Home > The Best Is Yet to Come(9)

The Best Is Yet to Come(9)
Author: Debbie Macomber

   The question drew him up short; he was unwilling to walk down this path. “What do you want to know?” he asked, as a delay tactic.

   Harry shrugged as if it was of little concern. “I don’t know. Clearly she has a lot of heart.”

   “And patience,” Cade added. He’d watched her move closer and closer to the kennel until all that stood between them was the wire. As the malnourished dog regained his strength, his aggression grew less pronounced with Hope’s attention and care. Shadow looked for her. As soon as Hope entered the kennel area, Shadow rose to his feet, as if greeting a queen.

   “It must have taken a lot of courage for her to go into his kennel.”

   Cade agreed. He wasn’t sure how she’d managed to convince Preston to let her try. He hadn’t been around at the time and hadn’t heard the details. All he knew was that on his last visit, Hope was in the yard walking Shadow. Granted, it was a short leash, and it was only the two of them. He’d been awestruck, as had the rest of the staff and volunteers. From what he’d learned, Hope had agreed to adopt Shadow.

   “Yeah, she’s got plenty of that,” Cade agreed. As far as he could see, Hope had courage in spades.

   “I notice you’ve increased your hours at the shelter. Is it because of…What’s this volunteer’s name?”

   “Hope,” Cade answered.

   The name seemed to amuse Harry. “Hope,” he repeated. “She certainly seems to be giving Shadow hope for the future.”

   Cade silently agreed.

   “And just perhaps, you, too,” Harry added.



Chapter 4


   Hope sat in her office with Dannie, a junior girl who was weeping over the breakup with her boyfriend, convinced she had lost the love of her life. Hope offered sympathy and a hug. Once Dannie’s tears had dried, she rose to leave. Hope walked her out and was surprised to see Spencer Brown standing outside her door.

   “Hello, Spencer,” she said, surprised and pleased to see him. “What can I do for you?”

   As if he regretted being seen, he said, “It’s nothing.”

   Hope arched her brows at his response. “You didn’t stop by my office by mistake. Nor did you get lost. Come on in and tell me what’s on your mind.”

   Hope’s heart went out to Spencer. He really was her favorite student, mainly because she could identify with him. She’d been supersmart, too, with grades high enough that she could gain a full-ride scholarship and then manage a double major. Spencer’s classmates had labeled him an über-geek. She knew he had friends, but, like him, they weren’t athletic or particularly popular. They hung out in the lunchroom together and were mostly ignored by the female population.

   Spencer’s steps were reluctant as he came into the office. He glanced over his shoulder before he closed the door, as though to make sure no one saw him.

   “Tell me what’s on your mind,” she said, encouraging him to speak.

   “Not much,” he said, shrugging and avoiding eye contact.

   “It’s clear to me there’s something you’d like to discuss. That’s what I’m here for, Spencer. What you tell me will remain between the two of us, so feel free to share.”

   He glanced up, as though he wasn’t convinced he believed her.

   “You’re doing well in all your classes,” she said, starting the conversation.


   “Then whatever is bothering you doesn’t have to do with your grades.”


   Hope could see how difficult this was for him. She suspected she knew what had brought him into her office and broached the subject. “Does this have anything to do with Callie Rhodes?”

   Spencer’s head shot up, clearly shocked that Hope could somehow read his mind.

   “I’ve noticed the way you look at Callie in class,” she said, gentling her voice, wanting him to know she understood.

   “We were good friends at one time,” Spencer rushed to tell her. “Callie’s changed, though, and doesn’t have time for me any longer…”

   “So you two go way back?”

   Spencer nodded. “Our families are best friends, or we used to be. Ben and I used to hang out before he got involved in sports.”

   “When was that?”

   “Junior high, mostly. Ben’s athletic and that’s great. I mean, I’m happy for him, except once he started playing football and ran track, we didn’t hang out much, and now we never do. Callie and I were always friends, too, but we grew apart about the same time.”

   “I understand that Callie and Ben are twins.”

   “Yeah, they are.”

   Hope couldn’t help wondering if Callie and Ben were close the way she and Hunter had been. They had always relied on each other. For a brief moment, grief over the loss of her twin overwhelmed her as she swallowed down the emotion that clogged her throat.

   “Now that we’re all in high school, our parents still get together, but us kids aren’t included,” Spencer continued.

   Hope was grateful he didn’t notice her reaction.

   “Callie speaks to me, and Ben, too, but it isn’t like it was when we were young.”

   People and times change. Hope had come to realize over the years that there were seasons in friendships. Her best friend in college had been Tonya Harrison. Then following graduation from UC Davis, Tonya had married, and she and her husband, Justin, had moved to Texas. Hope and Tonya still kept in touch on Facebook and through text messages every now and again. But it wasn’t the same.

   “I understand relationships change,” Hope told Spencer. “That doesn’t mean they need to end.”

   “I’d like to be more than her friend, Ms. Goodwin. I’d like to be her date for homecoming.” He said this squaring his shoulders, as if releasing a long-held secret.

   “I see.” And she did.

   “I know she’s one of the most popular girls in school.” His eyes lit up, as if another thought had suddenly entered his mind. “Do you think Callie suspects the way I feel about her?” Spencer asked, wide-eyed with both dread and hope.

   Hope understood that more than anything, Spencer wanted Callie to know how he felt about her, and at the same time was afraid she did know and chose to ignore him rather than hurt his feelings.

   “I don’t know.” Hope had definitely noticed and wasn’t sure if Callie had or not.

   “I think about her all the time. I know, I know, it’s useless. Callie would never date me. I was thinking if we could go back to being friends that she might be willing to date me eventually. I want to ask her to homecoming in the worst way.”

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