Yuletide Homecoming [Secure]
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by Carolyne Aarsen
Description: "I Need To Talk To You." Sarah Westerveld had been waiting years to hear those words from her estranged father. But now that he had finally summoned her home at holiday time, his fragile health rendered him unable to speak. What had he wanted to tell her? Sarah's deepest desire was to be forgiven for the past. Yet part of that past--and the future she dreamed of--included her father's sworn enemy, darkly handsome Logan Carleton. A man who knew that when Sarah made things right with her heavenly Father, all her Christmas wishes would come true.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Steeple Hill,
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [324 KB]
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Thirty-six minutes to go. And though Sarah Westerveld had been driving west for five days to get to her old hometown of Riverbend, she needed every second of those thirty-six minutes to compose herself before meeting her father.
She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel in time to the song blasting from the radio and waited at the town's single stoplight. Not much had changed in the six years she had been gone. The bakery, the bank, the drugstore and the flower shop still anchored the four corners of the main street. Just down from the bakery was her cousin's coffee shop, a rare new addition to Riverbend.
And the place she had arranged to meet her father.
Since she had moved away, she had received an envelope from him on the first of every month, his decisive handwriting on the outside, a check inside.
And nothing else. No letter. No note. Nothing to show that this came from her father.
A few weeks ago, however, instead of the check, inserted in the envelope was a single piece of paper with the words "Come Home. I need to talk to you" written on it.
When she phoned to find out what he wanted, he kept the call short, as he always did, and businesslike, as he always did. He said he wanted to tell her what he had to, face-to-face.
Her father wanted to meet her at home, but after all this time, she had no desire to visit with him in that large empty house echoing with memories. So they had arranged to meet at her cousin Janie's coffee shop. Neutral ground, and not far from his office.
A horn honked behind her and Sarah jumped. The light had turned green. She gunned her car through the intersection and slid over the snow and into the lone parking spot down the block from her cousin's coffee shop. Obviously Mr. Kennerman, the street maintenance man, was still around, and still not on the job.
She wound her scarf around her throat and pulled out a toque, jamming it over her long, blond hair before stepping from the warm confines of her car into the crisp winter weather.
I missed this, Sarah thought, tugging on a pair of gloves. Missed the bite of the cold, the invigorating freshness of the chilly air. Sarah pulled back the cuff of her glove.
Thirty-five minutes to go.
She had planned to stay at her cousin's. Her father hadn't objected when she told him. Still, she wasn't sure if it was because he understood why, or because he simply didn't want her in the family house either.
Sarah locked her car and glanced down the road. The trees, now bare, reached farther over the street than she remembered. One of the older buildings in town had been renovated to its original glory. Flags, hanging from new streetlights, drifted in the cool breeze that scuttled rivulets of snow across the street.
The town was busy this early in the day. Busy for Riverbend, which meant most of the parking spots on Main Street were taken. A few people wandered down the sidewalks, their conversation punctuated by puffs of steam. Sarah shivered as she hurried along the path toward the coffee shop, anticipation fluttering through her at the thought of seeing her cousin after all this time.
The door of the coffee shop swung open and a man stepped out.
Dark was the first thought that came to mind. Dark eyebrows. Dark hair. A lean jaw shadowed by whiskers. Angular features molded in a look that both challenged and engaged all comers. His coffee-brown hair brushed the collar of a faded canvas coat open to reveal a denim jacket and sweatshirt. Brown eyes swept over her and Sarah's heart did a slow turn in her chest.
Logan of the scribbles in her notebook, the long, slow looks across the gymnasium and stolen kisses that still haunted her.
Logan of the Across the River Carletons of whom her father couldn't speak without risking a coronary. Which, in turn, had given the broodingly handsome Logan an additional forbidden appeal.
An appeal that only grew when they secretly started dating.
He still had it, she thought as she met the eyes she thought held no sway over her anymore. But old emotions flickered deep within her and the six years she'd been gone slipped away as easily as a young girl's tears.
Six years ago all he'd had to do was send her that crooked smile across the cab of his truck and her heart would do the same slow turn it just had.
Sarah put the brakes on those silly, schoolgirl thoughts. She was older now. Wiser. Harder. She had left Riverbend with tears in her eyes because of this man. Now, after all this time, just seeing him could bring forth feelings she thought she had reconciled into her past.
And then, thankfully, his mouth lifted in a faintly cynical smile negating the connection.
"Sarah Westerveld. So you've come back west." The tone in his voice was cooler than the freezing air.
"Hello, Logan," she said quietly. In a town as small as Riverbend, this first meeting was inevitable. She just hadn't counted on it being five minutes after her arrival.
"You remembered who I am." He lifted one eyebrow in a mocking gesture. "I'm surprised."
His tone cut. But life and time away from Riverbend had changed her. She wasn't the girl who longed for his approval. Needed his smile.
"I was sorry to hear about your father's death." She had stayed in touch with her friends and family here, so she knew.
Copyright © 2007 by Carolyne Aarsen.