Read an Excerpt
The Inn at Shining Waters Series
By Melody Carlson
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2012 Melody Carlson
All rights reserved.
Anna's dugout canoe sliced a quiet path through the glasslike surface of the river. Today the Siuslaw was the color of topaz, with reflections of trees along its edges. Interspersed between spruce and firs, maple trees shone in shades of gold and rust and red. Anna turned the canoe around, paddling back to the inn where she would start breakfast, when the silvery form of a good-sized fish shot out of the water. Soaring nearly a foot into the morning air, it arched then gracefully came down with a quiet splash. The third one she'd seen this morning.
Spawning season. The salmon were beginning their annual migration upriver, and in a day or two, the whole river would be hopping with them, with fishermen not far behind. Grandma Pearl used to say that the salmon were practicing their jumping skills, getting strong enough to make it up mountain streams and small waterfalls in order to lay their eggs in the same spots their ancestors had been procreating their young for hundreds of years.
October was Anna's favorite month on the river. With mild weather, good fishing, harvest moons, and gorgeous sunsets, who could complain? And this year—her first October back on the Siuslaw in twenty years—she was sharing this special month with Clark! Only two weeks since returning from their honeymoon, Anna and Clark had already fallen into a comfortable pattern. It was amazing how compatible they were. Both enjoyed the quietness of the morning, a good cup of coffee, and the great outdoors.
Clark was nearly finished with the first cabin, with a good start on the next one. Meanwhile Anna enjoyed puttering around, putting up produce from her garden, catching up with neighbors, making plans for the inn, and being a wife again. She was just entering the house when she heard the phone ringing. Surprised that anyone would call this early in the morning, she hurried to answer it. Perhaps it was a guest wanting to book a room. So far the reservations had been few, but both she and Clark agreed that was a blessing in disguise since it allowed them more time to enjoy being newlyweds.
"Mom?" It was Lauren, and she sounded upset.
"Yes, dear, it's me. How are you?"
"Not good, Mom. Not good at all."
"Oh, dear, are you sick?" Anna had heard there was a bad strain of influenza going around in the cities. Lauren had been on campus less than a month. Surely she wasn't sick.
"I don't know ... maybe."
A wave of worry washed over Anna. She remembered the time when Lauren had been seriously ill with scarlet fever as a young child. "Tell me what's wrong, Lauren. What are your symptoms?"
"I've been throwing up and I just feel awful."
"Oh, dear, that sounds like influenza. Do other students have it too?"
"I don't know."
"Maybe you should go to the doctor."
"I don't know who to go to here."
"What about your sorority mother? Can she help you?"
"Mrs. Ellis is just horrible, Mom. She's a real witch. Everyone hates her."
Anna controlled herself from correcting her daughter's judgment. "Well, is there a clinic on campus you can go to?"
"I don't know, Mom." Now Lauren was starting to cry.
"I'll talk to Clark," Anna said quickly. "Maybe he can bring me up there and we'll figure out what's going on with you."
"Okay...." Lauren's voice sounded weak now.
"You'll be all right until I get there, won't you?"
"Yeah, I'm going back to bed."
"Good. Stay warm. And I'll call your sorority and leave a message about when we'll arrive." As soon as she hung up, Anna ran outside to where Clark was just coming up the stairs to the house.
"Hello, darling—" He stopped, studying her closely. "What's wrong?"
She quickly explained and Clark, without questioning her, said he'd be ready to go as soon as they had a quick breakfast. Anna hurried to cook eggs and toast, explaining to Clark about the time Lauren had been sick with scarlet fever. "She was so little and so ill." Anna set his plate in front of him. "Her fever was so high, I really thought we were going to lose her." She sighed as she went for her own plate. "Even after she recovered there was some concern about heart problems. Although she's been fairly healthy since then. Until now that is."
"Don't worry, honey." He patted her hand. "We'll be there by afternoon and we'll stay as long as you like."
"Or maybe we can bring her home with us."
"Sure. If you think she'll be comfortable in the pickup." He frowned. "Times like this make me wish I had a car instead."
Now Anna thought hard. "I wonder if Dorothy might be able to help. She lives near the college. If she could bring Lauren here in her car ..." Already Anna was heading for the phone.
"If Dorothy can bring her, Lauren could be here by this afternoon," Clark pointed out. "Then you could nurse her back to health."
"Yes," Anna said eagerly. She was already dialing the operator. Before long, Dorothy was on the other end and Anna quickly explained the dilemma. "I hate to bother you, but—"
"It's no bother," Dorothy assured her.
"But I hadn't considered—what if Lauren has something contagious?"
Dorothy laughed. "Don't you worry. I'm strong as a horse. My girls come home sick with some new illness every year and I never seem to catch a thing."
"Okay ... if you're positive."
"You just give me the details of where Lauren is and I'll head over there straight away. I'll pack blankets and pillows and maybe a thermos of tea. And my girls are in school. Even if they get home before I do, they're capable of being by themselves for a few hours. Ralph gets home by six. Really, I'd enjoy the drive, Anna. Don't give it another thought. I might even stay into the weekend, if you have the room."
"Of course we have room. And you know you're always welcome here." Anna told her Lauren's address and they estimated the time she'd arrive in town. "I'll take the boat and meet you at the grocery store," Anna promised. "I need to get some things anyway."
Next Anna called Lauren's sorority and explained to Mrs. Ellis that Lauren was ill and that her friend Dorothy would arrive there soon to pick her up.
"She's sick?" Mrs. Ellis sounded surprised, and a bit grumpy.
"Yes. I think it may be influenza. She's been vomiting."
"This is the first I've heard of it."
"Yes, well, it may have just come on this morning. She can stay with us through the weekend and we'll see how it goes. Perhaps she'll be well enough to return to classes next week. But if she's contagious, it might be best if she's not there."
"Yes, that sounds wise. I'll let Lauren know your friend is coming."
Anna hung up the phone and returned to the table where Clark was filling her coffee cup. "Sounds like you've got it all worked out."
"Yes." She sighed and sat down. "Thank goodness for Dorothy."
"I wouldn't mind driving up there, but for Lauren's sake, I'm glad Dorothy can transport her." He patted Anna's hand. "Now, try not to worry."
"Yes ... you're right. Worrying doesn't help anything."
"But this does make me wonder if I should consider getting us a car."
"The road is so terrible, Clark."
He nodded. "We could keep the car parked in town. That way, if there was an emergency, we'd zip down in the boat and have a car to use."
"Oh, I don't think we really need a car."
"But what about when you have guests at the inn? Perhaps you'll want a car if you need to pick them up or take them somewhere, Anna. You never know."
Anna was embarrassed now. "I don't even know how to drive, Clark."
He chuckled. "Well, I've seen you handle a boat. I'm sure you'd be just fine behind the wheel of a car too."
She smiled. "It might be nice to know how to drive."
"Then we will see that you do."
"I just hope I don't put you through too much stress. I remember how Eunice complained when Lauren was learning to drive."
Now he told her about teaching Marshall to drive a couple of years ago. "And that boy had a lead foot and an attitude to go with it. So I'm sure teaching you will be a piece of cake."
After the breakfast things were cleaned up, Anna went to work getting a room ready for Lauren. Although the weather had been temperate, she decided to put a heating pad in the bed, as well as an extra quilt. She also put a water pitcher and glass on the bedside table, along with a small vase of garden flowers. Then she made a grocery list and called in her order, saying she would pick it up around two.
To keep herself from worrying about Lauren, she decided to make some of Lauren's favorite childhood foods, including baked custard and snickerdoodle cookies. Staying busy was good medicine for her. Instead of fretting, she began to look forward to this unexpected visit. Focusing more on the time they'd get to spend together, she put her worries about Lauren's illness behind her. It was wonderful that Lauren had called her—and not her paternal grandmother, Eunice. That alone gave Anna great hope that her relationship with Lauren was already much improved. What Anna's former-mother-in-law would have to say when she found out (and, knowing Eunice, she would find out) was beyond Anna's control.
As Anna removed the last batch of cookies from the oven, she mentally compared her new mother-in-law—Clark's mother, Hazel—to Eunice. Could two women be more different? Anna never met Adam's mother until after they had married—against his mother's will. But she had met Hazel even before meeting Clark. Perhaps that was a better way to plan a successful marriage—meet the mother-in-law first.
"Hello, darling!" Clark came up from behind her, slipping his arms around her waist and hugging her. "Something smells good in here."
"I'm keeping myself distracted by cooking." She turned around, kissed him, then handed him a warm cookie.
"Am I a lucky man or am I a lucky man?" He grinned and took a bite. "Yummy."
"They're Lauren's favorites. I hope she'll feel up to having one."
"Poor girl. I just hope their trip is going smoothly."
"I hope Dorothy thought to bring a bucket." Anna made a face. "In case Lauren gets sick, you know."
He made a face. "Oh, I didn't even think of that. Anyway, if you like, I can pick up the ladies in town. I put the full cover on the boat so it'll be warmer for the patient."
"I planned to go myself," Anna told him. "I've got groceries to pick up."
"You want a hand?"
She smiled. "I'd love it."
"We could put a cot in the boat if you think Lauren will need to lie down."
Anna nodded. "That's a good idea. And I'll get some blankets and things. And I already called Dr. Robertson. I explained that I wasn't sure what was wrong and he actually offered to come out here and look at her."
"A doctor who still makes house calls?"
She smiled. "He said he saw the article in the newspaper about our wedding. And he was so impressed with what he read about the inn that he's been wanting to come out and see it anyway."
"Ah, so an inn comes in handy for lots of things."
Anna felt worried again. "I just hope she's okay, Clark."
He hugged her again. "Even if she's really sick, she will have to get well quickly with you caring for her, Anna. Like Mom says, you have a gift when it comes to healing."
Anna wasn't too sure, but she didn't want to argue. She hoped Hazel and Clark were right. After returning to the old ways, Anna's grandmother had been a gifted healer. Anna remembered several times when traditional medicine had failed her family or their friends on the river. Without fanfare, Anna's grandmother would step forward, often when Anna's mother wasn't looking, and she would quietly recommend herbs and poultices and other treatments, and before long, the ailing person would recover. Anna wished she knew more about those ancient remedies, but mostly she was thankful for the quiet healing elements of the peaceful river itself. That alone had brought health and wholeness to her life. Maybe it would work its magic on Lauren as well.CHAPTER 2
Anna was pleasantly surprised when she stepped out of the grocery store and spotted her daughter. Lauren looked perfectly fine as she waved from Dorothy's car. Dorothy beeped the horn then pulled the Buick into the small side lot that river families leased for their parking convenience. Anna hurried over to the car, opened the door, and soon had her daughter in her arms. After a long reassuring hug, she looked into Lauren's eyes. "How are you doing?"
"I still feel kind of weak and tired, but at least I haven't been throwing up."
Dorothy got out of the car. "That was a relief," she admitted. "I can remember when Jill got carsick on our way to Yosemite a couple years ago. The car stank for weeks."
"Well, let's get you onto the boat. Clark just took a box of groceries down ahead of us, but we're ready to go." Anna put an arm around Lauren's shoulders. "We fixed it up like a floating ambulance."
"And I'll get our bags," Dorothy said.
"I'll send Clark back to help."
"Meet you at the dock."
"Thanks." Anna smiled gratefully at her old friend. Dorothy had grown up on the river too. She knew her way around as well as Anna. If only she lived here full-time.
Before long they were back at the inn where Anna thanked Dorothy again, telling her to make herself at home, or to use the boat to go and visit her parents if she liked. "I'll get this girl into bed."
"I'm not that tired," Lauren protested.
"I don't care," Anna said with authority as she led Lauren to the room she'd prepared. "I'm in charge here and I think you should just rest."
"Okay." Lauren gave in easily and Anna noticed her usually vivacious daughter did look a little pale and weary as she peeled off a soft pink cardigan.
"Do you feel like eating a little something?" Anna set one of Lauren's bags on the bench at the foot of the bed.
"I guess I could try. I didn't feel much like it on the trip here." Lauren kicked off her shoes and sat down on the chair by the window, sighing as if bone-weary.
"You get yourself into bed, sweetheart, and I'll bring you something."
Lauren made a weak smile. "Thanks, Mom. You know, there's no one like you when it comes to taking care of me when I'm sick. Grandmother was always hopeless at it. Remember?"
Anna chuckled. "Your grandmother never could stand the sight of a sickroom or even something as innocent as a thermometer—and if there's a bedpan anywhere near the poor woman, she might actually faint."
Lauren made a face. "Well, at least I don't need a bedpan, Mom."
"Thank goodness for that." As Anna went to prepare Lauren a tray, she remembered the long, hard years she'd spent caring for Lauren's father when Lauren was a girl. Adam had returned from the war minus an arm and a piece of his soul. Anna had cared for him for about ten years before he'd finally taken his own life. As far as Anna knew, Lauren was unaware of this sad fact. For years Anna had assumed she was the only one with those suspicions. However, she'd been blindsided when Eunice brought up the subject of Adam's death last summer. It was possible Eunice might've informed Lauren about her father by now, but Anna did not intend to bring the subject up herself. Some things were better left unsaid.
Anna carried a tray with tea, custard, and a couple of cookies into Lauren's room. "See if there's anything here that can tempt your appetite," she told her as she set it on Lauren's lap. "And I'm making chicken soup for dinner."
Lauren smiled. "Looks good, Mom. Thanks."
Anna sat down, making small talk as Lauren picked at the food. She told her a little bit about their honeymoon trip up the Oregon Coast. "We stayed at different beachside hotels all along the highway, clear up to Astoria."
"That sounds fun." Lauren took a sip of tea. "But I plan to go somewhere more exotic my honeymoon. I think maybe Honolulu or Jamaica."
Anna chuckled. "Already planning your honeymoon?"
"Doesn't hurt to think ahead."
"How are your classes going, honey? Do you like school?"
Lauren shrugged. "You know me, Mom. I've never been the scholarly type. But I like the girls in my sorority. And it's fun seeing Donald on campus."
"Are you feeling a little better now?" Anna got up now, placing her hand on Lauren's forehead, like she used to do when Lauren was a child. To her relief, it felt normal.
"I guess so. But I'm surprised because I really felt sick this morning. I barely made it to the bathroom on time. And I couldn't eat a thing for breakfast."
Excerpted from River's Call by Melody Carlson. Copyright © 2012 Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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.