Summer Island Book Club - Ciara Knight

Dear Reader,

Growing up, I would visit my grandparents in Merritt Island, Florida. Their home was both inspiring and terrifying. To this day, I think my irrational fear of those oversized bugs-that-shall-not-be-named developed while staying with them. Living on a canal has both gifts and curses I guess.

At the end of my grandparent's road, the asphalt disappeared into the water as if an invitation to walk into the ocean. There was a climbing tree over the water at a little inlet next to the road.

My cousin and I loved to jump off of the branches of that tree into the cool, salty water on a hot day (which was every day in Florida minus an occasional cold snap in January) and swim back through the channel to the road. Yep, I was a total fishing, crabbing, ocean-going, tomboy. I’d get upset with my cousin when he’d try to talk sense into me about my dangerous ways due to his fear of stingrays and sharks. Poor guy, there was never anyone that could stop me from doing crazy stuff.

The time I spent at this hidden little gem filled me with joy. My imagination roamed and skidded over the wave caps entering the channel. That little circle of land was my escape from reality. I believe some of my first stories were created in my head while sitting on a tree limb, dangling my feet above the surf.

I hope if only for an afternoon, this story transports you to that beautiful oasis and that Summer Island will provide you with an uplifting escape from everyday life.



Chapter One

Julie Boone closed and locked the door to the family business, Summer Island Gift Shop. Not that there was much family left to run it.

The fresh breeze swept up Sunset Boulevard to her walkway. She stood, scanning down the dead-end street that trailed off into the ocean, and then up toward the one-street downtown area. Quiet, calm, and lonely. The way she preferred her life.

She followed the cobblestone path around back to her front garden, careful to step over the newly repaired tunnel system she’d created for Houdini—her pet ferret. Okay, it wasn’t her pet, but the town’s. The poor thing had been abandoned by some tourists, and the smart, mischievous little guy had become her best friend.

At the back of the building, she paused to watch the palm tree in the heart of the butterfly-shaped garden wave in the wind as if to welcome her home. The breeze made a soft hum through the fans outstretching from the trunk as if to reach toward her cottage-style home. A quaint one-story with cloud-colored siding and sky-hued shutters.

Home. A strange term now that the house in front of her stood empty, void of family and friends, excluding her adopted best friend Houdini. Three years ago, her home had been full of life with parents and husband and child. Now, the dark front window stood as a reminder of all she’d lost. Husband to the widowmaker, parents to age, her daughter to a life beyond small-town living.

She closed her eyes and smiled. The salty air always comforted her, and there was nowhere on earth she’d rather be than with her memories and with her one remaining friend. The sound of Houdini scratching at the window drew her attention in time to see a light flick on inside, startling her back a few steps. She’d never trained Houdini to turn on a light. Did ferrets do things like that? If any ferret could, it was Houdini. It wasn’t likely an intruder, not in the tucked away East Coast town in Florida where there were zero crimes or vagrants. Not since she’d lived here, which was her entire life, going on fifty years.

A shadow passed by the window, capturing her breath and sending a chill down her spine, but the white lace curtains opened, revealing a smiling Brianna. Her pride and joy daughter who’d gone out into the world.

Bri waved madly and then opened the front door. “Mom, It’s me.”

The beauty, a perfect mix of Julie and her late husband, Joe, with his curly hair, but with Julie’s silver-blue eyes. Their daughter had always been a combination of the best of both of them.

“Did I startle you?” Bri glided over the cobblestone path through the garden and opened her arms.

Julie snapped out of her confusion and embraced her daughter as if she could make her stay home forever, but Julie would never do that. She’d never interfere with her daughter’s life. “What