Is It Any Wonder (Nantucket Love Story #2) - Courtney Walsh
Dear Mr. Boggs,
It’s been five years since you died, and I’ve thought about you every single day since. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m ten years old and you’re down at the beach building sandcastles with me and Cody.
None of the other parents ever wanted to play with us, but you were always more than willing. I mean, you couldn’t have actually liked being buried to your neck in sand . . . but you let us do it. You even smiled for pictures like that.
I can’t help but think that what happened was my fault. At least indirectly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hate it in movies when people seem so broken up with guilt over something that’s clearly not their fault—but what happened to you kind of was my fault, wasn’t it?
Is it any wonder that I wish I could take it back? I wish I could say I’m sorry. I wish I could rewind and change everything about that night. I hurt you. I hurt Cody. I hurt Mrs. Boggs and Marley. I even hurt my own parents because the moment they told us you were gone, everything changed. It was like we’d been plummeted into a jar of molasses, like we were moving in slow motion, swimming through a thick cloud of sorrow.
Will the cloud ever go away? Will it always hang here, a sad reminder that the choice of a foolish girl could impact so many lives, destroy so many friendships?
I don’t know. And I don’t know why I’m writing. I know you’ll never read these words. It helps, though, at least a little bit. It makes me feel better putting it out there into the world, the fact that I’m so horribly sorry for what I’ve done.
I pray one day you can forgive me. I pray one day you will all forgive me.
SEVEN YEARS LATER
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Not that there was time to think about it now. Not with the waves growing and the wind blowing and her paddle floating away, pulled out to sea by a storm she hadn’t seen coming.
Louisa Chambers inhaled a sharp breath as the water swelled and a wave crashed over her head. Her legs kicked against the water of Nantucket Sound as she heaved her body up onto the paddleboard.
So much for a quiet morning out on the water.
She sighed. Her father would be so angry with her if she died paddleboarding.
“How many times have I told you to wear a life vest?” he’d say. “You don’t challenge death, kitten.”
He still called her kitten. She might actually miss that if she died.
She knew all too well the realities of death—she didn’t need reminding. But maybe death needed to know she wasn’t scared of it.
I’m not scared. I’m strong. I’m stronger than I look.
Again she willed herself to stay calm. Her paddle was officially gone.
She wasn’t far from Madaket Beach—she’d hang on to her board and kick her way back. It was early, just after sunrise, but someone would be up soon. Mr. Dallas with his golden retriever, maybe. Or one of the McGuires.
But the wind intensified and pushed her in the wrong direction, sending her into deeper, choppier waters. The shoreline stretched on forever, and the water kept moving her farther and farther away from it.
Her hand slipped off the paddleboard, and she gasped as a wave smacked her in the face.
How many times have I told you to wear a life vest?
Her dad’s voice echoed in her ear—louder this time—and rightfully so. She should’ve listened. She should’ve—whack. Another wave, this one bringing with it a mouthful of water. She spit it out and struggled back to her board, barely latching on to it as the current kicked up again.
She coughed, white-knuckling the paddleboard and scanning the shore, the horizon, the open sea.
That was when she began to realize she might actually be in danger. That was when she thought, I could die out here.
Who would handle the Timmons anniversary party if she died? How would she ever show Eric she was completely over him—even though, in reality, she wasn’t sure she was? Who would water that stupid houseplant her mother had sent over from Valero and Sons “because you need practice keeping something alive if you’re ever going to have children”?
She wanted to have children, so she needed to make sure that plant lived.
She draped her torso over the paddleboard and tried not to think about sharks. She tried to think