A Big Life in a Small Town (Bellingwood #2) Read online





  A Big Life

  In a Small Town

  Diane Greenwood Muir

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication / use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

  Cover Design Photography: Maxim M. Muir

  Copyright © 2013 Diane Greenwood Muir

  All rights reserved.

  ISBN-13: 978-1483907031

  ISBN-10: 1483907031

  Don’t miss these books in

  Diane Greenwood Muir’s

  Bellingwood Series

  All Roads Lead Home – Book #1

  A Big Life in a Small Town – Book #2

  Treasure Uncovered – Book #3

  Secrets and Revelations – Book #4 (Oct. 2013)

  Book #5 – Jan/Feb. 2014

  CONTENTS

  CONTENTS

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

  THANK YOU!

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  I rarely read through acknowledgments. I don't know those people, but I'm always glad the author does. When it came to writing my own, though, I discovered that I wanted everyone to know the people I know. It occurred to me over and over throughout the writing process that I couldn't have done this without them.

  Thank you to my family and friends who understand my need for solitude. Distractions are the bane of my creativity and I will choose those over work every day. Not only do they understand me, but the encouragement I get keeps me motivated to continue writing.

  Rebecca Bauman. She reads the rough chapters every day, then tells me they're wonderful. When my confidence is low, some days I need to hear that just to get started again. Her artistic creativity also helps me turn Max's photography into book covers. It's good to have wildly creative friends.

  I have an amazing team of editor / proofreaders. They question me, correct me, and push me to do better. If there are errors, it's on me, though. I'm a stubborn sort of a girl. Thank you to Tracy Kesterson Simpson, Linda Watson, Carol Greenwood, Alice Stewart, and Edna Fleming. It's very difficult for me to bare my unpolished soul to the world, but I trust them to treat it with a little respect and a whole lot of passion for excellence. I'd like you to meet and get to know each of them, because as individuals they are so uniquely qualified to do this for me. I presume upon their time and they offer me their talent.

  Getting the first book published gave me a little credibility when asking questions about the second book. Fortunately, I know a lot of people who know about a lot of things.

  Thank you to the brilliant Bernie Doerr who responded when I needed a push in the right direction regarding a doctoral thesis in mathematics. She gave me the idea, I made it up from there, so if it is insane, it's my fault.

  Thank you to Rob Marsh, my paramedic cousin. He told me things I might not have wanted to know about the human body and how it reacts to trauma, but at least Polly stayed out of the hospital with his help.

  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided to add horses to Polly's world. I loved them as a child, but if it weren't for Alice Stewart, I would never have spent much time around them. She let me hang out with her and Cherokee in high school and when I realized Polly was going to do this, I knew who to ask for help. She's given me some of the most incredibly detailed information I could ever hope for and her veterinarian husband, Jay, will also help keep Polly's animals healthy. Both Alice and Jay have a huge passion for horses and it's great fun to reconnect with a high school friend at this level.

  CHAPTER ONE

  "Elise Myers is one week away from beginning her ...” Jeff Lindsay walked into the office, chewing a bagel and watching to make sure he didn’t spill the cup of coffee he was carrying. Looking up, he realized Henry and Polly were peering intently at a laptop on the far side of the conference table.

  "I’m sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to interrupt."

  "No, that's fine, Jeff," Polly replied. "We're looking at plans for a barn. What were you saying about Miss Myers?"

  "A barn?" he asked. "You're building a barn now?"

  Henry shrugged and shook his head. "I'm afraid Polly has caught the construction bug. We aren't finished working on this place yet,” Henry gestured to encompass the expanse of Sycamore House, “and she's already planning the next project.”

  Polly caught the two of them smirking and said, "I have plans for this place and laughing at me isn't helpful."

  "Who's laughing?" Jeff asked, sitting down beside Henry. "There's no laughing here. So ... where are you putting this barn?"

  She cocked her head at the back wall and said, "The concrete pad where the old gymnasium used to stand. We'll put a white post and rail fence up around the property and it will be absolutely gorgeous. Look at the gambrel roof over this beautiful red barn. White trim, white roof, white fence. It's perfect!"

  "Perfect for what, though?" he pressed.

  "Perfect for horses. Think of the fun we can have," she responded.

  "You don't have enough animals in your life with two cats and a dog?" Jeff shook his head and sat down on the other side of Henry. "I have a bad feeling this menagerie is only in its infancy."

  Henry chuckled in agreement.

  Jeff set his bagel and coffee on the table and leaned in to look at the plans. "So. A barn."

  "Glad you're on board, buddy," Henry laughed as he clapped Jeff on the back. "The next thing you know, she'll want you to take guests out on trail rides!"

  "Well, that's never gonna happen. I don't ride horses," Jeff said, his upper lip turning into a bit of a snarl. "I gave it up when I was in high school. 'He's gentle,' she said. 'He loves people,' she said. The damned horse put his head between his front legs and tried to toss me off before we left the barn. I don't know why he didn't like me, but he and I agreed it was mutual. That was the last time I was on a horse. And I don't intend to start up again, thank you very much."

  Polly was laughing as he spoke. "That's a fabulous story. You're pure entertainment, Jeff."

  "I'm a city boy. Just because you have me working in rural Iowa doesn't mean I'm giving up my city ways. I still believe in the goodness of cities littered with burger joints and coffee shops. There's no room for horses in my happy little world."

  Henry said, "Wait until the weather gets nicer. The Brennans ride their horses into town to do business an