Return to Virgin River (Virgin River #19) - Robyn Carr Page 0,1


Kaylee was pitched into a well of despair. During the six months of Meredith’s treatment and the six months of grieving that followed her mother’s death, Kaylee hadn’t written a word. She was moderately well-known as an author of suspense novels. She wasn’t rich and famous, but she was known among writers, librarians and reader groups. She managed to earn a respectable living, and she had worked very hard to get to that point. Her publisher, so understanding and supportive, had granted her several extensions on her deadline and offered to help in any way she needed. She knew, however, that their patience would eventually come to an end and they would not be able to schedule her next book until she actually delivered a manuscript. At this point in her career, to not publish a book for a couple of years could have a very negative impact. Thus the need for a change of scenery and her determination to get back to work. She knew it was what her mother would want. Meredith had been her biggest fan and her most ardent supporter whether she was trying to get a book published or dating a new guy. She had always been there, always on her team.

Kaylee wondered if she’d ever recover from the loss. She hoped six months in the mountains would signal a new beginning, but she hadn’t been sure what to do about her mother’s house, now her house. Her friend Lucy Roark offered a solution. Lucy worked for a vacation rental management company. Kaylee met her for a drink and Lucy casually asked, “Have you thought about renting your house for a few months? It would make a fantastic short-term rental. I could manage it for you. In fact, we have a network that spans the continents, in case you’d like to go away for a few months.”

“And how is that done?” Kaylee had asked. “Do I just lock it up and leave?”

“Our owners usually pack up their personal items. People are always looking for furnished rentals in Newport Beach.”

It didn’t take her long to accept the Templetons’ offer to rent their mountain home, and she had to insist they take the rent money. They were inclined to let her have it because they loved her. Then Lucy hired a crew to pack up and store Kaylee’s items. That alone served many purposes. The thought of a hideaway in the mountains was encouraging and it helped her accomplish the overwhelming task of finally going through her mother’s things, giving away what she didn’t want to keep. The house was beautiful—Meredith had been an interior designer—and with a deep cleaning and some fresh paint and polish, it was show ready. A couple well-known to Lucy’s firm was excited to rent the house for six months as they had grandchildren nearby. Kaylee was happy to let them have it through the Christmas holidays. She could barely stand to think about Christmas. Without her mother, the holidays would be unbearable.

Kaylee was about eight the first time she and Meredith spent several weeks at the mountain house with the Templetons. She thought of Bonnie and Gerald as family, and their kids were like cousins to her. Over the next twenty-six years, Kaylee had visited a few more times. The nearby town was small with hardly any services available. The last time she was there, ten years ago, there was a bar and grill fashioned out of a cabin—that had been a welcome discovery. The place would have no distractions for her and she found herself looking forward to the rest of the summer and fall.

Now Kaylee prayed she could set things right, eke a life out of this tragedy, carry on as Meredith would want her to. The idea had seemed impossible. But as she drove up into the mountains past Fortuna and the trees overwhelmed her, she began to feel hopeful for the first time in a long time. The place was filled with lovely memories that were coming back to her. She had been visualizing the cabin filled with old china, colorful quilts and solid hardwood floors covered with plush area rugs and knew it was the perfect escape. She remembered laughter and good food and long walks. She had fished in the river with Gerald and a couple of the Templeton kids.

She followed the directions as her GPS chirped them out. The road was narrow and shrouded by large trees. Every now and then she’d pass a