The Best Is Yet to Come (Summer Lake 1) - Page 6

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Until Calvin's name came up in conversation.

"I hear things didn't work out with the woman from Albany," Dorothy said.

Sarah's heart started pounding hard beneath her breastbone. Sarah and Calvin had broken up so long ago that it shouldn't matter to her if he had recently been involved with someone. Then again, nothing had made sense from the moment she'd crossed into the Adirondacks earlier that day.

"I don't think she was too gung-ho about having a ten-year-old girl around all the time," Helen put in.

"Then I say, good riddance. Besides--" Dorothy made an invisible ring around her mouth with her fingers. "--she wore too much lipstick. That boy is a saint. Raising his sister, holding his family together after what happened." Calvin had been eighteen years old when his mother died giving birth to Jordan, and his father had shot himself one month later. From that moment on, Calvin had been solely responsible for things like getting his sister to bed on time and taking her to the doctor for shots. "He deserves better."

Catherine singled out Sarah again. "Didn't you and Calvin go out for a while?"

Why did she have to say that? Especially when she knew darn well that Sarah and Calvin had been an item. A really serious one. There was no way to get out of it in front of everyone, so Sarah nodded and forced another smile. "We did."

Helen's mouth made an O of surprise. "How could you ever have let a man like that get away?"

"Calvin is great," Sarah said slowly, "but we were just kids."

"So, do you have a new man in your life?" Dorothy clearly didn't believe in bothering with subtlety.

"No." She had a lot going on at work right now and didn't have time to focus on a relationship too. She hadn't actually had time to focus on one since heading off to college.

Dorothy shook her head. "You girls all wait too long nowadays to look for a husband. If you ask me, you should take a page from Christie's book and find a nice young man to marry."

Glancing up at the clock, Sarah saw that it was almost seven thirty. On the one hand, she was dying to get out of the shop--and away from the knitting group. On the other, she was downright nervous about finally seeing Calvin again.

Sarah put her knitting on the table and said to no one in particular, "I need to close up the register, if anyone has a last-minute purchase."

Dorothy and Helen and the others started putting their needles and yarn away in their bags. As Angie waved good-bye, she joked, "Back to the monsters." Catherine disappeared before Sarah could say good night. Only Christie hung back in the empty store, picking up the wineglasses and heading into the bathroom to wash them out in the sink.

"They also hit me with twenty questions when I first started coming to the group," Christie said, empathy behind her words. "Why did I leave sunny California? How did I find Summer Lake? Why wasn't I married with a stroller full of kids? And then they proceeded to list the attributes of every unattached male below retirement age...and a good dozen above it."

Sarah couldn't help but laugh at Christie's account of the trials and tribulations of being a newcomer in a small town. She was right. Sarah shouldn't take their questions and comments as a personal attack.

And she shouldn't be worried about meeting with Calvin either. Just as she had said to Helen, they'd been kids--a couple of high school sweethearts who'd gone their separate ways after graduation.

She and Calvin would talk about what they had been up to for the past ten years, maybe laugh over old times, and then she'd run her plans for the condos by him.

No big deal. It would go fine.

CHAPTER FOUR

Calvin was halfway down Main Street when he saw Sarah step off the front porch of Lakeside Stitch & Knit toward a group of women chatting outside.

She was so beautiful.

He was glad he had another thirty seconds to get used to looking at her. Unfortunately, he needed to do a heck of a lot more than that--he needed to get his head screwed on straight, needed to remember that tonight was about catching up on old times.

Nothing more.

"Calvin!" His next-door neighbor Dorothy called out to him, pulling him into the group with a firm hand. "Did you know your old girlfriend was back in town? Isn't she lovely?" Sarah's face, which was already a little flushed, went pink, and still she took his breath away, just as lovely as Dorothy had said.

"We're meeting for a drink, actually," he told his nosy but well-meaning neighbor. "You ready to head over to the Tavern, Sarah?"

"You're a dark horse," Dorothy whispered in Sarah's ear, loud enough for everyone to hear. "You didn't mention you had plans with the town's most eligible bachelor tonight."

Guessing she wanted to disappear right now just as much as he did, Calvin reached out to take her away from the crowd. She looked down at his outstretched hand, not taking it right away, and he swore he could see the pulse at the side of her wrist fluttering just beneath the skin. Finally, she put her hand into his.

And the shock of her skin against his made Calvin wonder how he could possibly have waited ten years to touch her again.

*

Sarah felt stupid. So incredibly stupid.

How had she thought she could come back to Summer Lake, see Calvin again, and not feel anything? And why hadn't she connected that new, deep voice on the phone to the fact that she should have prepared herself for the positively breathtaking man holding her hand?

He had been good-looking at eighteen, but his shoulders were so much broader now, his dark hair trimmed shorter, and the faint lines around his eyes and mouth gave proof to the fact that he smiled easily and often. He wasn't a boy anymore, not even the slightest bit. A man stood in front of her, one who'd overcome more challenges in the past ten years than most people would during their entire lives.

And she'd let him go.

The thought shook her, almost as much as how good it felt to hold his hand now.

Sudden panic made her pull away from him. It had been ten years since she had seen him. And now that he was here in the flesh, as they walked together toward the Tavern, she didn't have the first clue what to say to him--or how to say it.

"I forgot just how small a small town can be, but the Monday night knitting group just brought it all home." In a light voice that she hoped belied her nerves, she added, "Parts of it were fun. It's just when they get personal, they really get personal."

His voice was also light as he asked, "What did they want to know?"

"Oh, you know, the usual things. Why I'm not married with babies yet. If I'm dating anyone." The words slipped out before she could stop them.

She felt him grow still beside her, but then that easy smile was back and she knew she was imagining things. The problem was, his smile had always had the power to rock her world. Clearly, judging by the way her heart had raced and her body heated, growing up hadn't made a lick of difference.

Still, for all his easy charm, when he asked, "Are you?" his voice held a slightly rough edge to it that sizzled over her.

If only she had actually been seeing someone. Then she wouldn't have to give such a pathetic answer. "Nope."

Sarah didn't need to ask him. She already knew about the girl with the lipstick, about how he deserved better. And Dorothy was right. Calvin deserved to be with someone amazing--someone who would be there for him the way he was always there for everyone else, someone who would love his town as much as he did. A woman whose dreams included high school football games and town picnics. One day, probably in the near future, he would slip a ring on someone else's finger...and promise to love that woman forever.

Her step faltered as he held open the Tavern's door and she stepped inside. Once upon a time, she had thought she could be that woman, but she should have known better, should have known the fairy tale wasn't in the cards for them.

Her stomach clenched into a tight little ball, Sarah was so lost in her conflicted thoughts that she practically bounced off a man's chest. Calvin's large hands came around her waist, pulling her against h

im to keep her from falling. But instead of feeling steady, Sarah felt shakier than ever simply from being so close to him.

And from how badly she wanted to get even closer.

"Sarah," the man said, "it's been far too long since we've seen you in town."

She found herself pulled into a warm hug by Henry Carson, the owner of the general store, who had been a friend of her father's. She smelled wood smoke and sawdust on Henry's shirt, reminding her of how her father had loved to chop wood and light it on fire. She'd wanted so badly to be a boy at those times, for her father to hand her an ax rather than telling her to get back inside before she got hurt.

"I'm sorry about James's passing," Henry said when he drew back and let her go.

Not wanting to get caught in the well of grief that always bubbled up when her father was mentioned, she forced another one of those fake smiles she was really starting to hate. "Thank you, Henry. It's nice to see you again."


Tags: Bella Andre Summer Lake Romance
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