A Family for Thanksgiving [NOOK Book]

Overview




After a devastating tornado ripped through High Plains, a two-year-old was found wandering all alone. Foster mother Nicki Appleton took in the little girl, her heart bursting with love and prayers. Now the storm's aftermath has brought home the man Nicki once expected to marry, and Clay Logan claims to be a changed cowboy. But with her energy focused on a child she may not...
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A Family for Thanksgiving

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Overview




After a devastating tornado ripped through High Plains, a two-year-old was found wandering all alone. Foster mother Nicki Appleton took in the little girl, her heart bursting with love and prayers. Now the storm's aftermath has brought home the man Nicki once expected to marry, and Clay Logan claims to be a changed cowboy. But with her energy focused on a child she may not be able to keep, is there room for another kind of love in Nicki's heart this Thanksgiving?


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426843433
  • Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Series: After the Storm
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 280,871
  • File size: 170 KB

Meet the Author


 USA Today best-selling author Patricia Davids was born and raised in Kansas. After forty years as an NICU nurse, Pat switched careers to become an inspirational writer. She enjoys spending time with her daughter and grandchildren, traveling and playing with her dogs, who think fetch should be a twenty-four hour a day game. When not on the road or throwing a ball, Pat is happily dreaming up new stories.

 


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Read an Excerpt

October 27

Clay Logan had barely stepped down from his horse before Mrs. Dewey threw her arms around him again.

"Thank you, Clay. Thank you so very, very much."

His neck was going to have a permanent crick in it if she didn't let up soon.

Her husband, standing beside the second trail horse, lifted his seven-year-old daughter, Karen, out of the saddle. Walking over, he grabbed Clay's hand in a vicelike grip and began pumping it up and down. "We owe you a debt of gratitude that we'll never be able to repay."

Clay's boss, Hollister Dodd, owner of the Canadian Wilderness Guide Service, had come out onto the wide porch of the lodge at the Chilihota Ranch. He watched the return of his clients from their packhorse excursion with a puzzled expression on his face.

"It was nothing, ma'am. Honest," Clay managed to mutter past Mrs. Dewey's stranglehold.

She took a step back. "I don't know how you can say that. You saved our daughter's life!"

"What's this?" Hollister came forward to take the reins of Mrs. Dewey's horse.

"Tanner pushed me in the lake." Safe in her father's arms, Karen, a blond-haired, blue-eyed pixie and the bane of Clay's existence for the last two weeks, scowled at her older brother still sitting on his horse.

"It was an accident," fourteen-year-old Tanner mumbled.

Something in his tone caught Clay's attention and brought back memories of his own childhood. His brother, Jesse, used to sound just like that when he was explaining why Clay had landed in trouble while Jesse was supposed to be watching him.

Hollister's gaze focused on Clay. "When did this happen?"

Mr. Dewey spoke upquickly. "Please don't think Clay was negligent in any way. We made camp last evening at White Lake. The kids were horsing around on that big boulder that juts out like a ship's prow. Clay cautioned them several times to get off the rock."

He had, but little miss daredevil just had to see how close to the edge she could get. In a way, she reminded Clay of himself at that age. No wonder Jesse had been glad to see the last of him.

Hollister relaxed once he realized the family didn't intend to sue him for all he was worth. Stepping up to Mr. Dewey, he ruffled Karen's hair. "I'll bet it was a cold dip."

She nodded, and Clay had to agree. His dive from the rock ledge fifteen feet up had plunged him deep into the frigid waters of the snow-fed lake. The shock all but paralyzed his muscles. Even now, he marveled that he'd managed to reach the girl in the icy depths and find the strength to get them both to shore.

Mrs. Dewey pressed her hand to her heart as tears welled up in her eyes. "When Karen fell, Clay didn't hesitate. He jumped in to save her. I don't know what would have happened if he hadn't acted so quickly." Her voice cracked, and she couldn't go on.

Her husband reached out to draw her close. She buried her face in his shoulder, her arms encircling both her husband and her child. Mr. Dewey said, "Karen can't swim. Clay saved her life."

In spite of their praise, Clay knew he hadn't done it alone.

Even now, he wasn't sure he trusted what he'd felt, but it had been as real as the icy water around him. Deep beneath the surface, at the moment all his energy had been sapped and he was sure Karen was lost forever, a healing presence had come over him. It gave him the strength he needed to reach the child and get her to shore.

God had been with him in that lake. He had no other explanation.

After the death of his parents when he was nineteen, Clay felt God had abandoned him and his family. It seemed better to live life without trusting in an almighty power that had failed him so completely. Clay had turned his back on the faith he'd grown up with. To his way of thinking, God didn't care much about Clay Logan, so Clay Logan wouldn't care about Him.

It was something of a shock to discover he'd been wrong.

Mr. Dewey extended his hand to Clay again. "If there is ever anything I can do for you, young man, all you have to do is ask."

Looking stunned at the tale, Hollister asked, "Does Karen need to see a doctor? I'll be happy to cover the cost."

Karen scowled fiercely at him. "No! I won't go to the doctor, and you can't make me. He'll give me shots."

Mrs. Dewey wiped the tears from her cheeks with her palms. "You don't have to have any shots, honey."

Mr. Dewey shrugged. "It's amazing, but she seems fine."

"I'd feel better if you at least spoke to a doctor about this. Come inside and use my phone."

With Hollister leading the way, the trio followed him into the lodge leaving Tanner still sitting on his horse.

Clay studied the boy's dejected posture. He knew something of what the boy had to be feeling. "Care to give me a hand putting the horses away?"

"I guess."

Dismounting, Tanner fell into step beside Clay as they led the animals to the barn. Inside, the building held a dozen large stalls filled with thick straw waiting to give the weary trail ponies a well-deserved rest. The warm smell of horses, grain and hay were scents Clay knew well. He'd grown up on a ranch, and he'd spent his whole life as a cowboy.

Side by side, Clay and Tanner worked in silence following the routine Clay had taught the teen and his family during their trek into the wilderness. The boy's attention to detail, his willingness to follow directions and lend a hand had made him an ideal partner on their recent trip, unlike his less-than-helpful little sister.

"I didn't push her. I was trying to pull her back from the edge," Tanner said at last, as he slowly brushed down his mare.

"I'm not sure I'd blame you if you had. I considered it more than once." Clay pulled the heavy saddle and sweaty blanket off his horse and threw it over the stall door with ease.

Chuckling, Tanner began brushing with renewed vigor. "She is a pain."

"No kidding. You have my sympathy."

"Mom and my stepdad spoil her rotten."

"And anything she does wrong you get blamed for because you're the oldest."

Tanner looked surprised. "You must have a sister, too."

"I do. Her name is Maya, but she wasn't the one who caused the trouble in our family. That was all me."

"Is your sister the oldest?"

"No, she's the baby, but I have an older brother."

Neither of which he'd seen in seven years. Had it really been that long? How much longer would it be until Jesse forgave him? Would he ever?

And what about Nicki? Did she ever think about him? He thought about her far too often.

Each time Clay received a call from Maya he wanted to ask about Nicki, but jumping off a fifteen-foot cliff into a freezing lake was a whole lot easier.

"How can I get a job like this?" Tanner asked, breaking into Clay's somber thoughts.

"You bum around for a while, take odd jobs on ranches, wander farther and farther away." His voice trailed off as the aimlessness of his past hit him.

Was that all his life had been up to this point? Where did it go from here?

"Away from what?" Tanner asked.

"For me, a place called High Plains, Kansas."

Away from the windswept prairie. From the rolling Flint Hills covered in deep green grass where cattle grew fat and sleek and a boy could ride all day without seeing anyone but a lone hawk circling overhead against a sky so blue it hurt his eyes.

Clay patted his horse's neck as he stared at the snowcapped Rocky Mountains outside the doorway without really seeing them. Instead, he saw Nicki looking shy and beautiful; saw the moonlight reflected in her eyes as she gazed up at him inside the gazebo by the river.

He'd kissed a few women since that night, but none of them matched the sweetness of Nicki's lips.

And all he'd done for her in return was to sully her good name.

He could still hear Jesse's voice raised in anger condemning Clay for ruining her reputation and for so much more unspoken between them. A condemnation Clay knew he deserved.

He glanced at Tanner. The boy was still waiting for his advice. "Ask Mr. Dodd about hiring you on as a summer hand. If he and your folks say yes, then prove you're reliable and willing to do the tough jobs. After a year or two of learning the ropes he might let you guide."

"My stepdad wants me to start working for him when I turn sixteen, but I'd rather be a cowboy."

Clay threw back his head and laughed. "Your dad owns the largest hotel-building company in Dallas. He's worth millions of dollars. Go to work for him. It'll pay a whole lot better."

Tanner managed a sheepish grin. "Will you be here next year?"

"Will your folks leave the princess back at the castle?"

"Not much chance of that."

"Then I may be looking for work elsewhere. Two weeks with that girl's fits and tantrums was more than enough for me."

This had been his last trip of the season. Soon, the mountains and valleys would be covered in a snow blanket that would last until April. Hollister had already offered to let Clay stay on over the winter, but he hadn't made up his mind yet. He'd been guiding here for three years, the longest he'd spent in one place since leaving home, but lately he'd been feeling restless again. Like it was time to move on.

"Do you have kids?" Tanner asked.

"Me?" Clay shook his head. "I'm not the settle-down-raise-a-family kind of guy. That's my brother's thing."

Why was it that his words didn't carry the conviction he normally felt? Maybe it was because Tanner reminded him so much of Jesse, and Jesse had been on Clay's mind a lot.

He should have been there for Jesse when his wife died.

Clay moved to the second horse waiting to be unsaddled. He hadn't learned about Marie's death until three weeks after the fact. The phone call from Maya back in July had missed Clay by two days. By then, he'd been deep in the Canadian wilderness with a hunting party and couldn't be reached.

He returned his sister's call as soon as he got back to the lodge, but her home and cell phones had both been disconnected. Worried sick, he'd gritted his teeth and called Jesse to find out what was going on.

It was the first time the brothers had spoken in seven years.

Clay could still hear the hard, stilted tone of Jesse's voice as he recounted how his wife had been killed during a tornado that touched down in the area.

Thousands of miles away and weeks after her death, Clay hadn't known what to say. His heart went out to Jesse, but he couldn't find the words he needed to offer his brother comfort. It had always been that way between them. How could two sons of the same parents be so different?

Clay had finally asked, "Do you want me to come home?"

Oh, how he needed Jesse to say yes, but his tough-as-nails sibling replied, "Don't rush back on my account. We've managed without you this long."

It didn't take a genius to read between the lines. What Jesse meant was don't come back at all. Jesse hadn't forgiven Clay for his role in the death of their parents. The hurt went bone-deep.

Clay had gone back into the wilderness with his next group of clients a few days later. Weeks after his call to Jesse, Clay learned about his sister's marriage in much the same fashion.

This time, there had been a letter waiting for him when he got back to the ranch.

He would have liked to have been there for Maya's big day, but it seemed that she and her new husband, Greg Garrison, were in a hurry so they could foster a six-year-old boy named Tommy Jacobs.

Since Maya already had a three-year-old daughter, Clay realized he now had more relatives that he hadn't met than ones he knew. Jesse had triplet daughters that were only a few months old, and he was raising them by himself. Jesse never did things the easy way.

"High Plains, Kansas. Where is that?" Tanner asked. "My grandparents live in Wichita."

From behind them, Karen's know-it-all voice cut in. "That's where my class sent a big card on the first day of school. We all signed it."

"Oh, right," Tanner replied. "The town that was almost wiped out by a tornado."

Clay glanced between the kids. "Are you sure you aren't thinking of Greensburg?"

Karen's face scrunched into a scowl. She threw a handful of straw at Clay. "My teacher said High Plains!"

"Karen, be nice," Tanner chided.

"You're not the boss of me," she shot back, making a face and sticking her tongue out at him.

Tanner finished his horse and turned the animal loose in the stall. "She's right. It was High Plains. It was all over the news for a couple of days. If Mr. Hollister will let us use his computer, I can show you the story on the Internet."

Karen rolled her eyes. "We could have used mine, but Dad wouldn't let me bring my laptop. He said this was going to be a real old-fashioned vacation."

Clay gaped at her. "You have a laptop? Aren't you in, what, the first grade?"

She snatched up two more handfuls of straw to fling at him. "Second grade!"

Karen's brush with death hadn't reduced her sassiness one bit.

Tanner walked toward the barn door. "Ignore her. It works for me."

Fifteen minutes later, Clay was leaning over Tanner's shoulder as he pulled up picture after picture of High Plains, shredded by a tornado. Hundred-year-old trees stripped bare, building and cars reduced to shattered jumbles of rubble.

Why hadn't Jesse or Maya told him about this?

Because they think I don't care.

Maya had mentioned in her letter that the cleanup was continuing after the storm and that she and Greg were planning to hold a wedding reception in the Old Town Hall when repairs were finished, hopefully by Christmas. She'd also written to expect an invitation.

Clay had no idea the damage to High Plains had been so severe. He couldn't believe he had to find out what had happened to his hometown from strangers when he'd spoken to Jesse on the phone only weeks after the event.

Clay had to acknowledge that he hadn't exactly stayed on the line to chitchat with Jesse after learning about Marie's death. Had Maya assumed Jesse filled Clay in on the details of the storm? She must have, or she would have tried contacting him again.

With a sinking heart, he realized his silence all these months probably convinced her he didn't care.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    Great read

    This was a sweet story that kept me interested the whole way through. I would recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2013

    It was an overall nice story. Much of it was very good and focus

    It was an overall nice story. Much of it was very good and focused on the importance of family and service.

    There were many editing errors that were distracting to the story.

    Something seemed to be missing for me, an emotional connection or something. I did not like the way in which it ended either. Kind of a cliffhanger.

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    Posted August 1, 2010

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    Posted November 18, 2010

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