The Best Is Yet to Come (Summer Lake 1) - Page 46

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But Sarah still had to know. "What happened to the sweater you made for him?"

"At first, I held on to it because it was my only true link to him. But then after he died, it wasn't something I could give away to anyone else. I thought about unraveling it a thousand times, but I just couldn't. Because first loves are something special. And even though I found love again with your grandfather, I still believe that if you can make that first love work, you should give it everything you've got."

Olive's words rocked through Sarah. She'd had a second chance at first love, but she'd been scared--too scared to realize just how precious it was.

"I know you're looking for answers, honey. But maybe all you really need to know is that you left Summer Lake a girl--and came back a woman. Strong and loving."

Sarah looked down at the wedding veil on Olive's lap, then at the sweater on her own, at the precise way she had wrapped her dark hair around the blue yarn, making sure it would never come unthreaded from the sweater. So many strands woven together. Alone, they could easily be broken, but together they were strong.

And when her cell phone rang again, she knew she was finally strong enough to answer it.


"Hello, Craig." Sarah had given her grandmother one more big hug, then put a jacket on over the antique nightgown and left the cottage to take the call.

"I got a call from Mr. Klein," Craig said in a hard voice, "and it sounds like things are going off the rails in that little town of yours." She could hear his irritation. "Look, I don't know what happened tonight, but we're going to need a bulletproof plan to fix it. There's no room for error this time, no second chances to try to get it right."

With every word he spoke, it became more and more clear to her that of all the things that had gone wrong tonight, trying to keep the Klein Group on board was not the thing she needed--or wanted--to fix first.

"I can't leave my family's store," she said. "Not with my grandmother still recovering from pneumonia. And not without a good manager in place." But even as she spoke, she knew that she was doing it again. Trying to take the easy way out, refusing to make any declarations about her real feelings because she was afraid of disappointing her boss. Because she was afraid of being a failure. "Actually, the truth is that my heart's not in the game anymore. And I think we both know it hasn't been for a very long time."

"What the hell could you be heading off to do that's better?"

"I'm going to manage my family's yarn store."

Sure, she could get another job in the city, but not only did her family need her to run the store--she also didn't want to leave Summer Lake. Even though it would be so much easier to run from Calvin again, to go back to the safety of her city life.

"You're serious, aren't you?"

Sarah found herself smiling as she said, "I am."


She tossed and turned for a couple of hours in her old childhood bed before she gave up on sleep. She'd gotten too used to Calvin's warm body beside her, to his arms wrapped around her waist, to feeling his warm breath against the small hairs of her neck as she spooned into him.

The rain had stopped. She slipped on her shoes and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. Now that the storm had cleared, it was one of those perfect full-moon autumn nights, the kind they put in movies and posters that made people want to come to the Adirondacks to forget their cares. The same people that the Klein Group hoped would buy a condo on the waterfront.

Picking up a flashlight, she left the porch and headed for the dock. After uncovering the rowboat and putting on her life vest, she used the oars to push away from the shore. The lake was empty and slowly, surely, Sarah rowed out into the middle of it. She had never needed a gym while she'd lived here, just the grass and mountains and lakes as she'd grown up running and hiking and swimming and sailing.

She shipped the oars, then leaned back to look at the stars, and as the sky darkened, they appeared before her one by one. She took a deep breath of the sweet, cool air, then another and another, and then she finally rowed herself around to face the opposite shore to see if there was a light on across the lake.

And if someone was out there missing her as much as she missed him.

But there was only darkness.

Shivering, Sarah knew she needed to get back to the dock before her frozen fingers were unable to hold on to the oars. She had the rowboat halfway turned around when from the corner of her eye she saw something flicker on Calvin's porch.

A single light came on.


The next morning, Sarah sat down across from her client in the inn's dining room. Christie's eyes were full of concern as she placed steaming teapots on the table. Sarah was glad to know she had made a new friend in town, one she could count on. And one she hoped could count on her too.

"I'm glad you're here, Mr. Klein, so that I can give you the news in person that I have resigned my position with Marks & Banks as of last night. I will no longer be working on your project."

Strangely, he didn't look as surprised as she'd thought he would. "I'm very sorry to hear that. Although your mother was telling me that you've been a great help at her store."

"I've really enjoyed it. And I'm looking forward to working with my mother and grandmother to help what they built continue to flourish." But while she was excited about her new role at the store, she needed to get to the main reason for speaking with him this morning. "Although I won't be working with you any longer, I still feel compelled to give you my honest opinion about your plans to renovate the historic buildings. Businesses like my family's store that are in historic, preserved buildings, along with the old carousel in the park, are all extremely important to small towns like Summer Lake that thrive on community. That is why I cannot endorse your newest plan to continue your development into the historic buildings."

Again, Mr. Klein didn't look upset by what she was saying. In fact, he looked more thoughtful than anything. "Do you know what I did this morning? I woke up early and spent some time walking down Main Street, looking into the windows of local shops. You see, you sold me so thoroughly on the allure of the Adirondacks that I had to come and see it for myself. Had to come see what I was missing." He looked out the window toward the blue water of the lake and the green mountains that surrounded it. "Last night I sat in that barn and listened. Really listened. What I didn't understand about the workings of a small town, your mother explained. The conclusion that I came to, by the time I got back to my room at the inn, was that the only way our project could work for all parties involved is if all parties actually are involved." Sarah could see the excitement in his eyes as he said, "I want this to be a first for our company--a community-based project that will set the stage for future growth that benefits real people, not just the corporate bottom line."

"I'm thrilled to hear you say all of this." And she was, even if she wouldn't be working on the project anymore.

"I thought you might be. I had the utmost faith in you to lead us into a brand-new way of doing business, Sarah. I still do." He gave her another smile. "Is there any chance I could convince you to do one more project? I know you're needed at your mother's store, but perhaps since you'll already be here, there would be a way for you to oversee our project. A new one. Something that will be good for everyone. For the locals who need to downsize, for the city folks like me who desperately need a quiet place to go, for my company, and for you too."

"Honestly, your offer sounds wonderful, but I've got to give my all from now on to my family, to the store, to the people I love in this town."

"I understand that. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't envious that you get to stay here while I have to head back to the city." His expression changed slightly. "Although I'm hoping to come back for a visit in the very near future."

Sarah immediately understood what he was asking. "I'd like that very much. Just be sure to let me know you're coming next time. My mother is a wonderful cook, and there's nothing she li

kes more than to make people feel welcome."

A grin lit up his face. They stood up and shook hands. "I'll be seeing you very soon, I hope."

"I'll be looking forward to it, Mr. Klein."

"John, please."

Noticing that the glow in his eyes mirrored the one she'd seen in her mother's just last night, Sarah was glad to move beyond formalities. "John it is."


Sarah left the inn and headed out through the waterfront park. Unlike last night, when she'd run blindly from the town hall meeting, today she knew exactly where she was going.

The carousel.

She didn't just climb aboard and sit on one of the horses this time; instead, she really studied the merry-go-round that had been such a big part of so many lives at Summer Lake.

The red-and-white-striped awning was matched by red paint all along the trim. The carousel animals were graceful, realistic. The carvers had obviously paid enormous attention to detail--the painters' renderings of every nuance of the animals' coloration were exquisite. The three-row platform carried twenty-nine horses and a chariot behind a matched pair. There were also giraffes, goats, deer, a lion, and a tiger.

Walking around the carousel, Sarah ran her fingers over the horses, stopping behind the chariot where her grandmother had her first kiss with Carlos. She wanted so badly to find something important, some sort of sign or secret message that Olive's first love had left for her before he disappeared. If there had ever been a message there, it was now covered in decades of paint.

But Sarah now knew that her grandmother didn't need a secret message from her lost love to be happy. Olive had made her peace with the past, knowing that everything that had happened had only made her stronger.

And just as her grandmother didn't need to find a secret message to be happy, Sarah now realized that she didn't need that either. Because with Calvin's love, through spending time with the knitters at the store, by observing her mother and her grandmother and finally talking to them the way she always should have, she had finally learned just how much strength and fortitude it took to be the one who stayed. To be the one who kept the home fires burning.

Tags: Bella Andre Summer Lake Romance