Eliza Monroe has been traveling the United States for three years, immersing herself in the towns she visits as she searches for the mother she’s never known. She hopes returning to her grandmother’s inn in Sage Springs, Mo., will provide the break she needs to evaluate her lonely life.
What Eliza isn’t expecting is to have two men enter the picture, not making her decision to stay or leave any easier. One has been her foundation, while the other is as comfortable as she is hopping from city to city. Throw in a kooky grandmother, a cheerful best friend, a sarcastic guest, a town where residents and spirits interact like neighbors, and Eliza has little time to contemplate her future.
Friendships grow, webs are spun and lies are revealed before Eliza comes to terms with what she wants in life and learns what’s really important.
I missed Grams and Lexi. I came back for one week every September to help Grams prepare the inn for guests. This year was different. Cedar Inn needed lots of repairs since Grams had been putting them off. Though the biggest thing calling me home was that I needed some time off from traveling. Still no closer to my mother or finding myself, I needed some time to assess.
“We’ll be landing in Kansas City in about thirty minutes,” the pilot announced, jolting me from my thoughts. “It’s a sunny seventy-eight degrees.” That was a nice way of saying it wasn’t going to be hot as balls when we stepped off the plane. The summers were brutal and full of humidity, which is one of the reasons I picked fall for my yearly visits.
The man next to me snored. How did I always get stuck next to people like this? It was like I was a magnet for weird encounters. “Please invade my personal space” must have been written on my forehead. I knew I was in trouble when the man plopped down in the seat and started taking up my legroom and arm room within seconds.
I flipped off my e-reader and stowed it in my purse as I took a deep breath and prepared to face the next few weeks that would likely decide my future. It was time for me to determine if I wanted to continue my journey on the road and the search for my mother, or if I should move back to Sage Springs and be surrounded by people who loved me.
Lexi had promised to meet me at the airport and drive me to Cedar Inn. I took another deep breath as the plane landed. As anxious as I was about facing my future, I was excited to be stationary for a while. Seeing as how Sage Springs was more of a, err, spiritual community, I guess you could say, I felt excited to be around other people like me.
Mr. Snorer had awoken upon landing and was now edging his way into the aisle. I jumped in line right behind him and stepped off the plane. As I entered the airport gate, I steeled myself for Lexi’s little body launching itself at me. She had a way of doing that, and I didn’t want to fall on the airport’s dirty carpet with her on top of me, smothering me with hugs.
I glanced around for Lexi’s blonde head. Odd. I didn’t see her. I peered around again, taking a step out of the way as families reunited and lovers embraced. I was midway through swiveling my head when I lost my breath and my eyes bulged. Dark blond hair, six-three, muscular build, brown eyes, dimple.
Lexi would not do this to me. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t possibly send him here to pick me up. It was an hour drive to Cedar Inn. I couldn’t be stuck in the car with Jake Brown for that long. I’d seen him twice since I left Sage Springs three years ago. He hadn’t seen me. Since I was only in town for a week each of the other times, I spent most of the visits at the inn with Grams, so there was no reason for any awkward meetings.
“Eliza? That you?”
Hollie Westring hails from Kansas City, Mo. She used to be a journalist, which probably explains her extreme dislike of the serial comma and her preference for AP style.
After realizing the hours of journalists were not productive to any type of social or family life, she settled into a job at a publishing syndicate. She worked with comics, astrology columns, word puzzles and feature columns for six years. Although she enjoyed her time there, Hollie decided to leave the nine-to-five world and join the twenty-four/seven world of motherhood. Now she edits from home.
When not writing, editing or reading, Hollie can be found baking cookies or watching more than her fair share of crime TV. She’s a loyal Royals and Chiefs fan.