Read A Treasure Worth Keeping Online

Authors: Kathryn Springer

Tags: #American Light Romantic Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #Love stories, #Historical, #Romance - General, #Fiction - Religious, #Christian, #Religious - General, #Christian - Romance, #Religious, #Christian fiction, #Christian Life, #Tutors and tutoring, #Teenage girls, #Adventure stories, #Treasure troves, #Adventure fiction, #Teachers, #Large type books

A Treasure Worth Keeping

BOOK: A Treasure Worth Keeping
3.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
A Treasure Worth Keeping
Kathryn Springer

To Linda—
A fellow traveler on the writer’s journey.
I’m glad we’re in this together, friend!


lease think about it, Evie. You’re the only one of us who doesn’t have—”

At the sound of a meaningful cough, Caitlin’s words snapped off and Evie McBride smiled wryly.

Who doesn’t have a life.

That’s what Caitlin had been about to say before Meghan, “Miss Tactful,” had broken into the conversation. They were talking on a three-way call, the usual method her two older sisters used to gang up on her. Sometimes advanced technology made life easier, and sometimes it was simply a pain in the neck.

“What Caitlin was going to say,” Meghan continued in an annoyingly cheerful voice, “is that you’re the only one whose summer schedule is…flexible.”

Flexible. Nonexistent. Was there a difference? And if Evie had known how many times she’d be called upon to be flexible over the past few years since their father had retired, she wouldn’t have chosen teaching as a career. She would have tied up her life with a neat little job that kept her working year-round, like her sisters had.

It wasn’t that she minded helping out their dad. They were extremely close and she loved him to pieces. No, what drove her crazy was that Caitlin and Meghan always assumed she didn’t have any plans for her summer vacation. And that just wasn’t true. A neat stack of novels, the ones she hadn’t had a chance to read during the school year, sat on the floor beside her bed. There was a miniature greenhouse in her backyard full of tomato seedlings waiting to be nurtured. And a gallon of paint in the hall closet, ready to transform her front door from boring beige to Tuscan yellow because she’d read somewhere that a front door should sport a friendly, welcoming color. And really, was there anything more friendly than yellow? Evie didn’t think so.

“What if I have plans?” Evie asked. The sibling ambush had occurred at nine o’clock at night, interrupting her favorite educational program. There had to be some consequences for that. Unfortunately, stalling was all she could come up with.

“You do?” Meghan asked cautiously.

“What plans?” Caitlin demanded.

Now she was stuck. “Painting.”

“Painting.” Caitlin repeated the word like she’d never heard of the activity, and Evie could picture her rolling her baby blues at the ceiling.

“Is it something you can put off for a few weeks, Evie? Once I’m done with this photo shoot, I’ll try to take some time off to help you.” Meghan, bless her heart, let her keep her dignity.

Silence. Evie’s cue to cave in. After all, that was her role. She sighed into the phone, knowing her sisters would accept it as the cowardly white flag of surrender that it was.

“All right. Fine. I can run Beach Glass while Dad goes on his fishing trip.”

“Dad will be so happy.” Caitlin’s voice was as sweet as glucose syrup now that she’d gotten her way.

Evie resisted the urge to stick out her tongue at Caitlin’s smiling face in the family photo on the coffee table.

“Evie, we really appreciate this,” Meghan said. “And Dad will be thrilled. He didn’t want to have to close up the store for two weeks.”

“But he didn’t want to ask you for help because he didn’t want to take advantage of your free time,” Caitlin added.

“Well, it’s a good thing you don’t have a problem with that, then, isn’t it?” Evie said.

But not out loud.

What she said out loud was good night, allowing just a touch of weariness to creep into her voice. Hopefully enough to generate a smidgeon of guilt in her sisters’ consciences. Not that it would matter when another crisis barked at the trunk of the McBride family tree. Why these crises always surfaced during the months of June, July and August, Evie didn’t know.

Three years ago, Patrick McBride had officially retired from teaching and bought a small antique shop, whimsically christened Beach Glass by the previous owner. A quaint stone building, it sat comfortably on the edge of a lightly traveled road that wound along the Lake Superior shoreline. A very lightly traveled road. It wasn’t even paved. The first time Evie saw it, she had a strong hunch why the previous owners had practically given it away. They’d probably cashed the meager check in nearby Cooper’s Landing on their way out of town, anxious to rejoin civilization.

Evie had spent most of that summer making the year-round cottage that had been included in the deal suitable for her father to live in. The calluses still hadn’t completely disappeared.

The following summer she’d been the one drafted to spend “a few days” teaching their dad how to use a computer so he could manage all the financial records for the business. The brief computer lesson had turned into a month-long project that had ended with Patrick’s mastering of the power button and not a whole lot more.

The previous summer, Caitlin’s tail had gotten tied in a knot when Patrick happened to mention a woman’s name twice during their weekly phone conversation. A Sophie Graham. Evie had flatly refused to act as the family spy. Her dad was an adult and it wasn’t any of their business if he’d found a friend. Less than twenty-four hours after Evie had drawn a line in the sand over that situation, Caitlin had figured out a way to tug her over it. Beach Glass needed to be landscaped and since the only thing she and Meghan knew about plants was that the root part went into the ground, Evie was the obvious choice to spend six weeks mulching and planting flower beds.

Suspiciously, her sisters were always too busy to help out but never too busy to call and check up on her.

But Evie loved them. Even bossy, tell-it-like-it-is Caitlin. And she knew they loved her. And really, was it their fault all she could find to fill up three months of summer vacation was painting her front door, transplanting tomato plants and living vicariously through the lives of the characters in her favorite books?

Evie had missed most of her program during the kissing-up portion of the conversation so she turned off the television and closed her eyes.

I want my own story, God.

Even as the thought rushed through her mind, she treated it like the mutiny that it was.

Your own story! What are you talking about? You’re a junior high science teacher. Shaping impressionable minds. It’s a high calling.

Wasn’t she the first teacher who’d taken the Rock of Ages Christian School to first place in the science fair competition the past few years? While all the other schools had entered working volcanoes and posters labeling the parts of a rocket, her students had brought in inventions. Like Micah Swivel’s solar-powered toaster. And everyone knew the reason Angie Colson won the spelling bee with the word bioluminescence was because Evie had just finished a unit on insects. The day before, Angie had taken the chapter test and had chosen fireflies, a stellar example of bioluminescence, as the subject of her required essay. They’d shared the victory, celebrating with doughnuts and hot chocolate in the teachers’ lounge.

Evie basked in the knowledge she had been loved by every seventh and eighth grader in her charge since the school had hired her. And if their test grades didn’t prove their devotion, the number of cookies on her desk every morning did.

She had a story all right. It just happened to be woven into the lives of an age group most people ran, screaming, away from. She thrived between the months of August and May. The summer months made her feel restless. And lonely.

Maybe that’s why she didn’t fuss too much when her sisters rearranged her summer plans. It was nice to be needed. And she couldn’t deny that their father, whom they affectionately referred to as the absentminded professor, needed a watchful eye.

Evie reached for the phone and pressed Speed Dial.


“Hi, Dad. I hear you’re going fishing.”

Chapter One

am Cutter had driven almost twelve hours when an old joke suddenly came back to him. Something about a town not being the end of the world but you could see it from there.

Now he knew that place had a name. Cooper’s Landing. And it was cold. No one had warned him that winter released its grip with excruciating slowness along Lake Superior’s shore. The second week of June and the buds on the trees had barely unfurled in shy, pale shades of green.

He drove slowly down the main street and pulled over next to the building that sagged tiredly on the corner. The color of the original paint on the clapboard siding was only a memory, and the shingles had loosened from the roof, curling up at the ends like the sole of a worn-out shoe. A red neon sign winked garishly in the window. Bait.

He glanced at the girl slumped against the window in the passenger seat. Her lips were moving silently, showing signs that yes, there was brain activity. Since she hadn’t talked to him for the past five hours, he’d been forced to watch for obvious signs of life. They’d been few and far between. Changing the song on her iPod. The occasional piece of candy being unwrapped. A twitch of her bare toes. Well, not completely bare. One of them had a toe ring.

He touched her elbow and she flinched. Sam tried not to flinch back. Once upon a time she’d been generous with her hugs.

“Faith? I’ll be right back.”

She frowned and yanked out a headphone. “What?”

“We’re here. I’ll be right back.”

She straightened, and her gaze moved from window to window. She had a front-row seat to view Cooper’s Landing, and Sam expected to see some expression on her face. Shock? Terror? Instead, she shrugged and pushed the headphone back in place.

He wished he could disengage from reality and disappear into another world so easily.

The warped door of the bait shop swung open when he pushed on it, releasing an avalanche of smells. The prominent ones were fish, sauerkraut and bratwurst. Sam’s eyes began to water.

“Let me guess. Cutter. You look just like your old man.”

Sam saw a movement in the corner of the room just after he heard the voice. Between the heavy canvas awning shading the street side of the building and the tiny row of windows, the sunlight couldn’t infiltrate the inside of the bait store. Shadows had taken over, settling into the maze of shelves. The lightbulbs flickering over his head held all the power of a votive candle.

“Sam Cutter.” Sam walked toward the voice.

He heard a faint scraping noise and a man shuffled toward him out of the gloom, wiping his hands on a faded handkerchief. By the time he reached Sam, he’d stuffed it in the pocket of his coveralls and stretched out his hand.

“Rudy Dawes.”

Sam shook his hand even as he silently acknowledged that a long, hot shower and half a bottle of the cologne he’d gotten for his birthday weren’t going to completely strip away the bait store’s unique blend of odors.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon. S’pose you’re anxious to get a look at her.” Rudy squinted up at him.

“That’s why I’m here.”

Rudy started to laugh but quickly broke into a dry, hacking cough. “Come on, she’s outside.”

Sam followed him to the back of the store, and his boot slipped on something, almost sending him into a skid that would have taken out a shelf full of fishing reels. He didn’t bother to look down, not wanting to know what was filling the tread of his hiking boot. In some cases, ignorance

Rudy pushed the door open, and Sam found himself standing on a rickety platform that trembled above an outcropping of rocks. At the base of the rocks, a blackened, water-stained dock stretched over the water. With one boat tied to it. Sam stared at it in disbelief as it nodded in rhythm with the waves.

“There she is. The
She’s a beauty, ain’t she?” Rudy tucked his hands in his pockets and bowed his head in respect against the crisp breeze that swept in to greet them.

the boat?”

Faith had materialized behind them, and Sam twisted around to look at her. She’d pushed her chin into the opening of her black hooded sweatshirt but the tip of her nose was pink, kissed by the wind.

“It can’t be.” Sam blinked, just to be sure the faded gray boat wasn’t a hallucination due to the sleepless nights he’d been having. “When I talked to Dad, he said the boat was

“He’s one of them positive thinkers.” Rudy grinned and spit over the side of the railing. “It was new to him when he bought it. I can tell your first mate here knows quality when she sees it.”

Faith’s shy smile reminded Sam of his manners.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Dawes, this is my niece, Faith Cutter. Faith, this is Mr. Dawes.”

“Aw, it’s just plain Rudy.” He smiled at Faith, revealing a gold-capped front tooth. “Jacob said you wouldn’t be here until mid-July. And he shoulda warned you we don’t pack away our winter coats until then.”

Sam glanced at Faith and noticed she was shivering. Instinctively, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into the warmth of his flannel-lined denim jacket. Instead of pulling away, as he half expected her to, she tunneled in farther. For a split second, she was six years old again, snuggled up against him with a copy of Dr. Seuss’s
One Fish, Two Fish
book in one hand and a raggedy stuffed rabbit named Mr. Carrots in the other.

“Dad said the boat was available whenever I wanted to use it,” Sam said distractedly. “June…worked out better for us.”

“Doesn’t matter to me none. I just keep an eye on it for him. Go on now. Get acquainted with her.”

Faith skipped down the skeletal wooden staircase that spiraled to the water. Sam was tempted to yell at her to slow down and grab the railing, but one look at it made his back teeth snap together. It was probably safer
to use it.

By the time Sam hopped on board, Faith had already disappeared below deck. From his dad’s description of the boat, Sam thought he’d be in a luxury cabin cruiser for the next few weeks. Now he simply hoped it was watertight.

“Sam!” Faith’s muffled voice sounded more excited than it had in months. “You’ve got to see this!”

He ducked into the narrow stairwell and found her standing in the doorway of one of the cabins.

“Can I take this one?”

Sam peered in cautiously. A narrow bunk bed, a corner desk and a small table were the only furnishings in it, but even though they were old, everything was spotless. He exhaled slowly in relief.

“Sure. The desk will come in handy.”

Faith rolled her eyes in typical twelve-year-old fashion. “You had to remind me.”

“That was the deal. Your mom let you come with me if you kept up with your homework.”

“Mom would have let me come anyway.” Faith lifted her chin defiantly, but he could hear the tremor in her voice. “I heard her. She told you that I’ve been ‘too much’ for her lately.”

Sam closed his eyes. He had no idea that Faith had overheard his last conversation with Rachel. “Faith, it’s not you. Your mom…Things have been hard for her the past few months.”

“Well, here’s a news flash.” Faith’s eyes narrowed and suddenly she looked years older. “Things haven’t been easy for me, either….”

Her voice choked on the word and Sam pulled her against him. He wasn’t sure what he could say to comfort her. Not when he hadn’t discovered anything to fill in the fissures in his own heart.

“I miss him.” Faith clung to him.

The knot of sadness forming in Sam’s throat strained for release, but he kept a tight rein on it.

“I miss him, too.”


“I thought you were only staying two weeks, Evangeline.”

Evie saw the mischievous gleam in her dad’s eyes and handed him another duffel bag from the trunk of her car. Patrick was the only person who called her by her full name, a gift from her parents to her paternal grandmother, the first Evangeline McBride, when she was born. “A person can’t be

“But what is it you’re preparing for, sweetheart? A tidal wave? Or maybe an asteroid?” Patrick peered in the car window at the flats of tomato plants lined up across the backseat.

Evie was used to her dad’s teasing. “Don’t be silly.” She handed him a large sewing basket embroidered with strawberries. And a stadium umbrella. “We’d have plenty of time to get ready if one of those things was going to occur. This stuff is just for…every day.”

Her dad frowned as she handed him a bag of groceries. “There
a grocery store in Cooper’s Landing.”

“Do I need to mention that the expiration date on the can of corn I bought last summer coincided with the Reagan administration?”

Patrick winked at her. “You love it here.”

He was right, but Evie wasn’t about to admit that to Caitlin and Meghan.

A week after school had officially closed for summer vacation she’d packed up her car, locked up the house and driven away with her traveling companions—the box of books on the passenger seat beside her.

The closer she’d gotten to the adorable stone cottage her dad now called home, the more excited she’d been. When Patrick left on his fishing trip, Evie knew she’d be perfectly content just to stretch out on the wicker chaise lounge in the backyard and admire the lake from a distance. She loved watching Lake Superior change from steel-gray to vivid blue, depending on its mood. And Superior was a moody lake. The proof was in the hundreds of ships that slept below her ice-cold surface.

Evie leaned close and kissed her dad’s bristly cheek. “You forgot to shave again this morning.”

“I didn’t forget,” Patrick grumbled. “I’m retired. A man shouldn’t have to shave when he’s retired.”

Evie looped the strap of a canvas messenger bag over her shoulder and headed toward the house. “Did you and your friend finally decide when you’re leaving?”

“Day after tomorrow. Jacob’s picking me up at five in the morning. And—” Patrick put up his hand to prevent her from saying what he knew was going to come next “—you don’t have to get up and make oatmeal for me. The reason we’re leaving so early is because it’s a long drive to the lodge, and then we have to get to our campsite.”

“Why don’t you just stay at the lodge?” They’d had this conversation several times already, but Evie thought it worth repeating. Until she got her way. Patrick was only fifty-nine, but she didn’t understand why he’d turned down a soft bed in the main lodge for a tent on a secluded island several miles away.

“Jacob’s been camping for years,” Patrick said. “He’ll take care of me.”

Evie snorted. “From what you’ve told me about Jacob Cutter, he’s a daredevil. I don’t want him to talk you into anything stupid. Or dangerous.”

“You’ve been teaching the peer-pressure curriculum again, haven’t you?”

Evie gave a weak laugh. “I’m sorry, Dad, it’s just that I want you to be careful.”

“Careful is my middle name.”

“Stubborn is your middle name,” she muttered under her breath.

The sound of tires crunching over gravel drew their attention to the vehicle creeping up the long driveway.

“Looks like you’ve got some customers,” Evie said, watching a black pickup truck rattle into view.

“Maybe they’re lost.” Patrick grinned. “But I’ll still try to talk them into buying a pair of seagull salt-and-pepper shakers.”

Evie laughed. Beach Glass didn’t have a single kitschy item like the ones he’d just described. Her dad spent the winter months combing estate sales to find rare objects—the ones that escorted his customers down memory lane. Patrick had told her more than once that everyone needed a connecting point to their past. Sometimes it was a book they remembered reading as a child or the exact twin of the pitcher their grandmother had used to pour maple syrup on their pancakes when they were growing up. Beach Glass was off the beaten path, but people still managed to find it. And when they left, it was usually as the owner of some small treasure.

“Just put that stuff by the door, Dad, and I’ll take care of it in a few minutes.” Evie couldn’t help glancing over her shoulder at the truck idling in the tiny parking lot next to the antique shop. The tinted windows obscured the inside cab from view. She hesitated a moment but whoever was driving the pickup wasn’t in a hurry to get out.

She went inside and finished unpacking her clothes, glad she’d tossed in a few sweaters. A person could never be too prepared and the breeze off the lake still had a bite.

When she peeked outside half an hour later, the truck was gone. She poured two iced coffees and headed across the yard to the shop. More than half the furnishings in her own home were compliments of Beach Glass, and she was eager to see the latest bounty her father had added since her last visit.

“What do you mean he’s staying on the boat?”

Evie paused at the sound of Patrick’s agitated voice through the screen door.

“Well, that’s just one of our problems….” His voice lowered, ebbing away like the tide, and then strengthened again. “He stopped by a little while ago, insisting we bring him along. No, I don’t trust him any more than you do, Jacob…but Sophie—”

Evie realized she was holding her breath. She’d never heard her dad sound so stressed.

“I suppose we can delay the trip but I’m afraid if we don’t go as planned, Sophie is going to get…No, go ahead. Evie might be on her way over. I’ll talk to you later this evening.”

It suddenly occurred to Evie that she was eavesdropping. She backed away from the door, replaying the part of the conversation she’d overheard.

The elusive Sophie Graham again.

Evie had never seen the woman, even during the reconnaissance mission Caitlin had tried to set up the previous summer. In the interest of maintaining sibling harmony, Evie
dropped a few subtle hints to her dad that she’d like to meet Sophie sometime, but all she could get out of him was that the mysterious Sophie wasn’t in good health.

BOOK: A Treasure Worth Keeping
3.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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