A tender love story. Back to Bittergreen proudly received the 1998 ORWA Jo Beverley First Book Award
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Fifteen years ago, Meaghan Eastman lost everything. Her fiance, just weeks before their wedding, the grandfather who raised her... and finally her dream of Equestrian Olympic gold. Now Brian Steadman, her estranged fiancé and heir to the once world-renowned Bittergreen Stables she calls home, is back. After a self-imposed exile in England, he has returned to Bittergreen with his daughter... expecting to find the splendid Nova Scotia estate as he left it. But Bittergreen is in decline, Brian’s grandfather is dying and Meaghan has never forgiven his departure. Together they must let go of the might-have-beens of the past to discover a future together and to reclaim the path of their young hearts. In an intimate story about healing, friendship, love and forgiveness, Brian and Meaghan rebuild their dreams—as they restore Bittergreen Stables to its former glory.
The colourful Christmas lights around the verandah were turned off at precisely eleven-thirty-two p.m.. She noticed because she hadn’t stopped staring up at the house since coming in from the barn. A long soak in the tub did very little to calm her nerves. She sat in front of a blazing fire, the only light being that from the flames. The gentle popping and quiet hissing of the crackling logs usually soothed her after a hard day. Not tonight. Since seeing Brian, nothing seemed the same.
Tonight, her little cottage, her peaceful sanctuary, seemed like a fortress; an inescapable prison keeping her confined with taunting questions. She wondered who turned off the lights? Mr. Steadman? No, he’d have gone to bed long ago. Brian? Probably. He, she imagined, would be tired from the trip. He probably lounged on the sofa in the parlor, in front of a blazing fire, just like her. Only he wasn’t alone. She tortured herself a bit more, imagining Brian curled up with his wife, listening to Christmas carols while his kids were upstairs asleep. Would they make love tonight in the bed she’d prepared just this morning with fresh percale sheets?
She angrily pushed herself out of the rocker and stood in front of the window. The light in the bedroom upstairs wasn’t on. The house lay silhouetted in darkness. The only sign of life was the billowing smoke from the chimney.
“Why did you come here!” she snapped out loud, looking towards the house. Her voice startled Basil who slept in front of the fireplace. He sauntered over to the window and brushed against her leg. His tail wagged affectionately.
“Why can’t men be like dogs. Huh?” She left the window and returned to her spot beside the hearth. Basil followed consolingly. She ran her fingers through his silky black and white coat as he looked up at her with loving eyes. “Dogs don’t abandon their loved ones then return to gloat years later. Why can’t men be like that?” She gently raised the dog’s chin, his black eyes sympathetically focused on hers. “You wouldn’t leave and break my heart, would you.”
He pulled away and headed for his bed in the spare room.
“Thanks a lot pal!” she chuckled. “Just wait until you need affection!” She tossed three huge logs on the fire, secured the glass fire doors, then padded off to her bedroom. Even though she was exhausted she knew she’d have to mellow a bit before putting her head on the pillow.