For those of you waiting for the second installment of the Crabapple Landing Series, my apologies.

First, I made a decision to write a prequel, You Sustain Me. This will be a short(er) story, likely around 15K words, and will be free. As soon as that’s done, I’ll return to You Free Me.

Secondly, one of my BFFs just lost her mom and is completely traumatized. That’s just one of the many things that sidetracked me in January.

If you aren’t on my mailing list, following me on Amazon, Facebook or Instagram, sign up for whichever you prefer. You’ll be notified as soon as You Sustain Me is available.

In the meantime, here’s a part of the first scene in You Sustain Me.

Chapter one

Why, why, why, had she decided to do this?

When she’d left the house this morning it had seemed like such a good idea. A way to symbolically spit in the eye of every Fowell who had ever lived. At least those of Caramack Lake, Crabapple Landing.

Now? Not so much.

Now, Ginny Boyer lay on a dirt path that wound around the lake. Well, dirt except for the giant stone she’d just tripped over.

Not surprisingly, her ankle had hurt when she went down. The surprise had been how much it hurt when she’d tried to spring up from the ground in her usual fashion. That immediately landed her back on her butt, where she remained.

Propped on her elbows, legs spread out in front of her, she looked at her ankle. Watched it swell to alarming proportions above her runner.

This was not good.

Not only was she alone on the lake, she was alone. She didn’t have her phone since she’d forgot to charge it the night before. At this moment it sat on her kitchen counter, sucking in juice.

She’d only been back in Crabapple Landing a few days, and none of her siblings had cared to come with her. Her mother had passed away several years before, and her dad had literally dropped dead of a heart attack a few months before, leaving the mess of Caramack Lake Cabins to her. Well, her and the others, but they weren’t interested.

Her dad had always said he’d leave the cabins to her. Her and her children, if and when she ever had any. She was the only one of the four kids that cared about the place. Ginny had a special affinity for the lake and the cabins that her brothers had never had. It had always been okay with them that a bunch of falling down cabins would be her responsibility one day.

But her dad—at some point—had changed his mind. When the will was read, it stipulated that the land and the cabins go to all of them. It was their heritage.

That hadn’t changed the fact her siblings weren’t interested in returning to Crabapple Landing.

So here she was.

Alone, with no phone, and an ankle that was either badly sprained or broken.

It didn’t matter which at this point. She still couldn’t put any weight on it.

Nobody in town even knew she was back.

A sound behind her had her lurching, then crying out in pain from the movement.

The first thought that came to mind was bear! She was terrified of bears after a close encounter when she was a kid.

At least she couldn’t run, which was what instinct prompted her to do but was the last thing to do if it was a bear.

Ginny was about to start making a racket when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye and screamed.

And wanted to keep screaming when she saw who it was.

Instead, she said, “Oh, look. It’s Bad Smell. Funny, I should have picked up on the stench before you got this close. What are you doing here?”

He came to a stop near her feet, spent a moment looking at her ankle, then looked her in the eye with a smirk.

“Oh, look. It’s Skinny Boy. And I think I should be the one asking that. What are you…” He pointed a finger at her. “…doing here?” The finger swooped around now, indicating the vicinity. “Trespass much? This isn’t your side of the lake. Looks like I’m going to have to report you.”

“Just shut up. If your ancestors weren’t such greedy thieves, this would be my side as much as it is yours.”

“If your ancestors were able to read a contract it still might be yours. But the Boyers aren’t known for their savvy business sense, are they?” With that, he looked in the direction of her cabins. “So, chances are, you would have lost the land anyway.”

Ginny was not going to lay there and listen to his garbage any longer. If it killed her, she would get up off the ground and jog right back out of there.

Whoever said “where there is a will, there is a way,” was a big, fat liar. Because no matter how much she willed herself to get up and get away from him, she knew she couldn’t do it.

Not without crawling on hands and knees. And there were so many reasons why that would never happen.

And it killed her to realize what hurt the most. Not the aspersions against her family—past and present—but the Ginny Boyer a.k.a. Skinny Boy moniker. Which, considering she had started it with that trip down memory lane when she called him Bad Smell—haha, Brad Fowell, Bad Smell, get it?—was a little silly.

But still. She did not look like a skinny boy. Much. The name had hurt when she was a kid and still hurt. Just in a variety of different ways.

None of which should matter.

Because she hated Bradley Fowell.

And he hated her.

Their families had been feuding for generations before they were born, and their parents had raised their children to carry on the tradition.

Any thoughts she might have had about giving up on making a go of Caramack Lake Cabins, of selling out as her brothers wanted, were toast.

She’d just discovered a new way—a much better way—of spitting in the eye of a Fowell.

End of Excerpt

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Elle