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|Orchard Hill Residents - lock up your hearts! Pansy Parker and Misty Green are rivals in romance. Each believes she is the town's best matchmaker. Now, they're going to settle the question for once and for all. They're keeping track to see who can make the most matches in a year's time. No heart is safe in Orchard Hill - not even their own. No one in his right mind would want to date salon owner Lily Robinson. Since her messy divorce, she has a chip on her shoulder the size of Mt. Rushmore. However, veterinarian Ian O'Neil can't help considering Lily as a potential girlfriend, even though, she is determined not to let any one get close enough to hurt her again... But, with Easter coming, Lily is reminded that the Lord makes all things new, and she wonders if that includes her shattered heart. With Ian's help, can she learn to trust again?|
In Stock: 99
Author: ( Kara Lynn Russell )
Pansy Parker surveyed the disaster area that was her kitchen. When sheād left this morning, it had been pristine. Sheād washed the cup, spoon and cereal bowl sheād used, and then put them away before leaving for work. While she was gone, it seemed there had been a tornado in her kitchen.
The sink was filled with dishes. The counter had crumbs scattered across it, and the refrigerator was decorated with greasy smudges.
āHeās one person,ā she muttered as she grabbed a dish cloth and began wiping the counters. āHow much mess can one person make in just a few hours.ā
āHi Mom,ā Perry said striding into the kitchen. āDonāt worry about that. Iāll clean it up later. I made a cake for after supper tonight.ā
āThatās very thoughtful of you,ā Pansy said, trying to dredge up appreciation. What were the two of them going to do with a whole cake! Especially one that was made with the whole wheat unbleached flour that Perry had brought home from the grocery store yesterday.
He had the classified section of the newspaper in his hand. No doubt the rest of the paper was scattered across her sofa. āAny luck in finding a job today?ā
Perry sighed. āNo. But, I thought maybe Iād take out my own ad. See if anyone needs a handyman. It doesnāt seem like there are any construction companies hiring now.ā
Great. Heād never earn enough money as a handyman to get his own place. āI suppose you have to start somewhere, dear.ā
āItās a long way from being a construction site foreman, but I guess I canāt afford to be choosy.ā
āPerry, dear, I donāt know why you quit your job in the first place.ā
āI needed a fresh start, Ma. I just had to put everything behind me.ā
āLots of people get divorces, and they donāt quit their jobs and move in with their mothers.ā
āI donāt have to stay here if you donāt want me. I have a little money saved up. It could see me through until I get on my feet. I could be out by the end of the week. Just say the word,ā Perry said, and the worst part was, she knew he meant it. He was a good boy, after all.
Pansy forced a smile on her face. āOf course I want you here. I just feel bad for all that you lost.ā
Perry rubbed his forehead. āIt was my own fault. I quit paying attention to Jean a long time ago. If I hadnāt, none of this would have happened.ā
āDo you miss her?ā As annoying as living with Perry was, she did love him.
āThatās sort of the worst part,ā he admitted. āI donāt miss her. It just tells me how far apart we drifted before she found her new āMr. Right.ā If I ever get married again, Iāll do things differently.ā
āGet married again? Do you think you will?ā
Perry laughed. āIām fifty-three years old; I have more forehead than hair and no place to call my own. I donāt think itās going to happen, Ma.ā
An idea sparked in Pansyās head. āYou never know, dear,ā she said. Sheād find a match for Perry and count it toward the challenge. But who to match him up with? Sheād have to think about it. Sheād find someone by the time she finished with her current projectāLily Robinson and Ian OāNeil.
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heavenā¦a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to danceā¦
āEcclesiastes 3: 1 & 4
She was dancing. A soft, slow song was playing and someoneās arms were around her. Lily looked up and saw his face. It was Ian OāNeil. She knew it would be. The dream was always the sameāshe and Ian dancing together at the New Yearās Eve dance.
That part had actually happened. Lily had avoided things like dances and parties since sheād moved to Orchard Hill, but sheād gone to the New Yearās Eve dance for Grace, her best friend. Grace had been jilted by her fiancĆ© not a month before. Lily thought going out would be good for her.
At the dance, Grace had ended up with longtime friend Riley OāNeil and Lily, not wanting to intrude, had asked Rileyās brother Ian to dance. A dance was nothing, she figured. She could handle it.
Wrong, wrong, wrong! From the moment Ian had pulled her close, he made her feel specialācherished. That was why she had to avoid him now. Because those were the kind of feelings that led to dependence on someone, and Lily had learned it was better to only depend on yourself.
Sheād succeeded fairly well in avoiding Ian in real life but not in her dreams. In her dreams, they danced every night. His arms held her tight, and she rested her cheek against his broad chest where she could feel the steady beat of his heart. Then the music would fade away, but Ian would still hold her to him. Sheād look up, and his green eyes would gaze back at her through his gold rimmed glasses. Heād lower his head and her eyes would drift shut waiting for his kissā¦
And thatās where the dream ended every time.
The stupid dream had kept Lily tossing and turning all night. When she finally drifted off, Lily slept so soundly she didnāt hear the alarm. She came awake some time later, noting the beams of light shining through her curtains. She rolled over to check her clock: 8:30! Lily threw off the covers and jumped out of bed. She was going to be late for church.
After a quick shower, she dressed and dried her hair. Even though she ran a beauty salon, and knew how to do all sorts of complicated hair styles, Lily was glad she kept her own dark hair in a simple layered cut. It was easy to deal with on mornings like this. She grabbed a granola bar and was out the door of her small apartment which sat over her shop, Gilding by Lily. It was small but at least it was included in the rent she paid for the shop. She had to watch her pennies.
The Orchard Hill Community Church was only a few blocks from her shop. Lily walked there as quickly as she could in heels and a straight skirt. She hurried into the narthex, grabbed a bulletin and slipped into the sanctuary. The congregation was already singing the opening hymn. No time to look for Grace. Luckily there was an empty spot near the back.
As she slid into the pew, Lily noticed with annoyance that she was sitting directly behind Ian OāNeil. Just great.
The hymn ended, and Pastor Isaac began to speak. Lily forced her mind away from Ian and onto the service. Her willpower was successful; she managed to forget about the man in front of her by concentrating on the words and music of worship, untilā¦
It was time for the passing of the peace. Everyone rose and exchanged handshakes or hugs with those around them. Lily shook the hand of the person to the right, and then turned to greet the people behind her. When she turned toward the front again, there was Ian holding out his hand to her.
Lily felt her smile freeze upon her face. She couldnāt let him see how she felt about him. She steeled herself for the warmth of his touch when his much larger hand enveloped hers.
āPeace be with you,ā said Ian solemnly.
āGodās peace,ā Lily mumbled back. There. That wasnāt so bad. She could handle Dr. Ian OāNeil. With a jolt, Lily realized that everyone was sitting down, and she was still standing there holding Ianās hand.
She snatched her hand from his grasp and sat down quickly, glad she wasnāt prone to blushing. If she were, sheād be beet red right now. As Ian also turned to sit, she noticed a small smile of satisfaction on his lips. It took all her self control to keep from kicking him under the pew.
At the close of worship, Pastor Isaac reminded everyone of the coffee hour to be held in the fellowship hall, and then he said āIāve been told that Riley OāNeil and Grace Randall have an announcement to make.ā
Lily watched as Grace and Riley stood up, holding hands. Riley cleared his throat. āGrace and I would like to announceā¦ā
āThat weāre getting married,ā finished Grace. Riley held up her left hand so everyone could see the sparkling ring she was now wearing. Applause broke out, and those nearest the happy couple offered hugs and hands to shake. Then the organist began to play the postlude hymn and people started gathering their things and filing out of the sanctuary.
Lily sat there, stunned. She had no idea things were that serious between Riley and Grace. Theyād been dating a little less than two months.
āDid you know about this?ā
Looking up, she saw Ian standing there, towering over her.
āI had no idea.ā Lily grabbed her purse and stood. āI guess Iād better go congratulate them.ā
āGood idea. Iāll go with you.ā
She stifled a groan, but didnāt protest, not even when he took her arm to help steer her through the throng. In the fellowship hall, there was already a crowd of well-wishers surrounding Grace and Riley. Lily and Ian hung back until most of them had moved away. Then, Lily approached first, holding out her arms to hug her friend.
āI canāt believe this,ā she told Grace as they embraced. āYouāve been dating such a short time.ā
āYes, but weāve known each other all our lives,ā Grace explained. āSo it didnāt take us long to make up our minds, I guess.ā
āOnce I got her to consider me at all,ā added Riley, hinting at Graceās initial reluctance to date him for fear of ruining their friendship.
āCongratulations,ā said Ian, offering his hand to his brother. āI think you guys are perfect for each other.ā
Then, he turned to Grace and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. āIf I have to have another sister, Iām glad itās you.ā
āThank you Ian. It wonāt be so bad having you for a brother.ā
Reluctantly, Lily turned to Riley while Grace and Ian exchanged their good wishes. āCongratulations, Riley.ā
āThank you Lily,ā he answered. āAnd donāt worry, Iāll take good care of Grace.ā
She forced a smile. āI know you will.ā
āBut youāre not happy about this.ā
How could he tell? āIām just surprised, thatās all.ā
āHey, you two,ā Grace broke in. āCome to brunch with us. We want to talk to you.
Kara Lynn Russell at a glance:
ā¢ Married to a guy who puts the happy in my ever after.
ā¢ Mother of four (and still mostly sane)
ā¢ Live in a small Wisconsin town in the heart of dairy country.
ā¢ Currently work at the local public library. I got into library work by hanging around until they decided to put me to work.
ā¢ I love reading genre books: romance, fantasy, and mysteries. I have a special fondness for those with a Christian slant.
ā¢ I write romance and children's stories ā¢ I love making lists ā¢ Best motivation to write: Avoiding housework!
Visit Kara Lynn at karalynnrussell.googlepages.com
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