The Best Is Yet to Come (Summer Lake 1) - Page 45

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"What made you think I could figure it out? Especially when I've never seen such a complicated pattern before."

"You can do anything you set your mind to."

"I used to think that was true," Sarah said softly.

"Tell me what your first thoughts were when you first saw this pattern."

"I'm not sure you want to hear those kinds of words, Grandma."

"You kids think you invented dirty words. And sex." She pinned Sarah with a wicked look. "You most definitely didn't."

Not sure she wanted to picture her soft, sweet grandmother having wild monkey sex with anyone, Sarah quickly said, "The pattern looked like another language. One I couldn't see the point of figuring out."

"But you did."

"I had some help." From Jordan, while Calvin had made them spaghetti.

"You could have given up."

"You wanted me to help you make it. I couldn't have given up."

"I've wanted you to do a lot of things," her grandmother pointed out. "But you've always marched to the beat of your own drummer."

Sarah blew out a breath. "I figured since I've accomplished some really difficult things in my career, I couldn't let a sweater be the thing that broke me."

"But it didn't break you, did it?"

Sarah looked down at the partially--perfectly--finished sweater on her lap and found a smile. "Not even close."

"Pull out a strand of your hair. A long one."

Sarah frowned. "What? Why?"

Her grandmother didn't reply, she simply waited for Sarah to do as she asked. The strand of hair came out with a quick tug, probably nine inches long.

"Now wrap it around the blue yarn." Still not understanding, Sarah did as her grandmother directed. "Now knit a row."

Even though she was still wondering what was going on, Sarah followed Olive's directions once more. Her grandmother didn't say anything else until she made it to the end of the row.

"There's a knitting superstition that if you knit one of your own hairs into a garment, it will bind the recipient to you forever."

Sarah had never believed in superstition, only what she could see with her own eyes, only what she could hold in her two hands. So then why were chills running through her? "But I'm already bound to you, Grandma."

"We both know you haven't been making this sweater for me. Just as we both know you're strong enough for any challenges that come your way."

Her grandmother was right about one thing at least. Every stitch Sarah had made had been for Calvin.

"Do you remember the story I was telling you about my first love?"

"Carlos. You were making him a sweater." Sarah suddenly remembered something else. "That first day I was home, in the store, you told me it was a Fair Isle, didn't you?"

"Yes, it was. This very pattern you've been working on, actually." Olive's eyes grew cloudy with memories. "Our first kiss was on the carousel--on the chariot behind the matched pair."

"What did he say when you gave him the sweater? Did he like it?"

Olive's light blue eyes flashed with pain. "I never got the chance to give it to him."

"What happened? You loved him, didn't you? Didn't he love you back?"

"Yes, he loved me. So much that he left only hours before I could tell him I'd made my choice to be with him, no matter the struggles ahead of us."

"But if he'd really loved you, wouldn't he have stayed? Wouldn't he have given you the chance to choose him?"

Olive sighed. "I've thought about that question for seventy years. And I still don't know what the right answer is. Until Carlos, I thought love was all fun and kisses. And then I learned about his past and thought I was in way over my head."

"What kind of past?"

"Before he came here to work for my father, he lost everything in a fire. His wife and son. His business."

Sarah's hand moved over her grandmother's. "That's horrible." And not all that different from what Calvin had dealt with ten years ago. "So Carlos came to the lake to start over?"

"I don't think so," her grandmother said with a shake of her head. "I think he came just to try and figure out how to make it through another day."

"And then he met you. What a light you must have been for him."

"Do you know, that's exactly what he said to me. That I was the light in his dark world." Olive looked down at the lace veil in her hands. "But I was so afraid. So afraid that I'd fail him. So painfully aware of the two different worlds that we lived in."

"I know exactly how you must have felt," Sarah murmured softly.

"I never said those words to him, but he knew me well enough to look into my eyes and see the truth of my feelings. The morning after he told me everything on the carousel, he was gone."

"He left without saying good-bye? How could he have done that to you? Especially if he loved you too?"

"Because he saw me for exactly what I was: a young, frightened girl."

"You would have learned how to be strong, Grandma. You're one of the strongest people I've ever known."

Sarah suddenly wondered why she'd never seen the fierce strength in her mother and grandmother so clearly until tonight.

"I waited for him. Waited even when my mother tried to convince me that it was all for the best. Waited even when my father tried to threaten me into marrying Kent. I wrote letters and never heard back. And I knit. Every free moment I had was spent with needles and yarn. Knitting was the only way I could stay even the slightest bit sane. And you're right, somewhere in all that stubborn waiting and knitti

ng, I grew strong. And knew that if I ever got the chance to get love right, I wouldn't quit until I'd loved with everything in me, I wouldn't give up because I was afraid or because I didn't think I was strong enough. I would just love."

Despite the fact that she was pretty sure she already knew the answer, Sarah had to ask, "What happened to him, Grandma?"

"I scoured the casualty list in the newspaper every week for his name, but I knew he wouldn't be on it. Until the day that I knew he was." Her grandmother's eyes had never looked so sad. "Carlos was killed on active duty."

"That's so awful. So unfair. I wish you'd never gone through any of that."

"Oh no, even knowing how it ended, I would have done it anyway. I would have loved him." She squeezed Sarah's hand, surprising her with a smile. "But I loved your grandfather too. Strong and true." Sarah was afraid her grandmother was only saying that because it was what she wanted to hear. Obviously reading her mind, Olive said, "At first it was a different kind of love. Your grandfather went to fight in the war too, enlisting not long after Carlos. And during that time, I found solace in knitting for the war effort. That was when Lakeside Stitch & Knit first became a reality."

"But I thought you didn't open the store until the fifties?"

"Oh, I wasn't anywhere near having a fancy shop back then, not until after I'd had your mother and she started school, but that didn't stop me and your aunts and my friends from meeting every Monday night to knit."

Sarah quickly did the math and realized the Monday night knitting group had been around even longer than the store.

"When Kent Hewitt returned from the war," her grandmother continued, "I was still grieving over Carlos. But even then I could see that your grandfather had left a boy and come back a man. Just as I'd been a girl when he left, and he'd returned to a woman. At first I tried to push him away, but he was confident enough to prove it to me with flowers and laughter and kisses." Her grandmother smiled a secret smile that Sarah wasn't sure she'd ever seen before. "Wonderful kisses."

"But what about Carlos? Weren't you still in love with him?"

"You wouldn't believe how long I spent telling myself that I couldn't possibly love Kent because I'd already given my heart away. It took Kent never giving up on loving me for one single second for me to see that loving Carlos had actually opened up my heart so that I could love Kent fully and completely. If not for Carlos, I might have spent my whole life running scared from love."

Tags: Bella Andre Summer Lake Romance