Silver Creek Fire (Silver Creek #1) - Lindsay McKenna

Chapter One

May 15

Did she have the courage to move to Wyoming?

Leanna Ryan ran her dusty fingers down the column of a piece of driftwood sculpture she had just finished creating for a client. She lived in Brookings, a small seacoast town in Oregon, and collecting driftwood during a meditative morning walk along the nearby beach was something Lea looked forward to, with her mug of coffee in hand. It was how she started her day: calm, quiet, and contemplative.

The velvety smoothness of the wood soothed her fractious inner state. Wood was alive, warm to the touch of her cold fingertips. She slid them with knowing experience as she followed the curve of the sperm whale she had fashioned. The wood soothed her, as it always had. It was another form of escape, Lea admitted to herself, but it was her passion: woodworking in all its various forms, and it was the world she chose to live within. Her father, Paddy, an Irishman from the Galway Bay area, was a master carpenter, known for his handmade, one-of-a-kind furniture. He charged high prices and his clientele was more than eager to give him what he deserved.

He was seacoast Irish; his father—her grandfather, Connor—made his living as a trawler fisherman along the Oregon coast. Boutique grocery stores along the West Coast eagerly paid handsomely for his fresh catch. Paddy didn’t want to be a fisherman, furniture was his passion, just as it was hers. Only, Lea had decided after that traumatic afternoon as a thirteen-year-old, to devote her life to woodworking. She didn’t want to be a trawler fisherman, either. Paddy had often teased her that she had his woodworking genes, not the fishing ones. Her mother, Valerie, who was well known in North America for her art quilt creations, said Lea had not inherited any sewing genes, either, and they always laughed about that. Fabric didn’t draw her. But wood always had.

Her red brows dipped, her hand smoothing the long flank of the whale she’d created, its golden-brown sides gleaming in the midmorning sunlight as it poured through the wood shop window. Sunlight was rare in Brookings. It was a tiny seacoast village that was usually hidden beneath the gray, scudding clouds over the Pacific Ocean. There was always lots of rain, too. Lea loved the rain and the moodiness of the Pacific Ocean here along the coast. It suited her own emotional nature.

Was she really ready to leave the only safety she’d ever known? Go east to Wyoming? Every time she thought about it, her stomach clenched in fear. She was twenty-nine years old. What woman stayed with her parents until that age? Single. Not interested in romance. Focused solely on her career and enhancing her master carpenter skills and wood sculpture skills.

She was such a coward. Oh, no one accused her of being that, but inwardly, Lea knew that she was. And it shamed her in ways she couldn’t give words to. Any man who flirted with her, or asked her out, she said no to. Luckily, she had plenty of women friends and she was more than grateful for them being a part of the fabric of her life. Her friends were her lifeblood. Full stop.

“Well,” Paddy said, entering the wood shop, “looks like this will be the last sculpture you create here, colleen.”

Warming to her father’s Irish brogue, she turned, wiping her hands on her canvas apron she wore while working. Her goggles to protect her eyes were hanging around her neck. Lea smiled as her father wandered over to the table, his blue eyes twinkling as he halted opposite her. She saw him admiring her work and he looked very pleased with her efforts. “Looks like,” she agreed.

“This is already sold,” he said. “I’ll box it up for you and make sure it’s crated properly.”

“Thanks,” she murmured, loving the whale that she had created, rising in a breach, the tail in the water. Looking around, she whispered, “I’m really going to miss you and Mom . . . this place,” and she gestured around the large, clean shop that had many windows to allow in plenty of light.

“Well,” Paddy said gently, “it’s time, Lea. I’m glad you’re leaving to fulfill your dream.”

She nodded. “Who knew when I was thirteen years old, that I’d read My Friend Flicka and Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O’Hara, and want to live where she wrote those books.”

“As children, we dream without inhibition,” Paddy said, sitting down on a nearby stool, clasping