Heart to Heart: Winchesters of Legend (book 4)

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Return to Legend

Struggling to save his cash-strapped company, Jeremy Hamilton is overjoyed to discover he’s the heir to his great-aunt’s estate. Until he discovers there are strings attached. Not strings so much, as tails. As in six cats who belonged to Ms. Addie and who will determine just how much of the estate Jeremy will receive and how fast. He does have one option if he wants to inherit sooner: move to the small town of Legend, Tennessee, and live in Ms. Addie’s house for one month while the cats get to know him.

And who decides if the six very different cats like Jeremy enough? That’s up to pet psychic Marty Fields. She’s spent a lifetime explaining animal communication to the skeptic citizens of Legend. Ms. Addie was the only person who understood Marty’s gift, so she made Marty the guardian of her cats and caretaker of her mansion. Now Jeremy’s fate is in Marty’s hands…and of course, in the paws of all the cats.

Jeremy hasn’t had much luck with women. And he’s allergic to cats. Marty hasn’t had much luck convincing people she can communicate with animals. Now she needs to convince Jeremy to believe in the unbelievable. With a little faith and love—and the help of a six little matchmakers—Marty and Jeremy might find themselves joining together…Heart to Heart.

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The town of Legend, Tennessee, and its residents live in the imaginations of its authors. The town and all characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Reviews

“Legend is a small town that will remind readers of Cedar Cove and/or Virgin River.”

“If you want a humorous, sweet book for a quick read at the pool or beach, this is it.”

“The cats were the real stars of Heart to Heart. The cats all had distinct personalities and their antics were hilarious. I’ve always had fun imagining what my pets are saying, so reading Ms. Scarbrough’s interpretation of how animals communicate was very entertaining and brought a smile to my face.”

Excerpt

The law office of Graham Winchester
Downtown, Legend, Tennessee

“I don’t understand.” Jeremy Hamilton scooted forward in the leather guest chair. He frowned at the well-dressed lawyer seated behind a mahogany executive desk. “Are you saying I don’t get the money right away?”

“I’m saying the money is tied up in a trust,” Graham Winchester replied. He too sat forward in his high-back swivel chair. “Ms. Addie placed certain conditions on the money and her other assets.”

Jeremy knew the man facing him was a famous novelist with two bestselling books, who had left his New York City law career for a wife and family in Legend. Not the smartest move, in Jeremy’s mind, but then again, to each his own.

Live and let live had been Jeremy’s motto for years. That was until his dad passed, and he inherited the business, an information technology contracting agency. Today Hamilton Staffing was in trouble. Big time. And no matter what Jeremy did, the economy conspired against him. The recent letter from this lawyer was a godsend. His great-aunt’s money would pump needed cash into his cash-strapped company.

Winchester sat back and rested his elbows on the arms of his executive chair, steepling his fingers thoughtfully at his tight lips. He swiveled back and forth slowly, his gaze resting on Jeremy as if sizing him up. Jeremy wished he was back home in Louisville, Kentucky, or on a sandy Hawaiian beach, anywhere but this stuffy, uncomfortable office. Winchester’s stare annoyed him. Jeremy’s body temperature rose in response.

“But I need that money now,” he said a little too sharply. “I need it to make my payroll.”

It was hard to admit he was in one helluva fix. He only had two months’ worth of capital left. Several large companies had failed to pay him, and so he couldn’t provide the salaries promised to his contractors. Without an immediate influx of cash, he’d go under.

“I understand you were not close to Ms. Addie.”

Winchester’s question had little to do with the issue at hand. Jeremy stiffened. “I barely knew her. My parents left Legend when I was a baby. We would visit occasionally, but after my grandparents died when I was fourteen, we never came again.”

And then his father lost his job, and apparently, his mom couldn’t handle the change. She deserted them once the money dried up, leaving Jeremy to be raised by his dad. He frowned at the memory. At the hurt and anger, the unfairness of it all. At the disloyalty of women. All women.

The irony of it all was his dad had started his own company and became more successful and wealthy than before the divorce.

Jeremy was proud of his dad and what he’d accomplished. Now it was up to him to continue that success. To keep Hamilton Staffing going. People depended upon him. Technical people who’d lost their jobs because of the rotten economy had found work and hope through his company. He couldn’t let them down, any more than he could let the memory of his father down.

“You are Ms. Addie’s only living relative,” Winchester stated. “Although she’s left the bulk of her estate to you, she’s bequeathed certain items to others and given money to her favorite animal rescue charities.”

“Is that why I don’t get the inheritance right away?”

“No.” Winchester shook his head. “That part of the trust has nothing to do with what you will inherit.”

Jeremy let out a frustrated sigh. “Then tell me. Don’t beat around the bush.”

Winchester sat forward and placed his hands on the desktop. “You receive the bulk of the estate when, and only when, her six cats pass.”

“What?”

“Ms. Addie had six cats. They will live in her house at the expense of the trust until each one passes because of natural causes, or if their guardian decides for health reasons, as Ms. Addie put it, they should be sent across Rainbow Bridge.”

“What?” Jeremy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “That’s crazy.”

“You didn’t know Ms. Addie. She was a bit eccentric.”

Jeremy rolled his eyes. “You think? What’s this Rainbow Bridge thing?”

“The way I understand it is that pet lovers like to quote a poem called ‘Rainbow Bridge’ as being the place where their pets go after they die to wait for their owners.”

“That is nuts.”

Winchester shrugged. “Not to people like Ms. Addie.”

The cat thing was too much. Too stupid for words. “I suppose I can’t send them across this bridge myself.”

The lawyer grinned. “You’re right. Ms. Addie was concerned enough about that to appoint a guardian to look after the cats’ best interests. The guardian, a Miss Martha Fields, who happens to be my second cousin, lives with the cats.”

“You’re kidding? Someone lives with the cats?”

“Ms. Addie gave Marty permission to live on the third story of the house so she’d be closer to them.”

Jeremy’s neck was stiff, and his head pounded. He’d driven five hours to Legend this morning just to have his hopes dashed by this crazy old woman’s cats?

Unbelievable.

Winchester pushed his chair back from the desk, and cocked his head. “When Ms. Addie’s health took a turn for the worse sick six months ago, she asked me to find out about you.”

Jeremy glared at the lawyer. “You were snooping on me?”

“Let’s just say, I did a little research. Nothing the Internet couldn’t facilitate.”

“So?” This was going from bad to worse.

“I learned you’re single, recently out of a long-term relationship.”

Jeremy’s body tensed.

“I also learned about your financial difficulties,” Winchester continued. “I found out that you work most of the time.”

“So? There’s a law against hard work?”

Winchester ignored the sarcasm. “After I told Ms. Addie, she expressed her desire that you, as she put it, ‘stop and smell the roses.’”

“What does that mean?” Jeremy asked, squinting in anger.

“Ms. Addie added another clause to her trust, stating if you move into her house in Legend for a month and live there so her cats will come to accept you, then the money, except what is actually needed to take care of the cats, can be released to you.”

Jeremy stood up and paced back and forth in front of the desk. His blood boiled. This was the most preposterous thing he’d ever heard. “Let me get this straight. I have to live in her house for a month?”

“Yes.”

“And Ms. Addie was in her right mind?”

“Sharp as a tack.”

“How do you know the cats will accept me?” Jeremy quizzed. “Can you read their minds?”

“No,” Winchester said. His voice was as bland as his expression. “But Marty does.”

“Huh?” Jeremy stopped and faced the lawyer.

“Marty Fields talks to them.”

Heart pounding, Jeremy stared in disbelief. “What?” His one word question ended on a piercing high note.

“Marty Fields talks to the cats,” Winchester repeated. “Like Dr. Doolittle. She’s an animal communicator.”