The recently widowed Claire Andrews is mourning the deaths of her husband and young son who were killed in a boating accident. Grief-stricken and angry with God, Claire, a professional artist, finds she is no longer able to paint. In her sorrow, she flees to an isolated cabin in the Cascade Mountains to find solace and healing, and hopefully, her talent again.
As Claire walks through the woods each day, she discovers two sets of footprints in the snow-an adult's and a child's. Although Claire desperately wants to believe that the prints belong to the loved husband and child she has lost, discovering the true identity of the ones who make the tracks will reawaken romance and restore her faith.
Melody Carlson's legions of readers will embrace this newest tale of love and hope that has seasonal appeal for Christmas gift-giving and the timeless allure of a story well told.
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over 200 books with sales of more than 7 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.
Read an Excerpt
ANGELS IN THE SNOW
By Melody Carlson
Fleming H. Revell The isolation felt complete now. Snowflakes tumbled non-stop from a pewter sky, silently encompassing her like a living, moving fortress. Claire experienced a strange sense of comfort in being cut off from the rest of the world with such cold totality. She glanced over at her cell phone still securely plugged into the electrical outlet to recharge its battery, her only link to civilization if she were to be snowed in.
Copyright © 2002 Melody Carlson.
All rights reserved.
"It could happen," Jeannie, her art rep, had warned with her usual sage type of wisdom. "You've got to be ready for anything up there in the mountains, We always keep the cabin stocked with nonperishables, candles, matches, and whatever you might need until you can be dug out, or the snow melts, whichever comes first. And either one might not be for weeks. So don't let that November sunshine fool you, honey; you could get a blizzard at the drop of a hat."
Claire dropped her black felt walking hat onto the old maple table by the window and sighed deeply. Hopefully this change in weather wouldn't put a damper on her daily walks. Her hike through the woods seemed the only part of her day that she actually looked forward to, and she wasn't about to give it up to bad weather.
She looked again at her cell phone, this time even picking it up and fingering the small buttons. It wasn't too late to change her mind about all this. Maybe it was tooextreme, or just plumb crazy, as her father had said from his home down in sunny Palm Springs. She quickly dialed Jeannie's number then waited impatiently for the assistant to put her on the line.
"Oh, Jeannie, I'm glad I caught you," she said finally, trying to disguise the tight feeling of unease that had crept inside her chest.
"Claire!" exclaimed Jeannie. "How's it going? Produced any masterpieces yet? I saw Henri just yesterday and promised him you'd have something very special for him in time for his holiday exhibition."
Claire groaned. "Don't make promises you can't keep."
"Oh, come on, kiddo. You've got to break free from this little slump of yours."
"Little slump?" Claire sighed deeply. "And, please, don't start another pep talk"
"It's not a pep talk. It's just the facts. You know that I, of all people, hate to appear insensitive to the delicate nature of a talented arteest, but it's been over a year. You've got to move on, honey. Remember, you weren't the one who died in that accident. You've got to keep living, kiddo. What would Scott think if he knew you'd quit your art like this. Or Jeremy for that matter"
"Oh, stop, Jeannie!" The tightness in her chest exploded into hot, red sparks, and her pulse began to pound against her temples. "I don't even know why I listen to you!"
"Okay, okay." The voice on the other end instantly became calm and soothing. "I'm sorry, Claire, I really don't want to push you too hard. It's a good sign that you're actually getting angry with mea healthy emotion, as my shrink would say. Now, listen to me. I want you to walk over to your easel right nowit is set up, isn't it?"
"Sure," lied Claire as she stared at her still unpacked art supplies lying heaped against the wall by the door, right where she had dropped them several days before.
"Okay, now go over and pick up a tube of paintany color." Jeannie paused as if allowing time for Claire to follow her simple directions, although Claire did not. "Okay, now," continued Jeannie as if speaking to a small child, "just squirt a little paint onto your palette.... Now then, pick up a brushany brushand just start wiping that paint around on the canvas. Don't even bother trying to make it look like anything, Claire. Just start brushing it onjust swish-swish, free as the breeze.... You can even pretend that you're painting the side of a barn if you like, as long as you keep moving that brush. Like the Nike ad says, just do it! Okay, honey?"
Completely ignoring Jeannie's directions, Claire stared blankly out the front window, watching as white flakes floated down, filtering through pine trees, barely distinguishable against the sky. "It's snowing here," she said without emotion.
"Great. Perfect reflective light for painting. Now, you've got plenty of firewood and lots of provisions. Even if the electricity should go out you'll be absolutely fine; just remember to bundle up and keep that woodstove stoked up during the night."
Claire tried to remember why she'd called Jeannie in the first place. Certainly not for this. "Thanks, Jeannie," she said flatly. "I'll get right to work."
"Good girl." Jeannie paused. "And someday you'll thank me for this."
Claire sighed. "I sure hope so." She hung up and walked over to her art supplies, trying to remember exactly what it was that Jeannie had told her to do. It wasn't that Claire wanted to be difficultand she knew that Jeannie believed she had her best interest at heartit was just that Claire couldn't help it. But she would give it a try.
Mechanically, she released the bands from her easel, unfolded its spindly legs, then set it at an angle by the south window. Then she set up a small card table and slowly unpacked her art supplies, handling each single item as if she'd never seen such a thing before. She carefully arranged all her materials, lining up the brushes by width and size, fanning the tubes of acrylic paint into a perfect color wheel. She hadn't brought her oils with her. Perhaps it was laziness, or maybe she just wasn't ready to face that smell again. She stacked the clean palettes and folded her rags and set her water containers in a neat row, until the card table looked like an ad for an art supply store. With everything meticulously arranged, she stepped back and surveyed her work, nodding her head in grim satisfaction.
"Very nice, Claire," she said in a sarcastic tone. Never had she been so meticulous about her supplies. Usually caught up in the flurry of the creative process, she had been one to work like a chaotic whirlwind, surrounded by an incredible mess of squinched-up paint tubes, smelly rags, and dirty brushes soaking in grimy jars of mud-colored linseed oil. She remembered how Scott would step cautiously into her studio with a look of mock horror on his face.
"Oh, no, it looks like Hurricane Claire has struck again," he would tease. But then he would peer over her shoulder and praiseno, almost worshipher work. Never a critic, Scott had always believed her infallible as an artist and as a human. As a housekeeper, well now, that was another story.
Determined to obey her rep's directives, Claire opened a fresh tube of paint. Cobalt blue. She squeezed a generous amount onto her clean white palette. It was a harsh, cold, sterile shade of blue, and she knew nothing in nature that was exactly that colorother than her heart perhaps. Then randomly she selected a brush, "any brush," as Jeannie had instructed. And like a machine, she began to work the fresh paint back and forth across the clean palette. Swish-swish, swish-swish. Perfect consistency. Then she lifted the filled and ready brush, holding it just inches from the clean white canvas. And there her hand stopped as if her elbow joint had been flash frozen. She took a deep steadying breath and even closed her eyes, willing herself to move her hand forward, to make just one brush stroke.
"Do like Jeannie said," she told herself through clenched teeth. "Just pretend you're painting the side of a barn!" But her fingers locked themselves like a vise around the wooden brush handle, and the frozen arm refused to move. How long she stood there with her arm poised in midair she did not know, but finally she realized that the little cabin had grown dark and cold inside, and long, dusky shadows now stretched over the thin blanket of snow that had covered the ground outside. After cleaning the brush, she went to rescue the few small embers still glowing in the woodstove, throwing on some thin sticks of kindling and blowing fiercely until a tiny flame began to flicker at last. She warmed her hands over the tiny fire, then quickly added more logs, filling the stove and closing the door with a loud empty clang.
Without eating, she went to bed, pulling the thick eiderdown comforter up to her nose. And once again she dreamed of them. They were walking just ahead of her, close enough that she could recognize their straight backs and nicely squared shoulders; both had curly brown hair, the color of burnt sienna. And, although the boy's head didn't even reach the man's shoulder, they both walked with that same loose-jointed gait that told you they were related. Father and son. But as close as they seemed to her, they were always just out of reachout of earshot. And no matter how hard she ran after them, screaming and yelling their names, they never turned to see her, they did not heed her voice. Only this dream was slightly altered from her usual one; in this dream they weren't walking on the beach, they were walking through the freshly fallen snow.
Excerpted from ANGELS IN THE SNOW by Melody Carlson. Copyright © 2002 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.