Read Cedar Creek Seasons Online

Authors: Eileen Key

Cedar Creek Seasons

I
NTRODUCTION

A Contest of Wills
by Becky Melby
Minutes after braving frigid waters in the annual Polar Bear Dip near Cedarburg, free-spirited, forty-something Willow Miles literally grabs the nearest man to solve her car trouble. Predictable Wilson Woodworth offers Willow and her children a ride—simple kindness that plunges both into uncharted waters. When a contest to win retail space in the coveted historic district draws the unlikely pair into some outlandish schemes, will they find that opposites attract?

In Tune with You
by Rachael Phillips
Twenty-five-year-old Chesca Appel, part-time choirmaster and music box shop manager, plans a magnificent cantata to celebrate Easter. Then her pastor requests two unexpected additions: drama and children, neither of which she feels capable of handling. Enter Seth Amundsen, a tone-deaf football coach who loves both. He, the rowdy children, his alluring ex-fiancée, her vengeful mother, and a basketful of trouble all join to make a cantata more memorable than Chesca ever imagined.

Silvery Summer
by Eileen Key
With art, culture, the scent of strawberries, summer at its finest, and love in the air, newly retired Claire Parsons can’t resist wondering if she misjudged Cedarburg’s—and Eli Mueller’s—influence over her. They both broke her heart once. Does she dare let them work their magic on her at this stage of life? Will love come full circle in Cedarburg?

Maybe Us
by Cynthia Ruchti
With college five years behind her, Beth Schurmer can’t afford to invest in a love interest … plus her Yarn Shop and caring for her grandfather. Love has threatened to bankrupt her more times than she can count. It’s a good thing her neighbor, chocolatier Derrick Hofferman, feels the same way. But as autumn comes to Cedarburg, Beth considers that wool of three strands might have merit after all.

A Contest of Wills
© 2012 by Becky Melby
In Tune with You
© 2012 by Rachael Phillips
Silvery Summer
© 2012 by Eileen Key
Maybe Us
© 2012 by Cynthia Ruchti

Print ISBN 978-1-61626-645-5

eBook Editions:
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62029-074-3
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62029-075-0

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

Scripture taken from the H
OLY
B
IBLE
, N
EW
I
NTERNATIONAL
V
ERSION
®
.
NIV
®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Cover design: Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
.

Printed in the United States of America.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

A Contest of Wills

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

About the Author

In Tune with You

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

About the Author

Silvery Summer

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

About the Author

Maybe Us

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

About the Author

 

On behalf of Eileen, Rachael, and Becky, Cynthia writes:

My first Cedarburg experience was a quick drive-through on my way to someplace else. I caught only a glimpse of its charm, only a hint of its untold stories. I’ve returned several times since, intent on soaking up all the details that make Cedarburg such a surprising and embraceable community.

Special thinks to those who helped stir our appreciation for the unique natural and handcrafted beauty, the irrepressible celebration of art and culture, and the history in Cedarburg’s buildings, its bridges, and its society. Thank you to Arlene, Deb, Lori, the incomparable Jim Coutts; to Kristine and the staff and volunteers at the Chamber of Commerce and General Store Museum, the Cedar Creek Trading Post and its sweet music, and to the proprietors and hostesses at the Stagecoach Inn and the Washington House Inn. Thank you, too, to Herman, for getting my (Cynthia’s) car back on the road when it collapsed under the mid-February cold.

Many other Cedarburg residents and self-appointed tourism volunteers shared their stories and enthusiasm with us. We appreciate you all, named or unnamed.

A CONTEST OF WILLS
by Becky Melby
Dedication

To Bob and Dianne, for your example of finding balance at this stage of life. You two live with equal doses of purpose and pleasure—and we’re taking notes!

Love you both.

Thank you to my agent, Mary G. Keeley, of Books & Such Agency. Special thanks to Rachael, Eileen, and Cynthia for making collaboration so much fun.

And thank you to Toni and her kids for losing their van door and giving us a memory to laugh (and write) about. And to Cole, for sticking a bean in his ear and sparking an idea.

As always, thank you to Bill for patiently holding my kite string and reminding me to take time to “be still.”
I love you, Dr. Snuggles.

This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it
.

P
SALM
118:24

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

P
SALM
46:10

Chapter 1

Winter

W
illow Miles planted her hands on her ample hips covered in a red-and-black-striped vintage bathing suit. Her teeth chattered as she glared at the winter whitecaps whipping the gray surface of Lake Michigan. The woman who owned this getup during the Roaring Twenties probably had more sense than to wear it on New Year’s Day in Wisconsin.

A sign for the Polar Bear Dip marked the gathering spot for a motley crowd of
un
sensibly dressed crazies waiting out the count. “Ten. Nine. Eight …” Bundled onlookers joined the chant.

“Seven. Six. Five …”

Digging the toes of her argyle kneesocks into snow-laced sand, Willow stuttered, “This is ins–sane.” She was all about spontaneity, but there were times a woman on the brink of forty should say no. When Crystal and Elsa, about to become her best friends for never, each grabbed an elbow and began a pathetic rendition of “Happy Birthday to Willi,” she knew it was too late.

The trio stumbled into the frigid surf off America’s ThirdCoast. The water stung her feet and burned her calves, but by the time it reached her flapping thighs, she couldn’t feel much of anything.

“Go under! Go under!” The voices of people she once thought cared about her screamed from the safety of parkas and scarves.

“Fine!” Grabbing the hands closest to her, she yanked hard and leaned backward into water so cold her breath solidified in her lungs. As she surfaced, the hand she held in her right tore out of her grip, accompanied by a string of fiery words. Fiery
male
words. A dripping gray-haired man in plaid trunks stomped toward shore amid her shower of apologies.

Elsa, soaked from head to toe and laughing with a wheeze that sounded like an ailing vacuum cleaner, pulled Willow to her feet. “What were you
thinking
?”

“I was thinking it was Crystal.” With that, she grabbed the hand of her half-dry friend and dunked again. Lifting pasty-white arms to a cloudless sky, Willow rose out of the water. “This is awesome!
Hap-
py New Year!”

Wrapping her arms around her best friends till death—which, considering the windchill, could be any moment—she splashed to shore and the waiting bathrobe held by her adopted daughter. “Th–thank you.” Willow slid into the paisley chenille robe, knotted the belt, and planted a loud smack on Star’s expertly blushed cheek. Water dripped from Willow’s flower-studded bathing cap onto Star’s coat. “That was a blast!”

Try as the poor girl might, Star couldn’t, under the circumstances, pull off the bored teen look. An embryo of a smile curved one side of her mouth. “So. Check this off the bucket list, huh?”

“No way!” Willow looked to her friends for nods of confirmation. “We have to do this every year until we’re old, old ladies.”

“You
are
o—” Star clamped her hand over her mouth, but her eyes gleamed.

Willow curled a fist and popped it lightly on the girl’s nose. She would gladly be the brunt of a million jokes if it would keep a smile on Star’s face. “Take me home.”

The gleam ramped to a genuine glow. “I can drive?”

Hopping on one foot, Willow pulled off a wet sock and slipped her blanched foot into an Indian-print mukluk. “You have to. I’d get arrested on a DWH.”

“What’s that?”

“Driving while hypothermic.” She wiggled her eyebrows and blew a stream of condensed air at Star.

“You’re not changing clothes first?” This followed by a look informing Willow she was exponentially dumber than a toadstool.

“We’ll be home in fifteen minutes. I’d have to stand in line at the restroom longer than that. Get the boys and let’s boogie.”

“Ralphy! Del!” Star screamed then coughed with the rush of cold air into her lungs.

Willow covered her ears. “I could have hollered myself.”

Star shrugged and went off to find the boys who failed to respond to her yell. Willow made her rounds with hugs and shivered a prayer all the way to her van. “P–please let it start.”

In a parking lot of rust-free cars, the ancient maroon van stuck out as much as a short, pudgy woman running through the snow in a purple paisley robe. Willow smiled at her usually faithful four-wheeled soul mate that had once been her home.

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