The Love List
Publication date: May 17th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Beatrice Callahan loves lists. Sometimes she even makes a to-do list of things she’s already done, just to go check, check, check and feel accomplished. So it’s easy to understand why, when her divorce is finally final and her ex is all moved out, Bea takes a cool, close look at her life…and makes a list.
It’s not exactly a bucket list.
It’s a love list.
Bea loves the outdoors, so she puts visit 10 National Parks on the list.
She loves animals, and on goes get a puppy.
She loves the beach, and she adds take a dream vacation to the list, and decides to do that one first. After all she’s been through and all she’s lost, she needs time to relax, rest, and reset.
On the first day she arrives in Hilton Head Island, she meets Grant Turner, the man whose house she’s renting for her fabulous beach vacation. He’s just there to make sure she settles in properly and has enough towels.
But when Bea asks for recommendations around the island, Grant quickly becomes her tour guide and then a friend and then…more than friends.
Bea turns to her lists when things get confusing and her love list morphs once again… Can she add fall in love at age 45 to the list and check it off?
Grant’s stomach rumbled as the line didn’t seem to dwindle at all. When he glanced at the clock, he dang near fell over. “I have to go,” he said, twisting to look at Cara like she was the boss and could dismiss him.
“No,” a woman said in a near-bark from the other side of the counter. “I need to put in my order.”
He turned and met a pair of dark blue eyes that reminded him of deeper waters off the shores of Hilton Head. The kind he’d fish in when he went out trawling with one of his friends who owed him for letting his mother stay in the best condo on the island for a weekend girls’ trip.
“Did I hear you say I can’t get anything without a banana?” she asked, those eyes flying across the wall behind him. “They’re a really strong flavor profile.”
She wore her hair in a pixie cut, with fashionable bangs that hung in shaggy layers across the very tops of her eyebrows. In any other situation, Grant would classify her as beautiful, and if he held a drink in his hand instead of a blasted blue ballpoint pen, and if the music pumped through a tiki bar instead of wafted along the air conditioning currents in a smoothie shop, he might try to get her number.
“They’re what makes your smoothie smooth,” he said, irritation blipping through him.
“Fine,” the woman said with a sigh. She hitched her rustic, spotted-cow-purse higher on her shoulder. He did smile at that bag, wiping the gesture away quickly when she lifted her eyebrows and asked, “Are you ready to take my order?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said in true Southern-gentleman style.
“I’d like the Beach Sunrise, with half the banana.”
“No more raspberries,” Cara called just as Grant started writing. He froze and looked up at the woman.
“Uh,” he said.
“Let me guess,” she said. “I can’t have the Beach Sunrise.”
“It does have raspberries in it,” he said, and he congratulated himself that he didn’t even have to turn to look at the menu to know that. He’d enjoyed a fair few Beach Sunrises over the years, and he happened to like the raspberry, mango, and banana combination.
She emitted the sigh of the century, and Grant’s phone started buzzing at him. “Oliver,” he called down the line. “I have to go.”
Oliver burst out laughing with a customer down at the register, and Grant rolled his eyes.
“I’ll get him,” Cara said. She stopped making the smoothies and went down to Oliver. She said a couple of things, to which he leaned his head toward her, and then he looked down to Grant.
“I’ll have the Fake Sunset,” the woman with the cute hair and pretty eyes said.
Grant scratched out her order, flung the paper onto the slider, and dropped the pen. “I have to go,” he said to an approaching Oliver. “And I still don’t have my smoothie.”
“Ten minutes,” Oliver said. “I’ve got raspberries in the freezer. Can you do the register while I grab them?”
“The freezer” meant the grocery store half a mile away. Grant wasn’t stupid, nor was this the first time he’d helped Oliver in a pinch.
“How about I run and get the raspberries?” Grant asked. “Then when I get back, Cara will have my smoothie ready, and I can go.” He held his ground with the sandy-haired owner. Just because Oliver could charm scorpions didn’t mean Grant had to do his bidding. In fact, he had half a mind to leave for “the freezer” and never come back to The Mad Mango. It had certainly inspired some anger in him that afternoon—and he was in danger of being seriously late to meet his four o’clock check-in.
His phone hadn’t alerted him to her proximity, however, so he might be okay. Oliver didn’t need to know that, and Grant glared at his friend.
The woman who’d stood a foot or two down the counter listening stepped back toward them. She clearly wasn’t super happy. “Are you telling me I can have the Beach Sunrise?” she asked. “You just have to grab the raspberries out of the freezer?”
“Yes,” Oliver said at the same time Grant said, “No.”
Grant made an executive decision. “I’ll go grab the raspberries,” he said, walking in the wrong direction to get them from the freezer. “I can’t ring these people up.” He didn’t look back as he stepped away.
“If you can get raspberries,” the pixied woman said. “I want the Beach Sunrise.”
“Lady,” Grant said, cutting her a glare out of the corner of her eye. “I don’t work here. Let it go.”
A blender started making a horrible chugging noise, then metal on metal, all within a single second.
“Watch out,” Cara called from down where she’d just scooped frozen peaches into a blender cup.
“Watch out?” Grant swung his attention from the blonde woman with the stormy eyes to the counter that ran along the length of the back wall. The lid blew off the top of the blender in that moment, and all Grant had time to do was throw his hands up in front of his face and pray.
He entered some weird place where noise and feeling didn’t exist. He sensed them happening around him, but for some reason, they didn’t affect him. The weird sensation didn’t last long, and then everything came rushing at him at double-speed.
Cold seeped through his shirt and made his skin ripple with gooseflesh. More than one person shouted, and he could pick out Oliver’s voice saying to get some napkins and then for Cara to kill the power to the blenders.
The soul-wrenching sound of that metal on metal that said the blender bottle wasn’t seated with the motor rotor grated against his nerves, and then it blissfully ended.
“I’m so sorry,” Oliver said, but he wasn’t talking to Grant. He’d somehow gotten on the other side of the counter, and Grant wouldn’t put it past him to have vaulted the stupid thing, because the person he’d just apologized to?
USA Today bestseller Elana Johnson writes adult contemporary beach romance. She is the author of over 130 books across two names, and there's nothing better than sun, sand, and swoon-worthy kisses! Unless it's a sweet-and-sexy cowboy - read those under her pen name of Liz Isaacson. Learn more about her sweet beach romances at www.elanajohnson.com. Join her texting group by sending the word SAND to 474747 and get exclusive sales, freebies, and more!
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