That Summer at the Shore

By: Callie Endicott

PROLOGUE

ZACK DENNING BREATHED in the tangy scent of seaside vegetation as the bulldozer bit deep into the soil. For seventeen years he had worked for this moment.

Mar Vista. My own resort.

He’d saved, invested, made the right contacts, learned along the way, calculated for everything imaginable…and now he was finally breaking ground.

“It’s a big day,” said Phillip Atchison, his architect, during a lull in the noise from the heavy machinery.

“Yes.” Zack nodded, holding his triumph at bay. This was just the beginning, with the greatest risks and challenges still ahead. Nevertheless, he could see it all in his head, the way he’d been seeing it since he was a kid and everyone thought it was a pipe dream.

Phillip understood his ideas and had been excited by the opportunity to design classic architecture that recalled an era of gracious stability. Equally important, they’d incorporated luxury amenities, state-of-the-art electronics and a killer resource center. A guest could run an international company from Mar Vista…or forget the outside world existed.

Leaving the bulldozer, they walked toward the trailer, which would serve as Zack’s home and office while the construction phase progressed. Later he would have an apartment over the administrative offices.

“It’s too bad your family couldn’t be here for the groundbreaking,” Phillip commented.

“My folks were going to come, but something…came up.”

Zack’s mood chilled. He didn’t want to explain his brother’s damaged body and the months of surgeries and therapy yet to come. Brad had gone through hell since being hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Their parents were in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was being treated at National Naval Medical Center. The doctors kept saying they had to be patient, but it wasn’t easy.

“Maybe they can come for the grand opening. And you’ve taken lots of photos that you can send them,” Phillip said, dropping his arms. “They’re on the internet, aren’t they? Or do they resist using computers and email like my folks?”

It took a second for Zack’s brain to refocus. “No, they love email,” he answered, patting his digital camera. He’d already sent dozens of pictures to his parents and brother, hoping it would raise their spirits. His jaw hardened. The resort had to be a success—the family needed something to go well.

They climbed onto the landing in front of the trailer and studied the terrain leading down to the Pacific Ocean. Weather reports indicated relatively dry conditions for the next several months—ideal for contouring the acreage for the golf course and completing the major structures. They were disturbing as few of the natural features as they could, which helped their timeline. Mar Vista would nestle into the land as though it were always meant to be there.

The golf-course design also employed existing features, while still creating eighteen holes that each had its own unique challenge. Zack didn’t care much for playing golf himself, but he’d paid close attention to what the enthusiasts of the game had to say about a good course.

“It would be nice if there wasn’t a public road on the north end,” Phillip said.

Zack kicked a clod of dirt from his shoe. “True, but I’ve examined similar issues at other resorts. It doesn’t seem to be a problem if the atmosphere is right, and the situation here is better than most because the road only leads to the public beach.”

“What about the section north of the road? I noticed the old for-sale-by-owner sign is still there. That strip of land is too narrow for the main resort, but the view is spectacular and your guests would love exclusive access to the water.”

Zack suppressed a laugh. Phillip “noticed” that for-sale sign whenever he came to Warrington. “Actually, my real-estate agent is contacting the owner with an offer.”

“Wonderful.”

Zack saw the wheels turning in his architect’s eyes. “Don’t get busy with blueprints,” he warned. “Even if the seller accepts, I can’t afford to develop for at least two years.” If it wasn’t for a recent investment in his portfolio panning out better than expected, he wouldn’t have been able to consider buying the property in the first place.

“What if the owner decides not to sell and builds something that clashes with Mar Vista?” asked Phillip.

Zack grimaced. “My landscape architect and I have a contingency plan. We’re leaving green space with trees where we can plant one of those tall evergreen hedges as a buffer if necessary. It isn’t a great solution, but it would help.”

Phillip whistled. “That’s expensive, particularly if you put in mature bushes.”

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