NOVEL PASTIMES: Good morning, Miss Radcliffe. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.
EVELYN: I’m pleased to meet you too, but please call me Evelyn.
NOVEL PASTIMES: That feels a bit unseemly, since we’ve only just met, but if that’s what you want, Miss Radcliffe, I’m willing to do it.
EVELYN: I’d prefer it. You see, I’m calling myself Evelyn Radner now, and it’s sometimes hard to remember to answer to that name.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Oh, my. Two names. That sounds as if you’re hiding. If you are, there must be a good reason for it.
EVELYN: There is. I hope I can trust you not to tell anyone, but someone’s trying to kill me. I can see I’ve shocked you, and I’m sorry for that, but I know it’s not my imagination. Even though the sheriff told me they’d caught the man who murdered my parents, I don’t believe it. I know he’s been watching me and that he wants me dead too. That’s why he burned down the orphanage where I was working and killed everyone inside. He’ll do anything to ensure that the last of the Radcliffes is gone.
NOVEL PASTIMES: My dear Evelyn, you’re so right. You have shocked me. I’m almost speechless over the horror of it all.
EVELYN: I didn’t mean to upset you.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Don’t apologize. I’m the one who’s been asking the questions. Now I understand why you’ve come here – to hide from that man.
EVELYN: And to keep Polly safe.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Polly? I don’t think I’ve been introduced to her.
EVELYN: Probably not unless you’ve been to the schoolyard. Polly’s only six years old. But let’s not talk about her. Her life has been even more difficult than mine, and that makes me want to protect her from everything, even well-meaning questions.
NOVEL PASTIMES: I understand. I feel the same way about my children, and even though you haven’t said it, it’s clear to me that Polly is as dear to you as if she were your daughter. So, let’s talk about other things. Tell me what you think of Mesquite Springs.
EVELYN: I don’t know where to begin other than to say that the people are the friendliest I’ve ever met and that it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. I can’t decide what I like the most – the hills that surround the town, the little river, or the springs themselves. There’s so much natural beauty.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Don’t forget the bluebonnets.
EVELYN: I haven’t had a chance to see them yet, but I’ve been told they’re spectacular.
NOVEL PASTIMES: They are. And so is Wyatt Clark. At least that’s what all the single ladies tell me.
EVELYN: He is handsome, but have you noticed that he seems unhappy? I’ve heard he wants to leave Mesquite Springs, and I don’t know why. Do you?
NOVEL PASTIMES: I hadn’t heard that rumor. What I have heard is that he’s planning to sell his horses here rather than take them to one of the big cities.
EVELYN: It’s no rumor. Everyone I’ve talked to is excited about the idea of having more people come to Mesquite Springs. Even if it’s only for a few days, it’ll be good for all the businesses.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Including yours.
EVELYN: I hope so. I don’t want to seem boastful, but I’m pleased by the town’s response to having a restaurant again.
NOVEL PASTIMES: We all need to eat.
EVELYN: And to have a place to gather. I sometimes think that’s almost as important as the food I serve.
NOVEL PASTIMES: I agree. I probably shouldn’t ask this, since we’ve just met, but I’ve heard that you have a number of men courting you. Is that true? Oh, I’ve made you uncomfortable. I’m sorry.
EVELYN: You don’t need to apologize. The reason I shuddered when you said that was that I don’t think they’re truly interested in me. I think it’s my cooking that appeals to them.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Surely, you’re wrong. I know everyone in town raves about your food, especially that oatmeal pecan pie, but there’s more to marriage than cooking.
EVELYN: Like love. And that’s something none of them have offered.
NOVEL PASTIMES: None?
EVELYN: Well, maybe one …
About the Author
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart,A Borrowed Dream, and A Tender Hope, as well as the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds series. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com.