Tying The Knot: A 2-in-1 Collection

Yesterday's Hero and White Lace and Promises

About the Book

Available in one volume for the first time: Yesterday’s Hero and White Lace and Promises, two of Debbie Macomber’s classic novels about finding love in the most unexpected places.

Yesterday’s Hero: Nothing is going to keep marine biologist Leah Talmadge or world-famous photographer Cain Hawkins from the chance to study the rare whales of the Diamantina Islands. But the traditional governor of the islands won’t permit two unmarried people to live together, even for a once-in-a-lifetime expedition. The two refuse to miss out and decide to get married on paper only. And why not? They both desperately want to document the whales, and a pretend marriage won’t have any effect on their lives after this, right? But when the lines of their relationship begin to blur, the two must reevaluate what they want.

White Lace and Promises:
Marrying Glenn Lambert was either the smartest thing Maggie Kingsbury has ever done or the craziest mistake of her life. It’s been a long time since they were children and best of friends. They went their separate ways in adulthood, until a chance encounter at a wedding inspires a spontaneous leap of faith. As past disappointments and unhealed emotions start to wreak havoc on their lives, Glenn and Maggie need to decide whether they will remain strangers—or whether they belong together after all.
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Tying The Knot: A 2-in-1 Collection

Chapter 1

“You must understand that the government of the Diamantina Islands is understandably circumspect. The people are the direct descendants of Puritan missionaries.” Dr. David Brewster took a clean handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his perspiring face.

He’s flustered, Leah Talmadge mused. Dr. Brewster, California’s most renowned marine biologist, man of steel at seventy-­five, the solid department head, was obviously nervous. Something had gone wrong. Disconcerted, Leah stiffened in the high-­backed leather chair. A cold sweat broke out across her upper lip, and she nervously ran her finger over it. Dear heavens, this expedition was the chance of a lifetime.

“Just what are you saying, Dr. Brewster?” Cain Hawkins interrupted abruptly.

Leah’s gaze skidded to the world-­famous photographer who would be accompanying her on this whale watch. Cain’s work had appeared several times in National Geographic and other nationally known magazines. The talented photographer had made his name taking spectacular shots of wildlife, landscapes, and people; his skill wasn’t limited to any one subject. His work hung in some of the best art galleries in the world. The entire department was elated that he’d been assigned to accompany Leah on this expedition to the islands.

His pictures might be fantastic, Leah reflected, but the man was a disappointment. He didn’t look anything like what she’d expected. In some ways he resembled a hippie left over from the nineteen-­sixties. His chestnut hair was unfashionably long, and he wore it brushed away from his face. It curled out just below his collar, and an unruly patch defiantly brushed his brow. His face was weathered from exposure to the elements, and he looked closer to forty than the thirty-­five she knew him to be. Of course, she’d heard the rumors. Her colleagues had delighted in feeding her tidbits of information about the unorthodox Cain Hawkins. A rebel. A nonconformist. Tough as leather. Hard as nails. Leah had heard it all and secretly hadn’t believed a word. His pictures told a different story.

David Brewster paused and cleared his throat. Again he wiped his face with the wrinkled linen cloth. “I was in communication with the governor of the Diamantinas this afternoon.”

Apprehensively, Leah scooted to the edge of her seat. “And?” she urged.

“In light of the fact that you two unmarried adults would be spending considerable time in the uninhabited archipelago together, the request has been denied.”

Leah felt her heart drop. “Denied,” she repeated in shocked disbelief. The opportunity of a lifetime washed away by the moral righteousness of a government official.

“Good grief, man. We live in the twenty-­first century.” Cain Hawkins’s dark eyes sparked with disbelief and irritation.

“Indeed,” David Brewster agreed, “but no one bothered to inform the islanders of this. The people in these islands are deeply religious.”

“But, Doctor,” Leah said, struggling to disguise her exasperation, “surely you explained that Mr. Hawkins and I are professional people. Our purpose isn’t to . . .” She left the rest unsaid as hot color invaded her pale face. The worst part of being a blonde was the way her complexion signaled her thoughts.

“I fear we must either find a female photographer or make the—­”

“Oh no you don’t.” Cain shot to his feet and glared intimidatingly at Leah, expelling an angry breath. The dark eyes narrowed to points of steel that looked capable of slashing through any barrier, any defense. “You can just as easily find a male marine biologist. I’m not giving up this opportunity because of her.” An accusing finger was pointed at Leah.

“How . . . how dare you,” Leah stuttered. “I’ve waited years for this and I won’t be denied my chance because—­”

“Children, children.” Dr. Brewster waved his hand authoritatively.

So angry she could barely speak, Leah defiantly crossed her arms. Whom did Cain Hawkins think he was dealing with, anyway? She hadn’t worked this hard and come this far to let a boorish chauvinist walk over her because she was a woman.

“If you two would consider marriage . . .”

“What?” Leah spat. “Surely you don’t mean to each other.” Slowly, deliberately, she gave Cain Hawkins a practiced look of distaste.

The corner of his upper lip curled into what she assumed was humorous disdain. He was telling her without words what he thought of that idea.

Leah forced herself to think through this sudden obstacle. Finally she suggested, “Surely, if I were a married woman and Mr. Hawkins a married man—­not to each other—­then this expedition would be sanctioned by the governor.”

David Brewster loosened his tie and ran a finger along the inside of his collar in an agitated movement. “That’s a possibility, of course—­and, frankly, one I haven’t considered.”

“I’m sure that once I talk to Siggy he would be willing to move up our wedding plans.”

“Siggy?” Cain repeated, and his voice dripped with sarcasm. “You look like the type of woman who would marry a man named Siggy.”

Despite her attempt at disciplined self-­control, Leah bit off an angry retort. “Siegfried Harcharik is an honors graduate of MIT and is currently employed as a biochemist for the largest drug company in the United States.” Siggy’s credentials, she thought, would quickly put Cain Hawkins in his place. “I consider myself fortunate to be his fiancée.”

Cain’s low snicker filled the room. “Honey, if I were you, I’d consider myself lucky to be any man’s future wife.”

The words came at Leah like the cutting edge of a sword, and with as much power to inflict pain. She hated herself for wincing. No one needed to remind her that though she was blonde she wasn’t beautiful. Too tall. Too thin. Too . . . no need fencing around the word . . . ugly. From the time she was in junior high she’d known her uneven features weren’t likely to attract a man. All brains, no beauty, was what the boys in high school used to say.

Standing, Leah clenched her hands together in a show of determination. “I can see that Mr. Hawkins and I are only capable of hurling insults at each other. I suggest we schedule a meeting for a later date. Tomorrow, perhaps, when we’ve both had the opportunity to cool our tempers.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” David Brewster’s pained, wrinkled face relaxed. “Shall we say Thursday at the same time?”

“Fine.” The clipped response was followed by the scraping of a chair as Cain left the room.

Leah avoided looking in his direction and lingered in the office an extra moment.

“My dear,” Dr. Brewster said, and cupped Leah’s elbow. “I know this announcement has come as a surprise to us all. But I personally chose you for this whale expedition, and I won’t easily be dissuaded. So rest assured, things will work out.”

Leah’s returning smile was feeble at best. “Thank you, Doctor.” She didn’t know that she should be all that reassured. Dr. Brewster had also handpicked Cain Hawkins.

“I’ll talk to Siggy tonight.”

“You do that,” he returned, patting her back. “I’m confident we’ll find a way around this.”

Leah was skeptical, but she gave him a polite nod on her way out the door.

The long drive down the San Diego Freeway was accomplished by rote. Traffic, smog, faceless people were all part of life in Southern California. Leah learned early that she must either accept it, or be defeated by the congestion that met her morning and night. But this afternoon, California had never seemed farther from the rolling hills of wheat in her home state of South Dakota. It had been a long time since she’d visited her family. When she returned from the Indian Ocean she’d make a point of doing that.

The first thing Leah did when she entered her condominium was pull Cain Hawkins’s book of photographs from the shelf beside the fireplace. With a sense of incredulity, she ran her fingertips over the bottom of each page. The photos were beautiful. Each one looked as if the man who took it was revealing his soul.

About the Author

Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber, the author of It's Better This Way, A Walk Along the Beach, Window on the Bay, Cottage by the Sea, Any Dream Will Do, If Not for You, and the Rose Harbor Inn series, is a leading voice in women's fiction. Thirteen of her novels have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and five of her beloved Christmas novels have been hit movies on the Hallmark Channel, including Mrs. Miracle and Mr. Miracle. Hallmark Channel also produced the original series Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, based on Macomber’s Cedar Cove books. She is, as well, the author of the cookbook Debbie Macomber’s Table. There are more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. More by Debbie Macomber
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