Forbidden Falls

Forbidden Falls

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Virgin River is abuzz with the news that a stranger bought the town's abandoned church on eBay. The buyer, a young widowed reverend, is a little like the building itself: in need of some loving care. Noah Kincaid arrives ready to roll up his sleeves and revitalize his new purchase, but he's going to need some help. An ad in the local paper brings an improbable candidate his way. qPastor's assistantq is not a phrase that springs to mind when Noah meets brassy, beautiful Alicia Baldwin. With her colorful clothes and even more colorful past, Alicia needs a respectable job so she can regain custody of her children. Noah can't help but admire her spunk and determination, and she may just be the breath of fresh air he needs. This unlikely duo may come from two different worlds, but they have more in common than anyone would have expected. And in Virgin River lasting happiness is never out of the question. From Booklist Noah Kincaid is a minister in search of a church when he stumbles across Hope McCreaa€™s eBay auction and impetuously decides to use his recent inheritance to finance his dreams. Ellie Baldwin is trying to rebuild her life and make a home for her kids away from her manipulative ex-husband, who currently has custody in an attempt to force her back into his arms. Flamboyant and attractive, Ellie is exactly the wrong person for the job of ministera€™s assistant, but when Noaha€™s compassion overrules his good sense, he discovers that she is also a hard worker and mature beyond her years. Carra€™s hugely popular contemporary-romance series set in Virgin River, California, introduces new characters and revisits familiar ones as the relatively isolated mountain town continues to grow and its residents address social issues such as homelessness, poverty, and illness. --Lynne Welch Excerpt. Ac Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Recently ordained minister Noah Kincaid was surfing the Internet, killing time, when quite by chance, he happened to find a church being auctioned on eBaya€”in some little place he'd never heard ofa€”Virgin River. He laughed at the very idea, but was intrigued. He'd been waiting patiently for an assignment to a church of his own and thought it couldn't hurt to take a look at the place himself. If nothing else, it would be a good excuse to get out of town for a day and see something different. He'd heard Northern California was very beautiful. The first thing that struck him was the overwhelming beauty of the mountains, redwoods and rivers. The town was a little washed out and the church was a wreck, but there was a peacefulness and simplicity there he couldn't dismiss. Or forget. It seemed uncomplicated, fresh. No one really noticed him in the little town; the local men he'd seen either had hair shorn in military fashion or ponytails and beards, just like the fishermen Noah had worked with over the years. He fit right ina€”he wore scuffed boots, his jeans were almost white with wear, ripped here and there, his denim shirt was thin on the elbows and frayed around the collar and cuffs. His black hair was too long and curled over his collar; he planned to get it cut the second he was assigned a church of his own. But for now, he fit right in, looking like any other laborer after a hard day's work. He was fit and toned like the local Virgin River men; years of working on a fishing boat and dockside, dragging nets, hauling in tons of fresh catch will do that. The church had been easy to locate and he hadn't needed a key to get insidea€”it was boarded up and appeared to have been abandoned for years, but the side door wasn't locked. The place had been stripped bare and filled with years of trash, probably litter from transients who'd taken shelter there at one time or another. Almost all the windows had been broken before being covered over with plywood. But when he got to the sanctuary, he discovered a stunning stained-glass window, boarded from the outside to keep it safe. It had been left untouched. Afterward, he had driven the neighborhoods in town, which hadn't taken long, had a cup of coffee at the only eating establishment, snapped a few digital pictures and left. When he got back to Seattle he contacted the woman who was auctioning the church on eBay, Hope McCrea. qThat church has been boarded up for years, q she said in her gravelly voice. qThis town has been without religion a long time.q qYou sure the town is in need of religion?q Noah asked her. qNot entirely sure, q she answered. qBut it could damn sure use some faith. That church needs to be opened up or razed to the ground. An empty church is bad mojo.q Noah couldn't agree more. Despite being busy at the college where he taught, Noah couldn't get Virgin River, or that church, out of his mind. He took the idea of buying the church to the presbytery and found they were already well aware of its existence. He showed them his digital pictures and they agreed, there was great potential. Placing a minister there appealed to them; the population was just the right size to build a congregation and it was the only church in town. But the renovation, not to mention the accoutrements, would put the costs too high. There was no way they had the budget. They thanked Noah sincerely and promised him he would get his own church real soon. What the presbytery didn't know was that Noah had recently come into some money. To him, a small fortune. He was thirty-five and since the age of eighteen had been slaving and studying. While attending the university, he'd worked on boats, docks and in fish markets out of the Port of Seattle. A year ago his mother had passed and, to his surprise, had left him a hefty portion of her inheritance. So, he offered to lighten the presbytery's financial burden by taking on the renovation costs of the church as a donation if they would see fit to assign him as the pastor. The proposal was an appealing one for the Presbyterian church. Before closing the deal, Noah called his closest friend, and the man responsible for talking him into the seminary in the first place. George Davenport thought he'd lost his mind. George was a retired Presbyterian minister who had been teaching for the last fifteen years at Seattle Pacific University. qI can think of a thousand ways for you to throw away that money, q George had said. qGo to Las Vegas, put it all on red. Or finance your own mission to Mexico. If those people needed a pastor, they'd go looking for one.q qFunny that church is still standing there, useless, like it's waiting for a rebirth. There must be a reason I happened to see it on eBay, q Noah said. qI've never looked at eBay before in my life.q After much debate, George conceded, qIf it's structurally sound and the price is right, it might work out. You'd get a big tax write-off with the donated renovation cost, and a chance to serve a small, poor congregation in a hick mountain town that doesn't get cell-phone reception. Sounds perfect for you.q qThere is no congregation, George, q Noah reminded him. qThen you'll have to gather one, son. If anyone can do it, you can. You were born to do it, and before you get all insulted, I'm not talking about your DNA. I'm talking about pure talent. I've seen the way you sell fish, I always thought there was a message there. Goa€”it's what you want. Open your doors and your heart and give it all you've got. Besides, you're the only ordained minister I know who has two nickels to rub together.q So Noah inked the deal with the presbytery and hoped his mother wasn't spinning in her grave. Truth be told, she'd always quietly supported him when, years back, he had been determined as hell to run away from the ministry. She had good reason. Noah's father was a powerful, semi-famous televangelista€”and a cold, controlling man. Noah had run away while his mother could not. If someone had told Noah seventeen years ago, when he fled his father's house at the age of eighteen, that he would one day be a preacher himself, he'd have laughed in their face. Yet here he was. And he wanted that church. That wreck of a church in that peaceful, uncomplicated mountain town. Several weeks later Noah was in his fifteen-year-old RV, which would be his home for a good long time, towing his twenty-year-old faded-blue Ford truck. En route to Northern California, he called George's office, placing the call from his cell phone before the signal was lost in the mountains and tall trees. qI'm on my way into Virgin River, George.q qWell, boya€”how does it feel?q George asked with a deep chuckle in his voice. qLike you pulled off the sweetheart deal of the century, or like you'll be dead broke and out in the street before you know what hit you?q Noah laughed. qNot sure. I'll be tapped out by the time the church is presentable. If I can't drum up a congregation, I could be back in Seattle throwing fish before you know it, q he said, referring to an old job of his working the fish market on Seattle's downtown wharf. He'd literally thrown large fish across the market. It had been like theater and it was where George had discovered him. qI'll get started on the improvements right away and trust the presbytery won't leave me out in the cold if no one shows up to services. I mean, if you can't trust the churcha€bq That comment was answered with George's hearty laughter. qThey're the last ones I'd trust. Those Presbyterians think too much! I know I wasn't keen on this idea at first, Noah, but I wish you well, q George said. qI'm proud of you for taking a chance.q qThanks, George. I'll keep in touch.q qNoah, q George said soberly. qGood luck, son. I hope you find what you're looking for.q It was the first of July when Noah rattled into Virgin River and pulled right up to the church. Parked there was a big old Suburban with the wheels jacked up and covered with mud. Standing beside it was a tiny old woman with wiry white hair and big glasses, a cigarette hanging from her lips. She wore great big tennis shoes that didn't look as if they'd ever been white and, although it was summer, she had on a jacket with torn pockets. When he parked and got out of his RV, she tossed the cigarette to the ground and stomped it out. One of Virgin River's stunning beauties, he thought wryly. qReverend Kincaid, I presume?q she said. From the look on her face, Noah assumed she was expecting someone a bit more refined. Maybe someone who dressed in khakis and a crisp white button-down? Shiny loafers? Neatly trimmed hair? Clean shaven at least? His hair was shaggy, his whiskers itchy, and he had a healthy bit of motor oil on his jeans, a result of a stop a hundred miles back when he'd had to work on the RV. qMrs. McCrea, q he answered, putting out his hand. She shook it briefly, then put the keys in his palm. qWelcome. Would you like a tour?q qDo I need keys?q he asked. qThe building wasn't locked the last time I was here. I looked it over pretty thoroughly.q qYou've seen it?q she asked, clearly startled. qSure did. I took a run down here before placing a bid on behalf of the Presbyterian church. The door wasn't locked so I helped myself. All the presbytery really needed from you was the engineer's report on the building's structural competence. I gave them lots of pictures.q She pushed her oversize glasses up on her nose. qWhat are you, a minister or some kind of secret agent?q He grinned at her. qDid you think the presbytery bought it on faith?q qI guess I didn't see any other possibility. Well, if you're all set, let's go in to Jack'sa€”it's time for my drink. Doctor's orders. I'll front you one.q qDid the doctor order the smokes, too?q he asked with a smile. qYou're damn straight, sonny. Don't start on me.q qI gotta ...Virgin River is abuzz with the news that a stranger bought the towna#39;s abandoned church on eBay.

Title:Forbidden Falls
Author:Robyn Carr
Publisher:Gone Girl - 2009-12-29


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