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Coral Weddings (Coral Cottage #4)

Coral Weddings (Coral Cottage #4)

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Three weddings and a food truck… It’s wedding season in Summer Beach, and you’re invited!
From a USA Today bestselling series.

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Book Description

Book 4, Coral Cottage Series

At the Coral Cottage, this summer is as busy as ever. Marina’s sister Kai moved up her wedding, but she won’t say why, and her new theater production is shrouded in secrecy. Frankly, the timing couldn’t be worse. Still, Marina is determined to expand her Coral Cafe with a new food truck and staff.

As for Marina’s relationship with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Jack, she’s unsure if her grown children will accept a new marriage and a younger stepbrother. Or will this summer spell an end to their romance?

Their grandmother and matriarch of the family, the indomitable Ginger Delavie, doles out unusual advice. But even a strong woman like Ginger can only take so much.

Don’t miss the events of the season in Summer Beach as unforgettable events unfold. Coral Weddings is the fourth book in the Coral Cottage series of clean, romantic women’s fiction with a focus on family and friendship.

Read A Sample

From her kitchen in the Coral Cafe, Marina looked outside to see a yellow food truck emblazoned with a logo of a submarine sandwich and the words, Yellow Submarines, pull into the parking area. With a surge of excitement, she quickly finished a tray of canapés for a friend’s wedding and set it aside. After shrugging out of her stained chef jacket, she hurried toward the vehicle.

A trim woman stepped out to greet her. She wore jeans and a bright shirt that matched her vehicle.
Marina shielded her eyes against the summer sun reflecting off the ocean beyond. “Thanks for bringing the truck by for me to see.”

The woman introduced herself as Judith. Her dark blue eyes were a startling contrast with her dark, silver-shot hair, and she had a happy air about her. “No problem. I was on my way to a catering event I’m doing tonight. It’s my last one.” Judith opened the rear door. “Have a look inside.”

Marina stepped up into the mobile kitchen, trying to imagine what it would be like to expand her Coral Cafe onto wheels. Having had some success with her cafe, she was eager to build on that, although a food truck would be a financial gamble.

Still, with the seasonality of Summer Beach and her cafe, the risk was one she needed to take to secure her future. A food truck could go anywhere. If it rained for a week at the beach on her outdoor cafe, she wouldn’t lose a quarter of her month’s earnings. She could drive inland to sunnier skies.

As Marina inspected the workspace and appliances, Judith pointed out various features that checked a lot of boxes on Marina’s shopping list. Inside, the vehicle had a wide service window, good ventilation, and stainless-steel counters. Growing more excited, she checked out the grill, deep fryer, refrigerator, freezer, and sink.

Marina was impressed, though she tried not to let her eagerness show. After some of the older used trucks she’d seen, this one seemed almost too good to be true. Was it?

“This truck looks immaculate. You seem to have taken excellent care of it.”

Judith acknowledged the compliment with a smile. “That’s because Bessie—that’s what I call her—has taken good care of me. I bought her right after my divorce. I hadn’t worked in years, and no one was eager to hire a fifty-year-old. The only thing I knew how to do was make sandwiches.”

Marina wasn’t too far behind her, though she’d had a career as a news anchor in San Francisco. Still, after she’d lost her job not long ago, she’d had few offers at her age, especially after her embarrassing on-air meltdown. But that was in the past.

She ran her hand along a pizza oven where she could make her popular seafood pizzas. This food truck could be part of the bright future she planned. “So why are you selling it?”

“I’m moving.”

“And you can’t take it with you?”

“Not to New Zealand.” Judith grinned. “This has been a great gig, but I’m getting married. Hope springs eternal, right? He’s a chef from New Zealand, and we’re buying a restaurant in Queenstown, so Bessie stays here. I never dreamed of marrying again, but then, I never thought I’d be divorced. Life has thrown a lot of surprises at me. Still, I’m happy how things turned out.”

“That I can understand.” Marina’s life had also changed dramatically.

She disembarked and circled the food truck. Outside, the truck had solar panels on the roof and a canopy that extended over the service window. She tried to imagine the vehicle with her vivid coral color scheme.
Judith followed her out and ran a hand over the still shiny paint. “I went through a lot with this truck. In fact, this led me to my new husband.”

“How did that happen?”

A fond look filled Judith’s face. “I’d pulled up to a baseball game where his grandson was playing. Harold ordered a meatball sub with extra sauce. Said it was the best one he’d ever had. I told him the meatballs were my grandmother’s recipe. Soon we were trading recipes and techniques, and a few months later, we were planning our wedding. When I was married, I spent my time caring for my husband’s parents and mine before they passed. So now I get a second chance with a great guy and his kids. I really love them all.” She patted a fender. “Bessie is good luck.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Marina smiled. “I can always do with a bit of luck.”

“I’ve had several couples look at it.” After a brief pause, Judith asked, “Are you married?”
“Widowed,” came Marina’s automatic reply of more than two decades. “But I’m seeing someone pretty special now.” Her heart quickened even as she thought of Jack.

A smile spread across Judith’s face. “I hope it works out for you, too. Would you be operating this truck together?”

Marina chuckled. “He’s not good with food. But he has an appetite that makes up for it. I enjoy cooking for people.” She tried out all her new dishes on Jack and his son Leo, who had a surprisingly good palette for an eleven-year-old. “To me, well-prepared food is one of the languages of love.”

“It sure has been for me,” Judith agreed.

Marina did a cursory inspection of the body and systems, wondering what Jack would think of this. They’d fallen into an easy routine the last few months. Though he often spoke of their future together, he hadn’t made any firm commitments. But then, neither had she.

Recently, her grandmother questioned if Jack might be taking her for granted. While Marina didn’t think so, the idea stuck in her mind. She loved Jack, but she might have been too available and accommodating. However, Marina wasn’t one to wait for a man to make a decision. She’d always had to provide for herself and her twins.

This was her new chapter of life, and she was determined to forge ahead and expand her Coral Cafe footprint and brand.

“What do you think?” Judith asked.

“It’s nice, but I’ll need to have it inspected. And I’d have to paint or wrap it to match the branding for my existing cafe.” Marina’s head ached at the thought of another large expense. “Are you negotiable on the price?”

“I could knock some off for that.”

“That would help.” Marina had penciled out her financial projections, and the bank had approved a loan, which she thought she could pay off fairly quickly. She’d done her research, yet this was still a big step for her.

Her existing cafe was close to the beach and tourists, so she was thinking about other venues, including the Seashell amphitheater that her sister Kai and her fiancé Axe were operating. She was already providing premade boxed dinners, so she knew there was an opportunity to build on that. Her mind was full of other options.

“How was your sandwich business?” Marina asked.
“Pretty good. I did the usual lunches near office buildings, but the real money is in special events. Parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs.”

Those were also on Marina’s list, along with other ideas. “Did you serve at many weddings?”

“Surprisingly, yes. A lot of people want to provide food for guests. A food truck is a fun option, especially for small, casual affairs like beach weddings. They often want more upscale food, though. Probably more like what you serve.”
That was true. Marina had talked to a wedding planner in Summer Beach who was interested in booking her. Having a kitchen on wheels would expand her opportunities, and now that she was training another cook, she could branch out.
Fortunately, the cafe was doing well during the summer season. She was determined to grow her off-season business now.

“I’ve had a couple of people look at the truck who haven’t worked in food service before,” Judith went on. “It might be against my interests, but I advised them to get a job in the industry first. I’d hate to sell this to someone who didn’t know what to do with it. I had it outfitted just the way I wanted after getting some initial experience.”

“It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into it.”

“What do you plan on serving out of the truck?”

“Mostly SoCal beach fare.” Marina ticked off some of her popular menu items on her fingers. “Grilled kabobs, veggie burgers, and protein and fruit smoothies. Crab cakes and gourmet seafood pizza are a couple of my specialties. Chopped salads, cheese boards, and any sort of sliders are popular. I serve them with sweet potato fries and aioli.”

Judith looked impressed. “That kind of menu would do well at the beach and special venues. There are quite a few art shows and wine festivals you could work.”

“Those are good ideas.” With the mild weather in Southern California, there were many events year-round in nearby communities, just not as many in Summer Beach.

“I’m curious,” Judith said, nodding to the tables on the outdoor patio.

“Why not just stick with the cafe?”

Marina had thought a lot about that. “The idea of expanding without the cost of physical overhead appeals to me. I have twins, and I want to put some money back for them. And for my eventual retirement, although I hope that’s a long way off.”

The food truck could provide a new source of revenue, which would be welcome with her daughter Heather still in college.

Judith squinted against the sun, seeming to weigh a decision. “If I don’t sell the food truck before I leave, I plan to list it with a business broker. But since you have a cafe and know what you’re doing, I believe you’d be a good fit. If you’re serious about it.”

“I sure am, but I also have a budget.” It was a little scary, but Marina had confidence in the homework she’d done.

Judith dragged a toe in the sand in thought. “If you want the truck, I can reduce the price by the commission I would have paid to a broker. That would give you a terrific deal. I want to see this truck go to a good home. It meant a lot to me.”

“I can tell.” Marina smiled at her with a measure of gratitude. “And that price reduction would help a lot.”

Judith gazed at the food truck with a wistful expression.

“Bessie gave me the freedom to run my own business. I’m going to miss her.”

Marina felt that way about her cafe, too. “I can send photos to let you know how she’s doing.”

A smile bloomed on the woman’s face. “Would you? I’d like to know this truck is helping another woman. She was so good to me.”

Judith named a price that Marina thought was more than fair. Although her stomach was fluttering with equal measures of excitement and trepidation, she decided to take the leap.

Book Reviews

“A wonderful story… Will make you feel like the sea breeze is streaming through your hair.” – Laura Bradbury, Bestselling Author

“A novel that gives fans of romantic sagas a compelling voice to follow.” – Booklist 

“An entertaining beach read with multi-generational context and humor.” – InD’Tale Magazine
 
“Wonderful characters and a sweet story.” – Kellie Coates Gilbert, Bestselling Author
 
“A fun read that grabs you at the start.” – Tina Sloan, Author and Award-Winning Actress
 
“Jan Moran is the queen of the epic romance.” —Rebecca Forster, USA Today Bestselling Author

“The women are intelligent and strong. At the core is a strong, close-knit family.” — Betty’s Reviews

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