Millie Barnes is this close to finally achieving her perfect life...
Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable dog suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.
But perfection isn't as easy as it looks--especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. He is definitely not part of her master plan. But maybe it's time for Millie to make a new plan....
On the first morning in my new home, I awoke to the sharp, hopeful smell of fresh paint, the radiator ticking companionably against the cold March day.
Today held all the unsullied promise of a new school year. Residency finished. Home remodeled. Career soon to begin. And Joe... Joe was out there this cold morning, soon to find that I was the love of his life. Swinging out of bed, I looked around the room, noting with pride the bright, clean blue walls and antique quilt. I padded barefoot to the kitchen, admiring my gleaming counters and shining porcelain sink. Turning on the coffeemaker, I breathed a deep sigh of happiness and gratitude.
As the coffee brewed, I rummaged through a box that was yet unpacked. Finding what I was looking for, I returned to the kitchen as the coffeemaker emitted its last gurgles, poured myself a cup, sat down and turned my full attention to the object before me.
An eight-by-ten photograph showed Joe Carpenter standing silhouetted against the sky, shirtless, as he nailed a shingle on a roof. The crispness of the black-and-white photo showcased his perfectly muscled arms as he performed this seemingly mundane task, which, with Joe's easy grace, became poetry. He was slightly turned away from the camera, but enough of his face showed that you could see just how beautiful he was. The caption had read Aptly named Joe Carpenter of Eastham works on the restoration of Penniman House.
How did I get this picture? I'd called the paper and asked for it, thank you very much. It had been in the Boston Globe, and they'd never suspected that I wasn't Joe's mother, as I'd claimed to be. Sometimes having an old lady's name comes in handy. After all, they wouldn't have believed me if my name had been Heather or Tiffany.... Of course, I couldn't keep this picture out in the open, so I secreted it away for special times. Now was such a time, and I gazed at it with the reverence it deserved.
"It all starts today, Joe," I said, feeling pretty idiotic. Still, as I traced the outline of the man I'd loved for so long, the foolish feeling dissipated like early morning fog. "You're about to fall in love with me. Everything from here on is for you."
Resisting the urge to kiss the photo, I got up and strolled around my little house, cup in hand, basking in the thrill of simply being here. Home ownership on Cape Cod is a monumental achievement...one that I'd accomplished through no effort of my own. My grandmother had died just after Christmas. When the will had been read, I'd learned, with great shock and unsquelchable joy, that she had left her house to me--and only me.
The modest little ranch wore the requisite cedar shingles of the Cape, bleached a soft gray by the salt air and sun. There was no yard to speak of, just a scattering of pine needles, sand and moss. But the house was priceless because it was on protected land of the Cape Cod National Seashore. This meant that it would forever be free from development, I would never have a new neighbor, and I was pretty close to the water (three-tenths of a mile to be precise, though there was no view whatsoever). But I could hear the roaring surf of the mighty Atlantic, and at night the beam of Nauset Light swept across the darkness.
For months, I'd been driving up from Boston to work on the house, sanding floors, painting walls, sorting through my grandmother's things, and the end result was a nice amalgamation of old and new. Gran's needlepointed footstool sat next to my glass coffee table, bright new fabric covering her old beige love seat, a nice watercolor in the spot where a photo of John Kennedy at prayer had once hung. I...