Excerpt from At Sunset

At Sunset is a contemporary romance novel about Steven Kapshaw who moves from his family farm in Iowa to work at a ranch in Montana.  In Montana he meets Alexandra Winthrop, a librarian who is researching his grandmother.  This excerpt is a story Steven tells Alex for her research.

He shrugged, standing to deposit his empty dishes into the sink.  “Now and then.  But…it’s hard to miss it when you’ve got mountains at your back and that huge sky above your head.  I always thought Iowa was about the prettiest place I’d ever see the sunset.  But here… it may not be better, but it’s the same.  Did I tell you about sunsets and Gram?”

She finished off her sandwich with the shake of a head.

“Come on.  I’ll tell you the story, but let’s go out onto the window seat.  We can watch the sun set while I tell you.”

“Do you have something I could take notes with?”

“Oh, you won’t need to take notes.  There are no facts to this story.  Just good old-fashioned romantic stuff.  You won’t be able to put it in the museum.”

“Maybe not, Steven…but the museum… it’s more than facts to me.”  The need to explain was overwhelming, so she gave in to it.  She’d worry about the ramifications later.  “I don’t want it to just be facts, I want it to be…personal.  I’ll never get a lot of visitors, but I want the few I do get to be moved… to get to know her…really.  As best they can, anyway.  Not just what she did, but that we all have the capacity for goodness within us, because she was just a woman… but she did such extraordinary things.”

“That’s a lofty goal, Alex.  Especially for a woman as… scholarly as yourself.”

“Who’s judging who now?”

“Yes, but my judgment’s fair.”

She acquiesced and sat next to him on the window seat.  “I guess.”

“Anyway, sunsets.  Gram always said sunset was a time for reflection.  The day was over and that was that, but as the skies turned color we could look back on the day, or week, or month, and find the beauty in it.”

Alex looked out at the pink and orange sky and the words felt so right and wonderful it was a wonder a poet hadn’t said them.

“She and Gramps would always walk at sunset.  Sometimes we’d get to tag along, wrestling and jostling and being loud until Gram hushed us with a look or Gramps with one sharp word.  Then, we knew it was time to be quiet and reflect.  Though, it took a while for me to understand what that meant.”

Alex laughed.  “I bet you were an obnoxious kid.  Sweet, but obnoxious.”

“Hit the nail on the head there.  I don’t think I’ve changed much.”  He looked over at her, that probing look that made her self-conscience and very aware of the turn her thoughts were taking.

“No,” she managed, mesmerized by his eyes.  “I don’t think you have.”  Though sweet wouldn’t have been in her description of him two days ago, it seemed an indestructible part of him now.  The way he spoke of his Gram and Gramps and Gwenie and that Laney girl and the farm he had given up for his brother.  He was incredibly…sweet.

“Anyway, sometimes Grams and Gramps would go alone.  One time after she was ill and she could barely walk she was so weak, I was sitting with her and Gramps on the porch swing and she kept complaining that she was tired of sitting.  So Gramps called her a contrary old woman, with the greatest affection, and helped her up and practically carried her down the porch stairs and the little way up the yard as far as he could without growing too weak himself.  They were close so I could hear them.  I remember it because…it was the first time I really entertained any thought of her…dying.”

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