The Alaska Brides Collection Part 83

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Chapter 17.

August spent the final days of the highway project behind a desk. After eight months of tedious work and precarious conditions, the Alaskan/Canadian Highway was completed. Nicknamed "the Alcan" by those who worked it, the roadway was a miracle of cooperative countries and their people.

Destiny's road stretched over nearly fifteen hundred miles and const.i.tuted the efforts of more than eleven thousand individuals.

It wasn't much to look at, August decided as he flew from one isolated airstrip to the next, surveying the wonder from the air. Little more than a dingy brown ribbon, it wove its way through the countryside. Occasionally, strips of gray or blue indicated a lake or river, while either side of the narrow highway was lined with dark spruce forests and snow-filled permafrost meadows.

The army was pleased with the accomplishment. The road provided a way to transport oil and other goods to far north bases, should the s.h.i.+pping lanes become too dangerous. But an unantic.i.p.ated benefit was what a morale booster the road had become. It proved to two nations and millions of their citizens that they could combine their energies on the home front to aid their loved ones serving in battles so far away. It made the people feel important, useful, and necessary for the war effort.

August smiled as the plane touched down in Northway. This was his final official duty for the project. After great consideration and prayer, August had decided against taking the permanent job offered by Ralph Greening.

Instead, August had shared with Beth his desire to raise sled dogs and help her with the roadhouse. She had enthusiastically agreed to having him around the house on a daily basis and had even begun to make a list of jobs August could be responsible for. August had laughed when he learned of the list.

"Good to know I'll be needed," he'd ruefully observed.

The weather had turned cold. Excitement gripped the town of Northway as it bustled with activities commemorating the new highway. But the dropping temperatures and significant snows signaled to August that it was time to go to Nome and retrieve his property. Once done with this, he would settle down to a new life with Beth and the boys.

August shook his head in amazement, remembering his first day in Northway when he was seeking a job on the highway. The road had given destiny to more than the countries through which it pa.s.sed. G.o.d had used it to bring August his own destiny and a new life.

Snow blanketed the ground around the airstrip, leaving August to tramp out his own way to the crossroads. He didn't mind; it reminded him of days out on the trail hunting or checking trap lines. Remembering his father and the home he'd known as a boy, August was filled with longing to return to that life.

Nearing the roadhouse, August paused in order to take the sight in. Nestled among the tall spruce and leafless aspen and birch was the place he now called home. Black smoke rose from the chimney, contrasting against the gray, snow-heavy sky. The sight warmed August and prompted him to hasten his steps to the family he'd soon call his own.

Kicking off his snowy boots, August entered the roadhouse through the back door and pulled off his parka to hang it beside Beth's at the entrance to the kitchen. He was surprised to find Beth and the boys sitting at the table, smiling up at him as if they knew a secret.

"What?" August asked with a grin. "What are you up to?"

Phillip and Gerald giggled, while Beth lowered her eyes to keep from laughing out loud. August joined them cautiously at the table and looked on his chair for any sign of a pine cone or other such souvenir of the boys' mischievous behavior. Finding none, he sat opposite Beth, between the boys.

"Is somebody going to tell me what's going on here?" he asked, reaching for Phillip. "Or am I going to have to tickle it out of you?"

"Don't tell him, Phillip," Gerald squealed.

Phillip laughed in glee as August's fingers found his ribs. "You're going to be our daddy," Phillip laughingly gave up the secret.

"Mommy said you had to go to your old house and get your stuff, but that you were coming back to live here with us," Gerald added.

Beth looked at August with a shrug. "I couldn't help telling them," she replied. "And since you never said I couldn't, I gave in to my joy and let them be part of it."

August laughed as he reached out and pulled Gerald to his lap. Holding each boy on a knee, August gave them a squeeze. "And what do you boys think of that?" he asked.

"We like it!" Gerald exclaimed and Phillip echoed.

"Well, that's certainly a good thing for me," August proclaimed. "I guess I would have had a lot of trouble on my hands if you had said you didn't want me."

"I don't want you to go, Daddy," Phillip said with a pout.

"Me neither," Gerald agreed. Beth's expression confirmed that she felt the same way.

"Look, boys," August began, "I'm not going to be gone very long, and when I get back I'm going to be bringing my dog team. I'm going to teach you the old-fas.h.i.+oned way of getting around in the snow."

"We've never had a dog. How many dogs will you bring?" Gerald asked, suddenly interested.

"I'll probably bring twenty or so," August replied. "And twenty dogs are going to be a lot of work. I'll need extra help from you boys."

"Will we play with the doggies?" Phillip asked.

"Of course," August answered. "We'll give them lots of love and care every day. And we'll play with them and work with them. You'll see. It's going to be a great deal of fun."

"What about Momma?" Gerald questioned.

"Your momma is going to have fun with the dogs, too," August said with a wink at Beth.

"And it won't be long, boys," Beth added, "before you'll be ready to start learning to read and write."

"That's true," August agreed. "This roadhouse is going to need a lot of care, too. Your mother has already made long, long lists, so every day will hold plenty of things to keep us busy. And," August paused, looking purposefully into Beth's eyes, "I promise I'll never be away from here for any longer than I have to be, because I love you all so very much."

"We love you, too, Daddy," Gerald said, glancing at his mother. "Momma said we could call you that, if you didn't mind."

August choked up from the emotion surging through his heart. "I would love it if you would call me Daddy," he replied. "I want very much to be the best daddy in the world to both of you."

The boys hugged him tightly around the neck, while August and Beth exchanged a look of love that bound them forever to one another. G.o.d is so good, August thought. In His perfect way, G.o.d had saved the best in life for the last, and August could not imagine a sweeter future.

"Why don't you boys go play for a little while? I need to talk with August-your dad- for a moment."

"But he just got home," Gerald protested.

"Can't we stay?" Phillip moaned.

"Now, boys," August said, putting them from his knee. "You must always mind your mother and me. Sometimes your safety or lives might depend upon it. Right now, your mom simply wants to talk to me, but obeying her is always important. Do you understand?"

The boys sobered at August's serious tone. "Yes, Daddy."

With a smile, August broke the somber moment. "Good. Now, you run and play, and when I'm done talking to your mother, I'll come help you build something with your blocks."

The boys scampered off to their room, discussing at great length their plans for the toy building project.

"You have such a loving way with them," Beth remarked. "I'm amazed that you've never spent much time with children."

"There were never any around to spend time with. There was Julie, of course," he said, "but I was a child as well. I've always known, though, that I wanted to be a father. I've always wanted a house full of children and a home full of love."

"I feel like I've got so much to learn about you," Beth said wistfully. "You've never told me much about Nome or your sister. It's another part of you that I know nothing about."

August nodded. "Just remember, there's a great deal I don't know about you, either. But we have all the time in the world."

Beth frowned for a moment, remembering the war that engulfed the world. "It's a rather frightening time. The world is in such conflict. So many young men are dying to give us freedom and a future. It cuts my heart to imagine waving my sons off to war. I pray I never have to know that feeling."

"Yes," August said, remembering that he once wanted to be one of those marching away to war. "I've never looked at it quite that way. I was angry at G.o.d because He wouldn't let me be one of those going off to serve. I never thought of how it affected anyone but me. Now that two little boys I love could well face that responsibility, I feel the same way you do. I want to protect them and keep them far from the reaches of such a monster as war."

"Do you suppose the world will change so very much in the years to come? I mean after the fighting is over and the men have come home," Beth questioned.

"War always changes things," August said thoughtfully. "I remember reading about World War I. It seemed so far away and unimportant. Somebody else's war, I thought. Somebody else's land and people. But it wasn't that way, and neither is this. We're every bit as much a part of those who are fighting as they are of us. We give them a reason to fight, a reason to win. They need us, just as we need them."

"Is it selfish to want a good life with you and the boys, in the face of the adversity our soldiers are living with?" Beth inquired.

"I don't think so. I believe it's just as they would expect. Life goes on, and just as one war is over, another begins. Whether it's on a battlefield or in a hospital bed, it's a never-ending cycle, and G.o.d's hand is upon all," August replied.

"Then our destiny is in His hands, and nothing the world does or doesn't do will change that," Beth said with new certainty.

"That it is," August agreed and added, "A future with G.o.d's loving protection doesn't seem at all frightening."

Beth nodded and reached across the table for August's hand. His warm fingers wrapped around her own, and Beth knew there truly was nothing to fear. With G.o.d and a good man at her side, the challenges of the world seemed to shrink under a shroud of faith.

Destiny's road would be G.o.d's road, and though the way might hold pitfalls and obstacles, Beth and August would travel it together, always guided by the Creator of it all.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS.

MARY CONNEALY.

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award winner. She is the author of the La.s.soed in Texas Trilogy, the Montana Marriage Trilogy, and the Sophie's Daughters Series.

Mary lives on a Nebraska ranch with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters: Joslyn (married to Matt), Wendy, Sh.e.l.ly (married to Aaron), and Katy. And she is the grandmother of two beautiful grandchildren.

CATHY MARIE HAKE.

Cathy Marie Hake is a Southern California native. She met her two loves at church: Jesus and her husband, Christopher. An RN, she loved working in oncology as well as teaching Lamaze. Health issues forced her to retire, but G.o.d opened new possibilities with writing. Since their children have moved out and are married, Cathy and Chris dote on dogs they rescue from a local shelter. A sentimental pack rat, Cathy enjoys sc.r.a.pbooking and collecting antiques. Since her first book in 2000, she's been on multiple bestseller and readers' favorite lists.

TRACIE PETERSON.

Tracie Peterson, bestselling, award-winning author of over ninety fiction t.i.tles and three non-fiction books, lives and writes in Belgrade, Montana. As a Christian, wife, mother, writer, editor and speaker (in that order), Tracie finds her slate quite full.

Published in magazines and Sunday school take home papers, as well as a columnist for a Christian newspaper, Tracie now focuses her attention on novels. After signing her first contract with Barbour Publis.h.i.+ng in 1992, her novel, A Place To Belong, appeared in 1993 and the rest is history. She has over twenty-six t.i.tles with Heartsong Presents' book club (many of which have been repackaged) and stories in six separate anthologies from Barbour. From Bethany House Publis.h.i.+ng, Tracie has multiple historical three-book series as well as many stand-alone contemporary women's fiction stories and two non-fiction t.i.tles. Other t.i.tles include two historical series co-written with Judith Pella, one historical series co-written with James Scott Bell, and multiple historical series co-written with Judith Miller.

KATHLEEN Y'BARBO Bestselling author Kathleen Y'Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of forty-five novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader's Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and a former member of the Texas Bar a.s.sociation Paralegal Division, she is currently a proud military wife and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River.

If you enjoyed The Alaska Brides Collection.

look for The Brides of Chance.

Available wherever books are sold.

If you enjoyed.

The Alaska Brides Collection.

look for The New England Romance Collection Available wherever books are sold..

end.

The Alaska Brides Collection Part 83

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