The Sweetest Summer: A Bayberry Island Novel

Free The Sweetest Summer: A Bayberry Island Novel by Susan Donovan

Book: The Sweetest Summer: A Bayberry Island Novel by Susan Donovan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Donovan
the edge of the bathtub. “It was kinda rocky when we first got here, and then Christina fell asleep.”
    She heard Hal sigh with relief. “Good, but why did it take you so long to answer?”
    Evelyn rested her forehead in her hand. “I couldn’t figure out what the beeping sound was.”
    He laughed.
    “Hey, I’ve never heard this phone ring before! But we’re fine. Thank you for making sure we’re okay.”
    “Of course. So you followed the plan? You waited for the teenager to check you in?”
    “Yes. Everything worked out. I waited for the owner to turn over the front desk to the summer help, just like you said. And God, he snatched up the cash without a second of hesitation.”
    “Good.”
    “And, from what I could tell, he changed the guest records to the name on my ID, and he knows he’ll get more money when I check out without incident.”
    Hal made a humming sound. “Yeah, well, he sort of changed the records. I had to tie up a few loose strings.”
    “What? You didn’t—”
    “Yeah, I hacked into the Sand Dollar computer system, if you could call it that. Listen, that place is a joke. If anyone wanted to, they could extract the credit card information for every guest who’s stayed there in the last decade.”
    “Hal . . . ?”
    He chuckled. “I only use my powers for good. You know that.”
    Evelyn did. She’d met Hal at a New England wellness convention six years before, where she was slated to give a presentation. At the time, he’d been an overweighttype 2 diabetic who’d just learned he was playing Russian roulette with his blood pressure and cholesterol. He was only thirty-nine. Today, Hal was a marathoner, in prime shape, and off all medication.
    It had taken years for Hal to admit he’d been part of a vigilante computer hacker group dedicated to exposing what he called “information injustice.” Evelyn had told him she never wanted to know the details. But he got himself out of that shady world and started a successful Internet security consulting business. Hal was now among the small group of people she considered her closest friends, and for that reason, it was impossible to lie to him.
    “I do have an issue. It’s nothing huge, but I want to run it by you.”
    Hal was quiet for a moment. “Let’s hear it.”
    This would be embarrassing. She worried she’d sound ridiculous telling the story, like some kind of heartsick teenager. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what she had been all those years ago. She took a deep breath and steeled herself.
    “Evie?”
    “All right. All right.” She glanced up at the old bathroom ceiling fixture, which was not a smart thing to do. A layer of dead insects had piled up inside the cradle of the light’s frosted globe. “Oh, gross. There are dead bugs in the bathroom light.”
    “That’s your issue?”
    Evelyn giggled, relaxing a bit. “I wish. But, um, you know how Amanda had been planning this trip as a surprise for Pop-Pop’s seventieth birthday?”
    “Yeah.”
    “You know how we used to read all those mermaid storybooks to Christina and told her we came to see the beautiful mermaid as kids?”
    “Yes.”
    “And how Christina begged to see the mermaid for herself?”
    “Yeah, but what are you getting at?”
    “Well, what I didn’t tell you is that when we were here eighteen years ago, I had a . . . well, I sort of met a boy.”
    “Uh, are we headed into Annette Funicello territory? ’Cause I need to prepare myself if we are.”
    “Please, Hal. This is no joke.”
    “Sorry. Go ahead.”
    “I was fourteen. He was an island kid. The first day we were here, Amanda dragged me down the beach to meet up with a group of kids going swimming on a no-trespassing beach. We swam out to these rocks and started diving into the waves. I knew it was stupid, but I did it anyway, and . . . well, I almost drowned in the undertow.”
    “Oh, my God!”
    “The local boy saved my life. He dove under and pulled me out, and later he

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