Bryan flashed a winsome grin. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No, not at all.” She took a breath and smiled. Yes, that was how it was done. A nice smile and say yes.
She managed the first part. But the words did not come.
They both stood there, the silence stretching on. “I…That was sweet of you. Let me…check my schedule.” She felt like someone could fry a hamburger on her cheeks. “That’s really nice of you to ask,” she added.
“Well, I really hope you can,” he said. “I’ll catch you tomorrow at practice, okay?”
“Sure, great.” Her family and friends still stood down the field a ways, waiting for her.
She didn’t want to be stuck forever. She didn’t want her friends feeling sorry for her. She wanted her life back.
People could help her with a lot of things, like watching Ollie and forcing her to wake up early on Saturday to go jogging, but the hard work of living she would have to find the courage for all by herself.
“Bryan,” she called after him.
“Yeah?” he said, turning around.
“I’d love to go out.”
“Terrific.” He walked over and asked for her phone, which she gave him to add his number. “Text me a potential day, okay?”
“Great,” she said, but she didn’t feel great. Or excited.
She felt terrified.
But she did feel that she’d accomplished something. Because if she wasn’t brave, how could she ever expect Ollie to be?