Authors: Bonnie Blythe
Tags: #series, #reunion, #contemporary romance, #christian romance, #oregon, #sweet romance, #remodeling, #renovation, #bonnie blythe, #oregon in love
In a small Oregon
community, Sara Andersen finds herself in possession of an old
farmhouse in desperate need of renovations. Brian Farris is a
builder who is new in town, but intimately acquainted with Sara.
His purpose is not to restore only the house, but his relationship
with her. The only problem is that Sara doesn't believe Brian has
undergone any soulful renovations of his own.
A Christian romance novel
© 2010 Smashwords Edition
All rights reserved
Cover by Magyar Design
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before
ordained that we should walk in them
Sara Andersen swiped at her wet cheek with
the back of her hand, wishing for a hanky. A quick search of the
glove box yielded an ice scraper and other useless odds and ends.
In her own car, she could’ve counted on one of the many fast food
bags to contain at least a napkin or two. Sara gripped the steering
wheel and sniffed.
She sat at one of the two traffic lights in
the tiny downtown section of Buell Creek, Oregon, mildly surprised
at the amount of cars on the road. Sara remembered the town as a
sleepy hamlet nestled in the Cascade Mountains. Lately, it had
become a Mecca for rock climbing enthusiasts. The subsequent
tourism, along with steady population growth to the Pacific
Northwest, helped to bring much needed revitalization to the
The new storefronts and renovated buildings,
however, didn’t interest her at the moment. The loss of her
grandfather, Eli Andersen, lay heavy upon her heart, along with the
guilt in knowing she hadn’t visited him often enough in the last
year. She assumed he’d always be there, praying for her and
encouraging her in her dreams.
Sara sniffed as a tear dripped down the side
of her nose. The light turned green. She went through the motions
of driving her aunt’s old Toyota Corolla. Shove it in gear, let off
the clutch, step on the gas, and drive a few yards to the second
Through the blur of moisture, she glanced
out the left window and caught sight of a blue pickup passing by on
the opposite side. Something about the driver riveted her
attention. She craned her neck to get a better look.
Her heart did a somersault. It couldn’t
Blaring horns startled her back to the
traffic. Sara slammed on the brakes. She let out a gasp, realizing
she'd gone straight through the second light.
A red one.
Cars on either side squealed to a stop,
missing her by inches. Sara intercepted several angry glares as she
inched across the intersection. Giving an apologetic wave, she
punched the gas and scooted out of town like a dog with its tail
between its legs.
Leaving the downtown area behind, Sara
thought of what flustered her enough to run a red light. Or whom.
The split-second glimpse of the blue pickup driver reminded her of
someone from her not too distant past. She compressed her lips as
the memories flooded to the fore.
Brian Farris—beast, womanizer, wolf in
He'd been more like a wolf that never
bothered with sheep’s clothing. That’s what made him so
dangerous—dangerous to a stupid girl who should’ve known
The traffic infraction reminded Sara of how
close she’d come to running a moral red light with Brian. For every
insult leaping to mind, her responsibility for her own downfall
pained her deeply. She gripped the steering wheel, pretending it
was Brian’s throat.
Thank goodness he’d never be caught dead in
a town like Buell Creek. Brian preferred the fast life of southern
California. Fast waves, cars, and women. The only fast thing here
was the corn growing in the fields. Sara shuddered, not daring to
believe she saw Brian Farris in the flesh.
A few minutes later, she pulled into a dusty
driveway and came to a stop near her aunt Hattie’s single-wide
mobile home. She entered the trailer through the screen door and
set her grocery bag on the Formica-topped dining room table.
Smelling the yeasty aroma of rising bread, her gaze roamed the
Green shag carpet, a faux leather couch,
hanging macramé plant baskets, and beaded lampshades adorned the
living room. The kitchen boasted dark walnut cabinets, avocado
appliances, and orange countertops. Crocheted hot pads and a green
ceramic frog sat near the stainless steel sink. Although the decor
was hopelessly out of date, the familiarity gave her a real sense
of comfort. She peeked out the back door. “I’m back!”
Sara watched Hattie Andersen brush her hands
on the apron worn over polyester pants, and wipe the soles of her
Keds on the mat. As she came through the door, Sara experienced a
rush of affection for her aunt. She understood why people mistook
Hattie for her mother. A late and unexpected addition to the
Andersen family, Hattie was technically a great-aunt, though only
in her early fifties. She wore her dark hair neatly swept up in a
beehive and her blue eyes sparkled with warmth. Sara appreciated
her even more after the loss of her grandfather.
“Were you able to find the cookies I
wanted?” Hattie asked, giving her usual welcoming smile.
Sara rummaged in the paper sack and held up
a box of imported English tea biscuits. “Last one on the
“I made iced tea and now we’ll have a nice
after-dinner snack before I go into work tonight.”
Sara arranged cookies on a pretty
CorningWare plate while Hattie pulled flower-print glasses out of
the cupboard. Settling at the table and reaching for a cookie, Sara
listened with half an ear while her aunt prattled about the lush
growth of her vegetable garden and her plan to take fresh
vegetables to some of the patients on her rounds. She smiled
absently. Her aunt, who worked as a home health nurse besides
working three night shifts a week at the community hospital,
undoubtedly blessed everyone she came in contact with.
Her thoughts returned to the driver of the
truck who nearly caused her accident. “Hattie, something odd
happened on the way here.”
“Oh? Tell me about it, dear.”
Sara felt heat creep into her face and
lowered her eyes before her aunt’s keen gaze. “On the way home from
the grocery store, I saw a man who looked a lot like Brian
The glass slipped from Hattie’s hand, hit
the tabletop, and tipped, spilling an ocean of iced-tea. They
jumped up to avoid getting doused. Sara grabbed a nearby towel to
mop up the mess.
“So silly of me!” Hattie said on her way to
the kitchen. She returned to the table after rinsing out the
Sara dabbed at a wet spot on her jeans,
feeling rather rattled by the sudden turn of events.
“Do try a biscuit, dear. They complement
this tea quite nicely,” Hattie said, waving her toward the
When seated, Sara took an obligatory bite of
her cookie and returned to the matter uppermost in her mind. “Um,
like I was saying, I thought I saw Brian Farris. But I can’t
imagine he’d come to a small farm town like this.”
Hattie gave a little cough. “I suppose one
never really knows.”
“He’d have no reason to be here. There are
no beach bunnies in Buell Creek.” Sara grimaced at the memories,
feeling the old resentment take hold. The intensity of her emotions
surprised her. It had been two years. Shouldn’t she be over him by
now? She glanced at her aunt, and seeing the twin spots of color on
her softly lined cheeks, shook her head to clear it. “Enough of
Hattie often appeared uncomfortable when
talking about romantic issues. Sara remembered hearing tidbits
about a failed relationship over the years, apparently responsible
for Hattie’s ongoing unmarried state. Whenever she asked her aunt
directly about it, she acted skittish and changed the subject.
Sara decided to take the same course of
action. Leaning forward, she took her aunt’s hand and broached the
other subject burning in her mind. “I would really like to see the
“I know you would, dear. But you’ve been so
sad lately, and I don’t want you to do too much too soon. Going to
your grandpa’s house might be more than you can bear right
“I think I’m ready. It’s been a week since
he passed away and my comfort is knowing he’s with the Lord.” She
blinked away fresh moisture in her eyes. “I only have happy
memories of being there, and I think it would be good to go.”
Hattie’s smile seemed strained. “But there’s
a tenant in that little cottage at the back of the property. It
might be awkward to go while someone’s there.”
Sara frowned. “Why hasn’t he or she moved
out yet? Haven’t they heard what happened?”
“Remember when I told you your grandfather
had given his permission for, um, the tenant to stay as long as he
“But Grandpa left the house to me in his
Will. Since it’s now my property now, I have the right to ask this
tenant to move.”
“Eli was very fond of this man and housing
is scarce in Buell Creek,” Hattie said, crumbling a cookie into a
small pile on the table. “Maybe you should wait a few more weeks
before going over there. You’re still quite emotional, and I feel
you need more time before facing any additional upset.”
Sara stood. “Unfortunately, I don’t have a
few weeks. I have to get back to my job. Besides, how upsetting can
it be to politely ask someone to find new lodgings? They’re
probably expecting my visit!”
“I doubt that.”
She looked sharply at her aunt, wondering
what the muttered words meant. Before Hattie talked her out of
going again, she picked up her purse.
“Thanks for the snack, but I really do need
to do this today. I’ve waited long enough.” Sara bent down and
kissed her aunt’s cheek. “You baby me too much, you know. I’m
nearly twenty-five and old enough to handle this.”
Hattie stared at her for a long moment. She
jumped up from her chair. “I’m going with you.”
Sara noticed her aunt fidgeting in the
passenger seat during the drive to her grandfather’s house. She
shrugged inwardly, her mind drifting back to Brian. Seeing someone
who reminded her so strongly of him knocked her for a loop.
She thought back to the time when they were
in college together. She remembered the butterflies in her stomach
when he looked at her with his lazy smile and sea green eyes, the
way the wind ruffled his dark blond hair the first time he asked
her out. And the way her principles about dating a non-Christian
evaporated when she breathed a ‘yes’.
Sara had been flattered by his attention,
bowled over, and utterly stupid. Sure, he said he went to church.
But even after he exhibited characteristics to the contrary, she
found it unbearable to be apart from him.
she'd loved him. Now she
doubted she knew the meaning of the word. Her feelings for Brian
had felt like an illness. Looking back, she wondered if she’d been
more obsessed than in love.
Sara had managed to recover—though at the
time, she doubted the possibility. And she’d been far more careful
these last two years. She had no intention of repeating such a
As the old farmhouse appeared around the
bend in the road, Sara closed her mind to memories of her failed
She turned the car into the gravel driveway
and parked in front of the house. Sara emerged and shaded her eyes
from the rapidly setting sun. Squinting up at the dilapidated
structure, she fought down a feeling of dismay. It appeared more
run-down than she remembered, although it probably always was rough
around the edges. Now, she looked at it with a skeptical eye and
thought more about liabilities than memories.
The house had a gambrel shaped roof line,
giving it a barn-like appearance, made more so by its behemoth size
against the backdrop of fir and pine trees. There were bare patches
along the roof— evidence of missing shingles. A section of gutter
hung down at a crazy angle. The slanted sunlight revealed cracked
panes in the mullioned windows, and the front porch appeared to be
subsiding into the front yard. Chipped paint exposed bare wood on
the siding, adding to the overall air of neglect.
Was it always like this?
She glanced at Hattie and saw her finally
emerge from the car. Tucking her aunt’s odd nervousness into the
back of her mind, Sara walked up the drive toward the cottage
situated several yards behind the main house. Both buildings shared
the driveway. Sara saw a vehicle parked next to the tiny