by Sharon D. Tweet
Chapter 1 – excerpt
She pulled into the parking lot, parked her Jeep, turned off the engine, and stared through the windshield at the vibrant, almost translucent blue sky. Towering evergreens climbed the side of the mountain, creating a breathtaking and comforting cocoon. She needed a moment.
To take in the scene before her.
To just be.
I’m here. Finally.
With the heater no longer blowing, a chill crept into the Jeep. Grabbing her purse and fleece sweatshirt, she stepped into the fresh mountain air. She closed her eyes and inhaled.
I love fall. It’s so clean and crisp.
Opening her eyes she turned to open the back door to grab her travel bag. A spontaneous smile spread across her face at the sight of the kayak strapped to the top of her Jeep.
The only sight better is the canoe.
Her smiled faded a little as a twinge of sadness crept upon her.
The canoe won’t work this time.
She knew it was more than she could handle on her own.
Looking down, she whispered a prayer for assurance, gathered up her personal-sized travel case from the back seat, and crossed the parking lot to the stairs leading to the lodge.
Entering through the oversized oak doors, a rush of warmth greeted her, dispelling any chill from the autumn air. The fragrance of cinnamon and pine and the sound of crackling wood from the fireplace nestled in a corner wafted in from the sitting room beside the lobby. Although her first time in the lodge, she felt a sense of “coming home.”
Comfort embraced her.
Peace embraced her.
It’s just what I hoped for. Prayed for.
“Welcome to Timber Lodge.”
The gentle voice directed her attention to an elderly woman perched atop a stool behind the check-in counter. Her smile and the sparkle in her eyes reflected the same gentleness heard in her voice.
“Hello. Thank you,” she said as she stepped toward the counter, casting a glance at the grand open staircase. “The lodge is just beautiful! I’ve been looking forward to being here for quite a while now. So glad my trip is finally here.”
She released the handle on her travel case and draped her sweatshirt over the top. Looking at the woman, she said, “I’m Madalyne, Madalyne Hunter.”
Madalyne’s five foot, six inch frame and russet brown hair belied her age. At fifty-four she maintained a trim physique and sun-kissed glow. As on all long road trips, her shoulder length hair was twisted up into a knot, secured by a carved, wooden dowel hairpin. Her ocean blue eyes shone with kindness and grace.
“Well, we’re glad you’re here, too, Madalyne. I’m Jenny Jacobson. My husband Sampson and I own the lodge. We’ve been welcoming guests here for over thirty years now. Have you been up this way before?”
Madalyne looked around in pleasant wonder. “No. This is my first time here. My first time to Montana in general. I found you on the internet while researching a place for my vacation. I was praying for a place in the mountains where I could just take in the beauty and rest. Your website had me hooked.”
Jenny nodded and smiled. “Oh, my granddaughter-in-law will be very pleased to hear that. She manages our website.” She adjusted the screen on the computer to get a better view. “Well, let’s get you checked in. We’ll have you settled into your room in no time so you can start enjoying some of that rest.”
With a few clicks of the mouse, Madalyne was checked in and her key placed in her hand. A good old-fashioned key, a skeleton key no less, to a real lock in the door – not a key card to scan.
Ah, the simple things. What a special, personal touch. She turned the key over in her hand. Simple is good this week.
Madalyne picked up her travel bag and sweatshirt before following Jenny’s instructions to her room. She climbed the wide oak staircase as it curved up to the second floor. A loft-like hallway opened to the lobby and sitting room below. The scent from the fireplace continued its travels upward, filling the second floor with the smell of warmth and coziness, if those things could have a smell.
Around the corner, at the end of the loft-like hall, down another short hallway, she spotted a beautiful wooden door. Centered at eye-level – a carving of a large oak tree.
Ah ha. The Majestic Oak. Clever.
Slipping the key into the slot in the door, she gave a twist, heard a click, and opened the door to reveal a spacious and inviting, rustic hideaway.
Madalyne slowly stepped into the room allowing the warmth, comfort, and quiet to envelop her. A flood of peace washed over her and she knew that she was exactly where she needed to be. Thank you, Lord, for the time and provision to be right here, right now.
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