Return to Steep Rock Cove
In this sequel to The Redemption of Steep Rock Cove, Morgan Thomas returns to her childhood cottage close to Steep Rock Cove so that she can work for her high-spirited Aunt Jessica as a writer for a special women’s group. When Morgan meets Anthony by accident, she is thrown into conflict when she discovers he does not share the same faith as she does. Then her parents show up and decide to live with her in the cottage, and soon she discovers that her mother does not see eye-to-eye on the articles she is writing.
In this second novel, familiar characters are re-introduced and their story continues from the first, adding to the warmth, charm and unpredictable nature of living by a large lake known for its storms. Join Morgan as she returns to the place of her childhood, and discovers a place she can soon call home.
Chapter 1 - The Journey
Morgan Thomas had no idea where she was. The scenery was pretty enough with rich green farmland ready to be harvested and interspersed with thick bushes of lush deciduous and evergreen trees. Some of the leaves were turning golden. But without her GPS working properly, it all looked the same, and there were no distinguishing landmarks or even signs to indicate she was heading down the right highway. Still, she was grateful for her older black mini SUV. So far, it was proving to be reliable and had taken her from Calgary, Alberta earlier that morning, west to Manitoba where she would soon begin her new job. Once she reached Winnipeg, she knew she was supposed to turn north and drive for about another hour. However, there were too many highways going north, and she wasn’t sure which one would take her to Willow Beach, along the shores of Lake Winnipeg. She had been to Willow Beach, an artsy resort town of about 1,000 permanent people, only a few times before when she was just a small child. She had gone with her parents to their beloved cottage in the heart of cottage country. She barely remembered what the area looked like, except what she had seen in pictures of her and her older brother Finn building a sand castle on the beach. Other than hiring someone to cut the grass, no one had been to the cottage, so she had no idea what state the place would be in when she got there. She only knew that she could live there rent-free, and then commute the short eight or so miles to Steep Rock Cove to her new job.
Morgan didn’t like the look of the dark navy clouds moving in fast from the west. In the blink of an eye it started to rain so hard, she had to slow down abruptly, pull over and stop the car. When the rain began to subside, she continued in the same direction. About ten minutes later, she saw an aged looking unpainted roadside store with a weathered sign attached, which read Pelican Corner, and it had an old-fashioned gas pump out front. She quickly made a left turn, parked in front, and then went inside the store to ask for directions. There were several rows of canned goods and other necessities neatly arranged on six foot shelves. The front counter was old-fashioned and wooden, and looked like it had been scrubbed clean. An older native man stood behind it, ringing up an order of a few things for a young and pretty native woman.
“Can I help you?” He seemed friendly enough.
“I seem to be lost. I’m heading towards Willow Beach and wonder if I am on the right highway.”
The older man laughed. “If I had a loonie for everyone that stopped here lost like you, I’d be a rich man.”
Morgan smiled, feeling more foolish than she cared to admit.
“You’re on Highway 59, the highway that runs north. We’re on the east side of the lake. You want the highway that runs west of the lake.” He pulled out a map and showed her where she was and how to get back on the right road. He said it would take her about half an hour, and she’d be back-tracking, going south almost all the way to the city. She bought a bag of unshelled salty sunflower seeds and a bottled water, thanked the man and left.
As she made her way south, Morgan was feeling nervous and weary for what seemed like a long journey ahead to a new life that she wasn’t sure she really wanted. Tears filled her eyes, and she started to wonder if she had done the right thing. But what else could she do? Her job as an editor for a small community newspaper in Calgary, The Quill & Pen, had abruptly ended when the company went bankrupt. Too many clients had not paid their bills for advertising, and subscriptions were low since people were now reading the news online. She didn’t have enough savings to tide her over until she could find another job, and editors were not in demand. Then to top it off, her boyfriend Renee had announced he was moving back to Montreal because he missed the French culture. Her only sibling and older brother Finn was living on the west coast on a yacht with his wife Erica, and small son Toby. She rarely even spoke to him, let alone pay him a visit. Her best friend Elle, also a graphic artist who had worked with her at The Quill & Pen, had met someone on the Internet from California, and she was planning to marry him and then move there.
Her parents, JD and Doris, were short-term missionaries, and they didn’t have a permanent home so she couldn’t rely on them. Currently, they were working in an orphanage in Mexico, but they managed to stay in touch with her through the Internet. So when she told them she had lost her job, and things weren’t working out in Alberta, her mother had an idea. Doris got in touch with her sister Jessica Foster, and Jessica was able to pull some strings and get her a job as a journalist for a new woman’s column that would appear in the Steep Rock Cove Journal. Morgan thought it sounded kind of interesting, and although she wasn’t sure, she thought it would be pretty easy stuff having to do with homemaking, cooking, fashion and other women’s issues of interest to women. Morgan had done lots of writing, but she wondered if this job would be interesting enough for her. One good thing was that at least she would be able to live rent-free in her parent’s cottage. All she would need is food and money for gas for her SUV.
Her new job started on Monday. Today was Thursday, so that gave her about three full days to settle in to her new surroundings. She was leaving behind her life in the city, the only life she’d known in her 23 years, and going to a smaller town. And she was going alone to a place where she didn’t know anyone except for her Aunt Jessica, who lived in Steep Rock Cove. She knew that her aunt also had an elaborate home on a nearby island called Hawk Island.
Morgan thought about how everyone was so transient but her. All she had wanted was to stay in one place, one day get married and live a normal life. She thought of Elle, 25, who had wanted the same thing and just got tired of waiting to meet the right one in their local church. The men they met were either too immature or they weren’t Christians. Now she had Dexter, and they were to be married within the month. Morgan thought of her own love life. With her beautiful thick wavy auburn hair, healthy size 10 figure, sparkling blue eyes, and creamy complexion, not to mention the artsy way she dressed, Renee had been attracted to her from the start. They had met in church, and Renee had been the youth leader. Morgan was sure Renee was the one for her, and she had thought Renee was her soul mate. No wonder, with his romantic French accent, and the way he cooked her the most delicious French cuisine, his love of nature, taking her on canoe trips, and serenading her with his smooth, rich voice accompanied by guitar. But he could not seem to adapt very well to the western urban-cowboy type culture, and she wasn’t sure she could fit into the French culture and be able to learn French and speak it fluently. They had parted as friends, but it had felt awkward, and she knew in her heart that it was over between them.
Morgan slowed as she approached a red light at a major intersection. She noticed the sign said Highway 9 and once she made the right turn, she saw a large green sign that read in bold white letters, Willow Beach, 26 miles. She breathed a sigh of relief, yet she worried that she wouldn’t be able to find the cottage once she got there. The half hour passed quickly and finally she slowed to 50 as she pulled into town. She passed a beautiful golf course to her right and then she stopped at a gas station to ask for directions to the cottage. She was pleased when she found her street, right along the highway like her dad had said, and about six houses down, she found the cottage, 218 Cedar Lane. She pulled into a gravel driveway in the front, and then her heart sunk seeing all the work that lay ahead of her. The lawn needed mowing, numerous small trees had sprung up in the yard, and the gold paint on the house was peeling in places. The windows looked dirty, and cobwebs hung over the doorway and all along the ornate black metal railings that framed both sides of the narrow front steps. She opened the screen door, fumbled with the front door key, turned the lock and stepped inside to a large screened sunroom that had big windows on every wall.
Morgan looked around the quaint cottage, trying to remember more of the times she spent here with her parents when she was just a small child. The furniture was older, but in good shape, and she could see that the hardwood floors needed a fresh polish. From the sunroom, she walked into a large square living room that had a pot-belly fireplace in the corner, then beyond that was an office overlooking the back yard. She was amazed how clean everything seemed to be. There wasn’t even any dust on the furniture, including her father’s desk, chair, and two tall honey colored bookshelves filled with books. She picked up an old-fashioned beige phone situated on the desk. It was the kind with a cord attached, like some business offices still used. She heard a dial tone, so that was good, in case something happened to her cell phone and she’d be without a phone.
From the office, she turned to the left and walked through a small doorway right white cupboards and two large windows, one facing east, and the other facing south. A round country–style wooden table was off to one side, and four wooden rounded chairs were pushed up against the table. The kitchen ran almost the length of the house, except for a food-and-storage pantry situated off the kitchen facing north. Seeing the kitchen, she started to feel more at home, and she started to remember meals at the kitchen table with her family. The appliances were older, from the era where everything was gold, and she hoped they worked, but she’d find out soon enough since it was nearing supper time. In thinking about supper, she’d have to head downtown and find a grocery store. Just out of curiosity she opened the cupboards to see what was there. They were fully stocked with dishes, and there was a spice cupboard with some spices. To her surprise, there were even some canned goods and dry goods in two of the cupboards. That seemed rather odd. Who would have stocked the shelves? She checked the date on a can of tomato soup, and it still had two years to go.
The other side of the house had three bedrooms; all facing west. The master bedroom was the largest, and the two smaller bedrooms had at one time been one bedroom, but her parents had partitioned it off so that she and Finn could have separate rooms. There was a large bathroom to the south of the three bedrooms. It had a delightful old fashioned rounded white porcelain bathtub, a quaint sink, and several open shelves running up the wall for towels and other necessities. Beside the bathroom was a laundry room and more storage shelves.
Every room except for the kitchen had been painted a rich cream color, the same as their house in Alberta had been. Cream was always the chosen color since her mother never could decide on a color, and she didn’t like the original brown wood-look panels that most of the other cabins in that era had used.
Off the office facing south were sliding patio doors that led to a large deck. Beyond that was a small backyard with a large storage shed and in the center of the yard was a fire pit. Morgan was pleased that there wasn’t much grass to cut since the large storage shed and the deck took up most of the backyard. She had noticed when she drove up that she was within walking distance to the lake, so on her days off, she knew where she’d be going, at least in the summer months. While she was unpacking her clothes and a few other things, the phone in the office rang.
“Morgan? It’s your Aunt Jessica. Your mother wanted me to call to see if you arrived alright.”
“Oh, Hi! Yes. I’m just unpacking.”
“Okay. I can well imagine you’ll be hungry by now, so I’ve prepared a chicken lasagna and salad. I can be there in about 20 minutes, okay?”
“Sure. That would be great.”
As Morgan unpacked her clothes in the closet and chest of drawers, she thought about the last time she had seen her Aunt Jessica. It was about six years ago when she had flown to Calgary for Morgan’s grade 12 graduation ceremony. She had come by herself and had only stayed for a couple of nights. Little did she know she would be living so close to her, and even working for her! She was pleased to have a relative living so close by whom she hoped she could rely on if she needed help. But with Aunt Jessica, she could never be too sure. It would all depend on her mood.
Morgan wasn’t afraid to live alone. She had lived alone for a couple of years now in the city, and she actually loved it. There was no one to tell her what she could and could not do, although her Christian principles kept her from living an immoral or sinful life. She had good friends that she had met from Calgary Bethel Church. She had seen them regularly to help keep her on the straight and narrow. Even though she may have been tempted to have Renee stay over
a little longer than he should, she knew when it was time for him to go home, and he had always complied.
Just as Morgan was putting her jewelry away in the top drawer of the dresser, the phone rang again.
“Honey?” It was Doris. “Oh, I’m so glad that you answered the phone. You made it there okay then?” She didn’t wait for Morgan to respond. “We’ve had a change of plans. Our mission trip is cut short because there’s some dangerous civil unrest going on here involving some drug lords. We’ve been asked to leave immediately, or our lives will soon become endangered. So we’re hopping on a plane later today, and we’ll be in the city tomorrow and coming out to be with you! Isn’t that wonderful? You won’t have to stay there alone!”
Morgan’s heart sank when she realized in the blink of an eye that she had just lost her freedom, but she tried to sound cheerful. “That’s great, Mom. Do you need a ride?”
“Oh no. Your dad has a friend in the city who owns a used car lot. He’ll fix us up with something.”
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
Morgan hung up, wondering how long they would be staying. She had really wanted some space to herself, but with little money, she’d have to stay in the cottage as planned. She looked at the clock and realized her aunt would be there any minute. She whisked over to the washroom, combed through her thick hair that needed washing, and re-applied her pale pink lipstick. She’d shower and wash her hair later after she had unpacked everything. She wondered how it would all work out now that she would be living with her parent’s once again. And she was anxious to know more about her new job. She would know soon enough. She hurried to finish getting ready before her aunt arrived.
Currently this book is sold as an e-book only and there is currently no printed version. Although this book is sold in multiple different countries, it is currently in English only.
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