Authors: Vanessa Devereaux
Copyright© 2014 Vanessa Devereaux
Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs
Editor: Melissa Hosack
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All
names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
PROMISES TO KEEP
Copyright © 2014
Cole sat frozen on the attic floor.
He’d headed up there while both the kids were
at their friends. His thinking was simple; this would be the ideal opportunity
to clear the clutter. And by clutter he was referring to their old games and
toys. Items that if they helped him with the chore, they’d beg him to keep, and
he’d probably weaken.
Everything had been fine for the first fifteen
minutes. He’d already bagged up stuffed animals and board games ready for the
fire department’s upcoming rummage sale. But then he’d pulled out an innocent
looking box, thinking it held yet more toys the kids had outgrown. He’d opened
the lid and seen the holiday decorations and lights. The ones that hadn’t been
His whole body shook. He made fists, driving his
fingernails into his palms. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to keep
it together. Maybe he should donate the decorations along with the toys. That
way someone else would get enjoyment from them.
Or maybe he should have the courage to use them this
His hand shaking, he reached out, the very tip of
his finger catching the edge of the box. Cole pulled it toward him, still not
sure if he should open it or send it on its way.
Without giving it another thought, he flipped open
the lid and peered inside. A tear ran down his cheek as he fingered the angel
that had once sat on top of their tree year after year. They’d bought it on
their honeymoon. He outlined the angel’s face. He’d forgotten how beautiful it
was. He pushed it to one side and spotted the pair of mice with their arms
wrapped around one another.
our first Christmas
The events connected with the contents of
this box seemed like a lifetime ago. He couldn’t stand the thought of looking
at them hanging on a tree without Amanda seeing them, too. He’d pack them up
and make sure they found a good home.
He stood just as his cell phone rang. He dug his
hand into his pant pocket and pulled it out, noticing that the caller was one
of his sisters.
“Cole, you okay?”
She was the oldest of the siblings and Cole guessed
that’s why she was so perceptive.
Nothing wrong with little white lies.
“Sounds like you’re coming down with a cold,” she
“No, I’m okay.” He knew she’d probably guessed he’d
been crying but was allowing him have one of
as she called them.
“I thought it would be fun if we went out for a meal
tomorrow,” she said.
“I have to work until at least six.
A couple of the cows are close to giving
birth,” he said, heading down the steps out of the attic.
“Then let’s have breakfast after you drop the kids
off at school.”
“Eileen, could we do it on the weekend or
“Weekend doesn’t work for me. And if I didn’t know
better I’d say you were trying to avoid your sister’s wonderful company.”
That made him smile. He loved being with her. Always
had and he didn’t know what he would have done without her and the rest of the
“Okay, but it will have to be at six-thirty,” he
“Perfect for me.
know I’ve always been an early riser.
How about Mabel’s
“Sounds good to me.”
“See you then.”
He pressed the end call button and looked back up at
the attic. Then he rested his forehead on one of the rungs of the ladder. How
he wished he hadn’t gone up there.
Hayley moved the cursor to the upcoming reservations
section of her spreadsheet. Bile turned over in her stomach and her mouth went
dry. Things were still not looking good for the inn. This holiday season would
be a make or break period for the bed and breakfast. She had two couples booked
for next week, so that was a start. She’d need to get more people in or she’d
be forced to sell up and head back home.
She rested her head down on her folded arms, willing
herself not to cry. How she’d gotten in this predicament she didn’t know.
Living with my head in the clouds.
Biting her nail, she thought about ways she could
kick start business. Maybe offer an afternoon tea once a week. A ski and stay
package didn’t sound crazy either.
At least she had a guest for the next three nights,
a Ms. Sadie Sutton who’d called just yesterday.
Something about her voice had sounded magical. Hayley had this weird
feeling that Sadie’s visit could be the start of something wonderful.
She lifted her head, feeling a shiver go down her
spine. The heat was on full blast, but it felt like a cold breeze had flown
over her body. It had been at the very moment she’d thought about Sadie Sutton.
Hayley had never been one to believe in omens, funny
feelings, or anything like that. But for some strange reason she couldn’t wait
to meet Sadie.
Sadie turned on the windshield wipers on the rental
car, and then turned up the heat. Good thing she’d packed her warm coat with
the hood. What a change in the weather since leaving Los Angeles where she’d
been visiting Kyle and Evie, and their beautiful baby daughter.
Glancing at the address she’d written down for the
Rustic Inn, she realized it was actually north of town. It was her first time
in Casper, and by coincidence and lots of luck, Brad and Lucy, and the
going to be in town because
Brad was attending a sheriff’s conference. She’d arranged to have lunch with
the two girls after she met with her new client.
The car skidded a little to the left, so Sadie
grabbed the wheel tighter. She spotted a sign with Rustic Inn written on it and
an arrow pointing to the left. She turned onto a narrow lane and saw the bed
and breakfast straight ahead of her. It looked like a gingerbread house with
the snow clinging to its cables. She pulled into the parking lot and looked
around. Seemed she was the only one there.
Sadie turned off the ignition, got out, and walked
to the back of the car. She opened the trunk, pulled out her bags, and headed
up the steps that looked like they’d recently been swept because they were snow
A bell rang over the door as she went inside and the
glow of a fireplace in the reception area made Sadie smile. The place smelled
like apple pie, but the best thing was it was toasty warm. She removed her gloves
and noticed a pretty red-haired woman stepping out from behind the reception
“I’m guessing you’re Ms. Sutton,” she said,
extending her hand.
“I am, but please call me Sadie.”
“Welcome to Rustic Inn, Sadie. I’m the owner Hayley
Sadie took her hand and through her touch, she
picked up on the young woman’s sadness. She couldn’t allow that, and once she
was settled in she’d get to the root of it and see if she could help.
“I’ve put you in one of the front rooms, because you
get the best view of the mountains. They are spectacular this time of the year
with all the snow.”
“Thank you, that’s very thoughtful.”
Unexpectedly the young woman burst into tears.
“Oh, now, now, my dear, let’s sit down over here so
you can tell Sadie all about it.”
Sadie put her arms around Hayley’s waist and walked
her over to the couch by the fireplace. She sat her down and pulled out her
magic hankie. One thing Sadie had learned with mortals was sometimes they
didn’t open up and weren’t honest about their feelings, which was self-defeating.
By telling Sadie what was bothering her, she’d be able to offer the best type
Handing Hayley the hankie, she sat back in the
chair, watching and smiling as the girl dabbed at her nose. It should be going
to work any second now.