Nancy Peyton had lived in the village of Briar Creek all her life, making her a true Creeker. She'd been married to Captain Jake Peyton, and when his boat went down in a storm, she had never remarried or left her home, choosing to make their captain's house into a three-family apartment building. Lindsey had rented the third floor from her before she moved in with Sully.
Nancy's partner in crime in all manner of shenanigans was her best friend, Violet La Rue. Violet had retired to Briar Creek after a long career on the Broadway stage. With her dark skin and warm brown eyes, she was still a great beauty; and with her silver hair scraped back into a bun at the back of her head, her cheekbones dominated her heart-shaped face, which had delivered famous lines from the likes of William Shakespeare and Sam Shepard to appreciative audiences all over the world.
"You're being thick," Violet said. "Think of all the great works of literature and how they would be different if the author didn't follow their vision. Take 'Romeo and Juliet'—it had to end the way it did."
"Did it?" Lindsey asked. "Couldn't they have communicated better and ended up living together in some faraway land? Then again, maybe it would have ended exactly the same if they'd gotten married and Juliet discovered Romeo was a morning person who whistled really loudly while he shaved, and one morning she just snapped."
The room became quiet as her friends stopped talking to stare at her.
"What?" she asked.
"You and Sully have been living together for six months, right?" Violet asked. She sat in an available armchair by the couch, and Nancy did the same.
"Something like that," Lindsey said.
Nancy exchanged a look with Violet and nodded. "It's over."
"What? No!" cried Beth. "How could it be over? It took them forever to get together." She bounced forward on the couch and reached for Lindsey's hand, looking devastated. "I mean, if you and Sully can't it, Aidan and I—"
"Are still in your honeymoon phase," Violet interrupted. "Relax. You're fine."
"Oh, thank goodness." Beth sagged with relief and dropped Lindsey's hand. "I've barely gotten used to being Mrs. Barker. I'm not ready for things to go sideways on us."
"Sully and I are fine," Lindsey insisted. "It's just that living with someone, even an awesome someone, is—"
"Annoying, irritating, exasperating, all the '-ings,'" Nancy said. "I remember the first few months I was married to Jake, I fantasized about clobbering him with a frying pan more times than I can count."
"Communication is the key," Violet said. "But that's just what I've been told. I was married to my career, so I'm not really a go-to person when it comes to relationship advice."
"What about you, Paula?" Beth asked. "You and Hannah have been living together for the same amount of time as Lindsey and Sully. Is she getting on your nerves, too?"
Paula glanced at Lindsey. She cringed and shook her head. "Sorry. But maybe I'm getting on her nerves. I'll check and get back to you."
Lindsey laughed. "Thanks, but I wouldn't want to stir up any trouble. Probably, my reading until two in the morning gets on his nerves, but Sully's too polite to say anything."
"He is very nice," Nancy said.
"And he's a man," Violet said. "They have different expectations."
The two women exchanged another glance, and Lindsey turned to Beth, who shrugged. She and Aidan Barker had gotten married just a few weeks ago, and she'd been walking on clouds ever since. In other words, she was useless.
"All right, people, I have the craft supplies set up. Where is Ms. Cole? Isn't she in charge of food today?" Paula asked.
"The lemon—er—Ms. Cole was in the staff lounge last I saw," Beth said. Ms. Cole was the newest member of their crafternoon group.
During the first two years that Lindsey had worked at the library, Ms. Cole had been full of disapproval, and her puckered disposition had caused Beth to dub her "the lemon."
But they'd been through some dire times at the library, and Ms. Cole had softened toward her fellow librarians and had actually asked to join their book club and invited them to call her Ginny. The new name didn't take, however, and she remained Ms. Cole to them—and occasionally, when she was being particularly rigid, she was still the lemon. But there was affection there now, too, which made all the difference.