Sunshine Avenue BONUS Scene | Author Jan Moran
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.

Sunshine Avenue BONUS Scene

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“Thanks for the basil.” Junie tamped the soil around the plant Jo had brought her. “It smells so good.”

“I have a lot more basil and seeds if you want,” Jo said. “I grow it in my herb garden for the diner. Oregano also grows well here, and mint grows like a weed. I let nature do most of the work.”

Junie brushed off her trowel and walked across the recently uncovered stepstones in the garden. Now that the stones were clean, their beauty shimmered in the sunshine. Each was a handcrafted mosaic with Crown Island themes: the red ferry, the Majestic, and the Queen’s Flight hilltop.

“Mrs. Ashbury loved making mosaics,” Jo said, following her. “You’ll probably find more treasures around here. She once had a birdbath that held small mosaic-covered pieces she made. The bits of broken metallic tiles she used sparkled in the sunlight. It was beautiful, just like these stepstones.”

“The men who cleared the lot found a birdbath,” Junie said, motioning toward the read of the lot. “It was cracked, so they put it behind the old shed. I plan to repair it.”

Jo looked around. “The birdbath used to sit right about there.” She gestured toward one side of the lot near Knox’s house, where Wanda pushed Penny in the tire swing hanging from a tree. “Do you mind that Knox lived so close now that you’re dating?”

“Actually, it’s convenient,” Junie replied as she waved to Wanda and Penny. “We walk on the beach in the evenings and often make dinner together. He likes to barbecue, and I make the sides and salads.”

“This sounds very cozy,” Jo said, grinning. “I’ve seen you walking down the street toward the beach at night. You look so sweet together.” Jo pointed to a spot. “Right about here is where the stone birdbath used to sit.” She nudged a lump of dirt with the toe of her sneakers. “Might be something buried here.”

“I’ll see.” Junie knelt and thrust her trowel into the soil in a few spots until she heard a dull thud. “I hit something.” She began to dig, careful not to damage anything she couldn’t see.

Just then, Junie saw a flash from the corner of her eye. Penny was racing across the yard, her coppery pigtails bouncing. She slid to a stop on her knees, covering her clean leggings with soft dirt. “Can I help?”

Before Junie could answer, the little girl began clawing at the ground with her hands. “See, I can do it.”

Junie laughed. “What a good digger you are.”

“Look,” Penny cried, grasping an object that shone red through a layer of dirt.

Junie leaned closer. “Why, I think that’s a heart.”

Penny cleaned it with her white T-shirt. “Can I keep it?”

“Of course. I’ll give you my heart anytime,” Junie said, hugging Penny. The little girl could quickly destroy clean play clothes. She was such a happy child that she was oblivious to the messy trail she left in her wake. But Junie loved that about her.

Penny kissed Junie’s cheek and scrambled to her feet. “Grammy, Grammy. Junie gave me her heart. Look!”

Wanda opened her mouth in shock at the sight of Penny, but then she laughed. Junie raised her hands and shrugged. “She’d too quick for me,” she called to Wanda.

“It’s okay. As long as she’s having a good time.”

Wanda caught her granddaughter in her arms and swung her around.

Jo laughed. “Penny is awfully lively.”

“I wouldn’t have her any other way.” Junie gazed after the child who had captured her heart as much as her father had. Penny and Knox were an irresistible pair. Junie got along well with Wanda, too.

“That sounds serious.” Jo smiled, flicking a speck of dirt from Junie’s face that Penny had left behind.

“I think it might be.” Junie was getting to know a lot about Knox. They had been dating for a while now. Slowly, she unearthed a heavy orb that fit into the palm of her hand. Brushing off the dirt, she held it to Jo. “This one is beautiful, too. Why don’t you keep it? You knew Mrs. Ashbury so well.”

“Thank you,” Jo said, accepting the gift. “She was a kind and thoughtful woman. A lot like you.”

Junie stood and brushed her hands. “There might be more here, but I’ll tend to this treasure hunt later with my little helper.”

Penny often followed Junie around the garden, helping her clip lettuce or herbs. The tomatoes would be in soon, especially the little orange ones that Penny would probably eat off the vine as Junie had done as a child.

Jo hugged her. “I have to return to the diner.”

“Want to come by for supper later? Knox and I are making tacos.”

“Tempting, but Blue is picking me up later.” Jo smiled.

Junie was glad to see her friends dating again. “Tell him hello from us. How about a potluck on Sunday afternoon at my place?”

“You’re on,” Jo said. She crossed the street to her house and waved before she went inside.

“Hey,” Maileah called from the front porch. “Did I hear potluck on Sunday?”

Junie turned and started toward her sister. “You sure did. Do you have any plans?”

“I did, but Sailor is leaving town,” Maileah looked crestfallen.

Removing her gardening gloves, Junie climbed the steps. “Join us. We can make something for the crowd.”

Junie liked Sailor, but he was always chasing waves. He loved surfing, and he was good at it, but Junie wasn’t sure if that fit with what Maileah wanted. “We have a lot of interesting neighbors. You met many of them at our housewarming.”

Maileah looked skeptical. “Are you trying to fix me up with someone?”

“No, I’m trying to get you out. You’ve been in the house working on the new product campaigns, which I appreciate. But you need some sunshine.”

“Now you sound like me.” Maileah made a face.

“Just repeating what my sister used to tell me.” Junie hugged her. “Will you join us at Knox’s tonight for supper?”

“Thanks, but Mom wants me to look at her marketing for the historical society. She probably just wants me to get out, too.” Maileah made a face and sighed. “You and Mom have your lives figured out now. When is it my turn?”

“I have a feeling your turn is just around the corner,” Junie replied. “And I’m not kidding about that.” She had a gut feeling that Crown Island was the place for Maileah, even though she’d been applying for jobs wherever possible. “Besides, I have plenty to keep you busy.”

“Thanks,” Maileah said. “But I don’t like relying on my baby sister.”

“You’re earning your keep,” Junie said. “And when I take over the gift shop space at the Majestic next week, your life will get much busier.” She had signed a lease agreement for the space, which Knox would have reconfigured to create a special section for hotel-branded merchandise and toiletries.

“I’m ready,” Maileah said. “Looks like I’ll have plenty of time now that Sailor is off surfing around the world.”

Junie hoped her sister would find someone who would cherish her. She wasn’t sure if that would be Sailor. “I should change. Tell Mom and Nana hello. Or better yet, let’s invite them, too. We always make plenty of tacos.”

Maileah smiled. “I’ll do that.”

 

Later that day, Junie’s family gathered at the blue house next door. She smiled at Knox as they worked at the kitchen counter together, prepping food. “Isn’t cooking together fun?”

“Anything with you is fun,” Knox replied, kissing her cheek. He sprinkled a few more herbs onto the filets. “I’ll grill the fish outside. This mahi-mahi is so fresh.”

“Right off the boat this morning,” Doug said. “I’ll help you, son.”

Knox turned to his daughter. “Penny, you stay inside with Mom and Junie.”

“She’s a big help to us,” Wanda said, standing at the stove. “I have an apron for her in the drawer.”

“Penny, let’s put one on you.” Junie tied an apron over the little girl’s clothing.

Junie could watch Knox and his father through the large windows of the renovated kitchen. Read More…

 

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