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Camino Winds (Camino Island, #2) by John Grisham Read Online (FREE)

The party was buzzing when Mercer and Thomas made their entrance. She swapped hugs as she introduced her new fella. The gang was delighted to see her and gushed about her new book, which most had read. As they talked, Nelson Kerr eased onto the scene and fixed a drink at the bar. He joined the circle around Mercer, and Bruce made the introductions.

After a few minutes, the conversations spun off in different directions. Andy and Bruce discussed the storm. Myra cornered Thomas and began drilling into his past. Bob Cobb and Nelson had gone fishing the day before and needed to relive their catches. Leigh was going through Mercer’s novel chapter by chapter and couldn’t get enough of the story. Drinks were refilled and no one was in a hurry to sit down to dinner.

The last guest to join them was Nick Sutton, a college boy who spent his summers on the island tending to a fine home owned by his grandparents. As was their annual ritual, they had fled the Florida heat and were roaming the country in a camper. Nick worked at the bookstore, and when he wasn’t on duty he surfed and sailed and looked for girls. He read at least one crime novel a day and dreamed of writing bestsellers. Bruce had read his short stories and thought the kid had talent. Nick had lobbied hard for the invitation to dinner and was almost overwhelmed to be included.

 

At 7:30, Chef Claude informed Bruce that it was time to eat. Andy whispered to his host and eased away without another word. Sobriety was difficult enough during dry evenings. He wasn’t tempted to drink, but the last thing he wanted was a three-hour dinner with wine flowing.

Bruce pointed to chairs and got them seated properly. He sat at one end and Mercer, the guest of honor, had the other, with Thomas to her right. There were eleven in all, the literary mafia of Camino Island plus Nick Sutton. Bruce passed along best wishes from Noelle, who hated to miss the fun but was with them in spirit. Everyone knew she was off in Europe with her steady French boyfriend and no one was surprised. They had long ago accepted the open marriage and no one cared. If Bruce and Noelle were happy, their friends were not about to question the arrangement.

Bruce had never liked by-the-hour servers buzzing around his table and eavesdropping on the conversations, so he didn’t use them. He and Claude poured the wine and water and served the first appetizer course, a small bowl of spicy gumbo.

“It’s too hot for gumbo,” Myra growled mid-table. “I’ll be soaked.”

“Cold wine always helps,” Bruce shot back.

“What’s the main course?” she asked.

 

“Everything’s spicy.”

Bob Cobb said, “So, Mercer, last stop on the tour, right? And I loved the book, by the way.”

“Thanks,” she said. “Yes, the last stop.”

“Coast to coast?”

“Yes, thirty-three stops. Tomorrow is thirty-four.”