What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Just not in the ways you thought.
Lucy Parmenter, 28, a former art school teacher from Charlotte, North Carolina, lost her beloved minister-father and her normal life after a brutal attack by two drug addicts she tried to help. For the past few years she’s lived at Rainbow Goddess Farm in the high mountains west of Asheville. The farm is a refuge and counseling center for abused women and their children. But for Lucy, now nicknamed “Yarn Spinner,” it has become home.
Now, frightening strangers have taken up residence in the woods nearby.
The traumatized veterans hiding in the woods set off all of her panic alarms. And yet, what two men did to her in her suburban apartment turned her into a veteran of a different war and into an empath who can help others suffering as she does . . .
“I still can’t go out in public without panicking, or stand to touch a man. I live at the farm, where I used to be a patient, and I’ll probably never leave there. I manage the farm’s sheep, llama, and alpaca herd. I live in a tiny apartment in a barn. I’ve learned to spin and crochet and knit, which I love. But my ‘normal’ life is over, and my dream of having a husband and family will never happen. Because no matter how much I want to forget, part of me will always think of every man as violent, and sex as an act of terror and threats. Even if it’s offered by a man I love dearly. I’m cursed. My life is filled with memories of war, like yours. Just a different kind.”
And yet her new friends, Tal and Gabby MacBride, aka the Biscuit Witch and the Pickle Queen, who have empathetic powers of their own, have introduced her via social media to their army captain brother Gus, stationed in Afghanistan. Gus has the MacBride family’s “kitchen charms,” just like his sisters, though his clairvoyant taste-testing focuses on beer blends.
From the moment he meets moon-pale Lucy via one of her shawl-draped camera-phone pictures, he wants to know everything about the ethereal woman who gazes back at him. He’s always been the tortured protector of a family torn apart by trouble. Lucy represents his most fragile redemption, and the deepest love. But until she trusts him he’ll have to make do with information about her mysterious past that he gets from his sisters and his brother-in-law Jay Wakefield, all of whom have promised to protect Lucy’s painful privacy.
Gus: None of you are going to tell me the truth about her problem—I get that. My sisters have said everything from she’s just “reserved” and was raised “sheltered” and might even be a touch “autistic,” but “in a good way.” You’ve all made a scout’s honor promise to Lucy.
Okay. She wants to tell me herself?
Gus: Is she dying from a disease?
Gus: Thank you, God.
Jay: You’re welcome.
Gus: Is there any legal, medical, ethical, or other reason why she and I shouldn’t be more than friends?
Jay: In my view, no.
Gus: What the hell does that mean?
Jay: No reason. Those are all the questions you get to ask, Captain. I love your pickle-queen sister dearly, and I don’t want to spend another decade trying to win her respect again.
Gus: Fair enough.
Jay: Am I right to think the force of your beer hoodoo is powerful around Lucy?
Gus: Very. Don’t ever repeat this. I know how it sounds. But from the moment Tal introduced her to me over the phone last fall, I knew something had stopped her fermentation too soon or infected her mash. She’s come out of it green and cloudy.
Jay: Can she be . . . re-brewed?
Gus: I don’t know, but by God, I going to try. I have to identify the cause, first. I’m getting a two-week leave in March. I’m coming to see her. I haven’t told her yet.
Jay: A little worried about her reaction?
Gus: A lot.