As the sweetest breath of dawn whispered across the sky, cloaking the last of the stars in a gentle light and chasing the night’s chill from the air, a small fire glowed red on the beach. Andie dug her bare feet further into the soft, dry sand and kept a silent vigil until the fire was nothing but ash and embers, then with a sense of sombre reverence, lifted the grey wool hat from her head and held it against her heart.
The sun promised warmth to the horizon as Andie shrugged off her coat and walked towards the water’s edge. Wearing a black dress with a tattered hem, her red hair loose to her shoulders, she waded into the turning tide and lowered the hat beneath the surface for a moment to soak up water and give it weight. Then she threw it as far as she could out to sea and an arc of crystalline droplets trailed behind it, sparkling in the morning light like the tail of a comet.
Finally unchained from the burden of regret and with no apologies left to give, Andie Valentine gathered up her boots and coat before beginning the walk around the bay to the inn she now called home, as the new day draped gold across her skin.