Plain, down-to-earth Amy Maitland can't help but notice the sad and handsome stranger who spends every Tuesday at the local café -- an artist who puts his heart and turbulent emotions on canvas in vivid, powerful paintings. No stranger herself to the pain of loss and betrayal, she is drawn to this haunted man, his kindness, and his mystery.
But Luke Hammond is more than he seems. A wealthy factory owner in financially depressed Blackburn, he seeks a haven from his guilt and tragic past -- an escape he seems to find in Amy's warm smile and gentle spirit. Yet Amy Maitland is not of his world, and there is no place for her in Luke's shattered life -- unless they can both open their wounded hearts to a promise each believed long dead ... and find the courage to embrace the most glorious dream of all.
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About the Author
Josephine Cox lives in Bedfordshire, England, and is the number one bestselling author of nearly three dozen novels.
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Live the Dream
For a long, regretful moment he leaned against the back wall, his tall, strong figure merging into the shadows, his heart aching, and his dark, thoughtful gaze intent on the house. It was such a beautiful house, he thought ... so warm and inviting. Like she used to be.
His thoughts shifted to the woman inside. She was still beautiful, and sometimes, when she was afraid, her warm hand would slip into his. But that was all. There was rarely any passion in her gesture. Seldom a smile or welcome in her eyes.
She neither loved nor wanted him. But it wasn't her fault -- he knew that. He still loved her, but he didn't know her any more, not in the way he used to.
He felt such deep regret, and yet, in a strange way, he was also relieved, as though he no longer needed to prove anything. There was no need. There was no one to care.
He had loved this fine house since that first day, seven years ago, when he had carried his wife through the wide, oaken doors and swung her round while she held on to him, laughing and happy, her beautiful face glowing with love for him and, oh, how he had adored her in return. But that was then. Now all he had left were the memories.
His heart ached for things to be how they once were. But however much he wished it, there could be no going back.
With a deep sigh he made his way across the delightful garden, with its pretty, meandering paths and multitude of shrubs and trees. It was early February now, and here and there the buds were already forming. In another month or so, they would open and the garden would be filled with color. Walking through it, you could imagine yourself to be in paradise.
Sometimes, when the symptoms of her illness became too much for him, he would come out here, and walk and think until his spirit was refreshed. Then he would go back inside, ready to deal with whatever came his way.
Today was Tuesday, and Tuesdays were very special. For a time he was free to follow his heart, to do what he wanted, to be whoever he wanted to be. Tuesday was his day. His sanctuary.
He quickened his steps toward the outbuilding. Here, he took out a bunch of keys, unlocked the door and let himself in. He threw back the makeshift curtain at the window, and a shaft of sunlight fell on the cloth-covered easel at the back of the room.
Sliding away the cloth, he revealed the painting of a beautiful, slender woman with chestnut-colored hair flowing to her waist, and dark, sultry eyes. For a while he stood there, thoughtfully observing the face, with its exquisite features and soft, smiling mouth.
Reaching out, he traced the tip of his finger around her inviting, sensuous mouth. A great sadness took hold of him.
"I'm so sorry," he murmured. "If I could only change things, you know I would."
A moment longer, then he covered the painting and strode to a large wooden chest and opened the lid. From where it was hidden beneath layers of paint-trays and brushes, he took out a heavy iron key. It was his passport to another world.
He slid the key into his jacket pocket and left, securing the door behind him. Then he quickly made his way through the gardens and out of the side gate.
From the bedroom window she watched him leave ... that same woman he had painted so lovingly and whose portrait was hidden in the outbuilding. She saw him carefully close the gate; she heard the familiar turning over of the engine, and in her mind's eye she imagined him driving the long black saloon he had bought only a few months ago. She heard the engine swell as it was driven away, and through the beech trees that lined the road she caught a fleeting glimpse of the car as it went from the house.
Even when she could no longer hear the engine, she remained, thinking and wishing, until, startling her, a voice from the door called her name.
"Sylvia! I've been looking for you everywhere."
With a smile, she turned from the window. "It's such a lovely day, don't you think, Edna?" But the smile was forced, because now he was gone and already she was lonely.
She often felt alone now -- detached from her husband, from her sister, from dear Edna. No one came to visit. Too scared of her moods. The medication helped suppress the anger, but often her moods got the better of her. Sometimes the anger was preferable to the dulling effect of the drugs, and so on occasion she would hide the medicine and only pretend to take it. But there were days when she had no choice but to take it or lose control.Live the Dream. Copyright © by Josephine Cox. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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