Life is Full of Surprises

Last weekend, my husband and I joined my sister and brother-in-law for a weekend away in Toronto. Our purpose was to attend a Blue Jays’ game, which we did, but we had lots of excitement along the way.

Since gas has gotten more expensive, we opted to take the train rather than drive. While you do have to have proof of vaccine and wear a mask, as seniors our fares were very reasonable, and the trip was comfortable and uneventful.

The fun started when we arrived in Toronto shortly after noon on Saturday. The day was gorgeous, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. We made our way out of the station and walked along Front Street to the Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed. The walk was no more than fifteen minutes, so dragging our suitcases, we joined the throng of people heading west.

This is the view from our room. You can’t ask for a better, closer hotel when going to a game. The walk to the stadium is less than ten minutes.

Inside the hotel lobby, as we were checking in, everyone’s cellphone started to sound an alert. Like many, I assumed it was an AMBER ALERT for a missing child. I didn’t check my phone. As expected, our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our bags with the concierge and decided to go to lunch.

At some point during the fifteen minutes we’d been waiting, dark clouds had replaced the sun. My sister asked me to check to see if there was rain in the forecast. I opened my phone and the first thing I saw was a weather warning unlike any I had ever seen before. I later learned that it was the first time the system had been used. The warning advised people to seek immediate shelter from storms heading into the area which would feature heavy winds, rain, and had the potential for golf ball sized hail. Heeding the warning, we crossed the street and went into an Italian restaurant for lunch. We’d only been inside a few minutes when the rain started, but for us in the city’s downtown core, that’s all it was.

We had lunch, an absolute feast with the best fresh mozzarella I’ve ever tasted, and then since the rain had stopped although the temperature had dropped, we went out exploring. It wasn’t until hours later that we learned that an EF2 tornado had set down an hour north of us. An EF2 tornado has wind speeds between 111 and 135 mph (178 and 217 km/h). Damage from an EF2 tornado is considerable. But the tornado was only part of the story. A derecho had swept across the province creating chaos and disaster, especially in and around the City of Ottawa as well as west, south, and east of it.

Part of a utility pole lies on a driveway, along with the roof of a hardware store that was lifted off by extreme winds during Saturday’s storm, in the community of Hammond in Clarence-Rockland, Ont. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Unlike the rotating winds in a hurricane or a tornado, a derecho’s winds are straight. That doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging; its winds can topple trees and lift up roofs. Another feature of a derecho is that unlike the slow building of a supercell thunderstorm, the business end of a derecho is at the front.  When you see a derecho approaching, it often looks like an ominous wall of wind and rain.  It hits fast with the worst damage happening in minutes. As I write this, many people are still without power, and it will take months, maybe even years before all the damage is repaired. Luckily, Kingston, where my son lives, and Cornwall where our families were, only got rain.

Oblivious to all of this, we left the restaurant and walked down Front Street to the Royal York Hotel and one of its bars, The Library. Since we were on an adventure, we opted to have something out of the ordinary to drink. Each one of us selected something different. My husband had a variation on a Manhattan, my sister a lemon drop, my brother-in-law a martini, but my choice was easy. I had a Twist of Fate. Why? Because I’d written a book with the same title, a historical romance.

It made sense to me. Twist of Fate is set in the seventeenth century on Saint John Island in the Caribbean.

Can a cursed treasure unite two lonely outcasts?

Overton Stafford, shunned by his family because of a birthmark on his face, made a life for himself as Second Mate on The Golden Fleece. In a battle with pirates, Overton loses his left arm, ending his career. Knowing he will be a wealthy man makes the pain easier to bear, especially when he discovers he can repay a moral debt and help an old friend. When he meets Anna, Overton realizes he wants more from her than a financial partnership.

Anneliese Van Stubel lost her sight at nine as a result of Smallpox. Now eighteen, a ward of the crown because of the Danish Age of Majority law, she lives in limbo, uncertain what will happen to her. When Overton approaches her with the proposition to help her rebuild the plantation, she’s excited with the idea of returning to her home. But her joy fades when her caregiver makes it plain that he has a different future in mind for her, one that will profit him.

Set in a time when brutality against women and slaves was the norm, Overton seeks to change things as he falls in love with the girl who has lost so much.

I couldn’t wait for my drink to arrive. When it did, I wasn’t disappointed.

No one else got a bouquet of baby’s breath with their drink. It was absolutely delicious.

The rest of the weekend was as exciting and full of surprises as the first day was. Some of those surprises included a delicious dinner at another Italian restaurant, a not as much fun fire alarm in the middle of the night because some idiot was smoking in his room, and a dinner down on the waterfront at a brewery and roadhouse. While the fire alarm was disturbing, I didn’t do much other than wake up and listen for instructions. We were on the 24th floor. What else could we do?

Sadly, the Jays lost on Sunday afternoon, but all in all, it was a fantastic weekend full of surprises.

If you’re looking for summer reading for your own getaway, check out, Irresistible, I’ve got a Secret with my latest contemporary romance, Royal Flush.

Everyone has secrets…
But when you find that special someone, it’s those secrets that can make or break a relationship.
Six stories.
Six secrets—some bad, some good—featured in these BRAND NEW STEAMY STORIES From New York Times & USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.
Can they hang on to their happy-ever-after once those secrets are revealed?

TWO HEARTS’ SUBVERSION by Tamara Ferguson, USA Today bestselling author: Marc Theroux and Desiree Broussard shared tragedy when they were kids. As friendship grows into something more, they’re forced to keep secrets when both are recruited by separate agencies responsible for investigating domestic terrorism. Will their love survive separation as Broussard Industries is targeted by one of the largest terrorist organizations in the middle east?

NO MORE HIDING by Natalie Ann, USA Today bestselling author:Brent and Vivian both have secrets that they are keeping from the other. When trust becomes a factor, can they find their way past their lies to love again?

MESSY PLANS by Mona Risk,New York Times and USA Today bestselling author:Dr. Matt Lopez is perfectly happy with his medical career until the new nurse practitioner, with her lovely smile and crazy ideas, turns his life upside down.

EVAN by Stacy Eaton, USA Today bestselling author: Can Laney and Evan find a way to build a relationship while keeping others from getting involved, or will the revealed secrets be enough to end any chance of a future before it begins?

DEAR DIARY HOTTIE by Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author: During their last months of high school, Eva and Jason hook up in a way that neither of them forgets. When they finally meet by chance, can he forget his animosity toward the girl who never acknowledged him after their passionate encounter, and can she put aside her unending grief that he never called.

ROYAL FLUSH by Susanne Matthews, International bestselling author: Pearl refuses to be part of another of her father’s mergers and runs away to be herself. When she meets Kyle, she falls for him, but what will happen when he learns who she really is?

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About Susanne Matthews

I'm a retired high school English teacher turned author. I'm Canadian. My husband and I have been married 48 years and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, as well as 2 step-grandchildren.  I enjoy traveling, especially somewhere warm in winter.

2 Replies to “Life is Full of Surprises”

  1. I live between Kingston and Cornwall and all we got was rain as well. Many storms break in half when they get near the end of Lake Ontario and start travelling up the St. Lawrence.
    Glad you were safe in TO and had a great time.

  2. Totally enjoyed reading about your trip, very informative (never heard of a derecho) but oh so glad you were out of harm’s way. A dear friend lives in the Ottawa area and she’d told me about that storm. Must try that drink, the Twist of Fate. Cheers! xo

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