“I didn’t know they had beaches in Connecticut!” Lyn adjusts her sunglasses beneath her wide-brimmed hat. “I thought Connecticut is supposed to be cold!”
Mary spreads out a bright flowered beach blanket and plops down. “Silly! Connecticut is on the ocean. Of course it would have beaches. Nice here, not like in Florida or Texas.” She fans herself. “Not nearly as hot.”
“Actually, the breeze is a little cool for me.” Patsy folds out two beach chairs, settling in. “And don’t expect me to go into the water. My idea of swimming is when the water is in the seventies or even higher. Besides, it’s getting a little dark. Maybe we should move over by the fire.”
Nibbie races to the shoreline with Hampy and Cuddles scampering behind.
Patsy lets loose a shrill whistle. “You stay out of the water!”
Mary nods her head. “Be a mess in the car if they get wet with all the sand.”
Wearing a flowered silk hip drape and matching bra, Shelley is a beachcomber’s dream girl, like she stepped from the screen of Hawaii 5 0!
Lyn mutters under her breath. “Look at her outfit! And that figure! Fashion designers must love her!”
“She does look amazing,” Mary agrees, heaving a sigh.
“You look great yourself.” Patsy pats Mary’s arm. “For old broads, we’re holding our own.”
A volley ball bounces off Lyn’s head. “OOWW!”
A crowd of young people race by throwing water balloons and nailing everyone with high powered water guns! The three women try unsuccessfully to shield their faces from the liquid barrage.
“Oh yum!” Patsy smacks her lips. “You must have read my mind.”
Mary stands up, ready for a drink. A well muscled bodybuilder grabs her, tosses her over his shoulder and runs into the water. Mary shrieks once before the seawater closes over her head.
Lyn covers her mouth to keep from giggling out loud. “Oh my! She is going to be sooo mad!”
More heavily muscled beach boys start towards them, their intent all too clear.
“Not me!” Patsy turns and runs toward the food, knowing that no one is going to ruin the buffet.
“Me either.” Lyn stumbles but manages to run also. “Besides, I’m starving.”
They collide with the volley ball net, trip over numerous sun worshippers but finally make it to safety.
Fried clams, lobster tails, grilled corn, crab salad, three bean and hot potato salad,
plates of fresh veggies with a variety of dips, baked beans, and lots of salty chips and for dessert, homemade vanilla ice cream sitting amidst the mouth-watering spread.
Another volley ball bounces off Lyn’s head again. “OOWW!” She glares over her shoulder. “Can’t you see I’m eating here!”
A thoroughly saturated Mary staggers up. She squeezes water from her dripping hair. “Give me one of those spicy lemonades.”
She downs it in two swallows. “I need another.”
A grin lights her face. “I’m cooler now, I have to admit.”
Patsy flexes her muscles. “One more good looking guy with huge biceps comes at me, I’ll fix him sure!”
“Are you kidding?” Shelley gasps. “This is a beach party. You’re supposed to be having fun and what happens on the beach, stays on the beach!”
“I thought that was Vegas!”
“I don’t care where it is,” Lyn states, tilting her head at the healthy bevy of male bodies. “Perfect spot for a party, perfect food and perfect scenery.”
“I’m with you,” Mary cheers.
“Well, then,” Shelley lights up a handful of sparklers. “Let’s party!”
William Morrow June 2012
While Margaux Sullivan was presenting her highly praised M Atelier collection at New York City’s Fashion Week, her husband of thirteen years cleaned out their bank account and disappeared. A week later the bank foreclosed on her apartment and business. Suddenly broke, betrayed, and humiliated, Margaux returns home to the small, coastal town of Crescent Cove, CT, where she once knew love, joy and family, three things she’s lost on her climb to fame.
BEACH COLORS is a story about broken dreams and new beginnings and the power of love to transform what we might have been into what we can become.
Margaux Sullivan stood unmoving and listened to the echoes of her failure. Only a week ago, her Manhattan loft had been thrumming with energy, excitement, and caffeine, as twenty-five pattern cutters, drapers, and seamstresses worked round the clock to prepare M Atelier’s latest collection for the event of the year. New York City’s Fashion Week.
Now it was just an empty space. The finished pieces carted away in cardboard boxes. The long work tables cleared of everything but a few forgotten scraps of fabric. The manikins repossessed, the brick walls bare except for the row of five by three foot photographs of Margaux’s award-winning fashions that her creditors left behind.
The asymmetrical black, moiré satin sheath had been her first CDFA award winner. The black wool Tuxedo had made the cover of Vogue. Marie Claire had called the black tulle ball gown—not a fluffy evening dress, but cutting edge stark—“Tulle with a Bite.”
The models stared back at her, caught in time, sleek and scowling. This dress will make you thin, this will make you beautiful, this will make men adore you. Black, unique and powerful. They’d promised to make Margaux’s dream come true.
And it had come true. Ever since that sticky summer day when she’d discovered a bridal magazine in the Crescent Cove library. She’d opened its shiny pages to brilliant white, palest pink, creamy ivory. Pearls and veils and promises—and she thought, this is what I want to do.
For the rest of the summer, she rode her bike to the library almost every day to draw and dream. During the school year she took art classes and every summer she returned to the library to copy the latest magazines. She majored in design in college and interned in New York, and graduallly worked her way up to owning her own workshop.
It had been a long fierce climb, but she’d made it. She was successful, envied, happily married. But it was just an illusion. While she worked unceasingly to establish herself as one of New York’s top designers, her loving husband had siphoned off their assets and disappeared.
The bank had taken everything else.
All she had left was her car and her reputation. The car was paid for, but her reputation wouldn’t be worth a two martini lunch, once the news got out that M Atelier had gone belly up.
Margaux felt her chin quiver. Not now. She had one more thing to do before she broke down and howled at the moon.
She slipped the business card out of her pocket and picked up her portfolio. She stepped into her secretary’s office. “Guess we’re the last two.”
Yolanda looked up from a soggy Kleenex. Margaux thrust the business card toward her. “Liz Chang at DKNY has been threatening to steal you for years. Here’s her number. Call her.”
Yolanda took the card. “She’d take you, too.”
Margaux shook her head. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.” She’d thought about hiring herself out again. But the thought stuck in her gut. She couldn’t do it. It was too humiliating. And she wouldn’t give her competition the sastisfaction of seeing her grovel. Not yet, anyway.
“Good luck.” Margaux turned to leave and came face to face with the most recent photo of herself. An award dinner at the Plaza. Tall, sleek, her impossibly curly auburn hair gelled, sprayed and pulled back into a classic French twist that an earthquake wouldn’t ruffle. Her black evening gown, one of her own designs, had stopped conversation when she’d entered the room. She was holding a glass of Tattinger’s champagne and smiling. At the top of her game.
And now the game was over.
Shelley Noble’s first women’s fiction novel, Beach Colors, is published by William Morrow. She also writes mysteries as Shelley Freydont and romance novels as Gemma Bruce.
A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley most recently worked on the films Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. She can be reached via her websites at http://shelleynoble.com or http://shelleyfreydont.com
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