“Did I say that?” she asked with a giggle.

“Maybe not in those precise words, but basically, yes.”

“You have to read between the lines.”

“All he said was Merry Christmas,” Bruce pointed out.

“Well, yes, that’s what he wrote, but you and I both know he meant a whole lot more than that. He misses me.”



“He can miss you all he wants, but you and I are going to be married and that’s the end of it.”

“Bruce,” she said sweetly, “you are jealous.”

“No way,” he insisted.

She didn’t argue with him.

“All right, maybe a little,” he admitted. After a moment, he asked, “Should I be?”

Her heart melted at the uncertainty in his eyes. She couldn’t continue to tease him. “Nate is out of my life. I’m madly, senselessly in love with you, Bruce.”

He grinned sheepishly. “I know that.”

“It’s nice to hear it once in a while, though, isn’t it?” she said, and about this she was serious. While her fiancé might not be a man of eloquent words, it wouldn’t hurt if he expressed his feelings now and then.

“What if I tell you how much I love you every day for the rest of our lives?” he asked. “Would that be enough?”

Rachel smiled. “That would definitely be a good place to start.”

“Now about starting something else—our family.”

“Yes?” This was a subject Rachel could get excited about.


“You were right about the knitting.”

The young female voice seemed to come out of nowhere. Startled, Faith Beckwith looked up from the pattern book she was studying. She sat at a table in The Quilted Giraffe, searching for a knitting project, only to find Troy’s daughter, Megan, staring down at her.

“Megan.” She hoped the shock didn’t show in her eyes. It took her an instant to get past the fact that this was Troy’s daughter. Despite her intentions, forgetting about him was a futile effort. “How are you feeling?”

“Really good,” Megan said, then lowered her voice. “This pregnancy feels so different from my first one.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Faith murmured, genuinely happy for Troy’s daughter.

“I haven’t told anyone about the baby. Except Craig. I had to tell my husband.”

“Of course you did.” Faith was relieved to hear that. She hated the thought of Megan keeping this pregnancy to herself.

“My dad and my in-laws don’t know yet.” She hesitated. “It’s hard not to tell my dad.”

“Then why don’t you?” Faith asked. Troy would make a wonderful grandfather.

“We’re really close,” Megan went on to say. “I don’t want him to worry unnecessarily.” She smiled slightly smile as she pulled out a chair and sat next to Faith. “I have a good feeling, though.”

“You’ll know when the time’s right to tell your father and your in-laws,” Faith said without meeting her gaze. It felt odd to speak about Troy in such an abstract way. She noticed, however, that Megan looked healthy. Color showed in her cheeks and her eyes were clear and bright.

“I was glad when I saw you here,” Megan said as she set her gigantic purse on the table. “You were so helpful the day I went to the clinic.”

“Actually, it was my first day on the job.”

“You’re kidding!”

Faith laughed softly.

“I felt like you were there just for me. I was feeling so emotional. You calmed me down, and after we talked, I felt…a real sense of hope.”

Faith was grateful for those kind words.

“But it was more than that,” Megan continued. “You said knitting would be good for me. You were right. Every time I feel anxious about the baby, I pick up my needles and I remember what you said. It’s almost as if…” She hesitated again. “I don’t want you to get the wrong impression or anything, but you said exactly what I would’ve wanted my mother to say.”

“I’m sure your mother would have been just as reassuring if she was with you.”

“I miss her every single day,” Megan said. She sniffled loudly. Obviously embarrassed, she searched inside her purse for a tissue. “My hormones are so out of whack these days, I burst into tears at the drop of a hat.” She tried to laugh and only half succeeded.

“I was like that when I was pregnant,” Faith told her. “I can remember watching a rerun of the old Mary Tyler Moore show, the one where Chuckles the Clown dies. Even though it’s a comedy, I was bawling my head off and then all of a sudden I was laughing and crying at the same time.”

“You liked The Mary Tyler Moore Show?” Megan asked, her eyes wide. “My mother and I used to watch it at the care facility. I know exactly which episode you’re talking about. That was Mom’s very favorite show.”

Then, as if she’d suddenly remembered why she was at the fabric store, Megan reached inside her purse and brought out her knitting. “I came here hoping I could find someone to help me with this.” She set her yarn and needles on the table.

Faith saw immediately that Megan had stopped knitting in the middle of a row, never a good idea.

“I’m afraid I dropped a stitch and I didn’t know what to do next.”

“I can help you with that,” Faith murmured, looking at the half-completed baby blanket.

Retrieving a crochet hook from her own knitting bag, Faith captured the renegade stitch and wove it into place. Then she slipped it back on the needle. “There,” she said calmly. “Now you can finish the row. You saw how I did that, didn’t you?”

Megan nodded. “I should probably buy a crochet hook, shouldn’t I?”

“It’s an excellent tool to have.”

“Okay, I’ll do it today. Thank you so much.”

“My pleasure.” Faith glanced down at the pattern book and tried not to think about Troy and how much she missed him.

“Would you…I mean…” Megan looked uncertain. “I realize you’re working at the clinic and you don’t really know me…”

“Yes?” Faith prompted.

“Would it be all right if I came to see you sometime? Not as a patient, though.”

“You mean as a friend?” Faith asked.

Megan nodded eagerly. “Like on your coffee break or maybe even for lunch.”

Faith was in a quandary. If Troy learned about their friendship, he’d assume she’d somehow arranged this because of him. He’d assume she was trying to reconnect with him through his daughter and nothing could be further from the truth.

“Would it be improper?” Megan asked, frowning.

“Not…improper,” Faith said.

“Perhaps we could meet outside the clinic,” Megan suggested, as if she’d stumbled upon the perfect solution.

“We could meet here at the store, I suppose,” Faith said. “I’d be happy to help you with your knitting. This blanket’s an excellent project but I could also show you how to knit booties and a hat for the baby to wear home from the hospital.”

“You could?”

“I…could,” Faith told her. “I have a pattern I use whenever there’s a new baby in the family. We could meet right here at the table they have for classes.”

“That’s great! Thank you, Faith.” Megan paused, a look of concern in her eyes. “Is it okay if I call you Faith?”

“Of course. Faith is just fine.”

They set a date for the following week and Faith wondered—fearing for her own peace of mind—if this was such a smart idea. She hadn’t meant to get involved with Troy’s daughter. Yet, at the same time, Megan was emotionally needy, especially with this second pregnancy so soon after losing the first.

Still, Troy might think—

No. She would not allow Troy Davis into her mind. It was over. If she became friends with Megan, it would have nothing to do with Troy. Megan was her own woman. So was Faith.

When she returned home from the fabric store, Faith made a pot of tea, then sat down in her living room. She’d found a lovely natural-fiber yarn in earth tones and had decided to knit a sample afghan. Eager to start the project, she picked up her needles and the new yarn and was about to cast on stitches when the doorbell rang.

Although it was only a little past four in the afternoon, the day had already grown dark. Faith turned on her porch light and checked the peephole in the door.

And then she saw him.

Troy Davis.

No doubt he’d heard about Megan and Faith meeting and felt he needed to wade right in, making unwarranted assumptions and judgments. If that was the case, and it probably was, Faith didn’t intend to listen. She didn’t require his permission to see Megan.

With reluctance she unlocked the door and opened it. She’d hung an evergreen wreath on the outside, and the scent, with its memories of childhood Christmases, wafted into the room.

Still in uniform, Troy stood there, his hat in hand. “Hello, Faith.”

“Troy.” She nodded, keeping her voice level and cool.

“Can we talk for a few minutes?” he asked when she didn’t immediately open the door.

Without smiling, she unlatched the screen door and he came inside.

She noticed that he’d lost a few pounds since she’d last seen him almost two weeks ago and wondered briefly if he’d been ill. Worried despite her own resolve, she watched him closely—as if she were starved for the very sight of him, she thought with disgust.

She didn’t want to care about Troy Davis. Didn’t want to feel even a flicker of emotion. Letting him back into her life would only bring more pain. He’d proved that.

Troy entered the living room. “Would it be all right if I sat down?” he asked.

Faith nodded. Her lack of welcome and warmth went against the grain, but she was protecting herself. She had no choice.

She sat down again in the overstuffed chair that was her favorite and Troy took the one across from her. He sat on the edge of the cushion, hat still in his hand.

He didn’t speak for an interminable moment. “You’re looking well,” he finally said.

“Thank you,” she returned stiffly. She had to bite her tongue to keep from bragging how well she really was and how nicely she’d gotten along without him.

He nodded. “I was thinking…”

Faith reached for her knitting needles, needing something to occupy her hands.

“I was thinking, actually I was hoping, you might be free for dinner tonight.”

Faith set the needles in her lap and raised her eyebrows. “I beg your pardon? Did you just ask me to dinner?”

“Yes. Cedar Cove has several good restaurants and—”

“How dare you, Troy Davis.”

He blanched.

“Did I hear you wrong two months ago, not to mention last week? Did I somehow misconstrue your words or intentions?”