April in Bloom

April in Bloom

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by Annie Jones
     
 

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373873616
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
04/01/2006
Series:
Love Inspired Series, #343
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.80(d)

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April In Bloom


By Annie Jones

Steeple Hill

Copyright © 2006 Annie Jones
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373812574

"Rootbound, Sheriff Muldoon. That's your problem." The spry old fellow standing in the open doorway swept the gray felt hat from his head, sucked his teeth and squinted hard. "Got no room to grow. And if you don't do something about it and quick, well, I ain't one to be a prophet of doom, but if you don't make a change soon, there'll be no hope at all."

Kurt shuddered as if a cold wind had overtaken him. The portent of a coming storm.

"Come on in, Moonie." He tried to sound gruff. Amused but gruff. "Tell me what's on your mind — not like I could stop you from it."

Unstoppable. Somebody would be hard-pressed to find a soul in Wileyville, Kentucky, who would argue with that description of Solomon "Moonie" Shelnutt.

The older gentleman took a few steps inside the sheriff's stuffy office and jabbed one gnarled finger at the potted plant bullied into a windowless corner beside cardboard boxes and outdated computer equipment. "That plant."

"What plant?" Kurt pivoted in his squeaky chair to eye the thin-stalked palm, its fringed leaves tinged with brown.

"That one." This time, Moonie motioned with his familiar hat. "Needs room to spread out. To stretch and grow and realize its full potential. Never going to happen if you keep it confined to this place."

Kurt blinked to ease theever-present burning in his eyes from the flickering fluorescent lights overhead and sighed. "I know just how it feels."

"I'll get my daughter April to come 'round and look after it for you, if you want." April, Moonie's stepdaughter, was hardly a girl but to the man who had raised her and done everything possible to keep her and her sisters with him even after their mother abandoned them, she would always be his "girl". Kurt respected and admired that even if the old man's suggestion made him cringe.

"No!" It startled even Kurt how sharp his refusal came out. But any contact between him and April Shelnutt was something he could not encourage in good conscience.

Not with April. Not now. Not ever. Not that there was anything wrong with the independent, unpretentious woman with the golden-brown braid and smile that could light a man's way out of the darkest despair.

He rubbed his forehead, as if that action could erase her image from his mind. Not that it mattered. Even if he succeeded in ridding himself of the memory of her face, the feelings she evoked in him would always remain deep within him. And that was where they had to stay. Deep within. For both of their sakes.

If it didn't hurt so much, it would be funny. The irony of it all. After so many years for both of them to finally find each other, only to meet in a time and place...

Impossible. It simply could not be. That part of Kurt's life was dead and over.

April Shelnutt was the one woman he could have finally chosen to make a life with. Problem was, she was the kind of woman who wanted a real life — marriage, a home and everything that went with it. Right out in the open where people could stick their big, fat noses in and start with what they'd call advice or, worse, support. Yes, they would be well-intentioned. Well, most of them would be but in the end, the result would be the same. Kurt would end up hurt and hurting the people he loved, those who should have trusted him most.

He could not let that happen. Not again. Not to April Shelnutt.

That was why he insisted that if they were to see each other, the relationship had to remain on his terms. For a while, April had gone along with his intense need for privacy. They had met in secret. Taken separate cars to "run into each other" at out-of-town restaurants. They never acknowledged each other much in public.

"Fine afternoon, huh, Sheriff?" she would murmur in passing.

"Yes, ma'am." He'd tip his hat and, in the shadow of the brim, sneak in a smile and sometimes a wink.

She'd walk away with an extra spring in her step.

He knew because he'd watch her in the side mirror of his county car.

If Kurt had his way, none of that would have changed.

But April's life had changed, and with it came the need to do what Moonie prescribed for the palm in the corner. She needed to stretch and grow, to break free of the confines of her old ways and find new directions that would allow her, at long last, to blossom.

Kurt couldn't blame her. He, of all people, understood the roles that loss and self-examination played in shaping life choices. The death of his wife, Carol, had certainly determined how he would live out the remainder of his days.

As an ex-army officer, the town's sheriff and a man of honor and faith, what choice did he have really?

He had to do the right thing for April, even if it was the worst thing for him. He had to stay as far away from her as possible. "Don't bother your daughter on my behalf, Moonie. It's, uh —" he gazed at the sad specimen struggling to survive out of its element — not unlike a certain career army man who had plunked down in his old hometown without any real sense of purpose " — it's just a plant."

"She won't mind. Got a servant's heart, that one. Good girl. Fix you right up, she would."

Kurt didn't doubt April's abilities for a moment. And being reminded of her again and again made him all the more terse when he wheeled his chair around and rested his forearms on the edge of his desk. "You sure you're in the right office, Moonie?"

The lines in the man's face deepened. His bushy white eyebrows inched downward. "What?"

"Well, if you've come to discuss agriculture, you want the county agent's office, not mine."

"Agriculture? No, sir." He laughed.

"Aggravation. That's what's on my agenda for today."

"Well, at least you're up-front and honest about it." Which was more than Kurt could say about a lot of people around town. "What is it you've come to aggravate me about today?"

"Me? I'll have you know, I ain't aggravated a soul in —"

Kurt cleared his throat. "Hours," Moonie finished, a slow, sly grin working across his face. "But seriously, son, I didn't come here to vex you none. I came to warn you."

Not what Kurt had hoped to hear. He edged forward, his eyes keenly trained on the man. "Warn me? About what?"

"That meddling bunch of the COCW, that's what."

"The Council of Christian Women?" Kurt didn't know whether to laugh or grumble under his breath. Either way he'd regret it. He didn't want to hurt the old man's feelings or break his commitment as a man of God and a town role model to keep his language clean. "What's the matter, Moonie? That wild gang of ministers' wives, church ladies and vigilante prayer warriors up to no good again?"

The man narrowed his eyes. "Worse."

"Worse?"

"Instead of being up to no good, they are up to some good. And I have to tell you, that's when their kind becomes most dangerous!"

"Up to what?"

"Guess you ain't heard about the project then?"

"Project?"

"Yup. To mark this time leading up to Easter." He nodded toward the calendar.

"You know how some folks give something up at this time of year?"

"Sure."

"Well, this crowd has got it in their collective fancy, hairdo-ed heads that them that don't practice the service of sacrifice should go over and above and out of their way to do more, to give something back."

Continues...


Excerpted from April In Bloom by Annie Jones Copyright © 2006 by Annie Jones. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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April in Bloom 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sheriff Kurt Muldoon is running from his past, a past that April Shelnutt doesn¿t know about. A past with a hurt so deep that he keeps running instead of forgiving himself, but April feels he is running from her. Kurt and April had dated in the recent past but Kurt wanted to hide their relationship from the meddling towns people of Wileyville, Kentucky. Especially the COCW- The Council of Christian Women, who feel it¿s their Christian duty to do their good deed of matching all the single men and women together. A group that includes Kurt¿s gossiping mother and April¿s sister who has taken on the ¿project¿ of getting Kurt and April married. Also April¿s best friend and the town¿s matriarch feisty Miss Cora Barrett ninety years young sees the young people together as well and tells them every chance she gets telling them they look cute together. Kurt and April do love each other but both are to stubborn to admit it to anyone instead they continually lash out in anger at each other when they do see each other so it¿s easier to avoid each other as much as possible. Kurt¿s plan is buying Miss Cora¿s father¿s compound, Ezra¿s Holler 15 miles outside of town and quit as sheriff and to just live out his life alone with his dog Miltilda. Who would have thought the first night he had begun to move his things in, April brings Miss Cora back to the house to get a few of her things and Miss Cora ends up injuring her back doing of all things climbing out of a window to trim the dogwood tree! Kurt feels he has no choice but to let them stay the 4 to 6 days needed for Miss Cora to heal per doctor¿s orders until she can return home, which entangles their lives together from which there is no return. Kurt even acts as though April planned all this just so they could stay at Kurt¿s. So it becomes a rough few days that¿s topsy tervy with Miss Cora going from bad to worse which forces Kurt and April together even more. So the questions remain will Miss Cora make it? What is in Kurt¿s past that he can¿t let go of and will he ever let it go so he can love again? Will April still love him if and when he let¿s go? You¿ll be surprised by this novel. You¿ll go in expecting a romance novel which it is but within its pages is a strong, clear teaching of love and forgiveness that only God, Himself could have placed in the heart of the author Annie Jones. See how the dogwood tree and planting a garden becomes a teaching of new beginnings and blossoming life. This is actually the 3rd book about the characters of Wileyville, Kentucky. The other 2 books are ¿Sadie-In-Waiting¿ and ¿Mom Over Miami¿ written about April¿s sisters Sadie and Hannah. But don¿t think you have to read the whole series as ¿April In Bloom¿ does stand alone as a story unto itself but don¿t be surprised if after reading ¿April In Bloom¿ it will peak your curiosity to want to know more.