Haven on the Riverwalk: A Short Small Town Suspenseful Romance Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
When quite by accident, Maggie finds herself stuck in the small riverside town of Solomon's Island, Maryland, she determines to start a new life where no one knows who she is and where she can bury her past and also hide from the danger that is threatening to find her. She meets handsome and charming bike repair shop owner, Dustin, who she tries to resist.

Though Maggie's dark past and secrets haunt her every day, she starts to let her guard down and she not only finds herself in a whirlwind romance with Dustin, she also begins to fall in love with the small town of Solomon's and its people.

Just when Maggie begins to feel safe, her past catches up with her and she must choose between being brave and fighting for her new life or surrendering to the danger that has found her.

Haven on the Riverwalk is perfect for fans of Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.


Submitted: August 05, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 05, 2016



Sample from Haven on the Riverwalk: A Short Small Town Suspenseful Romance Story


The bus comes to a stop in front of a small convenience store. Some of the passengers are just waking up from a nap, some are talking and laughing eagerly wanting to step outside and stretch their legs, while others still have their faces in their books, magazines or phones.

One passenger, Maggie, sits very still staring out the window not sure whether or not to get off the bus or hide under her seat.

The driver stands at the front of the bus holding a microphone. "Okay, folks, we'll be here for two hours. That gives you enough time to have lunch and get some shopping done. Or, feel free to stay on the bus if you want." He plops down in his seat and lets out a thunderous yawn. "I'm going to take a nap, but wake me, if you need me."

Passengers surface and one by one leap off the bus. Maggie doesn't move. She tucks her hair behind her ears and pulls the baseball cap she's wearing further down on her forehead. It's a New York Yankees hat, used to belong to her brother. He's gone now, has been gone for six months. The hat is the only thing she has that belonged to him. Everything else died with him in the fire.

She sinks into her seat and closes her eyes. She's decided not to get off. Two hours will pass quickly and soon they will be back on their way to Raleigh, North Carolina, which is where she's headed. A new life is waiting for her there. New York is no longer her home.

Someone touches her on the shoulder, startling her. She sits up and adjusts her hat so she can see who it is that has frightened her.

"I'm sorry, Miss, I didn't mean to scare you," the bus driver says. He's a tall, heavy-set man with a thick southern accent and a bushy beard.

"It's okay," Maggie says. But, it's not okay. It's only okay because Maggie has gotten used to always saying everything is okay. When her father insulted her and then apologized, she'd say, it's okay. When he hit her across the face and then apologized, she'd say, it's okay. When her mother apologized for letting him do those things to her, she'd say, it's okay. And when her neighbors, policemen, and firemen, told her how sorry they were that her brother had died in the fire, she said, it's okay.

But, none of it was okay. Maggie is far from being okay.

"I only woke you because I'm moving the bus a little further up the street, and I didn't want you to think we were leaving without the other passengers."

"Is something wrong?" she asks.

He tugs at his beard. "No. The bus in front of me pulled off and I'm going to move up to make room for other busses that may be coming in soon. This little town is popular in the summer. Lots of busses stop here on their way south or up north."

It occurs to Maggie that she doesn't know where they are. Since boarding the bus in New York early that morning, she's blanked out all her surroundings, focusing instead on making sure she makes it to Raleigh. In Raleigh she'll be safe from him. She’ll be safe from Jacob, the man she married in haste after the fire because she was desperate and all alone with no place to go.

He doesn't know where she's going. Right now, he’s almost certainly knocked on all of their neighbors' doors asking if they have seen her, demanding to let him search their homes in case they've hidden her in their basements or attics. He's furious, ready to let out his frustration on anyone who even dares look his way. Jacob is a big, muscular man, who is used to always getting his way. No one ever tells him no and no one ever goes against his will. Maggie is sure that not even his own mother ever told him no for fear he might harm her.

Maggie got away from him without notice and that must have sent more fury up his spine, making him stronger and aggressive like a bear whose prey has managed to escape.

She got him drunk and caressed him, said sweet things to him in his ear, helped him to bed, undressed him, kissed him, and let him believe she loved him and they were okay. And because of all of those things, he will hurt her more than he ever has if he finds her.

"Where are we?" she asks the driver.

He gawks at her so deeply she thinks his eyes are going to pierce her skin. "Solomon's Island, Maryland.”

She knows what he’s looking at. It’s there for everyone to see. The mark Jacob left on her two nights ago when she told him she wanted to get a job. He didn’t think she should get one and when she insisted, a first-time sign of bravery on her part, he wacked her hard on the face. That same night, as she crawled into bed next to him, his breath on her neck, she decided she’d not spend another day telling him, it’s okay, when all she wanted to do was cry, scream and curse God for giving her the life she had.

Maggie had known girls in high school whose boyfriends mistreated them and she never understood how those beautiful and smart girls could let those insecure, dreadful boys do that to them. But, then again, Maggie never stood up to her father. She never fought back. She was just like those girls, except worse, because she also had a mother who never defended her.

So Maggie walked the earth thinking she was worthless and undeserving until one day, on her way home from her job as a cashier at the local supermarket, she raised her eyes to the sky and saw a pink balloon that someone had let go. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She watched the balloon go higher and higher until it disappeared behind the clouds.

The balloon was free. It had escaped, and it was going to be okay. Maggie squeezed out only one tear that day. It was for her father because that was the day she decided he had to die.

"I've never heard of Solomon’s," she says. And why would she have ever heard of this tiny town? She was born and raised on a farm in upstate New York and until now had never been out of the state. She's nineteen years old. For a long time, she was afraid of her own reflection, of her own shadow, of her own self. But, now, she's running away. She's running from Jacob and she's running from the truth she wishes she could make disappear.

She's to blame for the fire that killed her brother. He shouldn’t have been in the house. She checked his room. She checked the entire house before she did what she did. He wasn’t supposed to be there. Only her father was supposed to be home.

"Not many people have. You should get out and take a walk on the Riverwalk. Maybe go into one of the stores," the bus driver says.

She glances out the window. It's a warm June day. Kids are playing on a playground in front of an ice cream place on the Riverwalk. Dogs and their owners stroll along, carefree. Couples hold hands, babies toddle, and birds dive into the water. Across the street from the Riverwalk, there is a small white church, shops and restaurants and happier people and children. She resolves to pretend, if only for a short moment, to be one of those happy people.

"I'll get off for a few minutes," she says.

"Good. Are you okay? Did someone do that,” he points to her face, “to you?”

Touching her left cheek, she says, “I’m fine, thank you.”

“Let me know if you are not,” he says.

“I will.”

But, of course, she won’t let him know. Because if she does, he may want to call the police and then Jacob will find out where she is. By now, he must have reported her missing.

“If you see of any of the other folks from the bus, let them know I moved up a little. I don't want them thinking I left."

Maggie won't recognize any of her fellow passengers, but she smiles and says, "Okay."

"We're leaving," he glances at his phone, "in about an hour and a half."

"I'll be back way before then."

Maggie begrudgingly steps off the bus. She doesn't know where to go or what to do, but she starts walking nonetheless. She keeps her head slightly down as she walks. There is very little chance she will see anyone she knows here, but she doesn't want to take any chances.

Up ahead, a sign that reads, Holly's Place, catches her attention. The sign is red with white letters and has a muffin painted on one corner. She walks toward it, thinking that maybe she'll buy a muffin and a cup of coffee and go back to the bus. Then, she remembers she doesn't have a lot of money with her and she should probably not spend it so casually on a muffin.

In the last few months, she's lost a lot of weight. After her brother died and she married Jacob and he started hurting her, she kind of stopped eating. It’s not that she wasn’t hungry; it’s that she stopped caring about whether she lived or died.

The street is lined with small houses turned into shops and directly across from them is the Riverwalk. It’s a beautiful town, perfect setting for a movie. Maggie wonders what the people who live here are like. So far, she has only seen smiling faces.

She doesn’t belong here. She doesn’t belong anywhere where people are happy and the sun is shining and children are running and laughing. She turns around and starts going back to the bus.

A few seconds into her lonely stroll back, a screaming boy on a runaway bike is coming right at her.



© Copyright 2020 Eileen Cruz Coleman. All rights reserved.

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