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Love at Last

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Love at Last
Irene Brand

LOVE FOUNDHe had been her first and only love. Yet when Lorene Harvey met Perry Saunders again after twenty years, she was amazed by the emotions sweeping through her. She wanted desperately for them to have a second chance, but Lorene had a secret…one she feared Perry would never forgive.She was the love of his life. Or so Perry had thought in college. And when Lorene had suddenly disappeared, he had vowed to never love again. Now he knew his feelings had never died. But would he ever convince her that his forgiveness and love were hers for the asking?

“Do you think it is wise for us to do this?”

“Probably not,” Perry admitted, “but I have to know why you deserted me.”

“That period of our life is over, and it isn’t wise to rake up painful memories….” Her lips trembled as she pressed a hand against them. “But I do want to spend time with you, Perry.”

An eager light flickered in Perry’s black eyes, filling Lorene with conflicting emotions. Apprehension swept over her. If Perry wanted to resume their previous relationship, did she have the willpower to resist him? Did she want to?

IRENE BRAND

Writing has been a lifelong interest of this author, who says that she started her first novel when she was eleven years old and hasn’t finished it yet. However, since 1984, she’s published twenty-four contemporary and historical novels and three nonfiction titles with publishers such as Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Barbour and Kregel. She started writing professionally in 1977 after she completed her master’s degree in history at Marshall University. Irene taught in secondary public schools for twenty-three years, but retired in 1989 to devote herself to writing.

Consistent involvement in the activities of her local church has been a source of inspiration for Irene’s work. Traveling with her husband, Rod, to forty-nine of the United States—Hawaii excepted—and to thirty-two foreign countries has also inspired her writing. Irene is grateful to the many readers who have written to say that her inspiring stories and compelling portrayals of characters with strong faith have made a positive impression on their lives. You can write to her at P.O. Box 2770, Southside, WV 25187 or visit her Web site at http://www.irenebrand.com.

Love at Last

Irene Brand

www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk)

“I, even I, am He

who blots out your transgressions, for My own

sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

—Isaiah 43:25

Thanks to my friend Jason Duncan

for sharing his football expertise with me.

Dear Reader,

This morning as I read the Bible, I came across a verse that emphasized an important principle referred to in this book.

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9b)

The hero and heroine, Perry and Lorene, experienced many years of loneliness and heartache because they didn’t stand firm in their conviction that premarital sex was inappropriate for Christians. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17) My characters went through months of frustration and doubting before they finally realized that God loves and forgives, regardless of the sin.

All of us have difficult choices to make, but the Bible provides guidance for those who want to live righteous lives and stand firm in decisions that would compromise our Christian principles. It’s my prayer that those of you who read this book will be encouraged to take a stand whenever you’re confronted with a decision between right and wrong. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)

If we stand for nothing, we’ll fall for anything.

I can be contacted at P.O. Box 2770, Southside, West Virginia 25187.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Epilogue

Chapter One

As Lorene Harvey walked across the campus of Woodston College, she was tempted to turn tail and run. The redbrick buildings, the shaded avenues and the memorial fountain, cascading colorful rainbows in the sweltering summer heat, brought unwelcome thoughts—memories of two years of her life she’d tried in vain to forget.

She hadn’t wanted to come to this Kentucky town in the first place, and the sudden surge of best-forgotten incidents confirmed her opinion that coming to Woodston had been a mistake. Would she ever put the past behind her? Why couldn’t she blot out recollections of twenty years ago when she’d made the biggest error of her life? A mistake that had spawned an empty vacuum where her heart ought to be.

But Lorene hadn’t established a successful media-relations business by surrendering to her mistakes. She paused before the splashing fountain, determined to suppress her regrets of days gone by. After a few minutes she took a deep breath, forced a pleasant smile and walked into the administration building.

Following the signs to room 202, she tapped lightly on the open door and entered. The receptionist, who looked to be in her sixties, smiled and said pleasantly, “May I help you?”

“I want to see the vice chair of Woodston’s bicentennial commission. I understand this is his office.”

The secretary’s eyes expressed caution. “He might not have time to see you. May I have your name?”

Lorene’s smile remained, but her jaw tightened and her gray-green eyes flashed like summer lightning, and in a harsh, uncompromising voice that didn’t sound like her usual velvet tones, she said, “I’m Lorene Harvey of Tri-State Public Relations Agency in Pittsburgh. I’ve been in Woodston for two hours trying to find someone to talk to me about the historical celebration our firm is supposed to promote. Mr. Kincaid, chairman of the commission, isn’t available, and I was sent here.”

Lorene was aware that a door had opened behind her, but without turning she said, “If everybody in this town is too busy to talk to me, our firm is too busy to represent Woodston.” Turning toward the door, she added, “We’ll return the retainer Mr. Kincaid sent us.”

“I—I’m sorry,” the receptionist stammered. Her face flushed, and her eyes darted to a point over Lorene’s shoulder.

“I’ll talk to you, Lorene.”

The voice jolted Lorene out of her anger, and she whirled to stare at the man standing in the doorway of the adjoining office. She took a sharp breath and her pulse raced.

As if Lorene’s surprise appearance hadn’t dealt his vulnerability a near-fatal blow, Perry Saunders continued, “You’ll have to forgive Alma—she’s overprotective of me. Come in.” He motioned toward his office.

Lorene’s yearning eyes swept his beautifully proportioned body from the neatly shod feet to his extraordinary eyes, as dark as black onyx, to the thick silvery-gray hair that fell loosely over his forehead before it tapered neatly to the collar of his dark business suit. Stunned by this unexpected encounter, she was powerless to do anything except nod and move toward him. Tense fingers tightened on the handle of her briefcase as she walked on trembling legs into a comfortable room with high ceilings, long, heavily draped windows and modern oak office furnishings.

Perry closed the door and, thinking her legs might not support her much longer, Lorene dropped quickly to a couch at the left of the desk. She looked upward and slowly studied each feature of the face that, except in her dreams, she hadn’t seen for twenty years. Perry had a long, lean face, high cheekbones and a straight, prominent nose. Except for the gray hair, she couldn’t see that he’d aged at all. The last time she’d seen Perry, his hair had been jet-black.

“I’ve always wondered what you’d look like with gray hair,” she said evenly, proud of herself that the emotional shock of seeing him wasn’t evident in her voice.

Perry’s neat gray mustache framed a sensitive, well-shaped mouth that widened into a smile. Sitting beside Lorene, he took her hand, and his eyes hungrily scanned each of her features. Thick dark hair fell gracefully over shapely shoulders, and her eyes of gray and green shades glowed with wonder and surprise at meeting him again. Lorene was tall and well proportioned with a slender waist, no heavier than she’d been when she was twenty. She looked just as he remembered—generously curved lips, delicate bone structure, dainty nose and long black eyelashes that splayed over rosy skin. She wore black dress pants, a red blazer and black pumps rather than the jeans and sweatshirts she’d preferred when he’d known her.
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