First Chapter of The Island (Now and Forever 2)

The Island (Now and Forever 2)—Chapter 1

by Tammy Dennings Maggy

published November 2012 by Siren Bookstrand

The Island (Now and Forever 2) is available in all ebook formats from Bookstrand, ebook and print from Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. It’s also available from iTunes.

Chapter 1

February 12, Present Day

“Thirteen years is a long time to hold a grudge, Jake.”

“That’s just it. I let that part of my past go once and for all when you came into my life.” Jacob reached for his wife’s hand and squeezed it tightly before bringing it to his lips. “My life with Julia is something I would rather keep in the past. It’s got nothing to do with us or our family now.”

Both looked to the twins strapped safely in their infant carriers secured in the cushioned passenger seats between them. The babies had dozed off now that the plane was in the air. Quinn shook her head slowly and settled her eyes back on her husband. “If it wasn’t for Julia Santos pushing you over the edge all those years ago, we might never have met when we did.”

Jacob smiled. “Have you been remembering more about—?”

“The Island? Yes. All those instances of déjà vu we’ve been having? Those are real memories. We were there together on that island thirteen years ago falling head over heels for each other.”

Before he could tell her about his own memory flashbacks, he caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye. Jacob smiled as one of the stewardesses approached them, pushing a small serving cart before her. “Mr. and Mrs. Hartley? The captain has reached cruising altitude. You can now move about the cabin as you wish. Can I get anything more for the two of you? Mr. Eischer keeps the jet fully stocked, including several of these chilling in the refrigerator.” She produced two teething rings, one pink and one blue.

Jacob laughed and took them from her. “Steve knows these little monsters well. Both of them have been cutting teeth this week. Once they wake up, they’ll be in full chomping mode!”

Quinn thanked the stewardess and tucked a teething ring next to each of her children’s little fingers. Even asleep they pulled the rings into their mouths and suckled. “So how about you contact Julia as soon as we land and set up a meeting for tonight? I’m sure Steve will be more than happy to entertain his only godchildren for a few hours. He’s been waiting for us to make this trip for the last year. How much do you wanna bet he’s converted one of his guest rooms into a full-on nursery for Stephanie and Daniel?”

He leaned in and kissed each little forehead. “That would be a sucker bet and you know it.” The smile left his face as he ran his fingers through his long brown hair, pulling it back into a ponytail. “Do you really think I should meet with her tonight?” Jacob wasn’t sure it was such a good idea. He was worried seeing Julia again would bring up way too much pain from his past. He didn’t want to live through that again, especially now that everything was going so well for him and Quinn. He had been in full-on worry mode from the moment he received the letter from Dr. Carmen Hall, Julia’s longtime girlfriend. Carmen went into great detail about how she found Jacob after all of these years. Apparently, it was by chance. The doctor was attending a medical seminar in San Francisco and ran across a few newspaper articles mentioning a hotshot veterinarian named Quinn Hartley. The feature stories were about the expansion of the veterinary specialty center where Quinn and her friend Sarah were on staff. The paper had done a special piece on Quinn and how she juggled her career and the twins. Carmen had taken a chance and sent a letter to Jacob in care of Quinn’s hospital, hoping she had found the same Jacob Hartley she knew from many years before.

Julia had been in therapy for the last twelve years to work through emotionally and physically painful issues from her childhood. A critical part of the process for her was to confront those who had hurt her in the past and to try to make amends with those she herself had hurt. Carmen mentioned that Julia had put off locating him because she wasn’t ready to face that part of her past yet. Now she was, and both of the women were hopeful Jacob would be willing to at least hear Julia out. No strings attached. He was under no obligation to forgive Julia in any way, just give her a few moments of his time.

Quinn picked up the letter again and scanned through it. “It says here Julia will be in Vegas for a meeting with Steve concerning sculptures for his casinos. In fact, she arrives this afternoon, but Carmen won’t be able to join her for a few more days. It would be nice to meet with both of them over dinner, but if we put it off it may never happen. So I would say the timing’s perfect. The sooner you both see each other again, the faster she can move on with her own therapy and recovery and the sooner you can say you’ve officially let go of that part of your life.” Quinn got up from her own seat and moved to sit in Jacob’s lap, holding him tight. “Don’t worry anymore about how you’re going to feel seeing her again. I’ll be there right by your side the whole time. Sounds to me from what Carmen wrote in her letter Julia really needs to square things with you now.”

Jacob snorted. “I know my brother Eric still would like to square a few things with her himself.”

Quinn pulled back and stared at him. Her eyes never failed to pull him in and calm him down. It was their blue-green shade, just like the color of the ocean, that gave him such comfort. When he gazed into her eyes, he knew he was safe and could do anything with her by his side. “It’s not about him. It’s about a woman trying to make amends so she can find happiness in her life. You found yours, Jake. Shouldn’t Julia get the same chance?”

He reached up and tucked a few stray hairs behind her left ear. “Well, when you put it that way, how can I say no?”

Quinn rested her forehead against his and smiled. It was the very same smile that had stolen his heart right from the very first moment he laid eyes on her. “I’m glad you finally see things my way! Besides, I’m more than a little bit curious about the woman you nearly killed yourself over.” Jacob groaned and buried his head on her shoulder. “And I would like to thank her.”

Jacob lifted his head and searched her face for some clue to what she meant by that statement. “Thank her for what?”

“If she hadn’t been such a shit back then, I never would’ve found you on the Island.”

He released the air he was holding in his lungs while waiting for her to answer and smiled back at the woman who had his heart now and forever. “If it wasn’t for Lady Fate’s intervention, we would’ve been lost to each other that night.”

“Well, then it’s settled. Carmen listed Julia’s cell phone number in her letter. Call her and set up the meeting to take place over dinner tonight.”

“You don’t mess around, do ya?”

Quinn laughed loudly. “Not when it comes to our happiness. You cared for Julia once, Jake. It won’t hurt to see if we can help her now.”

Jacob pulled her close and kissed her deeply, thoroughly enjoying the slipping and sliding of her tongue over his. Too bad the flight to Las Vegas was only an hour long. The things he would love to do to her in the bedroom at the back of the plane flew through his mind. Those were going to have to wait until they were alone in their suite at the MGM Grand that night. “You are one hell of an amazing woman. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She lowered her head to whisper in his ear, “Don’t think I don’t know what’s going on in your head, Mr. Hartley. Getting naked with you in that bedroom will have to wait for another trip to Michigan. That particular flight is over five hours long!”

* * * *

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