Authors: Lurlene McDaniel
Tags: #dpgroup.org, #Fluffer Nutter
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From every ending comes a new beginning
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2014 by Lurlene McDaniel
Jacket art copyright © 2014 by Trevillion
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McDaniel, Lurlene, author.
The year of chasing dreams / by Lurlene McDaniel. — First edition.
Summary: In the time since their friend Arie died, new problems have surfaced for Ciana Beauchamp and Eden McLauren of Tennessee—Eden is heading to Australia to rekindle her romance with Garret, Ciana is being pressured to sell her family’s land to a developer, and a long buried family secret is threatening to end her relationship with Jon, the man she wants to marry.
ISBN 978-0-385-74173-6 (trade hc) — ISBN 978-0-375-98676-5 (ebook) 1. Man-woman relationships—Juvenile fiction. 2. Best friends—Juvenile fiction. 3. Family secrets—Juvenile fiction. 4. Bildungsromans. 5. Tennessee—Juvenile fiction. 6. Australia—Juvenile fiction. [1. Love—Fiction. 2. Best friends—Fiction. 3. Friendship—Fiction. 4. Secrets—Fiction. 5. Coming of age—Fiction. 6. Tennessee—Fiction. 7. Australia—Fiction.] I. Title.
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This book is dedicated to my friend Tom Chapman, who lost his battle with cancer. I’ll miss you, Tom
“To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven: …
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”
A lone horse and rider stood at the top of Bellmeade’s long tree-lined driveway. Ciana Beauchamp had noticed the duo as she passed a window inside her house but hadn’t paid them much mind. Horseback riders often passed her property on the road fronting her land. Yet this pair had been motionless at the entrance for a while.
She couldn’t see them clearly. Gloom from the darkening sky had gathered from the west, promising autumn rain. Plus she’d been in a funk all day. It was October twenty-fourth. It would have been Arie Winslow’s twentieth birthday. If she had lived.
Her friend, Eden McLauren, had gone into town, and her mother, Alice Faye, was banging around in the kitchen. The final harvest was completed, and Ciana should have felt peaceful satisfaction, but she didn’t. She was sad, on edge, with the horse and rider adding to her tension.
She’d thought about Arie all day, remembering the trip to Italy with Arie and Eden the summer before, remembering
the good times, glossing over the hurts. She missed Arie sometimes as much now as she had on the day she fled her earthly life. What she wouldn’t give to see her, talk to her one more time.
Through the window, Ciana saw the horse stamp, growing restless. She squinted, trying to see the rider more clearly. Exasperated, she stepped out onto the wraparound veranda of the old Victorian house. The rider urged his mount forward and the horse came up the drive under tight rein, almost as if it knew where it was going. The rider, a man, sat tall in the saddle, and as he drew nearer, she saw that the horse was a buckskin, toffee tan with a black mane and tail. Ciana’s heartbeat quickened, and her breath pressed like a weight inside her breast.
At the front steps, the cowboy removed his hat and hung it on the horn of the saddle. He slid off the horse, grabbed a leather bag, and laid it on the top step. Ripe red apples rolled from the pouch, stopping at her feet. “Here’s a gift,” Jon Mercer said.
Ciana’s chin trembled. She was almost overwhelmed by the sight of him and the gesture, but she kept her composure, squared her shoulders, and asked, “Who told you about the apples?”
“Arie. It was one of her favorite stories about your grandparents. She said it was how Charles came to court Olivia. Fresh apples were all he had to offer.”
Ciana saw instantly that Arie had shared the story in a final act of kindness, when she had realized the truth about Ciana and Jon. “Arie died in April,” Ciana said stoically, feeling old resentments toward Jon rise.
“Abbie let me know. I had asked her to call when … after it was over.”
Ciana felt slighted that Jon had asked Eric’s wife and Arie’s brother. “She was my best friend. I would have let you know if you’d asked me.”
“I know. But I asked her instead. Thought we needed the space.” His horse, Caramel, once Arie’s horse, wandered to the grassy lawn and began to graze. “How’s Eden?”
Ciana needed space, all right. “She lives here now with me and Mom. Some changes around here too. I’ve taken in horses to board for their owners. I don’t have an empty stall for Caramel.” She added the last to let him know he couldn’t just walk back into her life or her heart without explanations, and certainly not without permission.
“I talked to Bill on my way from Texas. He’ll let me crash at his bunkhouse and board Caramel.”
Ciana glanced up at the sky and the gathering rain-filled clouds. “Well, you might want to head back before the rains come. They look to be gully-washers.”
Jon propped his boot against the bottom porch step. “Not until you tell me if you meant it.”
“That last kiss you gave me. Did you mean it? Did it matter?”
She blinked, conjuring up the heat from that cold March day when he’d loaded his horse and driven away. “Why now? Suddenly you have to know?”
His jaw muscle tightened. “Yes. I need to know. Why did you kiss me like that when I was walking away and leaving this place? I don’t get it.”
She felt a ripple of irritation. “And I don’t get you. Seven months and not one word from you.”
His expression tightened. “I didn’t know what to say.”
His answer annoyed her further. “How about a phone call
saying, ‘Hi. I’m fine. How are you? I miss you.’ What’s wrong with saying that?”
He swept her face with his green eyes, recited, “ ‘Hi. I’m fine. How are you? I miss you’ … every minute of every day and night,” he added softly.
She purposefully steeled herself from the effect he was having on her. “Why have you come back?”
“Because everything I want in my life is right here.”
Just then the screen door opened and Alice Faye stepped out. “Eden’s on her way and supper is—” She stared. Her face broke into a smile. “Why, Jon Mercer! You’ve come back to us!”
Alice Faye beamed at him. “A sight for sore eyes, you are. How’s your daddy?”
“Settled in at the county facility. Safe.”
“Any recovery from his stroke?”
“Not much progress. Doctors say this is the best he’ll ever be.”