by BJ Robinson
An excerpt from B. J. Robinson’s new release and latest Christmas book.
Amber’s tires crunched in the white shell drive as she pulled her 2012 blue and white Mustang beneath an ancient live oak draped in Spanish moss and glanced at a beautiful darker blue pickup. A man with a tall, lean frame came around the corner of the impressive Victorian, strode to the truck, and started pulling out buckets of paint. He hadn’t noticed her. She sat in the car and took advantage of being able to preview him.
Jeans clung to his well-muscled legs, and his tee shirt tightened across a broad, muscled chest and rippling muscles in his upper arms. She quietly climbed from her vehicle, heart throbbing. It was Adam. She knew she’d run into him if she returned, but she hadn’t expected to the first day back and at her home of all places. What was he doing here?
He turned as she stepped up to him. Wiry, lean muscles rippled as he held a can of paint in each hand, tanned forearms stretched down along his sides. His shiny brown eyes flew open as her heart thundered against her chest. “Amber Brooke Paige, what are you doing here?”
“I was just about to ask you that same question, Adam Cameron Baker.”
“Getting ready to give this old house a fresh coat of paint to spruce it up for the holidays.” The administrators of the estate hired me.”
“Aunt Amelia left me the house, furnishing, and grounds, so I’ve returned.”
The smile that had turned up his lips fell as his face shut like a closed book. “I guess you’ve come back long enough to sell the old place.” He sighed. “I’m interested in buying it if the price is right. Always loved it as much as I love Wears Valley.”
“It’s not for sale. I’ll be staying. I always loved this place, and Aunt Amelia knew it. She was my favorite aunt, and I cherish my girlhood memories of the times spent here.”
His face fell even further if that were possible. “I thought they wanted me to paint it to put it on the market, and I’d planned to buy it. Childhood memories were special here for me too.”
“Sorry, it’s not for sale. It’s going to be my home.” She glanced at the paint cans hanging from each hand. “Those look heavy. Sit them down, and I’ll explain.”
“No time to talk. I’ve got a job to do. Besides, there is nothing to explain. College and a career were more important than me and this hick town. Surprised you want to come back and call it home.” He strode around her, paint cans swinging as he made his way around the corner of the house.
How could one man be so handsome, yet so rude and irritating? He sounded like a man from a prior generation, one who expected his woman to stay home, cook, clean, and rear children. When she’d gone to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a teaching university, and the University of Tennessee Medical Center to become a nurse, he’d broken their engagement and ripped her heart apart, making her choose between him and her dream career as a nurse. She’d made it and was a registered nurse, but now he wouldn’t even listen to her or let her explain. He’d always had to come first. When she refused to give up her dream for him, he’d broken their engagement. She’d never forget his words. “If Wears Valley and its small-town, traditional values aren’t good enough for you, you’re the wrong woman for me.”
How could he be so old-fashioned? He didn’t even know what career she’d chosen because he could have cared less. She’d gone to college, and he’d closed the book on any love story they might have had. It hadn’t been easy right out of high school, but determined, she’d worked hard. The first child in her family to attend college, she refused to let her parents or her Aunt Amelia down. She could still hear her aunt advising her. “Honey, you can’t go wrong with nursing. You’ll always be able to find a job, and it pays well.”
Her dear, sweet aunt had passed while she was away, and she’d made a quick trip home long enough for the wake and funeral. Adam had come to the wake out of respect for her aunt, but he totally ignored her and refused to even speak, so she went back to Knoxville heartbroken. He had no idea how he’d hurt her, scarred her, broken her spirit as well as her heart in some ways, but still she’d refused to let him take away her career. Amber knew she’d need a way to earn a living, and she refused to depend on a man and not have one. She wasn’t living in the olden days. This was the twenty-first century and just because she loved old Victorian houses, especially her aunt’s, it didn’t mean that she had to live like it was still that era. That time had come and gone.
She could still enjoy the beautiful old home. Sure she wanted children one day, but first she wanted to be sure she’d be able to take care of them and now, she knew she would. Why couldn’t he at least listen to her side of things, how she felt. He wasn’t the man she’d thought he was. He wouldn’t listen to her heart and what mattered to her. It had always been all about him and what he wanted. Well, he’d given up on her, and he wouldn’t get her home. He’d have to go find another old Victorian because he wasn’t getting hers.
Amber turned and sunlight sparkled off one of the beautiful stained-glass windows in the dining room. The house had been gorgeous in its day, and she’d be sure to make it that way again. It was a beauty. A fresh coat of paint would spruce it up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was glad that was taken care of, but it wasn’t very pleasant knowing the love of her life was the one doing the painting, and he wouldn’t even give her the time of day.
This old house had beckoned her back to small-town life, and it wouldn’t let her forget the man who broke her heart. She’d coveted this home and its cherished memories since childhood, and it was hard to believe another dream had come true. She had her dream home and her dream career. If only, she could have had the man of her dreams too. Still, she knew she had a lot to be thankful for, and she had to be patient. If God meant Adam for her, he’d make a way. She’d have to bide her time and let things happen naturally, if they happened at all. No way would she allow him to see how he’d hurt her and no way would she chase him. She’d show him that she was a strong woman and could live without him. She didn’t need him, but she wanted him. Amber sighed. Well, she did need him, truth be told, but he didn’t need to know that at the moment.
Amber glanced up at the turning leaves in an array of red, yellow, and orange. The mountains were a blaze of autumn colors, and this was another reason she loved Wears Valley. How could Adam not know she loved this place as much as he did?
Fall was ending and Christmas was coming. The holidays would be hard with him acting like a cad, but she’d gotten through harder things in her life, and she’d get through this too. Soon Main Street in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge would be adorned with festive lights, Christmas songs, and holiday cheer as locals and tourists enjoyed the beautiful decorations and atmosphere. Their wedding was to have been on Christmas Day. That would be the hardest day of them all, but she’d get through it.
Amber strolled up the wide steps and across the battleship gray boards of the porch to the sturdy oak door. She loved the gracious, wide veranda. A swing hung from one side and two rockers graced each side of the front door. The same ones she’d swung and rocked in as a child. The same rockers her aunt and mother had rocked her in as an infant and a toddler. The Amish and the other men who did woodwork in these parts built items to last and these had. They needed a new coat of paint to freshen them up, but they still had many good years left, just as the beautiful home did. Thank God she’d inherited the home she loved with all of her heart. It was possible to fall in love with a house because she had as a child.
She leaned against the porch railing and let her eyes take in the gorgeous view of mountains ablaze in glorious fall colors. The hills lit in a blaze of crimson, gold, and rust. There was no place on earth, no view that could beat this one. The house stood proudly on two acres of prime land with beautiful ancient oaks and elms. She was one blessed woman to have a good career to take care of herself and a lovely home like this one, but God knew her heart. He knew she was lonely for a love of her own, for Adam, the love of her life, her soul mate.
She sighed, went to the door, opened it, and as always, the grand staircase that arched gracefully along one side of the foyer took away her breath. She’d once toured a plantation home with a mural above the staircase. Amber would have one of the town artisans paint a scenic view with dogwoods and redbirds. She loved cardinals.
Her aunt had taken great care with the oak hardwood floors, and they only needed a new coat of stain to make them look brand new again. This place would be the grand beauty she once was. She’d see to it.
She moseyed down the length of the wide hall to the back of the house and turned into the only bedroom on the bottom floor. It had been her aunt’s when she could no longer climb the stairs. She peeked out a window. Adam’s long blue-jean clad legs stood on a ladder as he painted. Amber shook her head and turned to gaze around the room.
Aunt Amelia’s blue chenille bedspread with pink roses still clothed the huge oak bed. Amber ran her hand across it as she took a seat on the mattress. If it were any higher, she’d need a ladder. She sunk into the soft comfort. As her fingertips glided across the rose petals one touch brought back all the sweet memories. She caressed the flower petals and green leaves and envisioned her petite aunt, knowing that she would’ve had to use a footstool to get into this high bed. She traced a delicate rose with her fingertips and admired the tall oak chest of drawers and heavy dresser and mirror. Furniture was made to last in those days, and it had. It would serve her well.
She climbed from the bed and let her fingers trace the green velvet drapes that matched the leaves of the spread. An oak nightstand stood on each side of the bed with a vase and an old glass-based lamp. The lamps needed new shades, and she knew just where to find them in the arts and crafts community. She loved cardinals, and she’d buy the ones with red birds and dogwoods. They’d go well with the antique glass bases of the lamps.
Some of those beautiful hand-made rugs would grace her floors. She couldn’t wait to fix up the place and redecorate and knew her aunt wouldn’t mind her making small changes to make it her place.
Amber heard the ladder bang against the side of the house and suddenly white paint splashed on the windowpane. She jumped from the bed to race out the back door and down the porch steps. Adam lay on the ground covered with a ladder and white paint.
Sweet Jesus, was he hurt? He’d hit the ground hard. She ran to him and knelt beside his white-painted body. “Are you okay? Do I need to phone for help?”
The last thing Amber Brooke Paige desires is to return to the town she left, but she has no choice. Away at college, a broken engagement, broken heart, and broken spirit, has left her hurting, scared, and scarred. Yet, her dream home beckons her back to small-town life that won’t let her forget the man who broke her heart.
Her favorite aunt left her the old Victorian on Wears Valley Road in Tennessee. It’s the home she’s always coveted since childhood and so many wonderful, cherished memories are entrenched in her heart and mind.
Adam Cameron Baker can’t deny the attraction, or pull between them, but the last thing he needs is to get involved with Amber again. He thought he knew what she wanted from life, but she left him and the home they both loved for a career dream and college. He’s vowed he’ll never leave Wears Valley. It’s his home and in his blood. No way will he follow the beautiful ash blonde who broke his heart. If Tennessee and it’s small-town, traditional values aren’t good enough for her, she’s the wrong woman for him.
Fall is ending and Christmas is coming. He was hired by the estate administrators to put a fresh coat of paint on the old home to spruce it up for the holidays and Amber’s return. Since his broken engagement, Christmas is viewed as just another day to him.
Can their hearts and views be transformed by the spirit of the season? Main Street will be adorned with festive lights, Christmas songs, and holiday cheer. Their wedding was to be on Christmas Day. When the snow comes, will the season melt their hearts?
Bio: B. J. Robinson loves reading and writing, family, pets, and writing in various genres to provide choice for readers. You’ll discover romantic suspense, historical romance, and Christmas stories and books as well as others. Check out her Amazon Author page for a larger selection. When the Snow Comes is her new release and latest Christmas book.