In the split-second it takes to injure her knee, Lily Shue’s life goes from rising star to small town reject. Forced to give up her role as a trainer on a hit reality fitness show, she takes a job in tiny Truhart, Michigan. By the time Lily arrives in the one horse townon her crutchesshe is well and truly fed up. And then a maniac nearly hits her with his garbage truck . . .
Edgar “Edge” Callaghan knows a little bit about broken bonesand broken dreams. A former skier and Olympic hopeful, Edge’s athletic career ended in injury, and took his love life with it, leaving him to bum around Truhart doing the occasional odd job, including driving his uncle’s teddy bear covered garbage truck. But something about the feisty new brunette in town tempts him to lace up his sneakers again. Even if it’s just to prove her wrong about him. And maybe to prove something to himself.
Lily and Edge may have started off on the wrong foot, but before long they realize they’re both moving in the same direction . . . toward each other.
Praise for A Wedding in Truhart
“Cynthia Tennent has captured the charm, humor, loyalty, and love of small towns, close families, and long-time friends.” Cindy Myers, author of The View from Here
“An A.W.O.L. wedding dress, family feuds, and kinky characters! What's not to love? A Wedding in Truhart is a wedding to remember.” Lois Greiman, award-winning author of the Hope Springs series "
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|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Hardest Part Is Getting Started
A garbage truck covered in mud-spattered stuffed animals sprayed sludge in its wake as it coasted down the two-lane highway straight for me. I wobbled on my crutches, trying not to fall in a snow-bank. I was either in a teddy-bear zombie apocalypse, or the Vicodin was still screwing with me.
The truck slowed and a million beady eyes zeroed in. I planted myself in the icy gravel next to a bus stop sign that quivered in the wind. Other than a small building and the bleak frozen landscape at the intersection of a deserted county road and a state highway, my options were limited.
I could hobble across the street and seek refuge in a place called Flo's Bait Shoppe. They might have a harpoon I could use on the little critters. On second glance, that was out. A sign in the window read CLOSED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.
I could call the nice man who said he would pick me up at the bus stop. He should be here by now. But my cell phone reception had been spotty since Saginaw.
I could make a break for it and run into the woods. But I'd never get far on my bad knee.
It was already too late. A dingy stuffed bear with piercing yellow eyes laughed at me from the front bumper. My skin crawled as the truck came to a stop beside me.
I balanced on one good leg and one gimpy leg that was secured by Velcro straps in a black leg brace. I was going to have to modify the lessons I had taught in my self-defense classes. Squeezing my hand around the crutches, I prepared to strike. I would work my way up, attacking every vulnerable part of my foe.
I had sparred with high-caliber athletes before, but I wasn't sure I knew how to brawl with a teddy bear.
It took me a moment to figure out which mammal was talking, the bearded man leaning out the window or the sad-looking fluffy whale on the door beneath him.
I waved a crutch in the air. "No, thanks, I don't need a stuffed animal!"
"What?" His furry chin wavered.
"Thanks for saying hello. Have a good day!" My whisky voice sounded even more hoarse than usual. "I'm going to call my friend at the police department now. He's picking me up."
He sent me a lopsided smile. "The sheriff? I just saw him at the Family Fare. You don't want to interrupt him on double-coupon days. Besides, I'm the one giving you a ride."
Over my dead and broken body. There was no way the last thing I was going to see in my twenty-eight years of life was the bug-eyed smile of a plush toy.
"Let me help you into the truck," he said.
I turned away and stumbled down the icy gravel of the shoulder, searching for anything that might resemble civilization. Two steps into my short journey, I heard a door slam and the thud of boots running to catch up with me. I limped faster and almost fell.
"Lady ... calm down, will you?" Two log-sized arms reached out and he caught me. I looked up into a set of captivating gray eyes. My mouth went dry.
They say some of the most notorious serial killers look like the guy next door. Ted Bundy. Jeffrey Dahmer.
And now this guy.
The low-lying winter sun shimmered off the blond highlights in his wavy brown hair. He wore a red plaid camp shirt that reminded me of the brawny lumberjack on the wrapper of paper towels. Instead of clobbering him with my crutch, I wanted to burrow in his flannel.
He made sure I was stable, then he stepped away and checked me out. Not really "checked me out" like a guy at a cheap bar. Given my appearance, that wouldn't be possible. I was wearing a puffy white down coat that ended midthigh. The thick dark hair I had inherited from my Korean mother was hidden in a pink knit ski hat. And my face was makeup free. To him I was nothing but a lump with a pink pom-pom on top.
Oh God, to him I probably looked like I belonged on the truck!
I had a mental image of myself splayed across the side of the truck beside the faded blue elephant dangling near my hip. Little Dumbo had big black eyes and a half smile underneath his long trunk. Without thinking, I tucked him back under an elastic tie that held him in place.
I turned back to Hercules. "My ride should be here any minute. So you and your furry friends are free to mush along."
The giant scratched his head. "Are you making fun of the truck?"
"Not at all," I replied with a straight face. Then I ruined it by saying the first thing that came to my unfiltered, exhausted mind. "I didn't realize I was on the island of misfit toys."
His lips quivered. "Good thing Uncle Pete isn't around to hear you make fun of his truck. He gets awfully sensitive when people laugh at him."
I didn't want to make things worse. "I love the look. Very, uh, creative."
He bent over and started laughing. A cross between a hoot and a deep bark. I didn't get the joke. Staring at his wide, shaking shoulders, I wondered if I was still capable of performing a neck lock.
Over his head I glimpsed an older model silver sedan heading our way. I raised my hand to wave it down. The driver slowed and lowered his window.
Still smiling, "Brawny man" straightened and grinned. "Hey, Doc!"
"Edge! Are you going to start scooping anytime soon?"
"I'm starting up the freezers next week. As soon as I get a forty-five-degree day, I'm ready for the kiddos."
I was so horrified, the driver was halfway down the road before I could hail him. "What do you do? Lure the kids in with Care Bears and then put them in the ice box?" I mumbled.
"You have a sick mind, lady," he said with a chuckle.
Not really. Just two older brothers who loved making me watch horror movies when I was little.
I ran my hand across my eyes and tried to clear my head. I still felt fuzzy from sleep deprivation and the general fogginess of a long day of travel. The Vicodin before bed last night wasn't helping.
I should have taken my mother up on her offer to let me recuperate at her Santa Monica home. Right now, I could be lying on a couch watching a shopping channel and eating ramen noodles with the wooden chopsticks she collected from the Golden Dragon.
The burly man stared at my luggage and my sports bag. "You are the lady who is here for that health grant, right?" I raised my chin. "You know about me?" "Not very much," he said, staring at my knee encased in the large black brace.
A group called the Triple C's was sponsoring me, and I had been forthright about my injury. Sort of. At the very least they understood that I had a condition that prevented me from performing some of the fitness exercises myself. It wasn't going to impact my ability to work with the residents of the town. At least not in theory.
"I appreciate your help, but my ride should be here any minute."
His lip twitched as if he thought that was funny. He extended an arm toward the truck. "And it is."
"You must be mistaken. Yesterday I spoke with a lady who told me a nice older man was picking me up from the bus stop. I just texted him."
"That nice old man is my Uncle Pete. His back gave out on him again. So, you're stuck with me."
"No offense, but no one mentioned a lumberjack and a truck that functions as kiddy bait. How do I know you aren't some crazy serial killer?"
His gray eyes twinkled and I thought I could see the pucker of a dimple peeking through his unshaven cheek. "I forget how Uncle Pete's truck might seem to outsiders. I assure you it's perfectly safe."
I wasn't buying it yet. "How about you find me a nice cab and I'll get there on my own. An Uber ride is fine, too." I heard a car behind me and I stuck out my thumb. But it was too late, a silver minivan passed us.
"Are you trying to hitchhike?" The man beside me made a clucking sound with his tongue and whipped out his phone. "Look. Here's the text from Uncle Pete." His short, spotless fingernails and clean hand clutching the latest iPhone seemed oddly out of place with the rest of him.
Keeping my distance, I balanced on one crutch and pulled my own phone out of my pocket. I scrolled through my recent texts. I held it up next to his phone. Same number.
He shifted to the text. Shit mybackwent out again canyou cover for me until Friday also I promised Mayor's wife Ide pick up the new health knot hired at 5 at the bust stop
I raised an eyebrow. "Bust stop and health knot?"
He shrugged and put his phone back in his pocket. "Uncle Pete can't text very well."
A gust of wind penetrated the Gore-Tex of my coat and made me shiver. "There is no such thing as being too careful nowadays, you know."
"Right you are," he said as if I had commented on the weather. "I'll get your suitcases and then let's get you inside the truck."
I followed him in a three-and-a-half-legged hop. "I can help."
Ignoring me, he reached for my suitcases.
"Be careful with those." The Greyhound bus driver had given me a hard time when I asked him to help with my two bulging red suitcases. He had made quite a show of grumbling that they were over the weight limit. But hunky man didn't seem to care. He lifted both bags and threw them in a well behind the cab as if they were feather pillows.
He turned to me and held out a long flannel arm. "Ready?"
I hesitated. This was mortifying. Almost as bad as sobbing in front of the whole post-op staff after surgery. Or trying to pee while the nurse patiently waited for my urinary tract to get on course again. Or having my mother wash me like a baby while I sat with my leg propped on the side of the tub.
Or injuring myself in the first place ...
He waited patiently, as if he knew I needed a moment to accept the inevitable.
A muscle wiggled behind his beard. "Before I take you in my arms, I should introduce myself." He held out his hand. "I'm Edge Callahan."
"That's what everyone calls me. Except my mother. She calls me Edgar when she's mad."
He had a mother?
I let out a deep breath. "I'm Lily Shue."
Keeping my weight on my crutches, I raised my hand in my best businesslike handshake and stared at the way his big fingers encased my own. They were warm. And slightly rough. I ran my eyes up his shirt to search for muscles. The human body was my profession and he had a bicep worth inspecting.
At least that's what I told myself.
When he released my grip, I raised my tingling hand to my fuzzy hat and removed it. I was suddenly hot.
Edge didn't notice the odd way I slapped the air behind my neck with my hat to get rid of my sweaty goose bumps. He was busy looking back and forth at the truck and my knee.
Nodding as if he had made a decision, he held out his hands for the crutches. I lifted my arms and let him take them.
I felt the need to explain. "Last week my doctor cleared me to put weight on my right knee. This is just for the trip."
"Hmmm." He threw the crutches in the truck behind the passenger seat and turned back to help me.
A spark of my old self flared. "Thanks for the offer, but I think I can do it."
If I was going to be on my own for the next few months, I needed to learn how to do things myself again. I hopped to the truck and put my hands on the wheel well, trying to vault myself up. When that didn't work, I grabbed the open door. If only my body hadn't grown so weak in the past three weeks. After hanging for less than two seconds, my toes were still on the ground. Embarrassing.
I put a finger in the air as if I had just remembered what I was doing. "I'll just pull myself up backwards."
I turned around and put my hands behind me. Unfortunately, there was nothing to use for leverage.
Edgar, Edge Callahan, aka teddy garbage man, had been waiting patiently while I worked out every angle. But he had had enough. "I'm thinking we should try to get going before dark, maybe?"
"Sorry, I just have trouble with steps ... and giant trucks." Fatigue added bite to my voice.
He stilled. "Steps? Do the Triple C's know this?"
"If I go up backwards, I'm fine." Total lie. I had been forced to move out of my wonderful multilevel condominium because of the stairs and my ... well, my financial situation. "I'm getting better every day. I can go up and down from a seated position."
He leaned his head to the side and asked, "And you can shop for yourself and cook three square meals?"
I was feeling defensive from all the questions. "I don't eat anything complicated."
"A granola bar and an apple."
He looked down at his watch. "And at dinnertime you eat beef jerky?"
All right. So I wasn't the best at taking care of myself, right now. It certainly didn't impact how I could handle the job. Getting the town of Truhart in shape had nothing to do with my own miserable failures. I could help others just fine. Kind of a do as I say, not as I do kind of thing.
"Can we just go? You said it was going to be dark soon." I blinked away frozen moisture. At least the cold prevented my frustration from running down my cheeks.
Edge looked at the truck and said softly, "I'll try not to hurt you."
It was demoralizing for a woman who prided herself on being an athlete, an advocate for healthy bodies, to be picked up like a frail grandmother. He placed one hand on my back and another under the upper part of my thigh and lifted me.
He might look like a cuddly flannel toy, but now I knew I was right about him. The man was volcanic rock. I wouldn't have found a love handle if I'd spent an hour searching his midsection.
And his scent ... I was expecting him to smell like trash. But when I breathed in I was met with a fragrance that was like pine trees and winter mint.
He raised me high until we were nose to nose, as if searching my face for any sign of pain. There were flecks of green and blue in his eyes and a hint of dimples underneath his beard when he broke into a grin.
He settled me in the passenger seat in one slow, smooth movement. "Okay?"
"Yes." I may have purred a little.
I bit my lip and summoned my inner feminist. "I could have done it myself."
"Sure you could have." I looked back to see if he was teasing me. Nice smile. Even teeth. Either I was in the clutches of the kindest garbage man in Truhart, or I was another gullible victim of a serial killer.
When he shut my door, I mourned the returning chill. What the heck was wrong with me? Was I really falling for a hairy man who drove a furry truck? I reached down and grabbed the top of the brace, settling my knee until I was comfortable.
I had never been in a garbage truck before. Beside me was a console with several complicated-looking switches and toggles. Despite all the switches in the cab, there was, surprisingly, a lot of room. I looked for a nonexistent seat belt and sniffed. An air freshener hung from the mirror. Another one was tucked into an air vent. And yet another, stranger-looking air freshener was plugged into an outlet on the dashboard. I guess odor was a hazard for garbage men.
Edge climbed into the driver's seat in one fluid motion. "Comfortable?"
"I am." I had to admit, it was nice to be sitting down again. I granted him my first smile of the day and his eyes grew wide. Did he think I didn't know how to smile?
When he came out of his stupor he asked, "Do you want a snack? Uncle Pete keeps his candy —" He opened a compartment in front of me and out popped a snake. To my credit, I only squeaked.
"Aww, sorry!" He gathered the coiled, flowered snakes and threw them behind the seat. "April Fools' Day isn't for a few weeks, but Uncle Pete is always early with his jokes."
I waited for my breath to return and finally said, "The apartment I'm going to be living in is at Sixteen Main Street. I hope it isn't out of the way for you."
He shifted the truck into gear, checking his mirrors at the same time. "Sorry, Lily. There has been a change in plans."
I felt the blood drain from my face. "A change?"
"We are going to talk to the Triple C's," he said.
A band of panic cinched my chest.
Harrison County had been awarded a grant from Fit4You for two trainers. One trainer was going to live and work in Harrisburg and one was going to live and work in Truhart. That was me. I was being hosted by the Community Center Committee. The Triple C's, as they called themselves. I knew I had to face them sometime, but I was hoping I wouldn't look quite so tired and helpless when they saw my bum knee.
I held up my palms. "No need to talk to them right now. Just yesterday the mayor's wife said the apartment would be unlocked and ready for me."
He stared out the windshield and said one word. "Complications." A tick in his furry beard gave him away.
Suddenly the minty air and the bumpiness of the road, combined with the unexpected change in plans, gave me a major bout of nausea. I clutched my midsection and ran my hand over my eyes. The truck turned and I almost lost it right there. The window next to me lowered. The fresh air erased some of the minty smell and settled my stomach.
Several minutes later I was capable of raising my head. "Thanks."
He pretended I hadn't almost puked all over the interior of the truck. "We're almost there."
With misery building in my chest, I waited for any signs of town. I hoped for a quaint gazebo or a cute church with a white steeple. A boardwalk along a pristine lake. Victorian homes fronted by wraparound porches in pastel trim. But everything was gray, white, and empty. The late March sun was low in the sky, sending spindly shadows of the bare tree branches across the road.
Excerpted from "Fit for You"
Copyright © 2017 Cynthia Tennent.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Table of Contents
Also by Cynthia Tennent,
LESSON ONE - The Hardest Part Is Getting Started,
LESSON TWO - Stick with It — No Excuses,
LESSON THREE - Set Reasonable Goals,
LESSON FOUR - Measure Before You Start,
LESSON FIVE - Educate Yourself,
LESSON SIX - Start Slowly,
LESSON SEVEN - Address Real World Issues,
LESSON EIGHT - Make It Fun,
LESSON NINE - Support Others,
LESSON TEN - Identify Weaknesses,
LESSON ELEVEN - Everyone Has Bad Days,
LESSON TWELVE - Push Yourself, Even When It Hurts,
LESSON THIRTEEN - Find a Partner,
LESSON FOURTEEN - Be Creative,
LESSON FIFTEEN - Allow for Setbacks,
LESSON SIXTEEN - Vary Activities,
LESSON SEVENTEEN - Include the Whole Family,
LESSON EIGHTEEN - Create Balance,
LESSON NINETEEN - Monitor Your Progress,
LESSON TWENTY - Stay Positive on Bad Days,
LESSON TWENTY-ONE - Avoid Injury,
LESSON TWENTY-TWO - Make Sacrifices,
LESSON TWENTY-THREE - Be Patient — Lily Shue (New Triple C's T-Shirt),