Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.
But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save.
Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?
Almost There Excerpt
We’d strolled hand-in-hand around the perimeter of the lake, listening to the krr-ik, krr-ok of frogs and watching fireflies twinkle among the shadowy trees. Near the end of our circuit, he led me to a grove of white pines arching over our heads like cathedral vaults. Here, he said, was where he got the coolest wedding idea for Beth.
“Imagine the trees full of white lights and paper lanterns,” he said, waving an arm skyward. “Picture rows of folding chairs here.” He indicated the area beneath, carpeted in sherbet-orange fallen needles. Then he took my hand and led me to the lake end of the grove, where the trees framed a view of the water.
“This is where the minister says, ‘Will you?’ and they both say—”
“I do,” I whispered.
He tweaked my nose. “No, they say ‘I will.’ The ‘I do’ wording went out a long time ago. So whaddaya think? Picturesque, a little rustic, but not gross, right? A place with good memories for Beth, not like some bland banquet hall.”
“She’ll love it.” I turned to face the lake, fighting off a vague sense of disappointment. It’s great that he loves his family. Sweet of him to be so thoughtful. So romantic. For his sister.
“What I especially like,” he said, “is making Beth my guinea pig, so when my day comes, everything will be perfect.”
I spun around. His day? Oh. My. Gosh.
A firefly alighted on the V-neck of my tee shirt and sat blinking to every third beat of my galloping heart. I watched Theo watching it, all my nerves quivering.
He touched a finger to my sternum and the little bug crawled onto his hand. “Nothing to be afraid of, chérie.”
The bug blinked again and flew up between us, making us both startle and laugh.
“Every day with you is a miracle.” His eyes shone with hope that we’d have many more miraculous tomorrows. His hands grasped mine, and I realized my face was wet.
“What’s wrong, babe?”
“How can I leave for a month? Mum needs to get away — from Poppa, from everything sad that’s keeping her from painting. But now you’re here, like a dream, and I don’t know what to do. If I go, what will happen to us?”
“What are you saying? Of course you’re going to Paris. Whatever it takes for you to be okay. Obviously I’ll miss you, but we’ll Skype like we planned. When your grandpa went in the hospital, I thought I wouldn’t see you at all this summer, so the next two Saturdays, and the ones in August are a special gift, right? We’ll make it through this, Dani. I know we will.”
He wrapped me in his arms and pressed his lips to mine. A symphony sang through every inch of me, scalp to soles. Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing.
About Author Laurel Garver
Laurel Garver is a writer, editor, professor’s wife, and mom to an arty teenager. An indie film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys geeking out about Harry Potter and Dr. Who, playing word games, singing in church choir, and hiking in Philly’s Fairmount Park.