About a half an hour ago, while wrestling with my printer yet again (I won), I noted the date on my computer. September 28th seemed important for some reason, but I couldn’t remember why.
Phone bill due today. . . Wedding reception tonight. . . 3rd grader had a spelling test. . . 12th grader has rehearsal. . . Grandmother’s birthday (calling you shortly, Grandma)! I’d remembered all of these when I realized that I had also novella releasing today. I’ve been so firmly rooted in Scotland and wrapping up the details with Katie and Collin in A Promise For Tomorrow, that I’d forgotten The Heart Only Grows would show up on Amazon today. It was a nice break to revisit Addie and Miles for a minute as I pulled up an excerpt to share.
If I had only two words to describe this story they would be sweet and hopeful. I split the point of view in this one between Addie and Miles, and it was so fun being in his stubborn head. You can read the first chapter (Addie’s POV) on Amazon, and the excerpt below is from Miles’ perspective. He’s pretty upset with his brother’s meddling and matchmaking at this point in the story, but he already likes Addie enough that he can’t stand the thought of her being married to just anyone.
I loved learning a bit more about the Orphan Train children, particularly those stories that turned out happy, and I love that at 30,000ish words this novella can be read in one sitting (while still satisfying your family’s need for nourishment and clean underwear). Here’s hoping you can curl up somewhere cozy and enjoy the start of fall with a story that will warm your heart.
Miles practically jumped off the train, clearing the three steps with one stride. Back on solid ground, he resisted the urge to turn around and see if he might glimpse Miss Campbell through the car window.
Better to forget her and this whole, unfortunate, business, he told himself. And he would have at once had he not taken two steps and run straight into trouble.
“What’re you here for?” he growled at Wade, who was heading toward him with hurried steps.
“Got to get Miss Campbell and those children off the train before it leaves.” Wade huffed as if he’d just run clear across town.
“Why would you want to do that?” Miles caught Wade’s sleeve as he approached the conductor.
“Not now,” Wade ground out, then focused his attention on the conductor. “I’ll be but a minute,” he said. “Official town business.” He fingered the badge on his vest, as if it was not already obnoxiously obvious to anyone who wasn’t blind.
“What business?” Miles kept hold of Wade’s shirt. “Haven’t you caused that woman enough difficulty already?”
“Yes. And I feel terrible about it.” Wade jerked away and placed a foot on the first step. “But since you were unwilling, I’ve found her another husband now, so it’s all fixed.”
“You’ve found— who?” Miles demanded, mentally filing through the possible candidates, from the single men in town.
“Erastus said he’ll have her and those young un’s.” Wade climbed up to the second step.
“Are you out of your mind?” Miles shouted. “Erastus is pushing ninety. You can’t stick a pretty young woman like Miss Campbell with someone who can’t even button his own trousers anymore.”
“He’s not a day over seventy-five.” Wade stepped into the train. “And Erastus is lonely. As soon as I mentioned Miss Campbell and those children were in need of a home, he warmed right up to the idea of marriage.”
“I’ll bet he did,” Miles muttered, feeling his own temper warm at the thought of Miss Campbell being beholden to a man old enough to be her grandfather. I shouldn’t care, he told himself. Erastus was harmless enough. It was just…
“A wife can fix his meals, so he won’t have to take them at the hotel anymore.” Wade paused just inside the car to continue. “And Erastus won’t need help with his wash and cleaning no more. Not to mention how lonely he’s been for so long now. I think Miss Campbell and those youngsters will cheer him right up. Why, he might live to ninety with the three of them keeping him company. I should have thought of this match to begin with.”
“I’ll just bet she won’t have him.” Miles took comfort at the thought. There was no need for a woman like Miss Campbell to marry just anyone. New York was a big city; surely there were a lot of men there who might court her with marriage in mind.
“I’ll just bet she will marry him,” Wade threw over his shoulder. “She’s not thinking of herself, but those children. And this town is her last hope of keeping them together.” With that he disappeared, moving down the aisle toward Miss Campbell’s seat.
Miles stepped forward to follow.
“Not so fast.” The conductor was ready for him this time and thrust an arm across his path, blocking the narrow stairway. “You’ve assisted the lady already. If you wish to board again, you’ll need to purchase a ticket.”
“The sheriff’s my brother,” Miles said. “We’re on official town business.”
“I don’t see any badge.” The conductor moved in front of Miles so that more than his arm blocked the stairs. “No ticket. No boarding.”
“Fine.” Miles turned away and stalked off down the platform. As he passed the train car, he glanced up in time to see Wade and Miss Campbell engaged in deep discussion. Wade pointed outside, and she turned to look out the window in the direction of the general store across the street, where Erastus parked his aged body most every day.
Miles lifted his hand, waving to get her attention, gesturing his desperation. He wished he could throw a rock through her window with a note tied onto it that said, Don’t listen to any more of my brother’s harebrained ideas.
But there was no rock and no time. The whistle blew. The conductor shouted his warning. “All aboard.”
Panic welled inside of Miles as he watched, with a combination of disbelief and horror, as Miss Campbell rose from her seat.