Stunned, confused, Sarah picked up the basket of flowers and followed her. "What's wrong? You didn't seem upset about the condos until I mentioned the carousel." Worse, she had looked disappointed, as if she expected better from her own granddaughter.
"Buildings, shmildings. Go ahead and build whatever you want. But why would you even think about removing that carousel? Don't you realize how important it is to everyone?"
What was her grandmother talking about? "Nobody has even gone over and looked at that thing in twenty years."
"That thing is important and magical."
Sarah could feel the power of conviction behind Olive's words, but that didn't mean she understood where it had come from. "I'm sure it used to be really magical, Grandma," she said gently, "but it's in such a bad state now that I'm afraid it would take a great deal of money to restore it." And there was no way she was going to be able to get the money to do that out of the Klein Group, not when putting in a new boat dock made a whole lot more sense for the town and for the people who would buy the condos.
The set of her grandmother's face was stubborn. "Well, then you'll just need to figure out a way to make it work. Isn't that what you do?"
"I'll talk to the builders," she said, careful not to make any promises she couldn't keep. "But honestly, I doubt they're going to get behind the idea of incorporating the carousel into their plans." She couldn't picture it, couldn't see a way to make it work. Not when the whole point was to move the town forward rather than back into the past.
"It has to work."
"Why is the carousel so important to you? What is so magical about it?"
"Yesterday, when we were in the store, I told you about falling in love with knitting. Do you remember?"
"Of course I do."
"I didn't just fall in love with knitting. I fell in love with Carlos too."
Summer Lake, 1941...
Olive was coming home from a planning meeting for the new exhibit at the Adirondack Museum when she first noticed the man talking to her father.
He had jet-black hair, a little too long, just starting to curl at the base of his neck. He looked strong, his skin was dark, and one more breathless glance told her his eyes were blue with thick, dark lashes.
He was quite simply the most beautiful man she'd ever set eyes on, even in a ratty sweater that was starting to unravel at the wrists and the neckline.
The wind blew colorful leaves down from the trees, but although it was an unseasonably cold fall day, Olive felt overheated.
She guessed the man was one of the jacks of all trades who had come into town to see if anyone had work. The locals had likely sent him to her father, who was building a new wing on their mansion on the water. Though her father was paying these men pennies, they still seemed glad to have the money.
The man suddenly looked at her over her father's shoulder, and a powerful current, a rush of something she didn't understand, passed between them.
Her father shifted, clearly sensing someone behind him. Olive tucked her head down and moved swiftly toward the house. Her mother intercepted her just as she stepped into the kitchen and started taking off her hat and gloves and jacket.
"Oh, there you are, Olive. I was thinking, it's such a cold day, and the men out there are working so hard. Would you mind putting together some sandwiches and hot drinks for them?"
She nodded, responding with a calm, "Of course, Mother," even as her heart raced.
Maybe she would find out his name. Maybe she'd get to speak with him.
Thirty minutes later, the tray of snacks and drinks was ready. Putting her jacket and hat and gloves back on, she headed out of the house and across the wide stretch of grass that led to the construction area. There were usually a half-dozen men working, but there was only one there now.
The beautiful man in the ratty sweater.
A sudden vision came to her of a new sweater, one she would make for him, a complicated Fair Isle made up of blues and whites to pick up the color of his eyes.
She'd been full of anticipation about the chance to see him up close, but now that it was just the two of them, she was nervous, skittish. Normally composed and sure of herself, she was thrown off by her own uncertainty around this stranger.
"Hi." The word sounded squeaky to her ears. She cleared her throat. "You looked cold. I thought I'd bring out some coffee. Some food too, if you're hungry."
She put the tray down on a makeshift table made out of plywood, then stepped back.
His blue eyes darkened for a moment. "Thank you."
She let his low voice rumble through her as she watched him pour himself a cup of coffee. His hands were big, but not rough like a laborer's would be.
Why, she suddenly wondered, was he here doing this work? And where had he come from?
She felt his eyes on her again, just before he said, "You look cold. You should run back inside."
It was true--she was getting cold. But it was the way he'd said "run back inside" that had her stubbornly staying right where she was. She wasn't a little girl in pigtails. She was eighteen years old, old enough to get married and have her own house if she wanted to.
Certainly old enough to carry on a conversation with one of the men working for her father.
Shrugging, she said, "I've spent all day inside. It's nice to be out here. And so beautiful." She looked up at the thick canopy of the maple tree above them. "Look at that tree, at those amazing reds and yellows." She took a deep breath of the sweet, crisp air. "And the air smells so good."
"How long have you lived here?" The slightly rough edge in his voice was tempered by something smooth that whispered over her skin.
"My whole life. Why do you ask?"
"You act like you've never seen your own land before."
Olive's back immediately went up again. First he treated her like a child. Now he was implying that she didn't pay any attention to her surroundings. Worse still, she didn't know how he kept managing to ruffle her feathers--everyone knew she was unruffleable!
"I'm busy with school and helping my mother's charities. There are a lot of needy people out there who need my help. I can't waste my day staring at trees."
"Ah." He nodded, his eyes darkening, his full mouth going taut for a split second. "Charities." But then, as if he was trying to be kind to the poor little rich girl, he looked out over the lake in front of her house and said, "You're right. It really is beautiful." His eyes met hers again. "Almost more beauty than a man can take in."
There was no reason she should think he was talking about anything but the trees and the lake. But for a moment it felt as though he was talking about her.
Not knowing how to deal with a sudden flare of attraction that was so much bigger and brighter than anything she'd ever felt before, even as her cheeks flamed, she found herself admitting, "I really should get out more."
"So what's stopping you?"
That was when something shifted between them. Instead of treating her like a little girl, instead of letting her get away with her previous excuses, this beautiful stranger was forcing her to dig deeper.
And he acted like he cared about her answer.
She shook her head, realizing she didn't have a good answer. "I don't know. It just never fits into my plans, I guess."
"Or maybe," he said softly, his blue eyes darker now, "something out here scares you?"
That was when she jumped to her feet, because even though she instinctively knew this man would never harm her, her reaction to him was scaring her. "I think I hear my mother calling."
His mouth quirked up into a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "You'd better run back to her, then."
She was almost on the grass when she had to turn around one more time. "I don't know your name."
He remained silent for a long moment. Finally, he said, "Carlos."
It wasn't until she was back in the house, closing the door on the trees and the lake and the mountains, that she realiz
ed she hadn't told him hers.
Her sister Jean was sitting in the living room giggling over the funny papers when she walked in. Dazed, Olive tossed her hat onto the love seat, then promptly sat down on it.
"You look odd," Jean said. Always a mother hen, she put her hand on Olive's forehead. "You're hot. You should lie down."
Olive would have pushed her sister away, but she was still too caught up in thinking about the man outside. Carlos. His name was Carlos.
Still, Olive hated being told what to do. "I don't need to lie down. In fact, I've decided I'm going to make a sweater."
Her sister looked at her in surprise. "But you don't like knitting. Why would you want to make a sweater?"
Olive stood up and walked into the sewing room. She quickly found several skeins of blue and white yarn and her mother's book of knitting patterns. Her heartbeat kicked up as she imagined the beautiful man wearing something she had made with her own hands.
"He needs this sweater."
Olive didn't know her sister had followed her until she heard Jean say, "You're making a sweater for Kent?"