Dakota Born [Dakota Trilogy Book 1] [Secure]
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by Debbie Macomber
Description: Buffalo Valley, North Dakota. Like so many small Midwest towns, it's dying. Stores are boarded up, sidewalks cracked, houses need a coat of paint. But despite all that, there's a spirit of hope here, of defiance. The people still living in Buffalo Valley are fighting for their town. Lyndsay Snyder is a newcomer. She's an outsider, even though she spent childhood vacations here. Now she returns to see the family house again, to explore family secrets and to reevaluate her life. To her own astonishment, she decides to stay, to accept the vacant position of teacher. Her decision marks a new beginning for Buffalo Valley and for Lyndsay, who discovers in this broken little town the love and purpose she's been seeking.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: August 2007
19 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [640 KB]
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"We're doomed," Jacob Hansen said in sepulchral tones. He marched into the room, shaking his grizzled head.
"You might as well board up the entire town right now." Marta Hansen followed her husband into the dining room at Buffalo Bob's 3 OF A KIND. With the energy that so often accompanies righteousness, she plunked herself down at the table with the other members of the Buffalo Valley town council.
Joshua McKenna figured this kind of pessimism pretty much ensured that they wouldn't accomplish anything. Not that he blamed the couple. For nearly twenty years the Hansens, along with everyone else in Buffalo Valley, had watched the once-thriving farm community deteriorate, until now the town was barely holding on. The theater had closed first, and then the beauty shop and the florist and the hardware store…It hurt most when the catalog store pulled up stakes—that had been six years ago—and then the Morningside Café, the one decent restaurant in town, had closed for good.
Even now, Joshua missed Melissa's cooking. She'd baked biscuits that were so light and fluffy they practically floated into your mouth. Joshua got hungry just thinking about those biscuits.
Businesses survived as long as they could on their continually diminishing returns—until they were driven to financial ruin and finally forced to close up shop. Families drifted away and farmland changed ownership, the bigger farms buying up the smaller ones. Large or small, everyone struggled these days with low agricultural prices. He had to hand it to the farmers, though. They were smart, and getting smarter all the time. Over the years, agricultural research and hardier strains had made it possible to urge a larger yield out of the land. Where an acre would once produce a hundred bushels, it was now possible to harvest almost twice that. Somehow, a lot of the farmers had managed to keep going—because they believed in their heritage and because they trusted in the future, hoping they'd eventually get a fair price for their crops. Since they stayed, a few of the businesses in town clung, too.
Joshua's was one of them, although he'd certainly been struggling for the last while. He sold used goods and antiques, and did repairs; in that area, at least, business was steady. It was his gift, he supposed, to be able to fix things. With money tight, people did whatever they could to avoid buying something new. He just wished his talent extended to fixing lives and rearranging circumstances. If it had, he'd start with his own family. Heaven knew his son needed help. His daughter and granddaughter, too. He didn't like to think about the changes in their lives during the past few years, and he hated the helpless feeling that came over him whenever he did.
His wife, Marjorie, had always dealt with the children, but she'd been gone ten years now. He often wondered if she'd recognize Buffalo Valley these days and wished he had her wisdom in dealing with its problems. She would've been shocked to learn he'd been elected president of the town council. A position he hadn't sought, but one he'd assumed by default when Bill Wilson had to close his gas station and move to Fargo.
"We're doomed this time," Marta repeated, daring anyone to argue with her.
"This town's survived all these years. We'll hold on now." Hassie Knight, who owned Knight's Pharmacy, said emphatically.
Hassie was a born optimist and the one person in town who was sure to see even this situation in a positive light. If anyone could come up with a solution, it'd be Hassie, God bless her.
Like him, Hassie had experienced her share of grief. She'd buried her son, who'd been killed in Vietnam nearly thirty years ago, and not long afterward, had lost her husband. Carl Knight had died from complications of diabetes, but Hassie had always maintained that the real cause of death was a broken heart. Her daughter lived in Hawaii, and Joshua knew Valerie would like nothing better than to have her mother retire nearby. Thankfully, Hassie had resisted Valerie's efforts. The old woman was long past the age of retirement, but she did much more than fill prescriptions. Hassie was the closest thing the community had to a doctor, and folks from miles around came to her for medical advice. Yes, Hassie Knight was a popular woman, all right. It didn't hurt any that she served the best sodas he'd ever tasted. The old-fashioned kind from the fountain in the corner of her store. Chocolate sodas and good advice—those were her specialties.
"We've hung on for so many years, we're already dead and don't even have the sense to know it," Marta said caustically as she crossed her arms over her hefty bosom.
"Will you stop!" Joshua pounded the gavel on the tabletop with so much force, the ice in the water glasses danced. He sat back down and motioned to Hassie. "Would you take roll call?"
Hassie Knight's bones creaked audibly as she stood.
"Roll call? Now that's gonna be useful," Marta Hansen muttered. "That's like what's-his-name, that emperor, fiddling while Rome burned."
She was obviously mighty pleased with her classical allusion. Must've been on Jeopardy last night, Joshua thought.
"Nero. The emperor was Nero," he couldn't resist adding. Still, he hated to admit it, but Marta was right. Roll call was a waste of time; all they had to do was look around the table to know who was present and who wasn't. Hassie, the Hansens, Dennis Urlacher and him. Absent: Gage Sinclair and Heath Quantrill. Joshua stopped Hassie before she had a chance to start.
"Fine, we'll dispense with the usual formalities and get on with the meeting."
"Thank God someone in this town is willing to listen to reason," Marta said, glaring across the table at Hassie.
Copyright © 1999 by Debbie Macomber.