Always on My Mind - Bella Andre

Bella Andre - The Sullivans #8 - Always on My Mind

Always On My Mind (The Sullivans #8)
Bella Andre


Chapter One

Lori Sullivan wasn’t looking for trouble. She swore she wasn’t.

Just because her nickname was Naughty and trouble seemed to follow her wherever she went didn’t mean she wanted any today. On the contrary—for the first time ever, she was looking for some peace and quiet.

No one in her family knew she was back in San Francisco, having just flown in on the red-eye from Chicago. Even though she loved them more than anyone else in the world, she just couldn’t face them right now. Her six brothers, twin sister, and mother were the best family a girl could have...and yet, if they found out that she was back, they’d not only want to know why she’d walked out on her show halfway through its run, but they also wouldn’t back off until they’d wrung every horrible detail out of her.

How did she know that?

Because it was exactly what she’d done to every one of them over the past twenty-five years.

So, instead of wheeling her suitcase from the San Francisco Airport baggage claim area over to the taxi station to head home to her apartment, she impulsively headed for the rental-car desk.

“Good morning, how can I help you?” chirped the blonde woman behind the desk.

Lori guessed the two of them had to be around the same age, but by contrast she felt at least a decade wearier. “I need a car.”

“Great! Where are you headed and how long do you need it for?”

The woman’s smile was so bright, Lori felt her eyes tearing up from the glare. Fortunately, after her bleary-eyed flight across the country, immediately upon landing she’d put on her sunglasses to deal with the blinding sunlight pouring in through her small airplane window. She’d hate for the woman to think she was crying.

No, Lori refused to cry over anything that had happened in Chicago. Or during the year and a half before that.

She wasn’t a crier, damn it. Never had been, never would be.

The world would have do a heck of a lot more than give her a cheating scum of a boyfriend and take away her entire dancing career to make her cry.

She was young. She was healthy. She had her whole life ahead of her.

Somehow, some way, she’d figure out what to do with the next seventy years.

Which brought her back to the car rental woman’s questions. Where was she going? And for how long?

Blaming lack of sleep for the fact that all her brain could come up with was blanks, she asked, “Where’s your favorite place to go?”

The woman was momentarily surprised by Lori’s question, but then her face got all dreamy. “Pescadero.”

Lori slipped her sunglasses down her nose so that she could peer at the woman over the frames. “Pescadero?”

Having lived in Northern California her entire life, Lori figured she must have driven through there at some point, but as far as she could recall, Pescadero had been nothing more than a bunch of farms strung together.

The woman nodded happily. “I just love the green rolling hills that seem to go on forever, all those sheep and cows munching away, and the fact that the ocean is at the end of nearly every farm road.”

Lori loved living in the city. She loved working in cities, too, especially since her dance career had always been intrinsically tied to the movement all around her. A sleepy farm town was the last place she would ever have thought to pick for an impromptu vacation.

“It sounds perfect. How long can I have the car?”

Again, the woman gave her a slightly strange look before saying, “One month, and then I’ll need to fill out additional paperwork. But it’s really more of a day trip. A shortish one, at that. I can’t imagine how you could possibly spend a month in Pescadero.”

Even though Lori was silently wondering the same thing, she handed over her credit card and signed a dozen forms promising that she wouldn’t damage the car. A few minutes later, she was holding the keys and about to walk away from the rental desk, when she turned back.

“Any idea how to get to Pescadero from here?”

* * *

An hour and a half later, Lori was wondering if the farmland was ever going to end when she saw a roof. Feeling like a sailor who had been out to sea for months before finally catching sight of land, she put her foot