Playing at Forever - By Michelle Brewer Page 0,1


She was the one who’d chosen to put everything she had on the line in order to open up her own restaurant—along with her husband, of course.

Her lying, cheating husband, that was. The one who had only months ago revealed to her that he had been having an affair with the woman Penny had hired to lighten her workload so that she would have more time to be a wife. More time to start a family. More time to make him happy.

She suddenly longed for some sort of heavy liquor rather than the hot bitter liquid she was sipping. It would much better prepare her for the day ahead of her, to be spent in the very presence of her soon-to-be ex husband and his new lover.

With a heavy sigh, she placed her mug on the countertop and pulled the oversized sweater she wore tighter around her. “You don’t have to do this, Pen,” her friend whispered, pulling Penny from her thoughts. “I mean—I know you don’t want to even consider it, but you can always sell the restaurant—”

“No,” Penny said with a firm shake of her head. She had worked hard to get her hands on The Seaside and she wasn’t going to let anything take it away from her. Ever since she had been a little girl, she had dreamed of owning her own restaurant. Her parents had been small business owners, running and operating their own movie rental store and she had taken her cue from them. She’d saved every penny she had, and borrowed as much as she could, in order to achieve her dream. “Out of the question.”

“I hate to see you so unhappy.”

“Well, take comfort in the fact that they are probably just as unhappy as I am.” Penny smiled mischievously, though smiling was the last thing she felt like doing.

“That is comforting,” Amy said with a crooked smile. “Come on, I’ll walk with you. I need to pick up a few things anyway.” Penny slid from the stool and made her way toward the door, slipping on her shoes and stepping out into the cool morning air. The smell of the ocean lingered faintly in the air and Penny closed her eyes, breathing it in.

She had lived in the same small North Carolina town ever since she was born. She had envisioned herself raising her own family here, but now—she wasn’t so sure.

Her mind traveled back to her previous thoughts. She had been with Kevin since high school—they had married just after college and had been together for nearly ten years, all considered.

His affair had come as such a shock, not just to her—but to everyone. They had seemed like the perfect couple—they’d had a comfortable life, a nice home, a popular business. All of which he was now sharing with her while Penny stayed in her best friend’s guest room.

Well, all except the popular business. She didn’t care about the house, the cars, any of it—except the restaurant. The Seaside was hers. It was her dream. She had put so much of herself into it—dedicated hours upon hours not just at the restaurant, but dreaming it up and putting it into effect. It was celebrating it’s fifth year running and business was only growing.

If nothing else, she would at least have one of her dreams.

The two women were walking now, making their way toward the coast of their small town. Amy chattered on at Penny’s side, talking about the weather. Penny hardly noticed—she dressed the same regardless of the weather. Neutral clothing—lots of blacks and whites and grays, nothing too close fitting. She wasn’t looking to be noticed.

She didn’t need any more heartache than she’d already been through.

As if on cue, Amy paused at one of the street-side vendors—magazines and newspapers filling the racks. Penny stopped, not minding the delay—whatever kept her from the tension-filled hours that would soon follow. “Wow, Pen. Look at him.”

It was then that Penny realized what Amy was looking at.

The rack was full of various tabloids and celebrity gossip magazines, but it only took a moment for Penny to find the one that had caught Amy’s attention.

The cover was almost entirely composed of an angry looking man. He was sitting at a bar, all alone, with several empty glasses in front of him. Penny stepped forward, scrutinizing the image a bit more closely. His eyes were darkened, heavy with pain and resentment.

An image of this man, much younger than he was in the photo, flooded her mind.