This summer, my town in Texas, USA has experienced 60+ days in a row of temperatures above 100 degrees. To say I’m ready for a reprieve is an understatement! This time of year, as I (im)patiently wait for the weather to turn lovely as fall creeps into the States, I always think about my book Suddenly Forever.
Set in the mountains of North Carolina in autumn, I freely and without reservation admit that this is my favorite book that I’ve written. It’s got cozy cabins, a small town fall festival, crunchy leaves and moody weather, the most endearing and spunky secondary character, and a love story about redemption and hope after grief. Today, I thought I’d share one of my favorite passages out of this favorite book—a passage that really gets to the heart of the message.
The following excerpt picks up in a scene during which Cora, our widowed heroine, is helping her elderly neighbor, Ina, pack up some things because she’s going to move in with Cora. Their only other neighbor, Luke, who’d moved in several weeks ago, had recently inspired Cora to step out of the bubble she’d put herself in—but that new beginning, and Cora’s feelings about Luke, started to feel threatening and she pushed him away.
An Excerpt from Suddenly Forever
Ina nodded and twisted a finger under the hospital bracelet still dangling around her thin wrist. “Tell me again why Luke isn’t here? Will we see him later?”
Cora’s insides knotted. She turned to grab a laundry basket from the floor at the end of the bed and started layering the hangered clothes in carefully. “I think he had some work to do at his place.”
Ina shuffled her feet along the worn carpet until the walker inched up next to Cora at the bedside. She placed a cold hand on Cora’s. When their eyes met, Ina’s were narrowed behind her glasses.
Cora resumed packing the clothes. Why was everyone around here so nosy lately? “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I mean, what occurred … what took place … what transpired between you and our tall, handsome neighbor?” Ina’s voice oozed with sarcasm. “Did you have words? Did he kiss you?”
Cora gasped and eyed the old woman, mouth gaping. “No! He did not kiss me. Where in the world do you come up with these wild ideas, Ina?”
Ina rested her elbows on the low handlebars of the walker and intertwined her bony fingers in front of her. Her white eyebrows raised, deep wrinkles folding along her forehead. “My, my. It is a wonder how one could possibly fathom the notion of two attractive single persons like yourself and Mr. Bassett finding one another inclined to canoodle.”
“I am not single.” Blood pumped through Cora’s veins like the raging spring streams full with runoff from the melting snow.
“Oh dear, but you are.” The biting sarcasm in Ina’s voice was replaced with a tender softness. “The vows we took say ‘til death do us part. You and I both are as single as the day is long, I’m afraid.”
Cora’s knees suddenly threatened to give up supporting her. She sat atop the patchwork quilt on Ina’s bed, the sweater in her hands crumpling into a mound on her lap. She searched Ina’s face and found a stoic resignation that came with a life well experienced in unfairness. “But I don’t think of myself as single.”
Ina looked passed to a window on the far wall past the bed letting in the day’s brightness through sheer white curtains. After a moment, she sighed and returned her gaze to Cora. “That’s the thing about loss, dear. Those of us left on this side of heaven must redefine ourselves. It’s the only hope we have of continuing to live in the here and now.” She reached out and patted Cora’s knee. “Otherwise, we end up doing something that only resembles living in a version of the past that doesn’t actually exist anymore.”
Cora swallowed hard, her brain working Ina’s words over. Is that what she had been doing? Carrying on an existence that merely resembled living? It resonated in a way that made Cora’s stomach turn. Angst percolated inside and she shook her head.
“I have a hard time believing that after decades and decades with Charles, you care to define yourself as anything other than his wife.”
Ina’s eyes filled, lips pressed tightly. After a long pause, she answered. “What I care to do and what simply is are two very different things. The one and only thing I was, am, and will be forever is a child of God.”
Cora bit at the inside of her lip and stood to return to her task. “Well, nothing about that has anything to do with Luke.”
Ina clicked her tongue and shook her head.
Cora picked up another handful of clothes and turned to face her. “What?”
“My stubborn child, I believe it has everything to do with him.”
A heat rose from Cora’s toes, through her stomach and chest, and straight to her cheeks. She cleared her throat and blinked back tears. Ina could go on and on about how handsome and charming she found Luke Bassett. Whether or not he was handsome or charming or interesting or pleasant to be around didn’t change the fact that he didn’t know when to mind his own business.
Sigh. Is it weird for an author to reread their own book? I might have to!
Suddenly Forever is the second of four books in my Laurel Cove Romance Series, but each story can be read on its own. You can find it here if you’d like to read more!
What’s the weather like where you are? If you’re like me and holding out for cooler days and cozy nights in the US—let’s remember, fall is coming!