A Stranger in the Cove

By: Rachel Brimble

CHAPTER ONE

KATE HARRINGTON’S ENTIRE body trembled with annoyance when the not-so-honorable Mayor Binchy abruptly ended their phone call. She slammed the phone receiver back into its cradle.

The nerve of the man!

She glared around Templeton Cove’s Teenage Support office. It buzzed with activity, her colleagues busy talking on phones or scribbling notes, heedless that dusk fell beyond the plate glass window.

Frustration boiled dangerously inside her. She and the rest of the staff had dedicated every hour possible into making the upcoming fund-raiser a success. Tickets had been selling well for months, and the team was on track for an impressive donation to the local hospital’s new young mother and baby unit.

But how was she meant to impress the three or four major donors to the event in three days’ time if the mayor had deemed the entire day and night a “non-priority”?

Young, unmarried mothers who’d been kicked out of their homes or had found themselves all alone with a baby to care for were a non-priority? Kate ground her teeth. She’d like to make a priority of ramming a red-hot poker up Mayor Binchy’s ass.

“Whoa…” Her colleague Nancy Marshall approached, pushing her glasses up her nose. “What, or who, has put that look on your face?”

Kate scowled. “The look that says I might just wring someone’s neck?”

Nancy nodded. “Uh-huh, exactly.”

Kate tipped her head back and groaned. “This fund-raiser means so much to all of us and I really wanted the mayor to show his support on Saturday.” She dropped her chin and glared. “Is that too much to ask of the man who supposedly champions the town and supports the community? Mayor Binchy is a waste of space if he deems lone mothers a non-priority.”

Nancy’s smile vanished, and she flicked her long black hair over her shoulder. “He said that?” Her eyes widened. “To you?”

“Yep.”

“The man must have a death wish.”

“Agreed.”

“And what did you say after he said that?”

“He cut me off somewhere around, ‘shall I bring a few of these mothers to your place so you can explain where you stand?’” Kate blew out a breath and sat behind her desk. “Forget him. We don’t need some stuck-up know-it-all to front this fund-raiser. All we need is plenty of press interest, and that’s pretty much a done deal. We’ve got music, food, marquees galore…not to mention the Moon Shadows.” Kate felt marginally appeased that one of the UK’s up-and-coming country rock bands backed their campaign. “So, did you want my help with something?”

“If that’s okay…” Nancy grimaced. “Although now is probably not the best time to let you know about another no-show for Saturday.”

“What?” Kate’s optimism wavered once more. “Who?”

“The lead guitarist from the Moon Shadows is sick. The bassist has promised he’ll find a replacement. I’m just worried how the crowd will react to not having Jason Stewart there. He’s the main man, after all.”

“Since when has a guitarist been the main man? What’s wrong with the lead singer?”

“Nothing. It’s just Jason is…” Nancy’s dark eyes glistened with mischief. “Well, Jason.”

“Hmm.” Kate picked up a pen and tapped it on her desk. “As long as they find a replacement and the show can go on, it will be fine. I’d like to think people in the Cove will be there for the cause…even if the mayor isn’t.”

“True.” Nancy pressed her ever-present clipboard to her chest. “Is there anything else I can take off your plate? You look so stressed.”

“I’m fine. Really.” Kate pushed the curls from her brow and forced a smile. “See? All good.”

Her colleague raised her eyebrows, her gaze disbelieving. “If you say so. I’ll see you in the morning then, okay?”

“Sure. Have a nice night.”

Kate dragged some papers from the overflowing tray on her desk and resigned herself to another late night. Her eyes itched with tiredness, and her body ached from the hours she’d put in over the last month trying to pull together what she hoped would be a fund-raiser to beat all fund-raisers.

She put the final touches on the last press release before the event and emailed it to the Cove Chronicle’s editor. With any luck, Claire Neale would run a story about the event on page two, even if she wouldn’t promise Kate the front page. The local radio station had been great, and Kate’s entire team had worked social media to the breaking point, but still, any last-minute ticket purchases would be welcome.

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