Betting the Rainbow (Harmony)

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PRAISE FOR

CHANCE OF A LIFETIME

“Tender, realistic, and insightful . . . Will appeal to fans of Debbie Macomber and Sherryl Woods.”


Library Journal

“I’ve never met a Jodi Thomas book that wasn’t absolutely dog-eared from being read many times. They are all like warm cozy friends that just beg to be taken back from the bookshelves and revisited . . . [A] wonderful contemporary tale infused with humor and mystery.”


Fresh Fiction

“With beautiful prose and a thought-provoking plot, Thomas brings to life the delightful town of Harmony and its captivating inhabitants.”


RT Book Reviews

JUST DOWN THE ROAD

“A welcome return packed with cameos from familiar characters.”


Publishers Weekly

“This book is like once again visiting old friends while making new ones and will leave readers eager for the next visit. A pure joy to read.”


RT Book Reviews

“An addictive read that fills you with some strong emotions as you watch those you have come to love fight through the pitfalls of life. I love how human Ms. Thomas’s characters are.”


Smexy Books

THE COMFORTS OF HOME

“Thomas skillfully juggles the many subplots, and the relationship between Ronelle and Marty, which inspires both to trust again, is especially touching.”


Publishers Weekly

“There’s always something brewing in Harmony and each story just adds to the richness and depth of the characters and town. If you haven’t had a chance to meet the fine folks of Harmony, Texas, what are you waiting for?”


Fallen Angel Reviews

“If you’re a fan of small-town settings, heartwarming tales, and out-of-the-ordinary characters, you don’t want to miss this book.”


Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY

“A delightful story with as much love and warmth as there is terror and fear . . . This is terrific reading from page one to end. Jodi Thomas is a passionate writer who puts real feeling into her characters.”


Fresh Fiction

“Thomas once again brings to life this fascinating little Texas town and its numerous characters. The reader is expertly drawn into their lives and left eager to know what happens next.”


RT Book Reviews

“Thomas continues her contemporary small-town saga with a large helping of suspense, vibrant (if eccentric) characters, and Texas humor to spice it up.”


Booklist

WELCOME TO HARMONY

“The characters are delightful, and a subplot about mysterious fires balances the sweet stories about being and becoming family.”


Publishers Weekly

“A fast-moving, engaging tale that keeps you turning the pages . . . Thomas’s characters become as familiar as family or friends.”


Fresh Fiction

“A heartwarming tale, with plenty of excitement,
Welcome to Harmony
is Jodi Thomas all the way—super characters, lots of riveting subplots, and the background of a realistic Texas town. Don’t miss this terrific novel.”


Romance Reviews Today

ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JODI THOMAS

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart-wrenching, emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.”

—Debbie Macomber, #1
New York Times
bestselling author

“Jodi Thomas is a masterful storyteller. She grabs your attention on the first page, captures your heart, and then makes you sad when it is time to bid her wonderful characters farewell. You can count on Jodi Thomas to give you a satisfying and memorable read.”

—Catherine Anderson,
New York Times
bestselling author

Titles by Jodi Thomas

BETTING THE RAINBOW

CAN’T STOP BELIEVING

CHANCE OF A LIFETIME

JUST DOWN THE ROAD

THE COMFORTS OF HOME

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY

WELCOME TO HARMONY

REWRITING MONDAY

TWISTED CREEK

***

PROMISE ME TEXAS

WILD TEXAS ROSE

TEXAS BLUE

THE LONE TEXAN

TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN

TEXAS PRINCESS

TEXAS RAIN

THE TEXAN’S REWARD

A TEXAN’S LUCK

WHEN A TEXAN GAMBLES

THE TEXAN’S WAGER

TO WED IN TEXAS

TO KISS A TEXAN

THE TENDER TEXAN

PRAIRIE SONG

THE TEXAN AND THE LADY

TO TAME A TEXAN’S HEART

FOREVER IN TEXAS

TEXAS LOVE SONG

TWO TEXAS HEARTS

THE TEXAN’S TOUCH

TWILIGHT IN TEXAS

THE TEXAN’S DREAM

 

Specials

EASY ON THE HEART

HEART ON HIS SLEEVE

IN A HEARTBEAT

A HUSBAND FOR HOLLY

Betting the

Rainbow

JODI THOMAS

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

BETTING THE RAINBOW

A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2014 by Jodi Koumalats.

Excerpt from
A Place Called Harmony
by Jodi Thomas copyright © 2014 by Jodi Koumalats.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

BERKLEY
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-62694-8

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley mass-market edition / April 2014

Cover art by Jim Griffin.

Cover handlettering by Ron Zinn.

Cover design by George Long.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.

Version_1

Contents

Praise

Titles by Jodi Thomas

Title Page

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

 

Special Excerpt from
A Place Called Harmony

Chapter 1

JUNE 2013

HARMONY, TEXAS

LANDING STRIP

R
ONNY
L
OGAN CLIMBED OUT OF THE TINY PLANE AND STEPPED
onto dry, packed dirt. A dust devil danced in the plowed field bordering the airstrip. A lonely welcome home, she thought as she circled, taking in the flat plains of Texas. White linen trousers flapped against her legs. She swore she could feel a thin layer of dirt settling over her, claiming her to the land.

Home,
she thought,
after over a year, I’m finally back
. She’d returned to face her past and the memory of losing her future along with her one true love. She’d thought she would be marrying Marty Winslow last summer, not burying him. Time had passed. She’d grown wiser, but the ache inside her remained.

“Thank you, Mr. Derwood.” Ronny looked at the old hippie of a pilot. His shirt was so spotted with chewing tobacco she thought he might have been wearing camouflage. “When I left Harmony I thought this little plane was a wild ride, but after flying over the Amazon, it seemed like smooth sailing today. I salute your skill.”

“You’re welcome, Miss Logan. It was a real pleasure to transport a nice lady like you. You was a pretty girl when you left, but traveling made you downright beautiful. Ever’ single man in the county will be knocking on your mother’s door begging you for a date when word gets out you’re home.”

She nodded thanks, though she knew she wouldn’t be staying with her mother, Dallas Logan. In fact, Dallas probably wouldn’t answer the door to the daughter she’d disowned for running away from home at twenty-seven. “I’m not interested in going out with anyone, but thank you for the compliment. I plan to rest and spend some time alone.”

Smoothing back her short, honey-brown hair, Ronny wondered if her mother would even recognize her thirty pounds lighter and what seemed like a hundred years older.

Derwood might be twice her age, but Ronny could have sworn she saw him blush, realizing he’d been staring. “I’m sorry to pry. I ain’t used to talking to passengers. My last trip was two crates of prize chickens for the Delaney farm. They complained all the way. If the flight from Amarillo had lasted any longer, I’d have had to wring a few necks.”

“I’m glad I missed seeing that,” Ronny said as she looked around for her ride. All she saw were a strip of dirt someone had scrapped years ago and left to dry rock-hard and one hangar built in patchwork style from used lumber.

Derwood took the hint. “You got someone picking you up? I could get the truck out and take you the last mile into town.”

A long black Lincoln pulled off the main road and headed toward them, answering his question. Her ride had arrived.

Ronny stood frozen in the hot sunshine as the car drew closer. She’d known all year that this day would come. She’d have to step back into her hometown, but not back into her life. Never back into being the shy only child of the town gossip. Never back into caring so much for the first man who loved her that she wished she could die beside him.

In the year she’d traveled alone around the world, she’d grown and realized she could live a full life without love or even company. She’d developed skills and learned to communicate in several languages. Surely she could handle the small-town people of Harmony. She’d left a few friends here, but she had never been a part of the town and she wouldn’t be now.

All Ronny Logan wanted was a solitary nest to land in for a while. She needed the peace and calm of this place, not the people or the memories. Her soul was tired. She wanted time to think. Not to dream or to remember, but to plan. It seemed that since the day she’d walked out of Dallas Logan’s house three years ago, Ronny had been changing, growing, morphing into someone she never thought she’d be able to be.

A tall, thin man in his sixties stepped out of the car and smiled at her in his polite way. “Welcome back, Miss Logan. I’m glad you’re home.”

She took his offered arm and moved toward the Lincoln. “I expected the ladies at the bed-and-breakfast would have fattened you up by now, Mr. Carleon. A year with Martha Q and Mrs. Biggs and you haven’t changed a bit.”

“Oh, but I have. You won’t believe the strange world I’ve stepped into since you’ve been gone. I’ve even taken up writing my memoirs. I’m thinking of calling it
Adventures in Service
.”

Mr. Carleon took two bags from Derwood and put them in the back of his polished car as he continued, “I followed your e-mailed instructions to the letter. I’ve told no one about your return, but there are lots of people in this town badgering me for news of you. When you’re ready to make an appearance in public, they’ll be waiting to welcome you. Until then, you’ll have your silence.”

“I need time. For right now I don’t think I’m ready to see anyone.”

He nodded. He seemed to understand, although she half expected him to tell her that Marty Winslow would have wanted her to visit her friends. But Mr. Carleon would never be so presumptuous. The old man must be the last of a dying breed. The perfect butler, confidant, chauffeur, organizer. She had no doubt he could run the White House or Winter’s Inn Bed-and-Breakfast with polished skill.

“I thought that might be your wish.” He grinned. “Even though I had the duplex you last lived in cleaned and made sure the best room at the bed-and-breakfast was available, I also leased a cabin out on Rainbow Lane. It faces a small lake and it’s not easy to get to, so that should be the perfect spot. There are walking trails, probably made by animals coming in to water, a porch swing, and no one close enough to see your lights at night. I’ve stocked it with a few basics, but if you’ll call me after you’ve settled in, I’ll be happy to deliver whatever else you need.”

“Sounds perfect.” Ronny let out a breath she felt like she’d been holding for days. “You’re still taking care of me, aren’t you, Mr. Carleon?” It had taken her a month into her trip to stop being surprised at the depth of details Mr. Carleon had covered. The hotels knew she liked a morning-sun window; a shower, not a bath. Fruit was always delivered each evening along with maps and a suggested agenda for the next day. Mr. Carleon was doing what he did best: taking care of people. First Marty Winslow and now her. “Thank you for being so thoughtful.”

“Marty would have wanted me to. He gave me enough stock in his company over the years that I’ll never have to work. I consider keeping up with you as my hobby. I’ve kept every postcard you’ve sent me pinned to a map on one wall of an office I rented downtown.” He smiled as if confessing a secret. “I needed to have somewhere to go every morning. Hanging around the B&B wasn’t an option. It was either cut my own throat to keep from eating all the cinnamon rolls each morning or find somewhere to go. Setting up an office within walking distance seemed the least violent solution.”

Ronny didn’t have to ask why—she knew the owner of Winter’s Inn and could guess.

He opened the passenger door for her. “Where to first?”

“I need to pay Derwood for the flight.” She reached for the leather satchel she’d carried through a dozen countries.

Mr. Carleon lowered his voice. “Already drafted from your expense account, miss, and you gave him a very nice tip.”

“Good.” She curled into the car. “Do you think we could drive by the cemetery before you take me to the cabin? I’d like to tell Marty I’m back.”

“Of course.” Mr. Carleon started the car and turned on the same soothing music she had listened to when she’d been driven to visit Marty at the hospital. Those days seemed a million years ago.

Ronny closed her eyes and let memories filter into her thoughts along with the haunting symphony that always seemed to be playing in the back of her mind.

Scenes of her life drifted like photos floating on midnight water. The childhood as the only daughter of a mother who wished she’d never been born. The job in the back room of the post office she’d gotten at eighteen so she wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. One broken man who finally saw the real person inside her when she was twenty-seven. He’d pushed his anger at life crippling him aside long enough to care about her. The memory of his loving touch, still so vivid in her mind that she could almost feel it now. The darkness of his disappearance just as they’d begun to fall in love. His return to Harmony after a year so he could spend his last few days alive with her.

When the car turned into the cemetery, Ronny straightened and shoved a tear off her cheek. She’d carried Marty in her thoughts for a year, and now it was time to say good-bye.

His love would always warm her, but today she’d turn off all emotion, all feelings. The wound of losing him might never heal, but she could wall in her heart and will herself never to love again. After today she planned to be alone through life.

Never would Ronny Logan let emotion rule her world again.

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