by Lauren Clark
Single mom Grace Mason doesn’t believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace’s estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes.
Henry’s passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry’s second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan’s disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home.
Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love—again.
Excerpt Three: Chapter Three
Kathleen woke with her head pressed to the tablecloth. She jerked awake at a loud noise outside.
It was the sound of a boat engine churning on the lake, a quarter-mile away. She listened for the cast and pull of a fishing line, the rhythmic whirr of a reel. All familiar sounds, all part of her world. The noises were usually soothing.
This morning, only a dull ache existed. She felt as if a hammer had been buried in her brain.
Kathleen's eyes pricked with tears. She fumbled to find her watch and look at the time. Already eight-fifteen in the morning. She needed to call Keuka College and let everyone know. She had to cancel the library dedication.
And there was Grace. Kathleen had to deliver the news about her father, and make sure she was coming to the funeral.
Henry's daughter, whom she'd spoken to hours before. The same woman she'd reassured that her father was okay. Resting comfortably. Stable. The doctors are doing all they can.
Kathleen's hands shook. She fumbled through papers to find her stepdaughter's contact information. Anyone else would have it memorized, a little voice played in her head.
But finally, beneath a tumble of scratch pads and pens, stuck to a yellow post-it note, was a small white card with Henry’s writing.
Her breath caught in her throat when she saw it. Grace at school, the paper said, with ten numbers scrawled beneath it. Her hands shook as she punched the keys, one by one, and listened to the ringing, waiting for someone to answer.
An operator’s voice came through clearly with a hint of Southern drawl in the greeting. Kathleen hesitated, gathering her thoughts, and the woman patiently repeated her greeting, this time, with more of a question in her voice.
Following a deep breath, Kathleen let the words spill out. She needed to speak to her stepdaughter, it was an emergency, and could she please find her. Immediately, music blared. Kathleen held the phone out at arm’s length and shut her eyes at the noise, waiting. She couldn’t think of what to say, or how to say it.
When the music stopped and Kathleen heard Grace answer, it stopped her cold. Hers was such a grown up, confident voice, and a person she didn’t know very well.
Grace paused expectantly for Kathleen to talk. The sound of children, chattering and giggling, echoed in the background.
"I'm calling about your father. He seemed to be doing better. He was stable, and then, last night, he had another stroke." Kathleen inhaled and made herself say the next sentence. "The doctors...I'm so sorry, Grace," her voice broke, "he didn't make it."
Kathleen closed her eyes tightly, trying to shut out the pain in Grace’s voice. The syllables she heard were cutting and sharp, bending at the end into tears.
After the sobs and exclamations of disbelief, there were questions. Patiently, Kathleen tried her best to answer each one. Grief washed over Kathleen again, listening to her stepdaughter mourn.
She had never felt so helpless.
n the end, though, it was done. And Grace, who'd sworn she would never visit her father again, was finally coming home for Henry
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.
Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, the Mobile Writers Guild, and a regular contributor to Parents & Kids Magazine's Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.
Stardust Summer for Kindle
Stardust Summer for Nook
Stardust Summer for KOBO
Stardust Summer for Smashwords
Lauren Clark Books Website
Lauren Clark Books BLOG
GoodReads Lauren Clark
Twitter Lauren Clark
Facebook Lauren Clark
Lauren will be awarding winner's choice of either Dancing Naked in Dixie or Stay Tuned (in .mobi .pdf or .epub) to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop. Also, a $20 gift card to Amazon or BN.com (winner's choice) will be awarded to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour and a signed paperback copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie and Swag will be awarded to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour (USA ONLY). Make sure you leave a comment and your email address to have a chance to win!