Family in His Heart (Love Inspired Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview

A Random Act of Kindness

Businessman Nick Thornton couldn't help being impulsive. But he had no misgivings about hiring away the fesity new waitress at his favorite diner. After all, he could spot a person in need, and Rona Meyers needed a protector. Yet, as he got to know her, he was humbled by her caring and no-nonsense attitude. Maybe he was the one in need--after all those long years he'd been struggling to keep his faith. With his sense of family shattered, Nick couldn't ...

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Family in His Heart (Love Inspired Series)

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Overview

A Random Act of Kindness

Businessman Nick Thornton couldn't help being impulsive. But he had no misgivings about hiring away the fesity new waitress at his favorite diner. After all, he could spot a person in need, and Rona Meyers needed a protector. Yet, as he got to know her, he was humbled by her caring and no-nonsense attitude. Maybe he was the one in need--after all those long years he'd been struggling to keep his faith. With his sense of family shattered, Nick couldn't stop wondering if God wanted him to have a new beginning. And a new chance at love.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426811760
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Series: Love Inspired Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 372,028
  • File size: 166 KB

Meet the Author

Putting pockets in the backs of her family's hardcover books, then loaning them to her little elementary-school friends (never to see them again) should have been an omen that Gail was headed for a literary career.

In the third grade, her teacher wrote a note on her report card: "Gail is a good writer." This prophetic statement didn't surface fully until many, many years later when she began submitting church programs and services for publication. A Christmas worship service book was her first published work.

Yet even before that, Gail wrote poetry, Nancy Drew-style mysteries, love stories that usually ended with the heroine getting run over by a truck (she had a lot to learn), and humorous skits to entertain her fellow schoolteachers.

Following a marriage that failed, Gail met the man of her dreams at a divorced singles' organization. Bob shared her love of family and music, values, and faith in God. They were married 11 months later — a "marriage made in heaven," everyone said. And they were correct.

After 15 years of marriage, her husband still tucks little presents in her luggage when she travels, proofreads all her work (and understands point-of-view — a writing term — problems), and doesn't leave her side without a kiss.

Retired as a public high school English teacher, Gail became an adjunct English instructor at Davenport University and a published author. She spends her time planted in front of a computer and loves every minute of it.

Gail enjoys hearing from her readers.

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Read an Excerpt

"Oh, no!"
The cry jarred Rona Meyers from her contemplation too late to escape the hot liquid that seeped through her pant leg as the waitress hit the floor along with the silverware. With customers' exclamations ringing in her ears, Rona scooted from the bench to help with the mess, but a man in a nearby booth had scrambled up first.
Of all the men present, he'd been the only one to come to the waitress's rescue and Rona admired the man's gallantry. The more she looked, the more she admired him. His rugged handsomeness, his tanned face and his brawny stature caused him to stand out among the others present.
With his help, the waitress rose, her face glowing the color of a ripening apple while she still clutched the empty tray. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she ran behind the counter and through the door into the kitchen, leaving behind the mess of broken china and uneaten food.
Feeling distress for the young woman, Rona watched the intriguing man return to his booth before focusing on the dark spots soiling her otherwise clean beige pants. She grasped a paper napkin and daubed the stain, grateful the coffee had only been hot and not scalding.
When she looked up, the gentleman was eyeing her as if to acknowledge she'd tried to help the waitress, too. Rona gave him a feeble grin and looked away, uneasy with his obvious attention and hoping he hadn't noticed her gaping at him.
The kitchen door remained closed and Rona watched it to see what would happen now. Would the young woman regain her composure and return to clean up the mess, or would she sulk for a while in the back room?
Rona had experienced the same feelings. Being a waitress wasn't easy. Therecollection settled into her mind—the hard work, low wages and the sometimes tip-less tables that she'd found so discouraging.
Ridding herself of the memory, Rona gazed out the window at the sun glinting against Lake Huron on Michigan's north shore. The muted silvery gold streak rippled like the yellow line on the highway through the rain—or through tears.
A short distance across the lake one of the Les Cheneaux Islands rose above the water, its shoreline thick with trees and dotted by an occasional home—large homes with elaborate two-storied boathouses. She'd noticed the island on trips to the area with her friend Janie, who'd come to Hessel to visit her aunt. The memory had remained and had drawn her back here now when she needed to get away from her disturbing life.
Distant voices came from the kitchen; Rona watched the door, but the voices only grew louder. She looked away and noticed the stranger watching her again. He sent her a wide smile that made his eyes crinkle. His hair looked tousled. If he'd stop looking at her, she would enjoy looking at him.
Finally the kitchen voices silenced. The door swung open and a tall, lanky man charged behind the counter pulling meals from the serving window and scanning the crowded tables. He studied the tickets, then gave a nod as if he'd discovered his answer and slid the dishes up his arm and headed to a table across the room. He wore an apron, so she assumed he was a cook. This appearance brought an obvious question into her head. Where was the waitress?
Rona followed the man's journey with her eyes, watching him hand over the dishes with skill, then head back toward the kitchen. As he passed, the good-looking man's hand shot out and nabbed the cook.
Curious, she leaned closer, hoping to hear the conversation, but his soft voice didn't carry.
The cook's did. "She quit, Nick," he said, his arm swinging toward the kitchen door. "Walked out the back door screaming that she hated the job. Now I'm really shorthanded. No busboy today, either."
Shorthanded. The word skittered down Rona's spine, worked its way into her head. Her throat tightened with the words that formed in her mind.
Nick gave the cook's arm a pat along with what appeared to be a look of encouragement, then his gaze captured hers again and her stomach twisted.
Nick reminded her of a lumberjack. She could picture his broad shoulders and wide chest pivoting as his powerful arms swung an ax. She couldn't help but think of Michigan's legendary lumberman Paul Bunyan. The name Nick "Bunyan" came to mind and she grinned.
When she focused, Nick Bunyan was smiling back at her. She wanted to sink into her seat. Instead, she turned her eyes on the cook as he headed her way.
"Sir," she said, keeping her voice low while hoping he heard her.
The cook glanced at her without really looking. "I'll get your bill in a minute. I'm short a waitress."
Though she'd tried to hold them back, her need caused words to fly from her mouth. "I've done waitressing."
Her comment jerked him to a stop. "You what?"
"I've been a waitress. If you need someone, I'll give you a hand."
His surprised look shrunk to a frown. "You're willing to fill in for Gerri? You're pulling my leg."
"No. I'm new in town and need a job. One day's work is better than nothing." Her heart rose to her throat.
His jaw sagged as he seemed to contemplate what she'd said.
Looking at his expression, she wondered why she'd opened her mouth.Waitressing wasn't her favorite work, but if he liked her, it could mean a start in the new town. She'd look for something more suitable after she had settled. Her meager bank account wouldn't last forever. "Butcher," he said.
"Butcher?"
"My name. Bernie Butcher. Quite a mouthful, don't you think?" He motioned for her to follow without giving her a moment to introduce herself.
Rona grabbed her shoulder bag, rose and dropped the paper napkin on the table. She stepped around the mess on the floor, not wanting to find herself flattened against the abandoned burger and ketchup-laden fries.
The kitchen door had begun to swing close, but she caught it and stepped inside, assailed by the odor of grease and heat from the griddle and frier.
Bernie—Mr. Butcher—gestured her across the room to a doorway. He followed, pushing open the door of a small storage area. "Put your belongings in here and grab an apron."
She tucked her handbag into a niche and pulled an apron from a hook, then tied it around her waist. As she turned back and reached for the doorknob, she spotted a floor plan of the Harbor Inn's seating arrangement and table stations. She studied it a moment, hoping she could remember which table was which.
While pride railed her for offering to help, common sense led her to the cook rather than following Gerri's path and escaping out the door. "By the way, my name's—"
"Food's up for table six." He pointed to the dishes lining the warming window.
Her head whirling, she read the ticket, recalled the floor plan and carried the food to the table she hoped was number six. As she approached, the diners' expressions let her know she'd made a good guess. "Here you go," she said, balancing the plates as she removed them from her arm. "I'm sorry for the wait." She eyed their near empty cups. "I'll be right back with fresh coffee and some ketchup."
The customers nodded and dove into their food while she scurried away to bring back the items. Her waitress skills popped into her consciousness. She refreshed their coffee, then put on a new pot and headed for two new arrivals.
When she placed their order, she grabbed the next ticket. Table three. The floor plan shot into her mind. Nick Bunyan. She gazed at the whitefish sandwich with a dollop of slaw on the side. Healthier than fries or a greasy burger. She pictured him swinging the ax as her unsteady hand grasped the plate.
Rona avoided his gaze as she crossed the floor to him, realizing someone had cleaned up the fallen mess. She slid the plate in front of him. "I'll bring you a refill. Decaf or regular?"
"Regular, and nice job." He tilted his head toward the kitchen.
His comment caught her off guard. "Thanks," she said, trying to avoid his eyes. But he touched her arm and she had to look.
He gave her a faint smile. "Black."
Black? The word hung in the air until she remembered the coffee. "I'll be right back." His grin unsettled her, though she knew she was being silly. Most people in a small town recognized a stranger and she was a stranger.
After filling his cup, she took other orders and refreshed drinks, avoiding him; but drawn by curiosity, she couldn't help but glance his way. She saw him sipping the coffee and scanning a newspaper.
His gaze lifted from the paper to hers.
He'd caught her gaping again. Rona looked away as if she hadn't noticed. She'd come to Michigan's upper peninsula to get away from her past and keep a low profile, but she hadn't done a very good job today. She'd lived so much on the edge of stress, tension knotted in her again.
Foolish. He was a good-looking man, a kind man, she reminded herself. He meant nothing by his stare. New in town, she was a curiosity.
She concentrated on her work, took orders and bussed tables, wondering why Butcher or Bernie, whatever she was supposed to call him, hadn't hired more help. She would certainly earn her wage today—whatever it was. She'd forgotten to ask.
Rona zipped past Nick and pushed a utility cart filled with dirty dishes through the kitchen door. The lunch crowd had slowed and she stood a moment to get her bearings.
Bernie pulled out a basket of fries to drain and headed her way. "You're a lifesaver." He wiped his hand on his apron and stuck it out toward her. "And a good one."
"Thank you." She grinned at his overdone welcome. "I'm Rona Meyers, in case you want to know who's worked here for the last two hours."
"Sorry." He lowered his head as if realizing what he'd done. "I own the place and when things go wrong, I lose my cool. My busboy called in sick and then Gerri quit. What I need is good steady help."
She could be good steady help, but he didn't know her and she was certain he wouldn't hire a stranger. She only nodded at his complaints.
"Mandy should be here in another hour, and Jimmy'll bus."
"Then I'll keep going until someone shows up." He'd turned away, and she was left feeling empty again. For two hours she'd had a purpose, even if it was only waitressing, but it appeared that in a couple of hours, it would be over. She'd find work somewhere.
Rona snatched an empty cart, pulled it into the dining room and parked it beside the counter, then grabbed the coffeepot. When she turned, she felt her heart sink a little. Nick's table was empty, but he'd left her a five dollar tip—more than she deserved.
What did she care except he'd added a little excitement to her life. She grimaced, recalling excitement was what she wanted to escape.
The next hour flew past, and when a cute blond woman came in through the back door, Rona assumed she was Mandy. The woman gave her a strange look as if to ask what was she doing in the kitchen.
"Gerri quit," Bernie said, apparently noticing her questioning look.
"Oh." She moved closer. "You're the new waitress?" She wished. "I'm Rona. Just filling in."
Her scowl turned to a smile as she extended her hand. "I'm Mandy."
Rona shook her hand, then glanced at the clock. "Guess I can get on my way." She eyed Bernie, waiting for him to offer to pay her.
Instead, he pointed toward the warmer. "Can you catch that?"
She scooted back through the door, grabbed the two fish platters, then stopped in her tracks. After only an hour, Nick had returned. Rona veered in the other direction and set the plates in front of two men deep in conversation.
Before she took another step, Nick flagged her to his table. "Mandy will catch your order. She'll be out in a moment."
"I'd like to talk with you for a minute if you don't mind."
A frown tightened her forehead. "Me?" She poked her index finger against her chest, sensing he was coming on to her.
He nodded. "When you're finished."
She eyed him a moment. "If you think—"
"I'm not thinking anything."
He grinned and her concern eased, but it didn't stop her questions. What did he want? Why had he come back?
His good looks melded with her curiosity and she realized she'd assumed the negative without using good sense. She'd come here to escape her unhappy life and now she realized she'd brought the fears along with her.
Without answering him, Rona shot back into the kitchen, longing to know what the man wanted, but thinking it might be best to leave through the back door. Before Bernie asked her to do anything else, she slipped off her apron, strode to the storage room and hung it on the hook where she'd found it. She pulled her shoulder bag from the niche and drew in a deep breath.
Gaining composure, Rona walked back into the kitchen. "I'm leaving," she said, waiting for Bernie to acknowledge her.
He finally glanced at the wall clock, then turned his head to look at her. "We're still short help. Why don't you stick around until five."
"Until five?" If staying meant the possibility of being offered the job, she needed to use wisdom. "Okay."
"Family here?" He shuffled his feet as if he were hedging.
"No family. I knew the Baileys who live in Hessel. It was years ago, when I was a kid, and I always had good memories of the Les Cheneaux area."
"When you were a kid?"
He studied her as if wondering why it had taken her so long to return to the area. At thirty-nine, she was far from a kid.
His jaw twitched as his eyebrows raised. "You mean Sam and Shirley Bailey?"
She nodded. "Sam died last year, but Shirley's still in the same place."
Sam died. She remembered the friendly man who had been Janie's grandfather.
"You're only just visitin' then."
Now Rona shuffled her feet as uncertainty winged its way into her thoughts, but she'd made a life change and she would honor her plans. "I'm staying."
"You did a good job today pinch-hittin' like that." He shuffled his feet again. "Lookin' for work?"
His question raised her spirits. She gave a halfhearted shrug. "Actually, yes, but—"
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