Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw. Even Tommy Love’s is melting around the edges. They both want Rainbow Lake Lodge. Only one of them can have it. For Hope, recreating the past – reopening the lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again — means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband’s legacy. For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home – peace, quiet, seclusion – and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect. Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?
Tommy lifted his suitcase chest high, handed it to her, and eyed a handful of scraggly, roadside weeds that looked sturdier than they were because of the half-inch of ice coating them. Grabbing a handful, he tried to hoist himself up out of the ditch. And slid backwards. Three times.
“It’s wicked stuff,” she said, trying to hide a laugh. “Here. I can help if I set these down.” She laid his suitcase on the snow-covered ground and perched his precious guitar on top of it.
So she was gorgeous and thoughtful. That didn’t mean she could run Rainbow Lake Lodge all by herself.
She took off her mittens and dug the heels of her boots into the gravel at the shoulder. “Let me give you a hand.”
“I’m fine,” he said. And he was, once she’d helped him out. The woman had a strong grip – he’d give her that.
“What brings you to Rainbow Lake?” Hope asked as they headed into the woods, toward the lodge he was going to bulldoze.
“Um… I had a gig at the Indian Casino at Fortune Bay the night before last,” he said, not wanting to say too much. “I have a small plane that I use when I’m in Minnesota. I was on my way to the airport.”
She looked over her shoulder at the Porsche as if realizing that his car was pointed in exactly the opposite direction that it would have been had he been telling the truth.
“I must have taken a wrong turn,” Tommy said, stopping to shift his weight as he skated along on the icy road. His guitar was lighter than his suitcase and he felt totally unbalanced. “I couldn’t see a thing with that sleet coming down.”
“I was just thinking that you’re mighty fortunate that you weren’t in the air when this weather started up. Or it could have been your plane that crashed instead of your car. In a lake instead of a ditch.”
He looked her in the eye for the first time and nodded.
“I learned a long time ago that God has ways of getting us where he wants us to be,” she said. “Usually at the precise moment he needs us to be there.”
He assimilated her words and chose not to respond. What he wanted to say was, if you really believe this, how do you make sense of the fact that a drunk driver just happened to come around a blind curve on the wrong side of the centerline at the exact moment your husband was coming upon the same curve from the opposite direction? He wanted to ask it, but how could he, when he wasn’t supposed to know her, or that her husband was dead?
“I grew up in Embarrass, you know,” he said, not knowing whether he should just keep his mouth shut or try to distract her from asking him point blank what he was doing in her ditch, and why he was snooping around her property.
“I think David did mention it now that I think about it. I didn’t grow up around here, so I’m a bit clueless when it comes to who went to school with whom and that sort of thing.”
“Then I guess I could ask you the same question,” he said, feeling safe, for the moment anyway. “About what brought you to Rainbow Lake.”
“I’m renovating a lodge and a cluster of cabins that’s been in my late husband’s family for almost half a century”, she said, not mincing any words. “I hope to be ready to reopen on Memorial Day weekend, but there have been a few glitches and things aren’t moving along quite as quickly as I’d hoped.”
“They never do,” Tommy said, trying to convince himself that he wasn’t the jerk he felt like. She needed to sell this place — it was what was best for her. Everyone knew it except for her. Besides, it wasn’t as though he had just randomly decided he had to have her land. Billy had made it clear that Hope was going to lose the property regardless of the fact that Tommy was in the picture. Somebody was going to buy the place. Why shouldn’t it be him?
He’d nearly convinced himself he was right when they turned a corner and he saw the lodge poking through the trees off in the distance, looking as big and grand as the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road.
Maybe it was the snow, or the fact that he was chilled to the bone. Maybe it was the way Hope kept referring to the lodge with such love in her voice — whatever, he was mesmerized at first sight. Until that moment, he’d only seen the roof and the top few feet of the exterior that had been visible from the lake. The plane had revealed even less because of the dense ground cover and tall trees. He’d really had no concept of what the place was like. So when the rough hewn timbers and river rocks and old green mortar started to appear through the thick veil of lacy snowflakes falling from the sky, he felt like he was on the inside of some kind of pretty little snow globe, walking toward the fairy-tale-like building in the center.
Get a grip, he told himself. Stay cool. Be objective.
“This is it,” she said. “‘Home Sweet Home.’”
Don’t let her get to you. It wasn’t as though he was going to be evicting her and her six children. She was young. She had options – or would have, when Billy convinced her she needed to relinquish the land and Tommy paid her more than it was worth.
Who was he kidding? Not only was he inside the snow globe, some maniacal kid was shaking it as hard as he could. He was so shook up he could barely swallow.
Sherrie Hansen Decker lives in a 116-year-old Victorian house in northern Iowa who, just like her, got a second chance when she rescued it from the bulldozers grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Love Notes is Sherrie’s fifth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing, and her debut Christian Inspirational novel. She attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and University of Maryland, European Division, in Augsburg, Germany. Her husband, Rev. Mark Decker, is a pastor and Sherrie’s real life hero. She enjoys playing the piano with their worship team, needlepointing, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on adventures with her nieces and nephews.
Love Notes was released on June 4 and is available at amazon.com, smashwords.com and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com.
Click here for an interview with: Sherrie Hansen Decker, Author of “Love Notes”