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Reunited on Dragonfly Lane
Includes a Bonus Novella
By Annie Rains
Formats and Prices
- Mass Market (Special Edition) $8.99 $12.99 CAD
- ebook $5.99 $7.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 26, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Chase has come home to help his nephew but finds that he’s forgotten just how much he enjoys small-town life. However, sooner or later, he’s going to have to face the past and his unresolved feelings for Sophie. Now that Comet needs both their help, Chase is going to let the four-legged matchmaker work his canine magic. Then Chase will prove to Sophie that first love is even better the second time around.
Includes the bonus novella A Wedding on Lavender Hill!
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Sophie Daniels checked the clock as she straightened the clothes on the racks in her boutique. Today she was leaving work early to get ready for the wedding of two of her closest friends. Not only that, she had a date with a guy who met all the qualities of her potential Mr. Right.
She headed back to the counter where her mom was sitting with a crochet needle and a ball of yarn. “You’re sure you don’t mind closing?”
Her mom didn’t skip a beat with her crocheting as she looked up and smiled at Sophie. “Of course not. Give Jack and Emma my best.”
“I will.” Sophie grabbed her purse from below the counter and leaned in to kiss her mother’s cheek.
It was going to be a small wedding, including only Jack Hershey and Emma St. James’s closest friends and family. Sophie was pleased to have made the guest list and to have narrowly missed the bridesmaids lineup. That meant she was free to wear a dress of her choosing from her own boutique. One with a hemline that swung well below the jagged scars on her left leg, a reminder of her climbing accident when she was eighteen.
“Good luck on your date.” Her mom winked. “I hope this one has some sense.”
Sophie laughed, easing some of the tension she felt coursing through her body. She hadn’t had time to do her normal yoga routine this morning, which usually helped to ease the cramping in her leg muscle—another remnant of her injuries.
According to the town, Sophie was the girl who’d survived. She’d spent thirty-six hours on the side of a mountain, praying for rescue. And sometimes she felt like she hadn’t fully escaped that cliff. Sometimes, even in a crowded room, she felt all alone.
Yeah, that would probably sound silly to some. Sophie had a lot of friends in town. She also had her family. But no one understood exactly what she’d been through. The girl who’d climbed up that mountain so many years ago wasn’t the one who’d come down.
Sophie narrowed her gaze at her mom. “And by having sense, you mean that you hope my date falls madly in love with me?”
Her mother’s gaze flicked from her crochet work to Sophie’s eyes. “Any sane man would. What’s not to love about my daughter?”
“You’re my mother so you have to say that,” Sophie said.
“But it’s also the truth.”
Sophie shook her head, laughing as she walked toward the boutique’s door. “Bye, Mom. No half-off discounts while I’m gone,” she said, only partly teasing. Her mom loved to mark down clothing for her friends. And everyone who came in was considered a friend by the time they left the store.
“Have fun tonight,” her mom called as Sophie stepped onto the sidewalk of Main Street. Sophie waved again as she stood on the other side of the glass door. Then she turned and breathed in the springtime air. This was her favorite season. All things were new in the spring, and the thrill of possibilities always invigorated her this time of year. Instead of turning right toward her car in the parking area, she turned left and followed her craving for a hot tea from the Sweetwater Café. She’d be up late tonight, and a little caffeine would go a long way.
Tonight’s date was a high school history teacher. That meant he had a job and liked kids. Check, check. She also knew that he had a house, which implied that he was responsible and didn’t live with his parents. Another check. And he was an indoor kind of guy. That hadn’t always been her type but given that it took thirty minutes of yoga every morning to tease out her muscle stiffness, a guy on the less active side—one she could actually keep up with—was preferable.
Sophie pulled open the café’s door. Since Emma was the bride tonight, she wouldn’t be working the counter today. Neither would her longtime employee Nina, who was one of the bridesmaids. Instead, a newcomer to town, Diana, greeted Sophie as she walked in.
“I’m afraid I haven’t memorized everyone’s drinks just yet,” Diana said, talking about Emma’s talent for knowing exactly what her customers wanted before they ordered. “What can I get you?”
Sophie ordered a hot tea with honey and waited patiently. Once Diana handed her the drink, Sophie paid and then turned to leave, when she noticed the couple at one of the tables against the wall. The man looked familiar but it took a moment for Sophie to process that he was her date tonight. It didn’t make sense that a guy who’d be picking her up in an hour and a half would be sitting with his arm draped around another woman.
Sophie stood frozen, watching the happy couple and wondering what the appropriate response was. Confront them? Leave? Pour her hot beverage over his head? She was fairly sure the latter was a criminal offense and would land her in jail instead of at a wedding this evening.
She should probably feel angry but, instead, she felt relieved. She was tired of dating guys who, like her mother said, had no sense. Or were just plain rude. There was also the fact that she already knew every man in town. If The One were here, surely she would have realized it by now.
Deciding to do the mature thing, Sophie continued walking out of the café. When she got outside, she texted her would-be date and canceled their plans. Then she walked to where she’d parked her car this morning. She got in and sipped her tea as she drove down Main Street, taking a left on a connecting street and another right onto Dragonfly Lane, where she lived in her own home, sans her parents and purchased by way of her responsible job. She didn’t work with kids but she liked them, and her best friend Trisha’s son thought Sophie was the world’s best babysitter.
If Sophie were a guy, she’d be her own Mr. Right. Maybe that was a sign that she was meant to be alone. Some people were perfectly happy living single after all. Perhaps she should get a pet to keep her company. A fish was low-maintenance.
Sophie carefully climbed her porch steps. She walked inside and headed to her bedroom. After taking an extended hot shower, she pulled the long, elegant dress she’d purchased for tonight from her closet. It was in a color called passion fruit, which was all the rage for spring. She slipped it over her body, loving the feel of silk against her skin. Then she turned to look at her reflection in the mirror. Her mood lifted just enough to make her release a pent-up breath.
Just like when she was eighteen and everything about her life had felt wrong, she stepped into a piece of clothing and her world righted just enough. That’s when she’d fallen in love with clothes. She’d felt helpless, unattractive, and out of control after her climbing accident. She’d felt the pressing weight of everyone’s expectations to lift her chin high, put on a smile, and get well.
She hadn’t felt like smiling though. And back then, even though it had been during a spring much like this one, hope had been so far out of reach that she couldn’t even conceive of the possibility that things would ever get better.
Clothes had become a kind of armor. They gave her confidence. They hid things from the outside world that she didn’t want others to see.
Sophie swept her hair into an updo and slipped her feet into a pair of flats. Her days of wearing heels were long gone. Most days, she barely even had a limp. Ten minutes in a pair of high-heel shoes, however, would overstress the weak muscles in her left leg and ensure she couldn’t even walk for the rest of the night.
Grabbing her keys off the counter, Sophie headed back out her door. She hurried to her car and started driving, distracted only a little by the question that had been plaguing her all day. Was Chase Lewis on the guest list? And truthfully, that was the reason she’d wanted a date to tonight’s wedding in the first place.
Chase had returned to town three months ago but she’d done a fairly good job of avoiding her first love so far. And when they had run into each other, she’d managed to smile politely and excuse herself as quickly as possible. After over ten years, he still had the power to make her heart skip a beat. Too much had happened between them though. Some things couldn’t be undone, like the boulder that had crushed her lower leg when she’d fallen off the face of a mountain. And some words could never be unsaid.
Sophie sighed, hoping she wouldn’t have to dodge Chase tonight. Then she screamed as something darted in front of her car, and she slammed the brakes too late. Her bumper tapped against whatever it was with a jolting thud.
* * *
Chase had fully intended to leave the veterinary clinic early today so he could prepare for Jack and Emma’s wedding. But it was one of those days where it literally seemed to be raining cats and dogs in his reception area. Then he’d needed to perform an emergency surgery on a patient of his, a retriever with a fancy for swallowing sweaty socks.
He’d known being the only vet in town would be hard when he’d accepted the job in late December. He couldn’t work a normal schedule so plans were always getting fumbled. But if Chase hurried, he’d make it to the wedding on time, watch his longtime friends exchange their vows, and wish them the very best.
Chase stepped into a pair of leather shoes that he seldom wore and glanced at his reflection for a quick moment. At first, he didn’t recognize himself. He was much more used to the scrubs and the dark five o’clock shadow that filled in after a long day at the clinic. Or a wet-dry tee and pair of athletic shorts, which was his typical climbing gear.
A suit, on the other hand…
He turned from the mirror and hurried toward the front of the house, slowing at the sight of a chew toy that still rested by his back door where Grizzly used to lay. Now Chase’s beloved dog was gone.
Chase swallowed past the ache in his heart. Grizzly had been with him in college, his first job in South Carolina, and his return to his hometown a few months ago to take over the old veterinary clinic here. Grizzly had been a faithful companion through many tough times and could never be replaced. Chase had considered getting another dog but now he wondered if he ever would.
He stepped over the chew toy, grabbed his keys off the hook on the wall, and jogged out the door, his restless muscles reminding him that he hadn’t had time to go for a run in two days. Maybe this weekend the clinic would slow down enough to give him a chance to satisfy his need for adrenaline.
As if on cue, his phone rang with an incoming call as he got into his truck. He checked the caller ID before holding his cell phone to his ear. “Hey, Will.”
Will Marritt was a longtime friend and fellow outdoor fanatic.
“Hey, man, just wondering if you were free tonight. I was going to get some wings and a few drinks.”
“I’m afraid I already have plans,” Chase said. He pulled out of his driveway and onto the road.
“I’m going to Jack and Emma’s wedding tonight.” Chase wasn’t surprised that Will wasn’t invited. The guest list was intentionally kept small, and Will was older than Chase’s high school friends. He and Chase had reconnected over their mutual love of the great outdoors since he’d been back home.
“Right, right,” Will said. “I forgot. Man, I hate to eat wings alone but I like going to weddings alone even less.”
Chase felt his lips pulling into a frown. He didn’t enjoy going to weddings alone either but worse than that was going with someone he wasn’t really into. “Actually, I’m taking Amelia Dover,” he confessed.
“Oh yeah? You two dating?”
Chase hesitated. “This’ll be our first date. Kind of.” And he wished he were just going alone. Amelia was nice and they had a lot in common but there were no sparks. And she wasn’t even good friends with Jack or Emma. She was only attending as Chase’s date. “We’ll get together another time,” Chase said, veering the subject safely away from his dating life as he turned onto a neighboring street.
“We need to plan a climb. You free tomorrow?”
Chase wanted to say yes but his clinic schedule was unpredictable. “As long as no pet emergencies come up. I’ll let you know.”
“Sounds good, bud.”
They disconnected the call, and Chase slowed at the sight of a car pulled to the side of the road. He recognized the sporty yellow vehicle. Sophie Daniels had made it clear since he’d been back in town that she didn’t really want to be friends. Who really stayed friends after a messy breakup anyway? At least after sharing the kind of young love they’d had. The kind of heartbreak that never truly healed, in his experience.
Unable to leave her stranded, he slowed and pulled behind her car. He got out, noticing that her hood wasn’t up. He walked up to the driver’s side window, preparing to knock until he realized that she wasn’t sitting inside. Then he heard her quiet voice near the front of the hood. Her sniffles got his attention.
“It’s okay. I’m so sorry. I just didn’t see you,” she said.
Chase quickened his steps and rounded the front of her car. “Sophie?”
She startled as she looked up at him, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks. Her reddish-brown hair was pulled back in a fancy clip at the base of her neck. “Chase! Oh my goodness. I’m so happy to see you.”
He froze. “Are you okay?” Because the Sophie he knew these days seemed to avoid him at all costs.
“Yes, I’m fine but I hit this puppy.” Tears made black rivers of mascara run down her cheeks. “He’s still breathing. I didn’t mean to hit him. He just appeared out of nowhere and I tried to stop but I still tapped him, and now he’s just lying here.” Her words ran together as she spoke quickly.
Chase trailed his gaze over the dog. He knew this puppy. It was a patient of his at the clinic.
“Please, help him,” Sophie pleaded.
Chase headed over and knelt on one knee, dirtying the pants leg of his suit. So much for polishing up nicely. “Hey, Comet,” he said, gently rubbing the top of the pup’s head.
“How do you know his name?” Sophie asked with surprise.
Chase slid his gaze to meet hers. Even in an emergency situation, his heart managed to squeeze at the sight of her. “He belongs to Mrs. Dozier.” Mrs. Dozier was an elderly woman in town who lived alone and thought a pet would serve as a good companion.
Sophie covered her mouth with one hand. “Oh no, she’ll be so upset. Is he going to die?”
Chase looked for any sign of injury on the dog. There was no visible blood but Comet’s hind leg wasn’t positioned right. “Best-case scenario, he could be in shock,” Chase told her, hoping she wouldn’t ask the next obvious question.
Sophie’s light-green eyes widened as they filled with fear. She lowered her shaky hand from her mouth. “And the worst case?” she asked.
Chase hesitated because he knew Sophie wouldn’t like the answer. “Let’s not think about worst case just yet.”
* * *
Sophie had never stepped foot into a veterinary clinic before. She’d never had a reason to until now.
The first thing she noticed was that the building had a distinct odor. Like wet fur and bleach. It wasn’t necessarily bad but it wasn’t a place where she’d want to work day in and day out either.
Sophie went up on her toes to see Chase and the limp black-and-white puppy better from where she was standing against the wall in the examining room.
“You don’t have to stand way over there, you know.” Chase glanced over his shoulder. “You can come closer.”
“No, that’s okay.” She pressed her shoulder blades into the wall behind her. Her dress had an open back so her bare skin met the cold surface. A shiver ran through her, as much from the temperature as from the situation she found herself in. “I’m fine right here.”
Chase was using a stethoscope to listen to the dog’s chest and stomach as it lay on the table. Sophie guessed from her Grey’s Anatomy television education that he was checking for the sound of something foreboding.
Please let the puppy be okay.
She watched Chase inspect Comet’s leg next. The dog whined a little, and Sophie couldn’t bear to watch another moment. This was all her fault. How had she not seen him run in front of her car? What was he doing out there all alone? Where was Mrs. Dozier?
Sophie turned and headed out of the examining room, needing air. Whatever she had to do to make things right with the little dog in the examining room, she’d do. She’d pay the vet bills and even go to Mrs. Dozier’s home if necessary to care for him. It was the least she could do.
Sophie’s stomach clenched but she kept walking, unfamiliar with the building’s layout or where she was going. She just needed a moment and some room to move her restless muscles. She found a bathroom down the hall and stepped inside to wash her hands and wipe off the faded black trails of mascara from where she’d been crying. Then she stepped back into the hall and followed it a little farther down.
The sound of a cat got her attention. Welcoming a distraction from her current state of panic, Sophie turned toward the sound and saw a room full of kennels, some empty and some with cats and dogs. Without thinking, she headed in that direction.
She stopped to say hello to several animals before standing in front of a kennel with a handwritten sign that read MINNIE. “Hey, sweetheart. How are you doing tonight?”
The black cat pressed its nose against the cage trying to sniff her hand as she held it out. It meowed softly again. “I bet Dr. Lewis took very good care of you, and you’re going to be just fine.”
“I appreciate your faith in me. As a doctor, at least.”
Sophie whirled to face Chase, who’d walked up behind her without her hearing him. He held Comet in his arms. “Oh. You’re done with the examination already? How is he?”
“Well, he’s not bleeding internally. But he does have a broken leg. I’ve stabilized it for right now, and I’ll keep him here overnight.” Chase bent down to gently lay Comet in one of the empty cages. It was lined with a large navy blue pillow that looked comfortable at least.
Sophie blew out a breath as she watched. Chase was definitely dressed for some kind of formal occasion. And he looked good. He was clean-shaven, and his honey-colored brown hair was combed neatly, curling slightly at the ends. She cleared her throat, focusing on the reason she was here. “Did you reach Mrs. Dozier?”
Chase nodded as he stood and faced her. “I left a message and told her that Comet was fine and that she could call my cell phone. When she does, I’ll arrange for her to come see him tomorrow.”
“On Sunday?” Sophie grimaced. “I’m guessing that’s usually your day off.”
Chase folded his arms in front of him. “One thing I didn’t anticipate when I took over this clinic is that I’d rarely get a day off. Not without calling in one of the vets I know in Whispering Pines.”
Whispering Pines was the next town over. The knowledge that Chase would be back here again in the morning because of her only compounded Sophie’s guilt. “Thank you so much for helping. I know Mrs. Dozier would be heartbroken if something had happened to Comet.”
“No need to thank me. I was glad to help. That’s what I do.”
Sophie realized that they were alone in this building, aside from all the animals watching them. The building was only half-lit and strangely quiet aside from the sound of claws tapping along the cage floors and scratching at fur. “I’ll pay for the bill. I was the one who hit Comet after all.”
Chase shook his head. “I don’t need to be paid. I’ll count this as my good deed for the month.”
Sophie’s hands fidgeted in front of her. “I want to make things right. What can I do to help?”
Chase shrugged. “Right now, there’s nothing else to do. Comet is sedated, and he’ll stay here tonight and rest.”
Sophie felt helpless as she nervously turned to look at Comet. “He’s a beautiful dog. A border collie, right?”
“That’s correct. You know your breeds.”
She turned to him. “You sound surprised.”
“I’ve just never known you to be interested in animals.”
She wanted to tell him he didn’t really know her anymore at all. Instead, she looked around the room, anywhere but at him, and said, “A neighbor of mine used to have a border collie. He was such a gorgeous and smart dog.”
“It’s a good breed,” Chase agreed. “Comet is a mix. He probably has a little retriever in him too.”
Sophie listened as she took a step backward, needing to put some space between them. “Well, I better get going. I’m sure you have things to do with your evening.”
Chase gestured between them. “Based on how we’re dressed, I’m guessing we’re both going to the same place.”
“You’re going to Jack and Emma’s wedding too?” She was hoping there was some other fancy event in town tonight.
“Now you look surprised,” he teased. Then his grin fell, and he slapped a hand to his forehead. “Oh no.”
“What?” Without thinking, Sophie stepped toward him. “What’s wrong?”
He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and looked at the screen. “I was supposed to pick up my date for Jack and Emma’s wedding. I completely forgot.”
The d word got Sophie’s attention. Why wouldn’t he bring a date though? She was supposed to be going with someone tonight too. “You had an animal emergency come up. I’m sure she’ll understand.”
“If she ever speaks to me again,” Chase muttered. “I’ve missed three calls from her already.” He blew out a breath. “I’ll call her back after I lock up here.”
“I’m sorry.” But some part of Sophie wasn’t sorry at all. She watched Chase fill a food and water bowl for Comet. “So, who is she?” she asked. “Your date.”
Chase paused in what he was doing, glancing over his shoulder to meet her gaze. “You probably wouldn’t know her.”
Sophie folded her arms in front of her, tilting her head and narrowing her eyes. “If she’s from Sweetwater Springs, I’m guessing I would. You’re the one who’s been gone for so many years. Not me.”
He paused for a long beat. “Amelia Dover.”
Sophie straightened a notch. “Oh.” Amelia was younger than her by maybe five years. She was tall and curvy in all the places that a woman wanted to be. And she was undeniably gorgeous. She was also one of those genuinely nice people who you couldn’t speak poorly of even if you tried.
“Well, she is someone who would definitely understand missing your date because of needing to rescue an animal.”
Chase led the way down the hallway toward the front reception area. “You’re probably right. I should have at least texted or called to let her know I wouldn’t make it. I got distracted.”
He turned to face Sophie in midstep, causing her to bump into him accidentally. His hands braced her arms, and her face reflexively tipped back to look at him. It’d been years but this position felt entirely too familiar. She didn’t breathe for a moment. She just stared into his brown eyes, getting lost in the best kind of way.
“Sorry,” he finally said, voice low. But his hands were still on her arms, and he didn’t step back. Neither did she.
Her heart knocked hard against her ribs. “My fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going.” For the second time tonight.
“I turned on you too soon,” he said.
“Because you had something to say. What was it?” At this close range, she could see the scar on his cheek from the time he’d fallen off his mountain bike on a ride with her. It’d been a nasty fall, and he’d gotten nine stitches that afternoon at the ER. She’d been there with him the whole time.
He held her gaze captive. She could barely blink as she waited, her heart thumping erratically. This was why she’d been avoiding Chase Lewis since he’d returned to town. She couldn’t do this again. Wouldn’t. They had nothing in common anymore. The only thing between them now was baggage.
“I can’t seem to remember,” he said.
- "Top pick! This second chance romance story captures your heart in the beginning and leaves you smiling at the end."—HarlequinJunkie.com
"I can’t believe we’re at the finale of the Sweetwater Springs series! I’m super-bummed to leave this place behind... Not only was this a lovely finale, but it did a great job of setting up for her next series at Somerset Lake. I’m definitely excited."—BookmarkLit.net
"I enjoyed this touching book by Annie Rains and have also loved the previous books in this series. Sweetwater Springs and its residents are absolutely wonderful, and it was nice to spend a few hours in this sweet story."
- "REUNITED ON DRAGONFLY LANE is a story of family and friendships, second chances and love. The premise is sweet and heart warming; the romance is chaste; the characters are animated and flirty."—TheReadingCafe.com
- "Annie Rains is a gifted storyteller, and I can't wait for my next visit to Sweetwater Springs!"—Raeanne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author
- "Annie Rains puts her heart in every word!"—Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author
- "Annie Rains is an author to watch. I can't wait for more!"—Sidney Halston, USA Today bestselling author, on Christmas on Mistletoe Lane
- On Sale
- Jan 26, 2021
- Page Count
- 368 pages