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Tender Love

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Tender Love
Irene Brand

MOTHERLY MIRACLESChildless, widowed and at loose ends, Alice Larkin prayed only to be of service. And if ever a family needed her help, it was handsome, tormented ex-minister Mark Tanner and his two motherless children….Alice agreed to be their live-in nanny for a time, hoping to perform some motherly miracles, then move on. She'd turn their untidy house into a home. Make two lonely kids healthy and happier. Alice never expected to lose her heart to the blue-eyed pastor and his little flock. Yet soon this temporary "mom" longed for a miracle of her own: to restore Mark's troubled soul to the Lord…and to love.

“Give it time, Mark.

“You’ll soon have your life back in order,” Alice said in reassurance.

She laid a hand on his arm, and he covered it with his.

She was standing closer to Mark than she should be, Alice realized, and she tried to remove her hand and move away. But Mark held her with a firm grip.

“For the first time in months,” he said softly, “I actually believe that. When you came to us, I felt as if a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I can’t understand it. You walk into our house, and suddenly I’m confident that all my troubles are over. Why is that, Alice?”

“I don’t know, Mark,” she whispered. “But I’m glad it’s so. Because it feels right for me to be here….”

IRENE BRAND

This prolific and popular author of both contemporary and historical inspirational fiction is a native of West Virginia, where she has lived all her life. She began 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 full-time to her writing.

In 1984, after she had enjoyed a long career of publishing articles and devotional materials, her first novel was published by Thomas Nelson. Since that time, Irene has published twenty-one contemporary and historical novels and three nonfiction titles with publishers such as Zondervan, Fleming Revell and Barbour Books.

Her extensive travels with her husband, Rod, to forty-nine of the United States and thirty-two foreign countries, have inspired much of her writing. Through her writing, Irene believes she has been helpful to others, and she is grateful to the many readers who have written to say that her truly inspiring stories and compelling portrayals of characters of strong faith have made a positive impression on their lives. You can write to her at P.O. Box 2770, Southside, WV 25187.

Tender Love

Irene Brand

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

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me….

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

—Psalms 139:1, 7

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

Epilogue

Letter to Reader (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter One

The Tanner home stood in sharp contrast to the other dwellings along the suburban Richmond street. Other lawns were neat and the houses in good repair, but the wooden trim and the front door at the Tanners’ needed a paint job. Draperies at the picture window sagged haphazardly. The shrubbery obviously hadn’t been trimmed last season. Blooming red and white geraniums peeked forlornly over the weeds that had taken over the brick planter along the curving sidewalk.

Alice Larkin drove by the two-story brick house three times before she had the nerve to stop. Betty was right, Alice thought. This family does need help. It was amazing that a short visit to her friend in Richmond would offer an unexpected opportunity to be of service.

Alice questioned just how far she should go to help out a family in need. For a moment she was tempted to drive on, return to her well-ordered life and forget she’d ever heard about Mark Tanner and his family. Instead, she turned her van into the driveway and breathed a prayer before she turned off the ignition.

“God, I’ve never felt Your leading so strongly in any phase of my life. If it’s Your will that brought me to this point, I pray for direction because I don’t have any idea what I’m facing.”

Her friend, Betty St. Claire, director of a local nanny agency, had set up the interview for Saturday morning when all of the Tanners would be at home. When she rang the doorbell, Alice wondered which family member would answer her ring. The door was opened by a slender girl, dressed in a blue sweat outfit. The girl’s dark hair accentuated her pale skin and blue eyes.

Eight-year-old Kristin. Betty had described her as a shy, soft-spoken girl.

Kristin observed Alice with anxious eyes.

“I’m Alice Larkin. I have an appointment to see Mr. Tanner.”

The girl unlatched the storm door. “Come in,” she said softly. “He’s waiting for you.”

Kristin beckoned to Alice, and she followed the girl down a short hallway until she paused at an open door.

“The lady’s here, Daddy.”

Alice walked into the untidy office just as a man, dressed casually in jeans and a blue sweater, rose from behind a littered desk and came toward her with outstretched hand. Kristin turned quickly and entered a room adjacent to the office.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Larkin, that I wasn’t at the door to meet you,” he said and pressed her hand with a firm grip. He motioned toward the desk. “I’ve been doing book work this morning and time got away from me. I’m Mark Tanner. Please have a seat.”

Alice sat down, gladly. Betty’s brief physical description hadn’t prepared her for Mark Tanner. Betty had said he was a forty-year-old widower, but she hadn’t said that he had thick, wavy hair as black as a crow’s feathers, neatly trimmed to his nape. Nor had she mentioned that his eyes were as blue as a cloudless cerulean sky on a crisp October afternoon. Gray streaks of hair glistened above his ears, and his smooth, fair skin was marred only by a deep dimple on his right cheek. The only flaw Alice found in Mark’s appearance was that he was much too thin for such a tall man.

“Did Betty explain our family situation?” Mark asked in a deep and pleasant voice.

“Just the basics—she didn’t give me many details,” Alice said somewhat breathlessly, wishing for a few moments to recover from the shattering blow her heart had suffered. What was there about this man that affected her so strongly? If she came to work here, she couldn’t have her emotions stirred this way.

“My wife, Clarice, died six months ago, leaving me with two children. You met Kristin just now, and Eddie, my five-year-old, is a sickly child. I need someone to care for them while I work. I’ve tried two daytime nannies, but it hasn’t been satisfactory. I’m sometimes late getting home, and often the nanny would be gone several hours, leaving the children without any supervision. Although we’re crowded for space, I asked Betty to recommend a live-in nanny.”

“Don’t you have an older woman living here?”

“Yes—my wife’s grandmother, Gran Watson. Clarice was her nearest relative, and she came to live with us three years ago after she had a stroke that partially paralyzed her. The children need more supervision than she’s able to provide.”

While Mark gave a few more details about his family, Alice recalled what Betty had said about his affairs.

“Mark Tanner,” Betty had said, “has had enough trouble to ruin any man. His son was born with a congenital heart defect, that required a series of expensive operations. Over two years ago, his wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and she died in December after a downhill battle all the way. He’s a brilliant man and served as pastor of our church for ten years, but he resigned about a year ago because he couldn’t fulfill his obligations to the church while he looked after his children and nursed his wife. He’d built up a good retirement fund in our church organization, and when he resigned, he withdrew the capital to take care of his living expenses. By the time Clarice died, he was on the verge of financial ruin—he still owed on his son’s medical bills, Clarice’s health needs had been expensive, and when he tried to pay those bills, his other obligations fell behind. After her death, he went to work in a bank, and so far he’s kept his home, but I’ve heard he may lose it. You might be his last hope.”

“That’s preposterous. I’m not a magician. How could I make such a difference?”

“You can take care of his children and make a home for him. If he doesn’t have to worry about the daily care of his children, he can devote more time to his work.”

No wonder he looks tired, Alice thought, but she wished that Betty hadn’t placed such a guilt trip on her. If she didn’t come to work for him, and Mark lost his long fight to remain solvent, would she always blame herself? But her reaction to Mark’s magnetic personality was an immediate red flag, for she was sure a good nanny shouldn’t be personally involved with any member of the household.

“Perhaps you should tell me about yourself, Mrs. Larkin,” Mark said, with a smile that caused her heart to move in a way she hadn’t experienced before. “Where is your home? Do you live in Richmond?”
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