When his sister dies in a tragic accident, crime-beat reporter and author Cade Magnusen becomes father, mother, and uncle to his four-year-old niece Gracie. Bitter over the loss, Cade can no longer stomach chasing the true crime stories that elevated him to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. When he hears of an opening for a community events reporter at the Angel Falls Trumpet, Cade grabs the chance to relocate to the quiet community of Heart’s Haven.
Emmy Lassiter loves ice cream—and children. Unfortunately, an accident has rendered her barren. She hides her grief at Babycakes, where she shares her love of sweets. The only mystery in Emmy’s life—beside the uncertainty over her future with a family—is what brought new Heart’s Haven neighbor, Cade Magnusen, to Angel Falls.
When Cade drops by Babycakes to collect a feature story for the Trumpet, he and Emmy feel a quick and powerful connection. Can the pair trust God to move them from the past into a sweet and fulfilling future?
Hearts Haven Babies
Cade Magnuson dumped a pair of duffel bags on the sofa and rounded the coffee table. Thank God the cottage here at Heart’s Haven had come furnished. The fact took a bit of the sting out of the whole cross-country move he and Gracie had just endured. It wasn’t as if he’d amassed a ton of furniture over the past few years of living alone in his bachelor loft in downtown Manhattan. The only pieces he’d had shipped from there were Gracie’s twin bed and matching dresser. He figured his niece would fare better if she had at least a handful of things that stood familiar.
The bed and dresser must have been delivered to the cottage earlier in the day because a quick stroll through the modest rooms proved Gracie would have a soft and, at least, somewhat familiar place to sleep tonight. Vivian Hart had even taken the time to cover the twin mattress set in the castle-themed bedframe with pink sheets and had added a matching comforter. The kindhearted matron of the Heart’s Haven complex had proven herself an angel; Gracie’s squeals of delight at her first glimpse of the bed told the story. It may very well take Cade’s eardrums the better part of the next decade to recover.
The rest of Gracie’s stuff—picture books and toys and a few boxes of clothing—stood stacked along the wall of the living room along with several crates of Cade’s books and essentials. He’d tackle the task of unpacking and organizing it all tomorrow. This evening, he desired only to coax the ache from his back, compliments of hours plastered to the driver’s seat of his SUV while he battled interstate traffic, and drink in all the life-changing events of the past several months.
He was a “dad” now, if not in name, then certainly by a matter of recent circumstances. Gracie had become his sole responsibility, like it or not. The fact that he’d adapted so well to the sudden realization that he’d received full guardianship of his niece proved a blessing. The added fact that Gracie also seemed to have adjusted to the new living arrangement went far beyond that…to a true-and-true miracle.
Cade had no doubt that God was at work in their lives. What—or Who—else could account for this crazy leap of faith as he dragged Gracie clear across the country from the concrete jungle of New York City to lush, open landscapes skirting the Angelina Forest of Texas? The unexpected yet welcomed call from his long-time friend, Dylan Jones, about a job opening here in Angel Falls had set things into motion and now, like a Concorde jet boosted through take-off, the rest quickly shifted into play.
Cade would officially step into his new position at the Angel Falls Trumpet in only a matter of days, and Gracie was already pre-enrolled at a part-time Mother’s Day Out program at Angel Falls Community Church that Dylan’s wife, Traci, suggested with a huge stamp of approval.
“Gracie will love it there, Cade,” she’d gushed. “Kaci Calvert volunteers there during her summer vacation from teaching English at Angel Falls High School, which is only a month or so away, and she takes all three of her kids along with her. Gracie will have plenty of new playmates. It’s a winner.”
Cade sure hoped Traci was right. He felt a slight stab of guilt at the thought of leaving Gracie in the hands of virtual strangers after all the recent changes in her young life. He eased his conscience by reminding himself that they still had nearly a week of explore-time here in Angel Falls until she’d begin the program, and then she’d attend merely three days a week and for only a handful of hours each day while he scouted stories for the “Community Events” column of the Trumpet. The bulk of his work could be completed at home on his laptop, and, if all went as planned, Gracie would have at least a few new friends before she began kindergarten here in the fall.
The scent of lemon drifted as Cade turned his attention to the next room of the cozy yet spacious cottage. Someone—most likely Vivian Hart herself—had taken care to make the place shine. The polished wood floor whispered beneath Cade’s tennis shoes as he moved toward the kitchen. The space was light and inviting with its polished stainless steel appliances and warm-oak cabinets. He tugged on the door of a cabinet to the right of the sink and groaned as an empty, cavernous mouth gaped back at him. A peek into the fridge proved it to be much the same—empty save for a carton of stick butter, a package of American cheese slices, and a half-gallon of milk. The items had most likely been left by the former occupant. Odd that Miss Vivian would have overlooked them. Cade snatched up the milk carton and checked the date. No, the contents were fresh—and unopened. So were the cheese and the butter. Someone had taken the time to stock a few groceries for him and Gracie, but who was the kind-hearted soul?
As Cade turned, his gaze shifted to an oblong, wooden dining table tucked to one side of the room, complete with four high-backed chairs. A jumbo-sized wicker basket adorned with a cheerful summer-green bow sat like a smile at its center. A small card dangled from the bow by a slight length of string. Cade snatched up the card and read the inscription, written in a series of flowery, blue-inked strokes.
Dearest Cade and Gracie,
Welcome to Heart’s Haven. Here, may you both find a measure of happiness along with a generous sprinkle of love. Enjoy these goodies until you make your way to the grocery store to properly stock the cabinets. I’ll be out of town for the next week or so, but if you need anything, Emmy Lassiter is one of your closest neighbors at cabin four just across the way. You can see her front porch from yours. She put this basket together for you since I have been called away unexpectedly, and I’m certain she’d be happy to answer any questions you or Gracie may have. So don’t hesitate to call on her. I’ve left her number tacked to the bulletin board beside the phone…just in case.
Cade’s throat tightened with gratefulness as he scanned the heartwarming words a second time. What a sweet, thoughtful gesture to help make the cottage feel like home. Mrs. Hart’s kindness seemed to have no bounds, and who, exactly, was this Emmy Lassiter she spoke of? Cade crossed to the cordless wall phone mounted near the doorway, and sure enough, the mysterious woman’s number stared back at him.
Don’t hesitate to call on her.
A voice whispered over Cade’s shoulder, echoing the warm sentiment in Miss Vivian’s note. He turned, but found no one beside him. Cade ran a hand through disheveled hair and then shook his head to silence the murmur as he crossed back to the table and tore through summer-yellow plastic wrapping that covered the basket. Without further hesitation, he riffled through the contents.
How did Vivian Hart, the matriarch of Heart’s Haven complex, know just what snacks he and Gracie liked the most? Or was it the elusive Emmy who had chosen such a kid-friendly array of goodies? There were fruit punch-flavored juice boxes, animal crackers, a cluster of bananas, and a family-sized can of vegetable soup. Small boxes of raisins and suckers in cherry and green-apple flavors nestled alongside jars of chunky peanut butter and grape jelly. Someone—either Miss Vivian or Emmy—had even included a few make-your-own-pizza boxed snacks, which happened to be Gracie’s favorite and could—if Cade stretched the definition just far enough—serve as a lunch or dinner.
And the box of mac and cheese with pasta stamped into alphabet shapes, well…that proved to be the kicker. And it explained the butter and milk that had been furtively stocked in the fridge. He’d like to meet this Emmy Lassiter and give her a big kiss for her kindness; he and Gracie wouldn’t starve tonight.
Because when it came to groceries…Cade hadn’t even considered stopping to shop on the drive in. Good grief, how could he miss that boat? What kind of uncle was he? What sort of father-figure could he ever hope to be? He’d have to step up his game and hop on the grocery-shopping bandwagon first thing in the morning.
Emmy Lassiter is one of your closest neighbors at cabin four just across the way. You can see her front porch from yours.
Again, the words came on the slightest murmur as Cade tore open a packet of the cheese crackers. The breeze rustling through the trees and swirling around the cabin must be playing tricks with his hearing, or that shrilling squeal of Gracie’s really did a number on his ears. He poked a finger into one canal and wiggled.
Don’t hesitate to call on her.
Cade’s gaze drifted through the living room window and across the way. Which cabin was number four? He wasn’t sure of the exact layout of the Heart’s Haven complex, but cabin four couldn’t be far since his was number seven. There was no sign of human movement along the grounds; the air was the only thing that danced, causing the forest beyond to sway in a languid ballet. He’d take the time to investigate the design of the cabins and locate number four in the morning, since a proper thank you to Emmy Lassiter seemed in order.