Every Thanksgiving, Franzi Mueller returns to her hometown, Freedom Valley, to help with a musical show put on at the veteran's hospital. After a decade of living in Houston, Franzi starts feeling nostalgic for the sense of community of her small Texas town. Too bad Mama has decided to play matchmaker and keeps pushing together Franzi and her ex-high school beau, Dietz Reinhardt. Local hardware store owner Dietz can see that her big city clothing designer job has worn Franzi down and he's doing what he can to ease her load. Circumstances throw them together at every turn, and every glance and each touch ignites the old sparks. Can Franzi find what her creative spirit needs in Freedom Valley? Is time running out on this second chance for Dietz to win over her heart?
Page Count: 88
Word Count: 21467
“Closing in five minutes.”
That deep voice she remembered so well. A quick glance told her not much had changed in the store's decor. A little bit of everything and not much of anything. She forced a smile and strode to the wooden counter on the platform that stood half a foot higher than the floor. The man who'd spoken had his back to the door, a broad back that stretched the black t-shirt imprinted with Reinhardt's Hardware, family owned since 1854. A fact the Reinhardt family was immensely proud of, but the crux of the reason she and Dietz had gone their separate ways. “Hello, Dietz.”
“Franziska Mueller...to what do I owe this pleasure?”
The smile on his lips didn't reach his blue eyes. A fact she knew was totally her fault. “I just came in on the westbound train for my Thanksgiving visit and nobody was there to meet me. Erich Bruno happened by and he was driving me out to the ranch when he had to respond to a call.” Again, she sounded pathetic. Inside her coat pockets, both hands drew into fists. God, facing him one-on-one was harder than she'd thought it would be. “Can I use your phone?”
“Pay phone's outside the door.”
Her body tightened. “What is with this town and pay phones?” She paced a couple steps and back. “Normally, I'd use my cell but the battery needs charging. I don't have coins for a call.” Could she sound any more unprepared for life?
“So, you're askin' for a favor?” A black eyebrow arched over crystal blue eyes and he leaned an elbow on the counter. “Is that what I'm hearing?”