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Crescent Falls


Be Mine, Dead Valentine

Written By: Carol A. Guy
Series: Crescent Falls #2
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Adelaide McBride sat at the kitchen table in her 1930s retro-style kitchen on this cloudy February first, staring out the window as she nibbled on a cranberry croissant and sipped at her tepid green tea. In her mind she was trying to envision what this, the shortest month of the year, would have in store.

For one thing, she knew she must make a trip to the hairdresser. A quick glance in the bathroom mirror this morning had reflected back at her a head of auburn hair that badly needed a trim. Her normally bright green eyes had been a little bloodshot also—the result, no doubt, of late nights spent reading because she couldn’t get to sleep. In turn, the sleepless nights were the result of stress brought on by the nightmares she still had regarding her ordeal in December, when she’d been held captive in her own basement by a deranged killer. The broken wrist she’d suffered on that night had long ago healed, but it still ached on days like this, when the clouds hung low with unshed moisture and the temperatures dropped below thirty degrees.

January had been bleak and basically uneventful, but now that February was here, she knew her good friend, Reverend James Preston, would probably be leaving Crescent Falls. He’d chosen to come out of retirement in December when their pastor at the Crescent Falls United Methodist Church had been relieved of his duties because he was a suspect in the murder of a parishioner. Adelaide was sure that the ensuing scandal resulting from that murder would have ruined the church had it not been for James’s strong leadership. But that wasn’t the only reason she hated to see him go. During that ordeal, James, a widower for several years, had made it perfectly clear he had a personal interest in Adelaide.

She felt her stomach flutter a little as she thought of Vernon Dexter, another suitor. Might as well just come out and say it. Vernon. Dear, dear Vernon. How I treasure our friendship that began while he, Albert and I were still schoolchildren. Now, Vernon wants more.

As always, her thoughts turned to her beloved late husband Albert. She still missed him every day. She knew life moved on and he would want her to find happiness again. But was she ready to begin a romantic relationship with someone else? Vernon had been in love with her since high school, this she knew. James, on the other hand, hadn’t made his interest known until recently. Both were wonderful, caring men who any woman would be lucky to have. “Well it may be a moot point anyway, as far as James is concerned. He’ll be going back to his home in Columbus sometime this month and I have no intention of maintaining a long-distance relationship,” she said. A bold knock on her back door caused her to almost jump out of her chair.

She glanced at the kitchen clock. “Who could that be at eight in the morning?” She got up and went to the door, only to find James Preston standing on the back stoop.

“It’s going to snow again,” James predicted as he stepped inside. He pulled the knit cap off his head and stuffed it into the pocket of his wool pea coat.

Adelaide studied him for a moment, taking in the dark hair now standing up at odd angles from static electricity. His face, as always, was a little ruddy, his kind brown eyes twinkling with humor. She’d noticed over the past month or so that his paunchy mid-section had slimmed a little. The gray slacks and blue sweater he wore today fit him very nicely.

Oscar, Adelaide’s gray tabby cat, came through the doorway separating the kitchen and dining room and approached James, waiting for the cat treat he’d grown accustomed to when James visited.

“I didn’t forget you,” James said cheerily, reaching into his jacket just before hanging it on the peg by the back door. Out came a small sandwich bag with several triangular-shaped treats inside. Oscar meowed loudly, weaving a path around James’s legs.

“He’s impossible. Such a mooch. He acts like I never feed him,” Adelaide said. “You look frozen, James. How about some hot tea and something to eat? Or, I can put on a pot of coffee if you prefer.”

Once Oscar was contentedly munching on his treats, James took a seat at the kitchen table. “I think a cup of tea would hit the spot. I don’t suppose you have any of those croissants left?” He nodded toward her plate, where the half-eaten pastry remained untouched.

Adelaide warmed his croissant in the microwave. Although her stove was a thirties-style Magic Chef and her kitchen table, floor tile and cabinets also reflected that decade, she did have some modern conveniences. Then she brought it and his tea to the table. Sitting down at her place again, she said, “So, what brings you here so early this morning?” In her gut, she feared the answer.

James eyed her across the table as he took a sip of the tea, then a bite of the croissant. Once he swallowed, he said, “I wanted you to be the first to know, Adelaide.” He hesitated a moment.

Adelaide felt tears spring into her eyes. “You’re leaving. They’ve found a replacement, haven’t they?” She knew James deserved his retirement after serving many years in various pastorates, but she was just selfish enough to want him to stay.

James smiled. “Well you’re half right. There will be a new minister coming on Wednesday. But I’m not going anywhere. I’ve decided to come out of retirement and resume my pastorate here.”

Adelaide wanted to jump up and shout. She wanted to hug him and plant a big kiss on his ruddy cheek. She wanted to dance a jig around the kitchen. She did none of these things, of course. Instead she said, “Then why is a new minister coming?”

Price: $4.99