Trapped on Acker Island - Chapter 3
Harper arrived at the address Scott texted her in North Rock. She looked around for a restaurant, but the address was clearly marked on the door of a vacant storefront. She texted Scott asking the name of the restaurant because she had arrived at a vacant place. A moment later, he walked out the door of that space. He had a huge smile on his face and waved her in.
When she walked in, she knew exactly what he was up to. The space would make an incredible bakery. It had one long brick wall that added a ton of character, with black and white floors and black, decorative molding and woodwork. It even had counters that could be easily re-worked and the layout was perfect, almost like it had once been a bakery before. She lit up with excitement.
“Oh my God, Scott. It’s beautiful!”
“Perfect, right? You said your lease is up next month. You should move here.”
“Forget moving here,” Harper said as she opened and closed some cabinet doors, “I could open a second shop.”
Harper walked around the space, taking in as much as she could. She went in back and looked at the kitchen. It needed a little bit of work, but didn’t look too troublesome. She turned around and looked at Scott, who was smiling ear-to-ear.
“You love it, right?” Scott asked, beaming.
She didn’t answer right away. She just smiled and nodded. Harper had some trepidation over making a move like this. For one, opening a second shop isn’t that easy. She’d have to go over her finances, take a close look at the market in North Rock and see if she’s even able to scale the business into two locations. On the other hand, she had been thinking of it for months and already knew she could probably do it, if all that shook out. But, should she? Really?
Not to mention that she and Scott had only been dating for a few months, though they had grown very quickly in love. Scott was traditionally handsome, funny, charismatic, charming, and popular. And as pretty and kind as Harper was, it didn’t take Scott long to fall head over heels for her. He had started telling her he loved her and hoped one day they would marry. Harper could imagine her life in the perfect little town of Acker Island and couldn’t resist his charms. She had yet to tell him she loved him, too, as she felt it was a little fast.
“There’s a little apartment upstairs, too.” Scott said. “So, you can stay over when you need to. And I can stay over, too.”
Harper smiled. “How convenient. Can we see it?”
“Yeah, it’s vacant. I’ve got the keys from the realtor. I just thought this part was more important to you first.” Harper like that he knew her that well already. “You’re right about that. Let me just take this in for a minute.”
As Harper stood there looking around, she was feeling elated at the prospect of opening a shop right next to Acker Island, and the prospect of being married to such an incredible guy, who no doubt loved the heck out of her. She began to warm up to it all, and she figured when you’re meant to be, you’re meant to be.
She walked up to Scott a little business like, “Well, Scott, I mean I’d have to check out the market and my finances, and that apartment upstairs but, if that all checks out then…” She got close to him and threw her arms around his neck, “Then kiss your new neighbor. Unless you’re going to charge me a finder’s fee or something.”
Scott smiled and gave her a giant kiss with a layback. “C’mon! I’ll show you upstairs; you’ll love it!” Scott said as he started to walk to the back.
“Wait!” Harper demanded. She walked up to him and said, “Scott, I really appreciate you thinking about of all this and finding the space.”
“Well, it’s because I love you, honey.”
“I know and…I love you, too.”
Scott broke into a huge smile. “Did you just…”
“I did.” Harper confirmed.
“Like, just love, or as in love as I am?”
“In love, my dear. I love you!” Harper yelled.
Scott swung her around. “We’re going to have such a great life together; you’ll see.” Scott said as he started towards the back again.
Harper wasn’t sure about life. She had only just told him she loved him and he was already talking about spending their lives together. But when you love someone, don’t you want to spend your life with them? She just thought they should give the relationship a little more time. But at the same time, was just so darn happy with Scott that she wondered what her problem was. That maybe the problem was her dragging her feet. That maybe, when you have something good, you should just go with it.
Nine months later, they were married. No, not because of a baby, unless you consider the baby as the wedding itself. They were married in the dockside gazebo and had a reception at Acker Hall, of course. It was everything Harper had ever dreamed of. Elegant and beautiful. Once Scott popped the question, he started planning things immediately. He is, after all, the manager of Acker Hall, so he knew exactly what he wanted and how to make it spectacular. Harper merely had to attend a few meetings to choose this or that from options. Scott put the wedding together in a matter of a few months and Harper was very impressed. She couldn’t wait to marry him, either.
Harper’s new bakery was thriving and she was busy traveling back and forth between her first and second locations, as well trying to make herself home in Scott’s house on Acker Island. One day, after a long, busy weekend, Harper woke up on Monday morning to the smell of bacon. “That’s bacon!” she said as she whipped off the covers and ran downstairs.
As she entered the kitchen, she saw Scott at the stove. “Ah, it worked. Good morning, sleepyhead.” Scott said as he was pulling bacon strips off the frying pan.
“Oh my God. This is amazing. Just what I needed.” Harper said as she kissed his cheek and headed for the coffee pot.
“I know. You’ve been busy. I thought you could use a little pampering.”
Harper felt like the luckiest woman in the world to have such a thoughtful husband. She finished making her coffee and sat down at the kitchen island while Scott cracked eggs into the frying pan.
“You’re the best husband ever.” She said and smiled at him. Scott turned and smiled back.
“Well, you deserve it.”
“Thanks, but, you’re busy, too. Aren’t you tired, too?”
“I’m used to it. But, you know, if we get pregnant this year, you won’t be able to keep up this schedule.”
They had started trying for a baby, but it had only been a couple of months.
“I’m aware I’ll have to cut back somewhere or promote someone.” Harper agreed as she swiped a piece of bacon from the plate on the counter
“Or…” Scott started a bit carefully.
“Or maybe you should sell Story Lane.”
Harper’s face dropped. Selling her Story Lane location…Her very first location…her baby… had never entered her mind. Sure, it meant a lot of time away working but…. All she could think was No, no, no.
“Why would I sell Story Lane? That store makes a ton of money.”
“Because you live here, now, honey. Your time is so divided. And we want a family, don’t we?” Scott laid her breakfast in front of her.
“I’ll get a partner. A good one! And then I’ll only have to visit once in a while.”
“You know that’s not true. You’ll still have to be there more often than you think. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I really think you should sell it.”
Harper started to get a little heated. She wondered how much he’d push the issue. “Please don’t ask me to do that. I don’t want to. When the time comes to sell it, I’ll consider it. But not now. We’ll talk about it when I’m pregnant.” She looked down and took a few bites of food.
“That’s just it,” Scott pressed as he washed the pan. “We need to plan for these things now. We can’t wait until you’re too frazzled to do anything.”
“Too frazzled? Like I’m going to lose control of my life?” Harper frowned.
“Oh honey,” Scott tried to soften. “You know what I mean. Look, take your time, but I really think you need to sell it within a year. I’m not going to drop this.”
Harper wondered what that meant. Was he going to force her to sell it? Like, is this 1950 and he’s the man and makes all the decisions?
“Don’t hold your breath.” Harper said as she took a bite of bacon. She hated to think there’s a possibility he could be right. That when they do have kids, it could become too much to handle. But she wasn’t ready to jump off that cliff yet. She’d find a way to manage everything.
When Harper was five months pregnant, about five months later, she asked Scott if they could go on a babymoon. A trip somewhere tropical before the baby was born. They had never been on a proper vacation together as they were both so busy. They had skipped a honeymoon. And by now, Harper was really wanting a proper vacation before everything changed with a newborn.
But Scott was against it. He kept fighting her on the idea telling her it wasn’t good for her health to travel that far and they were too busy, and they could just go spend a night at a nearby hotel instead. Harper wasn’t interested in a nearby hotel.
“C’mon, Scott, we need this. We need a break. And it’s our last chance for a while.”
“I’ll tell you what? I’ll go on vacation when you sell that bakery.”
Harper had been hearing about this since they moment they got a positive on the home pregnancy test. She was so tired of this argument. And what kind of lopsided logic was that, anyway?
“I don’t have to sell. I’ve worked it out. And you know that, so would you stop with this?”
Harper had promoted Story Lane’s manager to partner and it was working out great! Better than expected, in fact. The numbers were steady and she only needed to go to that location about once per month. She was sure she could keep that location open, even with the baby.
But Scott was relentless. “If you want a vacation, then sell Story Lane. That’s it.” Scott doubled down.
“Well then I’ll take a vacation by myself.” Harper threatened, though she didn’t really want to do that.
“You’re not going anywhere by yourself!” Scott raised his voice. “I told you what to do. Now do it!” he yelled.
Harper didn’t like this side of Scott. She thought, he’s my husband, not my boss. How dare he? She figured he must just be in a bad mood.
“I’ll talk to you when you’re in a better mood.” Harper said as she left the room.
Scott yelled after her, “It’s not my mood, it’s your idiocy!”
“What did you say?!” she said sternly as she came back into the room.
“People don’t need vacations, Harper. They’re selfish. You’re selfish!”
Harper couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She couldn’t even respond. She looked at him like he was crazy.
“Think about it.” Scott started. “Who do we know who’s taken a vacation?”
Harper thought about it, and the truth was, no one. It started to occur to her that no one on Acker Island ever went on vacation. But she knew she wasn’t crazy. Was she in some alternate universe?
“People take vacations, Scott!” she said. It was all she could say while she tried to figure out if he was crazy or if she was.
“Selfish people do, Harper.” Scott barked back. Harper didn’t like being called selfish. And taking a vacation isn’t selfish, is it? I mean, you could say it is a little, right? But, that’s a poor argument, she thought. What could be driving this, Harper wondered.
“Is this like an Acker Island belief system or something?” Harper asked, a little matter of fact.
“Maybe.” Scott answered snottily, which wasn’t really an answer at all.
Harper stopped arguing, looked at Scott strangely and left the room. Confused, she headed upstairs and as she slowly climbed, she thought she should have a chat with her only friend in town, Rose. She wanted to understand if this was actually a thing on Acker Island or if Scott was just being a pain in the ass. She also realized that she hadn’t made too many friends yet on Acker. Her friends were mere acquaintances. And she’d been so busy traveling between the bakeries and working that she hadn’t made any in-roads in town yet.
She wondered if perhaps there were things about Acker Island that she needed to know. Perhaps she’d been missing a huge piece of what’s becoming her life. And what the heck has gotten into Scott lately?
She laid on her bed and cried for a few minutes. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones. Maybe it was legitimate. Either way, after she wiped her eyes, she got up, grabbed her phone off the dresser, and called Rose.