*name change on novel to “The Seahearts” but for the month of Nano sticking to orig…
Novel is set in and around all the little towns and wonderful things on the Inner and Outer Banks of North Carolina. Day one we met a main character in a little cafe, having cream biscuits because her husband had just left her. Day two it was all about Benjamin who had arrived from NY for some fishing. Day three we are about to meet Cassie, who really, really wants a cat.
Like this one!
And today we meet Cassie’s mom too!
A Little Book of Holiday Comfort
Tina Pinkerton was fast asleep in her canopied mystic mermaid king-sized bed when, through clouds of slumber a voice, tiny at first but then getting louder and louder, was calling “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”
Oh no, she thought to herself. Oh no, what if Cassie hears that?
It was simply too comfortable to drag herself out of bed just yet, so she watched the dawn breaking over the waves as she looked out to sea. She patted the empty spot beside her as if Jason her lawyer husband was there next to her, but no. Of course he was in Boston, so she would have to deal with yet another crisis all by herself.
Jason, she moaned. Why are you never here when things like this happen?
“Mommy I want brownies for breakfast.”
Oh no, she thought. Cassie heard that too.
Cassie pounced on the bed right on top of her mother. The maribou was flying off the two of them in pink and aqua clouds. Two more girly girls had never been seen ever on the Outer Banks. Every single year they were the talk of the of the town. They had been ever since Jason insisted on building the palace he called “Mermaid Castle.” It was right next door to the tiny little place Benjamin had been with his dad at ten. At five stories high and twelve bedrooms and baths, to say that it overshadowed every single house in Nags Head would not be doing it true justice, frankly.
It’s just that he was never there with his two princesses because his firm was busy suing big things all day long. He could never get out of work, so he just kept building one big palace after another and shipping his wife and daughter off to various states all year long so they could have nothing but fun. He had insisted that Cassie be home-schooled, too. That was Tina’s job. That and cooking. When she wasn’t having her nails and hair done or shopping for cute little treasures she was supposed to be furnishing the houses with.
“Daddy said I could have brownies for breakfast.”
“Mommy needs her beauty sleep.”
“Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty…”
“Mommy did you hear that?”
“I did, sweetie.”
“Daddy said I could have a kitten when I was ten.”
“Baby, I know he told you that.”
“I’m not a baby anymore quit calling me that.”
“Sweetie, let me sleep a little longer, please.”
“I want brownies.”
“Here Kitty, Kitty Kitty…”
“Cassie, go see if you can peek at who that is and come back and tell me.”
Benjamin had already walked the beach hunting for the little black and white speck he’d seen the night before. He’d climbed the dunes dressed for winter in his brand new Wellies and a parka. At the little shop where he had gotten the cream for his new little friend he’d picked up one of Beth’s favorite scented candles. His tiny cottage had still smelled of it in the morning, in a honeyed very South of France kind of a way. It was Beth’s scent. Honey. She was everything he had ever wanted. Never was he without her signature scent when he traveled on business, and he had Jane his secretary buy the Votivo candles by the dozens.
Cassie ran to the very top of the house and out on the top balcony. She could just make out the man next door combing the dunes from her perch. He was the one calling for the cat. In all her summers she had never seen him before. That cottage next to their house had never had anyone in it. It was called “Dreamers and Seahearts” and the old plaque was almost falling off its hinges. Tacked up next to the sign were sea beans shaped like hearts, right by the front door. It was something her father was always complaining about. The way that cottage looked. The truth was, nobody had come to the cottage for years and years and years. Houses had been built up all around it that were much, much larger. It was the smallest oldest house in town.
“Mommy there’s a man next door calling a cat.”
“He’s in that house Daddy doesn’t like.”
“The haunted cottage?”
Cassie shook her head up and down.
“Oh I have to see this,” Tina said. “Nobody has been in that place for years.”
Tina pulled her pink silk robe tightly around her and stepped into her satin mules. She was never seen without her heels. Ever. Even when she and Cassie were alone for days at the beach house she was coiffed to the nines. And made up. But this morning she had to see who had taken the place next door, so she hid behind one of the sheer white billowing linen curtains like a veil. It’s not as if he could have seen her anyway. The Mermaid bedroom was on the fourth floor.
“Isn’t he handsome Cassie?”
Cassie just shook her head up and down. Benjamin looked like a movie star. He had silvery grey hair at his temples and dressed the way he was it looked like he had come right off a set. He was just one of those men who looks come easy for. He’d never thought about that though.
“Honey, did you say you wanted brownies?”
“Daddy said brownies for breakfast!”
“Last night on the phone.”
“Do we have any mix?”
“Nope we’re out.”
The truth of the matter was that Tina could not cook a thing. Every single thing she made came frozen or in boxes and cans. Jason had never minded that, because she was his princess. Cooking took too long and besides it would mess up her nails, anyway. She never liked to take off all the diamonds he had gotten her since they married. In fact, she only had one unadorned finger left. Her left thumb. Otherwise she glittered like a twinkling city nightscape. And that’s just how Jason liked her too.
“Go run and play while Mommy gets dressed, Cassie. Then we’ll go to the store.”
Out in front of Super Tigers, the biggest market chain in the Outer Banks, the Blue Ribbon Sisters were setting up a bake sale to raise funds for the county schools. Priscilla was in charge, of course. Even though she was in her young twenties and didn’t even have any children she was known as the bossiest baker in town. Most people put her at the helm of things, just because. The Sisters had been baking for charity and potlucks as long as anyone could remember. They prided themselves on their from scratch goods, each one collecting coupon after coupon so they could get the best deals in town. Pie crust was a source of extreme pride. So were the cookies and bars and brownies and quickbreads every single year leading up to the holidays. Why, many of the Sisters had met their husbands right in front of Super Tigers markets.
“Here comes Tina Pinkerton,” whispered one of the Sisters to Priscilla. “Will you get a load of her outfit, and to think it is November after all.”
The Mermaid Castle has been a source of gossip ever since it had been built. So had Tina.
“Cassie, help Mommy get the cart.”
“Mommy I want cookies.”
“Not now, sweetie pie.”
The Blue Ribbon Sisters had made it a point to snub Tina Pinkerton as long as she had been a resident of Nags Head. You could never tell which months she’d be down as it was. All they knew was that Tina would buy out every beach towel and set of linens in town. Nothing about her was practical at all. Nothing. They turned up their noses at her as she and Cassie pushed the biggest cart right past them toward the door.
Oh that outfit she has on, Priscilla thought. That outfit…
“Cassie go run and help Mommy do the shopping.”
Cassie had been helping her mother on shopping days for as long as she could remember. She raced around the store getting all their favorite things from the shelves until the cart was almost not even pushable. Somehow she had managed to get almost all the boxes of Ghiradelli brownies into that cart, because those were her favorites.
Tina tripped down the aisles while all the workers nodded at her in those heels. And that hat. And that parasol. And those diamonds. She was one of the best customers the town had ever had.
“Y’all need more brownie mix Cassie?’ asked the cute young bag boy at the counter. “I think you two bought out the whole store today.”
Twenty five shopping bags later, Tina’s loaded car spun south back to the house.
“Cassie, I think we should invite that nice new neighbor over for dinner honey, what say you?”
“Would Daddy care?”
“No honey, he wouldn’t.”
“Mommy how come he rented that house?”
“I don’t know but that is what we are going to find out.”
“Mommy who is he?”
“Well, maybe he’s a movie star.”
“He might be, he’s that handsome.”
Benjamin was still out on the dune calling the kitty when he saw a car pull up. He could not believe his eyes as the mother and daughter team got out and began to unpack so many bags from the market up the road. It looked like enough food to feed an army, and it was too.
“Hey Mister,” Cassie screamed at the dune. “Mommy wants to invite you over for dinner tonight, and shes making seven kinds of brownies too.”
Tina was struggling in her high heels to carry the bags one by one to the door of Mermaid’s Castle. It was going to be a long haul to get all that food up to the kitchen on the second floor because of the enormous flights of stairs Jason had insisted upon.
“Go over and introduce yourself properly.”
Cassie ran to the dune, her brown hair flying and her eyes twinkling. Not only was she going to meet a movie star but he had a cat.