I’ve lived around lakes my entire life. As a child, a big treat was going to one of the parks, splashing in the water and playing in the sand. I love the water, the sparkles of the sun reflecting off the surface, the holiday atmosphere of the shore. But I’d never been to the ocean.
I was an adult before I ever made it to the coast of the Atlantic. And I was transformed. That may sound melodramatic, but that’s the way I felt. I was filled with a sense of awe, a primal pull that I hadn’t expected and didn’t understand. Tears filled my eyes and I never wanted to leave.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay. My home is still inland, near the lakes but not the ocean. I was able to buy a house with a lake view, but that’s the closest I’ve come. I visit the ocean as often as I can, most often to the Outer Banks in North Carolina or the ocean-side of Florida. And I put the ocean in some of my stories, so I can experience it through my characters too.
In THE COTTAGE NEXT DOOR, Hunter and Sylvie have both suffered losses and have come to the coast of Florida to do some soul-searching and decide what to do with the rest of their lives. I couldn’t think of a better setting for them to fall in love. And I added a bit of my personal perspective into their conversations:
“This is my favorite time at the beach,” he said, surprising her with his deep, pleasant tone.
“Because you can’t see the hundreds of people around you?”
His soft chuckle surprised her even more. He was quiet for a moment, then said, “Partly. But there’s something about the ocean at night. Do you hear it? Right now, this isn’t the fun-loving shore where kids splash and make sandcastles. It’s more primitive.” He was silent for a moment, and Sylvie got caught up in the roar of the waves as they crashed onto the beach. The sound pulled at her, called to her.
“Think of the hundreds of thousands of years the ocean has been pounding the sand,” he went on. “Eating away at the land, reclaiming it. Taking it back into the bowels of the deep.”
Her body heated more, even with the cooling breeze. His voice rolled over her, as powerful as the tug of the waves. She’d known there had to be more to him than that angry, bitter man she’d seen so far.
“Ashes to ashes? Dust to dust? Ocean to ocean?” she asked softly.
The waves pummeled the shore for several long moments before he replied, “Something like that.”
What about you? Do you love the ocean as much as I do? Or is there another place that calls to you? Do you visit often? Or are you able to live there and enjoy it every day?