Sequel to Daybreak in Sandbridge
Life is pretty good for Scooter and Andy Stahl-Howard these days. The restaurant is doing well and they’re happy with their little family.
Then Scooter’s sister meets an untimely end, and Scooter and Andy are suddenly guardians to a niece they’ve only met a handful of times. Their attempts to make a home for the bereaved child are complicated by Andy's mother, Scooter’s ex-lover, and the man who claims to be Billie’s father.
But whatever her parentage, Billie is a Stahl through and through -- stubborn and hot-tempered and not remotely interested in making a life in the one place her mother had sworn never to return. Will she ever learn to call Dockside and Sandbridge home?
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the intercom crackled again, “this is your captain speaking. Weather in Norfolk today is overcast with some incoming thunderstorms. We may experience some turbulence as we descend.”
“Christ on a cracker,” Uncle Scooter muttered behind her.
“Still safer than driving to Portsmouth on a Saturday night,” Uncle Andy said. He sounded teasing, but between the seats Billie could see he was holding Uncle Scooter’s hand.
“Well, that much is true,” Uncle Scooter admitted. “Ask Jeff about the time he got lost down there at three in the morning.” His hands were white-knuckled.
Billie thought about saying she wasn’t scared, but then the plane dropped, as if it had stopped flying and was falling. She dug her hands into the seat’s arms and held on.
“Boats,” Uncle Scooter said. “I like boats. Boats are nice. Next time, we’re driving. I do not even care.”
“Okay,” Uncle Andy said. “Whatever you want, babe. Hey, munchkin, you doing okay, there?” He poked the back of her arm through the seats.
“I’m okay.” True. She wasn’t hurt. So, she wasn’t lying. The window had a little shade on it and Billie yanked it down so she didn’t have to watch as the sky turned dark gray and rain splattered the glass.
It took a lot less long to get onto the ground than it had to get in the air.
Billie wasn’t sure she was too happy about that. Neither was Uncle Scooter, who was muttering something that might have been a prayer, but probably wasn’t. The guinea pigs were squealing frantically and she couldn’t do anything about it. “It’s okay,” she told them. “It’ll be okay. It’s fine.” That’s what Mommy said, when Billie was scared of things, and maybe it would help. “Every little thing is going to be okay.”
Uncle Andy and Uncle Scooter were muttering at each other, too low for Billie to make out any words, and Uncle Scooter had his eyes closed tight. Adults were weird. Finally they were down on the ground. The plane drove around for a while, bumpy and turning in huge circles before pulling up to a giant tube on the side of the building.
“Thank god for direct flights,” Uncle Scooter muttered. He was a little flushed and sweaty and never once had let go of Uncle Andy’s hand through the entire landing. All the other passengers unlocked their belts and stood up, so Billie did, too.
Uncle Andy gathered up their stuff, including grabbing the pigs. Mouse was not happy with being swung around by a handle and complained noisily. Uncle Scooter offered Billie his hand and Billie took it. They passed through the tunnel and into the airport.
A big sign over the hall read Welcome to Virginia.
Billie stopped dead in the middle of the hall, planted her feet, and started to cry. “I want to go home!”