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THE ELUSIVE WIFETHE ELUSIVE WIFE
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October's crisp autumn nights are perfect for reading

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The stakes climb higher!


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She's ready to give him total control


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An unlikely princess... An even more unlikely sorcerer... And using magic always exacts a price…


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One warrior fights for the love of his life, while another warrior finds his.


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The Affair continues...


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The Affair continues...


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Is he dead or alive?



Purchase


Tyndale House Publishers
July 2001
312 pages
ISBN: 0842340092
Hardcover
$12.99
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Inspirational Fiction Romance, Inspirational Fiction

Also by Robin Lee Hatcher:

The Heart's Pursuit, May 2014
Paperback
A Promise Kept, January 2014
Paperback
Heart Of Gold, February 2012
Trade Size
Belonging, August 2011
Trade Size
Bundle Of Joy, October 2008
Mass Market Paperback
The Perfect Life, February 2008
Trade Size
Another Chance To Love You, February 2006
Trade Size
Loving Libby, August 2005
Paperback
The Victory Club, June 2005
Trade Size
Beyond the Shadows, June 2004
Paperback
Catching Katie, January 2004
Paperback
Speak to Me of Love, August 2003
Paperback
Firstborn, June 2003
Paperback
Promised to Me?, April 2003
Paperback
Ribbon of Years, July 2001
Hardcover
In His Arms, June 2001
Paperback
Patterns of Love, March 2001
Paperback
The Story Jar, February 2001
Hardcover
Dear Lady, November 2000
Paperback
Shepherd's Voice, September 2000
Paperback

Excerpt of Ribbon of Years by Robin Lee Hatcher

Summer 2001

CHAPTER ONE

Wouldn't it be great if people could begin their lives again, if we could get a clean slate? That's what I was thinking as I drove through a quiet Boise neighborhood on a warm Friday morning in August.

When I was a kid, we called that a "do over." I wanted a "do over" in life. Of course, I knew I wouldn't get one. You got what you got, and you might as well make the best of it.

Leland, my husband of twenty-four years, seemed content enough. So did Traci, our daughter.

But I kept feeling like there should be something ... oh, I don't know. Something more.

At my age—forty-four this year—I thought I should know what life was about, but I didn't. It all seemed pretty futile. I only had to look at the newspaper headlines or listen to the evening news to confirm those feelings.

Leland knew I was at loose ends, restless, discontented. Poor man. He'd tried a dozen different remedies to lift my spirits, all to no avail.

I sighed deeply, my gaze fixed on the more-than-a-century- old homes, looking for my destination. In this part of town, the blocks were laid out in precise, orderly squares, the ancient trees gnarled, their roots buckling the sidewalks from the underside.

Spying the sign I was searching for—Estate Sale Preview Today, it proclaimed in large red letters—I pressed on the brake pedal and pulled to the curb.

I stared at the two-story Victorian-era house and sighed again. Normally I loved coming to these old homes and looking for that special find. But today ... well, I doubted anything would interest me in my present mood.

"You're here," I muttered. "Make the best of it."

I grabbed my purse from the passenger seat, opened the door, and got out.

v

I was greeted on the front porch by an attractive young woman— twenty-something and ultrathin—in a white silk suit, the jacket long, the skirt short. She had legs that didn't end, straight blond hair cut in a Jennifer Aniston style, striking blue eyes, and a thousand-watt smile.

Not exactly the sort of girl who made a forty-something woman in an identity crisis feel good about herself.

"Welcome," she said as she handed me a brochure. "Feel free to browse. Everything in the house is for sale. If you have questions, ask one of the setup crew. The auction will begin tomorrow morning at ten."

"Thanks," I mumbled as I moved toward the open doorway.

The moment my foot fell on the parquet floor of the entry, I felt surrounded by the past. The paper on the walls was reminiscent of the 1950s, a pastoral scene on an off-white background with pale green trees, grazing sheep, and shepherdesses with hooped skirts and crooked staffs. The baseboard and wainscoting had been painted the same shade of green as that in the wallpaper. It made me think of my grandmother's house.

I paused, closed my eyes, and breathed in. Yes, it even smelled a bit like Grandma's house used to. A hint of rose petals. A little musty. A dash of old age and disuse.

I heard voices behind me and quickly moved forward. There were more people in the living room off to my right, so after a quick glance inside, I bypassed it, heading instead for the stairs.

I liked to do my antique browsing alone.

There were two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small sitting room on the second floor of the house. No one was in the sitting room, so I went in and closed the door behind me.

It wasn't until I was inside that I realized the room seemed to be set up for a meeting. An odd collection of chairs—a wooden rocker, a love seat, a recliner, an upholstered wing-backed chair—formed a circle around an oval coffee table. Atop the table was a plain brown cardboard box, perhaps three feet by three feet in size. I might not have paid any more attention if it weren't for the green satin ribbon tied around the box.

I crossed the room for a closer look.

The top panels had been folded over one another rather than being taped, and across one of those panels, someone had written with a black marker: My life.

That was all. Just those two words, in large bold script. My life.

Should I look? I wondered as I gingerly touched the box.

"She did say everything in the house is for sale," I answered myself aloud.

That seemed justification enough to untie the ribbon and see what was inside.

What I found was not momentous, as I'd hoped. It was merely an odd collection of items, none of them of any apparent value. A rolled-up poster. A tan-colored serving tray, the kind used in cafeterias, only smaller; this one had been decorated with stickers, glitter, and Bible verses. A soldier's service cap, faded by time. A Nixon campaign button. A pair of gold filigree earrings. A striking black-and-white photograph of a majestic mountain range at either sunset or sunrise; it had been framed in black wrought iron, and the glass was cracked in the lower right corner. And finally, a soda-fountain glass, the kind they used to serve milk shakes in when I was a kid.

"So much for your life, whoever you are."

What would I put into a box marked "My life"?

Given the way I'd been feeling of late, that was a frightening thought. Except for raising my daughter, it didn't seem my life had accounted for anything.

The door to the sitting room squeaked open, revealing an elderly man, stoop-shouldered, bald-headed, and leaning on a cane. He raised his bushy gray eyebrows when he saw me.

"Sorry, miss," he said in a papery thin voice. "I was told I'd find—" he stopped abruptly when his gaze settled on the open box. "There it is." He shuffled forward. "Miriam would sure be surprised if she knew I got here before the others. She always complained about me bein' late."

Miriam?

The man came to stand before me and stared inside the

box. "My, oh, my. How'd she manage to hang on to that all these years?" He pulled the rocking chair close and sat down. Motioning with a quivering index finger, he said, "Hand me that poster, will you?"

I obliged, at the same time wondering how to gracefully make my escape. The curious sort I might be, but I knew some folks tended to talk at length about things that didn't interest me in the least.

The elderly gentleman unrolled the poster. I couldn't tell if he was about to cry or if his eyes were simply watery from old age.

"I was with Miriam the night she got this," he said. "Let's see now. That would've been about 1936, I reckon. Yes, that's when it would've been. I remember 'cause that was the same year I took a job at Tucker's Insurance. My father'd had a hard time after losing our farm. All of us living with his cousin, and he couldn't get a job. He needed my help."

What was I supposed to say to all that?

His gaze met mine. "Guess 1936 seems a long time ago to someone as young as you."

"I'm not all that young."

"Reckon that's what you think now. Time'll change that, same as it changed Miriam and me."

"Was she your wife?"

"Nope." He shook his head. "She wouldn't have me. Not in '36, and not later either."

Heaven only knew what possessed me to ask, "Why not?"

He didn't seem to hear me. He was staring at the poster, unrolled on his lap, his gnarled hands holding it in place, but his eyes had a faraway look in them. "She was fifteen that summer, prettiest girl in town and full of the dickens. When I think about some of the stunts she pulled, nothin' short of a miracle that she lived to see twenty, let alone eighty." He chuckled softly. "A regular spitfire, she was back then."

Excerpt from Ribbon of Years by Robin Lee Hatcher
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