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New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky touches the heart and spirit with this charming story, first published in 1982, of a young woman's search for passion and renewal.
No one could have imagined naïve and pampered Rory Matthews in the wilderness of the Yukon Territory -- least of all Rory herself. But arriving unexpectedly to join her brother on a scientific expedition was Rory's way of putting her spoiled, rich-girl ways behind her.
Though she came prepared for the rough challenge of the land, she wasn't ready for the raw power of nature she discovered in the arms of Eric Clarkson. As majestic and rugged as the land around her, Eric was a man who perplexed her as much as he intrigued her ... a man who infuriated her even as he offered a passionate, fulfilling new beginning to her life.
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It could have been any tavern in any town. The lights were low and orange, the air smoke-tinged, the steady drone of conversational mumblings, disturbed only by the faint sound of the television from its perch high above the cordon of filled and half-filled bottles lining long shelves behind the bar, or the occasional coming together of metal boot and hardwood floor as a new customer joined the others. For a weekday afternoon, the tables were surprisingly filled, their red-and-white-checked tablecloths, shabby at best, now rapidly wrinkling under the onslaught of elbows, fists, cans, glasses, ashtrays, and the incidental sloshing by a slightly tipsy patron.
The faces were mostly male, mostly hard. They reflected the times as they reflected the place. For this was Whitehorse, at the edge of the Canadian wilderness in the Yukon Territory. Long gone were the days of the gold-rush bonanza, when a man struck it rich in a single day. Rather, these men worked day after day, year after year, to support themselves and their families in one of the inevitably mine-related activities that supported the small northern community. Many were miners themselves, eking out a living in the painstaking search for zinc, lead, and copper; others were part of the tourism business, serving the increasing numbers of travelers who clamored north to relive those days in 1898 when now-legendary adventurers by the tens of thousands poured into the area in search of El Dorado.
The hands that raised frothy steins were, by and large, worn and calloused -- with the notable exception of one pair, in a far corner of the room. Young, delicately tanned, and distinctly feminine, they were clasped tightly around a steaming mug of coffee, their owner so totally engrossed in her own thoughts that she did not hear the approach of heavily shuffling footsteps.
"C'n I buy y'a drink, swee-heart?" The gravel-edged voice, slurred with drink and reeking likewise not six inches from her face, brought Rory Matthews's sandy head up with a start, and she as quickly recoiled from the gray face that hovered menacingly above her.
"No!" she refused forcefully, indignant that this derelict should approach her in the first place and unable to disguise the revulsion which swept over her at his grubby nearness.
"Wha-smatter?" he slurred on. "Not good 'nough fur ya?"
Her better judgment, in a rare appearance, dictating that she not aggravate the man, Rory tempered her tone and ventured an excuse. "I'm waiting for someone." She had spoken no less than the truth, though when her brother might arrive was a question which any one of the strangers in the bar might have been better able to answer than she. He would certainly have received her message earlier today, or so she had been assured by the Mountie who sent it over the radio. Whether he would be able to leave right away to fetch her -- whether he would want to leave right away -- was an entirely different matter. Oh, yes, she certainly was waiting for someone, but it could be a very long wait. To her dismay, the miner, or so she guessed him to be from his garb, was oblivious to her hint.
"Aw, c'mon. Lemme look t'yer perty face a li'l longer." This was unthinkable; if her brother wasn't already furious at her, he certainly would be, to walk into the bar and find her having a drink with a significantly sloshed local. As he reached for the empty chair beside her, she spoke again, anger now rising above the frustration and indignation at being saddled with this pest.
"I'd rather be alone." Her green eyes bored into him, cold and imperious, as all traces of patience vanished.
"Humph! Hotsy-totsy r'ya? Too good fur th'likes o'me, d'ya think? Well-ll, we'll see bou'that."
Search for a New DawnBy: Barbara Delinsky