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The Letter

By:Kay Correll

Letter_ Small Town Romance (Comfort Crossing Book 3), The - Kay Correll

The Letter

Kay Correll


Madeline Stuart yanked on the drawer of her mother’s antique writing desk. It refused to budge. She jiggled it back and forth. Nothing. She drummed her fingers on the worn mahogany, shiny with years of careful polishing. Her mother, and her grandmother before that, had always treasured this desk. Now it was hers, a bittersweet inheritance.

She tugged one more time. It jerked loose, and went careening to the floor. The contents spilled onto the carpet in a haphazard pile of memories. The tears welled up in her eyes. Again. Would they ever stop?

She’d just spent an exhausting hour wrestling the desk from her mother’s house, to the trunk of her car, and into the apartment. It was one of the few things she’d kept of her mother’s. Besides, she loved the old desk and she was the only family left to appreciate it. The very last.

A long drawn out sigh escaped. It was probably the hundredth sigh of the day, but who was counting? She dropped down to her knees to pick up the drawer and its contents. The pretty floral lining of the drawer was pulled away in one corner. She’d have to glue it back down. She scooted over under the light from the lamp and sat on the floor, sorting through the items scattered around her on the carpet. Her mother’s favorite fountain pen. A small pad of paper. A roll of stamps—old five-cent stamps—and a few loose three-cent stamps.

The corners of her mouth tugged up in an involuntary smile at the same time tears filled her eyes. So many years her mother had sat at that desk writing notes to people. She had never gotten into emails, just good old-fashioned letters. Her mother had written her a letter every single week when she’d been away at college. Madeline still had them all bundled together and tied up with a ribbon on a shelf in her closet. She dashed her hand at the tears and looked down at the desk drawer. A piece of aged paper peeked out from under the edge of the drawer lining and caught her eye. She tilted the drawer up and examined it closely. It looked like the corner of an envelope. She carefully pried back the lining and pulled out an old letter, wrinkled and brown with age.

The envelope was addressed to a Miss Josephine Amaud in Comfort Crossing, Mississippi. The return address had faded so she turned the envelope towards the light. The washed out ink would barely give up a clue. It might be the letter O. Whatever it was, it looked like just a single letter.

Debating on whether to open it or not—but of course she had to—she slipped her finger under the flap, and found it had already been opened, or maybe the glue had just disintegrated with age. She slid out the letter and slowly unfolded the creased page.

Dear Jo,

I’ll meet you at the old live oak on Friday. I have everything arranged. Trust me. We can be together forever.

All my love, O

She flipped the envelope over again and traced the words. Comfort Crossing. She’d heard of that town before. She was positive—well, mostly positive—that her grandmother had lived there for a while when she was young.

So many questions popped into her head. Who was Josephine Amaud and why was her letter in the desk? Had she owned the desk before her grandmother and mother had? Why was a letter addressed to Miss Josephine Amaud hidden in the desk drawer?

Madeline climbed back off the floor. Her leather laptop bag rested against the desk. She slipped out her laptop and set it on top. As she flipped open the lid the light illuminated the desk. A quick search for Comfort Crossing brought up the fact that it was indeed in Mississippi. A small town near the gulf. She’d half-thought it wouldn’t exist anymore.

She picked up the letter and a strange pull washed over her, like a siren call, that lured her to Comfort Crossing to figure out who this Josephine Amaud was. That was crazy talk. Why should she go on a wild goose chase to figure out why the letter was in the desk? Or maybe it was a chance to see the place where her grandmother had grown up and feel that connection to family again. Whatever the reason for the trip, she decided right then and there that she was going.

She really needed to get away, anyway. Her boss at the accounting firm had suggested she take some time off. Well, it had been a bit more than a suggestion. She’d made a couple of costly mistakes, which was not like her. Luckily a partner had caught the errors before the situation had become an even bigger mess. She just couldn’t get her mind into her work and she felt she was always on the edge of tears.

Besides, winter here in the Midwest was a melancholy proposition during the best of times. Snow. Ice. Endless gray days. Madeline sucked in a deep breath—this winter could never be called the best of times.