A Time to Forgive and Promise Forever (33 page)

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This time the interruption came in the form of a shout from outside. A ripple of fear told her she hadn't totally recovered from yesterday's terror. “We'd best see what's happening.”

Tyler clasped her hand in his as they went quickly down the stairs and out the door. Everyone seemed to be gathered around the wreckage next to the kitchen.

Miranda hurried to Gran. “What is it? What's Daddy doing?”

Her father squatted in the midst of the fallen wall next to the kitchen, carefully unearthing something.

“It was in between the uprights where they put the addition on that summer.” Gran looked as if she were talking in a dream. “Your daddy just spotted the tip of it.”

“What, Gran?” She clutched her grandmother's arm, frightened at the strained look on her face. “What did he find?”

“The dolphin,” someone said in a whisper. “It must be the dolphin.”

Her father looked up, seeming to search until he found the face he wanted. “Jeff,” he called to his brother. “Come help me get it out.”

Uncle Jeff clambered over the wreckage, his face taut.

Miranda clung to Tyler with one hand, to Gran with the other. They'd mourned the loss of the dolphin for so long. If they found it now, only to discover it broken to bits as a result of the storm—

Daddy and Uncle Jeff stood up. In their upraised hands the Caldwell dolphin soared upward, as if it leaped toward the sky.

Tears spilled onto her cheeks. “We found it.” She turned into Tyler's arms. “After all this time, we found it.”

“That poor girl must have hidden it in the wall that night and never had a chance to tell anyone.” Gran's eyes were bright with tears. “It's lain there all these years, waiting to be found in God's own time.”

Miranda leaned her forehead against Tyler's chest. “Suppose you think we're foolish, to get so excited over an old carving.”

He tipped her face up. “Nothing foolish about it. Like your grandmother said, what was lost is found again. Nobody knows that better than we do.”

She smiled through her tears, understanding. They'd lost each other, too, but finally, in God's own time, they'd found each other again, for keeps.


yler stood at the chancel of St. Andrew's Church, waiting for his bride. He took a steadying breath and glanced across the few feet that separated him from Miranda's cousin Adam.

It had been Gran's idea that this be a double wedding—Adam and Tory, Tyler and Miranda. He hadn't been sure at first about sharing this day, but he'd come to see that this was about more than their wedding. It was about family, joined together and extending into the past and into the future.

Josh, perfectly at ease in his best-man role, leaned close. “You're acquiring a lot of family today.”

“Yes.” He looked across the church, packed with those who'd come to wish them well. He'd once thought family meant only people who wanted something from him. Now he knew better.

Even his mother was there, all the way from Madrid and her new husband, looking dazed at the
fact of being a grandmother. He still had to smile at the thought of the gracious way Miranda had welcomed her. She'd found again all the confidence she'd ever need.

His gaze intersected with Gran's, and she nodded solemnly, then looked past him to where the dolphin stood. He didn't need much imagination to know what she was thinking. Once again things had been restored to the way God intended them. The lost had been found.

The organ music swelled, and Sammy appeared at the head of the aisle next to Adam's daughter. Jenny carried a basket of flowers. Sammy stared intently at the rings he bore, then looked up and flashed a smile at his father as he began to walk toward him.

Tyler's heart lifted with the music. All this had begun with a picture of Sammy sliding onto his desk, interrupting the life he'd thought he wanted. He couldn't have guessed then that it would end this way, with wholeness restored and a richer future than he'd ever dreamed of.

The matrons of honor came next—Miranda's sister, Chloe, and Tory's new sister-in-law, Sarah. Then a rustle went through the church as the music rose triumphantly.

Miranda came toward him, radiant in the ivory gown that had been her grandmother's and the lace veil that had been handed down to generations of Caldwell brides. His throat was so tight he had a moment of panic, thinking he wouldn't be able to voice his vows.

Then she reached him, and he took her hand in his and knew he could do anything, be anything, as long as he had her love. Together they turned to face the minister.

Behind the pulpit, the Caldwell dolphin, back where it belonged, arched upward in prayer, its smile a reminder of God's eternal love and blessing.

Dear Reader,

I'm so glad you decided to read this book. The love story of Miranda and Tyler brings the Caldwell Kin stories to a close. I've loved writing this series on the power of family, and I hate to see it end. So this has been a bittersweet story for me to write.

Maybe it was fitting that Miranda and Tyler's story closes out the family series, because their story is a tale of a broken family brought back to wholeness through the power of God's love. My prayer is that you've experienced that love in your own life.

Please let me know how you liked this story. You can reach me c/o Steeple Hill Books, 233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279, or visit me on the Web at www.martaperry.com.


ISBN: 978-1-4268-5702-7


Copyright © 2002 by Martha Johnson

Copyright © 2003 by Martha Johnson

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the editorial office, Steeple Hill Books, 233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279 U.S.A.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This edition published by arrangement with Steeple Hill Books.

® and TM are trademarks of Steeple Hill Books, used under license. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Trade Marks Office and in other countries.


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