A Love Reunited
Councilman Jake Talford is determined to protect his small Arizona town. Even if that means keeping a close eye on former sweetheart Macy Colston. Macy has come to Canyon Springs to get the scoop for her popular blog Hometowns with Heart. The rest of the town council hopes it will bring in the tourists. But Jake's worried she'll turn local gossip into public scandal. He and Macy once shared dreams of a future together. Now it's up to Jake to make her see what's most important in life—love, faith and truth.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Glynna Kaye treasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns, and vacations spent with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to family gatherings where they shared hours of what they called “windjammers”—candid, heartwarming, poignant and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood. Glynna now lives in Arizona, and when she isn’t writing she’s gardening and enjoying photography and the great outdoors.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Now he'd done it. He'd unthinkingly stuck his nose smack into Macy Colston's business. The last thing he had any intention of doing.
Standing next to the high-backed booth at Kit's Lodge and Restaurant, Jake Talford stared down at Macy's upturned face, barely noticing the teenage girl seated across from her who slipped from the booth and headed to the door, no doubt cowed by his stern expression.
In spite of himself, he hungrily searched Macy's delicate, winsome features. The flawless skin he knew to be satiny smooth under his fingertips. The subtle blush caressing high cheekbones. Expressive green eyes. But what was he searching for? Evidence that the still-appealing countenance no longer masked the relentless ambition he'd come to know too well?
"Macy," he said with a nod of acknowledgment, keeping his voice low. His heart hitched as he hurtled back in time six years to when he'd last seen the aspiring journalist. Back to the pain that had all but cracked open his heart—just like the ring box he'd flung across the room that day.
Her eyes narrowed slightly, but he didn't miss the fleeting alarm that shot through them. She wasn't any happier to see him than he was to see her.
"What are you doing in Canyon Springs, Jake?" Her soft, well-remembered voice held an edge, almost as if she suspected he'd stalked her to this small Arizona mountain community.
"I live here." He raised a brow at her blank look. "Surprised? Slacking on research isn't your customary style."
Her long-lashed eyes not leaving his, she licked her lower lip in an almost nervous gesture. His grip tightened on the Windbreaker jacket fisted in his hand. Macy? Nervous? Since when?
"I thought you were from Phoenix."
"Born there. Didn't stay there." But he didn't intend to rehash his history now. He motioned to the empty seat across from her. "Your friend is gone. Does that mean you're finished here?"
"Good." Even though the Saturday lunchtime crowd was relatively sparse this time of year, he didn't care to have an audience for the conversation they needed to have. He dropped a twenty next to her coffee mug. "Then let's take this elsewhere, shall we?"
For a moment she hesitated, as if she feared leaving the rustic restaurant's dining room might not be a wise move. Then with a toss of her long, honey-blond hair she cast him a self-assured smile and gracefully rose. With a swirl of her floral sundress, she preceded him to the lobby. He moved to hold open the door and together they stepped onto the wooden-planked front porch. A bitter wind and a flurry of snowflakes greeted them.
April in the high country.
He took a step toward the parking lot. "My SUV's this way."
She didn't budge. "Where are we going?"
"Where the whole town won't hear what I have to say."
An amused half smile surfaced, reminding him of the many times he'd deliberately said and done things to provoke it, an excuse to kiss it from her lips. What a fool he'd been.
"In case you haven't noticed, Jake, I'm not wearing boots."
He glanced down at sandaled feet peeping from beneath the flowing cotton sundress, then shook his head.
"When I left Phoenix this morning," she enlightened him, "it was to be an eighty degree day. While your chamber of commerce sang the praises of a four season, higher-than-Denver elevation, nobody breathed a word about packing a parka and mukluks in April."
He thrust his Windbreaker into her hands. "Put this on. Then wait here. I'll get the truck."
Aware of her sharp gaze focused on his back, he strode across the graveled parking lot, two inches of snow crunching under his Western boots. He thrust his hand into his trou-ser pocket, searching for the miniature cross that had once been his grandfather's. He'd taken to carrying it as Granddad had, finding that the sensation of the smooth, seashell surface sliding between his fingers somehow grounded him. It reminded him not only that God was in control, but that he needed to measure up to the example his grandfather had set for him. And that meant not letting his temper get the better of him.
It was bound to happen, though, this running into Macy. He'd known she was expected, and in a town with a population of just under three thousand, he wouldn't have been able to avoid her forever. But on her first day of a monthlong assignment while he was dining with a client? He hadn't been ready for that.
He should have had the foresight to contact Macy in private before her arrival. Truth be told, he hadn't been thinking proactively, only hoped she'd get in and out of town before she even knew he called Canyon Springs home.
So much for that strategy.
Jake climbed into his vehicle and glanced back at the two-story log cabin lodge. Macy, chin lifted obstinately, still stood on the porch, his jacket folded primly in her crossed arms. He had to hand it to her for not turning on a dainty heel and marching back into the building after he'd almost strong-armed her from it. But then, she always had gumption.
Memory flashed to the day they'd first met. She'd stood almost exactly like that at a Missouri estate sale, the spark in her beautiful eyes daring him to outbid her. Even though he hadn't cared about the chair, he'd dragged the bidding out as long as he could, wanting to keep her attention on him A practicing attorney's funds trumped the ponytailed un-dergrad's budget. But when immediately afterward he'd offered to sell the antique office chair to her for a dollar, she'd given him a sassy grin and said she wasn't interested in the chair.. just the bidder.
Pushing the memory away, he grabbed the leather briefcase and loose papers from the passenger side bucket seat and tossed them in the back, then started the SUV. With the windshield wipers in motion, he glanced again in Macy's direction.
"Lord," he muttered under his breath. "What are You thinking bringing her here?"
Sitting in the high-backed booth directly behind her a short while ago, their backs to each other, he'd recognized her voice before he'd seen her. When his client departed he remained frozen in place, lingering to listen to her interactions with those around her. As a professional blogger with the popular site Hometowns With Heart, Macy had an uncanny knack for ferreting out tasty personal tidbits to liven up her posts. She had put those skills to good use today. But this was his town. His people. He wouldn't allow her to take advantage of them for the sake of boosting her blog's popularity.
"Give me the right words. I don't want to start a war."
When he pulled the SUV to a stop in front of the lodge, Macy stepped forward as if impervious to the snow and whipping wind. Once inside, she shut the door, laid her purse on her lap and fastened her seat belt. Then she carefully placed his unused jacket on the console between them.
He bumped up the heat a notch, knowing she'd never ask him to, then drove toward the parking lot's exit and down the wet, hard-topped street. Casey Lake seemed a suitable destination. Or he'd drive clear to Albuquerque if that's what it took to make the situation clear to her.
But why'd she have to smell so good? Fresh. Citrusy. Just as he remembered.
"So what's on your mind, Jake?"
He remembered that, as well. Even at twenty-two she'd been direct. Confident. Not easily cowed. Not that he wanted to intimidate her now, just get her to understand—and agree—that breaking confidences shared by community residents was outside the boundaries of her invitation to feature Canyon Springs in her blog.
A quick glance in her direction confirmed that the initial signs of nervousness when he'd caught her off guard had vanished. Her countenance, even lovelier than it had been years ago, remained unruffled. Reminding himself not to get distracted, he tightened his hands on the steering wheel.
"I managed to keep out of it when your waitress related the story of her courtship. It might not be something her husband would want broadcast, but it's nothing the town doesn't already know."
Macy shifted in her seat, but didn't interrupt.
"And Reuben Falkner," he continued as they passed by towering ponderosa pines dusted with snow, "he can be a cantankerous old guy, so as far as I'm concerned, he's on his own. But when sweet, notoriously naive Chloe Bancroft started to shoot off her mouth about her equally sweet and notoriously naive stepmother, well—" Macy gave a soft gasp.
"Are you suggesting I set her up to disclose private family matters to share in my blog?"
"You led her down a breadcrumb-strewn path," he said, keeping his tone firm. "Skillfully, I might add. You haven't lost your touch."
Her lips tightened. "I never set you up, Jake."
Still sticking to that lame story, was she?
"Ah, Macy..." He shook his head, unable to resist a bitter smile. "A song so sweet each time I hear it played—but nevertheless no more convincing today than it was years ago."
She pressed her now ramrod-straight back against the leather seat and stared out the side window. "Then take me back to Kit's Lodge, please. I have nothing more to say to you."
"Good." He nodded agreeably. "Then I can talk and you can listen."
He turned the SUV onto the highway and pressed his foot on the accelerator. "I've been reading your blog since last November, ever since the city council and chamber of commerce first decided to storm the gates for inclusion."
She continued to gaze out the window, refusing to acknowledge his comment, so he continued. "It's well done. Entertaining. I can see why it's become popular."
Only the blast of the heater fan and the rhythmic squeak of windshield wipers slapping away the lightly falling snow filled the silence that followed his words.
"But...after reviewing years of archived posts, it became clear that the content, the tone, has changed over time. It's become bolder. More provocative. Tackling issues at a deeper level. If that's what it takes to drive more traffic to your site then that's your business. However—"
She whipped toward him, fire in her eyes. "However what?"
How well he remembered that look. That spunk. He'd been drawn to it. Delighted in it. But he'd learned his lesson the hard way.
"This is my home." He spoke with deliberate restraint, recognizing he'd started off all wrong. He'd riled her up too much and now she was ready for a fight. But that wasn't what he wanted. He needed her cooperation, not opposition. "The people you're trying to extract stories from are my friends and neighbors."
"They aren't accustomed to dealing with the media. For the most part they're open, transparent and trusting. They don't realize the blog's tasty morsels of thinly veiled gossip and tongue-in-cheek humor might hurt or embarrass them and their loved ones when it's their own personal lives spotlighted on the web."
"So, what are you?" She seasoned her words with an unconvincing sweetness of tone. "The town's official media cop?"
"I'm an elected official." He reached out to cut back the heat. It was sweltering in here now—or was that just him getting hot under the collar? "A city councilman. I represent these people."
He deliberately didn't mention this was also a critical time for his own future. Even though he'd only been on the council a year, he hoped to be appointed to the vice mayor position left vacant last week when Parker Benedict stepped down for health reasons. He stood a chance, but he knew it was a long shot. He didn't need a past shared with Macy Colston interfering with his prospects.
To his annoyance, her sudden lilting laugh unexpectedly warmed his heart, leaving him aching to hear more.
"Well, hello, Mr. Councilman." She tilted her head, eyes now dancing. "You yourself said the city council decided to bring me here. Remember? You chose to compete with hundreds and hundreds of other small towns."
Caught off guard by her captivating smile, he studied her a long moment, their history momentarily forgotten. After all this time here she sat right next to him, every bit as alive and vibrant as he remembered. He had only to reach out and.
He drew a steadying breath, eyes again riveted on the road. "I voted against it."
Of course he had.
Still reeling from the shock of finding Jake in Canyon Springs, Macy stared at his solemn, rugged profile and desperately wished the rest of the council had sided with him. She'd looked forward to this trip, to the opportunity it held for her blog, for her future. But now she wanted to be anywhere except sitting next to him, knowing he still didn't understand her or her dreams. Her goals. He didn't want to understand.
He still believed she'd deliberately used both him and his accountant friend who'd told him of questionable practices where his friend worked. Jake's harsh accusations from when she'd run with the story still rang in her ears. Selfish ambition. Unworthy of trust. Betrayal.
She forced herself to maintain what she hoped was a pert smile, one that didn't reveal the pain twisting in her heart. "Nevertheless, your town went all out to get me here with a convincing campaign."
A muscle tightened in his jaw. "I'm aware of that."
"So are you suggesting I let them down? Pack up and move on to the next town on my schedule?"
No doubt that's exactly what he'd like. She could see it clearly written all over him, from the top of his dark brown, sun-streaked hair to the tips of his well-oiled Western boots. Was it the same pair she teased him about the first day they'd met? She brushed the thought away, refusing to get sucked into memories of the past. She could see the resolve to be rid of her in the grim set of his mouth, the rigidity of his broad shoulders and the strong, steady hands clenching the steering wheel.
Half a dozen years had passed, but time had only lent him a stronger aura of unbending determination. Had she, years ago, only wishfully imagined she'd coaxed out a softer, more playful side? Nevertheless, he was still a handsome, appealing man who surprisingly didn't yet sport a wedding band. She kicked herself for noticing.
"I'm only asking," he continued, "that you remember these are real people with real lives. They aren't celebrities striving to catch the world's eye."
"But isn't that why the town competed to have me come here? So the community can catch the world's eye?" Her lips twitched in an amusement that belied the tightness in her throat. "Don't think for a moment I'm unaware my blog has become a significant promotional tool for small towns across the country. Everywhere I go puts forgotten little places in the limelight, increasing tourism and drawing business. You think I'm using people to promote my blog, but maybe I'm the one being used."
Jake chuckled, but she sensed he didn't share her perspective. "All I'm asking is that you not exploit anyone for your own purposes. I think you owe me that."
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Love Inspired, 2013. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0373817185
Book Description Love Inspired, 2013. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110373817185