New and Upcoming Releases
April 30, 2019
MIRA Trade Paperback
The Garden Party
#1 New York Times Bestselling author Robyn Carr’s new women’s fiction novel. Description and cover coming soon.
Sullivan's Crossing Book # 4
January 8, 2019
The Best of Us
The 4th book in Robyn Carr’s new fan-favorite bestselling series Sullivan’s Crossing. Cover and description coming soon.
Virgin River Book # 4
September 10, 2018
MIRA eBook & Paperback
A Virgin River Christmas
Return to Virgin River for the holidays in this uplifting tale from the beloved series by New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.
Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.
Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.
Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.
Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.
Originally published November 2008 and reissued November 2013 in mass market paperback.
Marcie Sullivan drove into the small town, her sixth small mountain town of the day, and found herself face-to-face with a Christmas-tree trimming. The assembled staff didn’t look big enough for the job—the tree was enormous.
She pulled up beside a large cabin with a wide porch, parked her Volkswagen and got out. There were three women at work on a Christmas fir that stood about thirty feet. One was about Marcie’s age, with soft brown hair and she held an open box, perhaps containing ornaments. One woman was old, with springy white hair and black-framed glasses, who pointed upward, as if someone had put her in charge, and the third was a beautiful blonde at the top of a tall, A-frame ladder.
The tree stood between the cabin and an old boarded-up church with two tall steeples and one stained-glass window still intact—a church that must have once been a beautiful structure.
While Marcie watched the trimming, a man came out onto the cabin’s porch, stopped, looked up and cursed, then took long strides to the base of the ladder. “Don’t move. Don’t breathe,” he said in a low, commanding voice. He took the rungs every other one, climbing quickly until he reached the blonde. Then he slipped an arm around her, somewhere above what Marcie realized must be a little pregnant bulge and beneath her breasts and said, “Down. Slowly.”
“Jack!” she scolded. “Leave me alone!”
“If I have to, I’ll carry you down. Back down the ladder, slowly. Now.”
“Oh for God’s—”
“Now” he said evenly, fiercely.
She began to descend, one rung at a time between his big, sturdy feet, while he held her safe against him. When they got to the bottom, she put her hands on her hips and glared up at him. “I knew exactly what I was doing!”
“Where is your brain? What if you fell from that height?”
“It’s an excellent ladder! I wasn’t going to fall!”
“You’re psychic, too? You can argue all you want, I’m not letting you that high up a ladder in your condition,” he said, his hands also on his hips. “I’ll stand guard over you if I have to.” Then he looked over his shoulder at the other two women.
“I told her I thought you wouldn’t like that,” the brown-haired one said with a helpless shrug.
He glared at the white-haired woman. “I don’t get into domestic things. That’s your problem, not mine,” she said, pushing her big glasses up on her nose.
And Marcie became homesick. So homesick. It had only been a few weeks that she’d been driving around this area, but she missed all the family squabbles, the tiresome complications. She missed her girlfriends, her job. She longed for her bossy older sister’s interference, her goofy younger brother and whatever current girlfriend was shadowing him. She missed her late husband’s large, fun, passionate family.
She hadn’t made it home for Thanksgiving—she’d been afraid to go for even a day or two, afraid she’d never pry herself out of Erin’s grip a second time. Home was Chico, California, just a few hours away, but no one—not her brother and sister, not Bobby’s family—thought what she was doing was a good idea. So, she’d been calling, lying and saying she had tips about Ian and was close to finding him. Every time she called, at least every other day, she said she was getting closer when really, she wasn’t. But she was not ready to quit.
But one problem was looming large—she was just about out of money. She’d been sleeping in her car lately rather than in motels, and it was getting uncomfortable as the temperatures dropped in the mountains. At any moment snow would be falling now that it was early December, or rain could turn to sleet and that little VeeDub could sail off the mountainside like a missile.
She’d just hate to go home with this mission incomplete. More than anything, she wanted to see it through. If she wasn’t successful now, she’d only go home to earn a little money and then do it all again. She just couldn’t give up on him. On herself.
They were all looking at her. She pushed her wildly curly, out of control, bright red hair over one shoulder nervously.
“I… Ah… I could go up there, if you want. I’m not afraid of heights or anything…”
“You don’t have to go up the ladder,” the pregnant blonde said, and her voice had softened considerably. She smiled sweetly.
“I’ll go up the ladder,” the man said. “Or I’ll get someone to go up the goddamn ladder, but it’s not you.”
“Jack! Be polite!”
He cleared his throat. “Don’t worry about the ladder,” he said more calmly. “Anything we can do for you?”
“I… Ah…” She walked toward them. She pulled a picture out of the inside of her down vest and extended it toward the man. “I’m looking for someone. He dropped out of sight just over three years ago, but I know he’s around here somewhere. He seems to be taking mail at Fortuna Post Office general delivery.”
She passed the picture to the man. “Jesus,” he said.
“You know him?” she asked hopefully.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “No, I don’t, and that’s strange. The guy’s a marine,” he said, studying the picture of a man in uniform. It was Ian’s official Marine Corps portrait, a handsome man all clean shaven and trussed up in dress blues, hat and medals. “I can’t believe there’s a marine within fifty miles of here I don’t at least know about.”
“He might be keeping that fact to himself—he and the Marine Corps had a troubled relationship at the end. So I’ve heard…”
He looked back at her face and his expression was much more tender. “I’m Jack Sheridan,” he said. “My wife, Mel. That’s Paige,” he said, nodding toward the younger woman. “And Hope McCrea, town busybody.” He put out his hand to Marcie.
She placed hers in his. “Marcie Sullivan,” she said.
“Why are you looking for this marine?” Jack asked.
“Long story,” she said. “A friend of my late husband. I’m sure he doesn’t look like this anymore—he had some injuries. There’s a scar down his left cheek and on that same side, no eyebrow. And he probably has a beard. He did the last time he was seen, about three or four years ago.”
“No shortage of beards around here,” Jack said. “Lumber country—men get a little scruffy-looking sometimes.”
“But he could’ve changed in other ways, too. Like— he’s older. Thirty-five now—that picture was taken when he was twenty-eight.”
“Friend of your husband’s? From the Corps?” Jack confirmed.
“Yes,” she said. “I’d like to find him. You know— because he’s been out of touch for a long time.”
Jack seemed to think while he studied the face in the picture. It was several silent moments before he said, “Come on into the bar. Have a bite, a beer maybe, or whatever you like. Tell me a little about him and why you want to find him. How’s that?”
“The bar?” she said, looking around.
“It’s a bar and grill,” he said with a smile. “Food and drink. We can eat and talk.”
“Oh,” she said. Her stomach growled angrily. It was late in the day, about four o’clock, and she hadn’t eaten yet, but she was saving her money for the gas tank and she figured she could forget about food a while longer. Maybe she’d get something real, real cheap to tide her over, like a loaf of day-old bread to go with that half a jar of peanut butter in the car…. Then, she’d find a safe spot to park and button down for the night. “A glass of water would be really welcome—I’ve been driving around for hours, showing his picture to anyone who will take a look. But I’m not hungry.”
“Got lots of water,” Jack said with a smile. He put a hand on her shoulder and started to direct her toward the porch of the bar, but then he stopped suddenly. His brows drew together in a frown. “Go ahead,” he said to her. “I’m right behind you.”
Marcie walked up on the porch and turned to see what he was doing. He was confiscating the ladder so his pregnant wife wouldn’t climb it again, that’s what he was doing. It was a jackknife kind of affair that could be a short or tall A-frame ladder, and he collapsed it, folded it up until he could lift it with one hand. It was about six feet long dismantled and he carried it right into the bar. Behind him, Marcie heard his wife yell, “You’re a bossy pain in the ass! When did I ever indicate I’d take my orders from you?”
Jack didn’t say anything back, but he grinned as though she’d just thrown him a kiss. “Hop up there,” he said to Marcie, indicating the bar. “I’ll be right back.” And he carried the ladder through a door behind the bar.
She took a deep breath and thought, Oh hell—I’m not going to be able to survive the aromas! Her stomach made itself heard again and she put a hand against her belly, pushing. Something in the kitchen was sending out waves of delicious smells—something simmering, rich, hot and thick, like beefy, seasoned soup; fresh bread; something sweet and chocolate.
And when the man named Jack came back, he was carrying a tray with a steaming bowl on it. He put everything in front of her; chili, corn bread and honey butter, a small bowl of salad. “Gee, um, sorry,” she said. “Really, I’m not hungry…”
He drew a cold draft and her mouth actually watered. Gratefully she didn’t drool on the bar. She swallowed hard. She had about thirty bucks and didn’t want to waste it on a fancy meal, not when she needed every cent for gas to hit all these little mountain towns.
“Fine, then you’ll only eat what you want,” he said. “Just have a taste. I showed the picture to Preacher, my cook. He hasn’t seen the guy either. We’ll check with Mike—he’s the town cop and gets around all the back roads, just to know who’s out there—maybe he’ll have a tip or two. They’re also marines.”
“Where exactly am I?” she asked.
“Virgin River,” he said. “Population six hundred twenty-seven at last count.”
“Ah, that made the map.”
“I should hope so—we’re a screaming metropolis compared to a lot of small towns out here. Just try it,” he said, nodding at the bowl.
Her hand trembled a little as she picked up the spoon and sampled some of the finest chili she’d ever eaten. It melted in her mouth, and she actually sighed.
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Keep Readingback to Top
Marcie Sullivan—A year after her beloved husband, Bobby, died of wounds sustained while fighting in Iraq, Marcie, 27, leaves Chico, California, to go to Virgin River in search of Ian Buchanan. Bobby’s best friend and his first sergeant in the Marine Corps, Ian saved Bobby’s life, and Marcie wants to find out why he won’t answer her letters of gratitude.
Ian Buchanan—Suffering from the after-effects of war, Ian, 35, lives in seclusion deep in the forest above Virgin River until Marcie Sullivan finds shelter in his remote cabin during a snowstorm.
Erin Elizabeth Foley—Marcie Sullivan’s older sister, a 34-year-old attorney.
Virgin River Book # 17-20
August 13, 2018
Virgin River Collection Volume 5
Return to Virgin River with four uplifting and emotional stories available together for the first time in a premium box set, from New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.
(originally published January 2012 and reissued March 2016 in mass market paperback and eBook)
When Connor Danson witnesses a violent crime, he must leave Sacramento and keep a low profile until the trial is over. Leslie Petruso didn’t want to leave her hometown, either. But she can’t stand another minute of listening to her ex-husband boast about his new life. Virgin River may not be home, but it’s a place where she can be anonymous. Neither Connor nor Leslie is remotely interested in starting a new relationship…but they can’t deny they have a lot in common—broken hearts notwithstanding. And in Virgin River, no one can stay hidden away from life and love for very long…
(originally published March 2012 and reissued Septembere 2016 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Katie Malone and her twin boys’ trip along the beautiful mountain roads to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, the rain has set in, the boys are hungry and Katie is having trouble putting on a spare. Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the motorcycle trip of a lifetime. But the sight of a woman in distress stops them in their tracks. In one brief moment, the world tilts on its axis and any previous plans Katie and Dylan might have had for their futures are left at the side of the road.
(originally published January 2017 in mass market paperback and reissued May 2012 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Things are better for Nora Crane than they’ve been in ages; still she’s barely scraping by. But she’s got two little girls to look after, so she’ll work harvesttime at the Cavanaugh orchard. Her new boss, Tom Cavanaugh, has come home to take over the family farm. Tom thinks he knows what he wants—he’s ready to settle down with a sweet, traditional woman. Nora doesn’t seem to be the marrying kind, but he can’t keep his eyes off her. Nora has no intention of getting involved with anyone. But it starts to become clear that Nora and Tom won’t be able to stay just friends.
My Kind of Christmas
(originally published November 2016 in mass market paperback and reissued November 2012 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Angie LeCroix wants to spend Christmas in Virgin River relaxing, away from her well-intentioned but hovering mother. Yet instead of freedom, she gets her uncle, who would prefer she never go out at all. And certainly not with navy pilot Patrick Riordan. But Angie has her own idea of the kind of Christmas she wants—and the kind of man. Patrick and Angie thought they wanted to be left alone this Christmas—until they met each other. Now they want to be left alone together. But the Sheridan and Riordan families have different plans for Patrick and Angie—and for Christmas, Virgin River style!
Virgin River Book # 13-16
July 30, 2018
Virgin River Collection Volume 4
Welcome back to Virgin River! Now available in a box set collection, return to this charming small town with more beloved stories form #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.
(originally published January 2011 in mass market paperback and reissued May 2015 in mass market paperback and eBook)
After years spent on ranches around Los Angeles, Clay Tahoma is delighted to be Virgin River’s new veterinary assistant. He’s been welcomed with open arms by everyone in town—everyone except Lilly Yazhi. Lilly has encountered her share of strong, silent, traditional men. In her eyes, Clay’s earthy appeal is just an act used to charm wealthy women like his ex-wife. Lilly can’t deny his gift for gentling horses, but she’s not about to let him control her. There’s just one small problem—she can’t control her attraction to Clay.
Wild Man Creek
(originally published February 2011 in mass market paperback and reissued October 2015 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Colin Riordan is recuperating from a horrific helicopter crash, the scars of which he bears inside and out. His family is supportive, but it’s his art that truly soothes his troubled soul. Stung personally and professionally by an ill-advised affair, PR guru Jillian Matlock has rented an old Victorian with a promising garden. She’s looking forward to cultivating something other than a corporate brand. Both are looking to simplify, not complicate, their lives, but when Jillian finds Colin at his easel in her yard, there’s an instant connection. And sometimes love is the simplest choice of all…
(originally published March 2011 in mass market paperback and reissued January 2016 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Disillusioned and burned out after collapsing at work, rising sous-chef Kelly Matlock has retreated to her sister’s house to rest and reevaluate. Puttering in the garden is wonderful, but Kelly’s starting to get restless…until she meets Lief Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screenwriter—a combination Kelly finds irresistible. Less appealing is Lief’s rebellious teenaged stepdaughter. She’s the reason they moved from LA, but she’s still finding plenty of trouble. Kelly’s never fallen for a guy with such serious baggage, but some things are worth fighting for.
Bring Me Home for Christmas
(originally published November 2011 in mass market paperback and reissued November 2015 in mass market paperback and eBook)
This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her wish list—getting over Denny Cutler, who broke her heart three years ago. So she invites herself on her brother’s hunting weekend in the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded. With Denny. In very close quarters. As the power of Christmas envelops them, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.
Four wonderful stories of finding home and discovering love.
Sullivan Crossing Book # 1
July 16, 2018
What We Find in Small-Town Romance Collection
Four New York Times bestselling authors bring the best of their beloved small town romance series in this new Small-Town Romance Collection!
What We Find “Sullivan Crossing #1” by Robyn Carr
(originally published April 2016 in hardcover and eBook and March 2017 in mass market paperback)
Under extreme pressure, neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can do that is Sullivan’s Crossing. But Maggie’s world is rocked and she must now take responsibility for the land that’s been in her family for generations. When a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, offers to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of his motives—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. The time Cal and Maggie spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.
Serenity Harbor “Haven Point #6” by RaeAnne Thayne
(originally published July 2017 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Secrets of the Lost Summer “Swift River Valley #1” by Carla Neggers
(originally published February 2012 in mass market paperback and December 2015 in eBook)
Sweet Dreams on Center Street “Life in Icicle Falls #1” by Sheila Roberts
(originally published October 2012 as Better than Chocolate in mass market paperback and February 2018 as Sweet Dreams on Center Street in eBook)
Virgin River Book # 9-12
July 16, 2018
Virgin River Collection Volume 3
Welcome back to Virgin River! Now available in a box set collection, return to this charming small town with these beloved stories form #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.
(originally published January 2010 in mass market paperback and reissued October 2014 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Reverend Noah Kincaid moved to town to reopen an abandoned church, and the young widower finds an unusual assistant in brash and beautiful Alicia Baldwin. Noah and Alicia are an unlikely team to revitalize a church, much less build a future. The couple has so many differences, but in Virgin River anything is possible, and happiness is never out of the question.
(originally published February 2010 in mass market paperback and reissued December 2014 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Sean Riordan has settled down in spite of himself—he’s not the cocky young fighter pilot he was when Franci Duncan left him four years ago, and he wants them to try again. After all, they have a history. But that’s not all they share… Franci’s secret reason for walking away when Sean refused to commit is now a toddler. News travels fast, and soon the whole town is taking sides. Rebuilding their trust could take a small miracle—and the kind of love that can move mountains.
(originally published March 2010 in mass market paperback and reissued January 2015 in mass market paperback and eBook)
Erin Foley is hitting the pause button on her rat-race life and holing up in a secluded cabin. Her plan is to get to know herself…not the shaggy-haired mountain man she meets. Beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the navy. Erin seems determined to keep him at arm’s length, but he’d love to get closer—if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don’t hold him back. But there’’s something in the water in Virgin River, and unlikely romances tend to take root…
(originally published November 2010 within MIDNIGHT KISS anthology in mass market paperback and reissued as a stand-alone December 2017 in eBook)
Drew Foley and Sunny Archer are each visiting Virgin River for the holidays. Sunny was dumped at the altar the previous New Year’s Eve and is in no mood to celebrate. But she’s dragged along to the party at Jack’s Bar. Drew, getting over his own heartbreak, sees Sunny across the crowded room and he’s instantly smitten. As the townspeople gather, two lonely revelers decide the best balm for their broken hearts might just be ringing in the new year with a special midnight kiss.
Four emotional stories of second chances, finding home, and falling in love.
June 26, 2018
MIRA Trade Paprback
A Summer in Sonoma
Girlfriends make the best therapists
They’ve been best friends since seventh grade. But this summer, teetering on the threshold of thirty, four women are going to need each other more than ever.
No one delves into the complexities of female friendship better than #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.
Originally published June 2010 in mass market paperback and June 2012 in eBook.
Cassie and Ken walked out of the bar together at seven-thirty. In the rapidly descending darkness of a perfect June night, he pulled her into his arms and covered her mouth in a powerful kiss. Wow, she thought. It was a good kiss—consuming and deep. His hands were running up and down her back. Then one slipped around her side, reaching for a breast, and she withdrew. She pushed him away, laughed nervously and said, “Hold on, pardner. Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you?”
“Sorry,” he said. “I’ve been looking at you, wondering, you know…”
“Well, wonder no more, big fella—rest assured I am definitely a girl. Now, don’t we have plans? Live music in the park?”
“That’s right,” he said, laughing. Then, again, “Sorry.”
As he walked her to his car, she said, “Girls don’t get mad at guys for having romantic ideas. But you do have brakes, I assume?”
“Good. You were moving a little fast for me.”
The car was parked at the far end of the lot and she thought, Ahh, he’s car proud. He’d rather walk across the lot than risk a dent or scratch from neighboring cars. He opened the door to the passenger side and she slipped in. She immediately pulled on her seat belt while he got in the driver’s side.
He started the car, but didn’t put it in gear. Instead, he reached over to her side and began to gently caress her upper arm. He leaned toward her across the console, his eyelids becoming heavy, his mouth slightly open. It was like kiss-on-demand, but at least he was moving more slowly, giving her time, waiting for her to respond. She met his lips for a sweet, short kiss. He moved over her mouth with precision, but when she pulled away from his mouth, laughing nervously again, he grabbed her upper arms in his strong grip. “Cassie,” he said in a breath. “What do you say we rethink the music? Maybe skip it?”
“I don’t think so. I was looking forward to it,” she said, her heart rate speeding up a little. She started to smell an ill wind.
“Come on,” he begged. “Think about it. You won’t be sorry….”
She did a quick memory check. She’d been out for happy hour with friends from work when she met him. They’d talked for a long time. She was an emergency room nurse, he was a paramedic—they’d never met before but she did a lot of business with the fire department and had come to think of them as the good guys. He had been polite, attentive, interested. He was a nice-looking guy with a sense of humor. She’d taken his cell phone number and agreed to meet him again, this time for a cup of coffee. That’s how you play safe dating. He’d been a gentleman, walking her to her car after coffee and saying goodbye with a brief, platonic hug. Then she’d given him her cell phone number. So, after a few getting-to-know-you conversations, she’d accepted a date for live music in the park. She still hadn’t let him pick her up; they’d agreed to meet at a bar because finding each other in a park full of people could be difficult.
His behavior now took her by surprise. She’d have to back him down quick. She’d been attracted to him, but no way was she ready to take this to the next level.
“I don’t have to think about it,” she said, her palms pressed firmly against his chest. “I was looking forward to some music. It’s a beautiful night. And what you apparently have in mind is not on the agenda in the parking lot of the—”
Her words were cut off as he slipped a big hand around the back of her head and pulled her, roughly, onto his mouth. She pushed at him, making unintelligible sounds beneath his lips, but he was actually climbing across the console while silencing her with his mouth. For a guy about six feet tall, this was unimaginable, but he seemed to do it with ease. In seconds, he was straddling her hips, towering over her so fast she hardly knew what was happening.
“Hey!” she said when he released her lips. “Hey, what are you doing?”
She was thinking quickly. There were a few cars around his, but he had parked away from the crowd and his windows were darkly tinted. Her next thought was, How is this possible? This is a nice guy! This is a paramedic! My best friend’s husband is a paramedic; I know a lot of their friends! They’re salt of the earth— angels!
But he was pressing her back against the seat, devouring her mouth, breathing real hard and fast through his nose. He popped her seat belt off and although she pushed and her protests were lost as whimpers beneath his mouth, she was focused on the logistics of his attack. He couldn’t possibly plan to rape her in the front bucket seat of an SUV? She was wearing shorts; freeing her from her clothes would not be simple!
Then her seat began to recline—he had his hand on the button. He was slowly laying her down. She was beginning to understand his plan. If he got her flat, he could pull down her shorts. If he raped her and let her loose, if he didn’t leave bruises or marks, he’d claim she wasn’t forced. She’d run her share of rape kits in the E.R., heard her share of he-said-she-said stories while a skeptical detective took notes. Well, by God, she was at least going to force him to leave bruises! She began to kick and push and wiggle, throwing her head and body wildly back and forth, side to side.
“Stop it,” he said. “Stop it now. Come on. We know what we want!”
“Get off me, you son of a bitch!”
“Aw, Cassie,” he laughed, as if she’d uttered some kind of endearment. “Baby, come on—I’m totally into you!”
“You’re crazy! Let me go! Get off me! Now!”
“Come on, come on, settle down….”
“No!” she screamed. Just scream, she told herself. Bite, kick, scream, yell, hit, gouge, anything. She pushed at him with one hand, searching for the door handle with the other. Then, failing to find it, she pounded on the window, hoping to break it, screeching and turning her head away from his mouth so she could get volume. She tried head butting him, but he held her shoulders down and lifted his head back, and he laughed. She was moving around so violently, the car was actually bouncing. He tried to grab her wrist but she socked him in the eye. He grunted in pain and growled, but he didn’t hit back. She continued banging on the window and yelling. She knew one thing—he couldn’t get her out of this parking lot without moving to his side of the car, over that console, and by God she was going to fling herself out of the car before he could take her anywhere.
Suddenly there was a sharp rapping on her window. “Hey!” someone with a deep male voice yelled. “Hey!”
“Oh, God,” she cried, suddenly overcome with relief and hope. “Help!” she screamed. “Hel—!” And then Ken put his hand over her mouth.
Ken lowered the window an inch. “Hey, go away, pal. We’re busy!” And he powered the window back up.
Cassie bit his hand as hard as she could and he jumped so abruptly, he hit his head on the ceiling of the car.
Cassie heard the man with the deep voice try to open the locked door. Then the window’s glass suddenly cracked and, like a spiderweb, spread into a million cracks. But it was tempered glass and didn’t break, merely crystallized, leaving a dent in the glass where it had been hit. A sharp object she vaguely recognized as a key popped through the compromised glass and started boring a hole into it, releasing diamondlike pebbles of glass that fell into the car. Ken decided to return to the driver’s seat. “What the hell are you doing, man?” he screamed at the intruder.
A huge hand attached to a huge arm entered through the hole in the window and reached down to flip the lock. The door opened instantly and Cassie stumbled out. She was gasping as she looked into a face far more frightening than Ken’s. This was a giant wearing a tight white T-shirt covered by a black leather vest adorned with chains. On the arm that had freed her was a tattoo of a naked lady. He had a lot of facial hair—long, thick sideburns and a handlebar moustache that framed his mouth. His hair was pulled back into a ponytail. With his hands on her elbows to help her stand upright, he asked, “You hurt?” His voice was very menacing; he frowned blackly. Cassie was five-three and this guy had a foot on her, at least.
“No,” she said, gasping. “Yes. I mean, no. He…” She couldn’t finish.
He pulled her away from the SUV and turned her around so that he stood between her and the car. “You need the police? Or the hospital?” he asked as he pulled a cell phone out of his pants pocket.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “You were in time.” Then she hiccupped and choked; a fat tear ran down her cheek. “Oh, God!”
“Can I call someone for you?” he asked, his voice miraculously softer.
Suddenly the SUV was in gear, and Ken—the polite, salt-of-the-earth paramedic—took off. The passenger door slowly drifted closed as the car banked and turned, leaving some skid marks behind.
“My purse…” she whimpered.
Suddenly the SUV skidded to a stop just before exiting the parking lot. Through the broken passenger door window flew an object, crashing to the ground. Then the car sped away. “Your purse,” the big guy said. “Stay here.” He walked across the parking lot, squatted to return scattered items from her purse back into it, then brought it back to her. “Here you go,” he said, holding it out.
Cassie looked up at the guy who had saved her. A biker dude. He looked scruffy and scary, like he could be a Hells Angel or something. But Ken, so clean-cut, turned out to be the dangerous one.
“God,” she said. “I never saw that coming. If you hadn’t…”
“You okay? Because I can call the police. I got the plate number.”
“I wasn’t hurt—just scared to death. I swear, that shouldn’t have happened.”
“It looked pretty bad there for a minute.”
“For a minute, it was pretty bad. I think maybe he was going to—” She stopped. She couldn’t say it.
“Hey, now. You sure you’re okay?” the guy asked again.
Cassie fished around in her purse for her keys, her hands shaking. “Yeah,” she said with a sniff. “I’ll be fine. I think.”
“You want me to follow you home or something? Make sure you don’t have any trouble?”
She let a huff of laughter escape through her tears. Imagine having a guy like this follow her, know where she lived? Suddenly the world didn’t make any sense. “I won’t go straight home. I’ll go to my girlfriend’s. She has a protective German shepherd and a six-foot-two-inch husband.”
“You sure you don’t want to just check in with the police?” he asked, his brows furrowing. “Talk to them about it?”
“She also has three kids,” Cassie said.
The big man laughed, a deep and rumbling sound. “Well, I guess that oughta hold anyone back.”
Another laugh puffed out of Cassie, but then she instantly plummeted into tears. Loud tears. Her purse dropped from her hands and she leaned against him, wailing.
“Whoa, kiddo,” he said. “I think maybe I should buy you a cup of coffee, get you a little straightened out before you drive….”
“I’m not… I wasn’t… I haven’t been drinking or anything,” she finally choked out.
“I didn’t mean to sober you up,” he said with a laugh. He bent down and picked up the purse and then, with a big arm draped around her shoulders, he gently, protectively, led her back toward the bar.
Looking up at him, she asked, “What if he comes back?”
“He’s not coming back,” the man said. “You’re okay for now. Come on, let’s have a cup of coffee. Calm down a little. Then you go on to your girlfriend’s. Huh?”
By the time he got all that out, they were nearly at the door to the bar. She wiped at her cheeks, her eyes. “I really don’t know what to do,” she said.
“I know,” he answered. “Coffee, that’s what we do.”
In just a few minutes she was sitting in a corner booth, staring into a cup of black coffee, across from one big, mean-looking biker. And he had a cup of coffee, too.
Cassie could hardly lift her head; she was exhausted, frightened, wrung out, relieved. But as she slowly realized what she really was, she looked up in some surprise, right into the amazing blue eyes of her rescuer. “God, I’m so embarrassed,” she said in a breath.
“You shouldn’t be embarrassed,” he said. “You didn’t attack him. He should be embarrassed, but he’s probably not. Bet he’s scared, though.”
“Not necessarily. You know, it’s not too late to call the police. My little brother’s a cop, actually. He’s not working tonight, but we could still call him. He’d be good for some advice, at least.” Then he laughed. “Of all us boys, he was about the worst one. Figures he’d turn into a cop. And a real hard-case cop, too. Not a lot of gray area with him. Listen, how well do you know that guy?”
“Apparently not well enough,” she said, shaking her head. “We met at happy hour, then had a coffee date and talked on the phone quite a bit. He works with people I know. I guess.”
“Well, he said he was a paramedic and my best friend’s husband is a paramedic. I know a lot of their friends. I thought we had mutual friends. Jeez. What if he was just lying?”
“License plates don’t lie.”
“How did you know to help me?”
He smiled. “You’re kidding, right? I heard you. The car was rocking. Two people in the front seat? I figured if it was consensual, you’d both be in the backseat.” He shrugged. “It was worth checking out.”
“What did you use to break that window?”
He lifted a hand. He stared at his own knuckles for a second. They were bruised and swelling.
“Holy cow,” she said. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. It’ll be fine.” Then he grinned. “Maybe he’ll try to sue me or something, huh? I’d love that. So, I’m Walt. Walt Arneson.”
“Cassie,” she said. Then she shook her head. “You must think I’m pretty stupid.”
“Doesn’t sound like it,” he answered.
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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Virgin River Book # 5-8
June 11, 2018
A Virgin River Collection Volume 2
Now available in a box set collection, return to Virgin River with these beloved stories form #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.
Second Chance Pass
(originally published February 2009 and reissued April 2010 in mass market paperback)
Vanessa Rutledge’s new baby is helping heal her heart after the death of her husband. She longs to share this love with former Marine Paul Haggerty, her husband’s best friend, but he’s keeping his distance. The good folks of Virgin River might have to meddle to get these two to realize they both deserve a second chance.
(originally published March 2009 in mass market paperback)
Shelby McIntyre’s plans for her newfound freedom include finding Mr. Right—and everything she wants in a man is essentially the opposite of what she gets in rugged Luke Riordan. The jaded, battle-scared army pilot is all wrong for her, but sometimes what you want and what you need are two different things.
(originally published April 2009 in mass market paperback)
Marine Corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraq, and must reconcile his past life in Virgin River with the man he is now. Can Liz, who never gave up on him, help him mend his broken body and shattered heart?
Under the Christmas Tree
(originally published October 2009 within That Holiday Feeling anthology in mass market paperback; June 2012 in eBook; Novemer 2014 within ‘Tis the Season anthology in mass market paperback and eBook; and November 2017 as a standalone eBook)
When the folks of Virgin River discover a box of adorable puppies under the town’s Christmas tree, they call on local vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues—and tails—wagging!
Four moving stories of forgiveness, new beginnings, and the power of love to heal…
May 29, 2018
MIRA Reissue in Mass Market Paperback
The Summer That Made Us
Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins—they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.
That was then…
For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.
This is now…
After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.
Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.
Originally published September 2017 in trade paperback and eBook.
Charlene Berkey was devastated. Her television career had come to an abrupt end. She should have been better prepared—the ratings had been falling and daytime talk shows were shrinking in popularity, but she thought her show would survive. The suits at the network kept telling her she’d be fine. Then, without warning, they canceled the show. They didn’t offer her any options. There wasn’t even a position available doing the weather. She was on the street, unemployed and feeling too old to compete at the age of forty-four.
The situation put a terrible strain on her relationship. Michael, typically such a sensitive man, didn’t seem to understand what this turn of events did to her self-esteem, her self-image. She felt overwhelmed, terrified and useless. She had no idea what the future held for her.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, her sister Megan was only forty-two and fighting stage-four breast cancer. Her most recent procedure to beat the monster was a bone marrow transplant and now all she could do was wait.
Charley made a quick decision. She wanted to use this time she suddenly had to be with her sister. She picked up her phone.
“I want to go to the lake house,” Meg said. “Like we used to when we were kids. I want to get up on one of those bright summer mornings, sit on the dock and watch the sun rise and the fish jump, and see those old fishermen floating out there with their lines cast, waiting for a catch. I want to spend the summer thinking about the way we were—six little blondes with bodies brown as berries. Half-naked, dirty as dogs, flushed and happy and healthy and strong. Our sleeping bags out on the porch, giggling late into the muggy summer nights.”
“While the mosquitoes ate us alive,” Charley said.
“I don’t remember being upset about mosquitoes as a kid.”
“You got it the worst,” Charley said. “You looked like you had chicken pox.”
“I want to spend the summer at the lake.”
“God, no! It’s not the place you remember,” Charley said. “It must be uninhabitable. It’s been years since the family abandoned it. It’s old, Meg. Old and neglected. It’s dying a slow death, I think.”
“That makes two of us,” she said.
“Please don’t say that,” Charley begged.
“John and I snuck up there once,” Meg said, speaking of her husband, a pediatrician to whom she’d been married for twelve years. They were like the perfect couple with the exception of a brief separation just a couple of years ago. “It looked kind of tired and it needs some work. But…oh, Charley, it brought back such wonderful memories. The house might’ve gone to hell like the rest of the family, but the lake is still so pretty, so peaceful.”
“It’s a long way from your doctor, from the hospital,” Charley said.
“Better still. I’m sick of both. I want to rest, have some peace.”
“And you think opening up that lake house against Mother’s express wishes will bring peace?” Charley asked.
“Guess what? I don’t give a shit, how’s that? Bunny died twenty-seven years ago. If Mother wants to suffer for the rest of her life, what can I do about it? It’s time Louise learned, not everything is about her.”
“She’s going to be impossible,” Charley said.
Megan laughed. “Do you care?”
“I don’t have a key,” Charley said, refusing to answer the question. “Do you?”
“You don’t need a key, Charley. Those windows on the porch aren’t even locked. Or the locks rotted away and are useless. We can get in and have the locks replaced.”
“She’ll have us arrested.”
“Her dying daughter? And her unemployed and homeless daughter?”
“You’re not dying! And I’m not exactly homeless—I’m just going to rent out my house so I can come and be with you.”
“You are unemployed…”
“That’s just for now,” she said. “I’m going to be with you until you turn a corner and start to get better. Stronger. Which you will.”
“At the lake,” Megan said. “Aw, jeez…”
“Admit it, you’re dying to go back. To the scene of the crime, so to speak. We might figure out a few things…”
“What’s there to figure out?” Charlene asked. “It was the perfect storm. Bunny drowned, I was already in trouble even if I didn’t know it, Uncle Roy was down to his hundredth second chance and blew town and Mother and Aunt Jo weren’t speaking. When they couldn’t help each other through the darkness the rest of the family went down like dominoes.”
“All precipitated by Bunny’s accident?” Meg sounded doubtful. “There was other stuff going on or else Mother would have accepted whatever comfort Aunt Jo could give. They were so close!”
“Jo didn’t have much to give just then,” Charley said. “Her husband ran off, leaving her penniless and heartbroken. Mother seemed to blame Aunt Jo. Mother has always found a handy person to blame. All of us kids struggled as a result but I’ve made my peace with it—we were a completely dysfunctional family that, God forbid, should get help.”
Charley had often wondered how they could have been saved from such utter disaster. It was obvious what went wrong—poor little Bunny, gone. But it remained a mystery how everything could go as wrong as it had. That was probably why she had been so successful in the talk show business—that search for answers. She’d had a San Francisco–based television talk show for a dozen years and, since she’d studied journalism and psychology, she’d favored guests who had in- sights into dysfunctional people and relationships. It had been a very popular show.
And it was now canceled. “I want to go back,” Meg said. “I want to see if I remember.”
There it is, Charley thought. Everyone in the family had their own response to Bunny’s sudden death and Megan’s was to forget. Most of that last summer at the lake didn’t happen in her mind. She had been only fifteen at the time. The doctor called it a nervous breakdown and completely understandable, given the circumstances. They hospitalized and medicated her. She didn’t stay in the hospital long, then came home and seemed her old self with one exception—she couldn’t remember almost a year of her life. Pieces came back over time but it wasn’t talked about.
The Berkey-Hempstead family was very good at not talking about things.
“Do you think if you go back to the lake for a while it will all come flooding back, after twenty-seven years?”
“No,” Meg said. “I think I’ll remember the golden days of summers there. I think I’ll remember what a happy childhood we had. For the most part. I think it will be healing. So relaxing and healthy. I want to hear the ducks, the boats on the lake, the children at the camp down the road, the naughty teenagers partying across the lake in that cove. Surely that’s still there, the cove.”
Charlene remembered partying on the beach at the cove around the bend from the lodge. She had been all of sixteen. “Hopefully someone built a great big house there,” she said. “Or a parking lot.”
“I hope it’s not very changed…”
“That’s what you really want?” Charley asked. “It’s all I want.”
Charley knew she had no choice because you don’t deny your only sister who has cancer anything. “I’ll have to go there,” she said. “Certainly things will have to be done to make it civilized. I’ll have to make sure the house is habitable. I should tell Michael our plans, talk with Eric…”
“Will Michael put up a stink about this?” Meg asked.
“I don’t know why he should. Of course I’ll have his complete support—he loves you. Maybe he’ll even steal a little time and come out for a visit, bring Eric.”
“Everything is all right with you and Michael, isn’t it?” Megan asked.
“Of course! Why would you ask that?”
“I don’t know,” Megan said. “You sounded uncomfortable when I asked about him.”
Charlene laughed. “Sorry. This is an odd time. I have no job, no place of my own, no idea what’s coming next. The only home I have is Michael’s house in Palo Alto. It shouldn’t be such an adjustment. But it is.”
“I bet you feel dependent for the first time in your life,” Megan suggested.
“Maybe that’s it,” she said. But that wasn’t it. She and Michael were fighting. They’d had a standoff. About marriage, of all things.
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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Virgin River Book # 1-4
May 14, 2018
Virgin River Collection Volume 1
Welcome back to Virgin River! Available for the first time in a box set, the first four stories in the acclaimed series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr. Discover a remote mountain town that might be the perfect place to start fresh.
originally published April 2007 and reissued May 2010 and December 2012 in mass market paperback)
Nurse practitioner Melinda Monroe comes to town to escape her heartache, though nothing is what she expected. A tiny baby abandoned on a porch changes all her plans, and former marine Jack Sheridan cements them into place.
(originally published May 2007 and reissued May 2010 and February 2013 in mass market paperback)
Paige Lassiter’s sudden, desperate arrival stirs up protective instincts in John “Preacher” Middleton. She and her little boy clearly need help, and if there’s one thing Preacher has learned, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.
(originally published June 2007 and reissued March 2013 in mass market paperback)
When wounded former LAPD officer Mike Valenzuela agrees to become the town’s first cop, he knows it’s time he settled down. He’s longing for commitment, and hopes he can help the tough Brie Sheridan to lose her fears and trust again.
A Virgin River Christmas
(originally published November 2008 and reissued November 2013 in mass market paperback)
Marcie Sullivan has finally found Ian Buchanan, a man she owes a special debt to. Maybe in this season of wonder, Ian can look into his painful past and open his heart to the uncertain future.
Sullivan's Crossing Book # 3
April 17, 2018
The Family Gathering
The Family Gathering is the highly anticipated new novel in #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s Sullivan’s Crossing series. Readers have fallen in love with Sullivan’s Crossing and the characters who live there and will be delighted to spend time with their favorite people again. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you are looking for a relaxing escape or a whole new lease on life.
An exceptional storyteller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr beautifully captures the emotionally charged, complex dynamics that come with being part of any family. Readers will laugh and shed a few tears as they discover what it means to be loved, supported and accepted by the people who mean the most.
Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.
Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.
When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.
DAKOTA JONES PULLED RIGHT UP TO THE BARN THAT was now a house, and parked beside his brother’s truck. He left his duffel in the Jeep SUV and went to the door. He stood in indecision for a moment—they had a six-month-old baby. He knocked rather than ring the bell, just in case the child was sleeping. A few moments later, he knocked again. And a third time. Finally the door opened.
“Dakota!” Cal said with a grin. “What are you doing here?”
“I came by way of Australia. It’s a long story—”
“I can’t wait to hear what that’s about,” Cal said. “Want to come in or stand out there awhile longer?”
“I don’t want to wake the baby,” Dakota said.
“The baby is in Denver with Maggie. They’ll be back tonight.”
“That sounds like an interesting arrangement,” Dakota said.
“Like a tug-of-war, my friend. Something to drink?” Cal offered. “Food?”
“A cold beer would be nice.” He looked around. The place was beautiful, but that came as no surprise. Cal’s house with his first wife had been a showplace. Given the way the Jones siblings had grown up, something like a good, solid house that a person was proud to come home to would fill a need that had been neglected when they were kids. Cal put a beer in Dakota’s hand. “The place looks great,” Dakota said.
But Cal didn’t respond to that. Instead, he said, “What were you doing in Australia?”
“I’d never been there,” he said. “I wanted to walkabout. That’s when—”
Cal cut him off with a laugh. “I know what a walkabout is.” He tilted his beer toward Dakota in a toast. “I’ve never seen you with that much hair. On your face and everything.”
Dakota stroked his beard. “I could probably use a trim.” “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on before Maggie and
Elizabeth get home.”
“Well, in Australia I visited one of the Rangers I served with years ago and together we checked in on another one. Then, with some input from them, I hit out on the trail for about a month, seeing some of the country, camping, fishing, practicing the identification and avoidance of snakes and crocodiles—”
“I meant, the Army! You’re out? I knew you weren’t happy there anymore. You said we’d talk about it someday.”
“I wasn’t sure where I’d end up but I was sure I’d get out here for a visit. With you and Sierra here and a new baby—I wanted to at least drop by.”
Cal sighed. “Dakota. The Army.”
“Well, I’m a little surprised I was in as long as I was. I never intended to make it a career. I wanted their offer of free travel and education.”
Cal just lifted one brow. Free travel? To a variety of war zones? Dakota grinned. “I had a small disagreement with a colonel. We didn’t see things the same way. Apparently I was insubordinate. It was time to think about doing something new.”
“Were you honorably discharged?” Cal asked, pushing him.
Dakota shook his head. “But I wasn’t dishonorably discharged.”
He was simply discharged, but that said something. You had to screw up pretty bad to not get an honorable discharge.
“What’d you do?” Cal asked.
“I disagreed with his forward action and told him it would get people killed. Rangers—it could get Rangers killed. I had ten or a hundred times the experience he had but he was in competition with me or something because he was hell-bent to drive five of our best Rangers right into the known hotbed of ISIS training and it was going to get people dead. I think they plucked that idiot out of the motor pool and put him in charge of a unit. I overrode his orders and he threatened me with jail. I thought that it was probably time for a career change.”
“They sent you home?” Cal asked. “You must have done something even worse than disagree for them to send you home!”
Dakota squirmed. “I was acting in the best interest of my men.”
“What’d you do?” Dakota didn’t answer. “You hit him or something?”
“No, my guys wouldn’t let me do that,” he said. Then he hung his head briefly. “I let the air out of the tires until I could get in touch with another colonel I know who could try to intercede with the orders that would put us directly in harm’s way.”
“Jeeps?” Cal asked. “No. MRAPs.”
“Mine resistant assault protective vehicles. The big ones.”
“Those big mammoth desert beasts with tires taller than I am?” Cal asked. “How the hell do you let the air out of those?”
“With a .45,” he said softly. “Or M16.”
“You shot out the tires? How is it you’re not in jail?”
“I was. Good behavior,” he said. “And it was determined the colonel was incompetent and had done even worse things before. Cal, he was crazy. Homicidal. He had no idea what he was doing. He wasn’t a Ranger—he had very little combat experience. He was a joke. I wasn’t going to let him get any more people killed.”
They sat in heavy silence for a little while, each tilting their beer bottle a couple of times. Finally Dakota broke the silence.
“Listen, it happens in the military sometimes. They take a guy who just made rank and give him a unit to command and sometimes the fit is bad. A buddy of mine, a doctor, his boss had no experience in the medical corps. He was a pilot. And he was making decisions for a bunch of doctors and a hospital that were dangerous to the patients, but he wouldn’t compromise, he wouldn’t listen to reason, he wouldn’t ask for advice. According to my friend, people were left untreated, in pain, mishandled. A whole fleet of doctors mutinied and the colonel retaliated. That kind of thing doesn’t happen all that often—usually there’s at least one clear head in the game…” He took a breath. “They got my guy from the knitting battalion, I think. Jesus, I’ve worked for a few dipshits, but this one was exceptional.”
“But you got out. With three years to retirement.”
“Yeah, I have plenty of time for my next career move,” he said. Then he grinned. “I’m still a kid.”
“So you went walkabout,” Cal said with a laugh. “Proving you’re just like the rest of us?”
“You did it after Lynne’s death. And it worked. But why? That’s my question. Why do we wander? It was the wandering while we were growing up that I hated the most.”
Dakota’s parents thought of themselves as wanderers. Or hippies. Or new age thinkers, whatever. What they really were was a father who was schizophrenic, often delusional and paranoid, and a mother who was his keeper and protector. They took their four children with them as they roamed the country in a van and then later a school bus converted into an RV. They made regular stops at their grandparents’ farm in Iowa and finally lived there full-time when Dakota was twelve, Cal, the oldest, was sixteen and their two sisters, Sedona and Sierra, were fourteen and ten. Cal was still patient and understanding with their parents, with the father who wouldn’t consider medication that would make him functional, or at least more functional. He was even tender with them. Sedona acted responsibly toward them in a kind but businesslike way, visiting regularly and making sure they weren’t in need or in trouble. Sierra, the baby of the fam- ily, was mostly confused by how they chose to live. But Dakota? He’d spent much of his childhood not going to school, taking his lessons in a bus from his mother. The whole family worked when there was work, mostly harvesting vegetables with other migrant workers. When they did settle in Iowa on his grandparents’ farm, he went to school full-time. He’d taken a lot of bullying in junior high and high school because his parents, Jed and Marissa, were so weird. Dakota was ashamed of them. They made no sense to him. Dakota was decisive and action-oriented and would have gotten old Jed on meds or kicked him out, but instead his mother coddled him, shielded him, let him have his way even though his way was crazy. So Dakota had been a loner. He’d had very few friends.
Dakota left the second he could, right after high school graduation when he was seventeen. He enlisted in the Army and had visited his parents about four times since. Each time he went back to that farm in Iowa they seemed more weird than the time before. He rarely called. They had apparently hardly noticed.
He also protected himself against anyone getting too close while he waited to see if he was going to become mentally ill, as well. At thirty-five, he was now pretty sure he was safe from that. And, after all this time, his independent and aloof behavior was accepted by his brother and sisters.
It was easy to remain unattached in the military. He had friends whose company he enjoyed but there were very few with whom he had really bonded and their bond was one of military brothers. He would join the guys for a few beers, as he was regularly included in social events—parties, outings to the lake, ski trips, whatever his group was doing—and he was called, You know, Dakota, the bachelor.
There were women, of course. Dakota loved women. He just wasn’t the type to make long-term commitments to anyone, especially girlfriends. Even if he was with a certain woman for a while, he wasn’t exactly coupled. Well, there was one, but it had been so brief, and had ended so tragically, it reminded him that it was better not to get too involved. He wasn’t the marrying kind. He was better off on his own. He was never lonely, never bored. The way he played it he didn’t have to explain where he came from, how he grew up, how bizarre his family was. In seventeen years in the Army he had never met a guy who grew up like him—essentially homeless, raised in a bus by a couple of wackos.
But recently, something had changed for him. It was slow. Subtle. Cal lost his wife and then, two years later, remarried. Maggie, a neurosurgeon of all things, was awesome. Now they had a baby, were a family. Cal had never shied from commitment, as if very confident he’d be a better family man than his father was. Their little sister had joined Cal in Timberlake and was also settling down. Sierra had hooked up with a firefighter, a fantastic guy. Connie, short for Conrad, was smart, physical, loyal, the kind of guy he admired. Dakota knew in five minutes that Connie had integrity. And watching the way Sierra was with him almost made Dakota long for something like that. Sedona had been married since right after college, had a couple of kids, was by all accounts living a normal life. So far none of them had decided to live in a bus like their parents had. Little by little it had begun to tease his mind that possibly he could have a normal adult life. Maybe he could actually have friends and family and not have to protect himself from being himself.
But he was damn sure taking it slow.
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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Sullivan's Crossing March 12, 2018
Sullivan’s Crossing Collection Volume 1
Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in the new Sullivan’s Crossing series, with the first two novels now available together in a box set.
WHAT WE FIND
(originally published April 2016 in hardcover and eBook and March 2017 in mass market paperback)
Under extreme pressure, neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can do that is Sullivan’s Crossing. But on arriving at the stretch of land and charming general store, Maggie finds she must take on an unexpected responsibility. When a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, offers to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of his motives—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. As they spend time together, Maggie is given hope for something brighter in the future, if only they can learn to find peace and healing…and maybe even love.
ANY DAY NOW
(originally published April 2017 in hardcover and eBook and March 2018 in mass market paperback)
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. 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. Sierra will learn to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.
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.
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Thunder Point Book # 1
December 26, 2017
Discover #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s popular Thunder Point—a heartfelt series that will make you laugh, make you sigh and make you fall in love with a small town filled with people you’ll never forget.
Nestled on the Oregon coast is a small town of rocky beaches and rugged charm. Locals love the land’s unspoiled beauty. Developers see it as a potential gold mine. When newcomer Hank Cooper learns he’s been left an old friend’s entire beachfront property, he finds himself with a community’s destiny in his hands.
Cooper has never been a man to settle in one place, and Thunder Point was supposed to be just another quick stop. But Cooper finds himself getting involved with the town. And with Sarah Dupre, a woman as complicated as she is beautiful.
With the whole town watching for his next move, Cooper has to choose between his old life and a place full of new possibilities. A place that just might be home.
Originally published April 2013 in mass market paprback and eBook.
Cooper stopped at the first outlook over the ocean and parked. His phone showed five bars, and he dialed up the Sheriff’s Department. “Hello,” he said to the call taker. “My name is Hank Cooper, and I’m on my way to Thunder Point following a call from someone saying my friend, Ben Bailey, is dead. Apparently he left something for me, but that’s not why I’m headed your way. The message I got was that Ben was killed, and there were no details. I want to talk to the Sheriff. Preferably, see the Sheriff when I talk to him. I need some answers.”
“Hold, please,” she said.
Well, that wasn’t what he expected. He figured he’d leave a number and eat his lunch while he waited.
“Deputy McCain,” said the new voice on the line.
“Hank Cooper here, Deputy,” he said, and in spite of himself, he straightened and squared his shoulders. He’d always been resistant to authority, yet he also responded to it. “I’m a friend of Ben Bailey and on my way into town to find out what happened to him.”
“Mr. Cooper, Ben Bailey’s been deceased for more than a couple of weeks.”
“I gather that. I just found out. Some old guy—Rawley someone —found a phone number and called me. He was killed, Rawley said. Dead and buried. I want to know what happened to him. He was my friend.”
“I can give you the details in about ninety seconds . . . .”
But Cooper wanted to look him in the eye when he heard the tale. “If you’ll give me directions, I’ll come to the Sheriff’s Department.”
“Well, that’s not necessary. I can meet you at the bar,” the deputy said.
“Ben’s. I guess you weren’t a close friend.”
“We go back fifteen years but this is my first trip up here. We were supposed to meet with a third buddy from the Army in Virgin River for some hunting. Ben always said he had a bait shop.”
“I’d say he sold a lot more Wild Turkey than bait. You know where it is?”
“Only sort of,” Cooper said.
“101 to Gibbons Road, head west. About four miles down Gibbons, look for a homemade sign that says Cheap Drinks. Turn left onto Bailey Pass. It curves down the hill. You’ll run right into Bailey’s. When do you think you’ll get there?”
“I just crossed into Oregon from California,” he said. “I’m pulling a fifth wheel. Couple of hours?”
“More like three. I’ll meet you there if nothing interferes. Is this your cell number?”
“It is,” he said.
“You’ll have good reception on the coast. I’ll give you a call if I’m held up.”
“Thanks, Deputy….what was it?”
“McCain. See you later, Mr. Cooper.”
Cooper signed off, slipped the phone into his jacket pocket and got out of the truck. He put his lunch on the hood and leaned against the truck, looking out at the northern Pacific Ocean. He’d been all over the world, and this was his first trip to the Oregon coast. The beach was rocky, and there were two-story boulders sticking out of the water. A low flying orange and white helicopter flew over the water—a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin, search and rescue.
For a moment he had a longing to be back in a chopper, surprised it was only a moment. Once he got this business about Ben straightened out, he might get to the chore of looking for a flying job. He’d done a number of things air-related after the Army; the most recent was flying to off-shore oil rigs out of the Corpus Christi port. That job had really soured for him after an oil spill. He hated the thought of going back to work for an oil company.
His head turned as he followed the Coast Guard chopper across the water. He’d never considered the USCG. He was more inclined to avoid off-shore storms than to fly right into them to pluck someone out of a wild sea.
He took a couple of swallows of his drink and a big bite of his sandwich, vaguely aware of a number of vehicles pulling into the outlook parking area. People were getting out of their cars and trucks and moving to the edge of the viewing area with binoculars and cameras. Personally, Coop didn’t really think all these mountainous boulders covered with bird shit worthy of a picture, even with the orange chopper flying over them. Hovering over them . . . .
The waves crashed against the big rocks with deadly power, and the wind was really kicking up. He knew only too well how dicey hovering in wind conditions like that could be. And so close to the rocks. If anything went wrong, that helicopter might not be able to recover in time to avoid the boulders or crashing surf. Could get ugly.
Then a man in a harness emerged from the helicopter, dangling on a cable. That’s when Cooper saw what the other motorists had seen before him. He put down his sandwich and dove into the truck, grabbing for the binoculars in the central compartment. He honed in on that boulder, a good forty or fifty feet tall, and what had been two specs he recognized as two human beings. One was on top of the rock, squatting to keep from being blown over in the wind, the other clinging to the face of the rock. And now, thanks to the binoculars, he could see a small boat was floating away from the rock.
Rock climbers? They both wore what appeared to be wet suits under their climbing gear. There was a stray rope anchored to the rock and flapping in the breeze. The man who squatted on top of the boulder had issues with not only the crosswind but the helicopter’s rotor wash. And if the pilot couldn’t keep his aircraft stable, that EMT or rescue swimmer who dangled from the cable could start to swing and slam into the rock.
“Easy, easy, easy,” he muttered to the crew.
The emergency medical tech grabbed onto the wall of the rock beside the stranded climber, stabilized himself with an anchor in the stone, and held there for a minute. Then the climber hoisted himself off the wall of the rock and onto the EMT, piggy back to the front of the harnessed rescuer, both of them pulled immediately up to the copter via the cable. They were quickly pulled within.
“Yeah,” he whispered. Good job! He’d like to know the weight of that pilot’s balls—that was some fancy flying. And that was the hard part. Rescuing the guy up top was going to be less risky for all involved. The chopper backed away from the rock slightly while victim number one was pulled inside and presumably stabilized. Then, slowly edging near the rock once more, hovering there, a rescue basket was deployed. The climber on top waited until the basked was right there before he stood, grabbed it and literally fell inside. As he was being pulled up, motorists around Cooper cheered.
Before the climber was pulled all the way into the chopper, the small craft that had gotten away from them crashed against the mountainous boulder and broke into pieces. It left nothing but debris on the water. These guys must have taken a small boat out to the rock, tried to anchor it on a side that wasn’t battered by big waves so they could climb up, then climb back down to their boat. Once the boat was lost, so were they.
Who called the Coast Guard? Probably one of them, from a cell phone. Likely the one on top who wasn’t hanging on for dear life.
Everyone safely inside the helicopter, it rose, banked, and shot away out to sea.
Cooper found himself thinking, And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes our matinee for today. Join us again tomorrow for another show. As the other motorists slowly departed, Coop finished his sandwich, then got back on 101 heading north.
It was a good thing Cooper’s GPS was up to date and followed the deputy’s directions, because Gibbons Road was unmarked. It was a very narrow two lane that went switchback style down a steep hill. It then hit a turn off, but there was only a sign and arrow pointing left, Cheap Drinks. Very classy, he found himself thinking. Ben had never been known as what Cooper’s southern grandmother had called “High Cotton.”
From that sign, however, he could see the lay of the land, and it was beautiful. It was a very wide inlet or bay that stretched like a U settled deeply into a high, rocky coastline. He could see Ben’s place, a single building with a wide deck and stairs leading down to a dock and the beach. Stretching out toward the ocean beyond Ben’s place was a completely uninhabited promontory. On the opposite side of the beach was a marina and a town. There, too, was a promontory that stretched out toward the ocean. However, there were houses all the way out to the point with what Cooper could only imagine to be a drop dead view. The town was built from the marina straight up the hill in what appeared to be steppes. He could see the streets from where he was parked. That would be Thunder Point. Between Ben’s place and the town, only the wide, expansive beach. Looking down, he could see a woman in a red hooded jacket and a big dog walking along the beach. She repeatedly threw a stick; the dog kept returning it. The dog was big, black and white and had legs like an Arabian colt.
He sat there a moment, thinking about anyone taking advantage of those cheap drinks and then getting back up to 101 on this road. It should be named suicide trail.
The sun was shining, and Cooper was reminded of one of Ben’s emails describing his home. Oregon is mostly wet and cold all winter, but there’s one part around Bandon and Coos Bay that’s moderate almost year round, sunny more often than stormy. But when the storms come into Thunder Point over the ocean, it’s like one of the Seven Wonders. The bay is protected by the hills and stays calm, keeping the fishing boats safe, but those thunder clouds can be spectacular . . . .
Then he saw not one but two eagles circling over the point on Ben’s side of the beach. It was a rare and beautiful sight.
He proceeded to the parking lot, not entirely surprised to find the Sheriff’s Department SUV already there and the deputy sitting inside, apparently writing something. He was out of the car and striding toward Cooper just a few seconds later. Cooper sized him up—this was a young man, probably mid-thirties. He was tall, sandy-haired, blue eyed, broad shouldered—about what you’d expect.
Cooper extended a hand. “Sheriff.”
“Sheriff’s Deputy, actually. The County Sheriff’s office is in Coquille. This is a satellite office with a few deputies assigned. Thunder Point is small, coastal, and there’s a constable but no other local law enforcement. The constable handles small disputes, evictions, that sort of thing. The county jail is in Coquille. And, Mr. Cooper, I’m sorry for your loss.”
“What happened to him?”
“He was found at the foot of the stairs to the cellar, where he kept the bait tanks. Ben lived here—he had a couple of rooms over the bar. The doors weren’t locked, but I don’t think Ben ever locked up. There were no obvious signs of foul play, but the case was turned over to the coroner. Nothing was missing, not even the cash. The coroner ruled it an accident.”
“But the guy who called me said he’d been killed,” Cooper said.
“I think Rawley was upset. He was kind of insistent that Ben couldn’t take a fall, but he’d had a couple of drinks. Not nearly the legal limit, but he could’ve tripped. Hell, I’ve been known to trip on no alcohol at all. Rawley found him, and the money was still in its hiding place. Ben kept the money in a cash drawer in the cooler. It was intact. The thing is,” the deputy said, scratching the back of his neck. “Time of death was put at two a.m., Ben was in his boxers, and Rawley insisted there’s no reason he’d get out of bed on the second floor and head for the cellar in the middle of the night. And Rawley might be right—except this could have been the night Ben heard a noise and was headed for the beach. Just in case you’re wondering, there is no surveillance video. In fact, the only place in town that actually has a surveillance camera is the bank. Ben has had one or two characters over the years, but never any real trouble; never been robbed.”
“You don’t think it’s possible someone who knew the place decided to rob it after midnight? When Ben was vulnerable?”
“Most of Ben’s customers were regulars or heard about it from regulars—weekend bikers, sports fishermen, that sort. Ben didn’t do a huge business, but he did all right.”
“On bait and Wild Turkey?”
The deputy actually chuckled. “Bait, deli, small bar, Laundromat, cheap souvenirs and fuel. I’d say of all those things, the bar and deli probably did the lion’s share of the business.”
Coop looked around the deputy’s frame. “Fuel?”
“Down on the dock. For boats. Ben used to let some of his customers or neighbors moor alongside the dock. Sometimes the wait at the marina got a little long and Ben didn’t mind if people helped themselves. Oh, he also has a tow truck that’s parked in town, but he doesn’t advertise it. Since he died and the place has been locked up, the boats have found other docks—probably the marina. There was no next of kin, Mr. Cooper.”
“Who is this Rawley? The guy who called me?”
The deputy scrubbed off his hat and scratched his head. “You say you were good friends?”
“For fifteen years. I knew he was raised by his dad, that they had a bar and bait shop on the coast. We met in the Army. He was a helicopter mechanic and everyone called him Gentle Ben. He was the sweetest man who ever lived, all six foot six of him. I can’t imagine him standing up to a robber—not only would he hand over the money, he’d invite the guy to dinner.”
“Well there you go, you might not have had the more recent facts, but you knew him all right. That’s the thing that makes everyone lean toward accident. That, and the lack of evidence to the contrary. No one would have to hurt Ben for a handout. You don’t know about Rawley?”
Cooper just shook his head.
“A vet with some challenging PTSD issues that Ben came across and gave work. Rawley Goode is around sixty, lives down the coast where he takes care of his elderly father, sort of. He’s not real good around people. He helped out here, cleaned, stocked, ran errands, that sort of thing. He could serve if no one expected conversation; people around here were used to him. I think he might’ve been homeless when Ben met him, but his father has lived around here a long time. Interesting guy, not that I can say I know him. So—Rawley found Ben and there wasn’t anyone to contact.”
“Are you sure Rawley didn’t push him down the stairs?”
“Rawley’s a skinny little guy. The coroner didn’t find any evidence to suggest Ben had been pushed. And Rawley. He was dependent on Ben. Don’t worry—the town gave Ben a decent send off. He was well liked. There are better bars around here to hang out in, but people liked Ben.”
“Yeah, I liked him too,” Cooper said, looking down. “There must’ve been a will or something. Rawley wasn’t the most articulate guy on the phone, but he said Ben left something for me. Could be old pictures from our Army days or something. Who do you suppose I should see about that?”
“I’ll make a few calls, check into that for you.”
“Appreciate it. And maybe you could suggest a place to hook up the fifth wheel?”
“There are several decent spots along the coast for tourists—Coos Bay is a nice area. You planning to hang around?”
Cooper gave a shrug. “Maybe a few days, just long enough to talk to some of the folks who knew Ben, pick up whatever he left for me. I want to pay my respects, just want people to know—he had good friends. We didn’t get together a lot and it sounds like I didn’t get a lot of inside information from Ben, but we were always in touch. And since I came all this way, I want to hear about him—about how people got on with him. You know?”
“I think I understand. The place is locked up—no one would care if you sat here for a while, while you look around at other possibilities. No hook up for your trailer, but you’d be fine for a couple of days.”
“Thanks, maybe I’ll do that. Not a bad view.”
The deputy put out his hand. “I gotta run. You have my number.”
“Thank you, Deputy McCain.”
“Roger McCain, but hardly anyone remembers that. Folks tend to call me Mac.”
“Nice meeting you, Mac. Thanks for helping out with this.”
Sarah walked with Hamlet, her Great Dane, down the street to the diner. She looped his leash around the lamppost and went inside, pulling off her gloves. This was one of the things she loved about this little town, that there was always somewhere to stop and chat for a few minutes. She wasn’t well known around here, had only lived here a few months, but by the way she was treated by her new and casual friends, it was as if she’d been here quite a while. If she wasn’t working, she liked to take Ham down to the beach and stop off at the diner on her way home. Apparently she wasn’t the only one—there was always a large bowl of water for dogs by that lamppost. Twin benches on either side of the diner’s front door frequently seated one or two old guys, passing time.
Gina James was behind the counter; Gina took care of almost everything at the diner except the cooking. There was another waitress at night and a couple of part time girls, but it was a pretty small shop. Gina’s mother, Carrie, was sitting on a stool at the counter, her friend Lou McCain seated beside her. Carrie owned the deli across the street and Lou was a school teacher who helped out with her nephew’s kids when she wasn’t teaching. Two of the said kids were in a booth eating fries and drinking colas, an after school treat.
Sarah said, “Hey,” and all three women said, “Hey,” right back.
“Something to drink? Eat?” Gina asked her.
“Could I have a water, please? And how is everyone?”
“What can I say, it’s Friday,” Lou said. “I won’t be seeing the little bast— er, darlings, till Monday morning.”
Sarah laughed at her. “You’re going to heaven for it.”
“If I died and went to hell, they’d have me teaching junior high,” Carrie said.
“You have a day off?” Gina asked Sarah.
“For Landon’s football game. I’m sitting alert Saturday and Sunday, that’s the price I pay for it.”
“But no one gives you any trouble about it, do they?”
“Nah. They like weekends off as much as anyone. And I’ll gladly fly weekends if I don’t have to miss Landon’s games. It’s not as though I have any other social life.”
Carrie leaned her elbow on the diner. “Wish I was something exciting, like a pilot.”
“Tell me about it,” Lou said.
Before Gina could weigh in the door to the diner opened, the bell tinkling to announce Ray Anne in her version of the Realtor’s business suit — too short, too tight, too much boobage. She scowled. “Sarah, that dog should be on a leash!”
“He is, Ray Anne.” She leaned back on her stool to look out the glass of the door. “He’s all hooked up.”
She wiped at her purple skirt. “He still managed to get me with that awful mouth of his.”
“Well, Ray Anne, you’re just so edible looking,” Lou said.
“Ha ha. Well, you’ll never guess what I just saw! The most gorgeous man—out at Ben’s place. He was built like a brick you know what—worn jeans, torn in all the right places, plain old T-shirt under a leather jacket. One of those flying jackets, you know, Sarah. Driving one of those testosterone trucks, pulling a trailer . . . . Handsome face, maybe a dimple, scratchy little growth on his cheeks and chin. He was talking to Mac. It was like an ad for Calvin Klein.”
“What were you doing out at Ben’s?” Lou asked.
“I wasn’t out there. I was checking on a rental up the hill two blocks. You know—that old Maxwell place.”
“Then how’d you see the tears in his jeans and his stubble?”
Ray Anne dipped a manicured hand into her over-sized purse and pulled out her binoculars. She smiled conspiratorially and gave her head a toss. Her short blond hair didn’t move.
“Clever,” Lou said. “Man watching taken to the next level. How old is this hunk of burning love?”
“Irrelevant,” Ray Anne said. “I wonder what he’s doing here. I heard Ben had no next of kin. You don’t suppose cuddly old Ben was hiding a handsome brother? No, no, that would be cruel.”
“Why?” Sarah asked.
“Because Ray Anne would love a shot at selling that property of Ben’s,” Carrie said.
“That’s not true,” Ray Anne protested. “You know me, I only want to help if I can.”
“And bag a single man or two while you’re at it,” Lou said.
Ray Anne stiffened slightly. “A purely heterosexual notion, Louise,” she said. “One you might not be familiar with.” And as the Sheriff’s Department patrol car passed slowly down the street, Ray Anne said, “Oh, there’s Deputy Yummy Pants—I’m going to go ask him what’s going on. If I can get past the dog!”
And out the door she wiggled.
“Deputy Yummy Pants?” Sarah asked with a laugh in her voice.
“The teenage girls around town call him that,” Lou explained drily. “I don’t recommend it. He hates it. Gets him all pissy. I should tell you what kind of pants Ms Realtor of the Year has. Maybe Busy Pants.”
Carrie’s lips quirked. “She suggested you don’t quite get the whole heterosexual pull. Louise.”
Lou had a sarcastic twist to her lips when she said, “If she turns up dead, can I count on you girls for an alibi?” Then she turned and called to her niece and nephew. “Hey, kids. Let’s make tracks.” To her friends she said, “I’m going to beat Yummy Pants home. Betcha I get more out of him that Busy Pants does.”
Once home, Sarah Dupre hung her red slicker on the peg in the mud room just in time to see her younger brother, Landon, coming toward the back door with his duffle full of football gear. “Hey,” she said. “I didn’t expect to see you.”
“I came home to get a couple of things and grab a sandwich,” he said. He bent to pet the dog. He didn’t have to bend far—Ham was tall. “Gotta get going.”
“Wait a sec,” she said.
“What?” he asked, still petting the dog.
“For Pete’s sake, can you look at me?” she asked. And when he straightened, heavy duffle over one shoulder, she gasped. There was a bruise on his cheekbone.
“Practice,” he said. “It’s nothing.”
“You don’t practice on game day.”
“Yeah, well, I hope I don’t get in trouble for that. A couple of us went out to run some plays, some passes, and I got nailed. It was an accident.”
“You were practicing without a helmet?” she asked.
“Sarah, it’s nothing. It’s a small bruise. I could’ve gotten it running into an open locker. Lighten up so you don’t make me look like a girl. Are you going to the game?”
“Of course I’m going. Why couldn’t you be into Chess or something? Choir? Band? Something that didn’t involve bodies crashing into each other?”
He grinned at her, that handsome grin that had once belonged to their deceased father. “You get enough sleep without me boring you to death,” he said. “Why couldn’t you just be a flight attendant or something?”
She took a breath. He had her there. She flew Search and Rescue with the Coast Guard. There were those occasions that were risky. Edgy. And admittedly, that was part of what she loved best about it. “I trust you’ll be wearing your helmet tonight?”
“Funny. It should be a good game. Raiders are a good match. They’re a good team.”
“Does it hurt?” she asked, touching her own cheek.
“Nah, it’s really nothing, Sarah. See you later.”
She suppressed the urge to beg him to be careful. He was a big kid, already six feet and muscled at sixteen; he was a beautiful specimen. She was his guardian and family. It was just the two of them. She sometimes wanted to just enfold him in her arms and keep him safe, yet when she watched him play, the thrill made her scream. He was a great athlete; she’d heard he was the best quarterback they’d seen in a long time here in Thunder Point.
For the millionth time she hoped bringing him here had been a good decision. He’d been happy in the North Bend high school last year, had barely found his footing, his friends, when she moved them. She just couldn’t bear the same town with her ex, in the home they had shared.
She’d moved them so often . . . .
She put out her arms as if to hug him. Retracted her arms—he didn’t want mush now. Not now that he was a man. Her arms lifted toward him of their own accord and she held back.
“All right,” he said, patiently. “Get it over with.”
She wrapped her arms around him; he gave her a one-armed hug back. Then he grinned at her again. He had absolutely no idea how handsome he was, which made him even more attractive.
“Play your little heart out, bud,” she said. “And do not get hurt.”
“Don’t worry. I’m fast.”
“You going out after the game?” she asked.
“I dunno. Depends on how tired I am.”
Sarah laughed. “When I was your age, I was never too tired to go out. So, if you go out, midnight would be nice. No later than one, for sure. Are we on the same page here?”
He laughed at her. “Same page, boss.”
But as she knew, he seldom went out after a game.
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