Before Spinney could launch another rebuttal, Morgan cut him off. “And, hey, how about showing some loyalty, huh? Taking the side of a big corporation over Florence and Beatrice? You two should be ashamed of yourselves!”
Miss Annie joined in, wagging her finger at her foe. “Boyd Spinney, you can call me all the names you want, but this old fossil will have no part of anything that hurts the Jenkins sisters. And like Morgan said, you shouldn’t either. Why should we line the pockets of some big mainland corporation that sticks stores every ten feet across the state of Maine? We’ve done just fine without places like that for a couple of hundred years, so we sure don’t need them now.”
Blowing out a loud sigh, Father Michael finally rose from the table. “Now folks, I don’t think—”
Frenette moved to hover over the much shorter priest, his black eyebrows furiously pulling into a unibrow. “You people are just full of hot air. Times change, and the general store ain’t up-to-date. Everybody knows that.” He swayed a bit, clearly drunk. “If we’re going to be honest here, the place is a stinkin’ dump.”
The shock of those words hit Holly squarely in the chest.
“Watch it, Frenette,” Micah said in a cold voice, giving her hand a squeeze that she suspected was a signal for her to stay out of it.
But she couldn’t. For Frenette to launch such a vicious insult against the store was too much. She pulled her hand free, ignoring Micah’s growl.
“Stinking dump?” she said, going up on her toes and getting right in Frenette’s grill. His beery, cigarette-stinky breath almost made her gag. “That’s the way you talk about your neighbors? About two gracious ladies who’ve devoted themselves to this town? You ungrateful jerk!”
Frenette gave a loud snort. “Relax, okay? I’m not crapping on Florence and Beatrice, so don’t go getting your little panties in a twist, dollface. Besides, I figure somebody who only comes around once a year shouldn’t get much of say in island business anyway.”
And there you have it, folks. The ultimate insult in Seashell Bay—to tell a native-born islander that they no longer belong.
Something in Holly’s head seemed to pop, and every bit of fear, frustration, and rage she’d been suppressing came pouring out like a red tide.
“How dare you!” She flattened her palms on Frenette’s chest and shoved, sending him reeling backward. The man’s mouth gaped open as he windmilled to keep his balance. She launched herself at him again, making an instinctive fist.
“Holly, chill out!” Micah said sharply, wrapping his arm around her waist. He pulled her back with irresistible force, lifting her feet right off the ground.
“Leave me alone, Micah. I’m not taking that kind of crap from him. This is my home as much as his.” Holly tried to wriggle out of his grasp, but his arm was an iron bar around her body. She probably looked as helpless as a worm on a hook.
“You need some air,” Micah said, half carrying her past Frenette and Spinney. “And, Cooper, you need to shut your mouth. Don’t talk to Holly like that again—ever. Now, either sit down and shut up or get the hell out of here.”
Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today
Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at
plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to
that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually
writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to
that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical
romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can check out Vanessa’s
bestselling historical romances at www.vanessakellyauthor.com