Authors: Barbara Kaylor
“Something wrong?” Worry and fear crisscrossed in Rick’s tone.
“No,” Elliot replied. “Everything’s just fine, but I need help.”
“I’ll be there in thirty minutes and have some coffee ready. You woke me up.”
Elliot showered and dressed quickly then put on a pot of coffee. He found the vet’s card in his wallet and called to check on the dog.
The girl who answered put him on hold while she went to find out the dog’s condition. When she returned, her voice was sad. “He’s fine, but we’re sending him over to the animal shelter. He has no owner. If he’s not adopted, he’ll probably be put to sleep.”
Elliot gulped. “Don’t send him there. I’ll pick him up later this morning.”
The doorbell rang as he ended the call and flipped his phone shut. He rushed to answer it. Rick saw Elliot’s wide-eyed expression and reared back with shock. It was the look he’d worn the whole time he’d been in Holly Park with Geneva.
“I’m remembering things, Rick!” Elliot pulled Rick into the kitchen and poured two cups of coffee.
Rick sat stunned as Elliot recounted hitting the dog and how it had stirred feelings inside him. He described the visions of Geneva he’d had in his sleep.
“They confirm what you and Peggy told me about her and Holly Park!”
Rick’s expression fluctuated between thrilled and concern. “What are you planning to do? Your wedding is tomorrow.”
“I forgot about that.” Elliot raked his hand through his short hair. Geneva consumed his thoughts. The memories of her rushed over him bit by bit like waves in the ocean. He felt rejuvenated. He didn’t have to settle for Olivia’s brand of marriage even though he’d gone along with it. He was in love with Geneva, and he wanted to follow his heart.
“You need a plan!” Rick leapt into action. He didn’t want his younger brother to marry Olivia. “First you need to tell Olivia then—”
Geneva woke on Elliot’s wedding day with tears in her eyes. She’d cried all night.
So much for the brave front!
She thought. She was a hopeless, sobbing mess. Once the time for the wedding had passed, Geneva rose and dressed. At least the day was pleasant. The air was dry. The sky was a jubilant blue. She slipped on her sandals and went to the front porch to call her grandfather. She needed to hear his voice.
“Hello, Grandpa.” Old, battered tears thickened her voice. She sounded like a freight train.
“You don’t sound so good. Are you alright?”
“I will be as soon as the day’s over. How’s Russell?”
Perry glanced at Russell, frolicking in the yard and smiled. “Oh, he’s fine!”
“I’m thinking of coming home after today,” she told him. “I need to do some work.”
“Don’t rush home, Geneva. Your work won’t go anywhere while you’re gone.”
“I’ve been away long enough, Grandpa. It’s been nice, but I’m homesick.” She dabbed at her wet eyes.
Homesick for Elliot, a man I’ll never have.
“God’s got His hand on you, Geneva,” Perry said with a wink in his tone. “I have a feeling He’s going to be blessing you abundantly real soon.”
“You’re always so hopeful, Grandpa.” Geneva smiled. “I knew you’d lift my spirits. I love you Grandpa!”
“I love you, too, sweetheart.”
Geneva said goodbye then closed her phone. She slipped out of her sandals and stuck a sun hat on her head then sauntered toward the sandy beach. Her lacy midi dress flapped in the ocean breeze, but she didn’t care. She let it billow like a sheet on a clothesline. Her swimsuit beneath it kept her from being indecent.
Keeping close to the water, Geneva prayed while lapping waves tickled her toes. God’s power could be seen and felt all around her. Before long, she felt hopeful again. Her life wasn’t over just because Elliot had married someone else. God’s blessings never ran out for those who trusted Him. As she headed back to the cottage, Geneva wondered what blessings God had in store for her. She counted the ones He’d already given her. The list grew as she walked. Her heart expanded with joy and peace.
“I don’t have to be sad or heartbroken,” she declared out loud, reaching the cottage porch. “I’m grateful God let me love Elliot Starling for as long as He did. It was a wonderful time and I’m blessed for it. I knew true love the way love was meant to be.” She turned and gazed at the big, wide, endless ocean. “I may not have you Elliot Starling, but I’ll love you forever.”
“I’ll love you forever, too, Geneva Passion.”
Geneva spun around and gasped.
Elliot stepped from the shadows where he’d been waiting for Geneva to return. He’d arrived from Holly Park just moments before and rented the cottage next to hers.
Geneva had never seen a more beautiful man in her life. His smile made her toes curl. He was cleaner cut than he’d been, but she didn’t mind. He was the love of her life. Joy thumped in her heart.
“Wh—what are you doing here?” Her voice quivered with excitement and shock. “This is your wedding day. Y—you’re supposed to be married to O—Olivia.”
“It’s a long story.” Elliot pulled Geneva into his arms. Her hat tumbled off. Elliot caressed Geneva’s long, soft tresses, curling past her shoulders. His penetrating gaze reflected the secrets of his heart. “You’re so beautiful, Geneva.” He kissed her slowly and tenderly on the lips.
Geneva locked her arms around Elliot’s neck.
“I’m not dreaming am I, Elliot? You are here with me? I am in your arms, aren’t I?”
Elliot beamed like a love-sick fool. “You’re not dreaming, Geneva. I’m here and you’re in my arms.” He kissed her again with more passion. “Does that prove the moment’s real?”
“It most certainly does,” Geneva swooned, lifting her foot off the ground like all the leading ladies did in the old movies. She could hardly breathe.
They moved inside Geneva’s cottage. While she prepared a light dinner, Elliot described the events leading up to his arrival, beginning with the dog he’d hit. That had jogged his memories. With Rick’s encouragement and support, he’d confronted Olivia with the truth. He couldn’t marry her because he was in love with someone else. Olivia was fighting mad until Elliot volunteered to make all the necessary cancellations then gave her a check for an obscene amount of money. He hadn’t heard from her since.
“She’s far from having a broken heart,” he said when Geneva’s expression drifted southward. “This was all a business deal to her. There was no love between us, Geneva, so don’t think I’ve hurt her in anyway. I just turned my back on that lifestyle.”
Over dinner on the small patio in the back of Geneva’s cottage, Elliot finished his story. Once Olivia and the wedding were taken care of, he traded his new sedan in and bought back his truck, which he’d given up when he had returned to Orlando. The only thing left was to hit the road with Trigger.
“Trigger?” Geneva puzzled.
Elliot nodded. “I adopted the dog and named him Trigger. I thought it fit since he triggered my memories. You’ll love him. He’s a miniature version of Russell. They were playing together when I left Holly Park this morning.”
“I can’t wait to meet him.” Geneva’s voice danced in step with the sparkle in her eyes.
Elliot leaned back in his chair. “I was surprised when Perry told me you’d gone on a vacation.”
“I needed a change of scenery.” Geneva lowered her gaze.
“Because of me,” Elliot added, somberly. “I’m sorry for all the confusion I’ve caused in your life.” Elliot reached for her hand. He rubbed it with his fingers. “I promise no more drama.”
Geneva smiled at him. “I’ll take you no matter what. I love you too much.”
They walked along the beach later, hand in hand, under a warm, romantic sky. Elliot pulled Geneva to a stop and wrapped her in his arms.
“I love you, Geneva Passion,” he said with a dreamy voice. “I don’t want to ever lose you again. You make my life perfect. There’s only one thing missing.”
“What’s that?” Geneva tilted her head back so she could see his eyes, shimmering under the host of stars.
“Being married to you.” His arms tightened around her. “Will you be my wife, Geneva?”
A smile spread across Geneva’s face, and tears sprang to her eyes as she nodded. “Yes, Elliot Starling, I’d love to be your wife.”
The next morning, they returned to Holly Park. Rick brought the entire family back up the following day to celebrate the engagement. Geneva cooked a big meal for everyone. Elliot pulled Rick aside after dinner while Peggy helped Geneva clean up, and Jewel and Perry watched the kids.
“Thanks for helping out the other day.” Elliot draped an arm around his older brother. “I’ve been thinking about buying the campground and renovating it the way I’d plan. I’d like a partner. Would you be interested?”
Rick beamed. “I don’t even have to ask Peggy. We’ve already discussed buying it ourselves. Being partners is much better.”
“We’d have to sell the company in Orlando. Would Mom go for that?”
They glanced over at their petite matriarch, laughing at the story Perry was telling the children. The twinkle in her eyes was all the answer they needed.
“Something tells me she won’t mind,” Rick said, chuckling. Elliot agreed.
“Let’s move on this quickly,” Elliot urged. “Geneva and I want to get married soon. I’d like the campground deal settled before then.”
Two and a half months later, Starling Campgrounds opened for business just in time for the Fourth of July weekend. Extensive marketing by Elliot drew huge crowds. The place was a gem. Besides the clean beach which boasted floating decks over the water, the picnic area included grills and electrical outlets at each table. A fishing area complete with boating ramp was available as well.
Elliot employed local folks to renovate the cabins and work the grounds. Josh Templeton had been hired to supervise the construction crews. Future plans for the place ensured employees there would be plenty of work to keep them busy. Construction projects included an enclosed facility for social gatherings, a general store for guests, a fishing bait shop, a store to buy and rent swimming gear, and a full-service dining lodge.
The sale of the art supply company in Orlando had gone smoothly. Rick and Peggy moved into the Palmers old place. There was enough room for Jewel until she could find something of her own. Elliot sold all his apartment furniture and rented a cabin on the campgrounds.
Everyone in the family worked hard every day, but there were no complaints. Even though it was strenuous work, the lifestyle was less stressful. Peggy decided to home school so she could assist with the business
take care of the children.
Elliot and Geneva decided on a fall wedding. The church and reception hall were decorated in autumn colors. Geneva’s dress was antique lace. She wore her hair down. The red curls flowed like satin ribbons under a long veil. In her hands, she carried a bouquet of rosebuds tucked inside autumn flowers.
Elliot’s eyes watered as Perry escorted Geneva down the aisle. He’d never seen anyone as lovely as his bride. His heart pounded so hard he was sure those on the back pew could hear it.
At the close of the reception, Geneva tossed her bouquet over her shoulder into the crowd of single ladies. Jewel caught it without even trying. All eyes turned to Perry for his reaction and found him grinning from ear to ear. Sure enough, two months later Jewel and Perry married and moved into their own place in town.
After the holidays, on a chilly night in front of the fireplace at the bed and breakfast, Geneva and Elliot cozied up on their sofa with hot cocoa. Geneva’s head rested on the shoulder of her husband.
“We never had a proper honeymoon.” Elliot kissed the top of his wife’s hair.
“We were too busy with everything,” Geneva replied, snuggling closer to Elliot. “Then the holidays were upon us.”
“Things seem to be winding down around here now,” Elliot mentioned, nonchalantly.
Geneva nodded. “It’s been quiet since Christmas. Things won’t get started up until the middle of February.”
“I know. That’s why I think we should get away for a long honeymoon.”
“What do you have in mind?” Geneva straightened.
“Wherever my beautiful wife wants to go.”
“You’re the best husband,” Geneva swooned. “I want to go back to Summer Island. It’s quiet and secluded, and it’s where you proposed. It holds a special place in my heart.”
“Mine, too.” Elliot buried his face in Geneva’s hair. “I’ll always love you, Geneva.”
“I’ll always love you, Elliot.”
Honey Creek is the one place on earth Olivia Swanson never wants to see again. When her step-grandmother sends for her, Olivia returns with a plan. To marry the town’s wealthiest bachelor, Payton Vance. But things go quickly awry for the self-absorbed, arrogant, and angry woman.
Secrets in her past, the devotion of a woman longing to be her grandmother, a destitute family, and Rusty Baker, the guy she humiliated in high school all push Olivia into an emotional battle only a Savior could help her win.
Over a short amount of time, Olivia learns she can’t make it alone no matter how independent, ambitious, and stubborn she is. Something spiritual is at play here. Her return to Honey Creek was no random happening. God has chosen this particular time and place to give her a choice. Either trust Him or lose everything.