The little blonde-haired girl ran through the flowers, stopping from time to time to pick some for her bouquet. Her light blue cotton dress blew in the breeze as she twirled and jumped around without a care in the world. Her long curls flew behind her as she frolicked in the sunshine.
Audrey could hear her daughter’s laughter above all the other noises in the park. It rang out like a beacon of hope and happiness. At least that’s what she felt about Daisy’s contagious hoots of joy. She was thankful that her situation was still a secret from the girl. She’d find out soon enough, but she was still trying to figure out how to help her understand all the changes they’d been through over the past year.
Every time she looked at her daughter she was amazed at how much she looked like her father. Sam’s eyes always seemed like the color of the sky at sunset when the darkness was almost ready to take over the light of the sun. Daisy’s eyes were that same dark blue.
If she didn’t know better, she’d think there was no way this child could belong to her. She looked so much like Sam. Her own hair was light red and she had freckles from her Irish heritage. It seemed like her daughter had inherited nothing from her. Well, except for her laugh. My laugh was carefree and joyful once, she thought. Before.
She gave herself a mental shake. She couldn’t fall into that black hole of despair again. There were decisions to be made and lives to be rebuilt. She was the one responsible to move things forward and she intended to do that.
“Daisy! Come along now! We need to go!” she called.
Daisy looked up and waved, but Audrey could see her disappointment. It was clear she wanted to stay and play, but she started the walk to her mother.
“Here, Mama,” Daisy said when she reached Audrey. She held out a wilted bouquet of mismatched wild flowers and Audrey took them carefully. “I hope you love them.”
“I do love them. They’re beautiful, just like you. Thank you, my love!”
Her heart filled with delight at the gesture. What she loved more than the flowers, was her daughter’s sweet and carefree spirit.
“Bye, Bethany! Bye Mellie! See you tomorrow!” yelled Daisy as she waved to her friends. The girls waved back and returned to their games.
The girl never met a stranger. She knew that one day she would become more guarded, but until then she’d watch her little one make a host of friends. She knew that her natural friendliness would serve her well, especially in the coming months.
She held out her hand to Daisy and the two started the short journey home. Daisy skipped while Audrey tried to keep up.
“Mother! We’re back!” called Audrey when they reached home.
“Grammy! Were back!” Daisy shouted at the same time.
They walked into the kitchen to find Kathleen kneading bread on the countertop. Sweat was beading on her forehead, but she had a big smile on her face.
“Grammy, you can have some of the flowers I got for Mama, if you want,” said Daisy with sweetness oozing from her voice.
Audrey smiled and shook her head at the personality change in her daughter. As soon as she was inside, Daisy turned into an obedient darling. When she was under the cloudless sky she was a free spirit.
“Thank you, dear,” said Kathleen. “Let’s put them all together. Find a glass and put them in some water. They’ll perk back up.”
“What can I help with, Mother?” asked Audrey.
“Nothing, right now. I’m almost finished with this. We’ll have it for supper with the soup,” said Kathleen.
“Sounds delicious. I’m going to send Daisy for a short nap. When I come back, we need to have a serious conversation,” said Audrey.
“All right. I don’t think I want to, but I know it’s probably time,” said Kathleen. She looked at Audrey anxiously.
“Let me go upstairs and get her settled. I’ll be back in a minute or two.”
Audrey walked past her mother and reached a hand to her shoulder. She squeezed it and continued on to get Daisy snuggled in for an afternoon nap.
Kathleen Riley had been Audrey’s rock. She couldn’t ask for a better mother or friend. When her father died of a heart attack, she and Sam had just married. It was a shock to lose him at such a young age. She was most surprised at how well her mother rebounded from the loss.
“Life goes on. We accept God’s plan and rely on Him to see us through.” This had been Kathleen’s refrain. She never wavered from it even through her grief. Her faith was inspiring.
Kathleen and Graham Riley had come to America from Dublin, Ireland when Kathleen was expecting their first child. Audrey had been born about four months after they landed in Ellis Island. Later the little family moved to Boston. Graham chose Boston because so many other Irish immigrants were already established there. They found a nice little walk up and that’s where Audrey grew up and made some of her best friends. Audrey’s memories of that neighborhood were precious.
Her father’s woodworking business had done well and they moved to a bigger place when Audrey was fourteen. A townhouse with a front porch. It’s what her mother had always wanted. Just like they’d had in Dublin, she often reminisced.
When she was fifteen, she briefly met Sam Norris. From that day forward she thought of almost nothing but him. She fell in love with him a little bit more every day. He didn’t know she was alive until she almost knocked him over one day when she was running late for school. She was embarrassed and he was smitten. From that moment on, they were a couple.
Yes, good memories, thought Audrey. Now it’s time to figure out our next move. Three generations of Riley women need to find their way.
Kathleen was waiting on her at the kitchen table. A grim but determined look told Audrey that she had an ally. But she already knew that. Her mother had always been her strongest supporter.
* steam rating (1 out of 5)
Audrey Norris is worried but determined. Her life has taken a drastic turn. A short year ago, she was a happily married woman with a young daughter and a warm, cozy home. Now she’s a widow responsible for her daughter, her mother, and a big fat mortgage she didn’t even know about. She can’t pay the house note and she doesn’t have a job. Her options are few and mostly undesirable. Widower Caleb Jefferson is the successful blacksmith in the town of Cutter’s Creek, Montana. His sister has been fussing after him to get married again, but he’s managed to dodge her arguments. Until now. He finally sees that his daughter needs a mother. However, he’d been in love before and that ended in disaster and heartbreak. He has no desire to fall in love again, so he’s hoping he can find a woman who will agree to his terms. When Audrey and Caleb end up together, everyone around them is delighted that their families are joining. Caleb tries to make it work, but he can’t seem to let go and move on with his life. Audrey worries about their strained relationship. She prays every day for help and guidance. She hopes that soon a breakthrough will come. God is taking His time. In the meantime, the family grows closer while Caleb drifts further away. One simple misunderstanding will sever the fragile balance they’ve created. Will this be the end of their relationship or the beginning of a lifetime of love?
About the author:
Bestselling author Annie Boone admits that sweet love stories are a passion for her. She also enjoys history, so writing about the two together is the perfect combination for her. Her love of history was passed down by her father and cultivated by her husband. Annie has always had a quiet story teller hiding inside and now she has the time to put those stories on paper and share them. Her hope is that her stories will entertain readers and her words will inspire the ones who need it the most. The Christian elements she includes often help remind her of her own faith as she writes. Annie lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and the two most wonderful cats in the world. She loves to travel, cook for her family and friends, and watch as much sports as possible. She also loves to read. Of course!
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