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Interview and excerpt - HIS FOREVER LOVE by Missy Tippens

Captain's Log, Stardate 06.10.2009

His Forever Love
by
Missy Tippens


In Magnolia, Georgia, local legend says that a couple who holds hands around the “forever” tree will have an unending love. Even so, Bill Wellington held Lindsay Jones’s hands around that tree years ago...and then left her behind. He chose the big city, and now he wants to bring his grandmother there. But to his amazement, he finds that Granny has a boyfriend—and a vibrant life. A life that includes Lindsay, Granny’s caregiver. Bill never thought he’d want to come home, yet Magnolia clearly has its charms. As does Lindsay, who makes him long for a second chance at forever love.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Time flew backward at warp speed for Bill Wellington when the name Lindsay Jones popped up on his cell phone.

Warm summer evenings studying on the front porch swing. Working together on projects.

Holding hands around The Forever Tree.

But then he hurtled back to the present as he realized there could be only one reason why she would call.

Granny.

He snapped opened his cell phone. "Lindsay, is Granny okay?"

"She's fine. Sorry to scare you."

He had programmed Lindsay's number into his phone when Granny hired her as a caregiver, so he'd assumed the worst. Relief nearly brought him to his knees. He waited for Lindsay to say more, but she remained silent. "Lindsay?"

"I'm sorry. I—" She sighed. "Your granny did take a fall, so I wanted to let you know. She has a mild concussion, and they're going to X-ray her wrist. But the doctor said she'll be fine."

Tension raced across his shoulders and ran up the back of his neck. "How did it happen?"

"She fell off the back porch early this morning while taking out the trash."

Poor Granny. "She's at the hospital now?"

"Yes. They'll probably keep her overnight for observation."

"I'll head down there as soon as I can get a flight."

"Oh, you don't need to do that. I'll stay with her. And Granny Bea didn't even want me to bother you."

She thought he'd be bothered? "No, I want to come check on her. Other than Drake, she's the only family I have."

She sighed again. "Do you need a ride from the airport?"

With all the sighs, it made him wonder what she thought of him. Or did she even think of him at all anymore? "No, thanks. I'll rent a car."

He closed his phone and clutched it in his palm. Lindsay Jones. Smart, beautiful, kind, funny. Since he'd avoided all the high school reunions, he hadn't seen her in nearly fifteen years.

A thrill at seeing her surged through him, then immediately plummeted. He hated the thought of heading home to Magnolia, Georgia, for more than a quick weekend. It would mean facing the townspeople he had escaped right after graduation.

It would mean facing Lindsay, as well. The woman he'd been crazy about from the age of ten, with whom he'd fallen in love in high school.

The woman he'd held hands with around The Forever Tree. And had thought he was destined to
marry.
#

Lindsay knew it was all her fault. She was doubting her abilities as a caregiver.

Granny Bea, her eighty-three-year-old employer, had suffered a concussion and a broken wrist. All because Lindsay had tried to do one more favor for her brother. Had tried to squeeze in one last errand.

Now Granny Bea lay in the hospital, her face contorted in pain. Probably wishing she'd never fired the previous certified caregiver.

And worse, Lindsay'd had to call…him….

Shame on me for thinking the call is worse. What's worse is Granny Bea's injury.

Lindsay tiptoed into the room. "Granny Bea?"

"Oh, Lindsay, dear, I hate that I went and messed up our workday. I guess I scared you to death."

"It's all my fault for being late."

"Oh, pish-posh. I was too lazy to go down the steps and leaned too far off the porch."

"How do you feel?"

"I've felt better." She gave a weak laugh. "My wrist hurts worse than anything."

Lindsay steeled herself to tell Granny Bea the good news. "Well, I have a surprise that will perk you up. Bill's coming to check on you."

Bill Wellington, a brilliant physics professor and researcher. Lindsay's former friend.

Granny Bea looked distressed. "Oh, Lindsay. He'll miss his classes."

"I had to let him know."

She pressed a palm to her forehead. "You're right, of course. It'll be wonderful to see him. Thank you, dear."

"Just doing my job." She smiled at Granny Bea as she adjusted the blanket.

Lindsay's best friend Donna Rae rushed into the hospital room. "Are you okay, Bea?"

"Oh, hi, Donna Rae. How'd you get word about my silly fall so fast?"

"Gertie down in the E.R. called Vinny's mom. And she called me. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. I wish you all would quit fussing over me."

Lindsay caught her friend's attention, then nodded toward the hallway. "We'll be back in a minute, Granny Bea."

Once outside the room, Lindsay said, "I contacted Bill. He'll be here ASAP."

Donna Rae's face lit up. "So God's at work."

"What?"

"Oh, never mind." With an impish grin, Donna Rae rubbed her hands together. "Maybe something good will come of the accident. Bill will come to town, and you two will finally be together."

"What on earth are you talking about?"

"The Forever Tree."

Lindsay groaned. The Forever Tree was a huge, old pecan tree that stood proudly in the park downtown. Donna Rae believed in the town legend that a couple that held hands around the tree would be together forever. Well, just because Donna Rae and her husband were blissfully happy didn' t mean it worked. After all, Lindsay held Bill's hands around it, and look how that turned out. "Forget the stupid legend. I'm worried about seeing Bill."

"When was the last time you two talked to each other?"

"We haven't. Not since he deserted me."

Donna Rae rolled her eyes. "He didn't desert you. He went off to college."

"And never once called. Never answered my letter. Never visited."

"And you haven't even talked since Bea hired you?"

"There's never been the need. Until now."

"Well, I'm excited. You're destined to be together."

Lindsay leaned back and thunked her head against the wall. Her friend was way off base. "We were never more than friends, but the thought of seeing him again scares me."

Donna Rae gave a deep, throaty laugh.

"Don't laugh at me. I'm nervous. And just you watch. I'll end up with a migraine before it's all over."

"It'll be fine. I'm sure he'll be glad to see you again."

Yeah, right. He'd missed her friendship so much that he'd ignored her for the last fifteen years. They'd been the best of friends. Or so she thought. But two days after graduation, he'd left town. Just disappeared without so much as a goodbye.
Apparently their friendship meant nothing to him. And that still hurt. She would have to steel herself for his arrival.
That evening, Lindsay watched Granny Bea try to grip a fork and scoop a bite of green beans into her mouth with her right wrist enclosed in a spanking-new cast. The cast was brilliant white except for Lindsay's and Donna Rae's signatures scrawled in a circular pattern around the wrist area like a pair of bracelets.

A couple of the beans fell down the front of Granny Bea's hospital gown.

"Here, I'll help you," Lindsay said.

"I might as well learn to do it on my own. I'll have the thing for weeks."

"I can help today. You're sore and tired."

Granny Bea harrumphed, but leaned back against her pillow, relenting. "I hate being laid up. What about the community center?"

"Mr. Kennedy and the others covered for us today. You'll be able to go back to work in a couple of days, looking like one of the kids." She smiled at the woman she took care of who was also her friend and coworker. "I know you'll impress Dylan."

"Yes. I'll have to tell him I fell out of a tree or something a bit exciting."

"Mr. Kennedy will sure want to fuss over you."

"Oh, don't even mention his name or you'll get my ire up."

"He's been crazy about you for two years. You should see him mope when you're not at the center."

Granny Bea shook her casted arm. "That man is too young for me. If he hovers, I'll bop him in the head with this thing."

"Granny Bea has a boyfriend," Lindsay sang.

"I may have to test it out on your head first."

Lindsay laughed, then scooped up a bite of beans, held it out to Granny Bea, and watched as she ate it.

A man cleared his throat in the doorway, then rapped on the door. "Granny?"

She'd know that voice anywhere. Had she really thought she could prepare for this moment?

She was afraid to turn around. Afraid of the hurt that might still show on her face even after so many years.

"Bill, honey, you're here!" Granny Bea called. "Come in."

Lindsay pasted a half-smile on her face, then swiveled around to see him.

Oh, my. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. She absolutely could not believe this was Bill Wellington. Tall, skinny, nerdy, bookworm Bill had been transformed during his years away.

Tall. Yes, he was still tall. But that's where the similarities ended. He had filled out. And had turned into an attractive man.

How could that have happened?

He hurried to his granny's side, then hugged her. "How are you feeling?" He was so careful, so concerned, that it gave Lindsay's heartstrings a big, ol' yank.

"I'm fine, son."

He looked up from Granny Bea and smiled in Lindsay's direction. "Hi, Lindsay."

After several seconds of staring at this near stranger, she realized she hadn't acknowledged his greeting. "Oh, hi. Good to see you again. Wow. You're all grown-up." Way to go, Lindsay. Stating the obvious.

"Yes, fifteen years have a way of doing that. But you look exactly the same. I would have recognized you anywhere."

And she couldn't have picked him out of a police lineup if her life depended on it. His dark brown, shaggy hair was now short and layered and looked as if it had lightened in the sun. His gaunt, pale face was now tanned, angular, masculine. And his beanpole body was now muscle-bound.

"Broken wrist, huh?" He touched Granny Bea's cast. Then he craned his neck, trying to read the signatures. Once he completed reading the circle of permanent marker, he smiled at Lindsay.

Her traitorous heart galloped underneath her rib cage. Stop it! I will not let my heart race over this man. This supposed friend.

"Lindsay, I appreciate you bringing her to the hospital. I'm sure you're worn out. I'll stay with her tonight."

She bristled. He'd marched in and was going to try to take over Granny Bea's care.

He's her grandson. He has every right to.

Still, it made her mad that he lived his life way up there in Boston and barely ever spent time with his granny.

"I can stay," she said. "I imagine you're tired from traveling."

"I dozed a little on the flight. Go on home. I'll call you if she needs anything."

"He's right, dear. You've been here all day."

What could she do? "Okay. I'll come back tomorrow morning with some fresh clothes for her."

"Thanks." He started to hold out a hand, as if he were going to shake her hand, but then the gesture ended up as a little wave. A somewhat dorky wave, more like the Bill she remembered.

She was comforted by the fact that he was still Bill. Yet that little wave reminded her of the friend she'd lost.



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And now, here’s me and Missy!

If the heroine were an ice cream dessert, what would she be and why?

Plain vanilla ice cream. She’s busy taking care of everyone else so doesn’t have time to deal with anything fussy.

When your heroine goes shoe shopping, what does she buy and why?

She works as a caregiver and at a community center working with kids, so something comfortable and practical. Maybe Clark’s clogs in the winter and comfortable sandals in the summer. And flip-flops for times when she’s off work. She wouldn’t bother spending much on herself. She’d worry more about making sure her nephews have new shoes!

If your hero were stranded on a desert island with a screaming baby, what would he do first?

LOL! Great question. He would be clueless and might panic for a moment. But he would quickly get his act together and figure out a solution—which might include trying somehow to contact my heroine for advice. And he might use his scientific brain to figure out a way off the island, and fast!

If an actor played your hero in a movie, who would it be and why?

When I did the art fact sheet, I sent photos of Justin Bateman because of his boy-next-door good looks.

What is your favorite type of donut? (Camy’s is glazed plain ones although she won’t turn down a custard filled one.)

I love apple fritters as long as they don’t have too much apple. :) And I also love croissant doughnuts. You know, fried and iced croissants—really healthy. :) Plus, I always heat them in the microwave for a few seconds. Yum!

Camy here: Double yum! Thanks for being here, Missy!

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