by Debbie Macomber
First Published: July 15, 2013
Format: e-Book, Audiobook
About the Book
Debbie Macomber’s heartwarming new series, set at the Rose Harbor Inn in picturesque Cedar Cove, displays the author’s signature talent for creating characters who feel like friends, and small towns that feel like home. In this original short story available exclusively as an eBook, Jo Marie Rose readies her inn for spring, turning to her new friends Grace and Olivia when she needs them most.
Jo Marie has big plans for her bed-and-breakfast. With the help of handyman Mark Taylor, she intends to plant a beautiful rose garden in time for her upcoming open house. Jo Marie and Mark rarely see eye to eye—especially on matters of home improvement—but she knows he has her best interests at heart. After the two walk the grounds, Jo Marie realizes that her beloved rescue dog, Rover, is missing, and at a time when she most needs a friend, Mark abruptly leaves. Confused by Mark’s behavior and worried for Rover’s safety, Jo Marie searches for her precious pup all over Cedar Cove. Rover is on an adventure of his own—one that will lead to a delightful surprise for two unlikely people.
Includes an excerpt from Rose Harbor in Bloom, the next novel in Debbie Macomber’s new series.
Jo Marie Rose had an advantage over most widows. Seeing that she’d lived a good portion of her adult life as a single woman, she was accustomed to taking care of herself. Still, there were times when she would have welcomed a man’s help. Welcomed a man. She missed Paul dreadfully, but she’d married him knowing he was a soldier and the risk that involved. Even now, knowing what she did, she would always be grateful to have been loved by Paul Rose.
Rose Harbor Inn had become her sanctuary, a safe harbor for her and for Rover, the stray dog she’d adopted. Although she’d owned the inn for only a few months, she had already compiled a long list of upgrades and changes she wished to make. Unfortunately, many of these improvements were above and beyond her limited capabilities.
That was where Mark Taylor came into the picture. He was a local handyman, and if she were to describe him, the first thing that readily came to mind was prickly. To say he was a man of few words was to say a mime talked too much. Usually he answered with one or two words, as if any question she were to ask irritated him. Mr. Personality he was not.
Jo Marie was willing to put up with his gruff ways because he did a good job, and at an acceptable price. The problem was that Mark had a habit of taking three times longer than necessary to finish a project. As he was keen to remind her, others had hired him, too. She wasn’t his only customer, and he’d finish in a reasonable amount of time. To be fair, he generally did. What Jo Marie needed, he often reminded her, was a bit more patience.
Recently, however, Jo Marie had discovered a secret that had Mark stopping by to work on her project a bit more routinely.
Mark loved cookies, and she baked a batch every other day or so for her guests. It’d taken her only a short while to recognize that Mark tended to show up for work on baking days.
This morning it was peanut-butter cookies, one of his favorites. Right on cue, her doorbell chimed. Ever at the ready, Rover immediately barked and raced to the door.
Sure enough, it was Mark. “I got your message,” he said, sounding none too pleased. He made it seem as if the voice mail she’d left him had upset his all-important schedule.
“What do you need this time?” he asked.
Rover stood on his hind legs and placed his front paws on Mark’s thigh, looking to be acknowledged. Mark grudgingly patted the mutt’s head and then, scowling, added. “Down.”
Rover immediately obeyed.
“I’d like to remove part of the lawn for a rose garden.” She wanted a gazebo built as well but didn’t want to overwhelm him with too much at once. “I mentioned the project earlier,” she reminded him.
Mark frowned. “I’ve got other projects right now.”
“I know,” she said, doing her best to remain patient and calm. She was forced to bite down on her tongue to keep from asking about the cradle he’d been working on for weeks. When she saw how lovely it was—and it truly was—he said he’d gotten it in his head to build it, although it wasn’t a commissioned piece and he didn’t know anyone in need of a cradle. Far be it from her to tear him away for a paying job.
Mark must have smelled the cookies, because he moved into the kitchen without waiting for an invitation.
“Coffee?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind a couple of those cookies.”
Before she handed over the goods, she wanted it understood she had a stipulation to go along with this project. “I have a deadline for the garden.”
Mark shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not good with deadlines.”
She ignored that, poured his coffee, and brought down a plate but didn’t hand over the cookies. “Peggy Beldon suggested I have an open house, and I was thinking it would be nice to have it in late spring.”
“I don’t know yet. End of May or so. Can you do it?”
Mark’s gaze focused on the peanut-butter cookies cooling on wire racks along the countertop. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”
“You’re sure about that?” He might not find planting a rose garden particularly significant, but she did. This garden would be a tribute to her husband, to Paul, and while it might not mean anything more than a job to Mark, it was important to her, and his cooperation in this would be greatly appreciated.
Mark scowled and shrugged.
Jo Marie set two cookies on the plate and brought it over to the table, where he’d plopped himself down. He’d eaten both by the time she returned with her own coffee and sat across from him. Rover curled up at her feet.
“When can you get started?” she asked, unwilling to be put off.
“Where do you want the rose garden?” he asked.
“I’d like to have my guests view it as soon as they pull into the driveway.” That made sense to Jo Marie.
“You’d better show me.”
“Okay, fine.” Reaching for a sweater, she led the way outside. The morning was dark and gloomy, the skies overcast with thick slate-gray clouds that threatened more than the customary March drizzle.
Standing on the top porch step, she pointed in the direction that seemed the best choice to her. The chill got to her, and she wrapped the sweater more tightly around herself.