Sunny Rebel looked around her parents’ dining room, joy bubbling in her chest like the sparkling water still fizzing in her glass. Her siblings had all made it home for Easter. Even Magnus, who took their last name to a whole new level with his firefighting stunts, had graced them with his presence. The room burst with conversation and laughter. The sound overwhelmed her after a month of the relatively quiet Arctic Ocean, but she basked in it.
Here, with folding tables pushed together and elbows bumping, she didn’t have to worry. Here, trust filled her to overflowing. Too bad she couldn’t bottle up the excess and take it into the rest of the world.
“So, what are your next plans?” Sadie Wilde, Bjørn’s girlfriend, leaned closer to Sunny to be heard.
“I’m going to Dutch Harbor with Astryd and taking a solo sea kayak trip through the islands. Then, later this summer, Tiikâan is going to drop me off in the middle of the 40-mile country, and I’ll hike my way out.” Sunny took a drink and let the bubbles from her drink soothe her tight throat.
Some of her family hadn’t been one hundred percent on board with her solo adventures. Not that they had any say in it. Her being the baby, though she had turned twenty-five over the winter, sometimes made her family overprotective of her.
Who was she kidding?
They were all protective of each other. It was what she loved most about her family, how they all banded together. It was just that their protectiveness had gotten a little heavy handed after her stupidly allowing her business partner to steal all their money and gear and skip town.
She pushed the thought away. That jerk would not ruin her excellent mood. There was no telling when her family would all be together again, and letting her mind stray to the man she’d thought she’d known, the man she’d expected to spend the rest of her life with, wasn’t an option.
No one knew the extent of his betrayal. She had kept her massive crush on the downlow. She planned to keep it that way. It was embarrassing enough that everyone knew he’d tricked her out of their business. She wouldn’t be adding insult to injury by telling just how far he’d deceived her.
“That should be fun.” Sadie smiled at Sunny, her face beaming encouragement. “I’ve been loving your videos. Keep telling everyone I meet that they have to check them out.”
Wow. Sunny loved Bjørn’s girlfriend. Not because she liked Sunny’s videos, but because of how supportive she was of those around her. She just fit with their family.
Sunny glanced around at Lena’s husband, Marshall, and their son Carter. The little guy sat on Dad’s lap, chatting wildly in his toddler way that kept them all in stitches and wrapped him around their hearts. Her gaze stopped on Gunnar as he pushed Julie’s hair off her shoulder and whispered something in her ear that made her blush.
If those two could find a way to trust each other again after everything they’d been through, could there be hope for Sunny? Maybe. She just didn’t know how to get there. Hopefully, it didn’t take fifteen years like it had for Gunnar and Julie.
A knock on the door sent Snowflake, her parent’s Great Pyrenees, into a riot. Gunnar kissed Julie on the cheek with a chuckle and rushed to the door. Just what did those two have up their sleeve?
“Hello!” Pastor Jerry from their parents’ church in Tok ambled in.
“Pastor Jerry, what brings you all the way out here?” Mom stood and pushed on Tiikâan’s shoulder. “Son, go grab another chair.”
“No need, Katie.” Pastor Jerry clapped Gunnar on the shoulder. “Not when we have a wedding to perform.”
Sunny didn’t think she’d ever heard such silence with her family before. She chuckled as heads turned from Gunnar to Julie and back like a tennis match. Gunnar’s smile spreading across his face and the way his eyes shone with an openness and happiness Sunny hadn’t seen since he’d left for basic, made her vision blur with stinging tears.
This, this was what trust was—the hope found between these two. Sunny wanted that. Wanted to believe in someone, to know she could depend on them no matter what. She just wasn’t sure if she was brave enough to open her heart again.