Read Hummingbird Lake Online

Authors: Emily March

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #General, #Contemporary Women

Hummingbird Lake

 

S
AGE WATCHED
a tall man dressed in jeans and a blue chambray shirt make his way forward. From her position in the front of the crowd, she noted his long, lean build, wide shoulders, and thick, wavy black hair. When he turned to face the crowd, she saw that he had blue eyes. Striking blue eyes, the color of Hummingbird Lake in summer. His face was a study of sculpted angles and masculine planes that the artist in her itched to sketch. In a tone just shy of miffed, she observed, “So, that’s the great Colt Rafferty, hmm?”

Ali looked at her friend in surprise. “You have a problem with him?”

Sage shrugged. “I’ve never met the man.”

Lori Reese sighed. “Dr. Rafferty is the reason I decided to go to college. I’m hoping all my professors look like him.”

Sarah slung an arm around her daughter’s shoulders and said, “If all your professors look like Colt Rafferty, I’m going to enroll in classes myself.”

Leaning forward, Sarah added to Ali, “Sage has had a stick up her butt about Colt ever since one of his carvings beat one of her paintings for the blue ribbon at the summer arts festival last month.”

 

A
LSO BY
E
MILY
M
ARCH

Angel’s Rest

Hummingbird Lake
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Ballantine Books Mass Market Original

Copyright © 2011 by Geralyn Dawson Williams

Excerpt from
Heartache Falls
copyright © 2011 by Geralyn Dawson Williams

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

This work contains an excerpt from the forthcoming novel
Heartache Falls
by Geralyn Dawson Williams. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

eISBN: 978-0-345-51837-8

Cover illustration: Robert Steele
Cover design: Lynn Andreozzi

www.ballantinebooks.com

v3.1

For Amanda.
Welcome to the madhouse
otherwise known as our family.
We love you!

Contents

Cover

Other Books by This Author

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Acknowledgments

Excerpt from
Heartache Falls

ONE

September

The echo of the gunshot jerked Sage Anderson out of her nightmare. Her eyes flew open. She lay in the darkness, panting, sweating, her heart pounding in fear, her hands clenched into fists.
Oh, God
.

The images. The sounds.
Oh, dear God
.

It was a dream. Just a dream. One of those old, horrible, terrifying nightmares that had haunted her since the events she dreamed about had been her reality.

Slowly the past retreated. Her pulse calmed and her fingers relaxed. At that point, the shivering began, a reaction to both the chill in the room and the aftermath of the dream.

Sage rolled up and reached for the bedclothes she’d kicked off the end of the bed during the dream. This was the first time in months that she’d been plagued by one of these nightmares. She had thought she’d put them behind her.

“I am so totally done with this,” she said aloud as she yanked up the sheet, tugged up the comforter, and fished for her discarded socks at the bottom of the bed. When she finally cuddled beneath goose down and Egyptian cotton, she turned her head into the pillow and tried to cry.

She badly wanted to succeed in the effort, to sob and
wail and release these vicious emotions churning inside her. As usual, the tears wouldn’t come. In the past few years she’d managed to find catharsis in tears only a handful of times.

When her eyes remained stubbornly dry and the possibility of sleep appeared completely beyond reach, she focused her attention on more pleasant thoughts. She thought about weddings. Her best friend’s wedding. Well, one of her best friends, anyway.

Yesterday Nic Callahan had returned to town and reconciled with her husband. They planned to reaffirm their wedding vows at St. Stephen’s church later this morning prior to the grand opening celebration for Angel’s Rest, Celeste Blessing’s healing center and spa. Sage was thrilled for Nic and Gabe. She was pleased for Celeste and excited for Eternity Springs. Today promised to be a lovely day.

And I’m not going to let a bad dream ruin it
.

With that determined thought uppermost in her mind, she glanced at the bedside clock, where 4:07 glowed in red numerals. Today promised to be a lovely day—and a long one, she realized with an inner sigh. She knew she wouldn’t get back to sleep at this point.

Sage sat up and took stock of her options. She could read or watch TV or surf the Net. She could catch up on paperwork or tackle the painting she’d begun yesterday for her upcoming show in Fort Worth. Except she wasn’t in the mood for the first three, and she needed to let that painting sit for a few days. Something wasn’t working with it, and experience had taught her that walking away for a day or two almost always helped her figure out the fix.

Her thoughts returned to the wedding, and at that point she knew what she wanted to do. She’d grab a new canvas and see if she could create a gift for Gabe
and Nic to mark their special day. She’d do something simple, but light and bright and beautiful.

“Perfect.” She blew out a breath, rolled out of bed, and headed for the studio she’d set up in the cottage’s second bedroom. This was what she needed now—something positive to think about, a task to take her out of the shadows and away from the pain and the past.

In the studio, she placed a blank canvas on her easel and studied it, opening her mind to inspiration. She shied away from one image that hovered in her head, a leftover from her nightmare. Instead, she thought about Nic and Gabe and the obstacles they’d overcome while finding their way to today. She opened her mind to the promise of their bright and happy future, and inspiration flowed. An idea took shape in her imagination. She picked up her paintbrush and went to work. When she stepped away from her easel three hours later, she studied the finished painting and smiled. “Good job, Anderson.”

She had managed to shake off the lingering ugliness of her dream and create something she knew her friends would treasure. All before breakfast. “Not a bad start for the day.”

She showered and dressed and had just decided to toast a bagel when, to her surprise, someone rapped at her front door. Warily Sage peeked through the window blinds.

Celeste Blessing stood on her front porch, a canvas tote bag in one hand, a relaxed smile upon her face. She had gorgeous silver-gray hair and youthful, sky-blue eyes. This morning she wore a stylish bright red jacket, and gold earrings shaped like angel’s wings dangled from her ears.

Sage relaxed. When she grew up, she wanted to be just like Celeste. The woman was the kindest, friendliest, smartest, and most active senior Sage had ever met. She
rode a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle for fun, watched DVDs of
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
for entertainment, and never missed a Sunday at church or failed to give her opinion about the preacher’s sermon. It had been her idea to turn the Cavanaugh House estate into Angel’s Rest Healing Center and Spa, and construction alone had already proved a boon to the economically depressed town even before today’s official opening.

The townspeople loved Celeste for doing her part in rescuing Eternity Springs. Sage loved Celeste for herself. In many ways, she was the mother and the grandmother Sage had never had.

She opened her door with a smile. “Celeste. What brings you out this way?”

“The Landrys offered their vacation home as an overflow facility for the center, and since we’re packed to the rafters with the grand opening, we’ll need to use it tonight.”

The Landrys were a lovely family from Texas who owned the only other house on Reflection Point, the narrow little peninsula where Sage lived. “I wanted to stop and drop off a little welcome basket,” the older woman continued. “When I saw your light, I decided to come beg a cup of coffee.”

“I’m glad you did. I was about to toast a bagel. Care to join me?”

“Actually …” Celeste held up the tote bag. “I happen to have breakfast fixings with me. Care if I make myself at home in your kitchen?”

Sage blinked. “That’s fine with me, but, with the grand opening, aren’t you swamped?”

“Everything’s under control, and frankly, with all the hustle and bustle, I’m glad to have a few moments of peace and quiet out here at Hummingbird Lake. I have bacon, eggs, a loaf of bread for toast, and a jar of homemade strawberry jam.”

“That sounds much better than a bagel.” Sage eyed the bag appreciatively. “Tell you what. My stovetop is persnickety when it comes to heat regulation. You have to talk to it just right. Why don’t you let me man the frying pan while you handle the toaster?”

Celeste’s blue eyes twinkled. “An excellent plan.”

Sage took the tote bag and led Celeste through the cozy little cottage to the kitchen, where the women went to work. Their conversation centered around the two main events of the day, but when they sat down to eat, Celeste sipped her coffee and introduced a new subject. “How are you feeling, Sage? You look a bit tired.”

She attempted a dodge. “I got up early and painted a gift for Nic and Gabe.”

“That’s nice,” Celeste said. “Although I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted you to miss sleep because of it. This wedding is a last-minute thing, after all.”

“Actually, a nightmare woke me up. I couldn’t get back to sleep.” Sage set down her knife, surprised at herself for admitting the truth. She never talked about the nightmares.

“Oh, you poor thing.” Celeste clucked her tongue. “I’m so sorry. Does that happen often?”

“No, not really.” Sage took a bite of jam-slathered toast and realized that something about Celeste invited confidences. She was simply so easy to talk to. After savoring the flavor of springtime in the jam, she swallowed, sipped her juice, then added, “Since I moved to Eternity Springs, I sleep pretty well. I think the mountain air is magic.”

“Eternity Springs is special,” Celeste agreed. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This valley nurses a special energy that soothes troubled souls—if those souls open their hearts and minds to the possibilities.”

Sage couldn’t argue against it. Heaven knows the town had been working its magic on her these past few
years. She’d been a basket case, running away from life as she knew it, when she literally arrived at a crossroads on a Colorado mountain road and turned left, ending up in Eternity Springs.

She couldn’t explain it to anyone—she couldn’t explain it to herself—but she’d known in her bones that the left turn had been the rightest turn of her life. Call it instinct or intuition or a message from her very own angel, but Sage had understood that she was meant to live and work in Eternity Springs, at least for a little while.

So she’d moved here and made friends here. She’d made a life and a career here. Except for the occasional nightmares and flashbacks, she was happy here.

“Eternity Springs has been good for me. I predict your healing center will be a wild success, Celeste.”

“I completely agree. Those who open themselves up to all that life has to offer here will find great rewards. You remember that, Sage. Now, let me help you with the dishes. Breakfast was simply divine.”

“It did hit the spot. Thank you for providing both the idea and the supplies.”

“You’re very welcome. I’m a big believer in having protein for breakfast, especially since you and I have a packed day ahead of us.”

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