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Authors: Deborah Grace Stanley

Only You

BOOK: Only You
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Praise for Only You

“Fans will treasure this.”

—Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews, Five Stars

“Simply a must read!”

—The Romance Studio, Five Hearts

“Deborah Grace Staley has written a wonderful book, a great start to her Angel Ridge Series.”

—Fallen Angel Reviews

“With Only You, Deborah Grace Staley brings to home nostalgic memories of silent crushes and wistful longings…it’s a warm apple pie, cozy kind of story that is sure to tug your heartstrings and leave you smiling.”

—Romance Reader at Heart, Four Roses

“I am definitely looking forward to Book Two.”

—Romance Junkies

“ . . . a sweet, old-fashioned romance.”

—The Best Reviews

“. . . a warm touching story of love . . . ”

—Rendezvous

 

Dedication

This one is for Betty Grace. Happy birthday, Mom.

 

Acknowledgments

If thanks were flowers, you’d all be showered with bouquets. To Mom and Dad, Sherman and Betty Grace, for instilling in me the notion that anything is possible. Fred and Ethan, your love and support give me wings. Will the real Dixie please stand? Janene Satterfield, you are my definition of a true Southern Woman! Eternal thanks to Debbie Ledgerwood for encouraging me to create Angel Ridge. JoAnn Ross, you’ve helped me grow up as a writer. Thanks for being such a great role model. To Susan Sipal for helping me see things more clearly.

And last, but by no means least, to my writer buddies who inhabit the Mother Planet. I don’t know what I’d do without you! To Kathryn Falk and
Romantic Times BookClub
for giving me a great start on this journey. To my RT buddies, The Society of the Purple Prose, especially Patty Harrison, Mary Schaller, Karen Smith, Linda Castle, and Gwynne Forster for your support and unshakable belief

in me.

 

 

Only You

By

Deborah Grace Staley

Bell Bridge Books

 

Copyright

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Bell Bridge Books

PO BOX 300921

Memphis, TN 38130

Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.

 

Copyright 2004 © by
Deborah Grace Staley

Print ISBN:
978-1-935661-39-9

Printed and bound in the United States of America.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

We at BelleBooks enjoy hearing from readers. You can contact us at the address above or at [email protected]

 

Visit us at www.bellbridgebooks.com

 

We like to hear from readers. Email us at [email protected]

 

Cover Design: Debra Dixon

Interior Design: Linda Kichline

Artwork Credits:

Roses and texture “© Jill Battaglia | Dreamstime.com”

Victorian House “© Kay Fellows | Dreamstime.com”

:Fx-01:

 

Welcome

 

Hey, ya’ll. Dixie Ferguson here. I run Ferguson’s Diner in Angel Ridge, Tennessee. Population three hundred forty-five. Even though I wasn’t born here, well, I call it home now, and most of the locals accept me as one of their own. Let me tell ya a little bit about our corner of the world.

It’s a picturesque town in the valley of the Little Tennessee River, established in 1785. In the early days, its first families—the McKays, the Wallaces, the Houstons, the Joneses, and, of course, the Craigs—staked their claims on hundreds of acres of the richest bottom land anyone had ever seen. They built large homes near the meandering river and operated prosperous plantations. Well, all except for the Craigs. They were traders and craftsmen. Men of commerce, as it were. Meanwhile, the town developed above the river on a high ridge.

In the early 1970s, the Flood Control Board came in and bought up about all of the property along the flood prone river, and those stately homes that some called relics of a bygone era, were inundated in the name of progress. But those who built more modest houses near town up on the ridge, well, their homes are still standin’. Of course, the families who lost theirs to the newly formed Tellassee Lake moved up to the ridge as well and built elaborate Victorian mansions such as this quaint little town had never seen.

Most of the families I mentioned earlier are still around. These folks are hardy people. Why in all the time they’ve lived here, they’ve endured Indian attacks, floods, divided loyalties in the Civil War, and yes, even feuds. The older folks are still marked by the hardships of the past, but the young people of the town hope to move beyond old hurts to create a new generation made strong because of their roots, yet free of the past.

After all the years I’ve spent behind the counter at Ferguson’s, I could probably tell ya’ll a story about near everyone in town. But we only have so much time, so I’ll narrow it down to just two for now.

This is a story about coming home. It’s also a story about acceptin’ folks for who they are. You could say it’s a story about a librarian and a handyman, but I say it’s a story about findin’ love where you’d least expect to. Ya know, those kinds of things always seem to happen when you open up your heart to possibilities. Of course, a little help from our hometown angels and yours truly don’t hurt none either!

So, come on along to Angel Ridge. Sit a spell and enjoy.

 

 

A man is not where he lives,
but where he loves.

Latin Proverb

 

Chapter One

 

It was one of those days. Mid-May . . . spring on the cusp

 of summer. A rare day. One with the bluest of skies dotted with cotton ball clouds and the temperature perfect with a cooling breeze blowing up from the lake. No one could ask for a better day, but not a thing had gone right since Josephine Allen’s feet had hit the hardwoods of the turn of the century Victorian that had been her childhood home in Angel Ridge.

Josie had lived on the ridge up until she’d gone away to college. She’d been away for nearly seven years; but now she was back. The town had chosen her as the “right person” to take over the directorship of Angel Ridge’s most prized possession: The Angel Ridge Library. Expectations were naturally high for the town’s golden child.

So far, she had not delivered.

It had begun with the pronouncement by her parents that they would be moving to a retirement community in Florida. The house, of course, would be hers now. Whether she wanted it or not? Not an option. And then there were the problems with the cataloging program that had been keeping her at the library every night to all hours.

So, she’d awakened this morning to no power, no alarm clock, no curling iron, and no hot water. After a late night at the office, was a hot shower too much to ask? She did the best she could with her appearance under the circumstances. No time to check the fuse box. She’d barely make it to open the front door of the library by eight. There were probably people already lined up on the steps anxious to hit the genealogy room. They always came early and stayed until closing.

Two hours later, things at the office weren’t going any better than things at home.

“Dr. Allen? Cole Craig on line two for you. He says it’s urgent.”

Josie turned from her computer screen to look up at her secretary standing in the doorway of her office. “Thank you, Teresa.”

Josie removed her wire-rimmed glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. The library’s out-dated computer system had crashed twice already today, and it wasn’t even lunchtime.

Cole Craig. Cole Craig. The name rang a bell, but her brain was so scrambled, she couldn’t match a face to it. She punched the button below the blinking light on her phone, picked up the receiver and said, “This is Dr. Allen. How may I help you?”

“Is this Josie Allen?”

The deep voice laced with a smooth southern drawl flowed through the telephone line to caress her ear. Chill bumps raced up her arm. “
Um
—Yes,” she managed through a suddenly constricted throat.

“This is Cole Craig. I’m sorry to bother you at work, but there’s a problem at your house.”

She frowned. She knew that, but just how did this person also know? “A problem?”

“Yes, ma’am. I was cuttin’ Miss Estelee’s lawn this morning. I had just cut it on Monday, but with all the rain we been havin’, I decided to cut it twice this week. So, when I stopped by her place today, like I always do on Thursdays, I decided to cut her grass again, and when I was around on the side of the yard closest to your house, I heard water runnin’.”

Josie could have gotten lost in the verbal maze, but instead, a bell went off in her head. Cole Craig. Of course. How could she ever forget him? A couple of years older than her, they’d gone to middle school together, but she’d heard he had to drop out of high school to help his ailing father keep their farm going. He’d never finished school, but he, like his father and grandfather before him, had not only supplied the town grocer with produce and the butcher with meat, but had also built houses for the poor and rich alike.

The Craigs were the founding family of Angel Ridge, much to the chagrin of the more prominent McKays and Wallaces. The Craigs had never been rich, but they’d worked quietly and with dignity in the community for generations. They were always the first to lend a helping hand around town. And everyone knew that Cole Craig was good with his hands.

“I hope you don’t mind,” he continued, “but I looked around a little and noticed water running down your sidewalk to the street, so I took a peek at your crawl space.”

“Of course I don’t mind. What did you find?”

“Well, it was just what I thought.”

Josie waited. When he didn’t supply any further information, she prompted, “What was that, Mr. Craig?”

“Oh, please. Call me Cole.”

That odd warmth poured through her veins again. He had the most lyrically beautiful voice for an uneducated man. Cole. The name seemed incongruent with the voice. “What did you find?”

“A busted pipe.”

“Oh, my.” She involuntarily winced at the slang usage of the verb “to burst.”

“I went down to the water meter and shut off the main. But there’s no tellin’ how long that thing had been sprayin’ water. You’ve probably got some wet floors in your house.”

BOOK: Only You
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