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Why are you wearing it? How on earth was she going to explain the dress to an outsider? Honestly, she decided. Jay frowned. But i Chapter 7 Cape was the first to arrive at Morton Hall on Monday evening. He parked his car in the usual spot and walked to the front door which had been left open. She motioned to a room to the left of the hallway and Cape walked in to a great fire which was doing its best to keep the cold January night at bay.
There were three large sofas and a coffee table in the middle which had been laid with cups, two teapots and a plate of biscuits. It was the first time Cape had been in this part of the house and he looked around the room now, studying the landscape paintings on the wall, the large ornate mantel clock which ticked quietly, and the fat blue-and-white china bowls on a fancy sideboard. He was definitely more at hom It was always, Emmy — did you do this?
Or Emmy — did you do that? He treated her like a personal servant rather than a human being in her own right. Thank goodness Jay Alexander had turned up when he had, she thought. Really talk to.
Tobias had always been the talker in their relationship and Emilia the listener. But Jay not only listened to her — he also asked her questions.
He was genuinely interested in what she had to say and that was a very heady experience. He Chapter 9 For the first time since Cape had started at Morton Hall, there was another gardener working alongside him.
Not only that, but Mac had arrived that Saturday morning before Cape, his digger already positioned at the entrance to the walled garden. The garden had been his domain, his responsibility, and now he was expected to share it — not just with Mac but with a whole group of strangers. Instead, she opened the boot and reached in for a pair of wellies, taking off her shoes and pulling on a thick pair of woolly socks.
She was actually quite excited by the idea of getting stuck in. She had once made the suggestion of sowing a wildflower area. Actually, she had been hoping to dig up the whole boring lawn and turn it over to poppies, cornflowers and daisies. Grant had looked at her in horror. Recent rain made the roads treacherous and had turned the lane to his cottage into a river. He slowed down, inching his way through the water and avoiding the potholes he knew lurked to either side of him.
Plus there was the issue of money. He smiled as he saw Poppy skipping into the living room. He loved that she still skipped at ten years old. He watched her for a moment before getting out of the car and going inside. They were standing in the living room where Emilia had been rearranging the furniture. It drove Tobias mad. And tell me who this Angela is. With a friend. Chapter 13 The cold, dark days of January finally came to an end and were replaced by the more hopeful month of February with its noticeably longer days and much-anticipated pops of colour from the crocuses.
Cape remembered the protests at the beginning of the project and how many of their team had said that they could only give the minimum five hours each week, but that had changed and all seven of them could be found in the garden on both Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes for the entire duration of the day, and very often during the week too.
Mac had taken delivery of a lorryload of well-rotted manure, which was now being wheelbarrowed into the walled garden and heaped into the raised beds that had been newly made by Patrick and his sons. Chapter 14 Cape took a deep breath of icy air as he stopped digging for a moment, looking down the great sweep of lawn which ended at the River Thames just outside Medmenham.
It was hard work, but it was a very good way to keep warm. It also gave him time to think about what had happened the day before. Or would she? He was beginning to realise that there was much more to Anne Marie than Chapter 15 Emilia was excited by the prospect of a meal with guests. Never before had she cooked for anyone at home other than herself, but there were two visitors at Morton Hall and that was cause for celebration.
Emilia might not have seen a lot of them because they were spending so much time together but, when she had, Tobias had definitely been in a better mood than usual and that was all down to Angela.
For a moment, Emilia tried to imagine what it would be like to have a dozen Angelas staying with them. How wonderful it would be to shock the empty bedrooms into life and to fill the place with joy. Perhaps there was still time to do that. Perhaps today was just the first day in a whole new life for Morton Hall. Chapter 16 The brief winter flurry of snow in February was overtaken by a mild March.
Daffodils gilded the edges of the garden, replacing the army of snowdrops and crocuses. There were also hyacinths blooming amongst the winter leaves that were still to be cleared. The days were now lengthening and that meant more time could be spent in the garden.
A few members of the group had been coming during the week as well as the weekends and the results were visible. Mac had managed to clear a path on the other side of the walled garden and had done a fantastic job pruning some of the old trees there. Dorothy and Erin had joined forces to clear a wild area to the west of the house using a scythe that Mac had found in one of the old sheds.
Erin had once taken a summer course in scything and had been tutoring Dorothy in how to use the traditional garden tool. Chapter 17 March blew in and out in a flurry of showers and it was a great relief when April arrived with a balmy kiss.
Jackets were shed as the team worked in the garden. Great slabs arrived and new paths were made. Benches were bought and then, one wondrous morning, a lorry laden with plants was delivered. The garden was really beginning to take shape. Relationships were beginning to take shape too, Cape had noticed, watching as Kathleen and Patrick worked side by side with his boys.
They certainly kept everyone guessing, he thought. A few of the group had been wondering whether something was brewing between them, and Anne Marie and Cape were never really certain if the tempestuous pair were going to trade insults or kisses next. Then there was Dorothy and Erin. Chapter 18 It was one of those glorious hot summer days that get British people through the long, dark days of winter. The sky was a blinding blue and the garden had a sort of reverent hush about it that demanded you turn your own volume down and just sit and observe the beauty around you.
It was too hot to paint. Even when the volunteers stopped, he kept going. He hardly even took a lunch break. As an employer, she was thrilled. As a person, she was concerned. Now, she sat in the kitchen with papers spread out across the table.
Numbers stared back at her, daring her to calculate them again, as if they might give her a different answer this time. A loan officer who knew her personally as well as professionally—Whitaker Mowers did a lot of business with the bank.
Why, then, had Linda chosen now as the time to get stingy? But she had no idea how she would pay them. And no idea how to bre Chapter Twenty Evenings at Fairwind Farm were too quiet.
Now, with another day waning, he used the old hand-pump well behind the farmhouse to clean up. She wore cutoff shorts, a white tank top and a button-down shirt tied in a knot at the side. Chapter Twenty-One At the beginning of their fourth week of working together, Beth arrived at the farm with coffee and pastries, but Drew was already out in the field, working. She watched for chances to talk to him throughout the day, but he seemed to purposely make himself scarce.
When she knocked on the side door of the farmhouse, there was no answer, and she could only assume Drew was already outside somewhere.
What had changed? She pushed the door open. For you. I think he likes you. I think it can only be described as passion. Can we get back to work? Locals came out in droves to support the event, partly for nostalgic reasons and partly to raise funds for whatever the graduating class decided the school needed most.
This year, they wanted a new scoreboard for the football field. Beatty Park, with its open fields and ample shade, had proved to be the best place in town for an event like this, complete with carnival rides, games and local food vendors who showed up early to aid a worthy cause. Though Beth was exhausted, she knew showing her face at the carnival was important.
These were the same people she hoped would support not only their barn sale, but the farm itself. It was a tradition. She loved the artistic spin the Willow Grove locals put on a school f Chapter Twenty-Four So she was human. Drew had started to wonder.
Not yet. Probably not ever. Not only had he kept the truth from her, but the truth was awful. Nothing but nightmares came. Now, standing in the seats outside the band shell, waiting for Beth, he wondered if it was time to get back to his real life. And how did she stay hidden this whole time? What barn is she using? He wished he had a way to warn Birdie she was about to be evicted, though he had reason to believe the woman would not go quietly. And if she let on that he knew she was there, what then?
Would Beth kick him out too?
His mind spun with excuses. He should just come clean. But an admission like that would require the whole truth—not just about Birdie, but about why he was there in the first place. Chapter Twenty-Six Beth sat on the steps, trying to calm her competitive self down after the adrenaline rush of racing Drew back to the farm. When his truck appeared on the gravel road, she steadied her breathing, certain it would be her last chance to do so until she left the farm that night.
Unlike Beth, who was serious by nature, Drew had a playfulness about him. She saw it sometimes in their back-and-forth banter, but he always seemed to catch himself and shut it down. She drove people away. Chapter Twenty-Seven What had he done? Drew closed the door behind Beth, wishing he could pull her back inside and tell her everything.
Every moment he stayed quiet only put more distance between them. As it was, Beth was just abou Chapter Twenty-Eight The nerve of that guy. This man, this cunning businessman, had a reputation of brilliance. The thought of it lodged a lump in the center of her throat. Chapter Twenty-Nine The next day, when she arrived, Beth knocked on the front door again. Drew had made up his mind not to be so distant with her today—even if it seemed awkward.
Yesterday had been brutal, and not knowing where he stood with her was killing him. He owed her that much. He pulled the door open and found her eyes, which asked permission to come in. One look at her and his self-control unraveled. He watched her for a few long seconds until she looked at him again.
Chapter Thirty Drew stared at her, pain radiating behind his icy blue eyes. Most of the items were old and weathered, undoubtedly the work of Harold Pendergast. Those things told her Drew not only knew about the secret room, he knew about the wall. Was he a madman too?
Beth waited for an explanation, but as usual, Drew seemed unable, or unwilling, to speak. She stood and walked toward him. After too many long minutes crying on the floor of the hidden room, her phone rang, forcing her to pull herself together. I just got your email about the barn sale.
A logo, a website and an ad campaign. Look it over and send me the names of the vendors so I can put the finishing touches on it and make it live.
I would say send me your changes, but the sale is in just a couple of weeks. We should probably just go with it as it is. And if Harrison was leaving her, how was Dina handling it? Her own heart ached at the thought of losing Drew—and their relationship had barely She seemed to think Bishop would be right back, but Drew had already been waiting fifteen minutes, and there was no indication Bishop even knew he had a visitor.
Every so often, the police scanner came to life. Outside, the sky had grown dark, no trace of blue underneath the thick gray clouds. She stood at the front window. Chapter Thirty-Three After half an hour underneath the pews, Beth could tell the rain had mostly stopped. The thunder and lightning seemed to have moved on, but neither she nor Drew moved. But they had to face reality at some point. All that work—his work—was on the line. She drew in a deep breath, then inched her way out of his arms.
But now, when she looked at him, sh Molly and Bishop got out of the VW as Ben opened the door of his truck. Under different circumstances, it might have been a nice gathering.
Beth greeted everyone, the mood decidedly somber. Beth let out a heavy sigh, then clicked the phone on. Chapter Thirty-Six Beth had been sitting in the kitchen when she saw the squad car pull in. She met him on the porch, noticing the manila envelope in his hand.
You look freaked out. Beth took a deep breath. He witnessed something terrible twenty years ago. He was a kid. And he had freckles across the top of his nose and cheeks. There was so much riding on this. She listened closely as he told her what he remembered. Beth stopped shading the face of a pudgy m Beth paced the kitchen floor, feeling like they had to piece together puzzles from two separate boxes.
She recounted her conversations with Davis to Bishop, who scribbled notes in a little black notebook he pulled from his back pocket. Molly showed up at the door, confusion all over her pale face. Was there a break in the case? Not the time to be dramatic. Good offers that any Chapter Thirty-Nine Beth called Davis and asked to see him right away.
She explained that they were desperate and had made a decision, but they had a few questions before they could finalize the deal. As expected, he invited her right over.
She and Drew arrived ten minutes later, with the understanding that Bishop would come after twenty minutes.
To Beth, it was nauseating. Thinking about it had to hurt. Walking in there, asking questions—all of it would hurt. She hated that he had to go through this. They walked to the door, which opened before th Chapter Forty Drew stood in the driveway of the Biddle estate, watching as officers led Davis and Monty to squad cars whose lights shined flashes of red out into the darkness. She wound her arms around his waist and let her head fall to his chest. Could he ever let her in the way he wanted to?
He kissed her forehead, and she lifted her chin, found his eyes. He loved her for that. He loved that he wanted to tell her instead of burying his feelings, giving them the ability to haunt him later.
But now that I know who he is—I sort of feel sorry for him. Her nerves kicked up when she realized the weight of what lay in front of her. Today would not be like every other Friday. This weekend would not be like every other weekend. Special moments deserved to be amplified, so Beth made a conscious effort to do that.
Every day that week, members of the Willow Grove community had joined them on the farm, rebuilding what the storm had stolen and helping them set up for the sale.
This was exactly where she belonged. Now, she walked practically on tiptoes, careful I love everything about it except the parts where I get stuck. I love creating a new town and filling it with people, and I especially love pulling in elements from my own life along the way. I first had the idea for Hometown Girl when I was visiting an apple orchard about an hour from my hometown in Illinois.
Every fall, we make at least one trip to the orchard for cider and apples and our favorite, apple-cider donuts. And if you can get it warm and fresh—well, you might as well just freeze time right there. I loved the idea of exploring family rela To Adam, you are everything.