Welcome Back to Apple Grove Online - C.H. Admirand

Chapter 1

“Gracie, please tell me you didn’t have a glass of wine before you picked up those scissors.”

Grace Mulcahy stared down at her reflection. Why hadn’t she just set the scissors down and stopped fiddling with what was left of her hair?

“How does it look?” Her phone was on speaker—good thing her friend Kate McCormack was back in Apple Grove, Ohio, and couldn’t see her right now. When Grace didn’t answer right away, Kate asked, “Well?”

Grace sighed. “I can always let it grow out.”

Her friend groaned out loud. “Is it fixable or too short?”

Grace turned her head to the left and then back. “Fixable…probably…maybe—heck, I don’t know!”

“Text Honey B. that you have a hair emergency.”

“Not gonna happen. You know she’s too busy juggling her kids and her business.”

“True, but you know she’d want to help.”

Grace sighed. Honey B. was her sister Meg’s best friend—since forever. “It’s not quite a disaster.”

Kate laughed. “Honey B. makes her living fixing hair disasters. Remember that time we decided to go red?”

Grace chuckled. “Lord we shouldn’t have used that Kool-Aid instead of real hair dye.”

“Hey,” Kate said. “It was way cheaper.”

“True…but the results—”

“Were fixed by Honey B.”

“I guess she did fix the Thompson twins when they snuck away from the school gym and cut each other’s hair for their school pictures.”

“Mrs. Thompson was seriously PO’d.”

Grace agreed. “I’ll think about texting Honey B.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kate said. “I’ll text her. You know she has a soft spot for all of the Mulcahy sisters.”

“But I don’t live in Apple Grove anymore—”

“What in the world does that have to do with anything?” Kate wanted to know. “We take care of our own. No matter how far away you travel, Gracie, you’re still an Apple Grover.”

Grace had another gulp of wine to cover the snort of laughter.

“Hah!” Kate said. “Made you laugh.”

She admitted defeat. “OK, but seriously no one who lives back home calls themselves that.”

“That’s because they didn’t think of it,” Kate reminded her. “We did in second grade.”

Grace wished she’d been able to convince Kate to move with her to Columbus. Maybe she should try to tempt her again. “We could get a two-bedroom apartment like we had when we roomed together at college, Kate. It’d be like old times.”

“Except that I’d have to get up at three o’clock in the morning to get to the diner in time for work. You’re not going to get me to move out there, Grace. Besides, there’s too much work for Peggy to be opening by herself.”

“You could find work here,” Grace began, although she knew it was a moot point. Kate and her sister, Peggy, ran the Apple Grove Diner and had ever since their mom decided she was tired of getting up before dawn to make breakfast for the town and handed the reins of the business over to them.

Instead of arguing with her, as Grace expected, Kate said, “I’ll text you the time for your appointment.”

“Wait!” Grace began. Too late, her friend had already disconnected. “Great. Now the whole town is going to think I’m depressed…drinking wine while cutting my hair off.”

But that wasn’t the case. She was donating her hair to Love Locks. The shortest she’d ever gone was shoulder length—but chin length? It was drastic, but she’d wanted to make sure she had enough to donate and only had a yardstick to measure with.

“Yardsticks aren’t flexible.” That was one of the first lessons she’d had in measuring from her father—who ran Mulcahys, the family’s handyman business, for years before finally retiring and letting Grace and her sisters take over. “Can’t get an accurate measurement with one,” her father had insisted.

Although she didn’t have the talent to fix things the way her older sisters did, she was still a hands-on type of girl—hands on the computer, accounting software, filing cabinet, supply shelves. She did her part for the family business for years until she simply couldn’t contain the need to follow her dream in the direction it pulled her…away from Apple Grove, Ohio, with its tiny population and close-knit community.

Grace dreamed of the bright lights and the big city. Well, not as big as New York City, but compared to her tiny hometown, Columbus was the big city—the largest in Ohio. She loved going to museums, fancy restaurants, and having coffee at the outdoor café by her office building—seriously upscale compared to the bench on the sidewalk outside of the Apple Grove Diner.

She longed for something different, to meet someone different. Suave and debonair. But that