Home > Is It Any Wonder (Nantucket Love Story #2)

Is It Any Wonder (Nantucket Love Story #2)
Author: Courtney Walsh

 


PROLOGUE

 


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.

Love,

Louisa

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

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.

Nothing.

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 about something happier.

Beaches on Nantucket Close after at Least a Dozen Shark Sightings. It was the headline of an article she’d stumbled across online only two weeks prior. Were the sharks gone? Were they circling her at that exact moment?

And then, all of a sudden, the image of a smiling Daniel Boggs flittered through her mind.

Is this how you felt, Mr. Boggs?

That image had no business haunting her, not now when she’d been doing so well. But a wave tossed her forward, and she barely managed to hold on to the board, so she closed her eyes and prayed.

Because right about now, she needed a miracle.

Mr. Boggs had probably prayed for the same thing and look how that had turned out.

Maybe this was what she deserved. Maybe this was payback for what she’d done. Maybe this was God’s way of reminding her that actions had consequences.

Actions like not wearing a life vest. Or breaking someone’s heart.

She’d been working how many years to try to make amends for her mistakes? Would it ever be enough? Would forgiveness ever come?

It occurred to her that on normal days she was excellent at pushing these thoughts away. In fact, most days she didn’t even have to work at it.

Apparently being faced with the end of one’s life resulted in this. A deep dive into all the things she’d been successfully avoiding. As if there weren’t more important things to be thinking about. Like staying alive.

If only she had a single clue how to do that.

“God, I’m pretty sure I don’t deserve to be rescued, and I’m not in the habit of asking for help, which I’m sure you know. But it would be super awesome if you could maybe shift the wind and give me a push toward the shore.”

The waves just kept pulling her deeper and farther away.

She supposed miracles were in high demand these days. And maybe it simply wasn’t her turn. She clung to the board as fear welled up inside her. Panic buzzed somewhere down deep, and she tried to keep it from overtaking her.

She’d make a list like she always did to help sort out her anxiety.

A wave swelled, and she let out a scream (and she really was not the screaming type, so it surprised even her), but the water settled her back down, and somehow she still had hold of the board.

A list. Okay . . . what to list? Things to do seemed a bit pointless given her current situation.

Another swell, and she swallowed a mouthful of water. She coughed—hard—then drew in a clean breath.

Things I wish I’d done in my life. A bucket list made moments before my impending death.

 

I wish I’d worn a life vest.

I wish I’d checked the weather forecast.

I wish I had put on waterproof mascara (because when they find my body, it would be nice not to look so dead).

I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time on Eric Anderson.

I wish I’d said I was sorry.

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