Authors: Lurlene McDaniel
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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 © 2013 by Lurlene McDaniel
Jacket art copyright © 2013 by Justin Case/Getty Images
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The year of luminous love / Lurlene McDaniel. —1st ed.
Summary: Eighteen-year-olds Ciana Beauchamp, Arie Winslow, and Eden McLauren of Tennessee rely on their close friendship as they face serious problems the summer before they start college, from parents’ illnesses, to cancer, to loving the same cowboy.
[1. Best friends—Fiction. 2. Friendship—Fiction. 3. Family problems—Fiction. 4. Love—Fiction. 5. Tennessee—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.M4784172 Ye 2013 [Fic]—dc22 2012024904
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
This book is dedicated to my longtime friend
who lost her fight with cancer in 2011
Something was wrong.
Ciana Beauchamp bolted upright in bed, her heart pounding and fear closing off her throat. What had she heard that had awakened her out of a sound sleep? Something was wrong. The noise came again, from outside, in the distance. She heard the horses locked in the stables neighing in alarm.
Her bedside clock read 2:00 a.m. The horses should be asleep. What was spooking them? She tossed off her covers and fumbled around for her jeans, which she had discarded in a heap on her floor before she had fallen into bed that night. Ciana tugged the cold denim on over her pajama bottoms, grabbed an old sweatshirt, and padded to her door. She opened it carefully, stepped into the hall, and listened for sounds from her mother’s room at the far end of the hall. She heard Alice Faye snoring and knew that the horses’ distress hadn’t disturbed her mother. But then, how could it have? When Alice Faye fell into bed dead drunk every night, she could sleep through anything.
Ciana hurried through the house, through the kitchen, and into the mudroom. There she pulled out her work boots from beneath the old timber bench where she’d stashed them after feeding the horses and locking down the house for the night. She removed a rain slicker from a peg beside the door, slipped it on, and reached for the doorknob. She hesitated, then turned, opened a cabinet door, and took out the double-barreled shotgun. No telling what she might run into—a marauding coyote, a rabid raccoon, something more dangerous. She opened the cabinet over the bench and took down a box of shells and quickly loaded the pump shotgun. She went out the door, moving quickly, stepping through puddles left from yesterday’s cold April rain. Her boots made a sucking sound.
The closer she got to the stables, the louder the shuffling of the two horses in their stalls. She squinted as she approached the door and saw that it was standing ajar. Fear prickled up her spine. No animal except the two-legged variety could have unlatched the door.
She stood still for a moment, taking deep breaths to slow her heartbeat. She missed her grandmother with an ache that made her knees weak. Olivia should have been handling this, just as she’d handled all the Beauchamp family issues over the years.
Suck it up!
Ciana told herself. Olivia couldn’t help. The ball was in Ciana’s court now.
She eased inside carefully, knowing that the hinges needed oiling and their squeaking would give her away. Another thing to put on her to-do list. The scent of her caused the horses to calm somewhat. Still, Firecracker, her favorite riding horse, snorted and moved against the side of the stall, making the old boards creak. She commanded silently,
Don’t give me away
She stood stock-still, listening for noise. Shuffling sounds
came from the tack room. She heard the lid lifting on the oak chest where blankets were kept and heard the thump of a saddle as it hit the floor. Her heart squeezed as she remembered Granddad Charles’s antique Mexican saddle with the sterling silver trim. Whoever was inside could steal it. The tack room needed a better lock. Maybe the whole barn needed a security system. There was so much for her to do. Too much.
Ciana swallowed against the lump in her throat formed partly from fear and partly from being overwhelmed. She stole to the door and saw a candle flickering and a man kneeling in front of the trunk, tossing out the contents, his back to her. The guy had lit the way for her and presented a broad target.
The shotgun had grown heavy in Ciana’s hands. She’d shot it many times growing up and knew the damage it could do. But she’d never aimed it at a human being before.
“Don’t ever raise a gun unless you’re prepared to use it.”
Olivia’s words came back to Ciana. Was she prepared to shoot? What if the man was high on meth? She’d heard stories that such people could charge like raging bulls. She raised the gun, pumped it, and with a bravado that came from holding the weapon, said, “What are you doing in my barn?”
The man spun, but the unmistakable sound of the shells being chambered kept him on his knees. The whites of his eyes were glowing in the light of the candle. “Don’t shoot. Please.”
Emboldened by his fear, Ciana aimed at his chest, her hands rock steady. “You stealing from me?”
He stared wide-eyed at the twin barrels. “Please, I’ll go.”
Now she had a dilemma. Fumble for a phone and call the cops? What phone? She fumbled for her cell and realized she’d left it in her bedroom. Let him run? He was a thief. “Cops in this part of Tennessee don’t prosecute landowners for
defending their property, you know.” That wasn’t quite true, since the man had no weapon she could see, but she wanted to keep him very afraid.