Blossom Street Brides

by Debbie Macomber

Book Details

Publisher: Ballantine Books
First Published: March 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover, e-Book, Audiobook, Large Print
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ISBN-13: 978-0-345-52884-1
Pages: 336
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About the Book

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber has won the hearts of millions of readers with her moving and inspiring stories. Now wedding bells are ringing in the tight-knit community that gathers around A Good Yarn, a store in a pretty Seattle neighborhood. Knitters come to the store to buy yarn and patterns but somehow they leave richer in friendship and love.

Lauren Elliott has waited years for her long-term boyfriend, Todd, to propose, yet he seems more focused on his career than their relationship. When Lauren learns that her younger sister is pregnant before she herself even has an engagement ring, she feels overjoyed yet disheartened. Knowing she can’t put her future on hold, Lauren prepares to make a bold choice—one that leads her to a man she never dreamed she’d meet.

Newly married to her second husband, Max, Bethanne Scranton is blissfully in love. But with Max’s job in California and Bethanne’s in Seattle, their long-distance marriage is becoming difficult to maintain. To complicate matters, Bethanne’s cunning ex will do anything to win her back.

Lydia Goetz, too, is wonderfully happy with her husband, Brad, though lately she worries about the future of A Good Yarn. As she considers how to bring in business, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. Baskets of yarn are mysteriously popping up all over town, with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and bring it into Lydia’s store. Never before has her shop received so much attention, but who hatched this brilliant plan?

As three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne realize that love heals every heart, and the best surprises still lay ahead.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Lauren Elliott had received the most depressing news of her life.

Her sister was pregnant.
Her younger sister.

Oh, she was happy and excited for Carol, but mingled in with the joy was an undeniable sense of envy. The fact that Carol was about to become a mother shouldn’t have come as a shock—her sister and Jason had been married for two years, after all. Lauren loved her sister, and Jason would make a wonderful father. What bothered her was the fact that at age thirty-four, Lauren was still unmarried.

Single. Oh, how she’d come to hate that word.

Walking down Blossom Street, Lauren buried her hands deep into the pockets of her fawn-colored rain jacket. Tulips and crocuses bloomed in the flowerpots that hung from the streetlights, and the scent of roses, lilacs, and camellias followed her as she walked past Susannah’s Garden, the flower shop.

Lauren kept her head down as she mulled over this latest development. This was it. The end of her rope. The line in the sand. She was finished waiting for Todd to give her an engagement ring. A year earlier she’d had the DTR—Defining the Relationship—talk with Todd and he’d assured her that marriage was definitely part of their future. Only he wasn’t in a financial position to make the leap just yet. He’d suggested they give it time, and she’d reluctantly agreed. That was twelve months ago, and frankly her patience was shot. She’d dated the popular local television newscaster for three years and it was time to own up to the truth. If Todd was sincere about wanting her for his wife, then she would have had a diamond on her ring finger long before now.

Clearly Todd enjoyed their relationship just the way it was, and in some ways so did she. Todd was fun and smart, and she liked being with him. Because of his job, Lauren frequently accompanied him to high-profile social events. As a result, she was able to mingle with some of the city’s elite, and it didn’t hurt that many of these socialites came to John Michael Jewelers, where she worked, for their jewelry needs.

Lauren passed A Good Yarn and the window display instantly caught her attention. She stopped to give it a look and shook her head. Wouldn’t you know it, the display in the yarn store’s window was a baby blanket.

A beautiful baby blanket knit in lovely pastel colors. Lauren wanted to groan. She loved her sister, but there’d always been a friendly rivalry between them. More laid-back of the two, Lauren didn’t have big career ambitions, whereas Carol worked as a program designer for a large software company out of California. She’d married her college sweetheart and seemed to have the perfect life.

Lauren had dropped out of college after a couple of years and over time had worked at a number of jobs. She enjoyed sales and seemed to be good at it. The irony was that her specialty was engagement and wedding bands. The couples she dealt with were deeply in love and eager to start their lives together. It gave Lauren a deep sense of satisfaction to help them take one of their first steps toward commitment.

The bottom line, she realized now, was that Todd was completely content to leave matters just as they were. They got along great and talked frequently. Rarely a week passed without them attending some sort of social event. They would like to spend more time together, but Todd was busy with his broadcasting career. He had his sights set on getting an anchor position and focused most of his attention on achieving his professional goals.

“Hello, Lauren,” Lydia Hoffman said, coming up from behind her.

“Oh, hi.” Lauren spun around to greet the owner of the yarn store. Lydia’s husband, Brad, had purchased his wife’s wedding band at John Michael Jewelers, where Lauren had worked for the past five years.

“Isn’t that a beautiful baby blanket?” Lydia asked, apparently noticing that Lauren’s gaze was focused on the window display.

“It is.” Lauren had no option but to agree.

“I think I’ve sold more yarn from this display than any I’ve ever done. There’s something about knitting for babies that draws people into the shop. Just yesterday a customer stopped by and bought yarn for the blanket and told me she doesn’t know anyone who’s having a baby, but she thought she’d knit it anyway.”

Lauren faked a smile. “I just got word my sister is pregnant.” She didn’t elaborate and explain that Carol was a full two years younger than she. “When I saw this blanket I thought I should knit it for her.”

“I’m sure she’d treasure it. Anything homemade makes a baby gift all the more special.”

Lydia inserted the key to the front door, and while Lauren was tempted to purchase the yarn right then, she needed to get to work herself. “I’ll be by later today or tomorrow to pick up the yarn.”

“Make it Thursday. I’m sold out, but I have a new shipment due in then. I’ll be here if you need any help with the pattern,” Lydia assured her.

John Michael Jewelers was one block down from the yarn store. Elisa Lippincott, the original owner’s daughter, managed the store now with her husband, Garry. Lauren enjoyed her job immensely and considered Elisa a friend as well as her employer.

“Morning,” Lauren said as she came into the store. She locked the door behind her. When the safe was open all the doors leading into the store remained locked.

Elisa stuck her head out of the walk-in safe. “Morning,” she returned brightly. She had a pair of jewel cases in her hands, which she set into the display window that looked out onto Blossom Street.

Lauren removed her raincoat and stuck it in the back office along with her purse. Right away she helped Elisa get out the precious stones. Despite the down economy, the store continued to do well. Elisa, Garry, and Lauren—all working full-time, along with a few part-time sales associates—were a good team.

“Garry will be in sometime this afternoon,” Elisa explained as she set out the semiprecious stones. “He’s got a meeting at the school for one of the boys, and then he’s headed to lunch with the Rotary Club.”

Garry was the company expert when it came to men’s and women’s watches. Lauren headed up their diamond sales, and Elisa handled just about everything else.

“I heard from my sister,” Lauren said casually as she set the jewels in the display case, locking them inside. “Carol and Jason are pregnant.” She made sure she sounded pleased and excited for her younger sibling.

“That’s great.”

“It is,” Lauren agreed. “It’s just wonderful. Mom and Dad are over the moon. Their first grandchild.”

Elisa paused and focused her attention on Lauren. “You sound like you’re ready to cry.”

“I could break into sobs at the drop of a pin,” she admitted, and tried to laugh it off, but the only sound that came out was reminiscent of something one might hear on the Sci-Fi channel. She quickly got hold of herself. “Tell me, Elisa, and please be honest. Is there something wrong with me?” Because Elisa was her friend, she expected the truth.

“Wrong?”

“Am I annoying?”

“Not at all.” Elisa sounded shocked that Lauren would suggest such a thing.

“Do I have a domineering or unpleasant personality?”

“No way.”

“Do I bore you?”

“No.” Her friend shook her head.

“Am I unattractive?”

This question produced a laugh. “Hardly. Have you looked in a mirror lately? You’re gorgeous—tall and slim, with your stunning blue eyes and that dark hair. I swear there must be some Scottish blood in you somewhere. Half the men who come in this shop leave half in love with you.”

Her friend’s words were a balm to her wounded pride. “Then why am I still single?”

Elisa didn’t hesitate. “Because Todd Hampton is an idiot.” She gently squeezed Lauren’s forearm. “You’ve been much too patient with him. You need to give Todd an ultimatum,” she suggested. “He loves you. All he needs now is a gentle shove in the right direction. Tell him it’s time; you’ve been patient to this point, but you aren’t willing to continue without a firm commitment.”

An ultimatum for Todd—Lauren had reached the same conclusion but then rethought the matter. The fact was, she’d spent the majority of the night tossing and turning, mulling over her options with Todd. She’d teetered back and forth with the relationship, wondering what would be best. She hated the idea of forcing him to set a date, and then wondered why she’d been so willing to let matters drag.

“The thing is . . .” Lauren didn’t get the opportunity to finish her sentence when Elisa’s cellphone chirped.

“It’s Katie.” Elisa grabbed it before the second chirp.

Lauren knew the shop owner had been anxiously awaiting a call from her oldest child. Katie was a college freshman, and Elisa had undergone separation anxiety sending her only daughter away to school, which was less than three hundred miles away in Pullman, Washington. Elisa worried incessantly over Katie’s diet, studies, partying, alcohol, and dating. If Katie didn’t contact her mother at some point during the day, Elisa was convinced her child had fallen victim to any number of dreadful possibilities.

“Katie, why haven’t you called?” Elisa demanded. “You didn’t answer the text message I sent, and—”

Elisa paused, then let out a loud gasp and hurried into the small office, quickly closing the door. Lauren couldn’t help but wonder what that was about. Her friend tended to be something of a drama queen. Even with the office door closed, Lauren could hear Elisa, although she couldn’t make out what she was saying.

The possibilities raced through Lauren’s mind. More than likely, it was something minor. Katie might have flunked an important test. More likely, she needed extra money put into her bank account. Quite possibly, she hadn’t turned in her library books on time and had allowed the fine to accumulate. Lauren liked Katie and considered the teenager levelheaded and responsible. As a friend and employer, Elisa was great, but as a mother, she was a bit fixated.

Ten minutes later, Elisa reappeared, as white as a sun-bleached sheet.

“Elisa,” Lauren asked tentatively. “Is everything all right with Katie?”

Her friend didn’t answer and then simply shook her head.

“Do you need to sit down?”

Elisa nodded.

Lauren scooted over a stool, and Elisa sank onto it in slow motion.

“Do you want me to call Garry?”

That got an immediate response that came as a shout: “No . . . no!”

“Can I get you coffee?”

“I need something way stronger than coffee. Way stronger.”

Lauren didn’t think they kept anything more potent at the store, unless it was for a special sales event. Even then it was champagne, and Lauren suspected Elisa wasn’t in the mood to celebrate with a glass of bubbly. “Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

“I . . . I don’t know.” Tears welled in Elisa’s eyes.

Apparently, this was something far worse than an overdue library book or a failed test. Disregarding what Elisa had claimed she needed, Lauren brewed her a single cup of coffee, making sure it was extra-strong. She added three cubes of sugar and stirred until it had dissolved before delivering it to her friend.

Elisa held on to the cup with both hands as though it was all that was keeping her from falling off the edge of a ten-story building. “Do you remember Dietrich?”

“Of course.” Katie had recently brought the farmer’s son home during spring break. His family was from the Walla Walla area in the southeast corner of the state. Dietrich’s family farm was one of the largest producers of sweet onions in the country.

“I didn’t like him the minute I met him.”

Actually, Elisa had disapproved of the young man even before she’d met Dietrich. Because he was a senior and three years older than Katie, Elisa was convinced he was too old for her daughter, which was ridiculous. Garry was three years older than Elisa. That was simply an excuse, Lauren suspected, because Elisa didn’t want her daughter getting into a serious relationship.

“Did Katie and Dietrich break up?” Lauren asked, although that wouldn’t make sense. That news would have relieved Elisa.

“I wish,” she snorted. Then, as if realizing she was holding a mug of hot coffee in her hands, she sipped it. After one taste, she grimaced. “I can’t believe this is happening. It’s a nightmare.” Squeezing her eyes shut, she shook her head and then covered her mouth with her hand.

“Katie isn’t . . .”

Elisa nodded. “My daughter is pregnant. She’s only nineteen. She’s a baby herself, and now she insists that she loves Dietrich and wants to marry him. Tell me, Lauren, do you honestly see Katie married . . .”

“Ah . . .” Lauren hardly knew what to say.

“It’s ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. She’s far too young.”

Lauren sat down next to her friend. “What did you tell her?” Lauren asked, concerned. There’d been a lot of shouting going on.

“What else? I insisted she come home immediately. There are ways of dealing with situations like this. I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t allow my daughter to go through with this pregnancy. A baby now would ruin her life. We’ve got to think about her future.”

“Isn’t this Katie’s decision?” Lauren asked gently.

Elisa’s eyes snapped with anger. “Not you, too.”

“Me?”

“That’s what Katie said, and she insists she’s going to have this baby. She’s convinced she’s in love with that . . . that farmer.”

Now didn’t seem a good time to remind Elisa that at age twenty-two Dietrich was an adult and, from what Lauren had seen, a responsible, kindhearted one.

“He took advantage of Katie,” Elisa insisted, straightening now.

“Is that what Katie said?”

“Oh, no, she wouldn’t admit to anything like that. Instead, she defended him and insisted they were equally responsible.”

Personally, Lauren felt that this was a matter between Katie and Dietrich and that Elisa would be well advised to let them decide how best to deal with the situation.

“I insisted Katie come home right away, but she refused.” Elisa took another taste of the coffee and made a gulping sound as though it was difficult to swallow.

“I wish I knew what to say,” Lauren confessed. She felt at a loss and wasn’t certain she had anything of value to contribute.

“This is history repeating itself,” Elisa whispered, and wiped away a tear that had spilled out from the corner of her eye. “Garry and I . . . I was pregnant at nineteen, too.”

Naturally, Lauren realized Elisa and Garry had married young. They must have, in order to have a daughter in college. Identical twin boys had followed three years later. Tim and Tom were high school sophomores and played varsity on the high school soccer and baseball teams. Lauren had attended their games with Elisa and Garry. Because of their connection, Todd had done a human-interest story on the boys that played on the local evening news.

“It turned out fine between you and Garry,” Lauren reminded Elisa.

“Well, yes, but my family always liked Garry. I agree we were young and foolish. Dad wasn’t happy with me—Mom, either, for that matter—but Dad took Garry under his wing, taught him the business. Dad saw to it that when it came time for him and Mom to retire, Garry and I were capable of taking over the store.” Elisa hung her head. “I can’t imagine what my parents will say when they hear about this.” Right away she straightened. “They will never know. I’ll make sure of that. If Katie won’t come to me, then she gives me no other option but to go to her.”

Lauren resisted the urge to advise her friend not to act on impulse.

“I’m booking a flight right this minute.” With a look of determination, Elisa reached for her cell.

“Do you want me to contact Garry?” Lauren asked.

Elisa looked aghast. “Why would you do that?”

“To cover for you while you’re away.”

“Oh.” Elisa set down her phone and exhaled a long, slow breath. She brushed the hair off her forehead while she thought matters through. “I’d better wait and talk to him about this. I swear, if he knew before me I’ll shoot the man for keeping it a secret.”

“Did Katie tell you how far along she is?” Lauren asked.

“No. When I asked, she refused to answer.”

Lauren suspected Katie might have been pregnant when she was in Seattle for spring break the previous month. No wonder she’d brought Dietrich home with her. Lauren had met the young man only once and had immediately liked him. He was polite and respectful and seemed intelligent. She remembered watching him with Katie and feeling a pinch of envy at the way he couldn’t keep his eyes off her.

All at once it hit Lauren. A double whammy. Her younger sister was pregnant, and now her dearest friend, who was only a few years older than Lauren, was about to become a grandmother.

Without weighing the decision, she retrieved her cell and called Todd. Generally, she avoided contacting him during work hours, but he wasn’t on the set until right before noon. As best she could figure, he would be sitting in a chair in the makeup room.

He answered on the third ring. “Hey, honey, what’s up?” Todd sounded rushed and a bit distracted. She half expected him to remind her that it wasn’t good practice to contact him while he was at work.

“Can you meet me tonight?”

“Tonight?” he repeated. “Can’t. I’m taping a story for the eleven-o’clock report.”

“What about Thursday?” Any night was fine for what she had in mind. Lauren had made her decision.

“Thursday it is,” Todd agreed. “Be sure and watch the noon news. And I’ve got a lead on a great story. I’ll tell you about it later. We’ll talk more about it on Thursday. Gotta go.”

With that, the line was disconnected. It wasn’t until she heard the buzz in her ear that she realized she hadn’t had time to ask where they should meet or what time.