A wedding day in Barefoot Bay is always joyous and exciting, but when the groom is none other than superspy bad boy Gabriel Rossi, the frenzy factor is high. Maybe that is the reason his beloved bride-to-be, Lila Wickham, wakes on her wedding day in a cold sweat from a bad, bloody dream.
As much as she wants to wipe away the memory and focus on the happiest day of her life, it soon becomes apparent that the dream heralds unhappiness…and tragedy. Terrified but determined, Lila knows she has only hours to take action against the daunting odds facing her son. But she’s not alone anymore–she has Gabe at her back. And when it comes to defending the people he loves, there’s no one fiercer than Gabe Rossi.
One single day, one embattled couple…one last shadow to dispel before they become the family they were always meant to be.
Bonus: Barefoot Bay short story “Whirlwind” included for free!
“Tell me about your dream.” Gabe rounded the counter to get Lila coffee.
“It was disgustingly full of blood.”
“I’m cooking here,” Nino called out in warning.
Next to him, counting out silverware, Poppy elbowed him. “Let her tell the dream. It helps to say it. Makes it go away.”
“This one won’t go away easily,” Lila said. “Nothing happened, really. It was just so much blood. Like a raging river of blood.”
Gabe made a face as he handed her the cup, but Poppy whipped around with a loud gasp. “You dreamed of a river of blood?” Her voice rose with the question.
“That’s exactly what it was. Like the Mississippi River, only filled with gushing red blood, not water.”
Poppy stared at her, her giant ebony eyes growing wider. “Did you touch the river?”
She snorted. “I nearly drowned in it, but then Rafe woke me up.” She lifted the cup and smiled over the rim. “And all was right again.”
“Oh, Miss Lila. Oh no. Oh, that’s no good.” Poppy tsked, shaking her head.
“What do you mean?”
“Just…” She heaved a noisy sigh. “Not good.”
“Oh, for crying out loud,” Nino exclaimed. “It was a dream. She probably ate too much of that jerk chicken at the rehearsal dinner. I told you to go with my nice cacio e pepe. I make that just for your jittery nerves, Lila.”
“I’m not jittery,” Lila told him, but her focus was on Poppy. “Why isn’t it good, Poppy?”
“It’s…” She gave a full-body shiver. “Just an old superstition. Black arts. Evil things.”
“It’s Jamaican voodoo time,” Gabe joked, sharing a look with his grandfather who hummed The Twilight Zone music in response.
“Oh, scoff all you want,” Poppy said. “I don’t believe in anything but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but…” She averted her eyes, suddenly focused on the silverware she’d been counting.
“But what?” Lila pressed.
“That dream,” she sighed. “Not good.”
“It’s a sign,” Nino said, more to Gabe than anyone else.
“A sign I’m bleeding money for this wedding,” Gabe lobbed back.
Poppy glared at him and moved her wide girth out of the kitchen. “There are people who do believe in Obeah,” she said.
“Some ancient Jamaican religion?” Gabe asked.
She shrugged. “They believe the supernatural cross through your dreams.”
Behind her, Gabe stole a pepper from the pan and dangled it above his lips. “I’ll tell you what’s supernatural. This food, old man. And it’s crossing through my dreams into my mouth.”
He patted Nino’s shoulder, but Poppy harrumphed as she went back out to finish the table. “Where are you going, Rafael?” she called.
“I want to come in and out of the gate to practice. Can I, Mummy?”
Lila turned to look out the French doors, seeing her son opening and closing the gate that led out of the patio to the grass and trees that separated this villa from the next. “Just outside and right back in, Rafe,” she said.
“This dream really bothered you, didn’t it?” Gabe, always in tune with Lila’s feelings, leaned over the counter, his handsome face serious now that he’d stopped teasing Poppy. “Just let it go, babe.”
“I will,” she assured him. But when Poppy walked back in, Lila turned to her. “What does dreaming of a river of blood mean?”
Gabe barely managed not to roll his eyes.
“Nothing if you didn’t touch the blood,” Poppy said without hesitation. “But…”
“But I did, at least in my dream. It wasn’t real.”
Poppy’s brows flicked in silent disagreement. “Then it means three things.”
“Let me guess,” Gabe interjected, standing to deliver his jokes to Nino. “Snow is piling up in hell, a fleet of pigs is taking off at LaGuardia, and… What else, Gramps?”
“The Cubs will win the World Series. Oh, wait. They did.”
Poppy’s eyes shuttered in disgust. “Some people take Obeah very seriously.”
Lila looked over her shoulder to check on Rafe, watching him go in and out of the gate and walk slowly down the patio, pretending to be in a wedding.
“Something will be lost,” Poppy said, pulling Lila’s attention back. “Something of great value. That’s the first thing that happens after you dream of a river of blood.”
“Well, I’m losing my mind listening to this,” Gabe said. “Does that count?”
“What else?” Lila asked, ignoring him.
“Something will be broken,” Poppy replied. “Something that is not easily fixed.”
“I just broke an egg,” Nino added, making Gabe snort with laughter.
“And someone will die.”
Is Gabe and Lila’s wedding cursed? There’s only one way to find out. Read Barefoot Dreams!