Craig’s Hometown by Ann Streetman
Long Description for Craig’s Hometown
Kathryn Sinter had run away from home because home wasn’t what she thought it was. She had chosen Seattle because she liked seafood and flowers and it was as far as she could get from her soon to be ex-husband without drowning in the ocean. Her plans for re-invention did not include a man, but Craig Hameston, a recently retired diver in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve, was hard to ignore.
Part-Scottish and part-Esquimalt First Nations Family, he turned her weekend trip to Victoria, B.C., into a personal tour of his hometown. The day after they met she was glad to be next to him, watching his sure hands and feet working the controls of his seaplane as they soared into the September sky on their way to a perfect picnic spot on Vancouver Island.
Craig appeared to be an old-school kind of gentleman. Maybe it was part of his military tradition. And, he was rock solid and sexy. When she returned to Seattle, part of her hoped she would see him again, but it scared the hell out of her to think about committing to a serious relationship with any man, even a man as special as Craig.
Targeted Age Group:: 21 and over
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 5 – NC-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Victoria, British Columbia, is one of my favorite places to visit. On my second trip there I overheard two women talking about their grown children coming home to visit and other things going on around their town. I thought it would be fun to write a novel about a man who grew up in this beautiful town and the tourist he fell in love with.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I researched the settlement and history of Victoria and decided that the male lead would be part Scottish and part First Nations Esquimalt Family. Thus, the handsome Craig Hameston, stepped from my imagination onto the Victoria Clipper and met Kathryn Sinter, a soon to be divorced woman who recently moved to Seattle. Their love story is intertwined with forgiveness and redemption, recurring themes in several of my romance novels.
Kathryn settled into her seat near the exit on the Victoria Clipper. On the seat beside her she arranged her handbag and small tote packed with her electronic toys. For several minutes she watched passengers streaming by, looking for their own cozy spot for the crossing to Victoria. She was hoping no one would take the seat across from her. A woman with a cute little girl hesitated and then continued down the aisle. Kathryn breathed a sigh of relief and brought out her iPad to resume her book.
She was just settling into it when a male voice interrupted, “Do you mind if I sit here?”
Looking up from the screen, she saw an athletic man she had noticed while waiting to board. Without smiling or even really looking at him, she motioned to the seat and said, “Please.”
She returned to her screen, trying to ignore the man as he settled into the seat across their shared table. He was wearing a short sleeved navy shirt and khaki pants. She could not help but notice his broad shoulders and well-muscled tanned arms as he set his worn black brief case just to the left of his feet. He had light brown closely cropped hair that had a sprinkling of white.
Kathryn looked out the window when the ferry’s horn signaled the captain’s intent. The Clipper slipped smoothly away from the dock into the harbor. For several minutes she continued gazing out the window as the ferry churned farther away from Seattle. When she turned back, the man greeted her with an engaging smile. Not flirty, just genuinely friendly.
“Is this your first trip to Victoria?” he asked. His voice was deep and almost melodic.
“Yes. How about you? Have you been there before?”
The man extended his hand over the table, “Craig Hameston. I was born in Victoria and I’ve lived there all my life. I’ve traveled some of course.”
She took his hand, “I’m Kathryn Sinter.” She returned his smile, saying, “I just think of Victoria as a beautiful tourist destination, not anyone’s hometown.”
“Are you just visiting in Seattle?” he asked.
Kathryn squirmed, reluctant to let the conversation go into more personal territory, but she said, “I just moved there. I’m not even unpacked. Not really.” She squirmed again, unsure why she had given him more information than a stranger would want to know. Silly of her to do that.
Craig Hameston said, “If you’ll have a glass of red wine with me, I’ll tell you about my hometown. Is that a deal?”
Kathryn gave him a suspicious look and then nodded her reply.
He leaned into the aisle and said, “Charlie, over here, please.”
A crew member appeared. “What can I get for you Mr. Hameston?” he asked.
“The lady and I will have a glass of red wine, please.”
“Coming up,” Charlie said.
Craig turned back to Kathryn. “Sorry. It’s not very good, but it’s the best we can do for now.”
“I take it you are a regular passenger since Charlie called you by name.”
“I have business in Seattle from time to time. This is a convenient way to get there. I have part ownership of a seaplane, but all in all, the ferry is a more convenient way to make a quick trip to Seattle. I save my flying time for more peaceful remote locations.”
Charlie reappeared with the wine in plastic cups. Kathryn looked Craig over as he paid Charlie and thanked him. Craig’s close cropped hair made his well-tanned face a canvas for his big brown eyes, bushy eyebrows, Roman noise, and square jaw. But it was his lips that caught Kathryn’s attention. They were full with an unusual upward slant, not a curve, but a gentle upward slant that gave him an overall pleasant look. Craig raised his glass. “To a memorable first visit to my hometown.”
Kathryn raised her glass and smiled into his lively eyes. She said, “To your hometown.”
They both took a sip. He was right. The wine was not very good.
Craig said, “My own heritage is similar to quite a few folks in and around Victoria. I’m part First Nations Esquimalt Family and part Scottish.” He took another sip of wine.
“What does that mean?”
Craig leaned forward and said in a conspiratorial tone, “It means my great, great, great grandfather married a beautiful young woman who was a bit naughty. One night she slipped away from her father’s village to meet the handsome young Scotsman she had fallen in love with. He was a fur trapper who did business around Fort Victoria. She was an adventurous young First Nations woman who knew what she wanted. The rest is history, as they say.”
“So your great, great, great grandmother was a member of a local Indian tribe. Did she ever see her family again?”
“We don’t have tribes. We have First Nations Families. Yes, she saw her family again. The Esquimalts are wise people. Her parents forgave her for running away and welcomed their Scottish-Esquimalt grandchildren.”
He took another sip of wine before continuing. “My mother is very loyal to our First Nations heritage. She saw to it that my two brothers and I spent plenty of time with our Esquimalt relatives when we were growing up. The summer visits were the best.”
He held Kathryn’s eyes and continued, “When I was a little kid, my mother told me people might say ugly things about me because I am part Esquimalt. She told me not to pay attention to such ignorant people. She said they were to be pitied because they did not know The Creator.”
He looked out the window a few seconds and then back at Kathryn. “I’ve always remembered that. My mother is a wise woman. She’s a special person.”
Kathryn said, “That’s a beautiful story.” She took another sip of her wine, looking away from this unusual, interesting man.
“And, how about you, Kathryn Sinter? What is your story?”
Kathryn blurted out, “I am a 50-year-old certified pre-owned almost divorced woman. I pretty much ran away from home because home wasn’t what I thought it was. I moved to Seattle because I like seafood and flowers and it was as far as I could get from my cheating husband without drowning in the ocean. You could say I moved to Seattle to re-invent myself.”
Craig frowned and leaned back against his seat, looking intently at Kathryn.
She smiled at him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to shock you. This divorce business is still new to me. I’m a little touchy about my husband cheating on me with a younger woman. I guess I’m a little cynical, too.”
She looked out the window and then turned back toward him.
Craig said, “Your husband is a bampot.”
“Sorry. A bampot is a crazy person. It’s my Scottish slang slipping out. I didn’t have any right to say that.”
“Bampot,” Kathryn repeated. “You’re right. He is a bampot, but that term may be too kind. I think of him in harsher terms on most days.” She held Craig’s eyes, trying to discern his reaction.
He nodded his head and took another sip of wine.
Kathryn looked out the window and back at Craig.
He said, “You have beautiful blue eyes. I’ve never seen anyone with eyes like yours. I hope you don’t mind my saying it. But they are so unusual.”
Kathryn laughed. “I got them from my grandmother. I wear bifocal contacts that have a slight tint. The contacts probably make my eye color a bit more exotic. I don’t usually tell people that. You seem to be working like a truth serum on me. I’d better be careful.”
They both laughed.
Craig said, “I appreciate your frankness. Sorry you’ve had such a rough time. I’m in a bad spot myself.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I had to give up active duty in The Royal Canadian Navy Reserve. I’m too old now. I hate being out. All those years I ran a commercial fishing operation and served weekends and evenings and lots of summer hours in the Reserve. I miss the work and I miss the people I served with. A lot of them have moved away. So you see, Kathryn, you are not the only one in the middle of big changes. I don’t want to be re-inventing myself but my old age is forcing me to.”
“What was your job in the Reserve?” Kathryn asked.
“I was in a Port Inspection Diving Team, P-I-D-T.”
“And what does a Port Inspection Diving Team do?”
“We protect the sovereignty and safety of ports. We do underwater searches and surveys of the ocean bed, underwater inspections of the jetties and ships’ hulls. We locate, survey, and salvage military aircraft. We could be called on to defend against mines, although I never did. However, I did do underwater demolition, underwater photography, and repairs to ships’ hulls. Over the years, I did a lot of different tasks on the team.”
“Wow,” Kathryn said. “That’s an exciting job. No wonder you don’t look like an old man…I mean, you said your age is forcing you…I mean you just don’t look old.”
Craig smiled at the blush rising on her cheeks, but didn’t acknowledge it.
He said, “Now I work part time on a charter fishing boat, and I fill in now and then in a commercial diving company, but I miss the Reserve. The only bad part of being in the Reserve was being away from my family a lot. Five years ago my wife died in a car crash while I was on duty. Our marriage vanished one day in a fiery crash.”
“I’m sorry. That must have been very hard for you.”
He nodded. “It was painful. If she were here, I would be able to make sense of my retirement from the Reserve. She was a very sensible woman. He gazed out the window at the water for a while before asking, “Would you like another glass of wine?”
“No thank you.”
They rode in silence for a while.
Craig asked, “Where did you live before you moved to Seattle?”
“I moved from Peoria, Illinois. My soon to be ex-husband was, still is, a doctor there. He works in a hospital. My 20-year-old daughter is in college there.”
“I’ve never been to Illinois. What’s it like?”
“Cold and snowy in the winter and hot in the summer.”
She continued, “I grew up in Texas, and I knew there was a better place to live. But I never would have guessed that a divorce would be my ticket out of town. Never in a million years would I have guessed that.”
“Are you a nurse or perhaps a teacher?” Craig asked. “I’m sorry. Maybe I’m asking too many questions.”
“No. It’s OK. I’m not a nurse or a teacher. I’m more of an entrepreneurial type. My mother and father were teachers. They insisted that I get a teaching degree so I could always get a job, but I haven’t taught a day in my life. I owned a flower shop not too far from the hospital where my husband worked, still works. Peoria has its good points. Beautiful in the fall when the leaves change, but too damned cold.”
“Did you buy the flower shop from someone?”
Kathryn looked up, eyes shining. “No, I started it myself. I created something from nothing. That was a lot of fun.”
Craig studied her before asking, “Will a flower shop be part of your re-invention in Seattle?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t really know. I’m just determined to make a fresh start. Maybe new volunteer work, new friends,” she said.
“I hope you will count me as a new friend not too far away from your new home.”
Kathryn studied his face before answering, “I do.”
They were silent for several minutes. Craig said, “Look, we’re almost there.” He pointed out the window. Hotels and other buildings sprawled along the shoreline. “We’ll be getting off soon. I guess you checked a bag.”
She nodded yes.
He said, “Passengers who don’t check bags get off right away. People who checked bags have to wait until the bags are unloaded and ready for claiming. I didn’t check anything. It was just a quick business trip.”
“Oh. Then you’ll be getting off first.”
He said, “My car is in the terminal parking lot. If you would have dinner with me I could drop you off at your hotel and then we could have an early dinner.”
“I’m not divorced yet.”
“But it sounds like you’re not going to change your mind about the divorce. Anyway, it’s just dinner. I can tell you more about my hometown.”
“I guess it would be OK.”
“Where are you staying?” he asked.
“The Inn at Laurel Point, wherever that is.”
“That’s a great place. It’s just a few blocks from the terminal. I’ll wait for you just outside the terminal. OK?”
“OK,” she said.
He grabbed his brief case and said, “I’ll be waiting.”
Kathryn watched him walking away. He might be retired from the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve, but he didn’t look like an old man. Not even close. Navy diver. Seaplane pilot. Wow. She never imagined she would meet someone like that on this little trip. But of course, she didn’t want to get involved. Just have dinner. That’s what friends do.
She leaned against the window, hoping to get a glimpse of him getting off. Sure enough, she saw him go down the gangplank and into the terminal.
After several minutes the luggage was offloaded in big containers and hauled into the passenger receiving area. She assumed she would have to claim her bag and pass through customs, probably not much to it since it was Canada. Finally, passengers with checked baggage were invited to disembark.
She gathered her things and took her place in the line that snaked around the ferry and onto the gangplank.
Claiming her bag and passing through customs was as easy as she had guessed. She stepped out onto the Clipper parking lot and saw Craig waiting for her.
He smiled and picked up her bag and pointed to the right. “My car is over here.”
He put her luggage into the trunk of his black BMW and walked around to the passenger door. He unlocked it and held it open for her.
“Thank you.” She smiled to herself, trying to remember the last time anyone had held a car door for her. Craig appeared to be an old-school kind of gentleman. Maybe it was part of his military tradition.
Kathryn admired the car’s classy interior. It probably wasn’t a new car, but it was spotless.
He started the engine and drove out of the terminal lot.
“I can wait in the lobby while you check in and stow your bags. Or, if you want to rest in your room for a while, I can come back for you. What do you think?”
“I’d like to change clothes. Could you come back in an hour?”
“That will work.”
He wheeled into the circular drive of the inn and parked just beyond the front entrance. He opened the car door for Kathryn and retrieved her luggage.
Following her through the front door, he wheeled her bag to the front desk. He put his hand on her shoulder and said, “See you here in about an hour.”
“Yes. I’ll be ready.”
The clerk behind the counter greeted her, “Good afternoon. Just in from the Clipper?”
“Yes,” she said. “I’m Kathryn Sinter.”
He said, “Just sign here and initial here, please.”
He handed her a key card. “Your room is on the first floor, overlooking the harbor. Just walk past the elevator and to the right.”
“Can we help you with your luggage?” he asked.
“No thanks. I’ve got it.” She turned and walked through the lobby past the opening to an inviting restaurant with indoor and terrace seating. A very pleasant-looking place. Perhaps she would have breakfast there.
Kathryn opened the door of her room, dropped the handle of her rolling bag and threw her tote and handbag onto the bed. She kicked off her shoes.
Drawing the drapes back, she opened the door onto a tiny balcony just big enough for her to stand on. She stepped out to enjoy the view. The bay sparkled in the late afternoon sun. She watched couples strolling along a sidewalk just out of ear shot. Too bad she didn’t have time for a walk.
A few minutes later she stepped out of the shower, feeling refreshed and upbeat. She towel dried her hair and vigorously rubbed the fog-covered bathroom mirror to clear a spot.
A hot blast quickly dried her long curly gray-streaked black hair. She leaned close to the mirror, examining the gray streaks, hating that they were coming in faster now. She was determined not to color it, but would need a trim soon. She had to find a hairdresser in Seattle pronto.
She fussed with her bangs, wishing they would behave. Then she pulled the curls back and pinned them into a low cascade falling to the nape of her neck. Since she left Blake, she had let her hair grow, enjoying the long style he had said she was too old to wear. Craig was right. Blake Sinter was a damn bampot. She smiled at the thought. When she had finished her makeup, she took a closer look. Not too bad for a girl just turned 50.
She zipped up her slim black travel pants and pulled on a favorite long sleeve blue tee shirt that matched her eyes. She checked her slim figure in the floor length mirror on the wall by the desk and slipped into a medium weight black wind breaker with blue trim. Surely it would be warm enough. She checked her image once more, picked up her handbag, and closed the door behind her.
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