Eliza Ester Paperback Paperback Sweet Love on the Cove (PAPERBACK)
Chickadee Cove Book 3

Sweet Love on the Cove (PAPERBACK)

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Uncover the passionate love story that develops after a scary accident brings two dear friends together in Chickadee Cove!

What happens when disaster strikes and it brings back flooding memories of a past event that was traumatizing?

Well, that’s the case of Jeannie when her daughter, Lily, gets involved in an accident and goes missing, prompting the police to launch an investigation into Lily’s whereabouts, just like it happened a decade ago.

Terrified by the thought of the horrific things that could have happened to her daughter, Jeannie seeks the comfort of her close friend, Aaron, only to find out later that her ex-husband found Lily in the accident and admitted her to Chickadee Cove Memorial Hospital.

But amidst all the confusion caused by Lily’s accident, Jeannie and Aaron become closer, and as they spend more time together at Lily’s hospital room, one thing becomes certainly clear to Jeannie, her feelings for Aaron were strong. He knew the right words to say to encourage and soothe her, and he was always there, even though he was a busy man.

Chapter One

Jeannie’s hands were freezing. The air in the room had become twice as cold, and despite that, she was burning up inside. She could feel the hairs on her skin rise, forming a rough layer on the goose bumps all over her. It was almost as if someone had pushed a pause button. Everything in the room stood still. Quiet. She could even hear her own heartbeat loud and clear. The feeling was all too familiar…something she had experienced sixteen years ago.

“Where’s Lily?” Jeannie asked him with a quivering voice. 

“We are unsure currently, ma’am. However, seeing the level of damage done to the car, we will open a case.”

“Open a case?” Jeannie breathed. “Open…a case?”

The phone slipped from Jeannie’s grip and fell to the floor. A case? Not again. Not after the turmoil she had to endure when Lily went missing the first time. That period had been hell. She still had nightmares, and those moments of raw fear were still very vivid in Jeannie’s memory. The tears she shed then could have filled a bucket. She was not as agile as she was over a decade ago, and Jeannie was certain she could not endure another police case.

Seeing how distraught Jeannie was, Aaron picked up the phone from the ground. He put it on speakerphone, set it down on the center table, and took Jeannie’s trembling hands into his.

“What do you mean, a case?” he asked. “You’re going to open a case already?”

“That is correct, Mr. Horn,” the officer answered. “We will need Miss Miller to come down to the station so we can complete the report.”

“Hang on, officer,” Aaron said. “Just last night, I asked that you open a case, but you refused, claiming that it wasn’t protocol. Not that I’m complaining, but why are you now willing to launch an investigation when the 48-hour mark has not elapsed?”

“Well, there’s evidence on the scene pointing to the likelihood that this was a hit-and-run or a violent kidnapping,” the officer explained. “The car didn’t run into anything, but it’s bashed in and the driver is missing. There’s no way she could have walked out of this wreckage by herself, and seeing as she hasn’t contacted any of you, we have every cause to believe that there’s a case here. So we’re starting one. There’s every possibility that she is missing. But to be sure we’re covering all bases, we will check with hospitals nearby to see if she found her way into one. We are finishing up here at the scene. Once we’re done collecting evidence, we’ll return to the station to investigate. I will contact you again if we find anything.”

“Aaron,” Jeannie said, crying. “Aaron, they are going to open a case. Lily is missing again. Someone has taken her. Someone has hurt her. What am I going to do?”

“Relax, Jeannie,” Aaron said, squeezing her hand. “We need a level head to figure this out. I promise, we’ll figure this out.”

“We’ll call you when we find something, Mr. Horn,” the officer said.

“Thank you,” Aaron said. “Please, we will expect your call, officer.”

“Will do.”

A million thoughts crowded Jeannie’s mind, making it difficult for her to think. Her entire body trembled uncontrollably. Jeannie couldn’t process all that was going on. Just a couple of hours ago, Lily had walked out of her home. Now, there was every possibility that Lily was seriously hurt.

Missing. Kidnapped. Wreckage. Blood…

Jeannie squinted hard and shuddered. She didn’t want to imagine it, but all Jeannie could see was Lily covered in blood somewhere in the woods. Or Lily tied up somewhere at the mercy of a vile person. The thought was terrifying; however, Jeannie couldn’t stop herself from imagining it.

“Jeannie,” Aaron whispered. “Look at me.”

Jeannie kept her eyes shut. “Oh, Jesus.”

“Jeannie,” Aaron called her again. “Open your eyes and look at me. Please.”

“I have a terrible feeling about this, Aaron,” she whispered. “Something is wrong. Something is wrong.”

“Jeannie,” Aaron called her a third time. “Please open your eyes and stop thinking the worst. I know that there’s so much you’re imagining right now, and all this just seems so terrifying. I also know that this is difficult to ask you, but please, I need you to calm down. We have to stay positive. Lily will be fine. She has to be. Open your eyes and breathe.”

Slowly, Jeannie opened her eyes and sniffed hard. She wiped the tears that had fallen on her cheeks and met Aaron’s gaze. He seemed calm, but his eyes said something different. Aaron, too, was worried, confused, and on the verge of tears. But it was one of those scenarios where he had to be strong for her. Jeannie stifled the tears as she tried to maintain her composure. Aaron was right. She needed a level head if she was going to find her daughter.

“There’s something wrong, Aaron,” Jeannie said.

“I know,” Aaron said. “But we have to be optimistic. The police have options, so all is not lost. They are still going to collect clues and check hospitals. We need to have faith.”

“No, I can feel it. Lily would have called me,” Jeannie explained. “She is many things, but Lily is not strong or brave. She gets terrified at the sight of her own blood. There is no way that she was in a car accident and found her way to a hospital.”

Aaron hugged Jeannie tightly and caressed her arm. “Jeannie, come on. There is every possibility that Lily found her way to the hospital. You have every right to be worried, but you need to think of your health, too. Worrying isn’t good for you, and neither will it help Lily. Let’s cover every possibility first before we panic.”

Jeannie shook her head. “It’s just—think about it, Aaron. The accident happened on a highway. In the middle of the night. The police just confirmed that Lily was bleeding. She couldn’t have gone far on her own. She couldn’t have gone anywhere at all. The only way she could have left the car is if someone took her out of it.” 

“Don’t think about it like that.”

“How else am I supposed to think about it, then?” Jeannie questioned. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. Someone took her, Aaron. Someone has my baby, and it is all my fault. If I hadn’t agitated her, she wouldn’t have left in that state. Who knows what she’s going through at this moment? The mere thought of it terrifies me, Aaron.”

“I understand that you’re scared, but speaking like this will do nothing to help this situation,” he explained. “Once the police are done gathering the evidence they need from the scene, they will call us in and tell us everything that they know. Now, all we can do is wait. I know it doesn’t seem right to do so, but it’s the only option we have.”

“It’s not,” Jeannie said and struggled to her feet. “We can actually do something. I don’t know. I can’t just sit here and wait, Aaron. My imagination will get the best of me, and it will drive me insane. I need to find Lily.”

Aaron rose to his feet, too. “We searched all night, Jeannie. We couldn’t find her, and neither could the police. I’m afraid all we can do is wait. We don’t have any information to act on. It’s like we’re in the dark.”

“I can’t just sit here and wait, Aaron. I have to do something,” Jeannie argued.

Aaron threw his hands in the air. “Well, what do you want to do? Tell me what’s on your mind.”

Jeannie found it hard to exhale. She balled up a chunk of her hair in her fist and paced. “I think I should keep looking. I don’t know…I don’t think I looked hard enough.”

“That is because you fainted,” Aaron told her. “You were too weak to continue. But we did. The rest of us searched for as long as we could. We didn’t find anything. No sign of Lily.”

The waterworks started all over again. Jeannie interlocked her fingers, pacing and crying at the same time. “We couldn’t have looked everywhere. She has to be somewhere. I mean, Chickadee Cove isn’t a small place. She’s somewhere around. I know it.”

Aaron tried to grab Jeannie, but she made it impossible with her pacing. Her vision was blurred with her tears, and her knees were on the verge of buckling, but she kept at it, walking up and down the living room with her fingers in her hair.

“It’s my fault,” she said. “This has happened before, and I can feel it happening again. I should have stopped her. I should have stood in front of the car. I should have forced my way in. I shouldn’t have let her leave.”

“Jeannie, Jeannie,”—Aaron finally reached her and held her still—“This isn’t helping you or Lily. You said this has happened before. Someone has kidnapped Lily before. Did any of this help? Did panicking help you in any way? How will you find Lily if you can’t get it together? You need to be strong for your child. I know it’s hard, but you have to try.”

Jeannie mellowed. Thinking back to the first time Lily went missing, Jeannie realized that all her panicking had done was drive her to the verge of insanity. She did little to help with the investigation because she found it difficult to think and focus. This time, although the situation seemed familiar, it was different. Lily wasn’t a baby anymore; times had changed, and Jeannie had changed, too.

Feeling a bit more relaxed, Jeannie dropped her hands to her side and took in a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”

“There is absolutely no need for you to apologize to me, Jeannie,” Aaron said to her. “I will go out and continue looking for Lily if it will calm you down. I think going to the scene of the accident and searching for clues personally is a good idea. Who knows what I might find?”

“I’ll come with you,” Jeannie said. “You’re right. It’s a good idea.”

“No, stay home,” Aaron told her. “You need to rest, and I think it’s best you stay home in case Lily comes back here.”

Jeannie shook her head. “I don’t think I can bear the silence, Aaron. I want to come along with you. I might find some clues, too, that will help the police with their investigation.”


“I’m better now, Aaron,” she told him. “Let’s go to the highway and look for Lily. I’m coming with you whether you want me to or not.”

Reluctantly, Aaron nodded in response. “Alright. We’ll go together. But we will search for about an hour and come back home, alright? This is the only place that Lily knows. I think that if she was out there on her own, she’d come here. So, we won’t search for long.”

Jeannie nodded. “I agree. I’ll grab a jacket and we’ll be on our way.”

* * *

The car had been towed by the time they arrived at the scene of the accident. Jeannie stood by the side of the highway staring at the dried patch of blood on the ground, the shattered glass, and the skid marks. She fought the urge to break down in tears. Lily must have been in so much pain. She might have broken a bone or two, bled a lot, been stabbed by something sharp…there were so many horrible things that could have happened to her.

“My poor baby,” Jeannie sobbed.

“It must have been a drunk driver,” Aaron noted, staring at the spot, too.

“Why do you think so?” Jeannie asked, fixating her gaze on the dried blood.

“There’s no intersection. It was the middle of the night. The highway had to have been free. Lily was driving in the right lane. How in the world did the accident happen? The only possibility I’m seeing is that the person who did this…he lost control of the wheels in the opposite lane, sped into oncoming traffic, and rammed into Lily’s car.”

“Or it was deliberate,” Jeannie said and glanced at him. “That, too, is a viable option. This person did this on purpose to stop Lily’s car and take her.”

“I thought I asked you to stop imagining the worst,” Aaron said. “I want to believe that Lily wasn’t kidnapped. This was an accident, and Lily is safe somewhere. I choose not to conclude anything horrible until we’re certain.”

Jeannie sighed. “I’m trying to be optimistic, but…so much has happened to me, Aaron. It’s hard to stay optimistic when you get disappointed a lot. I want to think positively, but I can’t. Where’s Lily? It makes no sense.”

“We’ll find her,” Aaron said. “For now, let’s go down into the woods and see if we find anything.”

Jeannie clenched her fingers into a fist as they ventured into the woods, walking side by side. A part of Jeannie was convinced that they would not find anything of use searching amidst the trees. But, as Aaron said, the best she could do was stay optimistic. Hopeful. Lily had battled with so many things in her life, and she had won. She wasn’t strong physically, but Lily was strong-willed. Resilient, too. If anyone could survive, she could. Jeannie knew this. She just had to believe it.

“If anyone took Lily from me…” Jeannie said as they walked. “If it turns out that someone took Lily to hurt her, I will never forgive them. I will sacrifice the last drop of my blood to make sure that they pay for doing this.”

“The police will find the person who caused the accident and make them pay,” Aaron told her. “Let’s just find Lily first. Everything else will fall into place.”

Jeannie turned to Aaron with tear-filled eyes. “Thank you, Aaron. For being here. For helping me. If I were alone right now, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m not very good at handling crisis, you see.”

“Oh, I know,” Aaron told her. “I’ve seen the way you handle crises and arguments a couple of times. You’re terrible at it. But just know that you’re not alone in this, alright? This storm, too, will pass. You believe it, don’t you?”

Jeannie nodded. “I hope so.”

Aaron took Jeannie’s hand into his as they continued the search. Jeannie had no idea what exactly she was looking for, but searching was the best option at that moment. The thought of seeing Lily’s lifeless body somewhere in the woods crossed her mind, and she whiffled her head vigorously to ward off the intrusive thoughts.

“Think positive thoughts,” she whispered to herself with a quaking voice. “Lily is fine. We’ll find her. I know we will.”


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