Inspirational Romance, 235 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
After attaining wealth in Wichita, Kansas, Ann Crowley is drawn back to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas to find something that's missing, and finds a love that she thought was lost forever, as well as her childhood faith.
As she emerged from the trees and found herself once again in that hallowed place, she stopped abruptly as she saw-sitting in the spot that she had called her own-a young girl watching a doe feeding across the valley. The girl, unaware of her presence, gazed dreamily out over the valley, which was somewhat obscured by a low-lying fog. Two red-tailed hawks circled lazily above the trees, watching for unwary rodents that would become their breakfast. The older woman stood still, not wanting to intrude on the child's solitude. As her eyes wandered over the familiar scene, unexpected warmth flowed through her body. How this place could bring anything but sadness, she didn't know. Had she not longed to flee from this area as soon as she could? The poverty and hunger brought about by the Great Depression of the 1930s had made little difference here; poverty had always been a way of life in these hills as those who lived here tilled the thin stony soil trying to make a life from the stubborn grudging earth.
Her eyes returned to the young girl, who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen years old, sitting in the spot where she herself had spent many lonely hours. The girl swayed gently to music coming from a small radio sitting beside her. She recognized the popular new song: "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel. The pink silk sleeveless blouse she wore was tucked neatly into the waist of her designer jeans, and expensive-looking walking shoes adorned her feet. Her light brown hair was neatly trimmed mid-way down her back. Although the girl reminded Ann Crowley of herself at that age, this girl's attire was far different from that of the girl who had sat there years before.
For just a moment she thought about revealing her presence and becoming acquainted with the child, but decided to leave her to enjoy her solitude. However, as she turned to go, a rock dislodged by her heel tumbled down the path and bounced over the ledge next to the girl, startling her and causing her to turn around to see what had made the rock fall. As their eyes met, the older woman was surprised to see a striking resemblance to herself at that young age: deep brown eyes, dark eyebrows, high cheekbones and a petite turned-up nose. Maybe it was her imagination, or perhaps the forgetfulness that comes with age. At any rate, there was no longer the option of leaving without making her presence known, so she smiled a greeting.
"Hello child. My name is Ann Crowley; what's your name?"
For a moment the girl was too startled to speak, but soon found her voice.
"My...my name's Whisper Dawn Randall. I didn't hear you coming. Do you live around here?"
Ann hoped the little girl hadn't seen the startled look on her face at hearing the name, Whisper. "I live in Wichita, Kansas, but I used to live here. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Oh, that's okay. You used to live here?"
"Well, to be exact, right over there." Ann pointed to a small clearing on the hillside to the left. "My father built a small log cabin there, but it's gone now."
"Was that a long time ago?"
"Yes, it was during the Great Depression, although I never could figure out why they called it 'great'; it was anything but great!"