The High Road Home

Now available

AMAZON   BARNES & NOBLE

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Robbie Tolliver, unmarried and facing forty, has spent half her life doing right by her kin. Now it's her turn to break loose with a solo road trip from Kentucky to Seattle. Her journey stalls in Colorado when she meets an enigmatic rancher, to-die-for in his faded Wranglers, but passion ignites only when they face danger together. When Robbie learns the secret haunting his life, the revelation teaches her about hard choices and sacrifice, about loving and letting go-and where her true home lies.

 

From the book ...

Next person to call her a saint was asking for a good smack in the mouth. Robbie Tolliver didn’t feel saintly, just cranky from the heat and worn to a frazzle.

“Purely a saint,” Miss Lucille Bauer said, and Robbie’s hand twitched, trapped between Miss Lucille’s soft old palms.

“Roberta!” Her brother James beckoned from the door of the ivy-smothered brick church. “It’s time.”

She detached herself from Miss Lucille and entered the vestibule. The sanctuary was pretty near filled—Mama would be pleased. She sank into the front pew beside James and his wife Candace. Their fifteen-year-old daughter Ashley sat with her blond head bowed, thumbs flying across a tiny keyboard. Her mother whispered to her, and Ashley gave a loud sigh before turning off her smart phone.

Robbie squirmed, trying to settle. Moist air filled the church like warm bath water despite tall floor fans spinning with a soft roar and cardboard paddles from Binney’s Funeral Chapel (“Asleep in Jesus”) flapping like big moths. The lining of her navy dotted-Swiss dress—way too heavy for May in Kentucky—clung like a wet shroud, and her best shoes felt a size too small.

She’d been on her feet since daybreak, not in these shoes the whole time thank goodness, but up and doing since first light. Scrambled eggs and coffee for James, tea for Candace. (“Earl Grey? No, Lipton’s fine, honestly.”) Robbie would have killed for a sausage-and-egg McMuffin, but the nearest McDonald’s was eight miles distant. Ashley hadn’t made it downstairs in time for breakfast.

Mindful of the heat, Robbie had asked Reverend Simms to keep the service short, although Mama would likely count it skimpier than her due. Even so, Robbie’s eyelids drooped until James poked her awake with an elbow. She straightened and stared at the stinky pink lilies (Mama’s favorites) all but hiding the casket. She hated funeral flowers and had requested donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, but folks had sent them anyway.

Finally the choir lumbered into Abide With Me and she rose, itching to bolt for the double doors at the rear of the church. What if she kicked off her shoes and ran—out of Crestwood, out of Oldham County, clean out of the Commonwealth of Kentucky? She crimped her lips over a grin, picturing Mama’s casket chasing along behind her like a can tied to a stray dog’s tail.

After the burial, she stood in her mother’s parlor—her parlor now, she supposed—nodding like a bobble-head while Great-Aunt Esther nattered on about Mama’s solos in the church choir. Thought mostly about her throbbing feet and how her set smile must look like a bad driver’s license photo. Wished she could clap her hands and yell, “Party’s over—don’t let the screen door smack your behind on the way out.”

She composed her face and shot a glance toward the front door. Maybe she could sneak out to the porch for a breath of air. Suddenly she felt struck to stone, breathless and light-headed.

James stepped in front of her. “Leland says he needs more teaspoons for the coffee service,” he said. “And where’s Mattie?” He peered at her. “Are you all right?”

She craned to peer around his bulk—just more church ladies arriving. “I told Mattie to see Mr. Binney carries all the arrangements around to nursing homes,” she said, amazed she could speak with her heart lodged in her throat.

Candace materialized at Robbie’s elbow. “I hate to tell you,” she said in a hushed voice, “but someone’s plugged up the powder room toilet.”