Former socialite Tracy Deloche has nothing to her name but five ramshackle beach cottages and the unlikely friendships she's formed with her tenants. Wanda, wise waitress turned popular pie-shop owner. Janya, the young Indian wife whose arranged marriage surprises her every day. Alice, a widow raising her complex tween-age granddaughter. And Maggie, Wanda's daughter, a former Miami cop with a love life as complicated as Tracy's own.
The new man in Tracy's life hasn't mentioned love or commitment--and Tracy has just discovered she's pregnant. Janya longs to be a mother--and suddenly has two young siblings in her care. Maggie helps out at Wanda's Wonderful Pies...but is the kitchen big enough for both Gray women? And Alice may lose her beloved granddaughter to someone no one expected....
As a tropical storm brews, the wind carries surprises and secrets over the bridge to Happiness Key. Now, more than ever, five friends will discover just how much they need one another.
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June 27, 2011
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Excerpt from Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards
On Thursday afternoon, the first day of her Everglades canoe trip with her lover, Marsh Egan, Tracy Deloche fell overboard into rotten-egg-scented water. Unfortunately, her paddle lodged in a mangrove root. She stayed with the paddle, and Marsh stayed with the canoe.
On Thursday evening of their Everglades canoe trip, she discovered that their campground was a chickee, an elevated wooden platform above a channel that had turned to mudflats, and that the chickee came with no water, although it did come with two whining children and one portable toilet. The cheerful mom explained that this was a homeschooling field trip, and the children would be up and down all night recording observations in their journals.
Next to sleeping on a deflating air mattress, the children were no problem at all.
By Friday evening of their Everglades canoe trip, Tracy Deloche was pretty sure she and Marsh were not meant to spend their lives together.
"Don't tell me about chiggers and no-see-ums! You think I need a biology lecture?" Tracy, perched on a fallen tree, was rolling up the legs of her jeans and spraying her calves with repellent as she spat out the words. Her ankles already felt like smoldering logs. Her arms ached from canoeing for hours through mazes of mangrove-lined creeks. Her head throbbed from wood smoke billowing up her nostrils.
"Here's the deal, hotshot, unless you also want chiggers in places only I ever see, you'd better move over there." Marsh pointed to one of two plastic coolers on the other side of the campfire, where an armload of salt-crusted driftwood was ramping up the smolder factor. "Chiggers thrive in dead wood."
Tracy leaped to her feet, which were--not surprisingly--bare, since that morning she'd found a scorpion in the toe of her water shoes, and found it the hard way. Earlier she'd taken her chances with flip-flops, since her big toe had swollen to twice its normal size, but now even the flip-flops had run for cover.
"You know, we're supposed to be having fun here," Marsh said. "That's why I'm with you instead of the rest of the Wild Florida gang. That's why you're with me instead of back at Happiness Key fixing up a cottage for Wanda's daughter. Something going on I should know about? This whole weekend you've been wound tighter than a banjo string. The least little thing sends you screeching."
"Little?" Tracy pointed to her legs, peppered with scarlet dots. "Is little redneckspeak for miserable?"
He squatted to take a closer look, running a finger along her shin before he looked up and smiled. "We'll smear your legs with petroleum jelly. You'll feel better, and I'll get a little thrill."
"And it's the only thrill you're likely to get on this trip, too."
Marsh looked as if he was debating what to say to that. As always, he was dressed a lot more like the Florida Cracker he claimed to be than the pit-bull attorney who was director of one of Florida's most effective environmental organizations. His sandy hair was pulled back at the nape in a short ponytail, and he needed a shave. His faded green T-shirt was ripped under one arm. His cutoffs needed a good trim, and his feet were happily bare. In fact, he looked like the embodiment of Wild Florida, whose success at stopping a wetlands shopping mall had been the motivation for this celebratory camping trip. Marsh was in his element.
Tracy was not.
"You said you wanted to come." He sprang back to his feet without using his hands. "I told you it would be rugged."