Nodding his thanks at Grover, he strode into the murky darkness. Grover, meanwhile, turned the shade on thelamp once more, saying, "I wish I could stay and listen, but I have a special Valentine’s supper waiting for me.Do you know there are some very fine sugarless chocolates now?" He smiled and hurried away, leaving Beccasitting spotlighted behind the tall piano.
Even Grover and his wife are celebrating Valentine’s Day,
Becca thought morosely. An unexpected image of Davis Latimer sitting across a candlelit table popped into her head and she felt her cheeks flush.Suddenly, of all the problems the meeting on Saturday would cause her, one inane thought struck her hardest.Even in February, eleven o’clock in the morning came with full daylight. He could not fail to see it. She put ahand to her wildly disobedient, silver-streaked hair and wondered if she had the courage to dye it. But whatwould Grandma say? Not to mention her parents and the other teachers and her students and…She wished with all her heart that she was sitting on a beach in Mexico.Well, in a Mexican hotel room, anyway.
It doesn’t matter, anyway,
she reminded herself. Not in the least. Aman like Davis Latimer could never be interested in her.Bowing her head, she told first herself and then God just how stupid she was to worry about a foolish thing likea little gray in her hair when she somehow had to fight her way through the music of a popular Sunday worshipservice without throwing up on her sheet music. Provided, of course, that she didn’t die of mortification on abright Saturday morning in the parking lot of Magnolia Christian Church at the intersection of Magnolia and Iris,beneath the pale blue gaze of the most handsome man she’d ever met.
The problem with living in a small town, Davis Latimer told himself as he waited inside his car on that coldSaturday morning after Valentine’s, was the lack of resources. Were he back in Kansas City, he would simplyapply to the local seminary for a pianist for his fledgling pastorate, Magnolia Christian Church. The musicmajors there would jump at the chance to earn a few extra bucks plying the keyboard two or three times aweek.But he was quite sure that none of them could come anywhere near what he had heard the night before last inthe darkened sanctuary of the First Church of Eden, Oklahoma.He had thought at first that he must be listening to a recording, a piece of perfection engineered in a soundbooth. The tonal purity, strength and fluid range of that rich soprano would be the envy of an operatic diva.And her playing! He had heard renowned concert pianists whose music had moved him less. Enraptured, he’dstood there in the darkness, imagining the musician—an ultimate artistic creature, she would be a ravishingbeauty of inspirational power.But what had he found sitting there at that piano in a halo of light? A timid, slender waif of a woman who hidher gentle prettiness behind a pair of large glasses. Becca Inman couldn’t have looked more terrified if he andPastor Waller had come out of the darkness with guns blazing instead of applauding. Davis had elected to takea less bluff approach with her than Grover, but he knew that he had bullied Becca into today’s meetingnonetheless.He had little experience with timorous women. The women of the Latimer family tended toward the headstrong,outspoken variety. He adored them all, including the twenty-one-year-old twins who had accompanied him toEden for his first senior pastorate some six weeks ago. Caylie and Carlie had been of invaluable help to him,setting his house to rights, organizing the women’s activities, charming his congregants and providing themusic for Sunday services. But both were due to leave shortly—Caylie was getting married and Carlie was off tothe missions—leaving him in urgent need of a pianist.He knew that Becca Inman would fill that need perfectly, playing his grandmother’s lovely old baby grand withskill and passion. But first, however, he had to convince her to do it.Davis checked his watch, hunching his shoulders inside his black wool coat. Eleven o’clock.
Where was she?
Moments later, a battered minivan equipped with a wheelchair lift turned into the parking lot, swung a wide arcaround his late-model sports coupe and came to a rocking halt in front of the cream brick facade of thesanctuary. Delighted to see Becca emerge from the vehicle, Davis sent up a quick prayer of thanks beforegetting out of his shiny black car to greet her.