Five years ago, Emily Mannerson escaped small town living and moved to the big city where nobody knew "Poor little Emily" and her miserable background. Now an attorney, Emily longs for what she left behind...her adopted mother and high-school sweetheart.
Fire Captain Matthew Westerly treasures his small town of Journey Creek and values faith, family, and friendships. When he rescues Emily from a horrific car accident, he's determined to win her back and make up for lost years.
Can a big city girl and a small town boy discover their true treasure? Will they trust God to work a miracle?
“Engine Eleven on scene. Single car accident with a four-story brick building. Engine Eleven has command.” Fire Captain Matthew Westerly spoke into the radio, his voice gruff.
He needed sleep, lots of it, to make up for the snatches he’d caught in between calls last night. Didn’t look like that would happen anytime soon.
He lumbered down from the fire truck, his bunker gear already hot and heavy in this blazing eighty-five-degree morning heat. He rubbed a hand along the back of his neck, massaging the kinks, sweeping his gaze over the destruction caused by the single car.
“Tough week, huh, Captain?”
Matthew blew out a breath, exhaustion seeping through his body. He glanced over at Simpson’s sooty face, still grimy from the kitchen fire they just worked, the scent of smoke clinging to his gear. “Yeah, I’m ready for that vacation. Catching a few rays on the beach sounds pretty good about now.”
Matthew hustled to a burly police officer who was huddled off to the side of the demolished restaurant, interviewing a trio of witnesses—two women and a man, all with aprons dangling from their necks. “Hey Sam. What do we have?”
The officer stepped away from the witnesses. “One of the servers said the old guy came barreling through the front window at a high speed. Has a tanker of a car from back in the eighties.”
Matthew grimaced, the news adding another dagger into his belly after an already full week. “Mr. Granby?”
A relative newcomer to the area, Sam nodded, his dark brows arched. “Yeah. How’d you know?”
“Matches your description. Plus he eats breakfast here every morning. I’ve been wondering when they would take his keys away. Looks like today’s the day.” Matthew shook his head, then keyed the radio. “Command to Eleven-Three. Check the driver of the vehicle.”
He turned his attention back to the officer. “How many people were inside the restaurant?”
“Besides the old man driving the car? Just one. A girl sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant, unconscious. We evacuated everybody except the two victims. Didn’t figure you would want them moved.”
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Matthew nodded and stepped through the opening, not bothering to use the door.
Why couldn’t the girl have sat at the back of the restaurant? Then, they’d only have one injury to deal with this morning. He could end his shift on time. Go home, sleep for two days, before he came back and did it all over again.
Most of the time, Matthew enjoyed his job. But this past week had drained him, sapped all his energy, his motivation.
Four more weeks. After the Pancake Breakfast and the July Fourth festivities, he’d take that vacation. Head southeast and not stop until he found a beach to fling out his lounge chair on the sand. Next to a hotel with a comfortable bed.
Question 1: Matthew enjoyed his job most of the time, but experienced a week that drained him, sapped his energy and motivation. How do you handle times like that in your job?
Question 2: Do you know an older person who shouldn't be driving but is reluctant to relinquish their car keys? How do you handle this?
Question 3: Have you ever ran into an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend? How did you react?
Question 4: Emily escaped small town living and moved into the big city where nobody knew her miserable background. Have you ever felt like moving to escape your past? Does it work?
Question 5: Matthew intended to work out his career in the fire service, just like his dad and two generations before him. Do you experience a sense of pride and commitment in your chosen profession? Why or why not?
Question 6: Journey Creek was not how Emily remembered it. Have you returned to a small town with vivid memories, only to find out that the town, the people, weren't as you remembered? Did the people change? Or was your memory skewed?
Question 7: As a busy lawyer, Emily rarely took time to enjoy festivities. Do you find yourself so busy that you rarely celebrate holidays with family and friends?
Question 8: Matthew recognized that God was working in their lives, helping them see the importance of family and the joining of their hearts and lives together. Can you see God's hand at work in your life?
Question 9: Matthew determined to support Emily in whichever decision she made, to stay or return to Raleigh. Is your significant other supportive of your decisions? Why or why not?
Question 10: Matthew wants a forever with Emily and is willing to move to make that happen. Would you be willing to do the same for someone you love? Why or why not?