Authors: Jennifer Gracen
SEASONS OF LOVE
Seattle, WA 2014
COPYRIGHT 2014 JENNIFER GRACEN
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Cover Design by Greg Simanson
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.
PRINT ISBN 978-1-62015-359-8
EPUB ISBN 978-1-62015-384-0
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014905718
It has been said that I’m verbose. (
shoots a warning look at the peanut gallery
) But honestly, there are so many people to thank and acknowledge for their part in my journey; that list could comprise its own novella. It really does take a village. I am so deeply grateful and appreciative of everything the people in my life have done to help me get to this point. Being as this is my first published book, this list will likely be the longest. I’ll try to be more succinct in the future…
Anyway, the best place to start is with Booktrope Publishing, for publishing my work and making my biggest dream come true. Big shout out to my friend & colleague, Jesse James Freeman, whose genuine decency is only eclipsed by his sharp wit and amazing talent. Thank you so very much for taking me on, Katherine Sears and Kenneth Shear. Endless thanks to my creative team, without whom this book wouldn’t be what it is: Jennifer Gilbert, my book manager, who is a pleasure to work with and a rock star; Stevie McCoy, my eagle-eyed proofreader; and Greg Simanson, my graphics designer, who gave me the gorgeous cover of my dreams. I appreciate all you’ve done more than I can say. Eternal gratitude. Also, thanks to my original editor on this book a few years back, TJ Proofs; your work made my work sing, and you taught me so much when I was an eager newbie. I haven’t forgotten that.
Thank You to Family:
My boys, Josh and Danny, the loves of my life; for your patience and understanding while Mommy spent all that time at the computer. See, I wasn’t
on Twitter and Facebook. So I’m forgiven for the messy house now, right? My mother, Linda, who instilled in me my love of reading, books, and words; and who’s been my gold standard for the lioness mother, as well as a Queen of the Quick Comebacks. My father, Rob, who never lost hope that I'd embrace my creativity and always encouraged me to use my talents and follow my dreams. Thanks for all the blue notebooks way back when, Dad. My brother, Jamie, my lifelong teammate and an astonishing creative artist. Big hugs to the rest of my nuclear family: Stevie, Natasha, Kyle, Teri, and Michael. To Adam, who gave me the greatest gift of my life, our sons; and who made it possible for me to stay home with our boys and to write this book. No matter what else, Ad, I’ll always be grateful to you for that. And to my grandmother, Grace, who taught me how to give amazing hugs and always corrected my grammar; I still think of her often, miss her, and wish she could have seen this. (My pen name is a tribute to her.)
To all who’ve supported me, stood by me in good times and bad—I know how lucky and blessed I am to have so many of you in my life. But I must thank in particular in regards to
book my very first beta readers back in 2010, Karen Alcaide & Francis Rizzo III. Claudine Dugan, Joann Centrone, & Christie Latorre, my closest longtime friends who are really more like family. Jenny Beal, aka “The Foot in My Ass;” you have no idea how much your initial encouragement in 2009 set this all in motion, JB. You have my undying gratitude for that. Randi Pellett & Ella Schwartz, my biggest hometown cheerleaders. Tracey Valentine Cozzolino, you’re the best, sunniest Head Cheerleader EVER. Maryann Judge, when channeling Donna’s voice, I heard yours. Because you rock. Christina Esdon, Anne Baker, Valerie Haight, & Anne-Mhairi Simpson, love you so big. Karen DeLabar, Janelle Jensen, & Amy Weaver, you are the true sisters of my heart. So much love. Macaulay Cokecan to you. I want cake. And hugs to K.D. McCrite, aka Mama Bear; for believing in me, caring deeply, and sharing wisdom. You’re both a mentor and a cherished friend.
The members of the Long Island Romance Writers (RWA Chapter 160)—your encouragement, dedication to your craft, & solid support was that crucial piece of the puzzle I needed to get to a higher, stronger level of writing and dedication. I’ve learned so much since I joined you in Jan. 2011, and I’m proud to be a part of this fantastic group. Major thanks to my dear friend, Jeannie Moon; I value your opinions, insight, and knowledge. Your unfailing support means so much to me. Not enough words. Brainstorming sessions with/beta reading by the Fab Four—me, Jeannie, Patty Blount, and Lisa Jo Brennan—has become the trusted touchstone that I need as a writer. Love you, ladies. Liz Slawinski, Maggie VanWell, & Myra Platt, hugs.
Also, and no I’m not kidding, genuine love and thanks go out to all my Twitter and Facebook friends, who’ve been so encouraging, interested, and funny—you all know who you are (I hope!), and I thank you from the bottom of my big, goopy, social media addicted heart for your support and smiles that keep me going on a daily basis. Special shout out goes to my friends who were original members of #pubwrite in 2011; and especially the wildly fun, dirty minded, mind-blowingly talented 2012-14 members of the FB group The Lounge — you are my safe place. You all make me want to do better than my best, you give unconditional love and support, and make me laugh,
hard, every single day. Your collective friendship is a true gift that I cherish. But special hugs go to Gordon Bonnet, Jeff Tsuruoka, AJ Aalto, Joe Schmidt, Andrew F. Butters, Shay West, Stephanie Fuller, Alex Diakonis, & a few others I’ve already mentioned in other sections above.
To anyone that I didn't name here and should have— please forgive me. I said I was blessed with so many of you! It’s hard to list you all. Catch you next time.
Lastly, to all of the musicians and authors who have inspired me creatively and personally throughout the years, thank you for sharing your gifts with the world. There are way too many to name here, but I know who you are. My life would have been devoid of light, color, passion, fanciful dreams, raw emotion, and fire—I’d have been empty, bereft—without your music and books throughout the years. Your work has always fed and continues to feed my soul.
This book is dedicated to all of my friends and family members who have encouraged and supported my writing goals and dreams throughout the years. Your support has meant more than a few words can adequately express. Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart.
And for the two brightest lights in my life, my sons, Josh and Danny. You are so, so loved.
Maybe when you get older, I’ll cave to your requests and let you read one of my books. Maybe.
Lydia swiveled her head in enchanted awe as she entered Wilkes Head Manor; just as the pictures on their website revealed, the mansion was exquisite. The majestic lobby was luxurious, refined; Lydia winced at the creaky sound the tiny wheels of her suitcase made along the glossy marble floors as she followed the valet. He stopped at the main desk and left her suitcase standing there. She discreetly slipped him a few dollars as she thanked him, and he shot her an appreciative grin before walking away.
“Good morning.” The uniformed man smiling at her was as polished as the mahogany counter between them. “Welcome to Wilkes Head Manor. How can I help you?”
“I’m here for the Dawson/Selby wedding,” Lydia replied. “I have a reservation. Lydia Powell.”
“One moment, Ms. Powell.” The man nodded as he turned to the computer.
“I have a confirmation number in here somewhere,” she said, and dug through her large pocketbook. “Ugh, this thing is too full of junk.” She found a half-eaten chocolate chip cookie wrapped in a napkin, the slip for the dry cleaners she’d been unable to locate the day before, and one of her son’s omnipresent tiny racecars—but not the folded printout with her confirmation number. Her heavy, bottomless bag started to slide down her arm as she continued her frantic search. Trying to catch it, she moved enough for her leg to bump her suitcase, which fell over with a thunderous slam as it hit the marble floor. The sound reverberated off the walls, and she flushed with embarrassment. Heads turned, and in the ensuing silence Andy’s little red car tumbled out of her bag, hit the floor with a metallic clang, and rolled across the lobby at top speed.
Lydia just stared down at the suitcase and laughed. “Typical me,” she muttered with a self-deprecating shake of her head. “Welcome to the fancy hotel, klutz.”
“Here, let me help you with that,” said a deep, smooth voice. She hadn't even realized it, but a tall, dark-haired man was at her side, leaning over to lift her heavy suitcase back to its upright position.
“Oh—thank you,” Lydia said, looking up to smile in appreciation at her helper. The man who stood before her was drenched in sweat, beads of it still shining on his forehead and running down the sides of his face. His gray T-shirt was darkened in spots, wet as it clung to his lean frame. He wore shorts, sneakers, and was carrying an iPod; he had obviously been out for a run. He had appealing dark eyes that were sweeping over her face, a day's worth of scruff on his chin, and a bright, affable smile that was contagious. Her smile automatically broadened in response, without her even being aware of it.