Margaret Daley.

When Dreams Come True






So family is important to you now, Zoey said without thinking.

She hadnt meant to add to his pain, but she had lived through her sons silent suffering, through the years of watching Dane go off on one assignment after another, leaving her and the children alone to cope with his prolonged absences.

Dane flinched. Ouch. Youre certainly blunt.

Something Ive learned to be over the past few years. A lot about me has changed.

And a lot about me has changed.

Then we arent the same two people who married fourteen years ago? she asked.

No, and being strangers isnt a good foundation for a marriage.

I agree. But we have three children and we made a vow before God that I intend to keep.

THE LADIES OF SWEETWATER LAKE:

Like a wedding ring, this circle of friends is never ending.

MARGARET DALEY

feels she has been blessed. She has been married more than thirty years to her husband, Mike, whom she met in college. He is a terrific support and her best friend. They have one son, Shaun.

Margaret has been writing for many years and loves to tell a story. When she was a little girl, she would play with her dolls and make up stories about their lives. Now she writes these stories down. She especially enjoys weaving stories about families and how faith in God can sustain a person when things get tough. When she isnt writing, she is fortunate to be a teacher for students with special needs. Margaret has taught for over twenty years and loves working with her students. She has also been a Special Olympics coach and participated in many sports with her students.

When Dreams Come True
Margaret Daley


Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.

Psalms 57:1

To my husband, Mike, who is a wonderful support, and to my son, Shaun, whom I am blessed to have as a son. I love you both.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Epilogue

Letter to Reader

Chapter One

Mommy! Theres a man here to see ya! Mandy Witherspoon yelled.

With a shake of her head, Zoey Witherspoon dried her hands on a towel. Mom, I dont know how many times Ive told that child never to open the door to a stranger. Will she ever learn to listen?

Emma Bradford laughed. You should have seen you at that age. You want me to see who it is?

No, I will, then have a word with my daughter.

Its a good thing we live in a safe, small town. Already headed toward the kitchen door, Zoey glanced at the clock over the desk and realized how late the hour was. Who would be visiting right before the childrens bedtime?

When Zoey stepped into the foyer and saw a tall, thin man through the screen, she held back the scream that demanded release. She blinked. Her eyes had to be playing tricks on her. But when she focused on the man again, she realized the impossible had occurred.

The pounding of her heart threatened to squeeze the air from her lungs. Slowly she moved toward the front door, past her daughter. Mandy, go help your grandmother clean up.

The sound of her daughter racing toward the kitchen faded, and all Zoey heard was the thundering beat of her heart pulsating in her ears. She opened the screen door to get a better look at the man on her front porch.

Her eyes slid closed. It cant be Dane.

Zoey braced herself with a deep, fortifying breath and opened her eyes to stare at the man who had returned from the dead. She took the few steps separating them and laid her hand on his chest to feel the strong beat of his heart against her palm, to assess what she was seeing was realvery real. Then without a word, she threw herself into his embrace.

He kissed the top of her head, then her forehead and finally her lips. A brief, searing touch of their mouths that left Zoey even more shaken. The warmth of his body emphasized how alive her husband was.

Finally pulling away and looking up into the face that had haunted her dreams for the past two-and-a-half years, she whispered her husbands name, Dane.

Hello, Zoey.

They told me you were dead. I No other words came to mind. Releasing the doorknob that shed clutched so tightly to keep herself upright, she stepped back to allow him into the house.

They were wrong. One corner of his mouth lifted in a self-mocking grin that didnt stay long.

Tears welled into her eyes at the sight of him. He was thin, almost gaunt. His face was clean shaven, but she could tell that hed worn a beard until recently. His black hair was cut short and sprinkled with strands of gray now, even though he was only thirty-eight. Before he had left on his last assignment he had never had any gray. But the most startling difference in her husband was his eyes. When she looked into them, she saw nothing of the man shed known and loved. For a brief moment shed glimpsed a vulnerability in his eyes that he would never have allowed to show in the past. A shiver flashed down her spine as she realized he was a stranger to her.

Standing in the middle of her foyer in her home in Sweetwater, she swallowed several times, feeling as lost as he had been to her. What happened, Dane? she asked, her words thick with the tears she was frantic to keep bottled inside. Shed fallen apart once beforewhen shed heard the news of his death. It had taken so long to claw her way out of the emotional abyss shed wallowed in. She vowed then she would never put herself in that position again. She had more than herself to think about.

As you know, the plane crashed over the Amazon. I was lucky. I was thrown from the plane when it hit the trees. The Xinga tribe saw the fire from the crash, found me unconscious and nursed me back to health. A shutter dropped over his features. I didnt know who I was until recently.

The thought of what he must have gone through threatened to overwhelm her. She again touched his arm, weaved her fingers through his as though that link would solidify her dream of her husband returning to her and the children. He still stood in the foyer. This was no vision, but reality. You had amnesia?

Dane sidestepped away from her touch and turned into the living room. He sought a chair and sat as though he physically couldnt stand any longer. Yes. For a long time I only had glimpses of my life, but nothing to help me piece together who I was.

How about the other two people in the plane? She sat across from him, her own weariness after a long day at work catching up with her.

From what the Xingas told me, because I was thrown from the plane, I was saved. The pilot and Bob Patterson werent. There was little left of the plane, only bits and pieces that had broken off from the main body before it caught on fire. He released a heavy sigh. I know you have a lot of questions, but Id rather not go into the details right now.

But, Dane

Please, he cut in, his blue eyes continuing to convey that vulnerability she never would have associated with her husband. I realize when I left we were talking about separating, but I hope I can stay here for a while. I need His voice trailed off into silence.

Of course, she said to fill the awkwardness that had descended. There would be time later to discuss what had happened between them right before hed gone on his last assignment, to talk about what he had gone through the past two-and-a-half years. Blake has grown a lot. Hes going to be tall like you. In fact, hes the spitting image of you.

Oh, thats too bad, Dane said with a lopsided grin that shed often thought of as cocky, but not now.

And Mandy will be so excited when she realizes that it was you in the foyer. Zoey paused to catch her breath. She just didnt recognize you. She was so young when youdisappeared.

A soft expression entered his eyes. She looks like you. Shes beautiful.

Zoey peered away. There was so much she needed to tell him, so much she needed to understand. Theres something else.

He straightened, one brow arching.

We have another daughter, Tara. She was born seven months after you Zoey paused for a few seconds, having almost said died left.

Another daughter?

The wonder in his voice tore at Zoeys defenses. Tears burned her eyes. Shed shed so many that first year Dane had been gone. How could there possibly be any left?

Yes, thats one of the reasons I came back to Sweetwater. And the fact I hated living in Dallas, lost in the crowd of people with no family there as support. She remembered the struggle to pull herself together after Dane had disappeared. For years her life had revolved around him until she wasnt even sure there had been a Zoey Witherspoon, a person independent from her husband. She didnt want to get tangled up in that kind of pain ever again.

So much has changed. I cant believe I have three Silence snatched the rest of his sentence.

Zoey waited for Dane to continue. She needed him to tell her more, to share with her what he was feeling, thinking. He surged to his feet and began to pace as though he were an animal confined to a small cage and checking out his domain.

That was the Dane she was used tothe man who shut her out of his life, who kept secrets from her because of his job in the DEA, who was driven by a restless energy. Please, Heavenly Father, help me to be strong.

Zoey leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and clasping her hands together. Does your boss know youre alive?

Yes.

Shocked by his answer, Zoey asked in a voice laden with budding anger, Why didnt Carl let me know you were?

I told him not to. I wanted to be the one to tell you face to face. I didnt think it was something that should be handled over the phone or by a stranger appearing at your door. Too impersonal.

What are your plans, Dane?

He stopped his pacing, tension coming off him in waves. Would you believe I dont have any plans at the moment?

That was hard to believe because her husband had always been so focused. How about your job at the DEA?

He raked his hand through his short hair. I dont know. Carl told me to take some time off and wed talk when Ive fully recovered. He encouraged me to get reacquainted with my family.

That surprised Zoey. In the past his boss had always demanded one hundred percent from Dane. To Carl, family had always been second, and hed expected the people who worked for him to feel the same way. Again she was reminded of all the problems theyd had before Danes disappearance. But that wasnt important right now. Danes recovery and reappearance was all that counted at the moment.

Do you have a spare bed I can use?

His question reinforced the barrier that had been slowly building up between them before hed left for South America. She supposed it was a good idea not to share the same bedroom. He hadnt come right out and said it, but his meaning had been clear. They werent the same two people as they had been when they had married. It wouldnt be fair to either one to put that kind of strain on their fragile relationship. I dont have a spare bed, but the couch in the den makes up into a comfortable one.

Thanks. I wasnt looking forward to staying in a motel. He took a step toward her. I want to get to know you, Blake, Mandyand Tara all over again. There are still parts of my life that are fuzzy, but Ive been told being home will help.

She rose, the reality of their situation beginning to sink in. So much had happened in the past few years to both of them. The gulf between them at that moment seemed extremely wide. Let me go talk with the children, tell them youre alive, then Ill bring them in here.

He peered down at his clothes as though checking to make sure he looked all right. The black pants and gray knit shirt hung off his frame. Carl had someone buy these for me. He told me Id fill them out in no time.

Are you hungry? Zoey gestured toward the kitchen. I can fix you something to eat.

Maybe later. I want to see the children.

Yes, first her children. How was she going to explain Danes reappearance to them? I wont be long.

A wry grin erased the worry in his expression. Im not going anywhere.

She returned his smile. Are you sure you dont want something to eat? Its no trouble.

I dont think I could eat right now.

Zoey looked at the lean lines of his face, the pallor beneath his tanned features, a tic that twitched in his jawline, and wanted to insist he eat something. Hed never liked her fussing over him in the past. She kept her mouth shut and headed toward the kitchen.

When she entered the room, her mother glanced up, concern carved into her expression. Honey, is everything okay? She lifted Tara from her high chair.

Mandy, why dont you go in the den and watch TV with Blake for a few moments?

After her daughter disappeared, Zoey turned to her mother, who held Tara in her arms. Her youngest played with her mothers dangling earring. Mom, that stranger at the door was Dane.

Stunned, Emma sucked in a deep breath, her eyes round. No!

Zoey nodded. He lost his memory when his plane crashed. Some Indians saved him. Until recently he hadnt remembered who he was.

Her mother shifted Tara to her other arm, burying her face in the toddlers hair. But the government was sure he had died.

The government made a mistake.

Emma moved toward Zoey. Oh, honey. She took her into her arms with Tara between them. What are you going to do?

Pick up the pieces of our marriage and start over. I need to tell Blake and Mandy now that their dad has returned from the dead.

Do you want my help?

Her mother had supported Zoey through some tough times after Dane had disappeared. Zoey moved back to her hometown because shed realized she couldnt do it alone. After three months in Dallas trying to support her family financially and emotionally, shed finally admitted shed needed help and turned to her family and the Lord. She never regretted that choice. But right now she knew she had to do this alone, as so many things in the past few years.

Just take care of Tara. Zoey lay her hand along her youngest childs jawline, feeling the softness beneath her palm. At least you, my sweet, will be all right. She kissed Taras cheek, then went to find her other two children.

In the den Zoey switched off the television, raising her hand to quiet the protests from Blake and Mandy. We need to talk and I cant do that with the TV on. Sitting on the couch, Zoey patted the soft brown leather cushion. Come here and sit with me.

Blake sat down next to her without a word while Mandy plopped down on the other side and bounced a few times as though testing the plumpness of the cushion. The whooshing sound permeated the silence. Zoey marveled at how much energy her daughter had after a long day playing and helping her get dinner ready.

Mommy, who was that man? Mandy finally settled next to her and looked up at her with her big, brown eyes that reminded Zoey so much of her own.

She didnt know where to begin. Blake had been nine when his father had left on his last assignment. And her five-year-old daughter hardly remembered the father who had been gone a lot that last year before hed disappeared.

Mom, is something wrong? Blake asked, frowning.

Mommy, did that man make you sad? Mandys mouth turned down in a frown, too, always imitating her older brother.

Zoey slipped her arms around her children and brought them close to her, savoring their nearness for a few seconds before she had to break the news. Mandy would be all right, but Zoey worried about Blakes reaction. He hadnt taken his fathers death well, withdrawing into a shell for months after his fathers disappearance. Shed tried to reach her son, but he was a lot like his father. He kept things bottled up inside.

Realizing she had been frowning herself while trying to find the best way to break the news to her children, Zoey forced a smile to her lips. No, the man didnt make me sad. Not at all. In fact, just the opposite. I have some great news to share with you two. She drew in a deep breath and held it before releasing it through pursed lips. The man Mandy is talking about is your father.

Dad? Blake pulled away, confusion knitting his brow. ButI dont understand.

Honey, your father has come home.

Are you sure its him? He didnt look like the pictures we have. Mandy hopped off the couch and faced Zoey, her face screwed up in a thoughtful expression as though she were picturing the man at the door and trying to reconcile in her mind that person with the photos she had of her father.

Both of her children peered at her as though she didnt have any idea what she was talking about. Your father was believed to be dead, but he isnt. Hes returned to us.

Where was he? Why did he stay away? Why didnt he come home? Blake asked, his voice rising as he bounded to his feet.

Zoey tried to grasp his hand, to tug him close to her. She wantedneededto hold him. Blake shuffled farther back, his scowl firmly in place. She didnt have all the answers for her son. She didnt know what had really happened and, knowing Dane, might never completely. All she could tell her children was what little she knew. Your father was hurt and couldnt remember who he was until recently. Hes in the living room waiting to see you two.

Did he bring me a present? Mandy asked, hurrying toward the door. Maybe hell play a game with me or read me a story.

Zoey didnt have a chance to answer Mandy. She flew out of the room, leaving Zoey alone with her son, who looked as if he wasnt going to budge an inch.

Honey, your father didnt choose to be gone for these past few years. As soon as he could, he came back to us. Drawing on her reserve of strength, Zoey stood and extended her hand toward Blake, noticing the slight tremor in her fingers. Come talk to him, please. When her son didnt move, Zoey dropped her hand to her side and walked toward the door. Well be in the living room when youre ready.

For months after his father had disappeared, Blake had cried himself to sleep. He hadnt understood his father being gone for good. Hed wanted his playmate backthe man who rode him around on his shoulders, played ball with him, built sand castles at the beach with him. After the first year Blake had refused to discuss his father with anyone. Shed had the minister at their church and a counselor speak with Blake, but still he wouldnt talk about his father. Finally over time everything seemed to be back to normal. Now she wasnt so sure.

When she entered the living room, she found Mandy sitting next to Dane on the couch. Dane cradled Tara next to him, his eyes unusually bright as he took in first one daughter, then the other. Her mother had brought her youngest to meet her father.

Mandy stared at something cupped in her hand, wonder in her expression. She saw Zoey and leaped up, racing to her. Look what he brought me. Coins from another country. Theyre different from ours. Look! Mandy thrust them toward her.

Zoey picked up one and turned it over. Theyre pretty.

Yes. Her daughter closed her fingers around the coins and went back to Dane. Thank ya. Ill put them with my other treasures. She stood in front of him now, not quite sure what to do.

Zoey came to her side. Maybe you would like to show your father your treasure box.

A smile brightened her daughters face. Ill go get it. Mandy ran from the room and pounded up the stairs.

Zoey stared at the entrance into the living room, wondering if her son would appear. Dear Lord, what should I do about Blake? She chewed on her bottom lip and tried to think of what to tell Dane about their son.

Mandys full of life.

That she is. There are days she can run me ragged. Zoey turned back to Dane, whose gaze was glued to his youngest daughter, as though he couldnt quite believe what he was seeing.

She looks just like you, too. Im glad. I wish I had known. I

The pain in his voice shredded the composure shed fought hard to maintain for her childrens sake. Her heart hammered against her chest, the beat vibrating in her head. Zoey peered at him and saw that glimpse of vulnerability shed caught in his expression several times earlier. Sensing her regard, he quickly masked his look with a neutral one, something he was very good at doing. This was the Dane she knewthe one who didnt know how to share his feelings, who held a part of himself locked inside, the person her son was so similar to.

Exhausted from the past hour, Zoey collapsed in the chair next to the couch, wanting as much distance between them as possible in a room that had suddenly become small.

Wheres Blake? Dane asked, his gaze fixed on the entrance into the living room.

In the den.

Is he coming in here?

No, I dont think so.

Dane tensed, the only indication that her words had affected him. Why not?





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