Friday, October 01, 2010

Love Remains

Love Remains—Book 1 of The Matchmakers Series

by Kaye Dacus

Can the historian learn to leave the past in the past?

Zarah Mitchell, who's worked at the Middle Tennessee Historic Preservation Commission for more than a decade, is about to face a piece of history that could ruin the life she's built in Nashville: Bobby Patterson—her first love and the reason her father kicked her out fourteen years ago.

Nashville native Bobby Patterson has just returned home after many years away to take a position with the Tennessee Criminal Investigations Unit. His new job: lead a task force investigating potential real estate fraud connected with the Commission.

When Bobby realizes Zarah is part of his investigation, he is tempted to use his grandmother's not-so-subtle setup as a way to learn if Zarah is involved in the fraud.

Zarah, at her grandmother's suggestion, tries to put the pain from the past aside to see if any love remains between her and Bobby. But when she learns he's been investigating her, will she be able to forgive him a second time?

Excerpt from Chapter One

The sharks were circling.

Bobby Patterson had been at the party a total of three minutes. But half that time was all it took for the smell of fresh blood to circulate amongst the single women.

He shook hands, smiled, greeted, laughed, introduced himself, and promptly forgot the names of the couple of dozen women who continued to circle around. . .as if there weren't a couple of dozen other guys out on the back deck supervising the few men in charge of the grills.

"Diesel Patterson!" The masculine voice boomed through the room, and Bobby started to relax.

"Mack Truck Macdonald." He accepted Patrick Macdonald's hand for a vigorous handshake, which turned into a back-slapping hybrid embrace. A bro-hug, they called it back in California. Here in Nashville, Tennessee, he wasn't so sure. Having been gone for sixteen years, he had a lot to re-learn about his hometown.

"I can't believe you actually came back, man. When you left the day after graduation, I thought you had shook the dust of this place off your feet for good." Patrick led him through the large gathering room out to the expansive deck attached to the back of the house.

"I thought it was for good, too. But, you know, once your parents and grandparents get to a certain age, it's nice to be nearby." The edge of annoyance caused by the excessive female attention began to dissipate when Bobby was once again surrounded by men.

"Hey, y'all," Patrick raised his voice to get the attention of the majority of the guys standing around drinking sodas from red plastic cups and cans. "This is Bobby Patterson, my high school football buddy I was telling you about. He's just moved back to Nashville and will be looking for a church home, so let's make him welcome."

After Bobby met a few of the guys, Patrick cuffed his shoulder. "I'll leave you to it, then. I've got to go back in and help in the kitchen."

"Thanks, Mack." Peripheral sightings informed him the women had grown tired of the segregation and were infiltrating the formerly all-male encampment outside.

One of the men standing near Bobby nudged the guy beside him. "Hey, pressure's off us. New meat." He jerked his head toward Bobby but grinned at him. "The gals in this group are great. . .once they get used to a guy. But don't worry. We'll try to protect you as best we can."

Bobby returned the guy's smile—he'd identified himself as Steve—and stifled his frustration. One of the reasons he'd left California was that the undercover work he did for the California Bureau of Investigation made it impossible to become an active member in a church, to be a part of a community, to meet someone.

Yeah, that last one was laughable. Ever since leaving New Mexico fourteen years ago, the possibility of meeting someone he'd want to spend the rest of his life with had been pretty much nil.

Wanting to keep from being the focus of conversation, his gaze came to rest on the orange baseball cap of the slender twentysomething across from him. "How're the Vols looking for this year?"

It turned out to be the perfect diversion. The entire group surrounding him jumped into the conversation about college football—and warded off all but a few of the hardiest women—until the grillers announced the meat was finished and carried the pungent platters, piled high with hot dogs and hamburger patties, through the crowd and back into the house.

Bobby's new acquaintances ushered him inside. He turned to Steve—only to find the shorter guy had been replaced by one of the generic-looking females he'd met on his way in. She smiled up at him expectantly.


Her expectation fell into disappointment. "Past the kitchen and to the left."

"Thanks." His hands had been touched by so many people tonight that he wasn't about to use them to touch food that was destined for his mouth until he had washed them.

He rounded the corner and headed down the hall between the kitchen and dining room.

Someone zipped out of the kitchen, mitt-covered arms laden with an aluminum pan so full it sagged in the middle.

Both of them stopped short—and Bobby jumped back as a wave of baked beans sloshed over the side of the pan.

"I am so sorry!"

Bobby, who'd reached out to steady the woman, froze at the familiar voice. He dragged his eyes up from the mess on the floor to the face that had haunted him for fourteen years.


* * *

The horror at almost spilling an entire pan of baked beans on someone dissipated into frigid shock upon discovering the near-victim of her clumsiness was the one person she'd never expected to see again. Zarah Mitchell tried to regain balance, both with the pan of beans and with her own emotional equilibrium.

"I'm so sorry," she repeated, not knowing what else to say. She'd always run the risk that she might one day see him again—she'd known that when she moved to Nashville fourteen years ago. But why here? Why now?


Whoa! What's the idea?" Patrick's voice came from behind and above her. "Oh, good. I was hoping to introduce the two of you."

Zarah couldn't tear her eyes away from the vision in front of her—terrified he was real and terrified he was a figment of her imagination—until he reached out to take the pan from her.

"No introductions necessary, Mack. Zarah and I met each other a very long time ago." Giving her a tight smile, Bobby turned and carried the pan to the dining room. Zarah's chest tightened.

Bobby Patterson. Her first love. The man she compared all others to. The reason her father kicked her out of the house the day she turned eighteen.

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