Garret Logan's dead fianceacute;e just walked into his pub. It's been seven years since Colleen died in a car accident, but he hasn't been able to break free of her memory. And now she's back with a new name, claiming not to remember him.... Jo Carroll has traveled to Tennessee looking for answers. She's lived a sheltered life since the accident that erased her memory, but now has to face that everything she knew may have been a lie. As the truth emerges, the feelings between her and Garret grow and she's drawn into his world. Before she can commit, however, she needs to know if he loves the woman she was...or the one she's become.
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August 11, 2008
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Excerpt from More Than a Memory by Roz Denny Fox
Jo Carroll taped up the last of her moving boxes and set it by the door. Only her mother's room remained for her to deal with. Jo had put it off until last. It didn't seem possible that a month had passed since Sharon Drake had been laid to rest next to Jo's dad, Joseph, in the cemetery not far from the apartment she and Jo had shared. Sharon's death had been as unexpected as the car-train accident that had claimed Joe Drake's life seven years earlier.
One morning Sharon woke up complaining of a bad headache. In the blink of an eye she'd collapsed--and was gone before the paramedics arrived. The doctors told Jo it was a brain aneurysm, and she tried to take comfort in the knowledge that her mother hadn't suffered.
Now Jo was on her own. She wasn't a child. At twenty-five she could take care of herself. Since her dad's death, an accident that Jo herself had been lucky to survive, her life had revolved around her career as a concert violinist.
Hesitating at the threshold of her mother's bedroom, Jo nervously brushed her palms down her denim jeans. Sharon had been an intensely private woman, and a controlling one. Jo had put off this task as long as she could, but she'd crunched the numbers and she knew that moving was an economic necessity. Her monthly stipend as lead violinist with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and the little she earned working odd shifts at a coffeehouse, wouldn't cover the rent on this two-bedroom unit in a renovated brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue.
Her mother had insisted they needed to live where they could rub elbows with symphony patrons who could help advance Jo's career. But Jo wondered how her mom had made ends meet.
Determined to be done with it, she opened an empty box and started sorting her mother's belongings. She set aside a cameo pin to save. Jo planned to donate the rest to a women's shelter. The lack of anything of real value drove home the sacrifices her mother had been willing to make for Jo's profession.
Guilt welled up as she folded a worn, blue crepe dress--the last piece of clothing in the closet. Now, a final check to make sure she'd gotten everything and she'd be ready to call in the movers.
Wait! What was that on the top shelf? Whatever it was had been stuck behind a winter bedspread. She had to stretch, but Jo managed to get down a wooden box. Not too heavy, but it was wedged in tight. Her dad's name was carved on the lid. Jo's hands shook. She had no memories of him. The box was cedar, she realized as she sank to her knees and opened the lid, releasing a pungent scent.
Inside she found books and papers. High-school yearbooks along with news clippings and gilt-edged certificates.
Jo felt momentarily disappointed. She'd been hoping for a will or an insurance policy. But this was strange. The yearbooks were from a high school in Tennessee. White Oak Valley High. Jo didn't know anyone in Tennessee.
As she inspected a couple of the awards, a knot formed in her stomach. The name Colleen Drake was stenciled on each. All were first- and second-place wins from the Smoky Mountain Music Festival.
Breathing became difficult as Jo sifted through two dozen yellowed newspaper articles. A girl pictured in one bore an uncanny resemblance to her own few childhood photographs, which she'd already packed. Here was this Colleen Drake again. A gifted violinist with the same last name as Joe's family.... Fumbling, Jo dropped the clippings. Out slithered a thin gold chain. Hanging from it was some kind of pendant--a gold oak leaf. The leaf was inscribed on the back, Jo saw as she turned it over. Ornate script read Forever Love. Under the words were entwined letters that could be a G and a C, or perhaps two Gs.
Jo curled her fingers around the pendant. All the items in the box were puzzling. Actually they were a little frightening, she thought, absently tracing a three-inch scar along her hairline. A throbbing pain grew after she opened one yearbook and paged through class photographs. She would've been a high-school sophomore that year. There was her smile on the face of a stranger named Colleen Drake. Cold prickles ran up Jo's spine. Her first inclination was to put everything back in the box and pretend she'd never found it.
Curiosity made her open the second book--her junior year. That picture of Colleen Drake resembled her uncannily. It could almost be her--except she never wore her hair pulled back away from her face the way it was in this photo. And Jo's birth name had been Drake, too, until she'd changed it for professional reasons.