Return To Snowy Creek
to
see you and get the extra help. To tell you the truth, I think he’d
like to retire soon.”
    “Glad I can help. I just hope I won’t be in
the way while I’m home,” Grant said.
    “You are never in the way, son,” Maryanne
said. “This is home. This is where your heart should be.”
    ***
    Grant turned the corner near Williams’
hardware store and took in the view. He breathed in the crisp, cool
air. Main Street led straight up to the base of the ski slopes on
the mountain in the distance. Although fall was in full swing, and
the snow had yet to start falling, the ski runs were distinct.
Grant loved the cool weather. Every year, growing up in Snowy
Creek, he couldn’t wait until the temperatures dropped, the snow
fell, and the slopes opened. As a teen, Grant refused to go home
and finish his homework until he’d gotten in at least a few runs
after school.
    The sign on Williams’ Hardware Store dangled
in the distance. The rickety old sign had become a landmark in its
own right, after all the years hanging in the same place. Grant
neared the store and pushed on the front door. The bell at the top
jangled. The store wasn’t set to open for another thirty minutes,
but it had been several years since he’d helped out in the store
and he wanted to familiarize himself with where everything was now
located.
    As he stepped inside, memories came rushing
in. Grant had spent so much time playing in the store as a child
and working as a teen and young adult for his father. Grant ached
to see his father standing behind the counter. He missed him so
much. It had been a few years since his father passed away and
Grant felt guilty he hadn’t taken over the store. He knew his
father was proud of Grant’s new career, but he knew there was a
part of his dad that had wanted him to take over the family
business.
    Grant had planned as a young man to take
over one day, get married, and settle down. But one trip to
Hollywood and a lucky break kept him there. He would do it all over
again, but each time he came home, Grant realized just how much he
missed his family and the small town of Snowy Creek.
    “Gary?” Grant yelled across the aisles.
    “He’s back here,” a female voice
hollered.
    Grant followed the voice to the back of the
store. He stopped and stared at a tall, slender woman dressed in
carpenter pants and a gray t-shirt. For a moment, she stole his
breath. “Gary, either there’s something about you that’s changed,
or we’ve replaced you with a woman.”
    “I guess you’re looking for Gary,” she said
laughing, standing near the back door of the store.
    Grant stared at her for a moment and then
laughed out loud along with her. She was covered with splotches of
white paint. But underneath all the white was a tangled mess. A
mismatched, dirt-covered, beautiful mess. He couldn’t look away.
And there was something familiar about her.
    “Do you speak?” She asked.
    “I do.” Grant said. “Did you go swimming in
a pool of white paint? I can’t even figure out what color your hair
is.”
    “I had a run-in with a paint bucket this
morning. I guess you can see who won.” She crinkled her nose when
she laughed, which to Grant made her all the more endearing.
    “I haven’t even finished my cup of coffee
and you’ve had a day,” Grant said, holding up his metal Starbucks
mug.
    “I tend to get started a little early,” she
said. “Maybe I should’ve just stayed in bed this morning.”
    “I’m Grant, by-the-way. I’d offer to shake
your hand, but it would take me ten minutes to clean it up if I
did,” he smiled.
    “I know who you are—”
    “From the television show, I guess,” Grant
interrupted.
    “No. I don’t watch much TV.” The woman
smiled. “Sorry.”
    “Oh,” Grant said, feeling a bit insecure
about his assumption. “How do you know who I am?”
    “You have quite a movie star status
reputation around here.”
    Grant exhaled at the thought of everyone
thinking he was a movie star.

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