Hi. Chris Durand here.
I was born and brought up in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, the prettiest village on the Maine coast. Though most young people leave in search of more opportunity, I never have and I never plan to. Of course, I have to hustle like crazy in the summer to make ends meet, working three jobs–my landscaping business, driving my cab and as a bouncer in the town’s noisiest tourist bar. And I rent out my cabin to a summer family and move onto the Dark Lady, my antique sailboat.
This crazy summer was even more complicated. I fell in love. And I fell hard.
I remember Julia Snowden from Busman’s Harbor High. She was in eighth grade. I was a senior. Our lockers were next to each other. She had braces on her teeth and was skinny in all the wrong places. I was co-captain of the football team. She was so tongue-tied around me she could barely get the words out, but she always asked how I was doing and seemed genuinely interested in the answer. There was something about her, but I had a girlfriend, Julia was too young, and by the next year I had graduated and she was off to boarding school.
So imagine my surprise when I walked into Gus’s restaurant last March and there she was, all grown up. The braces were gone, and now she was skinny in all the right places and filled out in the rest. We started having lunch together twice a week and just like in high school, found we could really talk to one another. Julia was trying to save her family’s clambake business. She was living with her family, working with her family and socializing with her family. There were times when they drove her crazy. I think I was the only person she could talk to about it.
Before we knew it, the season took off and we were working eighteen-hour days, but we did manage to squeeze in some time in together. On top of running the Snowden Family Clambake, Julia solved two murders this summer. She says she simply aided the police with their inquiries, but, in my book, she prevented two innocent people from spending their lives in prison. One of them was me. She’s the smartest, most determined, most honest person I know.
The first time I told her I loved her, she pretended she didn’t hear me. The second time, she took a phone call from a murder suspect right after I said it. It’s ironic after all these years of trying to avoid unwanted entanglements, I’m the one left hanging. What goes around comes around.
I know Julia loves me. But she worries about whether she can make a life in little Busman’s Harbor. She worries about how enmeshed she is with her family, and how that might eventually turn me off. The truth is, I love her relationship with her family, even my former buddy, her pain-in-the-neck brother-in-law. My parents have moved to Florida and my sister’s in southern California. There’s a reason we’re all in opposite corners of the country. I haven’t told Julia about that yet. Her love and her loyalty is part of what attracts me.
There’s another issue, too. My job. Not the landscaping or the cab or the bouncing. The other job–where I go off for days at a time on my sailboat. I can’t tell anyone I’m leaving. I can’t say where I’ve been and I can’t say no. I know she worries I’m doing something dangerous or illegal or both. I’ve proposed a compromise. I quit doing it and we treat it like an old lover, something in the past not to be discussed.
I can tell she wants to get past it. She’s trying and I have to give her credit for that. It’s fall now, and we all have more time. Maybe, if I’m patient enough, she’ll come around, leave the past in the past, and make a life here in Busman’s Harbor with me. Maybe.
You can read more about Chris in Musseled Out, the third book in the “Maine Clambake” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first two books in the series are Clammed Up and Boiled Over.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on May 6 for the chance to win a copy of Musseled Out. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.
About the author
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. The first book in the series, Clammed Up, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Boiled Over was published in 2014, and Musseled Out came out in April, 2015.
Barbara blogs with a wonderful group of Maine mystery authors at Maine Crime Writers and with a group of writers of New England-based cozy mysteries at Wicked Cozy Authors. She and her husband own the former Seafarer Inn at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where she writes her Maine coast mysteries. Her website is www.maineclambakemysteries.com. You can like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.