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Lorana Hoopes

Love Renewed

Love Renewed

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A second chance for Christmas?

Marrying Dillon Fields was all Kaitlyn Bell thought about in high school. Until he decided he needed to see the world. She waited for him to come home, but when the communication stopped, she kind of gave up on love. Focused on her work, she's been happy, but something is missing. More like someone. When she is asked to redecorate the Fields' winter lodge, she is hesitant at first, but after being assured Dillon won't be there, she takes the job.

Dillon Fields thought he wanted to see the world, but ten years after leaving his hometown, he finds himself unable to commit to a relationship. After a bit of soul searching, he realizes it's because he's never gotten over his high school sweetheart, Kaitlyn. Unfortunately, he has no idea where she is now. Luckily for Dillon, when he decides to spend the Christmas holiday with his mother at their lodge, he gets more than he bargained for.

Will Kaitlyn and Dillon get their second chance or will their past keep them apart?

An inspirational Christian romance by Award Winning and USA Today best selling author Lorana Hoopes, this story focuses on second chances and trusting God to bring the right people into your life at the right time. Follow the journey by clicking the button above.

First Chapter

Mrs. Kaitlyn Fields. Seventeen year old Kaitlyn scribbled the name again and again in her notebook. At least three pages were filled with the name and several more with her plans for their life together: wedding colors, children’s names, places they would live.

“You’ve got it bad,” her friend Tiffany teased as she spied the notebook. 

“I can’t help it.” Kaitlyn sighed. “I just know we’re going to get married someday.”

“I bet you guys do. You are such a cute couple. Do you think he’ll give you his senior ring?” Tiffany lifted up part of her crimped hair, pulling it into a scrunchie.

Kaitlyn smiled and closed the notebook. “I think he’s going to tonight. I know he picked it up at school yesterday, and it would be perfect timing tonight at homecoming.”

“I’m so jealous of you,” Tiffany said, “but in a good way.”

“Don’t worry.” Kaitlyn wrapped an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll find your Prince Charming soon.”

Kaitlyn stared at the date on the calendar. Had it really been a year? Of course it felt much longer. She had left three years ago when Jack was just two; he barely remembered his father, but the divorce hadn’t been finalized until last year.

“Hey, you okay?” 

Kaitlyn looked up to see Melody Phelps, her best friend and business partner, in the doorway. She shook her head. “Yeah, I was just caught off guard by the date. My divorce was finalized a year ago today.”

Sympathy flooded Melody’s blue eyes. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Kaitlyn.”

Kaitlyn shrugged. “It’s better this way, believe me, but it’s still hard.”

“I’m afraid I don’t have good news either.” Melody waved the piece of paper in her hand. “Quarterly reports. We need a good job quickly or we’re going to have to do something drastic.” She handed the reports to Kaitlyn and then shuffled out of the office.

Kaitlyn sighed as she reviewed them. More money was definitely going out than coming in, and they would need to turn it around soon or they would lose the business. She had thought interior decorating would be easy, but it was proving a challenge to get noticed and even harder to get booked. Of course that probably had a lot to do with her personality. She had always been on the shyer side around people she didn’t know, but she was a great designer. If only she could find a way to get clients coming to her.

Beside her, the phone rang and Kaitlyn picked it up without even glancing at the caller ID. “Kaitlyn Bell Designs.”

“Hi Kaitlyn. This is Margie Fields.”

Kaitlyn gripped the phone tighter and sat up straighter even though the woman on the other end couldn’t see her. What could the mother of her ex-boyfriend want? “Uh, hi Margie, what can I do for you?”

“Well, I heard through the grapevine that you were a decorator. You always did have an eye for design. Anyway, I don’t know if you remember, but we own a lodge in the mountains and the main room needs to be redone. I was hoping you might be able to work some magic on it before the Christmas season.”

How could Kaitlyn forget the lodge in the mountains? It had been her home away from home every Christmas in high school as her dad often traveled for work. She hated that he was gone most holidays, but Dillon’s family had taken her in with open arms. She had fond memories of skiing there, building snowmen with Dillon, and then cuddling by the fire. 

But there was the rub. All the memories of the place included Dillon. Dillon, whom she thought she was going to marry, but who had left town after high school to explore the world while Kaitlyn stayed close to home. Kaitlyn bit her lip as she pondered the offer. She needed the work and the money, but what if Dillon would be there? Could she handle seeing him again?

“Oh, and if you were worried about Dillon, he won’t be there. I’ll be there of course and we’ll have some guests, but they can avoid the room you’re working in.”

“Oh, I wasn’t,” Kaitlyn stammered, but there was nothing to say. Margie had read her mind. Again. She’d had a knack for knowing what was on Kaitlyn's mind whenever they had conversed when Kaitlyn was in high school, and it appeared she hadn’t lost her touch. Kaitlyn had once loved that trait about her as Margie had filled the gaping hole of Kaitlyn’s mother who had died when she was thirteen. Kaitlyn took a deep breath and started again. “I’d love to, Margie, but before Christmas? That’s only two weeks away.”

“I know, and I apologize, but I just found out the lodge was picked to be in a travel magazine, and they are coming two days before Christmas to photograph it. That means I need the room redone and decorated for Christmas by the twenty-third. I can pay you handsomely.”

“I’ll have to make sure everything is available locally then. We won’t have time to order.”

“That’s fine, and again, we can pay for expedited shipping if we need to.”

Kaitlyn bit her lip and did a quick calculation. She would need to hire a crew. There was no way she and Melody would be able to finish by themselves in that time. “It won’t be cheap, Margie, but would you like to meet up and discuss designs?”

“Yes, dear, I’d love to. Do you have an office?”

“Absolutely,” Kaitlyn rattled off her address and set a date for a meeting before hanging up the phone.

“Did I hear that right?” Melody asked appearing again in her doorway. Her blue eyes were wide with surprise. Kaitlyn and Melody had met at design school and while Kaitlyn preferred decorating homes, Melody preferred doing businesses. Between the two of them, they made a dynamic duo and Kaitlyn loved her. But Melody had one annoying habit. The ability to always hear everything. “Did you just agree to do work for Margie Fields?”

“I did.” Kaitlyn tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ears and pulled back her shoulders. “We need the money, and she will be good for business. Margie Fields is a big name.”

“She is.” Melody nodded and crossed her arms as she leaned against the doorframe. “But you sure this has nothing to do with Dillon?” Dillon had been out of the picture before she met Melody - off to make his mark in the world. However, after Melody tried to set Kaitlyn up on a few dates and Kaitlyn always reneged, Melody had probed into the reason. Kaitlyn had been forced to tell her the story of Dillon Fields, the man who broke her heart. And probably didn’t even know it.

“No, Dillon won’t even be there.” Kaitlyn hated the heat that crawled across her face at the mention of Dillon. It had been ten years. Why did his very name still send her heart fluttering?

“Uh huh.” Melody’s brow arched and her frank gaze told Kaitlyn she wasn’t buying it. “I still think you’re playing with fire, but I guess you know best, boss.” She shook her head before disappearing from the doorframe.

Kaitlyn sighed. She probably was playing with fire. She’d done everything she could to avoid even the thought of Dillon for almost a decade, Not that it had helped. Having always been shy, when Dillon left, her self-esteem had dropped even further, sending her into one bad relationship after another until she ended up marrying Jerry. 

Things had been great for a year, but when she got pregnant, they spiraled quickly out of control. Since then, she had become even more withdrawn, dating very rarely and when she did, she compared every man she dated to Dillon, which was why few lasted past the first date. Now, she was basically walking into the lion’s den. It didn’t even matter that he wouldn’t be there. Margie would remind her of him, and there was bound to be a lingering essence of him in the lodge. She would just have to make sure her walls were up. This was a job. Nothing more.

* * *

Dillon stared at the array of rings in the case. 

“Do you see something that you like?” The salesman, an immaculately dressed man in a blue suit, asked him from the other side of the counter. 

“I’m not sure.” He had thought this would be easy. After all, he loved Shana, didn’t he? He certainly loved the idea of Shana. What wasn’t to love about a supermodel girlfriend? But then why was he having such a hard time picking a ring?

The man raised an eyebrow. “Does the woman like round or princess cut diamonds?”

“Uh, I have no idea.” Dillon had never looked too closely at Shana’s hands. “Does that matter?”

“Depends on the woman. Some women do not care and some have very specific ideas of what they want to wear for the rest of their lives.”

Shana definitely had specific ideas of what she wanted. At least when it came to clothing and food and vacation spots. So why did he not know her feelings about this?  

He sighed. The rest of their lives. Those five words gave him pause. Did he really want to spend the rest of his life with Shana? Or was he proposing because they had been together for six months and everyone was telling him it was time?

“If you do not know, then why are you proposing to this woman?”

That was a good question. “I don’t know,” Dillon said shaking his head. “Thank you, my friend. I don’t think I’ll be buying a ring today, but you’ve definitely given me something to think about.”

The man behind the counter nodded, and Dillon exited the shop. He walked down the sidewalk to a nearby coffee shop and ordered an Americano. Coffee in hand, he sat down at one of the tables and pondered his life. He was nearing thirty, and he wanted a family, so why was his throat drying up at the prospect of proposing to Shana? He’d had several relationships the last few years, and none of them had lasted. Did that mean something was wrong with him or was he simply dating the wrong women? 

He sipped his coffee and watched the people pass by in shorts and t-shirts. It was December, but it sure didn’t feel like it in Florida. And forget snow. He missed snow. Maybe it was time for a change of scenery.

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Lorana Hoopes

Lorana Hoopes is a USA Today Best Selling Author and now an Award Winning Author as well. She's had two books earn a Page Turner Award Finalist badge and she recently won the Reader's Favorite Book Award for Romantic Suspense.