Home > Let It Be (Butler, Vermont #6)

Let It Be (Butler, Vermont #6)
Author: Marie Force

Chapter One

 

 

“Life is what happens to you while you’re

busy making other plans.”

—John Lennon

 

 

Fridays were Lincoln Abbott’s favorite day of the workweek, and not just because they were the only thing standing between him and two full days off to spend with his wife, Molly. He also enjoyed Fridays because his executive team—all of them his grown children—were usually in good spirits as they prepared for the weekend. Another thing to love about Fridays was that most weeks, Linc enjoyed lunch at the diner with Molly and her dad, Elmer, both of whom were at the top of Linc’s list of favorite people.

He loved everything about his life in Butler, Vermont, from the breathtaking scenery to the entertaining town moose named Fred to the Green Mountain Country Store, Elmer’s parents had founded the store, and Lincoln had poured his heart and soul into for forty years, the last fifteen of them as CEO. Mostly, though, he loved the family he and Molly had raised. Their ten children had grown into adults he loved, admired and was proud to consider friends and colleagues. Molly, their marriage and those ten kids were his greatest accomplishments.

As he crossed Elm Street on his way back to the office after lunch with Molly and Elmer, he took note of the work being done to rebuild the Admiral Butler Inn that had burned earlier in the year, nearly taking his son Lucas with it. Linc couldn’t bear to think about that night or how close they’d come to losing their beloved Luc, who, like his identical twin brother, Landon, was a lieutenant in the Butler Volunteer Fire Department.

Linc shook off those morose thoughts and gave thanks once again for Luc’s good health and his rapid recovery from injuries that might’ve killed a lesser man. Lucas had also saved the life of Amanda, who was now blissfully engaged to Landon.

His seven sons were in great shape from their many outdoor pursuits, including rock-climbing, skiing, snowboarding, mountain search and rescue and numerous other things that he and Molly were probably better off not knowing about. That conditioning had saved Lucas’s life in the fire.

Linc’s nephew Noah Coleman’s construction company was rebuilding the inn, and Linc couldn’t wait to see how it came together under Noah’s leadership. Out of all the kids—ten Abbotts and eight Colemans—Noah was the enigma, the one who kept his distance from the family, especially since the dreadful breakup with his ex-wife, the details of which had been kept in lockdown. Linc kept hoping they’d get back the old Noah again. He’d once been a happy, outgoing kind of guy, but there’d been no sign of that Noah in years.

Linc had left Molly and her dad enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of the apple pie their daughter-in-law Megan had made to return to the office for the weekly Friday afternoon staff meeting. They didn’t really need the meeting, but Linc enjoyed getting everyone in the same room once a week to share ideas and energy. Some of their best initiatives had resulted from the meetings they tried to have weekly unless they had something better to do, such as a long weekend at their place in Burlington or their son Wade’s wedding in Boston this past June.

Nothing came before family time, not even the business his father-in-law had entrusted him with after he retired. It was a huge honor for Linc to continue the legacy that Elmer’s parents began and Elmer had continued, and to serve as the steward until one of his kids took the helm. He suspected it would probably be Hunter, but Linc was determined to let them figure that out for themselves. Any of the five who worked in the office with him would be qualified to take over when the time came, but that day was still a long way in the future. Linc was having way too much fun to think about retiring. As long as he and Molly could get away by themselves once in a while, they were happy with the status quo.

He loved the work of running an old-time country store and the challenge of maintaining the nostalgic feel of the place while applying modern business strategies to spark growth. Such as the catalog they’d launched in September that had doubled their monthly gross revenue in the three months it’d been in circulation, giving them their busiest holiday season in the company’s history.

The catalog and the warehouse that fulfilled the orders had lit a spark of excitement within the company that was palpable, as had the intimate product line Linc had championed—to the dismay of his children—which had brought in scores of new customers. He often chafed against his children’s more conservative approach to growing the business, but wasn’t afraid to pull rank when it suited his purposes. That’s exactly what he’d done with the intimate line, and he had no regrets there. Not to mention the product line had brought Amanda to town, and she and her daughter, Stella, would officially join their family when Amanda married Landon.

He went up the flight of stairs from the store to the executive offices where his nephew Grayson’s fiancée, Emma, greeted him. Her sister, Lucy, was married to Linc’s son Colton.

“How was lunch?” Emma asked.

“Excellent as always. Anything going on?”

“I put through a few calls to your voicemail, but nothing that sounded urgent.”

“Thank you. I meant to ask earlier how Simone is doing with her new braces.” Emma’s daughter had gotten the braces the week before.

“She hates them, but we keep telling her she’ll get used to them. She’s not convinced yet.”

“My kids hated them at first, too, but you’re right. After a while, they forget about them.”

“I hope so. She’s pretty miserable.”

“Poor baby.”

The ringing phone took Emma back to work as Linc headed into his office to check his voicemail. At a quick glance, it seemed the others were still at lunch, but they’d be back in time for the meeting at one thirty. He listened to a message from Lucas’s fiancée, Dani, who managed the warehouse for them.

“Hey, I wanted to let you know I’m not going to make the meeting today. We’re totally slammed here, and I need to stick around. I’ll check in with you at Sunday dinner to find out what I missed. The good news is we’re slammed. The bad news is we’re slammed. Haha, see you.”

Linc smiled at the message. She was right—it was great news they were slammed, but he’d have to talk to her about what they could do to support her and the warehouse team in the last days before Christmas. Dani was such a terrific addition to their team—and their family. She and Luc were great together, and seeing his son take on the role of father figure to Dani’s one-year-old daughter, Savannah, had been nothing short of amazing.

His voicemail beeped with the next message.

“Lincoln. It’s Charlotte. Your sister.”

Shocked to the marrow of his bones by the sound of a voice he hadn’t heard in forty years, he sat up straighter.

“I’m sorry to call you out of the blue, but we wanted you to know that Father is gravely ill and doesn’t have much time left. He’s asked to see you. He knows he has no right to ask, but he’s asking anyway. If you would, please call me.” With shaking hands, Linc grabbed a pen to write down the number she recited. “I’ll understand if I don’t hear from you, but I hope I do.”

For a long time after the voicemail disconnected, Lincoln sat perfectly still, staring at a spot on the wall from a leak in the roof the previous winter. They’d gotten the roof fixed, but the wall still bore the watermark. And why was he thinking about a water stain on the wall when his sister had just dropped earthshattering news into his lap?

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