Best Beach Ever (Ten Beach Road)

By: Wendy Wax

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS



Each book leads in new directions and presents opportunities to learn and explore new things. The Internet is great, but for me talking to people willing to explain what they do—and why—is even better.

This time out I’d like to say thank you to First Assistant Director Bobby Bastarache, who shared his time, insights, and vast experience in the world of film to help me bring this part of the story to life. Thanks also go to Gary Kaufman, GK Associates for his expertise in forensic accounting and for loaning me his name, to Hugh T. Moody, CIMA for discussing money and its management and to attorney Deborah W. Young, my brother Barry Wax, and Corporal H. Glenn Finley of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for their help with the legal aspects of the story. Whitney Manns of WM Wardrobe Consulting “dressed” Maddie and others.

Though I always try to get things “right” this is a work of fiction and sometimes liberties are taken.

I’m overdue in thanking longtime friends Ingrid Jacobus and Justine Fine who are always willing to answer questions about St. Petersburg and Islamorada, respectively. The Ten Beach Road series would not be what it is without them.

As always, huge thanks go to BFFs and critique partners Susan Crandall and Karen White. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, usually after wine, but I hope I never find out what it feels like to write a book without them an email, text, or conference call away.

I also want to thank all of you who’ve read and shared in my characters’ journeys. You’re the best.

To my husband John who keeps asking why, after writing so many novels it hasn’t gotten any easier, I can only say, I love you, but I’m going to have to get back to you on that.




One





Nicole Grant Giraldi stood in front of a far-too-full-length mirror that hung on a wall of the too-small cottage where she, her husband special agent Joe Giraldi, and their twin daughters currently lived. It exposed two primary reasons women were not designed to give birth at forty-seven: lack of elasticity and surplus gravity. She closed one eye and shifted slightly, but the expanse of flesh did not become easier to contemplate.

Despite all of her fears and doubts, the body she was staring at had performed admirably. It had adapted and stretched to accommodate Sofia and Gemma. Against great odds, it had carried them full term, propelled them into the world nine months ago, and then provided sustenance. What it had not done was snap back into anything that resembled its previous shape.

Her eyes slid away. She forced them back. It was time to accept reality. Her breasts hung lower than seemed anatomically possible. Blue veins streaked across them, no doubt to match the ones that now crisscrossed the legs she’d once been proud of. Stretch marks cut across the stomach that jiggled as she turned. Although she knew it was a mistake, she looked at her rear end, which had grown wider and had somehow been injected with cottage cheese. Most likely while she’d been sleeping. Or confined to bed rest.

“Are you ready?” Joe called.

She sighed and turned her back on the mirror as she wriggled into a jogging bra, slipped her arms into a T-shirt, then began to pull the too-tight spandex up over her thighs. “Almost!”

“I’m going to put the girls in the stroller. We’ll be outside.”

Nikki tied her hair back into a low ponytail, donned a lightweight running jacket, and laced up her shoes. Careful not to look at herself again, she left the bedroom and made it through the tiny cottage in a matter of seconds.

It was the second day of January. On the west coast of central Florida, that meant a vivid blue sky, butter yellow sun, and a cool salt breeze. She breathed in the crisp air as she stepped onto the concrete path that bisected the Sunshine Hotel property and nearly stumbled at the sight of Joe and the girls waiting for her.

Were they really all hers?

Tamping down a swell of emotion, she moved toward the stroller taking in the pink and white knit hats neatly tied beneath their chins and the streaks of sunscreen slathered over their cheeks. Sofia had her father’s dark hair, sparkling brown-black eyes, and sunny temperament, while Gemma was auburn haired and green eyed like Nikki. Where Gemma’s oversize lungs and the will to use them had come from was still under debate.