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. Shaun Thiesen's jealous nature and quick temper drove his wife Patience away. Since then he's been through counseling with Pastor Isaac and gotten involved with the church. Now he's just waiting for his second chance. When he learns Patience is visiting her parents for Thanksgiving, he thinks this may be it. In only a few precious days he has to win back his wife, and suddenly the stakes are raised when Patience tells him he's going to be a father. Can Shaun show convince her they deserve a second chance?
Misty bustled about her kitchen, happily making supper for her fiancé. My fiancé; she relished those words. At fifty, she’d long ago given up hope of ever being able to say them, not because she hadn’t had opportunity when she was younger. She’d known that none of the men she’d dated could hold her heart.
Perry had been worth the wait. He may seem like just a fifty-something, balding, divorced handyman to everyone else in Orchard Hill, but to her, he was Prince Charming.
There was a knock at her back door, and Perry came in before she could answer it. “Hi Misty. Am I late?”
“No, you’re just on time,” she said as she emptied the rice from the steamer. “Give me a kiss and have a seat.”
Perry followed both her directions, and when they were settled and had said grace, he opened their dinner conversation with “I have some news.”
“Really? What is it?”
“I found a job today. A steady job with benefits, not just a handyman request.”
Misty squealed with delight. “Why didn’t you tell me right away?”
Perry gave her that smile that made him look like a schoolboy. “Because I knew dinner would be delayed, and it smelled too good to wait.”
There were not a whole lot of men in Orchard Hill who embraced Misty’s health conscious style of cooking. Perry’s compliment warmed her heart. “Oh, you sweet talker.” She tried to brush the compliment aside, but she was sure he could see how much it meant to her. “Tell me about the job.”
“I’d be a supervisor for one of the crews that’s working to put up a new subdivision.”
“Oh, that sounds great. But what about after the subdivision is built?”
“It’s a big company. They assured me there would always be work.”
“Perry Parker, I’m so proud of you. I knew it was just a matter of time before you were back on your feet work-wise.”
“Thanks, hon. Your encouragement kept me going.”
They ate in silence for a bit before Perry laid down his fork, his plate still half full. “There’s more.”
Misty laid down her own fork, sensing that this was important. “Go on.”
“The job is in the Madison area. We’d have to move.”
Misty stared at him. Move away from Orchard Hill? Could she do that? Her life was here, her business. She’d worked so hard with the church choir. There was no way she could leave.
Perry watched her with evident concern, no doubt guessing some of what was in her mind. “I can tell them ‘no’ if you’d rather. I’ve been doing all right as a handyman.”
And then she knew. She’d follow this man anywhere. She was getting married at fifty. Why not start a whole new life together while they were at it?
“Of course you’re not going to turn them down. I was just thinking of what I had to do to close my store.” Misty was the owner of The Green Scene, a health food store. “The name won’t fit after we’re married anyway. I’ll be Misty Parker, not Misty Green.”
Perry reached across the table and took her hand. “I can’t wait.”
But this did complicate things. Now she’d have a move to plan on top of making one more match before the year was over. There was no way she was going to let Pansy Parker win their matchmaking contest, even if the woman was going to be her mother-in-law. She knew exactly whom she wanted to bring together as her last match in Orchard Hill. It was time to roll up her sleeves and get to work.
“The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”
~Psalm 145:14 NIV
Shaun slammed the door behind him with enough force to shake the whole apartment—no the whole building. He left the sound of Patience crying behind, climbed into his truck and backed out of the driveway.
He should be comforting Patience, he knew. In fact, he should be apologizing because he was the one who’d made her cry in the first place—and probably for no reason; but when he’d seen her talking to their neighbor, a ladies’ man if there ever was one…
He knew Patience wasn’t the type to be unfaithful, so he shouldn’t have yelled at her. He shouldn’t have knocked over that table.
Then again, how did you know who was the type to stray? He hadn’t thought his mother was the type, and look how that had turned out? The memory of his mother’s betrayal made Shaun’s head pound. He couldn’t believe it when she’d told him she was leaving his father. Well, that part he could believe. His dad wasn’t exactly the ideal husband, but Shaun was sure he’d always been faithful. His mother was leaving so she could move in with her boyfriend, a man she’d admitting seeing for years.
Shaun’s world had shattered on that day. The woman who represented stability and home had been lying to him for a long time. He knew the anger that he struggled with was hurting him, and hurting Patience as well. He wanted to let go of it, but somehow it wouldn’t let go of him.
He found himself pulling up in front of his folks’ home—his father’s home now, he reminded himself. The white clapboard farmhouse where he’d grown up seemed somehow older and sadder since his mother left it. The house was dark. Shaun found his father in the shed, working on one of the ancient tractors. “Hey Dad,” he called in greeting.
Shaun was not surprised to find him out in the shed working this late at night. His father believed hard work was the answer to everything. Alcohol, drugs, gambling and even church were all crutches in his father’s eyes. The only way to overcome one’s problems was through hard work. Funny he hadn’t realized how unsuccessful that had been for solving his own problems.
His father looked up when he came in, grabbed a rag he had in his back pocket and wiped his hands. “What are you doing here?” There was no warmth in his voice. No indication that he was glad to see his son.
“I came to check on you, see that you’re all right.”
“So, I can’t take care of myself these days? You think I’m helpless without her?”
“Well, you can quit wasting your time. I don’t need anything from you.”
The harsh words cut Shaun. He was used to criticism and negativity from his father, but not this open hostility. “All right. Can’t I just stop in to say ‘hi’?”
“Cut the act. I know you always liked her better than me. That hasn’t changed overnight.”
“No…but you’re still my Dad.”
“Am I? Maybe that’s the reason you always got along better with her than with me. Maybe I’m not your real father.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying maybe this Ellis guy wasn’t her first boyfriend. How do I even know you’re my kid?”
Shaun didn’t know what to say. How did you answer something like that?
“So you don’t have to worry about me anymore. Chances are you aren’t mine anyway.”
“Dad, you don’t mean that.”
“Don’t I? Well I mean this. Get out of here, and don’t come back. You aren’t my son anymore. I don’t want you here.” He turned back to his tools and resumed work on the tractor.
Shaun backed away and left without another word. He and his father had never been close. But to hear the man actually disown him, that was harsh, and it hurt.