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Book 6: The Waterfront Way (Hilton Head Island Romance)

Book 6: The Waterfront Way (Hilton Head Island Romance)

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Escape to the beaches of South Carolina with this Supper Club of ladies, each of whom is starting over in some way in their 40s. New loves, new lives, new businesses - and they're waiting for YOU, their new best friend!

About THE WATERFRONT WAY: Sage Grady is a master of transformation. She's a seasoned hairstylist who's perfected the art of change, one cut and color at a time. Yet, her own life has started to feel somewhat monotonous, almost like she's stuck in someone else's style–and she needs to shake things up. As Sage snips, styles, and sashays her way into Ty's heart, she discovers that her way of life isn't the only transformation happening. Will they find that the path to true love doesn't always follow the path most trod, but might just be discovered through...the waterfront way?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

Sage Grady finished with her last appointment of the day and spent a half-hour cleaning up after herself. With the floor at her station pristine, and her tools sanitized and ready for tomorrow’s haircuts, Sage left the upscale salon and sank into the driver’s seat of her car.

A sigh likewise sank through her, and Sage started the car to get some air moving. It wasn’t really too hot yet, as it was still February in Hilton Head, but it wasn’t cold either. She just liked having some movement, so she didn’t have to inhale the stale, stiff air that had been trapped in the car for the past eight hours.

She wasn’t heading back to the apartment tonight, because her Supper Club was meeting to work out their schedule for the rest of the year. With holidays and vacations and people moving in and out, their schedule had been up, down, and around too. Most of them had switched months for one reason or another, and therefore, Cass had texted last week to say they’d just be meeting at a restaurant to go over their schedule for the rest of the year.

It, of course, could still change, and they’d all go with it. Sage felt like she was the one who could step in and accommodate anyone else’s changes, for she didn’t do anything.

She walked her dog in the morning. She cut hair all day. She went home. Sometimes, when she was feeling particularly rowdy, she’d then change into a swimming suit and go down to the beach or lounge by the pool.

Yeah, Sage was a real party animal.

Her life felt as stale and stiff as the air she wanted to move around, and not for the first time, she missed her hobby farm in Texas. No two days were the same on a farm, and at least she’d had some variety in her life.

She couldn’t even imagine life without her five best friends in it, but they’d all moved on without her. Even Bessie was engaged now, and that left Sage as the eleventh wheel whenever they all wanted to get together for a party, a beach day, or a holiday meal.

She’d been told to bring Thelma, her sister, over and over, and that was fine. Of course she’d bring Thelma as her “date,” but while she loved and lived with her sister, she was a poor substitute for a man.

Sage finally put the car in reverse and backed out of the spot where she’d parked behind the salon that morning. She had a few minutes to run into the grocery store and get a few things she and Thelma needed, but she drove on by. “Can’t leave milk in the car during dinner,” she reasoned.

She arrived at Bakersfield, the chosen restaurant for that evening, with twenty minutes to spare. After she’d parked in the shade several rows away from the entrance, she pulled out her phone to check it.

Nothing exciting, as usual. A couple of texts from her sister was all, and even her Supper Club thread had been quiet all day. Cass or Bea would probably make them all say something they didn’t want to say, and Sage ended up leaning her head back against the rest and closing her eyes.

In quiet moments like these, she let her thoughts roam freely, go wherever they wanted to go. She often thought about starting her own salon, though that idea never stuck around for long. She had a good setup at The Salon Mionic, and she made good money there. Enough to get her and Thelma out of the apartment they rented, but neither of them had wanted to pack up everything they owned very badly.

They were oceanside, and they had all the amenities of great apartment living. True, the space was small. She had to go down several doors to get to the laundromat, which she shared with everyone on her side of the building. But they had sand volleyball courts—not that she played. A pool—which she sat beside but had never been in. A game room she’d walked through once.

She and Thelma mostly worked, then came home. One of them made dinner, and they watched TV at night. Thelma liked to take her walk in the evening, though Sage really didn’t know how she could breathe such hot air in the summer. She got up at five-thirty to take Gypsy out, and after the short rough patch with Ed had been smoothed, she’d resumed walking with him.

His dog never tripped her again, and Sage’s thoughts moved to the most taboo of topics—Tyler Parker.

She’d been out with Ty exactly once. She’d cut his hair a few times too, but after the concert in the park during Heritage Days, she hadn’t seen him again. Here and there, briefly, if their friend groups happened to overlap. He was friends with all of the men that had captured the hearts of her Supper Club friends, but he claimed to be too busy for holiday parties or sit-down meals for twelve.

She honestly wasn’t sure if they would’ve been good together or not. One date certainly wasn’t long enough to know that, especially as they hadn’t been able to talk for a large percentage of it. Still, she remembered the awkwardness and second-guessing that had happened for her, because it sure hadn’t seemed like they had much in common.

She thought of Bea and Grant, and they didn’t love all of the same things either. Heck, Oliver and Bessie were like night and day, and they’d figured things out. Perhaps Sage just needed to get together with Ty again and see if that fizzing, boiling chemistry between them still existed.

She opened her eyes to check the time, and she realized she was almost late. She grabbed her purse and headed for the entrance of the restaurant.

Inside, she found everyone except Bessie had arrived, and the power blonde who’d opened her own bakery for the first time last year entered only a half-minute later.

“We’re all here,” Bea said as she stepped over to the hostess station. 

The woman there nodded, collected six menus, and said, “Follow me.”

Sage generally hung back in times like these. She didn’t want to be the first at the table, because then she’d have to make a decision about where to sit. Number two, in a booth situation—which Bakersfield had—she’d have to climb in and slide all the way over, never to get out again. She’d much rather be on the end.

Her wishes came true, and she sat on the end of the horseshoe-shaped booth as she took her menu. “I’ve never been here before,” she said, taking in the appetizers and salads first. The conversation went round about who had, and it turned out only Cass had been here before.

Of course. The prices on this menu weren’t cheap, and Cass seemed to have more money than any of them. Whether that was true or not, Sage didn’t know. She didn’t keep books for her friends.

“The burrata is amazing,” Cass said. “So is the calamari.”

“Look at that salad,” Bea said, leaning closer to Sage. “It has balsamic and ranch dressing.” Her blue eyes rounded with wonder. “I think I’m going to get that.”

“It looks like a souped-up wedge,” Sage said, reading the menu. Candied pecans, bacon, avocado, blue cheese, craisins. “I’m getting that too.” Her mouth watered, and anything she ate here would be a far cry better than the granola bar she’d eaten between clients at mid-day.

A waitress arrived, and they put in their drink and appetizer orders. She’d only taken two steps away from the table when Cass said, “All right, ladies. Let’s get the hard stuff out of the way.”

“We’re all really boring now,” Lauren said from the middle of the booth. She’d recently cut her dark hair, but it still fell to her shoulders. Sage smiled at the new do, because she’d done it, and she thought it fit Lauren’s face so well. She had delicate bone structure and pure beauty in her high cheekbones. 

Sage had thinned her hair too, and she looked much more glamorous now—in Sage’s opinion. 

Lauren caught her looking and said, “Unless Sage has something to tell us,” with her eyebrows raised.

Sage laughed and waved her off. “Sage does not.”

Bessie’s engagement was about a week old, and the whole story had been told over an app that recorded video instead of text. They’d been using that a lot more lately, and while Sage didn’t entirely dislike it, she didn’t like it either. She couldn’t check a quick text at work if it was a thirty-second video others might be able to hear.

And she could face the music, even if none of her friends could. None of them talked for only thirty seconds. Bessie’s engagement story had taken about thirty minutes to get through from beginning to end.

Then all the reactions…

Sage usually played the videos in her car on the way home from work, or around the apartment if it was her turn to put together dinner. She and Thelma were simple eaters, and neither liked spending too much time in the kitchen, so eating out somewhere fancy like Bakersfield had perks.

“I know it’s okay if we swap Supper Club,” Cass said. “But I would like to get a schedule ironed out. I feel like if we don’t.” She paused and looked around the table at the rest of them. “It’ll be too easy not to do it.”

“I agree,” Joy said. “And I want to keep doing it. It’s way easier if I have it on my calendar, so other things don’t get scheduled over it.”

“Mm him,” Bea said. “So where are we?”

“February was supposed to be mine,” Cass said. “But I swapped with Lauren in November. Things have sort of been off since then.”

Sage didn’t argue, though she’d been assigned December last year, and she’d fulfilled her commitment just fine, busy holiday season and all.

“Joy, you’re usually after me,” Cass said. “Can you do next month?”

“Yep.” Joy had her phone out, and she started tapping with her thumbs. She looked up. “Do we need to revisit the date?”

“Third Thursday?” Bea asked. “That’s always what we’ve done.”

“Yes, but we don’t operate under the community center guidelines anymore,” Cass said. She looked around again, and Sage didn’t care what day of the week Supper Club fell on. Her life could be completely molded around it, even if they decided to make it a lunch club instead of dinner.

“I’m fine with whatever,” she said. Bessie and Joy nodded, and Lauren said, “Me too.”

“Let’s leave it there,” Joy said. “I’m in March.”

“That puts Bessie in April,” Cass said, actually reading from a small piece of paper that looked like it had come from a child’s notepad. “Lauren in May, Sage in June, Bea in July, and I’m in August.” She looked up, but Bea was already shaking her head.

“Grant and I are going on our National Park road trip all of July,” she said. “I won’t even be here for Supper Club that month, and I can’t host it.”

“August?” Cass asked, her lips only pursing for a moment.

“Yeah, I can do August.” 

Cass made the note on her slip of paper and looked up again. “Everyone else good?”

“Yeah,” and “Yes,” and “Sure,” came from the others. Sage simply nodded, and since she’d already chosen what she wanted for dinner, her gaze wandered out into the restaurant. Everything gleamed in the evening light, and Sage sure did like the upscale atmosphere here.

The chatter at the table turned to less serious things than their Supper Club schedule, and to her surprise, no one called for them all to share something that month. 

The drinks came; orders got put in; appetizers arrived. Sage laughed with Bea, asked about Shelby, her step-daughter, and listened as Lauren talked about a surgery her cat had to have.

She loved these ladies, and she’d been supping with them for so long, she couldn’t imagine not having this monthly occurrence in her life. That was why she’d moved here. It was why she’d given up the variety of the hobby farm and left it all behind.

“Oh, boy,” Joy said, and that drew Sage’s attention across the table to her. She sat on the end on the other side of the horseshoe, and she met Sage’s eye before nodding out into the restaurant.

Sage followed her gaze, wondering what she was looking for. It became obvious when she spotted the deliciously good-looking man in a full suit—slacks, jacket, white shirt, tie, and shiny wingtips.

He smiled at a woman who had dark hair—like Sage—and placed his hand on the small of her back as he pulled out the second chair at a table for two. Then Tyler Parker rounded it and sat across from her, in plain sight of Sage. If he’d look up and to his left the teensiest bit, their eyes would meet.

Her gaze flew back to Joy’s. “What’s ‘oh, boy’ about that?”

“It’s Ty,” Joy hissed, and hissing was never good. It drew the attention of Bessie at Joy’s side. And Bea at Sage’s. 

“What?” they both asked.

“Ty’s here,” Joy said loudly, practically bellowing the man’s name. That was “oh, boy.”

Sage leaned forward, her eyes narrowing. “Joy.”

“Oh, it’s Ty,” Bea said. “Were you…? Didn’t you guys go out?”

“Once,” Sage said. “And it’s fine. It’s not like I never see him.” But the truth was, she hadn’t seen him again. Not really. Here in there across a crowded room or beach full of people didn’t count. 

Her heart pumped out extra beats as she looked over to him again. He was too handsome for his own good, especially when he smiled and tipped his chin toward the ceiling as he laughed. 

As he brought his head level again, he looked past his date, and his eyes landed on hers. Instant heat roared through Sage as the smile slipped from his face. He was the picture of calm, cool, and collected, as he leaned in and said something to his date.

“Stars in heaven,” Joy breathed. “He’s getting up.”

“He’s seen us,” Bea whispered.

“Why are you whispering?” Lauren asked. “What’s going on?”

Ty indeed had risen to his feet. He buttoned his jacket as the dark-haired woman turned their way. Sage didn’t know her, but Bessie said, “Sugar and salt, that’s Katherine Tallison.”

“Who’s Katherine Tallison?” Sage asked, wondering why she’d decided to whisper too. Probably because all six feet of the sandy blond god name Tyler Parker was walking her way, his eyes fastened to hers and no one else’s.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “A great final book in this series by Elana Johnson. As they work through their differences and desires, they grow and it makes for a very uplifting story. The book also updates the activities of the other ladies in the Super Club. I highly recommend reading it.” ~Sandy

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Loved how this wrapped up the series!!! Sage and Ty had a okay first date but 6 months later and their next date was amazing. Loved seeing these two become friends and fall in love. He was so sweet and patient with Sage. Can she move on from her ex and the feelings he caused her to still have?” ~Paula

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Indulge in a delightful journey to the Lowcountry and visit Hilton Head Island to fall in love!

For fans of heartwarming women’s fiction, beach romance, and feel-good stories, immerse yourself in these later-in-life romances and found family friendships of the Hilton Head Island Romance series!

  • Book 1: The Love List

    Beatrice Callahan loves lists. Sometimes she even makes a to-do list of things she’s already done, just to go check, check, check and feel accomplished. So it’s easy to understand why, when her divorce is finally final and her ex is all moved out, Bea takes a cool, close look at her life…and makes a list. But when things get confusing and her life morphs once again… Can she add fall in love at age 45 to the list and check it off?

  • Book 2: The Paradise Plan

    Cassandra Haslam loves plans. Lunch plans, wedding plans, and floor plans—they all bring her joy. But then her husband dies suddenly, right when she’s about to enjoy the fruits of all of her hard work and planning, leaving Cass reeling and…well, without a plan. So, with one of her best friends now living in Hilton Head, Cass makes a move and purchases a piece of waterfront property on the island. Can she find her new life and a new love, all without any plans at all?

  • Book 3: The Seaside Strategy

    Lauren Keller understands strategies. She adores them and never enters a marketing meeting without Strategy A, B, and C tucked away in the back of her mind. She’s one of the top executives at her firm…until it all comes crashing down with the news that her boss has been stealing money from their clients for almost a decade. So she strategically decides she’s had enough of the high-profile, corporate life, and she makes the move to Hilton Head Island – and the man who’s asked her out before. Can she strategically insert herself into Blake’s life without compromising her seaside strategy and finally get what she really wants…love and a lasting relationship?

  • Book 4: The Beach Blueprint

    Joy Bartlett needs a blueprint before she takes a single step in any direction. She loves seeing what she's getting into before committing, and just because half of her Supper Club has moved 1200 miles away doesn't mean she's going to start packing boxes. Can she figure out how to arrange all of the pieces in her life in a way that makes sense? Or will she find herself cut off from everyone who's ever been important to her?

  • Book 5: The Tropical Ticket

    Bessie Clifton adores baking. With her daughter Wynona by her side, she's turned her passion for the perfect loaf of bread into a dream for a bakery. They move to Hilton Head Island and work to get their shop open with the help of Bessie's five best friends. Enter Oliver Blackhurst, the grumpy owner of The Mad Mango smoothie shop. Bessie's sunshine and warmth seem to clash with his prickly exterior. Will Bessie's journey to self-discovery lead her to the love she's always craved? Can Oliver let go of his past and embrace the warmth that Bessie brings to his life?

  • Book 6: The Waterfront Way

    Sage Grady is a master of transformation. She's a seasoned hairstylist who's perfected the art of change, one cut and color at a time. Ty's made a fortune flipping properties and developing luxury resorts. Yet beneath his polished exterior is a man who's been burned by love, and he's built walls higher than any of his skyscrapers. As Sage snips, styles, and sashays her way into Ty's heart, she discovers that her way of life isn't the only transformation happening. Can Sage and Ty navigate their contrasting worlds to create a happily-ever-after? Will they find that the path to true love doesn't always follow the path most trod, but might just be discovered through...the waterfront way?

Fall in love with the hometown heroes of Hawthorne Harbor!

Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town... This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Sweet Beach Reads

✔ Contemporary romance

✔ Later in life romance

✔ Friends to lovers romance

✔ Enemies to lovers romance

✔ Small-town romance

✔ Military romance

✔ Single-dad romance