The Heart of Home (Paperback)
He asked if he could die on her porch…but instead he brought hope for new life.
Once a wistful romantic, Opal Martin now simply aspires to scrub the remnants of the War Between the States from her tattered life. But when a nearly drowned soldier appears and asks if he can die on her porch, she must guard against the sudden revival of her heart’s hope for love.
Haunted by the war, Tristan Stuart just wants to escape the pain. But when he wakes up at a house that looks too much like home with a woman determined to mend him, he may discover a new life worth fighting for. In order to save the last of what Opal holds dear, will he become the man she needs or let the troubled waters carry him away?
Fans of In His Eyes will also enjoy seeing Ella and Westley again in Opal's story.
166 print book pages
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The pesky tribulations of life always seemed more stifling in the wake of departing company. Opal Martin watched her friend’s carriage roll away and continued to stare down the curve of the drive long after the dust settled. The trees rustled in the breeze as though they thought to wave as well, but merely shuddered instead. She let her hand linger on the knob a moment longer, and then let herself back into the empty foyer.
She should be used to the sparseness by now. They’d gone for years without the finery that had once graced this pride of Daddy’s legacy. Now the big house of Riverbend was little more than leftovers scraped from the Yankees’ fine china.
Closing the door to keep out the bugs even though it smothered the breeze, Opal tried not to think of the summers they had once spent in Virginia or abroad to avoid the heat and the mosquitoes. At least she and Mama didn’t have to bear the unpleasantness of August alone. Others spent their summers here as well, most notably her dear friends and neighbors Westley and Ella Remington.
Ella had been kind to bring the baby by, his childish giggles offering a few moments of glee that tended to shoo out the loneliness. Mama coveted their company, even if she acted like guests were a burden. The light in her faded eyes glimmered more when baby Lee came by than at any other time.
With a practiced glide of yellow skirts over the freshly swept floors, Opal returned to the monotony of living in an empty plantation in war-ravished lands. She found Mama in the parlor, tidying up. They kept most of their furnishings here, by way of having at least one space that felt somewhat normal. The settee didn’t match the chairs, and the worn green carpet almost clashed with the pale blue curtains. But she wouldn’t complain. Nearly half of these things were gifts from the Remingtons and had not been easy to come by. They had plenty to be thankful for.
Mama’s black cotton skirts shifted in the paltry breeze allowed through the lace curtains of the parlor window. “I remember a time when a lady never had to dirty her hands with cleaning up after company,” she grumbled, plucking two shortbreads from the plate and wrapping them in a napkin for later.
And there had been a time when Mama wouldn’t have thought to save uneaten tea refreshments, but those days were long gone. “It was nice of them to come and visit.”
“Don’t see why they do. They have plenty up at Belmont. Why lower themselves to the likes of Riverbend?”
Opal stacked the teacups on the tray and settled it against her hip. “Ella is my dear friend, Mama. She comes for the company.”
Mama grunted something, but Opal didn’t stick around to see what it would be this time. No doubt Mama merely voiced a variation of one of the complaints Opal had heard dozens of times. A knock sounded at the door, causing her to turn from her trek to the kitchen.
Had Ella returned already? She balanced the tray on her hip once again and opened the door. A bespectacled man with a fine linen suit and a fashionable cap slung low over his sandy hair gave a small bow.
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