Lost and Found Sisters Read online

  Quinn let go of her and the cat turned in a tight circle in Quinn’s lap three times and then plopped down with little to no grace and closed her eyes.

  “So if I’m sabotaging my happiness with Boomer,” Lena said, “maybe you’re sabotaging Mick’s happiness by getting in our way. You ever think of that?”

  “You know, I liked it better when we didn’t speak,” Quinn said and Lena let out a low laugh in clear agreement.

  To Quinn’s surprise, she laughed a little too. Like Tilly, like the damn café and the people in it, like everything in Wildstone, everyone and everything here had all become little strings on her heart.

  And she had no idea what to do with that.

  Chapter 25

  How come being fifteen isn’t nearly as fun as it is on TV?

  —from “The Mixed-Up Files of Tilly Adams’s Journal”

  After Lena left, Quinn took the bottle of moonshine and walked down the hallway.

  The cat followed her around like a puppy. Lena had been right, the one droopy eye gave her a distinctively inebriated look. Her fur was still all clumped and matted, like maybe bathing herself took too much effort, and Quinn wanted to bathe and groom her badly, but one problem at a time.

  She eyed the bedrooms and stretched the kink out of her neck. “I’m not sure how long I’m staying,” she told the cat, who seemed interested in all she had to say. “But I refuse to sleep another night on that couch.”

  The craft room was smaller than the closet in her condo. Her first choice would be to take Carolyn’s bigger room, but she didn’t want to do that to Tilly.

  Taking another sip of moonshine for fortification, she rolled up her sleeves and went to work, moving the sewing and boxes of craft stuff all against one wall so that she could move the old twin bed she’d seen in the garage into this room. There was a tiny desk with two drawers, one locked, one not. In the unlocked drawer was only one item.

  A key.

  It unlocked the first drawer, where she found a small journal. She opened it up and recognized Carolyn’s writing from the letter she’d received. Another sip from the moonshine bolstered her courage as she opened the book and began to read.

  Was told I was terminal today. Didn’t see that coming. When I was little, I used to pretend I was Superwoman, with powers to transport myself from place to place. Right now I’d settle for the superpower to go back in time and make some badly needed changes.

  I know I’m contractually barred from searching out the daughter I gave up for adoption. I get it. But what are they going to do? I’m dying, for crap’s sake.

  It was a mistake to agree to stay away from her but I can’t regret anything I did back then as it was all for the sake of my baby girl. I wanted her to have a better life than I could give her. At barely eighteen, I wasn’t equipped to handle myself, much less an infant. Hell, I couldn’t have committed to a dentist’s appointment, much less to raising a kid.

  But oh how I wish I’d been stronger. That I’d not let her go. That I’d not signed away all my rights to her.

  When Tilly came along so many years later, I expected some of the guilt to dissipate. Instead, it got worse. Because in spite of all my concerns about raising a child, Tilly and I did okay.

  Better than okay.

  All of which only makes the ache for Quinn worse. I failed her, and I can’t live with that.

  So . . . I searched for her, and what I found was far more than I deserved. I found a smart, kind, generous woman, and I couldn’t be more proud of what she’s made of herself and who she’s become, in spite of her dubious beginnings.

  The sound of Quinn’s cell phone ringing from the kitchen where she’d left it had her jerking back to the present. Realizing her cheeks were wet, she swiped at the tears and stood up, reeling.

  The journal echoed what Greta had told her. What the letter from Cliff had told her. There was a lot more, but she carefully slid the journal into the drawer, relocking it.

  Then she took another sip of the moonshine—or two—before running into the kitchen to grab her phone.

  The ID screen read: THE-GUY-I-LIKE-I-REALLY-REALLY-LIKE. In spite of herself, she had to laugh because damn, Tilly was good. That girl was way too smart for her grades and her own good. “Hello?” she asked, breathless from the journal, her mad dash to the kitchen, the moonshine . . . her life.

  There was a beat of silence. Then Mick’s deep, familiar voice, the one that made her nipples hard, said, “You okay?”

  “You ask me that a lot. I might look fragile but I’m not.”

  “I already know that. And I ask because I like to know.”

  There’d been a part of her, deep, deep down, that had gone cold when she’d learned about being given up at birth. She was coming to terms with it, all of it, she really was. But that spot inside her had remained cold.

  But ever since she’d met Mick, he’d been slowly defrosting it, warming her from the inside out.

  “How about dinner tonight?” he asked.

  “Like a date?”

  “Unless you can figure out how to have dinner over the phone, yeah. A date.”

  She looked at the cat, who’d followed her into the kitchen.

  “Mew,” the cat said politely but definitely with a question on the end of it, like “Are you going to feed me or what?”

  “Quinn?” Mick asked.

  “Dinner sounds good,” she said, and then remembered she’d have Tilly at home later, after her AP course at a local city college. And she wasn’t sure she was ready to try and handle both him and Tilly at the same time. “Can we make it an early dinner? Or a late lunch?”

  “Sure. When?”

  “Now?” she asked. “And maybe it can be the kind of late lunch/early dinner you bring here to the house?”

  “Okay,” he said, easy as always. “What would you like?”

  “Mew,” the cat said politely.

  Quinn looked down and met her one good eye. “Something a cat would eat.”

  There was a beat of silence. “What?”

  “Don’t ask.” She disconnected and looked at the cat, who came closer, walking in a way that seemed like she might be tiptoeing. Dust danced away from her fur, floating through the air like . . . “Tinkerbell,” she said.

  The cat didn’t seem impressed.

  “Too girly?” Quinn asked.


  “Okay, how about just Tink? It’s a perfect name for such a beautiful cat.”

  Apparently the cat agreed because she wound herself around Quinn’s feet and then nudged the empty milk bowl for more.

  MICK AND COOP arrived twenty-five minutes later with a bag of groceries. “Hi!” Quinn said enthusiastically.

  Mick gave her an odd look.

  “What’s the matter?” she asked, hoping she didn’t have the same inebriated expression that Tink did.

  “You’re all flushed.” He looked around and saw the moonshine, now missing a third of its contents, and burst out laughing.

  “In my defense,” she said, lifting her chin, “I was left unsupervised.”

  He ran a finger along her temple, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear, giving her a delicious all-over body shiver. “Want to talk about it?” he asked, voice silky. Sexy.

  She closed her eyes and leaned into him, pressing her face into his throat, inhaling the sexy, comforting scent of him. “I don’t know.”

  And here was the difference between him and . . . well, everyone else she’d ever known. He didn’t push. He didn’t poke or prod. He didn’t cajole, demand, question.

  He just let her be.

  “I’m worried,” she finally admitted.


  “Everything!” She sighed. “There’s a boy . . .”

  “I’m hoping the rest of that sentence is ‘and his name is Mick.’”

  She laughed. “I’m talking about Tilly. I’m stressing over how much a fifteen-year-old old knows about sex. I went online and tried to research—”