Authors: Catherine Lanigan
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
Love, twice in a lifetime
There are five stages of grief, and Luke Bosworth is stuck on anger. Unable to move on after his wife’s death, he’s struggling to make ends meet and be a good father to his children—a fight he’s afraid he’s losing. But then Sarah Jensen crashes into his life.
Dealing with the loss of her mother, Sarah is a kindred spirit in grief. And even though he doesn’t always agree with her actions, she renews hope for Luke and his kids. Suddenly he’s making plans for the future again. But can he take the risk of falling in love a second time?
Sarah had heard enough.
“You are such a…dunderhead! I’m done here,” she shouted at Luke as he took a breath before his next tirade.
Luke took a step back. “Dunderhead?”
Sarah spun around and tromped back down the hill toward her friends. She realized the children were staring at them, cramming popcorn in their mouths faster than they could chew.
She had never been this angry at another human being in her life, and she didn’t like it. It burned like battery acid in her stomach. She didn’t know how Luke dealt with the seemingly perpetual anger he harbored. Was it like this for him all the time? Was this what he meant when he said anger was eating at him? That’s what it felt like to her.
Suddenly, she realized she was empathizing with him. Now she knew his kind of anger. She understood precisely what Luke was experiencing….
The inspiration for my Shores of Indian Lake series came right out of my own life when I returned to my hometown after thirty-five years of living in big cities like New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Arizona.
It has been a revelation to me that the lives of those in small towns are filled with just as much pathos, romance, chaos and eternal struggle as people in glamorous cities.
and the characters in it, Sarah and Luke, sprang to life from my own grief after losing my darling sister, Nancy, to cancer only four years ago. Sarah and Luke must deal with so many emotions after the death of a loved one. They both discover that coming back to life is a road embedded with razor-sharp impediments, but that ultimately, life is meant to be filled with joy and happiness. It is the human condition to want and need love. For Sarah and Luke, personal illumination is primary. Only after they come to terms with their own demons can they surrender to each other.
The Shores of Indian Lake is filled with endearing, haunting and oftentimes seemingly eccentric characters who will steal your heart. The next book in the series features Sarah’s best friend Maddie Strong, who is faced with impossible choices of her own career dream-making when her first love, Nate Barzonni, returns to Indian Lake in pursuit of his fast-track goal of becoming head of cardiology at a major Chicago hospital and finds himself face-to-face with the one woman he’d left brokenhearted…and very angry.
I would love to hear from you and what kind of story you would like to read about along the Shores of Indian Lake. You can write to me at
and visit my website at
. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well.
knew she was born to storytelling at a very young age when she told stories to her younger brothers and sister to entertain them. After years of encouragement from family and high school teachers, Catherine was shocked and brokenhearted when her freshman creative writing college professor told her that “she had no writing talent whatsoever” and that she “would never earn a dime as a writer.” He promised her that he would be her “crutches” and get her through his demanding class with a B grade so as not to destroy her grade point average too much,
Catherine would promise never to write again. Catherine assumed he was the voice of authority and gave in to the bargain. For fourteen years she didn’t write, until she was encouraged by a television journalist to give her dream a shot. She wrote a six-hundred-page historical romantic spy-thriller set in World War I. The journalist sent the manuscript to his agent, who then garnered bids from two publishers. That was nearly forty published novels, nonfiction books and anthologies ago.
Books by Catherine Lanigan
In Love’s Shadow
This book is dedicated to my sweet, much-loved
sister, Nancy Jean Lanigan Porter, who died
May 7, 2009; to my mother, Dorothy Lanigan,
who died June 12, 2011; and to my loving husband,
Jed Nolan, who held my hand through all of the
shadows that descended upon us and who will
always hold my heart.
Sarah’s kitchen window as pink crab-apple blossoms unfurled their petals along a crooked branch. A thick, undulating bed of apricot and orange Parrot tulips swayed in the early-morning breeze and nuzzled against thick masses of purple Muscari. The newly mowed lawn was a lush carpet of a green so rich it did not look real. A midnight rain had gently showered the forsythia and bejeweled an intricate spiderweb that connected two rosebushes near Sarah’s back door. Rose-gold dawn rays, like the fingers of a divine hand, touched every tree, house and object in Indian Lake with the promise of a new day.
“What a beautiful morning.” Sarah sighed after she breathed in the fragrance of lilacs from the open window. “This was Mother’s favorite time of year.” Sarah smiled wistfully. A now-familiar pang in her heart—though not as painful as her sorrow had been two months ago when her mother died of cancer—plucked at the open wounds in her psyche.
The grandfather clock in the hall chimed the hour. Sarah used to love the burled walnut clock her father had given to her mother on their fifth wedding anniversary, but now its sound was that of an echoing gong throughout the very empty house. Sarah’s father had died three years ago and now her mother was dead, too.
Two years ago, Sarah had given up a very successful career as a commercial interior design architect in Indianapolis when she had learned of her mother, Ann Marie’s, diagnosis. Sarah knew she’d have to return home, so she applied for and landed a job in Indian Lake at Environ-Tech Design Studios, owned and run by Charmaine Chalmers. The job had been perfect for Sarah’s needs in that when Sarah had to take her mother to chemotherapy or stay at home during Ann Marie’s last four months and work at her drafting table in her father’s study, Charmaine had graciously given her the time off, though she continued to work on her designs from home.
Sarah’s move back to Indian Lake also contributed to the eventual breakup with her high school sweetheart, James Stanwyck, an investment banker whose fast-track career was stuck in warp speed. Sarah had not realized how unfulfilling her relationship with James had been until she’d moved back to Indian Lake. They’d dated during high school, college and grad school, and once they’d both begun their careers, their romance had languished until Sarah realized she couldn’t breathe. It was Sarah who put an end to
James moved to Chicago, which was only an hour away from Indian Lake, but after sending him a thank-you note for the flowers he sent for her mother’s funeral, Sarah had not communicated with him. James had been equally silent.
It didn’t take long after her breakup to realize she didn’t miss James. She recognized that their long-term romance had been habit more than love, or even
She wished him well, but he seldom entered her thoughts. That was why she found it odd that she ruminated on him today.
You’re just lonely, Sarah!
she scolded herself, grabbing a bag of salad out of the refrigerator. She stopped midmotion as the fridge door slowly closed. Her stomach roiled as if she was hungry, but she’d just consumed a power bar and slugged back a few sips of coffee. The churning she felt was the same reaction her body always foisted upon her when she was assaulted with the truth.
Since Ann Marie died, Sarah had come to the awareness that she had a fear of being alone. All her life, Sarah had family she lived with and friends she filled her afternoons and evenings with. Even her romance with James, to a great degree, was a convenience for her. She told herself that her life was just ducky. Dandy. Because she had somebody. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t the right guy for her. It mattered that
were a couple. These past months, her loneliness had grown longer, darker and more infinite, like a great yawning abyss that frightened and immobilized her. Though she had many friends in town and most she’d known since high school or even longer, she now had new friendships with her coworkers. It was easy to convince herself that her life was functioning properly.
“I don’t have time for all that today,” she shot back at her reflection in the small, gold-framed mirror on the wall.
Sarah shoved her emotions back into her mental hiding place and put the salad in her insulated lunch sack. On the kitchen table sat her purse, cell phone, car keys and her battered leather portfolio containing the blueprints and very detailed architectural drawings for the renovation of a strip center on the north side of Indian Lake. Sarah had worked painstakingly on this project, pushing herself nearly to the point of exhaustion with late nights at her drafting table. She should have been excited about this morning’s presentation to Charmaine, but she wasn’t.
She was worried.
Charmaine was an architect and interior designer whose perfectionist and exacting, creative eye saw shadows and light in spaces that most of her competition routinely missed. Charmaine saw potential for greatness everywhere she went. Broken houses, dilapidated commercial centers and desecrated public buildings were her favorite challenge because she believed she could fix anything. Sarah had never met anyone like Charmaine. Even when Sarah was in college at Indiana University, her design and art professors had not exhibited the kind of peerless inventiveness and vision Charmaine possessed. Sarah could only hope to be half the artist and designer that Charmaine was.
Sarah had just taken a huge gulp of her coffee when the telephone rang. She checked the caller ID and smiled.
“Hello, Mrs. Beabots. How are you this morning?” she asked cheerily of her octogenarian next-door neighbor.
“Fine. Fine, dearie, but you better corral that dog of yours.”
Sarah instantly looked over to Beauregard’s breakfast bowl and saw that it was still full. Her one-hundred-and-twenty-seven pound golden retriever had not touched a bite, which was very unusual. Frowning, she glanced at the back door. It was still open halfway, just as it was each morning when she let the dog out to do his business. Beauregard always let himself back in, finished off his breakfast and then plopped himself down on his green-and-blue-plaid doggie bed.
Sarah looked at the empty bed. “What about Beau?” she asked, going to the door and opening it all the way.
“I’m looking at him from my bedroom window,” Mrs. Beabots continued, “and he’s digging a hole at your back fence. From the looks of it, pumpkin, he’ll hit Shanghai in less than an hour.”
“He’s doing what?” Sarah went to the back porch, leaned over the railing and nearly dropped the cordless phone. “I’ll call you back, Mrs. Beabots. And thanks.”
“Anytime, pumpkin,” she said and hung up.
Sarah nearly flew down the back porch steps and across the lawn. “Beauregard Jensen! What are you doing?”
Clumps of mud and dirt sailed into the air and dappled Beauregard’s copper and golden fur in a crazy quilt pattern.
Sarah raced up to the golden retriever, still yelling his name, but he paid no attention. If anything, he dug harder and faster.
A dollop of mud went slinging through Beauregard’s hind legs and smacked Sarah in the forehead.
“Beau! Stop it, this instant!” she shouted, wiping the mud off her face.
Beauregard kept digging. He splattered Sarah’s freshly dry-cleaned camel-and-black silk suit. Sarah dodged the mud rain and went around to the left of the dog and tried to grab his collar and pull him out of the deep hole he’d dug. Though she tried to steady herself in her tan pumps, she slipped on the grass, which she’d been far too prideful about, and fell rump-side down. She knew she should change out of her business suit in order to avoid serious damage to her clothes, but she’d be late for work if she didn’t get Beau out of the hole and back into the house.
“Of all the days in my entire career, did you have to choose today to act like a dog?”
Beauregard paid no attention to her and kept flinging dirt.
“What are you doing? And why are you doing this?” she asked, frustration spiking the edges of her words. Another clump of dirt hit her on the cheek.
“That’s it!” Sarah pulled with all her might and hoisted Beauregard out of the hole and away from the fence.
Beau snarled at Sarah.
She snarled back.
Beau glanced back at the hole and Sarah knew he was thinking about defying her, just like a misbehaving child. “Don’t even think about it, Beauregard Jensen. Just look at you! You’ve made a terrible mess of yourself. It will take me hours to clean you up and I have to be at work.”
Dragging Beau behind her, which was a serious feat of strength and adrenaline, Sarah trudged toward the driveway. “You have to have a bath and there’s no time left. It’s off to the groomers for you!” Sarah pulled on Beau’s collar again, but the dog had relented to his fate and now walked, head forlornly hung, next to his master and supposed superior creature.
Sarah ordered Beauregard to sit on the driveway next to her Envoy as she went to the garage, got an old plastic tarp and draped it across the passenger’s seat. She stood aside as Beauregard jumped into the SUV.
“The tarp will hopefully keep my car clean, but believe me, it’s going to take professional fumigation to get your dirty dog smell out of here!” Sarah slammed the car door.
She went back to the kitchen, grabbed her purse, portfolio and lunch and locked the house.
As she walked around the flagstone path to the front yard, she saw Mrs. Beabots standing on the front sidewalk, hand up to her forehead to shade her eyes from the brilliant morning sun. “Showed him whose boss, din’t cha?” Mrs. Beabots asked.
Sarah had lived on Maple Avenue all her life, and for as long as she could remember, Mrs. Beabots had not only lived next door, but she had also felt that whatever was happening in the Jensen household was her prerogative to know. Mrs. Beabots was not a gossip, and blessedly, she didn’t share the information. She simply believed she could not help the ones she loved if she didn’t know their business.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Beabots never understood that Sarah despised being late to work—or late to anything, for that matter. Mrs. Beabots loved to talk. Talking helped whittle away the hours of her very lonely life.
“I have to get Beau down to Puppies and Paws and then I have to be at work...”
“I know, dearie. I know. You gotta run.”
“I do,” Sarah said, sliding into the car.
“When you get home tonight, I can help you fill that hole back up. Perfect place for a start of my peonies,” Mrs. Beabots offered.
“I just don’t know what possessed him to dig like that,” Sarah said. “Beau has never been a digger.”
Mrs. Beabots turned her thin face toward Sarah’s backyard. “Could have been the fact that last night when Beau came home with that dead squirrel, you tossed it over the fence into the old Samuels’ yard.”
Sarah shuddered as she remembered when she’d let Beau out just before her bedtime. She had been preoccupied with her presentation and last-minute adjustments to her drawings, and hadn’t realized Beau was taking an abnormal amount of time outside. As always, she’d left the kitchen door half-open, and when he came in and pushed it open all the way with his snout, Sarah had turned around in time to see a dead squirrel, stiff with rigor mortis, clamped between Beau’s jaws. Off her chair in a shot, she whisked a kitchen towel off the countertop, threw it over Beauregard’s face and wrenched the squirrel from the dog. She shrouded the dead animal in the towel and immediately went out to the backyard. It was a new moon, black-as-pitch night, but Sarah knew exactly how many paces it was to the north side of her yard, where a six-foot high, white-wood fence separated her property from the Samuels’ estate. With one mighty swing of her right arm, she heaved the dead squirrel over the fence.
Turning around, she found Beau standing directly behind her. If she hadn’t heard his loud panting first, she would have fallen over him.
“Don’t ever do that again, Beauregard Jensen,” she warned with a wag of her finger and a steep arch to her eyebrow. Not that he could see her expression in the dark.
Sarah grabbed his collar and yanked him toward the house. She remembered now that on the way back, Beauregard had paused and looked back at the fence. It wasn’t until she shouted his name and gave his collar another tug that he followed her obediently.
Sarah knew now that Beauregard had started plotting his strategy for retrieval at that very moment. She wondered if he’d thought about it all night.
Sarah looked back at Mrs. Beabots, who was patiently holding her arms at her sides, the skirt of her black-and-white-polka-dot dress fluttering around her legs. “That house has been vacant for two years. I didn’t think anyone would mind,” Sarah said glumly.
“You shoulda buried the squirrel out of Beau’s sight.”
“Why?” Sara asked.
“Because, pumpkin. That critter was his prize. Dog’s always gonna go for his prize. He’s a retriever.” Mrs. Beabots smiled her thin smile and nodded.
Sarah watched after the little bird of a woman who’d always been not only observant but wise, and somehow invariably managed to make certain she had the last word.
* * *
lost in thought as he drove his children—Annie, his eight-year-old, freckle-faced, redheaded daughter, and his six-year-old son, Timmy, with the bright blue eyes—to school.
“Can we go all the way down Maple Avenue, Dad?” Annie asked.
Annie looked out the window and gazed at the majestic, hundred-year-old sugar maples for which the street was named. “I love it. It’s so beautiful this time of year, with all the tulips blossoming. My favorites are the pink ones.”
Timmy gave her a dismissive wave of his hand. “Aw, Annie. All the tulips on Maple Avenue are pink.”
“It’s okay,” Timmy said, sitting up straighter as they turned off Main Street and onto Maple. “I like all the big houses. I bet the people who live here are really rich.”
Luke heard his children’s chatter as if their words were being spoken under water. They were playing one of their favorite games, where they picked out the “happiest” house.