By the end of the day, Becca needed sustenance and a change of scenery, so she headed into town. She could’ve gone to the diner Eat Me, but instead she walked a block farther, past the pier, to go back to the Love Shack.

She told herself it was the atmosphere. The place was done up like an Old West saloon, with walls lined with old mining tools, tables made from antique wood doors. Lanterns hung from the exposed beam ceiling, and the air was filled with laughter, talking, and music from the jukebox in the corner.

She ordered a burger and sat by herself to eyeball the real reason she’d come back here—the baby grand piano in the far corner. It was old, and had clearly been around the block decades ago, but it called to her. She stared at it, torn between wanting to stroke it, and wanting to run like hell.

Jase might the real talent of the Thorpe family, but there’d been a time when the two of them had been a duo. Maybe she’d never been quite as good as he was—not that her parents had ever said so, they didn’t have to—but she’d been good enough to boost Jase’s talent. The press latched on to them early, and they’d even become pseudo-celebrities.

Things had been good, until she’d turned seventeen. With that age had come some self-awareness, and a serious case of the awkwards. Besides the headaches and bone aches that had come with a late, fast growth spurt, she’d lost all coordination, including her fingertips. Practically overnight she’d turned into the Graceless Ugly Duckling, exemplified.

The following month, their manager had gotten them invited to compete at the prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The place had been filled with people—more than two thousand—and all Becca remembered was being struck by sheer, heart-stopping panic.

She’d tanked, and the press had ripped them to shreds.

Shaking off the memory, Becca paid for her food at the bar and took in the sign at the register that said: HELP WANTED. She glanced at the piano and gnawed her lower lip. Then she gestured for the bartender. “Who do I talk to about the job?”

“Me,” he said with a smile as he set aside the glass he’d been drying to shake her hand. “I’m Jax Cullen, one of the owners.”

“Is it a hostess position?” she asked hopefully.

“Waitressing,” he said. “You interested?”

Was she? She glanced at the piano and ached. And she knew she was very interested, skills or not. And there were no skills. None. “I am if you are,” she said.

Jax lost his smile. “Shit. You don’t have any experience.”

“No,” she admitted. “But I’m a real quick learner.”

He studied her, and Becca did her best to look like someone who was one hundred percent capable of doing anything—except, of course, handling her own life. She flashed him her most charming smile, her “showtime” smile, and hoped for the best.

Jax chuckled. “You’re spunky,” he said. “I’ll give you that.”

“I’m more than spunky,” she promised. “I bet you by the end of my first night, you’ll want to keep me.”

He held her gaze a moment, considering. “All right, I’ll take that bet. How about a trial by fire starting now?”

She eyed the room. Not full. Not even close. “Who else is working?”

“Usually on a night like this, two others. But both my girls are out sick tonight and I’m on my own, so you’re looking like good timing to me. If you’re any good.”

The piano in the far corner was still calling to her, making her braver than usual. “I’m in,” she said.

Jax gave her an apron and a quick rundown of what was expected. He told her that here in Lucky Harbor, familiarity was key. Everyone knew everyone, and the trick to good service—and good tips—was friendliness.

Then he threw her to the wolves.

The first half hour remained thankfully slow, but every time she walked by the baby grand, she faltered.

Play me, Becca. . .

At about the twentieth pass, she paused and glanced around. Not a soul was looking at her. She eyed the piano again, sitting there so innocuously, looking gorgeous. Damn. She’d played on her keyboard, but not a piano. Not since two years ago when she’d quit. She’d had a near miss with going back to playing a year ago, but then things had gone to all sorts of hell, reinforcing her stage fright and giving her a wicked case of claustrophobia to boot.

Play me, Becca. . .

Fine. Since fighting the urge was like trying not to need air, she sat. Her heart sped up, but she was still breathing. So far so good. She set her fingertips on the cool keys.

Still good.

And almost before she realized it, she’d begun playing a little piece she’d written for Jase years ago. It flowed out of her with shocking ease, and when she finished, she blinked like she was waking from a trance. Then she looked around.

Jax was smiling at her from behind the bar and when he caught her eye, he gave her a thumbs-up. Oh, God. Breaking out in a sweat, she jumped up and raced into the bathroom to stare at herself in the mirror. Flushed. Shaky. She thought about throwing up, but then someone came in to use the facilities and she decided she couldn’t throw up with an audience. So she splashed cold water on her hot face, told herself she was totally fine, and then got back to work to prove it.

Luckily, the dinner crowd hit and she got too busy to think. She worked the friendliness as best she could. But she quickly discovered it wasn’t a substitute for talent. In the first hour, she spilled a pitcher of beer down herself, mixed up two orders—and in doing so nearly poisoned someone when she gave the cashew-allergic customer a cashew chicken salad—and then undercharged a large group by thirty bucks.