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Paul Martinez loved everything about September on Gansett Islandfrom the cornflower-blue sky, to the cool fresh air and the quiet of the island returning to normal after another busy summer. The year-rounders got their island back in September. The tourists went home, back to school and work, after playing on Gansett all summer. During three crazy months, the island’s regular population of a few hundred hardy souls swelled to thousands.
As he drove home following a long day of landscaping work, Paul appreciated that the island roads had returned to “normal,” with hardly any cars, mopeds or bicycles impeding his ride. Islanders appreciated the tourists and the boost they brought to the economy. But they were also happy to see them go after Labor Day, when a collective sigh of relief greeted the cooler days and nights of September.
As the co-owner of Martinez Lawn & Garden, summer was Paul’s busiest time of year, followed closely by autumn, when the leaves turned brilliant colors before they dropped into yards that needed to be cleaned up before the winter set in. By the first of next month, the pumpkins would be in and ready to harvest.
A lot still had to be done before they settled in for the long, cold winter on Gansett. Other than plowing snow, their business slowed to a crawl in the winter, which was why Paul loved those months best of all. By the time the snow came, he was ready to sleep for months.
This fall promised to be extra busy with his older brother Alex’s upcoming wedding to Jenny Wilks and their move into the house they’d been building on land near the house where he and Alex had grown up. Paul hadn’t expected to still be living at home in his early thirties, but his mother’s dementia had derailed a lot of his plans, including having a family of his own.
Alex’s relationship with Jenny had given Paul hope that it might still happen for him, too, but he wasn’t holding his breath waiting for Cupid to strike, even if a lot of their friends had taken the plunge in the last few months.
His future sister-in-law had gone so far as to try to fix him up with her friend Erin, the island’s new lighthouse keeper. They’d hung out with Alex and Jenny a few times. He liked Erin and admired her resiliency after losing her twin brotherwho had also been Jenny’s fiancéduring the 9/11 attacks on New York City. But he didn’t feel that spark of something extra with her, no matter how much Jenny might love to see both Martinez brothers fall for lighthouse keepers.
It wasn’t going to happen between him and Erin, and she knew it as much as he did.