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HERE TOMORROW 7 PM PST. JUDITH KEIM AUTHOR OF: CHANGE OF HEART (SEE EXCERPT)
TOMORROW 7 PM PST.
Emerson “Em” Jordan always wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding.
But after being dumped by her boyfriend, she spends the holiday at Seashell
Cottage on the Gulf Coast of Florida with Devin Gerard, a family friend who has
no interest in her or any other woman and is instead concentrating on his
pediatric medical practice and continuing medical missions in Costa Rica.
Em, who’s always wanted a large family, doesn’t
mind his disinterest. At thirty-two, she’s decided she doesn’t need a husband
to have a child or to adopt one. First, she’s going to fulfill her dream of
setting up her own landscape design business in upstate New York and has
promised to continue to help run her grandmother’s flower shop.
It isn’t until Em and Devin become friends that
Em realizes she might want more than friendship from him. But with his work in
Miami and Costa Rica and her busy life in New York, it’s out of the question
until something happens that changes everything, even a couple of hearts.
Later, after she felt as if there were no tears left inside, Em
lifted her phone and called her sister.
After Em had done her best to get the details out without a few
more rounds of tears, Elena said, “I’m so sorry. That stinks. I can’t believe
Kat would ever do something like that to you. You were best friends, weren’t
“Not really. We were city friends who shared an apartment with
others,” Em answered truthfully. “And office friends.”
“Still, that hurts,” Elena said. “What are you going to do about
the cottage? How can you afford to pay for it yourself?”
“I can’t, but I couldn’t let Kat know that. Besides, like I told
her, the idea of this vacation has kept me going through the lonely holidays,
and I can’t, I won’t stay in town for Valentine’s Day. What am I going to do?
Do you know of anyone who would have the time and money to share the cottage
“Not offhand, but let me think about it. Soldier on. Things are
bound to get better.”
“I know, because they can’t get worse,” Em sniffed, stemming
another flow of tears.
In 1970, Violet Hawkins’ only wish at eighteen is to escape
her life in the Dayton, Ohio, foster-care system and make her way to the west
coast to enjoy a mellow life and find the love she’s been missing all her life.
She makes it to San Francisco, but soon learns she needs a job if she’s to live
properly. A kind, young man named Kenton Chandler offers her a sandwich and a
job at his father’s inn and vineyards. With nothing to lose, Lettie takes him
up on his offer and begins a whole new life in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.
She immediately falls in love with the land and is fascinated with the idea of
growing grapes in order to make wines. She, Kenton, and Rafe Lopez become
friends as she learns about running the small inn on the property.
At the same time, she marries Kenton, a stroke
kills his father. And then before she can tell Kenton she’s pregnant, he dies
in an automobile accident. Heartbroken and burdened with the gift of the
Chandler Hill Inn and Winery, she’s left with the task of making them a success.
Struggling to raise a child alone while working to grow the business, Lettie
makes a shocking discovery that changes everything.
people’s lives unfold in the most unusual ways.
In 1970, the only
things Violet Hawkins wanted for her eighteenth birthday were to escape the
Dayton, Ohio, foster-care system in which she’d been raised and to make her way
to San Francisco. There, she hoped to enjoy a mellow lifestyle and find the
love that had always been absent in her life.
Though she made it to
San Francisco easily enough, she soon discovered she couldn’t afford a clean,
safe place in which to settle down. At first, it hadn’t seemed to matter.
Caught up in the excitement and freedom of living in a large city where free
love and openness to so many things reigned, she almost forgot about eating and
sleeping. One couch, one futon was as good as any other as long as grass or
other drugs were available, and others didn’t mind giving her a place to sleep.
But after spending four months there, the dollars she’d carefully saved, which
had seemed so many in Dayton, were nothing but a mere pittance in a city where
decent living was too expensive for her. She took to wandering the streets with
her backpack until she came upon a friendly group willing to give her a
sleeping space inside or a bite to eat.
One June day, feeling
discouraged, she’d just sunk down onto the steps outside a row house when a
young man emerged.
He smiled down at
She was more than
tired. She was exhausted and hungry. “Looking for work. I need to eat.”
He gave her a long,
steady, blue-eyed look. “What’s your name?”
“Violet Hawkins. But
call me Lettie.”
His eyebrows shot up.
“With all that red hair, no flowery name for you?”
She shook her head.
She’d always hated both her hair and her name. The red in her hair was a faded
color, almost pink, and the name Violet indicated a delicate flower. She’d
never had the luxury of being the least bit frail.
He sat down beside
her and studied her. “You don’t look like the hippie type. What are you doing
in a place like this?”
“On my eighteenth
birthday, I left Dayton, Ohio, to come here. It sounded like a great plan—all
“How long have you
“Four months. I
thought it would be different. I don’t know … easier, maybe.”
He got to his feet.
“How about I fix you a sandwich, and then I’ll tell you about a job if you
want it. It’s at a vineyard in Oregon. I’m heading there later today.”
Her glance slid over
his well-built body, rugged facial features, and clean, shoulder-length,
light-brown hair. He didn’t fit into the usual crowd she’d been with, which
made her cautious. “Who are you? And why would you do this for me?”
His lips curved into the same warm smile he’d given her earlier. “I’m heading
to Oregon, and, frankly, I could use the company. Keeps me from falling
“Yeah? And what is
He shrugged. “A couple of years ago, my dad bought a small inn
with 75 acres in the Willamette Valley south of Portland. He’s planted most of
the land with grapes. He doesn’t know that much about making wine and wants me
to learn. That’s why I’m in San Francisco. I’ve been working at a vineyard in
Napa Valley just north of here, learning the ropes.” He grinned. “Or maybe I
should say, learning the vines.”
“What kind of
sandwich?” she asked, warming toward him and his wacky humor. Her stomach
rumbled loud enough for them both to hear it.