Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (Sunset Cove #3)

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (Sunset Cove #3)

Colleen Coble



Melissa’s breath came hard, and the pressure in her ears built as she sprinted up the slope toward the top of the cliffs. The glow in the east told her she would have to hurry if she wanted to see the sunrise from Mermaid Rock. Small pebbles skittered away from the soles of her sneakers, and the sound set her on edge.

She glanced over her shoulder. While she’d seen no one on the trail, the hair on the back of her neck stood at attention, and she kept expecting to find a bear’s gaze boring into her in the darkness. In spite of her careful perusal of the surrounding area, she saw nothing but piles of pink granite gleaming in the faint glow of the coming sunrise.

When she finally reached the summit, the view swept away her unease. The sun peeked over the water and bathed everything in a pink halo that heightened the color of the cliffs. She sat on a rock and inhaled the salty air. It was a perfect morning, but she would soon have to go back and face what she’d come to Maine to do.

Heath wouldn’t be happy, but she couldn’t continue this way when she didn’t want to be with him anymore. When had their giddy love changed? When Heath had been in law school, they kissed over takeout as they cuddled on crates at a table constructed from a box crate.

Now that they had everything, they really had nothing.

And what was she going to do about the girls? They adored their father. Taking them away from him would be a terrible idea, but she couldn’t leave them behind. Even if that decision had been made, she wasn’t sure she could go through with it.

Pain began to pulse behind her eye, and she rubbed her forehead. This was so hard. She didn’t want to think about their fight, the way his voice shook with fury, but the memory swamped her.

“What’s this?” Heath tossed a sheaf of papers onto the table at the coffee shop.

The aroma of espresso suddenly turned Melissa’s stomach when she saw his expression. “What’s what?”

The children’s activity director at the hotel, Lisa Greenhill, sat at the next table over and lifted her head at his raised voice. Melissa hunched her shoulders and turned away from the curious stares. Her heart pounded as she peered up at her husband.

His eyes were narrowed in what looked like hatred, and his nostrils flared. His normally smiling lips were pressed together in a straight line. Her gaze leaped to the papers, and she bit back a gasp. He knew. “I can explain.”

His lip curled. “Explain how you’ve been meeting him behind my back. And that scum, of all people.”

She straightened and met his gaze. “He’s not what you think.”

“No, he’s worse.” He clenched and unclenched his fists. “I could kill you for this, Melissa. I don’t know how I can live with this.”

For an instant she cringed. Would he hit her? She’d never feared Heath before today. He was the gentlest of men and had been a good husband. She couldn’t help it that she’d fallen out of love with him. The words of explanation died on her lips. If the shoe were on the other foot, she’d feel just like he did.

She tipped her chin up. “I’m sorry, Heath. It j-just happened. I didn’t mean for it to.”

“Don’t even think about taking the girls.” Steel laced his words. “No judge in the land would give you custody.”

She thought of the airline tickets she’d already bought for them. They’d get over losing her more easily than they would losing Heath. But could she leave without her babies? It went against everything she believed in. She’d look like a terrible mother, and maybe she was. She’d always thought a woman who would leave her children for a man was the lowest of the low. But she had to think of what was best for the girls. Maybe she should stay and ignore her own happiness, but the thought of it brought tears rushing to her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Heath.”

“Sorry isn’t good enough. You’ll regret this, Melissa. I’ll make sure of it.” He spun around and stalked away.

A sound brought her out of her reverie, and she started to turn. Before she made a full rotation, hard hands gripped her throat from behind. Her eyes widened, and she tore at the fingers.

She tried to speak or scream, but nothing came out. Spots danced in her eyes, and her vision began to darken. Air, she needed air. She tried to pry away the vise crushing her neck, but she . . . just . . . couldn’t. Then the ground rose to meet her.


Kate Mason trained her binoculars on the cliff face high above her. She’d left her yellow Volkswagen parked on the dirt road up top, and she and her sister hiked in to this remote beach on Folly Shoals, just off the Schoodic Peninsula in Downeast Maine, to see the brightly colored beaks in the craggy rocks. “They’re here just like Dixie said!”

It had taken half an hour to hike down here, and she hadn’t been sure it was worth it. Even the ranger they’d run into had laughed at the notion of puffins nesting here, but there they were with their bright parrot-like coloring and awkward movements. She’d heard the rumor about these birds, but she’d been afraid to hope it was true. Atlantic puffins had never been known to nest on Folly Shoals. As far as she knew, there were only five nesting sites in Maine.

Her sister, Claire Dellamare, snatched at the binoculars. “I want to see.”

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