The Cedar Key (Paperback)
2021 Faith, Hope, and Love Reader's Choice Award Winner
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Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?
Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.
But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.
Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome—and often frustrating—new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.
358 print book pages
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All the stories were gone.
Without the stories, I had a house full of other people’s memories and no one to decode them.
Wind ruffled my disheveled hair as I stared up at the gingerbread molding on the house the lawyer proclaimed would be mine. The grand Victorian home stood large and stately, built during the era when people took more time and concern with craftsmanship. But this place couldn’t be mine. The house was built for people like Ida, and I was still a stranger.
I hesitated on the sidewalk, the balmy spring day out of sorts with the heavy clouds hanging over my heart. I fiddled with the keys. I had to stay here. Like Ida had asked. Like I had promised.
Still, I couldn’t move any closer. Stifled by the realization that, if I went in and found the house empty, it would mean Ida’s death and funeral weren’t a bad dream I could pretend didn’t really happen.
Stupid. Ida was gone, and she wasn’t coming back.
After thirty-five years, I’d found the grandmother I would have loved to grow up with, had life been kinder. A woman full of stories, love, and life. A woman I’d been able to open my heart to even in the short time I’d known her.
But Ida’s funeral two days before meant the stories that had first lured me to this tiny southern town had all been buried. The will gave me the keys to her house but not the truths I needed. I shoved the thought down and marched up the brick stairs and onto the wide wraparound porch. The key turned easily, and the door swung open.
One step over the threshold. Deep breath. Close the door. Ida had said a person could really only do one thing at a time—and that if I looked at each of my days as one step to take after another, I would find that things weren’t as overwhelming as I feared.
How many steps would it take to get through this pain? For now, the entryway would have to do.
Even through the closed front door, sunlight permeated the tempered glass as though light could never fully be shunned here. The rays cast their cheerful amber glow across a foyer Ida had kept filled with fresh flowers on every available surface. The vases now brimmed with wilted roses dropping crumbled petals onto the dusty surfaces of neglected antique tables.
The unfairness fell on me like the blanket of sunlight, only this sensation smothered rather than illuminated. Like something dark and ugly and not at all what Ida said I should feel after she went to Jesus. The cancer took her before we had the opportunity to love one another, and now my one chance to know where I came from—and my identity—was buried in a tiny plot of earth not strong enough to hold the effervescent soul that was Ida Sue Macintyre. All that remained was the shattered remembrance of a beautiful life that God had given me too late and stolen from me too soon.
I took a deep breath. If I couldn’t move forward, I should at least go back outside and get my stuff from the car. But I remained frozen. Paralyzed by the anxiety clawing in my veins and insisting this was the one final loss I knew I wouldn’t be able to bear. Yet, death came anyway, despite the desperate prayers I’d wielded against it.