Saltwater Secrets - Amelia Addler

Chapter 1

When Jade first got the suggestion of celebrating Valentine’s Day by herself, she thought it was beyond embarrassing.

“Doesn’t that seem a bit…self-absorbed?” she asked her counselor Greta.

Greta smiled. “Well – no. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s an alternative way to celebrate the holiday for people who don’t have a romantic partner. You celebrate yourself and you can be your own special someone.”

Jade had to stop herself from visibly cringing. Wasn’t it enough that she was willing to give this whole counseling thing a chance? Did she really have to sign up for the entire package – like agreeing to be her “own special someone?”

On the other hand, counseling had been quite helpful over the past few months. Greta guided her through a lot of shame surrounding the divorce, and helped Jade find strength that she didn’t know she had.

Even so. This was too much.

Greta leaned in. “What are you thinking Jade?”

“I just…” She cleared her throat; there was no need to hurt the poor woman’s feelings. “I don’t think that’s something for me.”

“Okay,” Greta said with a nod. “I can understand that. But would you agree that you have a lot to celebrate from this past year? Do you feel proud of yourself?”

Jade sighed. “I guess.”

“Are you proud of yourself for that progress? For putting yourself out there?”

“Yes, but…”

Greta sat there, eyes fixed, but saying nothing.

Ugh. Jade didn’t feel as jumbled about everything as she did months ago, but she still didn’t feel quite right, either. She didn’t feel…the way everyone else looked. Other people looked put together. They looked like they were happy. Calm, even.

“But what?” Greta prompted.

“It’s just…” Jade paused. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Greta folded her hands in her lap. “Of course. You’ve identified this before, Jade, that you are the kind of person who always wants to improve. But just because you see room for improvement, it doesn’t mean that you should despair.”

“Right. That’s a good point.”

“So if you did Valentine’s Day the ‘Jade Way,’ what would you do?”

Jade suddenly had an undeniable itch on her nose. Why did she always feel so fidgety when she was there? “Well. I wouldn’t say that I was celebrating myself. But I could celebrate – maybe a little – the progress I’ve made in the last year. And I could set goals for the coming year?”

“That does sound a bit more like you, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” Jade said with a smile. “I think so.”

Jade debated what she’d actually have to do to make an honest effort. Her first thought was to have a bowl of ice cream and stick a candle into it, but the image of that was too sad to actually carry out.

Instead, she got the idea of going on a hike and having a little picnic. It seemed much less pathetic than a sad, solitary candle; on Valentine’s weekend, she drove to Lime Kiln Park and set out on a quiet trail.

It was a great idea…at first.

To start out, she wandered along several paths before finally reaching her destination – the top of a rocky hill that overlooked the ocean.

Jade never grew tired of views like this. From high above, she could barely hear the sounds of the water, with the boats slowly bumbling along, and the waves crashing into the rocks at the shoreline. She loved looking out and seeing the sea stretch to other little islands, dotted with green trees and rolling with mountains. It felt like she could see forever.

She was still close enough to the water that she’d be able to make out an orca, but that was an unlikely sight today – it’d be months before the residents returned to San Juan. There was still plenty to admire, though, and for a moment, the beauty of the ocean made her feel whole again.

As she took it all in, a breeze blew through her jacket and caused a chill to run down her back – she’d gotten quite warm walking up the hill, but now the wind cut into her.

She was glad that it was cold, though; there was hardly anyone else at the park that day to witness her being her “own special someone.”

Jade closed her eyes and enjoyed the solitude. She didn’t mind being alone. She didn’t even mind being alone for Valentine’s Day. It was easier than being with her ex-husband Brandon for any holiday, actually, because she used to hope that he might do something sweet or nice.

Or worse – she would plan