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Authors: Lisa T. Bergren

Pathways (9780307822208)

BOOK: Pathways (9780307822208)
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I
t was Bryn’s summer to be in Alaska. Would she come, as she had every five years? Memories of their last night together still clung to his heart, like mud in a dog’s fur. He sighed. He knew he needed to put that almost-romance to bed before he’d find the confirmation he sought for his relationship with Sara.

Bryn hadn’t given him any hope in the following years. There hadn’t been a single communication from her. And her intent, even during that visit, had been clear: She wanted nothing from Eli Pierce other than a means of transportation. He was an old family friend, an old flame, nothing more. It was getting his heart to shut away the desire for more that was the trick. Maybe he’d ask his mom and dad when they got back from their summer road trip if they’d heard anything from the Baileys, but that wouldn’t be until August.

He pulled the new Ford into the gravel driveway. Five vehicles belonging to clients in the bush were parked there and an old car with Anchorage identification. He put the truck in park and climbed out. A woman stood on the bank above the water, staring out at Fish Lake and the Talkeetna Mountains in the distance. One of the first sightseers to arrive for the summer? Probably wanted a ride around McKinley—

She turned then, at the sound of his truck door slamming shut.

And Eli felt as if he had been punched in the gut.

Bryn Bailey.

A
LSO BY
L
ISA
T
AWN
B
ERGREN

R
OMANCE
N
OVELS
T
HE
F
ULL
C
IRCLE
S
ERIES
Refuge
Torchlight
Pathways
Treasure
Chosen
Firestorm

C
ONTEMPORARY
F
ICTION
The Bridge

H
ISTORICAL
F
ICTION
T
HE
N
ORTHERN
L
IGHTS
S
ERIES
The Captain’s Bride
Deep Harbor
Midnight Sun

N
OVELLAS
“Tarnished Silver” in
Porch Swings & Picket Fences

C
HILDREN

S
God Gave Us You
God Gave Us Two
(fall 2001)

P
ATHWAYS

P
UBLISHED BY
W
ATER
B
ROOK
P
RESS

2375 Telstar Drive, Suite 160

Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920

A division of Random House, Inc
.

Scriptures taken from the
Holy Bible, New International Version
®
. NIV
®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.

Copyright © 2001 by Lisa Tawn Bergren

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

W
ATER
B
ROOK
and its deer design logo are registered trademarks of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Bergren, Lisa Tawn.

     Pathways / Lisa Tawn Bergren.—1st WaterBrook ed.

          p. cm. — (The full circle series ; 3)

     eISBN: 978-0-307-82220-8

        1. Survival after airplane accidents, shipwrecks, etc.—Fiction. 2. Wilderness survival—Fiction. 3. Bush pilots—Fiction. 4. Physicians—Fiction. 5. Alaska—Fiction. I. Tide.

PS3552.E71938 P38 2001

813′.54—dc21

2001023379     

v3.1

To Cheryl, one of my oldest friends, rediscovered,
sister in the God who saves
.
Thank you for praying me through this last year! I love you!

The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet
.
F
REDERICK
B
UECHNER

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest
.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls
.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light
.
M
ATTHEW
11:28–30

Part 1
Trailhead, 1991
C
HAPTER
O
NE

C
ome on, Bryn. Come out in the canoe with me. You haven’t been out of this cabin for two days. And it’s summer. You can study later.”

“No thanks, Dad,” she said, turning her back to him and trying to concentrate on her anatomy textbook. The longer she could bury herself in her studies, the faster this trip would be over.

She heard her father, Peter Bailey, walk to the front window. “Come on, honey,” he said, a slight begging tone to his voice. “The rain’s let up. We haven’t even been over to the Pierces’ to say hello.”

Thoughts of Eli Pierce flashed through her mind. People thought that Californians were snobbish. Eli wouldn’t give her the time if he had the last watch on earth. They’d played together when she was at Summit Lake with her dad the year she was ten, but when she’d arrived over her fifteenth summer, the guy had avoided her like a bad case of barnacles on a barge. Sure he was handsome, but Bryn had better things to do than get snubbed by a small-town jerk. “I’m just fine where I am,” Bryn said.

“Suit yourself,” he said. She could hear the shrug of defeat in his voice.

She wondered what her dad saw in this place. It took hours to fly to Anchorage from Southern California, and a couple more to drive to Talkeetna. Then they had to take still another hour to get
the floatplane loaded with their gear and fly in to Summit Lake. Bryn heard the door shut behind her father.

All day to get here
. She turned over and looked at the two-room log cabin, built by her father twenty years before. Her eyes floated over the hand-hewn logs and white, crumbling chinking. She lay in the bedroom in back, which held a bunk bed on either side. The front room was reserved for a tiny kitchenette and sitting area. It was dark, with no electricity, and it smelled musty, like an old basement blanket at her Grampa Bruce’s in Boston. Bryn had to read by the light of a kerosene lamp when it rained during the day. No wonder her dad hadn’t been able to get Bryn’s mother, Nell, to come all these years.

She closed her eyes as the hollow, scraping sound of her father dragging the canoe off the rocks and into the water reached her ears. She wished she were home working a summer internship at the hospital, heading to the beach, catching a movie with friends—anywhere but here. In two years she would be twenty-two, a graduate from college with a degree in premed. And she would finally tell her father that their days at Summit Lake together were to be no more. She would, after all, be an adult, no longer compelled to please her dad, despite her own desires. He’d have to accept that.

A pang of loss pierced her heart and she frowned, then sighed. Probably guilt pangs. The guy just wanted some quality time with his daughter. She could at least make the most of this trip with him. Appease him, share with him, make the proverbial memory together. Dutiful daughters did such things all the time.

Bryn tossed aside her textbook and shoved her feet into shoes, hurrying to catch him before he was too far out. Bumping her head
on the top bunk, she grimaced. “Dad, wait!” she called, hoping he would hear her from outside. She rubbed the top of her head and rushed out to the front room, then out to the lakeside where her father was already nearly fifty feet out. “Dad, wait! I changed my mind!”

Her father turned and flashed her a white-toothed grin. He was dark and handsome—Bryn’s roommate, Ashley, referred to him as “the sexiest man alive,” which always made Bryn’s skin crawl. No matter how others saw him, he was still just Dad to Bryn.

“Oh good, Bryn Bear,” he responded, using her childhood nickname. “I was already missing you.” The warmth and welcome in his eyes made her glad for her decision. It seemed his eyes were too often full of sorrow and longing these days, although she couldn’t think of a reason for such emotions.

Bryn turned and ducked her head in the cabin door, grabbing her parka from the hook inside. Summers in Alaska were notorious for turning suddenly cold, so she always kept the warm coat at hand. She walked back to the shoreline, pulling her long hair out and into a quick knot. Her hair was the same color as her father’s—Indian black, Peter called it—and they shared the same dark olive skin. Her nose was his too, straight and too long. But her eyes were her mother’s—wide and a bit tipped up in the corners. Smoky brown, a boyfriend once told her. “Just like the rest of you,” he had whispered. “Smoky.”

He was long gone. She had seen to that. Keeping a straight-A average at the University of California at Irvine was no small deal, and he had been in the way, always wanting to party and go out rather than study. But she wanted to graduate and go on to Harvard, at the top of her class all the way. It took discipline and
concentration to accomplish that. And vision. No man was going to get in the way.

The canoe crunched to shore again. “Push us off, Bryn Bear.”

“Okay,” she said, wrinkling her nose a bit when her boots got wet and the cold lake water seeped through her socks and to her toes. While they glided backward, Bryn balanced on the bow, then carefully climbed in.

“There’s a jacket and paddle beneath the seat,” Peter said from behind her.

“Thought I was goin’ on a ride,” she tossed back.

“If you ride, you paddle,” her dad responded. “Can’t make an Alaskan out of you if you sit up there like a Newport Beach priss.”

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