A Case for Forgiveness: A Clean Romance

A Case for Forgiveness: A Clean Romance

by Carol Ross

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The past has its place…in the past! 

Innkeeper Shay James has been telling herself for a decade that she's over her ex-fiancé, Jonah Cedar. But now the Chicago attorney's come home to care for his ailing grandfather, reawakening powerful feelings—along with painful memories. Shay can't afford to repeat history. 

At twenty-two, Jonah couldn't wait to trade his secluded Alaska hometown for big-city success. Shay was supposed to share that dream. Yet even with unresolved issues between them, their connection is stronger than ever. Jonah's visit was only going to be temporary…until a threat to Shay's beloved Faraway Inn gives him a reason to stay and fight for that second chance.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460380130
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 04/01/2015
Series: Seasons of Alaska , #2
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
File size: 472 KB

About the Author

Carol Ross lives with her husband and two dogs (a perfect border collie and a perfectly loveable miscreant of a dachshund) in a small town in Washington near both the ocean and the mountains. She loves the Northwest because, when the temperamental weather cooperates, she enjoys hiking, running, skiing, and spending time outdoors. And when it doesn’t…she dons a raincoat, or gets lost in a book. She enjoys reading in many genres but writes about what she loves the most-romance.

Read an Excerpt

"The sheets on my bed have a pattern on them," the irritable little man spat out the word like one might cockroach at another hotel. "I cannot look at them. Do you understand me? My sheets need to be changed, and they need to be changed immediately."

Patterned sheets? Shay set her features to sympathetic and nodded slowly. This was definitely a complaint she'd never heard before. Hannah would be thrilled—and sorry that she'd missed it. Since she'd hired her younger sister on as assistant manager, Hannah had been keeping a list of odd guest requests. This one, Shay felt confident, would land near the top.

She softened her voice to match her expression. "All of our sheets have a pattern on them, Mr. Konrad. It's a signature feature here at the Faraway Inn." The sheets were excellent quality—super-soft, fine-spun flannel with images of tiny log cabins, bears, and moose on them, made exclusively for the inn. Shay loved them. Usually, the guests did, too.

Mr. Konrad raised his hand high and then pointed a stubby finger straight down, bringing it to rest on the marble counter between them. All he was missing was a white glove so he could check for dust. He then gestured in the general direction of her name tag. "Well, why don't you check your computer there, Little Miss Hotel Manager, and see where it says that I can't sleep on sheets that have a pattern on them. I have a medical condition."

"Oh my goodness, that is terrible." Shay managed to look both compassionate and remorseful as she rapidly tapped on the computer keys.

"Yes, it is—patterned sheets aggravate my vertigo. I need to sleep on only white or very, very light-colored sheets—with no pattern. My assistant called about this weeks ago and I don't understand why this concept is apparently so difficult for you people to grasp."

"I do apologize, Mr. Konrad. Somehow your request seems to have been overlooked. I will send someone up from housekeeping immediately to rectify this egregious oversight. We have some one-thousand thread-count pima cotton sheets in a light ivory shade that are as soft as butter. But they do have a small monogram along the top edge—you know where the sheet folds over? Will that be acceptable?"

"Yes, I suppose that will be fine."

"Again, Mr. Konrad, I am so, so sorry for the oversight and for any inconvenience this has caused you. Please enjoy some complimentary wine or Alaskan micro-brew here at our own Faraway Restaurant." She handed him some coupons and a business card. "If there is anything else we can do to make your stay here more comfortable please don't hesitate to let us know. My name is Shay James. I'm the owner, so you can ask for me personally if you'd like. I wrote our assistant manager's name there below mine, so if I'm not available she usually is."

Shay watched him thaw right before her eyes.

"Oh… Okay, I, uh, I will." He added a sniff and then marched away.

Shay picked up the phone and instructed housekeeping on the sheet change. She spent the next hour checking in more guests and answering the phone to take some pressure off her overworked staff. The inn was full and booked almost solid for the next two and a half months. It was only the first week of June, but they had more reservations for the summer—stretching well into fall—than they'd ever had.

After the rush subsided, she opted for a cup of coffee from the guest services station. She quickly checked that every carafe was full of their signature "Faraway Brew" and that it was steaming hot. The warm butter-and-chocolate scent drifting from the doily-covered tray reminded her that she hadn't eaten all day. She grabbed two cookies and then walked to her office, located right around the corner from the reception area.

Her cell phone rang as she swallowed the last bite. She picked up, "Hey, Em."

"Shay, hi—how are things going?" Emily was married to Shay's cousin Bering, and as president of the tourism bureau, she was responsible for enticing this attorney retreat to the Faraway Inn.

"Good, so far. We have one lawyer with an unfortunate sheet issue, but otherwise nothing too out of the ordinary or outrageous like I'd normally expect from such a large group of uptight type-A personalities."

Emily chuckled. "Sheet issue? I don't even think I want to know… But one of these days you're going to have to tell me why you hate attorneys so much."

"I don't hate them," she said. "They're just…so…self-important?" An unsettling image of Jonah—her ex—popped into her head. "Uh-huh," Emily murmured in a doubt-filled tone.


"Emily, don't worry. I promise we will keep these people happy. What you've done for the inn—what you're doing for Rankins is nothing short of amazing and I don't want you to think I'm not grateful for all these events and conventions and tourists you've been bringing here—"

"Oh, Shay, I know that and I don't doubt your professionalism. I'm actually calling about a different lawyer—the one I know you do like."



"That's the one. I was just calling to make sure you remember that you're on the food loop tonight to deliver his dinner."

Caleb Cedar had been best friends with her Grandpa Gus before he'd passed away, and he was like a grandfather to her now. She made an exception for him where attorneys were concerned.

"Yep, I remember."

A few hours later, with homemade stew, corn bread, and a fresh-baked cobbler from the Cozy Caribou, Shay pulled up in front of Caleb's house. The large old colonial-style home stood on the edge of "downtown" Rankins right on the waterfront. Shay could see how some might deem the house a little out of place amongst the more practical and rustic buildings that dominated the town, but since it housed the only attorney in the valley the stately residence in gleaming white clapboard and brick somehow seemed right to Shay. Shay got out of her car and heard the faint sounds of a boat puttering along in the bay. She turned and recognized Crab Johnson's boat. She lifted a hand and waved in his direction and then used it to shield her eyes. It was a gorgeous early summer evening with the kind of sky so blue it made you want to take off your shoes and wade into the bay or squish your toes into a patch of lush new grass. This was Shay's favorite time of year—people recovering from winter's cabin fever, giddy with the onslaught of summer activities and the endless hours of daylight to enjoy them.

Bear, moose and all manner of wildlife were being spotted with their babies. The Faraway Inn's own resident moose, Clara, had even shown up last week with her first calf ever. At six years old, Shay had despaired of poor Clara ever being a mother—she'd begun to think that maybe she and Clara had that in common.

Shay scanned the horizon—how many lazy hours had she and Jonah spent fishing in that bay? Her heart squeezed in a way that it hadn't in a long time.

She gathered the Crock-Pot from the car and started up the sidewalk. Ridiculous, she scolded herself, to let this wave of nostalgia creep up on her now. She blamed Emily and her attorney-talk, although it was probably only natural to have thoughts of Jonah occasionally when she came here—to the house he'd grown up in. Once upon a very long time ago he may have been her fiancé, but he was still Caleb's grandson. Unfortunately for her, he would always be Caleb's grandson.

She knocked on the door and decided her odd feelings might be the direct result of hunger. After eating a total of two cookies all day, maybe her blood sugar was haywire or something.

Shay felt a smile forming as the door began to open. Caleb's dog, Francis, was barking madly now and she found herself looking forward to a relaxing evening with Caleb. The door swung wider, her smile melting from her face as her brain registered the sight before her…


She couldn't seem to make herself breathe much less speak. This reaction, she knew, was not blood-sugar related. She gripped the CrockPot even as she pictured it slipping from her grasp and shattering all over the stone walkway.

"Hello, Shay." Jonah's voice came out smooth and easy, but his eyes were latched on to hers. Caleb hadn't said anything about Jonah coming home. Jonah never—well, rarely ever, came home.

She quickly calculated he'd been home a total of eight times in ten years—not that she was counting (not on purpose, anyway), and each visit had seemed briefer than the last, a day or two, or three at the most.

At first she and Jonah mostly avoided each other, then their tense encounters began to be filled with bitterness and sarcastic jibes, until they finally culminated in a conversation two years ago that had been unpleasant, to put it mildly.

Latent anger had emerged from both sides; she still seethed when she recalled how he'd accused her of taking the easy road, of being afraid to take a chance on life—on him, while she'd told him exactly what she thought of his lack of attention to his grandfather.

Nothing had been settled and Shay had been left feeling even angrier and more frustrated than before, as well as emotionally drained, and maybe a little embarrassed. And sad… There was always that underlying sadness—the grief that she was so terrible at dealing with, although she couldn't blame Jonah for that—not entirely.

But now here he was, standing in front of her looking perfectly composed and smelling freshly showered. Shay hadn't even bothered to glance in the mirror during her brief stop at home. She'd mixed the corn bread and fed the cats and then tried to give some attention to all six of them—her three and the three foster cats she'd recently taken in, while the corn bread baked. She was probably looking like a tired and rumpled mess. Was she imagining that whiff of "savvy-cat salmon grill" wafting from the sleeve of her shirt that she hadn't bothered to change?

Of course he undoubtedly knew that she'd been on her way over. It was so like him to take advantage of any edge, like the good cut-throat attorney he was.

"Here, let me take that for you." He reached out and removed the Crock-Pot from her white-knuckled grasp.

She was too stunned to offer any protest.


"How are you, Shay?"

How was she? The question sounded all laid-back and high-school-casual as if they'd parted on friendly terms last week instead of suffering an excruciating breakup ten years ago, and years of tension and animosity since.

Francis, Caleb's "maladoodle," as he liked to call the poodle-malamute mix would no longer be ignored—her tail thudding hard against the door frame as she forced her way to Shay's side. Shay reached out a hand, seeking solace in the familiar feel of her velvet-soft fur.

"What are you doing here?" she managed to ask.

Jonah's mouth curved up at the corners. "I live here, remember? Or I used to anyway. And I will be again, for a while. Come in, I hope you're planning to stay for dinner because Gramps is expecting you."

Will be again? What did that mean? Her brain refused to process what it so obviously meant.

"I told Gramps that I would take him out for dinner tonight, but he insisted on letting you bring your moose stew. He said he's been looking forward to this meal all week."

"Yeah, well, he really likes it…" Shay mumbled sheepishly and moved around Jonah. In the kitchen, a beaming Caleb waited with his arms outstretched. The look of delight on his face managed to nudge her out of her Jonah-shock. "Howdy, sweet girl!"

"Hey, Caleb," she said as he wrapped his strong arms around her. Welcome comfort enveloped her; the sensation so like what she'd always enjoyed with her own grandpa, but different too, because she didn't have to share Caleb with her five siblings. She didn't even have to share him with his own neglectful grandson—not usually.

"How are you feeling?" Always her first question when she saw Caleb.

He pulled back, gripping Shay lightly by the shoulders as he grinned down at her. "Right as rain, now! Been saving room all day for your stew and I'm so hungry I briefly considered sharing Francis's dinner. I've got the table all set, so let's dig in, huh?"

"I, um, yes definitely," Shay said, trying to force out some enthusiasm. "There's more food in the car, so let me just—"

"I'll get it," Jonah said, and took off before either of them could say anything.

"Caleb, you didn't mention Jonah was coming for a visit."

"Well, I wasn't entirely sure about the whole thing. You know Jonah—he wasn't sure which day he was going to be able to fly out and whatnot, so I didn't mention it. Didn't want to jinx it—you know?" He rapped his knuckles lightly on the cupboard door behind him and added a wink.

She did know.

Every time one of Jonah's trips hadn't materialized, she watched Caleb deal with those dashed hopes. Why couldn't Jonah understand what his actions did to his grandfather—the man who had loved and raised him from the age of nine?

Caleb had given Jonah so much, and in return Jonah had taken off for the big city to make money and buy expensive toys—and never looked back. Well, that wasn't true—he'd looked back exactly eight, short, pathetic times.

Jonah returned with the rest of the food and they filed into the dining room. Caleb sat at one end of the antique oak table, while she and Jonah positioned themselves on either side of him. Caleb asked a quick blessing, and then dove into the corn bread, slicing and scooping out portions onto their plates as if this were the most normal thing in the world—the three of them eating dinner together like some kind of happy family.

Of course, it had been once.

Jonah too, appeared unbothered as he spooned thick stew into their bowls and passed them around.

Shay felt like screaming in frustration—she did not want to be here with Jonah. She knew there was absolutely no way of getting out of it now even as a parade of lame headache, stomachache, inn-emergency excuses danced silently across her tongue.

Caleb turned his animated blue eyes on her. "So, earlier I was filling Jonah in on how much you've improved the inn and how great the new restaurant is and how well it's been doing. He is as anxious as all get-out to rush up there and check it out."

Jonah looked at Shay, an amused half-smile telling her that maybe it was Caleb who was excited for him to check it out rather than the other way around.

"Apparently we are coming for the seafood buffet. Gramps said it's so popular that we have to make a reservation. Does that mean the entire town of Rankins is now having dinner at the Faraway Inn?" Jonah's voice held a touch of derision, grinding on her nerves like a set of worn-out brakes.

Caleb jumped in before Shay could comment, "Javier, that chef she hired? He makes some salmon dishes that melt in your mouth like candy."

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