Sullivan's Crossing Book #2
February 20, 2018
Any Day Now
Sullivan’s Crossing is a rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails that welcomes everyone—whether you need a weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It’’s a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.
For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.
Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.
Originally published April 2017 in hardcover and eBook.
SO, THIS IS WHAT A NEW LIFE LOOKS LIKE. SIERRA
Jones opened her eyes on a sunny Colorado morning to that thought.
She had given this a great deal of consideration. Colorado had not been her only option but she decided it might be the best one. Her brother Cal, with whom she shared a deep bond, was making a life here and he wanted her to be part of it. Sierra needed a new place to start over. A place with no bad memories, where she had no history and yet, had a strong emotional connection. Her big brother was a powerful pull.
When she was a child, it was Cal who’d protected her, loved her unconditionally, cared for her, worried on her behalf. He was eight years older but had been more than just her brother. He had been her best friend. And when he’d left home, or what passed for home when she was ten years old, she’d been adrift. When she’d finally made up her mind to give this place a chance, Cal wanted her to come directly to his house. His house in progress, that is. But that didn’t sound like a good idea; there was only one bedroom finished so far. And, more important—she wouldn’t be a burden to anyone, and absolutely did not want to be in the way of a new couple who were just feeling their way into marriage. Cal and Maggie had been married less than six months and were living in the barn they were converting into a house. Sierra thanked them kindly and said she’d prefer to find her own lodgings and live on her own. A very important part of creating a new life was independence. She did not want to be accountable to anyone but herself.
That’s what she’d told them. The truth, hidden protectively in her heart, was that she was afraid to depend on Cal again as she had when she was a little girl. He had a new family, after all. She remembered too well the pain from her childhood when he’d abandoned her. It was awful.
Independence was a little frightening. But, she reminded herself, she did have her brother near and willing to lend a hand if she needed anything, just as she was more than eager to be there for Cal and Maggie. She was thirty years old and it was high time she built a life that reflected the new woman she was becoming. This was a joyful, challenging, exciting and terrifying change. If a little lonely at times…
She had a short checklist of things she wanted to settle for herself before seeing Cal. First—she wanted to look around the area. Timberlake was the town closest to where her brother and Maggie lived and she thought it was adorable. It was a little touristy, a little on the Wild West side with its clapboard shop fronts and Victorian-style houses, surrounded by the beauty of snow-topped mountains and long, deep fields. The first day she spent in the small town there was a herd of elk cantering down the main street. One big bull was bugling at the cows and calves, herding them away from the town and back to grazing land. They were at once majestic and klutzy, wandering in a little confusion through the cars. An old guy standing in front of a barbershop explained to her that with spring, they were moving to higher elevations, cows were giving birth, grazing was found in different areas. And in the fall, he said, watch out for rutting season. “Those bulls get real territorial.”
That was all it took for Sierra to begin to hope this would be the right place for her, because her heart beat a little faster just watching that grand herd move through town. The old guy had said, “You don’t see that every day.”
She’d found a comfortable, clean, cheap hostel that would let her pay by the week and they were just starting to get an influx of students and adventurers who wanted to take advantage of the Colorado springtime. She’d have to share a bathroom, but it wouldn’t be the first time; she wasn’t fussy and it would make decent housing until she could find something more permanent. The owner of the hostel, a woman in her sixties called Midge, had said there were rooms and apartments being let by local homeowners all over town.
The best part about the hostel—there were people around, yet she would be on her own.
She’d found a part-time job right away—the diner needed early-morning waitstaff help a couple days a week. They’d lost their main morning waitress and the owner’s wife had been filling in. As it happened, Sierra loved the early morning. The money wasn’t great but it was enough to keep her comfortable and she had a little savings.
The most important thing she’d researched before coming to Colorado was locations and times of AA meetings. She even had an app for her phone. There were regularly scheduled meetings everywhere. In Timberlake and in all the small towns surrounding it from Breckinridge to Colorado Springs. They were usually held in churches but there were some in community centers, in office buildings, hospitals and even clubhouses. She would never be without support.
Sierra was nine months sober.
Sierra had reconnected with Cal about seven months ago, right before he and Maggie married. He’d visited her twice since and called her regularly. He’d begun lobbying for her move to Colorado a few months ago. For the eight years previous they’d been in touch but not much a part of each other’s lives and for that she had regrets. Those years had been especially difficult for Cal; the past five years had been brutal. His first wife, Lynne, had suffered from scleroderma, a painful, fatal disease, and had passed away three years ago. Cal had been a lost soul. If she’d been a better sister, she might’ve offered her support.
But that was in the past and the future was her opportunity. She hoped they could rebuild the close relationship they’d once had and become family again. Right before she’d started the long trek south to Colorado, Cal had shared a secret—he was going to be a father.
Sierra was thrilled for him. He would never know how much she looked forward to a baby. She would be an auntie. Since she would never have children of her own, this was an unexpected gift.
Cal Jones lay back against the pillows, his fingers laced behind his head, sheet drawn to his waist. He watched Maggie preen naked in front of the full-length mirror, checking her profile.
“We got a thing going on…me and Mrs. Jones…” he said, his voice husky.
She really didn’t show much yet. Just the tiniest curve where her waist had been. She kept smoothing her hand over it. “I passed the dreaded first three months with no issues,” she said. She beamed at him, her eyes alive. “I’m not sick. I feel great. I’m going to tell my dad it’s okay to tell his friends now.”
“Don’t be too surprised if you find he already has.” “I wouldn’t be at all surprised.”
He watched her with pride. Thin as a reed with that little bump that he put there, her smile wistful and almost angelic. She wanted the baby as much as he did; she thrilled with each day it grew in her. This baby had healed something in her. And it filled him with a new hope. She was more beautiful now than she’d ever been.
“Mrs. Jones, you have to either get dressed or come over here and do me.”
She laughed. “I already did you. Magnificently, I might add.” “I said thank you.”
She reached for her underwear, then her jeans, then her sweatshirt. The show was over. Now he’d have to wait all day to have her alone again.
“It’s time for you to get to work—I need a house. Tom will be here anytime. I’m going over to Sully’s store,” Maggie said. There was much cleanup and restoration to do at her dad’s general store and campground at Sullivan’s Crossing. It was the first of March, and it wouldn’t be long before the campers and hikers started coming in force.
Cal and Maggie were living in the barn they were renovating into a big house with the guidance of Tom Canaday, a local with some amazing carpentry and other building skills. Tom had good subcontractors to help, speeding up the process. Maggie and Cal had married last October and, while the roof and exterior were being reinforced and sealed, dormers added to what were once haylofts, the wiring refreshed, the interior gutted and windows installed where there had been none, they’d been living at Sully’s, in his basement. Tom, Cal and a few extra hands had finally finished off a bedroom and functional bath- room along with a semifunctional kitchen. That bedroom on the ground floor would eventually be Cal’s office when the house was finished. The proper master bedroom would be up- stairs. They had a good seal on their temporary bedroom door so they could sleep there and not be overcome by sawdust or the dirt of construction. They’d been in residence two weeks, thanks to warmer weather and a good space heater.
Maggie spent most of her free time at the store helping her dad. Then there were those three or four days a week she was in Denver where she practiced neurosurgery. On her practice days she stayed at the Denver house she’d owned for several years. During her days away, Cal and Tom did the things that were noisiest, smelliest and messiest—the pounding and sawing, cutting granite and quartz, applying the noxious sealer, installing the floors, sanding and staining. Every time Maggie came home it was like Christmas—she’d find new stairs to the second floor, a bathtub, a new kitchen sink, ceramic tile on the kitchen floor, half a fireplace. But the most precious addition of all was the Shop-Vac. That little beauty kept dirt, sawdust, spillage and debris manageable. It was their goal to have the house finished before the baby came, due in October.
Tom Canaday was at the house, his truck backed up to the door, before Cal had finished making Maggie breakfast—very likely by design. Cal got the eggs back out and started making more breakfast.
Tom brought his twenty-year-old son, Jackson; something he did whenever Jackson had a day free of classes. In the cavernous great room they sat at a long picnic table. Tom had thrown it together and it became the table they ate at, spread plans on, used as a carpenter’s bench, a desk when they held meetings. They met with subcontractors there, spread material samples or design renderings on it, looked through catalogs. It was truly multipurpose.
Once Maggie had gone to Sullivan’s Crossing, the men were still seated at the picnic table, finishing a second cup of coffee when there was a knock at the door.
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.