Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt
Some memories are as sweet as the love they cherish.
Granny Jo, matron of Hawks Mountain, sits by her beloved husband’s grave and remembers how they met, the troubles they faced, and the love they shared that will never die.
Elizabeth Sinclair is the award-winning, bestselling author of numerous romance novels and two acclaimed instructional books for writers. Her novels have been translated into seven languages and are sold in seventeen countries. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband and two dogs. Elizabeth is the mother of three children and "brags constantly” about her grandchildren.
GRANNY JO HAWKS applied the last bit of
paint to the plain white cross stationed at the head of Earl Hawks’ grave.
Though this ritual normally only took place on her husband Earl’s birthday, the
cross had been looking poorly of late, and since this was a special day, she’d
decided to break her customary routine. In truth, it wasn’t totally because of
the need for paint that she found herself here with the man she’d loved beyond
all else for most of her life. Yes, the significance of the day had played a
large role. But perhaps it was mainly because the loneliness of life without
her soul mate sometimes became too much to bear. Maybe she just needed to be
A soft, warm breeze blew off Hawks
Mountain, caressing her sweat soaked face. Sunlight danced over Earl’s grave
with each movement of the oak that had spread its loving arms above him for all
the years he’d rested here. Perfume from the blooming white peace rose next to
the cross mixed with the acrid smell of paint. But she smelled only the lovely
white roses, Earl’s favorite. A familiar pain wrapped around her heart, and a
sob clogged her throat.
anniversary, my love,” she whispered to the grassy mound of earth as she softly
caressed it with a loving hand.
she seldom gave herself permission to acknowledge came swooping down upon her
with all the force and chill of a winter blizzard.
Every minute of
every day Josephine Walker Hawks missed the man she’d married fifty one years
ago, but none so much as this day, the day they’d stood against all the odds
and joined together as man and wife. She laid the paint brush aside, and, with
a heavy sigh, leaned back against the big oak tree that sheltered Earl’s final
resting place, closed her eyes, and allowed the memories she’d made with Earl
to wash over her like a life-giving spring rain.
As clearly as if
it had been yesterday, the day she’d first laid eyes on Earl Hawks played
through her mind...
pumped through Josephine Walker’s young body so hard and fast, she had to fight
to contain it. She kept telling herself it was just the Farmer’s Market, but
that wasn’t what had given rise to the excitement sending ripples of delight
down her spine, or the way her blood thrummed through her veins. It was the
forbidden territory, a place only the common people and the servants of
the wealthy came. Certainly not a Walker. By disobeying her parents and coming
here, Josephine had taken the first steps toward the unbridled freedom she’d
craved for far too long. In a couple of weeks, she would be eighteen and would
make her debut into the Charleston, West Virginia society she loathed. On that
night, the ties that would bind her to a way of life she hated would tighten
forever. But for today, she was free.
How her parents
and their friends would frown on what she was doing. After all, the Walkers
were at the top of the old city’s A List, and rubbing elbows with the masses
was just not something a nice girl did.
slowly between the stalls filled with crafts, baked goods, fruit and vegetables
brought to market by farmers and crafts people every Saturday from the
surrounding rural communities. How she loved the feel of the market, the
smells, the people, and the hum of voices as buyers chose their produce for the
week. For someone who relished people, this freedom to enjoy humanity was
something she’d never been allowed to experience in the world of Charleston’s
The heady aroma
of cantaloupe drifted to her, one of the things Josephine loved for breakfast.
Her gaze searched the stalls until she found the one piled high with the fruit.
She had to buy one. Making her way toward it, she realized she had no idea how
she’d smuggle it into the house without giving away where she’d been. But she
stopped in front of the stack of round, beige globes anyway and inhaled the
"Can I help
toward the voice. When she found herself looking into the clear blue eyes of
one of the handsomest young men she’d ever encountered, her breath caught in
her throat. A lock of ebony black hair had slipped over one of his eyebrows and
gave him a rakish look that she found very charming.
I was just admiring the melons.”
Josephine’s heart stopped dead in her chest. "They’re not meant for admiring.
They’re meant for eating.” His voice had a country ring to it that oozed over
Josephine like hot honey on a warm biscuit. Using a toothpick, he speared a
chunk of cut melon from a paper plate and offered it to her. "Try it. I promise
you’ll love it.” He smiled again.
Her stomach went
bottomless. She had to grip the edge of the stall to keep her knees from giving
She opened her
mouth and used her lips to slip the piece of melon from the toothpick. The
ripe, succulent fruit melted in her mouth. Its sweet, pungent flavor played
over her taste buds much the same way the smile of the man holding the empty
toothpick and staring at her mouth played over her nerve endings.
"I’m gonna be
going for lunch in a few minutes. If you’d like to join me, we can take along
one of these for desert.” He patted one of the plump melons.
glanced around, as if expecting one of her parents to jump out and forbid her.
Then he smiled again and everything else vanished from her mind. "Can you do
that? Just take one of the melons, I mean.”
"Well, since I’m
the boss and these melons are mine, I can do anything I want with them,
including stealing one to feed a beautiful girl for lunch.” He motioned for a
young man at the back of the stall. "Henry, watch over things until I get
back.” Then he stepped from behind the stall, chose a melon, and then took
Josephine’s arm and guided her through the din of the market.
stopped dead. "I don’t even know your name.”
Though she knew
she should have removed her arm from his grasp, she found she liked the feel of
his calloused skin against her flesh. In fact, there was nothing so far that
she didn’t like about this brash young man.
Hawks. And yours is... ?”
cut herself short. Fearing if she told him her last name was Walker, he’d
recognize it as that of one of the most prominent families of Charleston and
shy away from her because of their different social standing, she left it at
Josephine. For now, they were on an even footing, and she had an impossible
desire to keep it that way for as long as she could.
He studied her
for a moment, then smiled, a warm twinkle lighting his sky blue eyes that sent
shivers of pleasure racing up her spine. "Josephine sounds too formal. From now
on, you’ll be my Jo.”
skipped a beat. No one had ever called her that. It had always been the very
formal Josephine. That he did, made the one word special, and she knew from
that moment on, she would be Jo. Not for a minute did she have to wonder what
was happening to her. She’d never thought about falling in love at first sight,
but she’d never thought she’d sneak away to the Farmer’s Market either.
In any case,
here she was... at the Farmer’s Market and definitely in
Earl led Jo
through the market, stopping occasionally to buy other items for their
impromptu lunch. He finally halted at a spot far from the busy market and under
some shady oaks by the Kanawha River. At a picnic bench overlooking the lazy
waters, he spread out the fresh baked bread and pepperoni that he’d bought
along their way.
watched closely as he carefully laid out the paper plates and plastic
silverware he’d talked a friend out of at one of the stalls. He took a jack
knife from his pants pocket, sliced the bread into thick slabs, and then added
the pepperoni to it. Then he cut into the melon, removed the seeds, sliced it
into wedges, peeled each edge, and cut it into chunks.
"There you go.”
He grinned. "A meal fit for a queen.”
lead, Jo picked up her sandwich and bit into it. Ambrosia. Well, maybe
not quite that good, but given the company, the beautiful day, and the pure
delight of being out from under the watchful eye of her mother, it sure tasted
to eat in silence, but cast smiles in each other’s direction. Once their
sandwiches were consumed, Earl slid the plate of melon chunks between them. He
picked one up and held it out to her.
harvested these this morning, I never thought they’d lead me to you.” He
slipped it into her open mouth, and then ran the tip of his finger over her
lower lip to remove the drop of juice left behind.
For a long time,
he stared at her, then stood, came around to her side of the picnic table and
sat on the bench beside her. The heat from his thigh pressing against hers sent
weird shivers up her body.
toward her. His voice lowered to a whisper. "One day, Jo, I plan to make you my
wife. But for now, I just want to kiss you.”