“Life is what happens to you while you’re
busy making other plans.”
Fridays were Lincoln Abbott’s favorite day of the workweek, and not just because they were the only thing standing between him and two full days off to spend with his wife, Molly. He also enjoyed Fridays because his executive team—all of them his grown children—were usually in good spirits as they prepared for the weekend. Another thing to love about Fridays was that most weeks, Linc enjoyed lunch at the diner with Molly and her dad, Elmer, both of whom were at the top of Linc’s list of favorite people.
He loved everything about his life in Butler, Vermont, from the breathtaking scenery to the entertaining town moose named Fred to the Green Mountain Country Store, Elmer’s parents had founded the store, and Lincoln had poured his heart and soul into for forty years, the last fifteen of them as CEO. Mostly, though, he loved the family he and Molly had raised. Their ten children had grown into adults he loved, admired and was proud to consider friends and colleagues. Molly, their marriage and those ten kids were his greatest accomplishments.
As he crossed Elm Street on his way back to the office after lunch with Molly and Elmer, he took note of the work being done to rebuild the Admiral Butler Inn that had burned earlier in the year, nearly taking his son Lucas with it. Linc couldn’t bear to think about that night or how close they’d come to losing their beloved Luc, who, like his identical twin brother, Landon, was a lieutenant in the Butler Volunteer Fire Department.
Linc shook off those morose thoughts and gave thanks once again for Luc’s good health and his rapid recovery from injuries that might’ve killed a lesser man. Lucas had also saved the life of Amanda, who was now blissfully engaged to Landon.
His seven sons were in great shape from their many outdoor pursuits, including rock-climbing, skiing, snowboarding, mountain search and rescue and numerous other things that he and Molly were probably better off not knowing about. That conditioning had saved Lucas’s life in the fire.
Linc’s nephew Noah Coleman’s construction company was rebuilding the inn, and Linc couldn’t wait to see how it came together under Noah’s leadership. Out of all the kids—ten Abbotts and eight Colemans—Noah was the enigma, the one who kept his distance from the family, especially since the dreadful breakup with his ex-wife, the details of which had been kept in lockdown. Linc kept hoping they’d get back the old Noah again. He’d once been a happy, outgoing kind of guy, but there’d been no sign of that Noah in years.
Linc had left Molly and her dad enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of the apple pie their daughter-in-law Megan had made to return to the office for the weekly Friday afternoon staff meeting. They didn’t really need the meeting, but Linc enjoyed getting everyone in the same room once a week to share ideas and energy. Some of their best initiatives had resulted from the meetings they tried to have weekly unless they had something better to do, such as a long weekend at their place in Burlington or their son Wade’s wedding in Boston this past June.
Nothing came before family time, not even the business his father-in-law had entrusted him with after he retired. It was a huge honor for Linc to continue the legacy that Elmer’s parents began and Elmer had continued, and to serve as the steward until one of his kids took the helm. He suspected it would probably be Hunter, but Linc was determined to let them figure that out for themselves. Any of the five who worked in the office with him would be qualified to take over when the time came, but that day was still a long way in the future. Linc was having way too much fun to think about retiring. As long as he and Molly could get away by themselves once in a while, they were happy with the status quo.
He loved the work of running an old-time country store and the challenge of maintaining the nostalgic feel of the place while applying modern business strategies to spark growth. Such as the catalog they’d launched in September that had doubled their monthly gross revenue in the three months it’d been in circulation, giving them their busiest holiday season in the company’s history.
The catalog and the warehouse that fulfilled the orders had lit a spark of excitement within the company that was palpable, as had the intimate product line Linc had championed—to the dismay of his children—which had brought in scores of new customers. He often chafed against his children’s more conservative approach to growing the business, but wasn’t afraid to pull rank when it suited his purposes. That’s exactly what he’d done with the intimate line, and he had no regrets there. Not to mention the product line had brought Amanda to town, and she and her daughter, Stella, would officially join their family when Amanda married Landon.
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