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.When would she be ready to try love again? Did she even need it? She broke out in a sweat in spite of the cold wind blowing the last of December past her windows.Not until she could trust God again.How could it have all gone so wrong? The wind gust whooshed against her office door and rattled the inset glass.A burning sensation started in the center of Mara’s chest.She wrapped her ankles around the wooden stool legs and anchored her feet as she rubbed her midsection.This gift took more out of her than she thought.With less than five months to Cadence’s graduation, she had to design and create a quilt full of memories.Memories Cadence needed as she left for college.Memories to wrap around her when she felt far from home and family.Memories Mara promised Cadence, and Mara never broke a promise.Mara dug in her purse for a chewable antacid tablet.They’d become her favorite candy the last few months.Especially today, since the official documents for the new contract were lost when her computer network crashed after the big windstorm tore down power lines last night.No one had power for the last twelve hours on this side of Bozeman.This government contract could change the future of her business and the community.But her business mentor, Rich, jumped in to help.He’d kept the emails.By the time the computers blinked on this afternoon, she’d have his advised changes and be able to print out another set, postmark a hard copy, and fax the acceptance before the close of business back East.Okay, maybe she should eat a little better.She popped one in her mouth, scowled at the mini bottle, and threw it back in her purse.The box of photos held too many memories.To choose the right ones for Cadence, Mara needed to sort through them one by one.“Why didn’t I just buy Cadence a car, huh, Louie?” Something easy that didn’t rip her heart out every minute of the planning.The dog opened his eyes and cocked an ear at her.The burn radiated out further.She pressed hard against her stomach to ease the pain.The antacid should help soon.She should have eaten more than a skim latte for lunch.She needed an early start on all the photos for the t-shirt transfers.Once the photos finished printing out on transfer paper, she could leave them with Tina at the t-shirt shop overnight and pick up the photos pressed onto the poplin tomorrow.Nausea built until it reached the middle of Mara’s chest and wallowed there, squeezing the little bits of heart she had left.It figured she’d have the beginnings of an ulcer.Her neck muscles tensed and sent a shooting pain into her jaw.She opened and closed her jaw joint and wiggled the bones of her chin, but the motion didn’t soothe the tension.How long could she go on living with the way things turned out? The stress from carrying the entire business load left her with this constant tension and now the heartburn.Mara rolled her head from shoulder to chest to opposite shoulder.David’s snowmobiling accident left her in charge of twenty-five employees, business loans, and a dream built for two.But now there was one.Three years from the moment the snow buried him in the avalanche.Three years since David breathed his last.And she hadn’t stopped to breathe since.She hated the week after Christmas since the accident.Sacrilegious or not, she hated it.Mara shook her head to clear the pity party.So a little more lost sleep, what’s new? The sooner she plowed into this promise, the sooner she’d get the sleep she needed.This present would be done on time if it was the last thing she did.Breaking the family tradition, a quilt for graduation, was not an option.It meant too much to Cadence.Maybe she should switch out the lavender candle for a citrus scent and wake up her brain.She looked up at it.Maybe later.Mara inhaled the calm fragrance.Her head pounded.The caffeine seemed to create more jitters than normal.She pushed away the remaining drink.It’d gone cold anyway.She pulled the hair band out of her high ponytail to loosen the tension on her scalp.Mara massaged tender spots under the thick mane with one hand while she spread out several photo choices on the white workspace.Maybe she should consider cutting off several inches.The weight alone might cause these headaches.But David had always loved her hair.She hadn’t cut it more than to shape it in longer than she could remember.Had she even done that this year? Always in an updo for business, no one saw the condition her hair was in.She swept up the ends of her hip-length burnished brown locks and grimaced at them.Maybe a little change would do her good.Yeah, right.When was that going to happen? She picked up the family photo again unable to let it go.Change wasn’t always good.Mara’s heart twisted, radiating out searing pain.She slapped a hand out for balance and instead flipped the box of photos over as she tumbled off the work stool onto the cold floor.The wooden chair clanged to the rustic clay tiles with her legs tangled in the chair rungs.The box rained down life-moment scenes as if a movie reel unwound in front of her eyes [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]