Never Too LateBy: Lillianna Blake
The Magic of Love Isle(Book 4)
The clink of the dishes, as they slid into the sink, jarred her from her dazed state. Gina had been working at the diner for so many years that she claimed she could perform her tasks in her sleep. And lately, that’s what it felt like.
She’d drift off, so lost in routine that sometimes hours would pass before she realized she had slipped away into her own thoughts. Only the familiar faces of her customers broke up the monotony.
She loved her job, but at fifty-two, she had started to wonder whether this would always be her life. She woke up before six to arrive at the diner each morning to open it for business. She often stayed until closing, not because her boss made her, but because she preferred to be at the diner.
At home, there was only an empty house. It was a house she loved, but one that now seemed to echo when she walked around.
“Order’s up.” Harold, the cook, winked at her as he set some plates down on the counter for her to retrieve.
She flashed him a bright smile. “Looks delicious as always, Harry.”
“Harold.” He pointed a spatula at her. “It’s never good to call a cook Harry.”
She laughed as she walked out into the diner with the two plates.
As it neared dinnertime, business had picked up. She smiled at some familiar faces, then delivered the plates to two hungry customers.
As she walked away, she headed over to a table occupied by two of her favorite customers, Luna and Sabrina. Really just about every resident of Love Isle was her favorite customer, but she did enjoy seeing a few people just a little more.
As she took their order and chatted with them, she began to relax.
“I’ll bring that strawberry milkshake right out.” She smiled, then started to turn away.
“I’d love to have one of those too—if you wouldn’t mind, GiGi.”
The voice floated to her, not just from a nearby table, but from a different time in her life. It wasn’t just familiar; it instantly filled her mind with memories of a time she had almost convinced herself to forget.
She froze as a multitude of sensations rippled through her.
Then slowly she turned to face him.
As she stared, it was hard to convince herself that he was really there. Was it just a dream?
“Frank?” She drank in the sight of him. Thirty years had added streaks of gray to his jet-black hair, and though there were wrinkles around his eyes and his skin was more ruddy than tan, she recognized him without question.
“Gina.” He stood up from the table and took a step toward her.
In that instant, she knew that she could not stand still a moment longer. With her arms outstretched, she crossed the distance between them, pulling the most handsome man she’d ever known into a warm embrace.
“Frank.” She breathed his name as she felt his solid body against hers.
No, this wasn’t a dream. He was there. After thirty years, he was there.
Her heart pounded so forcefully that she wondered if he could feel it. The thought brought her back to reality.
Yes, it had been thirty years. What right did she have to just throw her arms around him?
She drew back, her eyes wet with tears that she struggled to control.
“It’s so good to see you.”
“You too.” He stared into her eyes, his own glistening as well. Then he brushed her hair gently back from the curve of her cheek. “I didn’t think you’d still be here, Gina.”
“I am.” She swallowed thickly and ducked her head away from his touch. “Same old Gina, same old place. What brings you back to Love Isle, Frank?”
“You.” He held her gaze, his expression unflinching. “I came back to see if I could find you.”
“Me?” She laughed, despite the fact that her mind wouldn’t stop spinning.
Had he really come there for her? Was that even possible after so long? She doubted it.
“Or for a milkshake? I’ll get that right up for you. It won’t take long.” She started to turn away. When his hand caught her elbow, the tears that threatened her eyes surged. She squeezed her eyes shut tight, determined not to embarrass herself.
“Gina, I don’t care about the milkshake. Just sit with me for a minute. Please?”