Small-Town Dreams / The Girl Next Door

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SMALL-TOWN DREAMS

Preacher Josh Daniels lives in the present. Then he meets Cassidy Jamison. Before long, he begins to yearn for a future he fears is impossible. But fate brought this big-city girl into this tiny town for a reason. And with Josh's help, Cassidy just might find what she truly wants--a home for her heart.

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

After an accident destroys his Olympic dreams, Jeff Carrington feels ...

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Overview

SMALL-TOWN DREAMS

Preacher Josh Daniels lives in the present. Then he meets Cassidy Jamison. Before long, he begins to yearn for a future he fears is impossible. But fate brought this big-city girl into this tiny town for a reason. And with Josh's help, Cassidy just might find what she truly wants--a home for her heart.

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

After an accident destroys his Olympic dreams, Jeff Carrington feels lost and bitter. Still, Hope Taggert won't give up on the man she's loved all her life. Restoring Jeff's faith takes patience and determination, but with God's help, anything is possible.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373651245
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Series: Love Inspired Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate lives in Havertown, a small community outside Philadelphia, with her husband of 29 years. One of Kate's two daughters still lives at home and all three of them share the house with Kali, the family cat, and Echo, their Chesapeake Bay retriever puppy.

She writes full-time. When she's not at work creating stories and the characters that populate them, Kate fills her time with other creative outlets. There are few crafts she hasn't tried at least once!

Kate has been known to tackle almost any job around the house, from painting and wallpapering to refinishing furniture; from making wedding gowns and bridal bouquets to trying her hand at vinyl siding.

"Inheriting talents from both your parents can make for a busy life," says Kate of her odd array of talents. "When a hero or heroine in one of my books gets out a hammer, a drill, a sewing machine, or a glue gun, you can usually be sure I've done something pretty similar."

Kate chaired Romance Writers of America's Readers for Life Literacy book signing in 1996. Also in 1996, for her work on the local level with her RWA chapter and for her work in the cause of literacy, Kate received Romance Writers of America's regional service award. Literacy is a cause dear to Kate's heart because she herself suffered from reading problems into her adult years.

It was a challenge from her husband that gave Kate the courage to write her first book. Having never really read a book for pure enjoyment, let alone written one, it truly was a leap of faith. The constant exercise of reading her own work helped solve some of the eye muscle problems that had caused most of Kate's reading difficulties.Shesees that as the Lord's way of healing her while showing her His plan for her life. In the same way, she hopes to entertain her readers while showing them His principles.

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Read an Excerpt

Cassidy Jamison stared at her grandfather and only one word came to her mind. Betrayal.
"Naming Jonathan Reed as the next vice president of Information Systems wasn't an easy task. We had several excellent candidates but…"
Cassidy saw her grandfather's mouth moving as he heaped praise on his new vice president, but the buzzing in her ears drowned out the actual words.
She was honest enough with herself to admit that Jon had worked hard, too, and that he would make a good VP. But she would have done just as good a job, and she had worked just as hard as he had. Harder, in fact! Cassidy hadn't taken a vacation since joining the company out of business school six years earlier. The Mickey Mouse ears perched atop Jon's monitor were a constant reminder that he and his family had flown off to Disney World last year while she'd worked a seventyhour week to keep ahead of the problems that he'd been able to leave behind.
But even that didn't bother her all that much. What hurt, what felt as if it had crushed her spirit, was that her grandfather had broken his word. He had promised the promotion to her.
She heard a door shut firmly and she blinked, looking around. The meeting was apparently over, and she and the all-powerful Winston Jamison were alone in his oak-paneled office.
"You made your surprise evident," he snapped.
Cassidy stood and smoothed the straight skirt of her dress-for-success, navy power suit. At five-foot-nine she was easily able to look him in the eye without looking up—the very reason she'd stood.
"Surprise, Grandfather?" Cassidy arched an eyebrow, an action stolen directly from the man before her. "That's all I gave away? ThenI did rather well, don't you think? Because what I felt was shock! No! Call it what it is—betrayal."
Her grandfather ran his fingers through his impeccably styled hair. "This is business, Cassidy. Not betrayal. And it was the most difficult decision I've ever made."
"Business? You set me up! You told me that vice presidency was mine. I've worked practically around the clock since Harold Overton died. No one has put in more time or seen to it that their teams completed more projects on time than I have."
Winston Jamison nodded his head, his white hair gleaming in the sunlight that streamed in his office window. "That's all true but there were other considerations."
"What other considerations? Dedication? Education?" she asked, knowing full well she was ahead in those areas, as well. She'd carried two majors trying to please him and herself at the same time.
"Jon is a family man. He's stable. Trustworthy—"
"And I'm not trustworthy?"
Her grandfather looked pained. "No, of course I trust you. It was a judgment call. That's all. You'll just have to accept that."
"Accept that my own grandfather lied to me. Accept that he played fast and loose with a solemn promise as well as the truth. You know, Grandfather, if you treated any other employee the way you have me, you'd be in court faster than a lightning strike can fry a PC."
Winston's eyes widened and his face grew red. "Are you threatening me, young lady?" His tone was one she recognized. She had heard it for twenty years, each and every time he needed to haul out the big guns to manipulate her into compliance with his will. His expression was the same.
Disapproving.
Judgmental.
"Don't try that attitude and tone with me. It won't work this time," she growled and leaned her hands on his desk, which put her practically nose to nose with her new nemesis. "Who was it you called the morning Harold died? Who had to cancel her vacation immediately to take over his workload because—let me make sure I get the wording just right here—'Cassidy, you're the only one I can count on.'Too bad you didn't call Jon. His vacation wasn't scheduled for another two weeks. But then, he got his time off, didn't he."
Her grandfather looked down at his desk and fidgeted with his calendar. "His children were counting on that trip."
"I was counting on mine. Just as I was counting on that promotion. And my vacation weeks the two years before that. Vacations you begged me not to take."
"I needed you here—not gallivanting off to some uncivilized place on the globe."
"Well, you obviously don't need me around here as much as you've led me to believe all these years. And since I have six weeks' vacation coming to me, you'll see me then. If I decide to come back!"
Her grandfather stiffened, his bushy eyebrows drawn together, his gray eyes almost as sorrowful as she felt. "I did need you. I do. I was just trying—"
"Don't, Grandfather," Cassidy snapped, cutting him off before he could do what he did best—entice her into believing him once again. "Don't say anything else," she said, her voice suddenly—maddeningly—full of despair. "Please. It's too late for explanations and more promises. Way too late."
With that, angry at both herself and the old man, she turned and rushed from the room, closing the door with a definite thump. She made it as far as the hall to the elevator before the burning started in her stomach, before tears of pain and utter desolation dammed up in her throat, and before she felt each beat of her heart inside her head.
She'd given up her dreams. He'd said that without her he couldn't run the business he'd spent a lifetime building. And out of gratitude—out of a need to be loved—she'd tucked away her charcoal, pencils and paints and had gone to work for him.
In her little German sports car some minutes and a minor traffic jam later, Cassidy sat in the parking lot and stared up at her apartment building. She'd thought of it as a haven not five minutes earlier. Now its white facade looked cold. Empty. And she knew the inside of her own apartment would be even worse. Gray and depressing. She couldn't make herself get out of her car.
Her stomach started to burn again, so she grabbed the roll of antacids that she always had sitting on the console and popped one in her mouth. She looked at the roll. Really looked at it this time. She'd stopped last night on the way home to buy it. It was nearly gone. How could that be?
Rubbing the heel of her hand where her stomach constantly stung, Cassidy remembered her doctor's diagnosis of an ulcer. He'd prescribed medication just last week. Cassidy had never taken the time to fill the prescription. Apparently he was right. She really did need it.
Half an hour later, a prescription bottle and a new roll of antacids on her passenger seat, Cassidy started her car and wondered what to do next. Her grandfather had beeped her no less than ten times since she'd left his office. Her beeper was now turned off, as was her cell phone. She picked them both up off the passenger seat and glared at them. Sometimes these well-touted modern conveniences felt more like a pair of handcuffs chaining her to Jamison Steel.
But right now she was on vacation.
Without ceremony she tossed the offending technology into the backseat and determinedly put them and the company out of her mind.
For the first time since her childhood when she woke up with her grandfather sitting at her bedside in a Colorado hospital, she had no one planning her next step in life. No. This next move was all her own to make.
Rather than feeling free, Cassidy felt suddenly very alone. With her grandfather out of the equation, she had no one to rely on. He was all she had. Her friends were really more acquaintances, and most of them, save a neighbor or two, worked at Jamison.
She looked at herself in the rearview mirror, narrowing her blue eyes. When had she gotten so drawn looking? She fussed with her short, straight, blond hair for a second and bit her full bottom lip. What do you want, Cassidy Jamison? Where do you want to go?
"I want to get away from the rat race," she said aloud to the near-stranger in the mirror. "I need time to just think."
A penny winked up at her from next to the nearly empty antacid roll in the console. She remembered a scene from a book she'd read several years earlier. The hero had flipped a coin—a penny—and had driven toward his uncertain future, giving the coin the power he no longer felt over his life. At each crossroad, he'd let the penny send him wherever it chose. Right then, feeling adrift, she felt an acute kinship with that character and decided her discarded penny just might know more than she did about her life's choices.
She picked it up, turned it over in her hand and stared down at old Abe Lincoln's coppery visage. Above his head were words she'd seen all her life and never really read. In God we trust.
Cassidy wondered suddenly if there was a God. She remembered vaguely her parents talking about Him. But God hadn't been part of her upbringing under her grandfather's rule. Recalling her father's calm, easy smile, she wondered if maybe that was part of her problem. She flipped the coin. Caught it. Slapped it down on the back of her hand. "If You're up there, God, send me where I need to go. Heads north, tails south," she called, then peeked. Honest Abe stared up at her again. "North," she said, then wondered once again if she or some higher power had control of her destiny.
Winston Jamison turned from the window that looked out over Rittenhouse Square when a sharp knock echoed through his office door. "Come," he called.
His longtime secretary walked in and as far as his desk. She stood, arms crossed, and glared at him. "She hasn't answered her pages or her cell phone. I've tried her apartment. No go there, either."
"Where could she have gone?"
"Well, I doubt she went to cry on a friend's shoulder. Thanks to her hours these last several years, she hasn't got any close friends."
Rose had been with him for years. He'd kept her with generous raises and stock options. He'd kept her because he couldn't intimidate her. But just now, he wished he'd fired her thirty years ago at the first sign of insubordination. He scowled, knowing it wouldn't cow her in the least. "I'm sure there's a saltshaker in that credenza over there. Care to throw some into the wound?"
She tapped her foot and moved her hands to her ample hips. "Don't think I'm not tempted. Why on earth did you do it?"
"I didn't have a choice. The job would have been too much for her. I did it for her own good."
"You told her the vice presidency was hers. You told me it was hers. Why the last-minute change? I've never known you to vacillate like this."
"I was trying to save her from herself. And from me. I love that girl, Rose. This place is dragging her down. The circles under her eyes have circles."
"So this was for her own good? That child was in tears! I've never seen her cry in all the years I've known her!"
He winced. "I was wrong to insist she come in to the business. I'm trying to right a wrong."
"Oh? Now you see it, when you managed to ignore a double major and her real talent? What, pray tell, caused this sudden revelation?"
He knew he deserved her scorn, but he felt the need to squirm and didn't like it in the least! Instead he walked to his desk and sat in his big leather chair. "I overheard a conversation she had with her doctor last week. She has an ulcer, Rose. And it's my fault."
She sat in the chair where Cassidy had been sitting just a few hours earlier. "But to pull the rug out from under her like that was cruel."
"It was a last-minute decision. I just couldn't let her take on more. But I intended to explain. I really did. But she started shouting. Then I did. I lost sight of what I wanted to say and defended my choice instead. Before I knew it, she was storming out. By the time I calmed down enough to realize what had happened, she was gone."
Rose shook her head in disgust. "For your sake, I hope she isn't gone for good."
"You know, Rose, if I knew where she was, that would be okay with me. Just so she's happy."
Dusk had just settled into darkness when the six-lane interstate Cassidy was traveling narrowed rather abruptly to one lane in each direction. She drove about ten miles farther, getting anxious about the denseness of the timberland that now surrounded her.
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