On a solo ski vacation in Canyon Mines, Colorado, Tucker has a love-hate relationship with his wealth, spending indiscriminately while skiing fearlessly and preparing to conquer the overgrown slope of Hidden Run, a dangerous run not attempted in decades. As genealogist Jillian tries to uncover enough of Tucker’s family tree to understand his charming nature but reckless resolve, Jillian’s equally charming father, Nolan, cajoles Tucker into giving him ski lessons to get him talking about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s life in St. Louis in the 1930s.
On the surface, Tucker’s family’s history seems too perfect. The secret may lie in the sealed envelope Tucker carries with him at all times—even on the ski slope. When no one can find Tucker to tell him the fiancée he never mentioned turned up in Canyon Mines, they realize he must be off attempting to ski Hidden Run alone in a snowstorm. And they may be too late.
In the Cradle Lies is the second book in the Tree of Life series by Olivia Newport. You’ll want to return to the lovely Colorado mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that will inspire you to connect with your own family histories and unique faith journeys.
About the Author
Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of Pikes Peak.
Read an Excerpt
Jillian Parisi-Duffy was of firm enough character to defend her choice regardless of the criticism, and she had faced plenty.
First, from her father before she left the house that morning. "If you plan to spend most of your time sitting in the lodge with a book, at least take a novel."
"Bye, Dad," was all she said as she shoved her choice in her bag and went out the front door to meet Kristina Bryant in her idling sedan.
Then there was Kris. "That's the book you brought to read while I ski?"
"It's been at the top of my pile for weeks. I can finally dig in."
Then other guests in the lodge, coming and going to warm up between runs and plopping down beside her on the sofa in front of the massive fire with their hot chocolate. "What are you reading?" She'd shown them the cover and watched their predictable expressions.
"That's a mouthful," they said, or "Not exactly leisure reading," or "Is somebody making you read that?"
"How's the skiing?" she replied every time. They'd chatter about snowpack and powder for a few minutes and then be ready to go back out.
Jillian had been out on the lodge's deck a few times to stretch her legs, inhale the bracing mountain air, and try to spot Kris's purple ski jacket and leggings on the slopes against the cerulean sky and sprays of glimmering alabaster powder. But most of the time she remained camped in front of the stone fireplace with one of a progression of steaming beverages, hot chocolate piled with whipped cream, rich caramel latte, and finally dark hot chocolate with hazelnut syrup. Once she interrupted the flow of beverages with the simple sandwich and chips fare the lodge offered, because her father would later ask if she'd eaten anything all day. With a turn of her head in either direction, she could gaze out floor-to-ceiling windows at the luminous Colorado day and the ski lifts moving people to the tops of the runs. The day was stunning, no question.
But so was her book. She didn't have her laptop with her and hadn't even brought a yellow legal pad for notes, so technically this wasn't work. It was recreational reading that happened to be of an academic nature and coincidentally intersected with her profession as a genealogist. With her hands free of hot beverage and food, at least temporarily, Jillian slipped her feet out of her low-cut, fur-lined boots and folded them under her legs on the deep, thick-cushioned leather sofa. Then she began a new chapter, letting the sounds of the lodge fade into the background.
"How's the book?"
"Fantabulous." She knew the voice and angled her head toward the inquirer. "How's the skiing?"
"Astonishing!" Kris unzipped her jacket and shrugged out of it as she dropped onto the sofa beside Jillian.
"What's so astonishing?" Jillian moved her bookmark, closed the volume, and twisted toward her best friend. "You've skied here dozens of times."
"Of course I am always an astonishing skier." Kris tugged off her cap and tucked it into the helmet in her lap.
"And humble," Jillian said.
"There is a dude out there you would not believe. You know how you always say that the way I ski is one of the biggest arguments for why you don't ski?"
"It is. You're a maniac daredevil."
"You would reconsider that description if you saw this guy."
"Who is he?"
Kris shook her head. "Not a clue. But I've never seen a more audacious skier."
"That's saying a lot."
"And I mean it. If you hear sirens for the ski patrol, they will be for him. He's going to kill himself."
"Come on, Kris. This is a family-friendly ski business."
"Tell that to him. He's looking for danger. When I do the double-black runs here, I don't usually have much company. Not many people have the skills. But he didn't even take a minute at the top to see where the path down was. He just got off the lift at the top and pushed off without a breath or a beat."
"Well, is he as good as he thinks he is?"
Kris shrugged. "His turns are pretty tight, I'll give him that. But he's scary fast and doesn't seem to believe in stops."
"Maybe he's a competitive skier."
"Then why ski here?"
"Don't know. Hey, why did you come in? Hungry? Cold?"
"Grrr. The buckles on one boot are not holding properly. I'm spending half my time stopping to adjust them, and even still I feel my heel moving too much for good turns. I'm not going to take chances. I have to call it a day and have Leif Mueller look at it back in town."
"You've been out there for hours." Jillian put her feet back in her boots. "Have something to eat first. I'll start putting stuff in the car."
The day still blazed resplendent on the drive back to Canyon Mines, which was within easy driving distance of half a dozen ski locations. It wasn't often that Kris could get away from Ore the Mountain, her ice cream parlor on Main Street, for an extended day excursion, but January — especially the lull just after Christmas — was a better time than most to leave the shop in the hands of a part-time employee. Though there might be ski season foot traffic through town, freezing mountain temperatures did not put ice cream at the top of tourists' lists, and the Canary Cage coffee shop just down the block sold hot beverages that Kris could not compete with. Hot chocolate was the only exception, because her secret ingredient was hand-tempered chocolate supplied by Carolyn, who ran Digger's Delight, the candy shop that shared the building with Ore the Mountain.
"So Veronica and Luke are having their usual winter party soon," Kris said as she turned her car toward the town limits. "Are you and your dad going?"
"With sleigh bells on," Jillian said.
"As usual, the theme is hush-hush. Have you heard any leaks?"
"And if you did?"
Jillian smiled. She could keep a secret. "Nia said Meri promised to come back for a weekend at the Inn after she's settled at grad school in Denver."
"You all did a good thing for her, helping her sort out her genealogy — and her family."
"I don't always get to see the difference genealogy searches make quite so dramatically." Jillian pointed out the windshield. "It's starting to snow again."
"You're already thinking about getting back out on the slopes."
"Sure, if I get my boots fixed. Will your dad cut back his days working in Denver?"
"Just January and February. Two days a week instead of three. If we have a mild stretch, he can always change his mind." Nolan Duffy's home office was upstairs while Jillian's was downstairs. He worked part of the week in Denver and part in Canyon Mines, and she worked full-time out of the house. Their arrangement had worked for years. Nolan's practice as a family law attorney and mediator was brisk, and Jillian's work creating family trees for individuals or looking for missing people for insurance or law firms, along with speaking at genealogy conferences and writing for journals, produced a steady stream of requests for her expertise. Since losing her mom when she was fourteen, Jillian and her dad had created their own rhythms of companionable living.
"I heard Clark Addison is threatening to remodel the Canary Cage," Kris said.
"He'd better not get rid of our couch."
"You got that right. We might have to stage a sit-in."
"How's Carolyn's daughter?"
"Getting close to delivering, I think. Carolyn's going to close the candy store for a month when the baby comes and go to Golden to help out."
"Makes sense. Business is slower than in the summer."
"People still buy more candy in the winter than they do ice cream. Without her next door, I could go days without selling a scoop," Kris said.
"Close up and take a real vacation. Go someplace you've always wanted to ski."
"Hey, do you mind if we go straight to the ski shop? I might as well find out what Leif thinks about my boot and whether I have anything to ski with."
They drove past the conjoined ice cream and candy shops, past Veronica and Luke O'Reilly's Victorium Emporium, past the Canary Cage, and detoured off Main Street to Catch Air, the shop Leif Mueller had been running for the last twelve years to take advantage of the town's proximity to Colorado ski country. Kris took both boots from the trunk and carried them through the door.
Just inside, she elbowed Jillian and whispered. "There he is."
"The guy from the double blacks." Kris pointed by tilting her head. "How did he get here so fast?"
"He drives the way he skis?"
The man was older than Jillian's twenty-eight years, in his midthirties, tall. The pockets of his radiant green ski jacket overflowed with a yellow hat and gloves. At least he took the precaution of being visible on the slopes during his daring downward flights. Jillian didn't have to be wealthy or a skier to recognize that this man had invested some serious money in outfitting himself, and he wasn't shopping the clearance rack now. Over one shoulder, in stark contrast to the high-end garb that covered him head-to-toe, hung a drab, gray cloth backpack well past its best days.
Leif looked up. "Can I help you ladies — or at least the one of you who skis and is not afraid of tripping over herself?"
"Ha." Jillian grimaced. Having the shop owners in a small town know you had a downside. When the weather improved, she'd get back to regular running — and she rarely tripped.
Kris deposited both boots on the counter, and she and Leif entered a conversation about the technicalities. Jillian hadn't been in Leif's shop many times and began to wander. Even nonskiers could find warm winter gear here. Her dad's latest winter jacket had come from this shop, and it was easy to recognize the vivid hats and gloves around town. The daredevil skier Kris had seen on the slopes was browsing a rack of goggles and had two pairs in his hands with the grip of intent to purchase.
"Are you sure?" Kris's pitch rose. "That's pretty pricey."
Jillian shuffled back toward the front of the store.
Leif tilted his head and shrugged one shoulder. "You asked my opinion. Your main problem is the power strap. Yes, I can try changing that for you, but the other buckles are not in great shape either. We'll have to do them all, and they might never snap the way someone of your caliber deserves. You've had these boots forever, Kris. At the level of skier that you are, I really think you'd be happier in the long term if you started looking at a new pair."
Kris threw her head back and stared at the ceiling.
Jillian put one hand on her friend's shoulder. "You'll figure something out."
The man with the goggles put both pairs on the counter. "Give her whatever she needs and put it on my bill."
Kris's head snapped back into position and spun toward him. "What? No, of course you can't do that, Leif."
"Why not?" the man said. "Leif here says you need new boots. I saw you skiing today. You clearly warrant an excellent pair."
Kris colored. "No. Definitely no."
He extended his hand. "Tucker."
She took it. "Kris. My friend Jillian."
"Knowing your first name does not mean you should buy me a pair of ski boots," Kris said.
"Pay it forward," Tucker said. "Isn't that what it's called?"
"This is not a Starbucks drive-through," Kris said. "This is a different animal altogether."
Even Jillian knew that the quality boots a skier like Kris needed would cost hundreds of dollars.
"I insist." Tucker looked at Leif. "What boot do you recommend for Kris?"
"I can suggest something," Leif said.
Tucker opened his wallet and laid down six crisp hundred dollar bills. "Will this cover it?"
Kris gripped Jillian's arm, gulping. "No ... Tucker. That's very generous, but I cannot accept."
"The thing about generosity is it's a gift. Freely given." Tucker looked at Jillian. "What could you use?"
"Nothing, thank you. I don't ski."
"A new jacket?" He opened his bulging wallet again. "I hear it's going to be a cold winter."
"No, really, I'm fine." Her jacket was only two years old and perfectly warm. Why was he carrying so much cash? Hadn't the man heard of credit cards?
"A new hat, at least?"
Jillian pointed to the blue knit cap with its red stripe that contained her mane of black hair.
"Some decent sunglasses then." He grabbed a designer pair off the nearest rack and set them on the counter with another two hundred dollars.
"Please, that's not necessary." Jillian shook her head at Leif. Why was this complete stranger determined to give away so much money? Skied like crazy, drove like crazy, and apparently spent like crazy. Cash. Who did that?
"None of it is necessary," Kris said. "I'm sorry if I sounded like I was whining. It's a thing I do. React sometimes without thinking. I'll sort out the boot dilemma." She slid the stack of bills so new they looked like they'd come straight from the Federal Reserve toward the end of the counter, away from Leif and toward Tucker.
Tucker picked up the money and deposited it directly into Leif's hands. "Fit her for the boots she obviously needs, and the sunglasses go home with her friend. If this is not enough, you know where to find me. Try not to have any left over."
He picked up the goggles and left the store.CHAPTER 2
Don't you dare, Leif," Jillian said. She wouldn't be caught dead in a pair of sunglasses that cost more than her weekly grocery bill. By a lot. That just wasn't her style. Most days she wrangled her mass of black curly hair behind her neck and tried to make sure her shirt didn't come out of the laundry with visible stains. Designer sunglasses. This Tucker guy did not know her.
"I will be back to talk to you about the boots," Kris said to Leif, "on my own terms."
"What am I supposed to do with, um, eight hundred dollars minus the cost of two goggles?" Leif said.
"That's your problem."
"He said you knew where to find him," Jillian said.
Kristina scooped up her deficient boots. "Let's go, Jillian. I have to think about this."
"I can walk home from here," Jillian said. "I just need to grab my bag from your car."
"I'll take you. But first I just want to pop by the shop and make sure there's been no catastrophe."
"Lindy would have called."
"I guess, but I should check. I'll give you a quart or two of double chocolate chip cookie dough to take home, since there probably haven't been any customers anyway."
"Stop being such a pessimist. But I'm not saying no to that offer."
At the Victorium Emporium, Luke was in the front window, on a ladder, unrolling a large poster of a winter scene in a Victorian village.
"I'm a fan of winter," Kris said, "because I love to ski, but those two go overboard."
"Marketing," Jillian said. "The tourists will eat it up. Veronica will sell woodcrafts with a nice little tag saying they are handmade by Leo Dunston out at the Inn at Hidden Run, and maybe next time they'll book at the Inn. Then the tourists will wander up and down the street poking into every shop. It's good for everybody."
"In the summer, I agree with you. At this time of year, the theory is sketchy."
"There's a lot of ski season left."
Kris's shop was next door to the Emporium, but she had to overshoot it to find an open parking spot on the street. Jillian held her tongue and did not point out that the lack of parking should be an indication of brisk business on Main Street despite the weather. They got out and turned back toward Ore the Mountain.
"You and Carolyn should cook up more ideas for selling frozen treats made from her candy," Jillian said. "More than just the hot chocolate."
Tucker, with his tattered backpack over his shoulder, exited the ice cream parlor with a cone.
"Looks like you had at least one customer today," Jillian said.
"That's freaky. He can't have known that was my store."
"I doubt it."
"Where's he going now?"
"What difference does it make? He'll browse like all the tourists do."
"Except he has serious money to spend. Let's follow him."
"Hello, what?" Jillian grabbed Kris's wrist.
Tucker paused outside Ore the Mountain briefly and turned his head in both directions.
Kris threw an arm out and imprisoned Jillian up against the brick wall of the art gallery.
"I don't want him to see us," Kris said.
"What are we doing, Kris?"
"Aren't you curious?"
"What happened at Catch Air was out of the ordinary, but that doesn't mean I want to take up spying."
"It's not spying."
"You're right. It's bad spying."
"Don't give me that I-don't-care attitude, Jillian. Your entire profession hangs on dogged curiosity."
"And if Tucker Whatshisname hires me, I will be doggedly curious on his behalf. Right now I'm curious about the quart of ice cream you promised me." It couldn't have been more than twenty degrees. Just the thought of eating ice cream outdoors made Jillian's teeth chatter, but it would taste delicious in the warmth of her home.
Tucker moved on to the Emporium window and waved at Luke.
"Do you think they know each other?" Jillian said.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "In the Cradle Lies"
Copyright © 2019 Olivia Newport.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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