LAGUNA SIGHTS Synopsis:
Is the price of fame the chance at true love?
Scott Cassidy has lived a blessed life. Growing up in Laguna Beach with a loving family, he was discovered in high school when he appeared on the popular reality TV show, Laguna Nights. Now cast as a doctor on the number one soap opera, his star keeps rising. Finally free from his long-term girlfriend, Scott isn’t looking for love, but when a popular dating app matches him with Jamie Kane, he can’t deny the sparks. But is she really everything she seems?
Jamie Kane isn’t lucky in love or life. Her childhood was tumultuous with a single mom who moved to Hollywood for fame but ended up waiting tables in Malibu. Certainly not one of the spoiled kids she went to high school and college with, Jamie has worked hard to achieve her dreams of being an actress, even as she begins to realize it’s not her calling. Jamie believes Scott may be the answer to everything unless a past mistake makes him doubt their future together.
Once you become a star, can you trust other people’s intentions?
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Scott Cassidy made record time on his drive from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach. He sat in his black Prius at the end of the long driveway that led to his former girlfriend’s childhood home in Three Arch Bay, an exclusive gated community. He was early, so he rolled down his window and took a deep breath of the salt-infused air. It smelled, as always, like his hometown: warm, breezy and salty. To him, Laguna Beach was safe and beautiful, where nothing bad ever happened, except the occasional lack of a good swell to surf.
He knew it probably would be the last time he’d be here, at this house, so he’d decided to take a couple of moments and breathe. A few moments to reflect on all of the time he’d spent here in Laura’s family home. He was certain Laura would be mad that he was here, but she hadn’t told him not to come. Maybe they both needed closure. Mrs. Kinkaid had unwittingly provided that opportunity in her quest to bring them back together.
It was time to face them both. He drove his car down the long winding driveway, arriving at the impressive California contemporary style home Laura’s dad had designed and had built on the highest lot in the community. He stepped out of the car and felt as he always did when he arrived at the Kinkaid’s home: The feeling of being at the top of the world. He walked up the front walk and rang the doorbell.
The door swung open revealing Laura’s mom, Marge Kinkaid, dressed in her typical golf attire: a bright pink golf shirt and gray golf skirt.
“Scott, so wonderful to see you! Congratulations on being the new Dr. Drake! I watch Days and Nights every day, and you’re doing a great job,” Mrs. Kinkaid wrapped him in a tight hug. He could smell bacon cooking in the kitchen. His stomach growled. “You’re like a dream, son. Your parents must be thrilled.”
“Yes, they’re certainly glad, although they hope I’ll keep the travel agency going.”
“Where are my manners? Come in, Come in.”
Scott followed her inside the home that was like a second home for him. Spectacular views of the Laguna Beach coastline spread out in front of him visible through the floor to ceiling windows. Just outside the windows was the hot tub made famous on the TV show Laguna Nights. He and Laura had a lot of off-camera fun in that hot tub, too, he remembered with a smile.
“Laura’s running a bit late. She had a meeting in town.”
Laura’s mom seemed nervous, embarrassed even. He suddenly wondered whether Laura knew he had been invited here.
“Coffee?” Mrs. Kinkaid asked. “Black, right?”
“Yes, thank you.” He pulled out his favorite chair from the kitchen table and sat down as Mrs. Kinkaid placed a cup of coffee in front of him.
“So, Scott, is there a possibility that you and Laura will get back together? You always do.” She took the seat across from his. He now knew why he was here. He needed to dash her hopes now.
“No, Mrs. Kinkaid, Laura and I are better off being friends. That’s how we started, and it’s what we are now.” He took a big drink of his coffee and grimaced as the hot coffee burned his tongue.
Mrs. Kinkaid drummed her long, pink, polished fingernails on the kitchen table. Then, she stood up and walked to the oven. “I hope you’re in the mood for an omelet. I made your favorite ham and cheese. With bacon, of course.” She placed the plate in front of him and pulled off the aluminum foil. It was as though she had ignored everything he’d just said.
“Aren’t you joining me?” Suddenly he was weirded out to be sitting at his ex-girlfriend’s mom’s kitchen table eating brunch alone. Where was Mr. Kinkaid? Where was Laura?
“I’m not hungry. Please, start eating. Don’t let it get cold.” The only sound in the room was Marge’s long fingernails drumming on the table. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. As he hurried to finish his meal, Scott decided Laura was right. Her mom was crazy. He made a mental note to tell Laura that, by text, as soon as he could get out of here.
“Oh, I hear a car in the driveway. That must be Laura. I’ll be right back,” she said and hurried out of the room like a frightened deer.
Scott sensed Laura’s presence before he saw her. She walked into the kitchen, her blonde hair swirling around her shoulders, and froze in the doorway. It was evident she had no idea he was coming to brunch.
“Hey Laura,” Scott said. Standing up awkwardly, he wondered if he should walk over to her and give her a hug, or stay put. Scott looked at Mrs. Kinkaid who nodded at him, shooting her eyes in Laura’s direction. Scott crossed the room and gave Laura a quick squeeze around the shoulders. A side hug. A friend hug. “So good to see you, Laura.”
Laura laughed. “No it isn’t. Why are you here?”
Scott looked at Mrs. Kinkaid. Mrs. Kinkaid looked at Laura with the odd smirk. “I asked him to come down for brunch. He has been part of the family for so long. I miss him.”
Oh, shoot. Scott knew for sure Laura had been ambushed. He felt terrible.
“Well, sorry you made the trip. I was on a date. Did Mom tell you that?” Laura asked. Her blue eyes flashed at him. He knew that look. She was angry. Very angry. At least she’d been on a date. That was good news.
She was moving on, as he was trying to, or at least acting like it.
“She mentioned you had business.” He smiled. “I’m happy for you, though. Good for you. I’m glad you’re moving on. I was just telling your mom that we’re both better off as friends.”
“Yeah, well, at least I waited to move on until after our relationship was over,” she said. “How’s Tinder Jamie?”
Scott felt his face flush all the way to the top of his head, which he knew from too many embarrassing experiences would be shiny and red, too. Baldness had its downsides. “Jamie’s great, and so is the new show. I love the cast and crew and there are even some new sets to go along with the new Dr. Drake. It’s all really great.”
Laura glared at him, hands on her hips. This wasn’t his fault. It was her mom’s. He hoped she’d realize that. Scott wished he’d never agreed to come down here. It was awkward that Mrs. Kinkaid was standing between them, as if the force of her desires could pull them back together.
“Good. Great. Well, as I told Mom, I’m selling the house. It should be listed by tomorrow afternoon. I think you got all of your stuff, but if not, please go get it by tomorrow.” Turning to her mother, she added, “Anything else, Mom?”
“Look, you two have been together for so long. I know you can work things out.” Mrs. Kinkaid’s eyes were huge, her mouth turned down. She looked like she could cry. Scott needed to get out of here.
“We don’t want to work things out, Mother! It’s over,” Laura said. She locked eyes with Scott and finally, he could see they both were ready to move on. He smiled.
“Laura’s right, Mrs. Kinkaid. We care for each other but we’re not meant to be together. Someday, I think maybe we’ll be friends again.” Scott grabbed his keys and his phone off the kitchen table and with a quick peck on Laura’s cheek, and a quick hug and a smile for her mother, he threw out a parting shot before he scooted out the door. “Thanks for brunch, Mrs. Kinkaid. I’ve got to get back to LA.”
Scott hurried past Mrs. Kinkaid, who seemed frozen in shock, and out the front door. He sensed Laura following behind him. He reached the side of his Prius and turned around. He had spent ten years with this woman. He cared about her. He always would.
“Laura, I wish you nothing but the best. We had a great run together.” He slipped his sunglasses on. He didn’t want her to see his eyes misting over. He swallowed a lump in his throat. I’m a sap.
Laura kicked at some loose gravel on the driveway. Then she looked up at him with a smile. “We did.”
Scott felt relief wash over him. This was a much better goodbye than their last date in Los Angeles. At least Mrs. Kinkaid had enabled that. He stood silently as Laura turned around and walked inside her house, closing the door behind her.
He opened the car door and slipped behind the wheel. This was what closure felt like. This was what freedom felt like. He liked it. Very much. After ten years of stops and starts, of living together and working together in two different reality TV shows, their love story was over.
“Stick a fork in it. We’re done,” Scott said out loud, rubbing his hand over his bald head, an annoying habit he had developed about the time all of his hair started jumping off his head. Premature baldness. Nothing could be done about it, he’d been told by the doctor. The casting director on the soap opera said it made him look older and distinguished. Perfect to play Dr. Drake. Scott smiled at the memory. His baldness had actually gotten him the role. Who would have guessed?
The thing was, even though Laura had decided he was a self-centered, non-trustworthy boyfriend, he knew he still was a good guy. Laura’s parents thought so, too, obviously. Her mom had invited him to brunch on this fine Sunday hoping to talk some sense into her daughter. On the phone, Scott had told Mrs. Kinkaid they were over. He’d moved out after their final disaster of a dinner date in LA when Laura had caught him on the dating app. Despite that, Mrs. Kinkaid had insisted.
Plus, he needed a proper goodbye with Laura. He had been a jerk, he knew that, but he also was sick of being treated like he was a child. Laura was too dominant, too controlling, and he had finally rebelled. She treated her dog Tucker with more love and respect than she had Scott the past few years. He’d only recently started to see how stifled he was, and how depressed he’d been. The fog started to clear when he got the callback for the soap opera role. They’d been drifting apart ever since her reality TV show, Hollywood Nights, had been cancelled. Their relationship had been strong when they were celebrities, had been since they’d starred together in high school in Laguna Nights. When they were equals. Without the bright lights and the common show, she was a hollow shell of a person: unreachable, unfriendly and mean. Scott knew they were finished. That’s why he’d broken up with her. Not because of any real connection on Tinder. He barely knew Jamie Kane.
Scott had a full life. His travel agency, an offshoot of his parents’ successful Laguna Beach agency, was booming. Now that he’d secured the role of Dr. Drake on the long-running Days and Nights soap, he also was a working actor. Laura had Tucker, her dog. That was about it. She took out her frustrations on Scott, and he knew it. He’d tolerated it for as long as he could, because he’d loved her, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. When he landed the gig on the soap opera, it had been the final straw. As she struggled to find her way as an actress, the call from his agent that he was cast as Dr. Drake had been the end of them. She’d barely covered her jealousy as her face flushed and her eyes filling with tears as he told her the news. She couldn’t help it, Scott knew. Laura had been accustomed to having the brightest star in their relationship.
He shook his head at the painful memory. It was time to drive back to LA, but he couldn’t leave Laguna without stopping in to see his parents. He drove out of the driveway of Laura Kinkaid’s parents’ home for the last time and headed down the hill to Coast Highway. As always, it was a beautiful day, the sun sparkling on the ocean in front of him. Scott headed north, winding his way along the highway that connected his hometown. At Bluebird Canyon, he turned right. He decided to surprise his parents and knew they’d be home on this sunny Saturday afternoon, enjoying their day off from the travel agency. Driving into the canyon solidified the feeling of being home.
Scott pulled over next to Bluebird Park nestled in the hills of the canyon. He’d spent hours playing here as a child. Later, in his teen years—when he wasn’t shooting Laguna Nights—he could be found here, with various girlfriends or partying with friends during concerts. It seemed like every sight, almost every place in Laguna Beach, held a memory for him. Even though the memories were positive, mostly happy, he suddenly felt stifled. Laguna’s sights, while beautiful, were too constricting.
He took one more look around and drove up the steep canyon road to his parents’ home. He parked in the driveway, and then looked up at his childhood home, perched along the side of a cliff, its contemporary lines perfect for the rugged setting. He jogged up the two flights of stairs that led to the front door and pulled open the all-glass door.
“Mom? Dad?” Once inside he had another set of stairs to climb. Scott huffed and puffed his way to the top, having little doubt why his folks were in such great shape. He reached the top step and entered the open family room and kitchen.
“Scottie!” his mom, Sheila, said, hurrying from the kitchen to give him a big hug. “What a wonderful surprise!”
His mom seemed even tinier than usual as she stood smiling at him, her dark eyes shining with happiness. She was a full head shorter than he was, the top of her head barely reaching his shoulder. He loved her with his whole heart. He loved that no matter what, she had always believed in him and his dreams. She’d never tried to force her dreams onto him, like Mrs. Kinkaid had done to Laura.
“Great to see you, Mom.”
“Are you hungry? What are you doing in town? Are you spending the night?” His mom’s shotgun questions showed him just how excited she was to see him. He knew it had been too long since he’d been back, but he’d been wrapped up in his life in Los Angeles. He resolved then and there to make sure he came back more often.
“No, I was just here for a quick chat with Laura.” Scott followed his mom back to the kitchen where they each pulled out a barstool and sat down.
His mom placed her hand on his. “How did that go, honey?”
“Great, actually. I think we finally have some closure. It felt good,” he said. “I can finally move on.”
“Yes, it’s time. You’ve got your new job and your successful travel agency. You have so much going for you right now. We’re so proud of you,” Sheila said. “What about Jamie Kane? That young woman you were photographed with?”
Scott felt himself blush. He hadn’t realized the reach of that particular entertainment reporter’s story, or that his mother read the entertainment magazines at all. So much of what was in the tabloids was conjecture or outright fabrications. He’d told his parents long ago not to believe anything they read in those magazines, but he apparently needed to remind them again. “Jamie, well she’s gorgeous, that’s for sure. We had a lot of fun together.”
“And?” Sheila said. She’d walked around the kitchen island and pulled out the stool next to him, sitting down.
“We’ll see, Mom. She seems like she’s a happy, normal person. It’s a great feeling to be with someone who isn’t jealous and well, we’ll see,” he said.
“Did you really meet through one of those dating apps?” she asked, a twinkle in her eye.
“We really did, Mom.” He knew his mom was old school. A dating app match just wasn’t in her realm of understanding. For that matter, it was the first time he’d used the app to actually hook up with someone, he’d been with Laura so long.
“Well, I’m glad you’re having fun, honey. Nobody says you need to be serious with anyone after such a long relationship with Laura. Take it slowly. Focus on yourself for a little bit,” Sheila said. “A brunette is different for you.”
Scott smiled. His mom and Marge Kinkaid couldn’t be more opposite. Sheila only wanted what was best for him while Laura’s mom only wanted to live through her daughter.
“Jamie is very different than Laura. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I need to head back to LA. Tell Dad hello for me. I’ll be home again as soon as I can.”
“I’ll be here, honey,” Sheila said, her eyes misting over as usual whenever he visited and then left town again. “Hurry home, and bring your new girlfriend?”
Scott smiled. Would Jamie ever meet his parents? What was next for the two of them?
PURCHASE THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Laguna Nights (Laguna Beach, #1)
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Laguna Heights (Laguna Beach, #2)
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Laguna Lights (Laguna Beach, #3)
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