Secrets in the Sand - Carolyn Brown
In memory of
my sister, Patti…who loved happy endings!
I’m so thankful for the opportunity to bring this story up-to-date. Written more than twenty years ago, it was among the very first four books I was fortunate enough to get published. A lot has happened since 1998. Attitudes have changed. Cell phones and computers have become the new normal.
It’s been fun to look back and then look forward as I worked on Clancy and Angela’s story. I have a lot of folks to thank for their help in doing this job. Thanks to my agency, Folio Management, and to my agent, Erin Niumata, for everything they do. Thanks to Deb Werksman for working with me on this new edition, and to all my readers for their support and love through the past twenty-two years and through more than a hundred books. And thanks to my husband, Mr. B, who is my biggest supporter! All of you deserve a standing ovation.
As I finished rewriting the story—with Clancy and Angela sitting on my desk and telling me how they felt—it was like leaving old friends behind. I hope you feel the same way when you read the last chapter.
Until next time,
Clancy Morgan didn’t plan to go to the Tishomingo Alumni Reunion but changed his mind at the last minute. The banquet part of the evening was almost over when he arrived, so he stood in the back and scanned the room from the shadows. Evidently, one of his classmates from ten years before had done the same thing, because a woman stood over behind a huge fake tree just inside the double doors leading into the ballroom. Clancy’s dark brows drew down until they were almost a solid line above his chocolate-brown eyes. Something about her silhouette looked familiar, but it had been a while since he’d seen most of his former classmates, and he couldn’t make out her face in the dim lighting. Perhaps she hadn’t been a member of his graduating class, but was someone’s wife, or else their plus one.
A vision popped into his mind of a girl who used to stand like that with one hand on her hip. He shook the memory out of his mind. Angela wouldn’t show up to a noisy ten-year high school class reunion, not as shy as she had been.
“And now, please welcome Martha Simpson, the valedictorian of the class of 1953, and the woman who keeps this alumni association going,” intoned the master of ceremonies from the podium. “Isn’t she wonderful?”
The crowd applauded as a frail, elderly woman made her way to the front. Clancy sneaked in and sat down at the first table with an available empty chair.
“Martha Simpson is probably the only living member of that class,” Laura Sides Walls whispered to him.
Clancy smiled and applauded dutifully with the rest of the alumni. When he looked back to see if the mystery woman was still standing in the shadows, she was gone. Nothing was there but the doors swinging to and fro, as if she had seen enough and left. Clancy wished he had gone over just in case she had been Angela.
“Damn,” he mumbled under his breath. “Now she’s gone, and I’ll probably never see her again.”
Martha leaned in close to the microphone and held up her palm for them to stop the applause. “Thank you all, but really, I’m just good at delegating, and I managed to live to be eighty-five. I always told that Emily Jacobs that I’d be famous someday.”
Everyone laughed and clapped even harder.
“Welcome to the Tishomingo Alumni Banquet and Reunion,” Martha went on, “a place where we’re all seventeen or eighteen. Ever realize that when we come to these affairs, we’re all seniors in high school again? Too damn bad that we don’t look like we did then.”
Clancy laughed with everyone else, but he couldn’t get Angela Conrad off his mind.
Angel was aware that he had spotted her. She had felt the questions in his soft brown eyes, but she wasn’t ready to face him. Before the evening was over, he would know who she was if she had to sit in his lap and tell him herself. But for now, she had to get ready. The sound equipment was in place, the microphones set up, the amps ready to bring the house down, and the rest of her band members were in the bus.
Angel slung open the door, stomped up the steps, and slumped down on the short sofa on the far