Tomorrow's Sun

Tomorrow's Sun

4.3 59
by Becky Melby
     
 

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A historic house—once part of the Underground Railroad—holds clues to Emily’s future. Can she follow them, or will her faith be derailed?

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Overview


A historic house—once part of the Underground Railroad—holds clues to Emily’s future. Can she follow them, or will her faith be derailed?

Editorial Reviews

USA Today's Happy Ever After - Serena Chase

This is the sort of novel that, even though you may be able to guess the
Fresh Fiction

TOMORROW'S SUN is the beginning of a new series by Becky Melby. It is wonderfully written with flashbacks of the past, a little mystery and a splash of romance. The story has many wonderful inspirational messages as Emily learns that God heals and forgives, and she needs to accept that today and not dwell on what tomorrow may bring. This was a great read; I'm sure you will enjoy it.

— Viki Ferrell

USA Today's Happy Ever After

This is the sort of novel that, even though you may be able to guess the
— Serena Chase

Book Bargains and Previews

Tomorrow's Sun, the first novel in the Lost Sanctuary series, is a riveting story that keeps the reader engaged with its mystery and in-depth characters. I literally couldn't put this book down.
This is a beautifully crafted story that combines the past and the present and explores how the past has prepared, in some special way, to affect those in the future. The book has a captivating story-line of danger, romance and healing. Readers will come away from this story with fresh insight.

— Hollie S.

Reviews by Jenny

...Becky manages to weave an entrancing tale of long away happenings. This book is what happens when present intrudes on the past. It is quite an interesting idea for a book and I am glad I picked it up.

— Jenny Chaver

Once Upon a Romance

This is a very fascinating story and one that will stay with the reader for a long time. These two people have absolutely nothing in common, but he stories that came out of those historic letters are truly inspiring and sincerely beautiful. This author has done a wonderful job of plotting and research, and the characters are very believable! A Must-Read! 

— Amy Lignor

Fresh Fiction - Viki Ferrell

TOMORROW'S SUN is the beginning of a new series by Becky Melby. It is wonderfully written with flashbacks of the past, a little mystery and a splash of romance. The story has many wonderful inspirational messages as Emily learns that God heals and forgives, and she needs to accept that today and not dwell on what tomorrow may bring. This was a great read; I'm sure you will enjoy it.
Book Bargains and Previews - Hollie S.

Tomorrow's Sun, the first novel in the Lost Sanctuary series, is a riveting story that keeps the reader engaged with its mystery and in-depth characters. I literally couldn't put this book down.
This is a beautifully crafted story that combines the past and the present and explores how the past has prepared, in some special way, to affect those in the future. The book has a captivating story-line of danger, romance and healing. Readers will come away from this story with fresh insight.
Reviews by Jenny - Jenny Chaver

...Becky manages to weave an entrancing tale of long away happenings. This book is what happens when present intrudes on the past. It is quite an interesting idea for a book and I am glad I picked it up.
Once Upon a Romance - Amy Lignor

This is a very fascinating story and one that will stay with the reader for a long time. These two people have absolutely nothing in common, but he stories that came out of those historic letters are truly inspiring and sincerely beautiful. This author has done a wonderful job of plotting and research, and the characters are very believable! A Must-Read! 

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607427506
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/01/2012
Series:
Lost Sanctuary , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
124,395
File size:
2 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Tomorrow's Sun

Lost Sanctuary Book One


By Becky Melby

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Becky Melby
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61626-238-9


CHAPTER 1

What do you call the place you live if it isn't home?

Emily Foster blew her bangs off her forehead and tapped the steering wheel to "Haven't Met You Yet" as she searched the afternoon shadows for a street sign, and the house she wouldn't call home. For the next few months. Or weeks, if she was lucky.

Rochester, Wisconsin, population 1100. She'd have eleven hundred neighbors—and she'd try to get to know as few of them as possible. Michael Bublé said it would all work out. Emily turned at the corner, hoping he was right.

The old, white clapboard house framed in her windshield had shrunk in nineteen years. Or maybe the rest of her world had gotten too big since that innocent summer. She parked in a short strip of gravel that pointed toward the river. Opening the car door, she stared at the house across the street. It occupied the spot where she'd found God, and almost missed her first kiss. A long, measured sigh bowed her cheeks. With deep, controlled breaths, she swiveled in the seat then eased her feet to the ground. Moving like a woman three times her age, she unloaded the car and hobbled up the stone walk to the paneled door. The lock complained at the twist of the key.

In the front parlor, the plank floor groaned beneath her feet. With nothing to absorb the sound of her intrusion, each tap of her paisley-covered cane echoed off the peeling plaster.

The house was as hollow and weary as its new owner.

"Counter with a positive." The ever-nagging voice of Vanessa, her therapist—the one who therapied her mind, not the one who pummeled the rest of her—whispered a warning. "Counter with a positive thought before you teeter off the brittle edge."

Dropping her sleeping bag and air mattress in the middle of the room, Emily turned in a slow circle. First positive Wisconsin thought: Empty is not always bad. This place is full of potential.

Am I?

The front parlor was no larger than a hospital room. A poor excuse for sunlight struggled through warped glass in the nine-pane windows. Pale ovals patchworked dingy beige walls where long-dead faces had once kept watch, and spider-vein cracks trailed like quilt stitching between the phantom frames.

Emily closed her eyes, envisioning the space as it would soon be. Sans claustrophobia. By knocking out the walls that divided the main floor into five rooms, she'd create an open floor plan. New windows, gleaming floors, rich colors. Modern. Roomy. Sellable.

In the dining room, she unzipped her fleece jacket and yanked open a window. Storm- scrubbed air transfused the staleness with hints of apple blossom and made her hungry for more. On her way to the back door, she checked her watch. Fifteen minutes to kill until the first contractor arrived. Fifteen minutes best spent without walls. She hung the key ring on a black hook by the door. Kicking off her shoes, she stepped onto the porch.

The swollen Fox River bursting the hem of her temporary backyard rushed through Rochester on its way from Menominee Falls to northern Illinois. It bubbled over a massive limb hanging at a grotesque angle from a fresh gash in an oak tree. All that anchored the limb to the trunk was a narrow strip of twisted bark.

She hadn't thought about lawn care or tree trimming. She hadn't thought about much, other than putting Lake Michigan between her and the eggshell walkers.

A flash of red drew her attention from the water to a solitary pine on the north side of the yard. A male cardinal landed on a low bough. His mate called down from the top of the tree.

Emily imagined a hammock next to the pine. Maybe the white noise of the river would muffle the specters in her head.

A child's high-pitched wail caused her pulse to stumble. Laughter followed the squeal, and Emily breathed a sigh. She walked to the end of the porch and bent over the railing. Two young boys wrestled over a basketball in her side yard. On the ground beside them, a circus-colored beach ball rocked in the breeze.

Some things she wouldn't get away from, no matter how far she moved.

Turning back to the pine tree, Emily tried to conjure her imaginary hammock, but it wouldn't return. She opened the screechy screen door and stepped into the kitchen.

The floor sloped toward the back of the house. In front of the sink, a layer of pink- and-gray-flowered linoleum showed through a hole in the brick-patterned vinyl. She padded across the uneven surface to a white corner cupboard. Resting her cane against the windowsill, she unlatched a tall door, releasing memories mingled with cloves, cinnamon, and coriander. She'd been fifteen when she spent the summer visiting her best friend's great-grandmother. Cara's Nana Grace was the quintessential grandma. Memories of that magical summer and the big white house in Rochester chronicled all five senses—violets, fireflies, apple crisp, a cobwebby cellar, and the trill of tree frogs. Exploring the town on Nana Grace's wobbly old Schwinn bikes, giggling about the bare-chested guy washing his car down the street, dangling their feet in the river, talking for hours about that clumsy, dream-spinning kiss. Carefree.

The way young girls should be.

Her shoulders shuddered, an invisible weight constricting her lungs. Closing her eyes, she repeated the words branded in her brain. "Release ... relax ... let it go." With a fierce exhale, she tugged on the window next to the cupboard. It stuck. She banged on the frame with the heel of her hand and tried again. The sash gave way, sliding up so quickly she almost lost her balance.

Sweet spring air thwarted panic. Be present in the moment. The cardinals still sang. In the distance, the metered cadence of the basketball on cement joined the rhythm of the afternoon. She concentrated on the steady slap, slap, slap as she labeled the smells. Wet leaves. River mud. Charcoal smoke. Violets.

As her pulse reclaimed a normal pace, another shrill scream pierced her quiet and she slid the window down. It banged shut but didn't block the noise. The scream grew louder. Closer.

No laughter followed.

"Let it go!"

Strange to hear her therapist's advice yelled from a child's lips.

"Michael! Stop!"

The beach ball bounced toward the river, propelled by the wind. And followed by a barefoot boy. A gust whipped it against the crippled oak. The ball shot into the water.

Lord God, no. Caught in a whirlpool, the ball swirled in a tight circle. Red ... white ... yellow ... blue ...

The boy grabbed onto the broken limb with one hand and reached for the ball with the other.

Emily's pulse thundered in her ears. Her breath rasped, fast and shallow. Black walls pushed in, narrowing her vision.

The limb swayed. A crack split the air. "Michael!" A man's voice. "I'll get the ball. Come here. Now."

The boy stopped and waved toward the voice, then glanced up at her and waved again.

The room tilted. Emily closed her eyes. Release. Relax. Let it go.

Her legs gave way. She slid to the floor, biting her lip against the stab of pain in her right hip. Knees to chest, arms encircling her legs, she folded. Making herself small.

A heavy knock shook the screen door. She shrank against the cupboard.

The door rattled again. "I don't think she's home."

A lighter, quieter knock followed. "I just sawed her," a small voice insisted. "Just now in the window."

"Miss Foster? Jacob Braden, Braden Improvements."

Emily rubbed her eyes with both hands. Go away. She'd call the contractor tomorrow, make up some excuse. A headache or phone call. Tomorrow she'd be rested, calmer, able to think.

"Go in," the small voice whispered.

"We can't just walk in. That's rude." Footsteps retreated. "Come on."

"Nuh-uh. Nana Grace lets us."

"Nana Grace is—Michael! You can't—"

Hinges whined. Emily raised her head from her cocoon.

Bare feet. Red shorts. Huge brown eyes. "I'm Michael."

Breathe. Emily clenched and unclenched tingling fingers. Live in the now. "Hi, Michael. I'm Emily." She smiled. It felt almost natural.

"Nana Grace gived us peanuhbutter cookies."

"I'm sorry. I haven't had time to bake."

The door opened again. A man: dusty work boots, one lace untied and trailing; faded jeans, hole on the right knee; snug, heather-blue shirt; sun-lightened brown hair curling over his collar. Eyebrows rose above inquisitive eyes. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." She was sitting on the floor, half-curled in a ball. Not a chance he'd believe her. "Just ... trying to get a feel for the place."

He nodded and a chunk of gold-licked hair swung over his forehead. He looked toward the window and Emily witnessed a split-second startle. He'd seen the cane. He wiped his palms on his jeans and cleared his throat. "Can I give you a hand?"

There was only one way she could get to her feet from where she was now, and Jacob Braden's hand wouldn't help. "Why don't you go ahead and look around and I'll join you in—"

The back door moaned once again. The older boy bounded in. "Michael, Mom said you gotta get home." Eyes almost identical to his little brother's jerked to Emily then up to the man beside him. "Why is she sitting on the floor?" he asked in a hushed tone, as if she couldn't hear.

"Russell, say hi to Miss Foster. She's going to be your new neighbor. She's sitting on the floor because she's tired. Miss Foster just drove all the way from ... Minnesota?"

"Michigan. Traverse City."

"That's a long drive." He nudged the boy.

"Hi. I'm Russell. It's nice to meet you." The words came out stilted, rehearsed. Precious. "Did you see the ghost yet?"

A chill shimmied up her spine. "Ghost?"

Jacob Braden put a hand on Russell's head. "Local legend. In a town with this much history, people mix a little truth with a lot of fantasy. This house has been around a long time." He ruffled the boy's hair. "Say good-bye, boys."

Michael took one last look at the empty counter, waved, and ran out. Russell said good-bye, turned toward the door then stopped. "My mom says maybe you will babysit us. Do you have any boys?"

Emily shook her head. "I'm sorry, I don't."

No cookies. No little boys.

Not this side of heaven.

* * *

The soles of Jake's boots whispered in the worn depressions in the steps. If these stairs could talk ... A century and a half of footfalls. Newlyweds slipping off to bed ... a worried mother walking her feverish baby ... children's voices echoing in the steep, narrow stairwell ... The stories this house could tell. He reached the top and ran his hand over the newel post. Smooth. Polished by countless hands.

He smiled as he walked into a bedroom. What a sentimental schmuck he was.

Looking down at the river through wavy blown glass, he listened for footsteps. Then it hit him—maybe the lady couldn't climb stairs. What was wrong with her anyway? The multicolored cane could have been left by the old woman who'd died right there in that kitchen a few months back, but he doubted it. And something about the wary look in Emily's wide-set eyes told him her problems weren't just physical. But in that area he was out of his element. Houses he could read. Women he almost always misinterpreted. He still hadn't recovered from the last mistake.

With dark blond hair pulled straight back and no makeup, he'd guess her to be an accountant or lawyer. Something dry and bookish. She'd told him on the phone this was her first house flip. He didn't like the way she'd said it. But then, he didn't like the term flip anyway. It sounded like something fast, cheap. Flippant. She wouldn't get fast or cheap out of him if he took the job.

If he took the job.

He waited a respectful few minutes, gazing down at trees bursting with new, bright green leaves. Skinny branches arched over the river like hundreds of fishing poles. The water was as high as he'd ever seen it. If he found a spare minute he'd get out the kayak. Another big if.

He was walking out the door when he heard her. Slow, halting steps up the stairs. He backtracked to the window and pretended to be absorbed in the flight of a fat robin toting a strip of blue plastic.

"Sorry to keep you waiting." Emily Foster stopped in the doorway. "I think I mentioned on the phone that I had the house thoroughly inspected before I bought it. The roof was replaced nine years ago. I've hired painters for the exterior and I plan on sanding the porch myself. The foundation is sound. So"—she nodded toward the wall between the two north bedrooms—"why don't we start up here? I'm thinking these two rooms, with a bath in between, will be the master suite."

Jake's jaw tightened as he glanced at the row of old hooks in a small, open closet. Knocking out that closet would be nothing short of criminal. He grunted for her to continue the torture.

"This is a weight-bearing wall." She tapped it with the tip of her cane. A triangle chunk of plaster landed between them. "But with a header, I think it'll work. If we—"

"Can we back up a sec?" Jake rubbed the back of his neck. "First of all"—he stretched out his hand—"maybe we should actually meet. Jake Braden."

"Yes. You're right." She held out a pale hand and shook his. "Nice to meet you face-to-face."

He'd seen more enthusiasm in a smoked trout.

He planted his hands on his belt. "Before we get started, tell me what you already know about the history of the house so I don't bore you with stories you've already heard."

The girl blinked. Twice, then again. Did she not understand the request?

"Most of the wiring was replaced in the seventies and, like I said, the roof—"

"I mean history. Like what happened here, who lived here."

"Oh." That expression could only be labeled annoyance. "It was built in the 1840s and it was a little over a hundred years old when the Ostermanns bought it. Grace's great- granddaughter told me legend has it that the man who built this house served with Abraham Lincoln in the Blackhawk War, and Lincoln stopped here once for a visit. That tidbit could come in handy as a selling point."

Selling point? The greatest president this country ever knew could have slept in this very room and she called it a tidbit? Jake exhaled and almost forgot to take another breath.

"The main floor was redone at some point, but the second story here is all original lath and plaster." She tapped the toe of her sandal on the chunk of plaster between them. "I've drawn up plans to open up both floors. The place pretty much needs a complete overhaul."

Overhaul? Jake's sentimental soul writhed. Her word choice summoned visions of steamrollers and wrecking balls. "It needs some cosmetics, but—"

"The layout is boxy."

Jake folded his arms to stop his elbows from jutting out like a frilled-neck lizard. It's a Greek Revival house, lady. He counted the boards from the door to her cane. "You're planning on selling as soon as it's done, right?"

She gave him an of-course look. "Yes. I'm hoping to have it on the market by the end of July."

Jake aspirated her last word and fought strangulation for several breaths. "I ... think ... that might be a bit ... ambitious." He pulled a notebook from his back pocket. "Why don't we take a walk-through. You tell me exactly what you want, and I'll tell you what I'm willing to do and how long it should take."

"Fair enough." Her lips pressed against each other.

He tried to picture her with a smile.

"Nobody's looking for this many bedrooms these days." She walked out into the hall. "We can put a bath over there and enlarge that bedroom." Again, she pointed with the cane. And then we can ..."

We? Who's we? He followed her around like a trained pup, taking notes, asking for clarification.

But he wasn't a hoop jumper. As much as he needed the work, he'd already made up his mind.

Before he said no, the woman needed a history lesson.

* * *

She didn't have to like him to hire him.

Emily leaned on the railing as she clunked down the stairs ahead of him. He would be the chivalrous type, letting her go first. She led him to the front room, where she'd dropped her sleeping bag. A duct-taped corner of her second copy of Flipping Houses for Dummies peeked out of her duffel bag.

He glanced at her meager belongings. "You're not sleeping on the floor, are you?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Tomorrow's Sun by Becky Melby. Copyright © 2012 Becky Melby. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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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