A Distant Summer

A Distant Summer by Karen Toller Whittenburg Page B

Book: A Distant Summer by Karen Toller Whittenburg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Karen Toller Whittenburg
Tags: Contemporary Romance
past few hours. Ruth was glad he was here, and she was certainly encouraging him to stay, but her loyalty, first and last, belonged to Kris.
    “All in all,” he answered lightly, “it was an interesting evening. When Ruth found out you were working late, she insisted I join her for dinner. But first I had to meet the salesclerks at her gift shop. Then, since it was ‘just around the corner’ and ‘right on our way,’ we stopped at the bank and she introduced me to any and all personnel who hadn’t managed to escape before we arrived. There was a stop at the market for bread, milk, and an introduction to the store manager.”
    A low laugh drifted from Kristina to capture him with its evanescence. “You should have asked her what happened to her regular chauffeur.”
    He smiled as he watched Kris move closer. “I didn’t have a chance. Somewhere between stops there was a really pitiful story about being deprived of transportation and leisure activities by someone named Melinda.”
    “Who happens to be her daughter and the source of an inordinate amount of parental pride.” Kris leaned against the porch railing. The light from inside the house touched her hair and face with pale illumination. “Ruth has a son, too. Michael. He recently graduated from college and took a job in Little Rock.”
    “ ‘With a company that hires only the top graduates in the nation.’ When it comes to that parental pride, Michael has equal billing with his sister.”
    “I hope Ruth didn’t bore you with scrapbooks and home movies.”
    “No. How anyone could use the term ‘boring’ in connection with that little lady is beyond me. She makes me feel criminally lazy.”
    Kristina was silent for several long minutes as she stared at something in the starlit darkness. “Michael and Melinda were adopted. Did Ruth mention that?”
    “No.” Lifting his arm to rest along the back of the swing, Tucker wished she would come sit beside him. “Did you finish the story?”
    “What?” She looked puzzled and then nodded her understanding. “Oh, you mean the human-interest article. Yes, it’s ready for tomorrow’s paper.”
    Silence again. A stilted what-do-I-say-now sort of hesitation hovered in the summer air. Tucker released his breath in a muted sigh and thought about saying good night.
    “I owe you an apology,” she said in a reluctant voice. “It was inexcusable for me to leave you on your own this evening. The story really had to be written, but I could have gone in early in the morning to do it. It was just that I—” Her fingers began to trace a spiraling pattern along the wooden railing. She watched the movements, and Tucker watched her, wanting, aching to offer comfort for the distress he sensed in her but couldn’t name.
    When she straightened and turned to him with a casual smile, he knew the vulnerable moment had passed. Kristina lifted a hand to the knot of silvery blond hair at the nape of her neck, and Tucker wondered if she wore the controlled hairstyle for the sake of coolness or for the restraint it represented.
    “Aren’t you uncomfortable in this heat?” she asked, all trace of uncertainty gone from her voice. “It must be very different from a summer night in the Rockies.”
    “Yes, but for some reason I’m enjoying the heat, humidity and all. It reminds me of Fourth of July fireworks and homemade ice cream and playing softball until after dark and walking barefoot over wiry summer grass. Do you have a hoard of childhood memories like that, Kristina? Things you never think about except on nights like this?”
    Kris looked back to the starry coverlet overhead and felt a wistful pang for the simple pleasures that she had missed as a child ... and for the memories she would never share with her own child. “I grew up believing that ice cream came in prepackaged scoops ready to be served in a crystal dish and that summer was created by parents so they could send their children to camp. I used to dread the

Similar Books

New York - The Novel

Edward Rutherfurd

Eye of the Beholder

Ingrid Weaver

The Broken Shore

Catriona King

Tear Tracks

Malka Older

Heris Serrano

Elizabeth Moon