Former bad boy turned cowboy Jeremy Hightree is back in town. And he wants to bulldoze an old broken-down church. Problem is, his old love Beth Bradshaw won't let him. She's got strong memories of that church--and of him--and won't let him destroy it. Then a storm sweeps through town, and Back Street Church is the perfect shelter for townspeople who've lost their homes. As Jeremy and Beth work together to rebuild their community, he realizes that God has led him back home for a reason. And that this cowboy's homecoming just might become permanent....
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May 31, 2011
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Excerpt from The Cowboy's Homecoming by Brenda Minton
People were never who or what you thought. That's a lesson Beth Bradshaw knew from experience and she had the scars to prove it.
She had even learned things about herself that took her by surprise. Like the fact that she could be strong. She didn't always have to do what pleased others. Sometimes she did what pleased her.
The fact that she was the person sitting on a horse in front of Back Street Church, determined to talk Jeremy Hightree out of his plans for the building was a big moment for her. It was a mountain climbed. It was a fear tackled.
Someone had to do it. So, shaking in her boots, remembering the last time she was here, she sat and contemplated the confrontation.
The horse beneath her shifted, restless from standing. She waved at flies buzzing the animal's neck and ears but her gaze remained on the run-down church in front of her. Things changed, that was part of life. She'd obviously changed since the years spent attending this little church with her mother.
Jeremy Hightree had changed. She knew he'd changed because only huge changes could bring him back to Dawson, Oklahoma, with the plans he had for this building.
The church had been untouched and neglected for too many years. The lawn had grown into a field of weeds. The exterior had faded from white to gray and the paint was chipped and flaking off. After one hundred years of service, the tiny church with the tall steeple had become a forgotten piece of the past.
So why should she care what Jeremy planned on doing to a forgotten piece of Dawson history? The question rolled through her mind as she dropped to the ground and led the chestnut gelding up the sidewalk, metal hooves clip-clopping on concrete. She looped the leather reins around the handrail and walked up the crumbling concrete steps to the porch. The door stood wide open but she didn't go in. She glanced around, looking for Jeremy, her heart hammering a chaotic rhythm, afraid she'd see him. Afraid she wouldn't.
But this wasn't about seeing Jeremy. Her heart did a funny skip forward, asking her to rethink that last thought. But she wouldn't. She couldn't. This had to be about the church, not schoolgirl emotions.
She took a hesitant step inside the church. It took her eyes a minute to adjust to the dim interior. Filtered light from the dirty stained-glass windows caught dust particles that floated in the air. A bird glided through the building and landed on the pulpit. Her great-grandfather had made that pulpit. The wood was hickory and the stain was natural and light. A cross had been carved into the front.
Her history in this town was tied to this church. And she had ignored it. She took a deep breath, breathing in dust and aging wood. For a minute she was eight years old again and unscarred, still smiling, still believing in fairy tales and happy endings.
Jeremy was still the little boy who pulled at the ribbons on her new dress and teased her about the freckles on her nose.
But she wasn't eight. She was twenty-eight. Her mother had been dead for eighteen years. And Jeremy wasn't a little boy. He was the man who planned on destroying this church.
Eighteen years of pain tangled inside, keeping her feet planted in the vestibule. The little room where they'd once hung their coats was now draped in spiders' webs, and mice ran from corner to corner. The old guestbook still rested on the shelf where it had been placed years ago. She flipped through the pages and stopped when she got to her name written in a child's penmanship. She remembered her mom standing behind her, smiling as Beth scrawled her name, proud that she'd learned to sign it in cursive.
Too many memories. She didn't need all of them, she just needed to know...