Nikki Townley a fashion-buyer, looking for a life with deeper meaning, leaves her career and moves to a small, tourist town in northern Michigan to assist her ailing great-aunt Winnie in running her floundering antique business. There she finds herself caught in a mystery searching for her aunt’s missing fortune, facing an investment company in pursuit of her aunt’s property, and hoping to save long-distance romance with her faithful male friend Rob Moore, while struggling to escape her attraction to an exciting, smooth-talking womanizer. Can she overcome temptation, locate the missing fortune and find the truth to the treasures of her heart? Will Rob wait for Nikki to make up her mind?
Matthew 6:20 - 21 NIV
Nikki Townley stared at the telephone. This was definitely a chicken-noodle-soup situation, but she had made her decision. After soul-searching, prayer and tears, she’d finally come to grips with herself, but how could she tell her best friend?
She’d longed for change. Her life needed purpose, something more meaningful. San Francisco. Milan. Beijing. The travel sounded exciting and impressive to some people, but to her, the routine had become boring and empty. And lately, she’d heard God’s soft voice prodding her to do more with her life.
She ran her fingers over the telephone, trying to form the words aloud, but she couldn’t without crying. That’s exactly what she would do as soon as she heard Rob’s voice.
Nikki drew in a breath. So what? He’d seen her cry before. At times, he’d teased her about being a whiner. He’d even admitted he thought it was cute, and he would bring over cans of chicken noodle soup to make her feel better. But then, what were best friends for?
Just as she suspected tears pooled in her eyes, and she dragged her finger over her wet lashes. Stupid. Get it over with. She grasped the phone, then let her grip slip from the receiver. She’d waited nearly two weeks for him to return from his business trip so she could talk with him and today he would arrive home. The time was now to get the idea into the open. She checked her wristwatch, then grasped the receiver again but punched in his number. Holding her breath, she listened to the line connect and heard his rich, warm hello.
“Rob, it’s me. I’m so glad you’re back.” Only a few words, yet her voice lurched as if she’d swallowed a Mexican jumping bean.
“Nikki-Nack, what’s wrong?” His voice lifted in concern.
Though sometimes Nikki didn’t know if she should cringe or laugh when he called her that silly nickname, today the words warmed her like a comfortable old quilt. “Rob, I-I really need to talk with you.”
“Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I hate when you have to travel. Especially to places like Australia.” Tears dripped to her cheeks. “I thought Saturday would never get here, but it did and you’re back. You always seem to go away when I’m having a major crisis.”
“Crisis? You want me to bring over some chicken noodle soup?”
Silence hung for a moment as if he waited for her to laugh, but she couldn’t.
“Are you joking?”
His concern wrap over her, but she couldn’t respond.
“Nickki. What is it? Something’s really wrong, isn’t it?”
Wrong? A shudder ran down her back. “I hope it’s right, Rob.” She knew he hated her to talk in riddles. “I’ve made a major life decision while you were gone. And I guess I need your validation.”
“You know I’ll listen. But how about giving me a hint. You know I hate surprises.”
Concern coursed through her. She couldn’t tell him this on the phone. “The whole thing’s so complicated, Rob. You know I’ve hated my work lately. Maybe, not hated it, but I’ve been miserable.” She took a deep breath. “I’ve decided to leave Broadman. I’m giving my notice on Monday.” That was only part of it. She closed her eyes. She wanted to tell him the rest in person.
“Leaving Broadman? You mean quit? Resign?”
She nodded at the telephone until a soft yes formed on her tear-salted lips.
“Resign a eighty-thousand dollar a year job? But what will you do? Where can you go and make that kind of money?” His voice lifted with deeper concern.
Nikki drew in a ragged breath. “I can’t, Rob. And that’s part of what I want to talk to you about. But in person, not on the phone. Can you come over later? Soon?” She held her breath, waiting for his answer.
“You know I’ll come as soon as I can get there. I’d hoped to see you today anyway.”
A blast of air escaped her. “Thanks. You’re the dearest friend in the world.”
“I’ll be there in a half-hour. As soon as I can.”
“Okay.” A faint grin pulled at her mouth. “And Rob?”
“You don’t have to bring the chicken noodle soup. Just bring yourself.” She tried to turn her grin into a smile, but she failed.
She stared at the receiver for a moment before returning it to the cradle, envisioning Rob’s handsome face and his lopsided grin. Yet today she pictured tension in his warm brown eyes and in his strong jaw.
How did people survive without a good friend? She and Rob counted on each other so often for some of the worst things— dating advice, commiserating about boring dates, career advice, and even nursing each other when sick. What would she do without him? Considering it weighted her chest.
When the doorbell rang, sooner than she expected, Nikki calmed herself and opened the door while struggling to keep from throwing herself into his arms. “Aren’t you a sight?” she said, eyeing his welcoming grin. “And prompt as ever.” She forced a halfhearted smile to her face.
He opened his arms, and she stepped into his embrace as firm and secure as he had always been.
“If I could change one thing about you, Nikki-Nack, it would be your cryptic messages. I spent the last half hour trying to imagine what’s going on.” He shook his head and slipped his arm around her shoulders. “So give. I can’t wait another minute.”
She guided him into the living room, aware of his good-looks and great physic and amazed that he’d been her dear friend without ever dropping her for a woman who adored him as a possible husband. Though the thought rarely crossed her mind, today his importance knotted in her chest. The proposed changes in her life could put a hole in their long-term friendship.
He studied her face before sinking beside onto the sofa.
“You know, I’ve been whining about my career.” She settled beside him and raised her eyes to his mouth, hoping she caused a tiny smile with the reference. Though his lips curved faintly upward, she saw the white tension. “You’ve listened to me talk for so long about needing a change, something purposeful, a career with more meaning than what I’ve been doing the past six years.”
“What is it?” His voice edged with impatience. “Spit it out. Decode?”
She swallowed. “I’m moving, Rob.” As she suspected might happen, tears pooled in her eyes and began the slow journey down her cheek.
“Moving?” His pitch shot upward. “What do you mean moving?”
“I’m going up north to Harbor View.”
“What’s Harbor View?” He closed his eyes for a second. “Wait. That’s where your mother’s aunt lives—-the one with that antique shop, The Brass . . . something or other.”
Nikki nodded. “The Copper Lantern. Aunt Winnie’s not doing well. My folks got a letter from her right after you left for Australia, and they hurried up north to see her. She’s been alone since Uncle Jack died, and she’s eighty-five now.”
“She’s in the hospital?”
“No. No, she’s home, but her heart is weak. And she’s getting older, Rob. Someone needs to be with her. Her family. They didn’t have children so there’s no one.” She studied his face, wondering if he understood.
“For how long? How long will you stay?”
She shrugged. “For as long as she needs me, I suppose. I prayed long and hard, Rob. Leaving Broadman’s isn’t that difficult, you know about that from all my grumbling, but my folks. . .and you. That’s the hard part. But I feel as if this is what God wants me to do.” She hesitated, thinking of all the problems that compounded her decision.
“Nikki, how do you know what God wants you to do? I don’t understand. I realize you believe in God, but do you actually hear his voice?”
She’d heard his questions before, and they saddened her that he didn’t share her faith. She prayed for him daily. “I feel it here.” She pressed her hand against her heart.
He shook his head, then traced the line of her face, and his eyes filled with worry. “I don’t know, Nikki, it seems--”
“Before you say anything, Rob, I’ve done a lot of thinking. My whole life has focused on material things. My career, condo, designer clothes. I haven’t had time for things like relationships and spiritual growth. I want to have a family of my own some day and leave something behind that’s more lasting than earthly treasures. Am I talking in riddles again?”
“No. Your job is demanding with all the travel and long hours, and I know you’re worried about your aunt, but--”
“And it’s more complicated than that. So many problems.”
“Problems? What kind of problems?”
“Mom and dad are worried someone’s taking advantage of her. First, she’s having financial problems. Uncle Jack should have left her a tidy sum of money. He owned copper mines years ago. And he was a good businessman, invested well, at least from what my parents knew. But Aunt Winnie says most of the money’s gone.”
Rob shifted in his seat and frowned. “Gone? Where? No lawyer or financial planner?”
“I don’t know and that’s what I need to find out.”
Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 55 published novels and nearly 4 million books in print. Her novels have received numerous national awards, including: the ACFW Carol Award, Booksellers Best and RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. She is the author of Writer Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance and is a cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers where she serves on their Executive Board. Gail is a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers (ASWA) as well as Christian Authors Network (CAN) and is a keynote speaker at women’s events at churches, civic and business organizations as well as a workshop presenter at conferences across the U.S. Gail lives in Michigan with her husband.. Visit her at: www.gailgaymermartin.com
Purchase Treasure Of Her Heart at:
Gail Gaymer Martin is giving away a copy of Treasure Of Her Heart. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.