After Anne, Coming Home to Brewster Series #1After Anne, Coming Home to Brewster Series #1
Roxanne Henke
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When Anne moves into town, Olivia isn't exactly thrilled. "Perky" Christian types have never been her cup of tea. But when crisis strikes Olivia's family and Anne is diagnosed with breast cancer, the two women are drawn together in a friendship forged by fire. Will their God-given sisterhood be enough to sustain them in the storm? 500 pages, softcover from Harvest.
     

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Prologue

Libby


"Anne is my best friend."

There. I said it.

"Anne is my best friend." I say that in the present tense because I don't like to think of her as gone. Instead, I think of her as . . . away. Off someplace where I can't talk to her everyday like I used to.

After Anne . . . left, I thought I had two options:

One. Go crazy.

Two. Die of loneliness.

It turned out there was a third option I hadn't imagined. But then, that's my story.

Our story.

 

The Beginning

Five years earlier

Olivia

If someone would have told me that first night I met Anne that we would end up being best friends, I would have told them they were nuts. Pure and simply crazy.

What didn't I like about Anne? It's easier to say what I did like. Her scarf. That was about it. Her canary yellow scarf. If it had been tied a little bit tighter I might have liked it even better. Something about Anne just rubbed me the wrong way.

It was late October at a high school football game. The Brewster Badgers were playing for the conference title, and it was freezing that night. A typical North Dakota evening that matched my mood. Chilly. Our son, Brian, was playing. Well really, he was standing on the sidelines. Freshmen don't often get to play in the varsity games. But even from the sidelines Brian seemed to have a talent for getting injured. Bob and I felt it was our duty to be there, doing the "parent thing," cheering him on, insurance card on standby. Little did I know that Brian's knack for minor injury would turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Dan Jordan, Brewster's self-appointed Welcome Wagon, making his way down the sidelines trailing a new couple in town. He was stopping every foot or so, introducing them as though they were royalty. I really wasn't interested.

Frankly, I'm not the most liked woman in Brewster, so the fact that I wasn't as enthralled with Anne as everyone else seemed to be came as no surprise to me. I have my opinions and I'm not afraid to share them. And Anne just seemed like the type of person who would naturally become everybody else's best friend.

But not mine.

I couldn't help but overhear the bits of conversation that drifted my way. In-between the thunking of football pads and the cheerleaders' frantic yelling, I caught the basics. They had recently moved to Brewster. He was an insurance rep and on the road much of the time. Brewster was in the middle of his territory; that's why they'd moved here.

Looking back, I know Anne was overwhelmed trying to make a good impression on practically everyone in town that night. And she was doing a good job of it. I could already see Jan and Connie, the only two sort of good friends I had, following Anne down the sideline, chatting up a storm.

Anne bugged me before I even met her.

For instance, the way she said, "Hiiii—yiiii!" to everyone she met irritated me.

She'd whip off her too-cute purple mitten and stick out her hand. Everyone else scrambled to get their hands out of their pockets, or from under their arms, then yanked off their own gloves just to shake her perky little hand, with its long, slender fingers. It wasn’t until much later that I noticed Anne's crooked thumbs.

Then there was her hair. A jumble of auburn, corkscrew curls sticking out every which way from her purple stocking cap—with a tassel on top, no less. It was just too cute.

But the thing that bothered me the most was when Dan said to her, "I'd like you to meet Olivia Marsden, Brewster's resident bard." He was referring to my column for the Brewster Banner.

"Hiiii-yiii!" Anne said, whipping off her glove one more time. "Olivia—now there's a name I'll remember. I had a cat named Olivia. My sister and I called her Libby. We loved her soooo much. Glad to meet you Libby."

Well, meow to you too. No one, and I mean no one, called me Libby.

Oh, and did I mention how, for reasons unknown to modern science, Anne took to me like cold macaroni and cheese to a kitchen counter top? That woman would not leave my side for love or rudeness. She stuck to me like glue through the whole game no matter how many people came by to say, "Hiiii-yiii!"

Anne

I knew the minute I met Libby she was someone I would like. It never occurred to me that night that we would become the friends we did. But right from the start I knew there was going to be a bond between us.

She was so cool. She didn't grab my hand and pump it like everyone else, all the while inviting me to coffee, lunch, dinner, PTA meetings, or making any of that insincere, first-meeting, I-just-know-we're-going-to-be-best-friends, kind of chit chat. Not Libby. She just stood there in her black wool coat, her breath forming measured puffs in the night air, and gave me a slight nod, a one-sided smile, and said, "Welcome to town." Then she turned to watch the game.

I envied her coolness. I just knew she was the kind of person who never said yes just to make someone feel good, or no, adding a million excuses, trying not to feel guilty. Libby was the kind of person who said yes, or no and left it at that. The kind of person who didn't play word games but told it like it was. The kind of person I'd prayed, with this move, to become.

There was an older woman in our last church who made a lasting impression on me. You could tell just by looking at her she was a woman of character. She stood so regally, and when she spoke, well, it practically sounded as though her words came straight from the Bible. Don't get me wrong—she wasn't one of those people who quote scripture verses at you in response to anything you say. No, it was just that her words were so wise and compassionate; the way she said them made me feel I'd been embraced with kindness. That's the kind of person I wanted to become.

The way Libby stood, and her simple but heart-felt words, reminded me a little bit of that woman. Oh, I liked Libby from the start. It made me feel calm just standing by her. So I did.


 
Excerpted from:
After Anne by Roxanne Henke, copyright 2002.
Used by permission of Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.