Hardworking, successful lawyer Nora Ramsey, was at the height of her career. Now, she's questioning everything in Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina.
When she accepts her aunt's dilapidated estate as her inheritance, Nora is plagued with misgivings and doubt. When one of her newly inherited horses takes ill, she prays for guidance and receives it in the form of veterinarian Shaw Flynn.
Dedicated and rugged, he assists Nora through the trying time. In Shaw, she sees someone gentle, caring and deeply devoted to God. The more she’s with him, the more he inspires her to embrace her own faith. And as their relationship blossoms into a something real and beautiful—like the coastal sunsets of Murrell’s Inlet—Nora stumbles upon Shaw’s deepest secret. Her trust is destroyed and the wisdom of her life-changing decision shaken as the future she envisioned is threatened.
As the truth becomes clear, can she find forgiveness within the sanctuary of her heart or will his betrayal destroy her faith in him once and for all?
Nora processed the stack of mail. One thick legal-sized envelope grabbed her attention. The return address was a law firm in South Carolina. A closer look revealed that the law firm was in Myrtle Beach. She shrugged and slid her finger under the envelope flap, pulled out the contents. She scanned the professionally prepared letter, frowned and read it again. She gasped and reached for her phone.
A few rings later, her sister Patty answered. “Hey sis, long time no …”
“Aunt Edie died?” she demanded.
“Uhhh, hello to you too,” she said pointedly.
Nora huffed, taking care of social niceties so she could get to the real information she wanted. “Yes, hello Patty, hope you’re well, did you have a nice day? And oh, by the way, did Aunt Edie die?”
“Yes,” her sister said, wisely getting to the point. “Like a month ago.”
“Holy smokes! Why am I just finding out about it now?”
“I don’t know. When was the last time you spoke to Aunt Edie?”
“Well … never. But just because we didn’t have a personal relationship doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to be filled in on family news, such as my favorite aunt from childhood dying.”
“Okay, sorry. Aunt Edie died from prolonged effects of the stroke she had about six months ago. You knew about that?”
“She was hospitalized after her stroke, eventually moving to a long-term care facility, and never really recovered. It was really more of a blessing than a sorrow that she passed on to be with the Lord.”
This news induced a wave of sadness over her. Aunt Edie, all alone, self-sufficient for the long years of her adulthood, suddenly unable to take care of herself. “Who took care of her?”
“You mean, who got her the care she needed?”
Nora shook her head, overwhelmed at all the details that had needed to be taken care of, the decisions that were made. Who helped her after her stroke? Who selected the place where they nursed her? Who visited her in her final months? Days? “Yeah.”
“She had good friends there in Murrells Inlet. She was a huge part of the community. She had church friends, neighbors. She was taken care of.”
“Wow,” she breathed. The reality and permanence of Aunt Edie’s situation permeated her mind. She would be Aunt Edie in a few decades. Alone, nobody checking on her. Except instead of being in a quaint beach town where neighbors watched out for each other, Nora would be in a pricey Philadelphia high-rise with a doorman and security doors where nobody knew their neighbors. When it came her time, would anyone even realize she was gone?
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, sis. I figured Mom would.”
Nora shrugged and said, “Yeah.” Mom probably would, if she’d done a better job of calling her regularly. Nora cringed when she thought of how many voicemails she’d received from Mom in the last month that she never returned. Or returned, but gave her a five minute time limit. Maybe Mom was meaning to tell her about Aunt Edie and Nora just hadn’t made enough of an effort. But with her long days and exhausting schedule, the last thing she wanted to do was sit with a phone plugged to her ear for an hour listening, or pretending to listen, to all the details of her mother’s retired life.
She squeezed her eyes shut and said a quick prayer of apology to God for that awful thought. She was lucky to still have a mother. She’d make an effort to stay in closer touch.
“So did you get your inheritance?” Patty asked.
“I assumed that’s why you’re calling. You got the inheritance letter from Aunt Edie’s lawyer?”
“Oh.” Nora shuffled through the small stack of papers. She hadn’t even gotten past the cover page where she’d learned of Aunt Edie’s death. Yes, the next few were the will. The lawyer had included the general wording, then had gone straight to the punch with what Aunt Edie had left her.
“Oh, my gosh.”
“What? What did she leave you?”
Nora stared, her mouth dropped open. The generosity of the inheritance astounded her. “What … what did she leave you?”
“She left us money to put into a college savings account for the girls.”
“Oh, how nice,” Nora said slightly, still staring at the page.
“Yes, it sure was. I mean, Joe and I had of course started saving for the girls’ college. But Aunt Edie’s gift will go a long way towards their expenses. And if there’s any money left over, we can give them each a gift of funds to start their adult lives with.”
“Yeah,” Nora said.
A quiet moment passed while she fully absorbed what her aunt was leaving her.
“So what did you get?”
Nora took a breath. “You’re not going to believe this, Patty.”
“Aunt Edie left me all her property. Ten acres, a barn and the house in Murrells Inlet. Everything – furniture, farm equipment.”
“That’s … extremely generous.”
A guilty wave came over her. Why would Aunt Edie leave her such a generous inheritance when she hadn’t even stayed in touch with the woman over the last few decades? When was the last time she’d seen Edie? Spoken to her? “I’m having trouble understanding why she’d leave this to me.”
“Aunt Edie loved you. And me. Both of us. She never had kids so we were like her children.”
“Yes, I remember going to this place every summer as kids.”
“Lots of sentimental value for the both of us.”
“But … why me?”
“I guess Aunt Edie wanted to help take care of my girls. And since you don’t have kids, and she knew you loved visiting there, that gift was more appropriate for you.”
Nora hesitated, not exactly sure how to put her concerns into words. Until she just came out with it. “Are you mad that she left the property to me?”
“Not at all,” Patty insisted. “No. Her gifts were well thought out. I live in the Midwest. I have kids to raise. What would I do with a beach front farm property?”
Nora nodded. So, no hard feelings there. That was a relief. “Wait. I’m a partner in a law firm in Philadelphia. What am I going to do with a beach front farm property?”
About the Author
Award-winning author Laurie Larsen leads a double life. During the day she's a respected Project Manager in the fast-paced world of Information Technology. After dinner and a glass of wine, she becomes a multi-published author of Christian fiction grounded in today's modern world.
Laurie's been published for 17 years, but feels she finally found her writing "niche" in 2009 when her first inspirational romance, Preacher Man was published. It won fans, accolades, and the prestigious EPIC Award for the Best Spiritual Romance of 2010. From then on, her path was clear. She was put on this earth (in part) to tell love stories combined with a strong message of faith. Her Pawleys Island Paradise series is a much beloved, at times best-selling series of six books following Leslie and Hank, and the Harrison clan, as they face the daily challenges of life while trying to include prayer and praise. Reviewers say the books are heartwarming, life-changing and an example to follow for including God in your life.
Laurie loves the beach (obvious to anyone who's read the Pawleys Island Paradise series) and she's fondly looking forward to a day (not too far away) where she can retire from the demanding day job, and spend her days living at the beach and writing novels. Until then, she travels back and forth between Illinois and South Carolina just as often as possible.