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Authors: Barbara Kaylor

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BOOK: The Memory
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Perry drummed the arms of his rocker with his fingers.  “I know, he told me the day he came.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Geneva narrowed her eyes at her grandfather in a benign way.

“I figured he would if he wanted you to know,” Perry replied. He glanced out to where Elliot sat then turned to Geneva. “Do you feel connected to him?”

Geneva absently played with her hair.  “Depends on what you mean by connected?  He fired me from my first real job after college.  Of course I’m going to feel a connection to him.  Maybe that’s what he’s feeling.  Maybe he’s feeling like a dirty, rotten rat.”

Perry chuckled.  “Maybe God brought him here for you to forgive him and let it all go.”

“I have let it all go!” Geneva protested.  She twisted her hair up high on her head and stuck it in place with a black plastic clamp from her pocket. 

“Maybe there’s some unfinished business between the two of you,” Perry suggested.  “God’s giving you the chance to resolve it.  Don’t waste the time, honey.”  He stood and walked inside the house before she could respond.

Geneva mulled over her grandpa’s words.  It’s not like the idea hadn’t come to her, too.  She’d wondered from the minute Elliot showed up if she’d been given a chance to exonerate herself.  She’d done nothing unethical while working for Elliot.  Someone had sabotaged her position, and she had a pretty good idea who that someone was. 

It was time to confront Elliot with the facts as she perceived them and clear her name.  Elliot may not like her viewpoints, but he wanted to discuss the matter.  She’d give him an earful.  Maybe her explanation will unlock Elliot’s other memories, and he can go back to his
real
life in Orlando with Olivia.

The thought made Geneva’s blood boil.  For an instant, Geneva selfishly wished Elliot’s memories would never return.  He shouldn’t have to spend his life with Olivia Swanson.

You can stay here with us forever, Elliot.

 

Chapter 8

 

Elliot was glad to see the weekend almost over.   He missed Geneva.  She gave him a good feeling.  He saw the women arrive on Friday afternoon.  There were eight of them, and they came in two cars.  Geneva had come outside to greet them.  Elliot watched as she hugged each woman and welcomed her into the inn. 

Saturday, Elliot walked into Holly Park and looked around at the small shops then had a sandwich at a café with picnic tables under a huge oak tree.  The Palmers invited him for dinner that night to pay him for all the work he’d done for them during the week.  Afterwards they sat on the Palmers back porch and had dessert.

“I should pay you for giving me something to do,” Elliot told them, chuckling.  He enjoyed puttering around the grounds.  The place needed work.  Elliot guessed that’s why it was empty.  Besides an area for tents and campers, the Palmers had several cabins, each needing some type of repair.  Behind the grounds was a lake big enough for swimming, boating, and fishing.  The beach and picnic areas had been neglected for some time. Elliot offered to clean them up.  The Palmers were ecstatic and grateful.

“We hope to sell the place in the future, but it needs a lot of work,” Winnie admitted.

“Returning the beach to its glory days would certainly increase the campground’s value and make it more attractive,” Ed joined in then added, “I’m just not able to do the work anymore, and we can’t pay to have it done.”

              “I’ll get on it immediately,” Elliot declared.   “I’ll start tomorrow if you’d like.”  His need to be active and productive overpowered him.  He wondered if he’d tapped into his true personality.  Energy and enthusiasm pumped inside him.  Where it all came from, Elliot wasn’t sure, but his working side took over.  He felt challenged by the project.   

“Start Monday,” Winnie said, scooping peach cobbler in a dessert bowl for him.  “Tomorrow’s Sunday.  Why don’t you come to service with us?”

Elliot welcomed the chance to see Geneva so he accepted her invitation.

When he strolled into church the next morning with the Palmers, he scanned the sanctuary for the bubbling redhead. She was sitting in a middle pew on the right with the ladies from her retreat.  He didn’t bother her, but sat next to the Palmers on the left row of pews, towards the back.  From his seat, he could see the back of Geneva’s head.  Her hair was styled in an intricate braid that hung over one shoulder. 

After the opening song, Perry welcomed all the visitors.  Geneva glanced around.  Elliot made eye contact with her and smiled.  She looked surprised and happy to see him.  During the service, she turned several times in his direction.  Elliot hoped it was just for him.  He had a smile for her each time. 

When church was over, Elliot followed the Palmers in a line to shake Perry’s hand.  He hadn’t been in it long when a certain fragrance caught his attention.  He turned to find Geneva standing behind him, looking lovelier than he’d ever seen her.

She smiled.  “I’m glad you decided to come, Elliot.  I’m sure Grandpa is too.”

“I can’t remember the last time I was in a church, but it felt good to be here today.  I enjoyed the music and the sermon.  I like your grandfather’s preaching style.  He gets to the point fast.”

“He attributes that to his age,” Geneva laughed.  “He says he doesn’t have time to dillydally anymore.”

“Makes sense.”  Elliot moved forward in the line behind the Palmers.  “When you’re free this afternoon, come over to the lake.  I want to run some ideas past you.”

“What kind of ideas?”  Geneva arched her brow.

“I’m going to restore the beach area at the Palmer’s park.” Elliot inched closer to the doorway where Perry stood.  “I have no idea if I even know how to do what needs to be done.  Maybe you can give me some pointers.”

“I’d love to.”  Geneva’s eyes danced under her soft lashes.

Elliot turned from her just in time to reach out his hand and thank Perry for the sermon.

“I was happy to see you in the congregation, Elliot,” the preacher said.  “I hope my no-holds-bar preaching style doesn’t run you off.”

Elliot shook his head.  “I was just telling Geneva how much I liked it.”

              “I see you don’t have a Bible with you,” Perry said, wondering if the man owned one.  He had a stash he kept to give away.

“No, I didn’t bring one from Orlando.”  Elliot wasn’t sure he even owned a Bible.

“I’ll give you one from my collection,” Perry offered.

“That’s a good idea, Grandpa.” Geneva had heard the exchange.  “I’ll take it to him this afternoon.”

Elliot turned and thanked Geneva, but kept moving.  A chorus of giggles broke out behind him.  He glanced over his shoulder and saw a string of ladies, scrutinizing his every move.

“You’ll be all the talk around the lunch table today, Elliot,” Perry warned with a chuckle. Elliot nodded a goodbye to Perry and Geneva then slipped away. Winnie and Ed were waiting for him. He had offered to treat them to a seafood lunch.  After their meal, they rode around the area so Elliot could get a feel for the town.  When they returned to the park, Elliot changed into his work clothes and walked to the lake while Ed and Winnie rested.

The sun was pleasantly warm in the blue sky, and the water rippled under the breeze.  Ed had told him the lake was spring fed which kept the water clear, cool, and moving.  Essential qualities to avoid the deadly amoebas found in some Florida waters.  Elliot slipped out of his loafers, rolled up his pants, and walked out into the water.  It was cold and refreshing.  He walked around the sandy parts and looked back at the cabins and picnic area.  A lot of work needed to be done for sure, but he could see the potential for a busy summer crowd. 

Elliot’s mind raced with ideas.  He’d pour slabs of concrete for the picnic tables to rest on then he’d put grills at each table and covers over the tables.  He’d bring the place back to life for the Palmers.  He trudged from the water to a dilapidated table and sat down on top of it then gazed out over the water.  More ideas gathered in his head.  He’d run them past Geneva before he bothered the Palmers. 

The feeling Elliot experienced earlier returned full force. He was rejuvenated by the project. Was this his bailiwick?  Rick had told him he ran the business side of their company.  Was his old self struggling to get out?  Could he be having a breakthrough?  Had he connected to a part of him that had nothing to do with Geneva?  The prospect filled him with hope.  A smile curled his lips.

Suddenly, the crackling of leaves and twigs interrupted his quiet moment.  Elliot turned. Russell trotted toward him.  A few feet behind the dog, Geneva strolled purposely with something in her hand.  She’d changed into capris and peasant top that showed off her curvy figure and toned legs.   Her hair was tied up in a ponytail, and she wore slip-on sneakers.  Elliot’s smile deepened.  Why wasn’t he engaged to Geneva instead of Olivia?  Everything inside him told him he should be.

“I’ve brought you a Bible from Grandpa.” Geneva handed Elliot the plastic bag with the leather bound book inside. 

“Thank him for me, please.”  Elliot took the Bible out and flipped it open.  It was old and worn with notes in the margins.  It was a study Bible.  “I don’t know if I own a Bible.”

“I’m sure you own one,” Geneva sounded confident.  “Didn’t your family tell you that you’re a Christian?  You belonged to the Christian Businessmen’s Association and volunteered at several Christian charities in the town.”

“Rick told me I moved away from all that after you left, and I took up with Olivia.”  Elliot’s tone slipped a notch or two.

“Olivia made a point of telling people she wasn’t a believer.”  Geneva wiped off a space on the table and sat next to Elliot.  “You must have adopted her beliefs if you were so keen on marrying her.”

“I’ve been praying a lot lately, and I feel close to God,” Elliot confided.

“That’s good, Elliot.” Geneva smiled.  “I’ve been praying for you, too.  Grandpa prayed for you at prayer meeting Wednesday night as well.  The Palmers are praying people.  God listens to prayers.  He may not answer them the way we want, but he will respond to our needs.  Keep praying.”

“It’s scary to think about my memories returning and discovering I’m not a believer.”  He looked away so he wouldn’t catch the disappointment in Geneva’s eyes. “I can’t imagine life without God now that I’ve been praying all these weeks.  I don’t want to lose the closeness I feel to Him.”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen.”  Geneva put her hand over Elliot’s.  Her touch was warm and soft.  Elliot responded with a hopeful smile.  He didn’t want to lose Geneva either. 

“What makes you so sure?” 

“Because I believe in prayer, and I believe God wants to keep you in His service.”  Geneva squeezed Elliot’s hand.  “God’s not playing games with you Elliot.  He didn’t allow all this to happen just to amuse Himself.  There’s definitely a reason you’re here.  You need to stay faithful and strong.”

Elliot’s eyes widened. “That reminds me, Geneva.  We we’re going to talk about why I fired you.  Care to do that now?”

Geneva gestured toward the water with her head.  “I thought you wanted to tell me about your plans for the beach?”

Elliot took that as a
no.

“You’re right,” he said.  “I did.  But, I still want to discuss the reason I fired you.”

“We will,” Geneva told him. For years it was important for the truth to come out.  Now, accusing his fiancée of setting her up worried Geneva.  It could put a wedge between them, and Geneva feared that.  But, she couldn’t put Elliot off for long.  What he learned from her account could set his memories free.

Elliot jumped off the table and helped Geneva down.  He showed her the areas he wanted to clean and build up to entice summer crowds.  Geneva got excited.  She gave her input, but it really wasn’t necessary.  Elliot knew what he was doing.  His ideas were brilliant.  Geneva ended up agreeing with all of them.

“I’ll help you all I can during the weeks,” she offered. 

Elliot nodded.  “Thanks. I’m going to start tomorrow, but I’ll still come around and help you, too.”

“You don’t have to do that, Elliot,” Geneva insisted. She covered her eyes to shield them from the bright afternoon sun. “You did so much for me last week.  I think I can do without you for a while.”  Geneva swung her gaze around the grassy park.  “This is going to take some time.  Just work on this.  I used to swim in this lake when I was younger. It used to be buzzing.  Giving it a new lease on life will help the entire town.”

Elliot and Geneva returned to the picnic table and sat down.  He shared his thoughts about feeling in touch with his old business side while putting together plans for the beach.  Geneva couldn’t hide her despair when Elliot explained that the project could prompt a breakthrough.  A part of her didn’t want him to remember his old life.  She didn’t want him to go back to Orlando.

“You don’t seem too thrilled that I might regain my memories.” Her sluggish expression puzzled him.

“I’ll miss you when you leave,” Geneva confessed with a shy smile.  He deserved the truth.

To her surprise, Elliot regarded her comment with a smile of his own.  “That’s nice to hear, coming from the woman I fired.  Does this mean you forgive me for being so horrendous to you?”

“Why is my forgiveness so important to you, Elliot?”  Geneva asked, directly.

“Because I don’t want any obstacles between us, Geneva,” Elliot heard himself say.  The honesty was bold and surprising. 

Geneva squared up.  “The firing isn’t the only obstacle between us, Elliot.  You have a life in Orlando—and you have Olivia.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

“I don’t love Olivia!” Elliot blurted, rocking the table under them.

“That’s the amnesia talking.” Geneva lassoed her emotions.  It wasn’t fair to Elliot or Olivia to get involved even though her heartstrings pulled her toward Elliot.  “You must have loved her in your old life or you wouldn’t have asked her to marry you.”  Her reminder was gentle and sincere.

BOOK: The Memory
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