NOTHING BUT TROUBLE
PJ Sugar Series #1
Susan May Warren
Tyndale House Publishers
About the Book
Reading Group Guide
From Chapter 2
Anytime now, the voice of sanity could kick back in: PJ, what are you doing?
Rolling down her window, PJ stuck out her elbow and took a deep breath, the smell of summer stirring in the minty grass, the lilacs hanging from plump trees. Kellogg’s Main Street bordered Lake Minnetonka, now dark against the midafternoon sun, hazy and fierce behind anemic clouds. Lazy sailboats, moored at the yacht club and out in the harbor, gleamed bright and enchanting, whispering promises of windblown hair and a sultry tan as they bobbed like swans in the water. Sunday afternoon sun worshipers lay on the coarse sandy beach, others in blue and white loungers, floppy hats pulled low over sunglasses.
PJ had spent too many high school summers dividing her time between the beach and the country club pool, her legs sticky with coconut oil, hoping Boone might motor by or, better yet, hijack his parents’ ski boat and woo her into spending the afternoon skiing on the foamy waves.
Leave it to her fickle heart to trail back to Boone’s memory like a homing pigeon.
She breathed in the spice of garlic and smoking wood chips courtesy of the grills off Sunsets Supper Club’s veranda just beyond the beachfront. In the lane next to her, a convertible of laughing, muscle-shirted boys turned up their radio. Rap music spilled out, and they jackhammered their way past closed storefronts displaying preppy fashions meant for leisure. PJ barely touched the gas, noting the new volleyball pit outside Hal’s Pizzeria and Bar; a sign over the outside stage advertised a jazz festival. Last time she’d seen a band at Hal’s, it had been Ricky Merkel’s punk band.
On the boardwalk that stretched along the beach like a border, the occasional couple strolled hand in hand. Frisbees winged on the breeze across lawns dotted with picnickers.
Like an old friend, a lusty wind reached out, tangling her hair into a knotty, carefree mess.
She had the urge to toe off her flip-flops and drive barefoot as she turned off Main at the theater, driving past the redbrick high school, then out to the country club, with its neat hedges, its white terraces, the tidy golf course. Before she could stop herself, her gaze swept the employee parking lot for his Kawasaki.
Boone’s voice, low and angry, came back to her: “You’ll be back someday. And maybe I won’t be here.”
Oh, she dearly hoped so.
The new kitchen wing, now nearly ten years old, jutted out past the old foundation. It felt too much like visiting a war monument. She had the urge to stand over it, say a little prayer for lives lost.
She pulled up at the far end of the parking lot, cataloging the changes. The weathered, white-tiled pool boasted a new slide and, on the high dive that had once trapped her at the pinnacle, a fresh coat of paint. A crisp white flag fluttered on the tenth green, in plain sight to anyone who might be looking.
She hadn’t really noticed that before and for a second nearly put her car into reverse. But it wasn’t likely that she’d see old Ben Murphy or Ernie Hoffman again, was it? Or that they’d still remember finding her on prom night entangled with Boone on the smooth putting green blanket?
Maybe there were some images a person simply couldn’t purge. She certainly had a few.
Behind her, a guest slammed the door to her silver BMW, balancing in her arms a gift wrapped in pink. PJ glanced in the rearview mirror. Why hadn’t she stopped outside town to change? Instead she had to show up smelling like she’d spent a week under a bridge, her short red --- no, auburn --- hair greasy, in frayed jeans, a tank, and flip-flops.
“Oh, boy...” She sat in the car, hands wrapped around the steering wheel, debate gluing her to the seat. “Oh... boy.”
Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as she thought. So what if Connie was on her second husband, while PJ couldn’t even snag the first? No one in Kellogg knew that she’d job-hopped her way around the nation, had more forwarding mail addresses than a sailor. She could pretend... well, she was done pretending.
Maybe it was time to find the real PJ, the one she could live with long term. The one who didn’t have to be pastor’s wife material but wasn’t the messy PJ she’d left behind, either.
Excerpted from NOTHING BUT TROUBLE: PJ Sugar Series #1 © Copyright 2017 by Susan May Warren. Reprinted with permission by Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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