Who is Hope Wilson?
Is she the girl her former hometown thinks she is? Or the girl Luke Carter once loved—and maybe still does?
When Hope returns to Canyon Creek, Texas, to honor her
father’s last wishes, there’s only one person on her mind: her high school sweetheart, Luke. The boy she lied to when she had to leave Canyon Creek as a teen, finding it easier to hide what she really felt than deal with the grief of loss. Her father’s fortune could make a big difference to Canyon Creek—but Hope finds that the townspeople have a long memory about his misdeeds. With a plan to make amends on his behalf, Hope learns the truth about herself. And the truth about love.
Canyon Creek, Texas
HOPE PULLED HER Jeep over to the side of the road next to a meadow, just where the road crested as it wound toward Canyon Creek. The Jeep was packed to the roof, and she’d even strapped some duffel bags on top. The only available space inside was for her and Einstein. The drive from Monterey had been almost exactly twenty-four hours, spread over three days with short, intermittent stops to rest or sleep.
She still found it hard to believe that she was on her way back to Canyon Creek.
What a glorious vision it had been when the bright orange globe rose on the eastern horizon, shrouding them in the warmth of its glow. Stifling a yawn, she opened the passenger door for Einstein. He wasn’t as agile as he used to be, but he was still healthy and jumped out of the truck without hesitation. Once she’d led him to the grassy area, where he sauntered off, nose to the ground, Hope turned back toward the town.
Had it really been more than a decade since she’d last seen Canyon Creek?
From where she stood, it looked so familiar. The slow-flowing Gulch River that snaked its way along the town’s eastern periphery. She could just make out the red roof on the stone church. The board-and-batten Elenore Hotel. Center Street with its quaint shops, restaurants and bars. And outside the town, the patchwork of ranches.
The buoyancy she’d felt as she’d driven toward the rising sun faded, and she felt a ripple of apprehension. In tune with her mood as always, Einstein ambled over and nuzzled her hand. She automatically stroked the top of his head. “Well, we might as well get this over with,” she
Hope let Einstein back in the Jeep, then climbed into the driver’s seat.
As they approached Center Street, she slowed. Part of her yearned to drive down Center Street. To see close-up how much had changed and how much had stayed the same. But that would have to wait. They’d been on the road for three days; they needed some rest.
At the first set of lights—one of only three in town—she took a sharp right. She’d booked a room at a motel on County Road 93, twenty minutes from downtown Canyon Creek. Hope had chosen to stay there rather than at the Elenore Hotel to avoid being noticed. At the motel, she was close enough to do what she needed to, but far enough to keep a low profile.
A half mile down, the road changed to gravel and she reduced her speed further to avoid kicking up too much dust. She had a vague recollection of where the motel was. She and Luke used to ride a couple of his neighbor’s horses along this road when they were kids. Unexpectedly, her eyes stung and her throat constricted.
It shocked her that after all these years, she’d still feel the pain and regret of losing Luke. Being back unearthed all the memories and feelings she’d tried to bury.
She blinked furiously to keep the tears from forming and sighed in relief when the motel came into view.
Kate James spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Her writing has been recognized with a number of awards, including first place honors for Silver Linings in both the First Coast Romance Writers’ Published Beacon Contest and ACRA’s Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award. Her November Harlequin Heartwarming release, A Child’s Christmas, received first-place honors from Southern Magic, the Birmingham Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, for the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence!
Kate married her husband, Ken, in an elegant, ocean-front wedding on a tropical island. When they are not traveling, they split their time between their properties in southern and central Ontario in Canada, with their beloved black Labs, Harley and Logan.
Kate’s next novel is the first book in her K-9 Squad Trilogy, and is scheduled for release on October 1, 2015.