Authors: Juliet Madison
Miracle in March
A new Tarrin's Bay novel from best-selling author Juliet Madison. She took a break from real life, and found what she didn't know she was looking for.
Emma had plans, travel plans, going-far-away plans, but her family means everything to her, so when they needed help, she was there to deliver it. Running the family business of beachside cabins in Tarrin's Bay might not be the same as the French Riviera, but Emma finds a certain level of peace in the beautiful setting and small town community.
But when she finds that her ex-boyfriend, a man she left behind without explanation, staying in one of the cabins, her peace is ruined. She knows the only way to get it back is to share the secret she's been hiding for five years, and admit to him the limitations that she now carries. But James has his own truths to share, and he's not the man that Emma once knew.
They are both in very different places than before, but it's a time for renewal and second chances when their reunion brings secrets to the surface, dreams to be remembered, and the realisation that they are both in need of a little miracle.
Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with a background in dance, art, internet marketing, and perfume sales (yes, she was one of those annoying people in department stores who spray you with perfume). Nowadays she prefers to indulge her propensity for multiple careers by living vicariously through her characters. She likes to put those characters into extraordinary situations and take them on a challenging journey to discover their true passion and inner strength, weaving in some laughs, tears, romance, and sometimes a touch of magic along the way.
Living near the beach on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, Juliet spends as much time as possible writing and coming up with new ideas, and doing her best to avoid housework.
Juliet is a proud member and volunteer with the Romance Writers of Australia and she loves to interact online with readers and writers via Twitter (@Juliet_Madison), and Facebook (
). She can be contacted through her website at
, where readers can also download some free short stories.
Thank you to Kate Cuthbert and the team at Escape Publishing/Harlequin Australia for publishing this third book in my Tarrin's Bay series, and for your support, beautiful cover designs, passion, and enthusiasm for books. Thanks always to my editor Belinda Holmes for working with me to polish my stories and also have fun along the way.
This writing journey would not be the same without the support and friendship of other writers, in particular Diane Curran, Alli Sinclair, and Rachael Johns who have helped with either critiques, feedback, ideas, or general moral support and encouragement. You make my writing days extra fun!
I'd also like to give a shout-out to the members of my Tarrin's Bay Series Readers Group on Facebook who share in my progress of writing this series and offer their enthusiasm, feedback, and loyalty to my books. Thanks also to my readers, and to reviewers and bloggers who take time to write about books and help spread the word to support authors.
A special mention to those who work in the field of autism awareness and care, something close to my heart and an important part of this story: thanks for your dedication and passion for helping those on the spectrum and seeing them as the gifts that they are.
Thanks always to my family and friends, especially Mum for always reading my work in the draft stage. And to my son, Jayden, for showing me that miracles can and do occur.
To Jay, my miracle.
Emma Brighton had been waiting for this day for what seemed like forever. At thirty-seven years old, she'd never been overseas, and while friends had gone off on grand adventures, she'd worked, saved, and dealt with life's unexpected challenges. But now â now was the time.
âJust book the thing already.' Jen placed a cup of steaming tea on the table next to Emma's laptop as she browsed travel websites.
âAre you trying to get rid of me?' Emma slid a glance towards her dearest friend and roommate.
âWell, yes. The sooner you go have an adventure, the sooner you'll bring back souvenirs and tell me the juicy details about gorgeous foreign men you had passionate affairs with.'
Emma removed her hands from the keyboard and tilted her head at Jen. âYes to the souvenirs, no to the passionate affairs. This is
trip. I'm not looking for love, I'm looking forâ¦'
you looking for?'
Emma returned her attention to the screen and scrolled down the webpage that showed pictures of Tuscan villas framed with green spreading vines and bright red flowers. âNothing. I don't have any expectations, I just want to see more of the world than my little part of Sydney. And feelâ¦free, for a change.'
Jen sat next to Emma and sipped her green tea, while Emma sipped her chai. âSo, Italy first? France? What's the plan?' She draped her arm around her friend.
Emma clicked on the other tab she had opened for Paris. âThe City of Lights,' she said with a smile and a flutter of excitement in her belly.
âAnd the city of
.' Jen wriggled seductively and Emma laughed.
âI figure I'll put my French language skills to good use first, give me some confidence before I lose it completely in Italy.'
âSo, teaching French to your first-graders has made you an expert, huh?'
âNot really, but at least I know the basics.'
Jen smiled. âAll I know is something about
voulez-vous coucher avec moi
Emma nudged Jen. âThat's enough, missy! And when I get back I expect to hear all about
juicy gossip and passionate affairs withâ¦Australian citizens.'
âI'll tell you about mine if you tell me about yours.'
Emma smiled. âDeal.' They shook hands. âNow, this is where I'm thinking of staying in Paris, you like?' Emma pointed to the screen and her phone rang its chirpy ringtone. âOh, Mum's calling. Guess I should take the opportunity to tell her the good news, finally.' She pressed answer. âHi, Mum.'
âEm. Oh, Em!' Panic shook her voice.
âWhat's wrong?' Needles of fear pricked Emma's nerves. There was only one other time she remembered her mother sounding this way.
âYou need to come to Welston hospital,
. It's your father.' She sucked in a loud breath. âHe's had a stroke.'
* * *
In an instant Emma was on the road, heading south along the coast towards Welston, the country person's city; small compared to others, but a major township for south coast dwellers with all the necessary amenities. And also the place where Emma had grown up, until she'd swapped the small city for a big one while her parents moved further south to Tarrin's Bay.
Lights flanking the highway blurred and elongated as she drove, both from her speed and the tears spreading across her eyes and preparing to spill.
Please stay alive, please stay aliveâ¦
All she knew was that her dad was having some sort of procedure or tests to deal with a clot in the brain. It didn't sound good, but she knew how resilient the human body could be.
In just over an hour she was there, finding a parking spot, finding the hospital entrance, then finding out her father's fate.
Barbara and Emma Brighton rushed to each other and embraced.
âThey're still working on him. He's not out of the woods yet, but they think he's got a good chance of surviving.'
âOh, thank God.' Emma sunk into her mother's arms. âHas there been any significant damage?'
âThey won't know for a while, but he had numbness down his left side when the ambulance took him. His speech wasâ¦' She gulped then sobbed a little. âOh, Em, it was so scary! One minute we were talking and the next, he got his words jumbled and his face looked all strange.' Barbara covered her mouth with a shaky hand.
Dread sank to the pit of Emma's stomach, but she couldn't let it show. Her mum needed her. âLet's sit here and wait for an update, Mum.' She led her to a cold, empty row of chairs.
âOh no! I have to call Amelia and get her to handle things at the cabins. How will I, how can weâ¦' Her eyes darted side to side searching for answers. That was the problem with having your own business â never being able to call in sick.
âShe's working tomorrow anyway, isn't she? Why don't we send her a text to let her know the situation and that we'll call when we know more?'
Barbara nodded. âOkay. I just don't think I can talk to anyone else right now.'
âI know. Here, I'll do it.' Emma took her phone from her handbag and found Amelia in the âcontacts', then sent her a message. She was an efficient and reliable employee, she'd be happy to help out as much as possible, though as a busy single mother with teenagers she wouldn't want to take over the place completely. Tarrin's Bay Beachside Cabins and Caravan Park would need an extra set of hands. Now.
âOh, Em, you have to go to work tomorrow! Do you think you could take the day off, or the week even?'
Emma managed a feeble smile. She still hadn't told her mum the good news that she was officially on holidays and had enough money to live on for the next year. âWell, Dad sure picked a convenient time to cause problems, because I don't have to go to work tomorrow. I'm officially on leave. I have a year.' She'd miss her students, but she'd promised to send a postcard to the school for their replacement teacher to show them. Whether or not they'd get one now she didn't know. Unless she sent one from Tarrin's Bay.
âA year!' Emma's mother exclaimed. âHow in heaven's name did you manage that? What aren't you telling me? Is everything alright?' She put her hand on her daughter's arm.
âYes, I'm fine. I've been saving up. I was going to tell you this week actually, butâ¦' No, she couldn't tell her about the overseas trip. For now, all her mum needed to know was that her daughter was here and ready to help, here to be with Dad and support him in his recovery. She didn't want her mother to feel guilty for Emma having to change her travel plans.
âDo you thinkâ¦could you possiblyâ¦'
âYes, Mum. Don't worry. I'll take over the running of the cabins in the meantime, and then we can reassess once we know how Dad is.'
âOh, darling.' She rested her head on Emma's shoulder. âWhat would we do without you?'
Emma didn't answer. She took that moment to take a long awaited deep breath, silently wishing that everything would be okay. How bizarre, that a couple of hours ago she was getting ready to put her travel plans in motion. But now those plans would have to be put on hold. A shame, but she couldn't allow herself to dwell on disappointment. Family was more important, and like they'd been there for her when she'd needed them, she'd be there for them.