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Lumby Books
Staying true to the waggish nature of the series, the captivating town of Lumby once again serves as the backdrop of four skillfully braided stories that follow its residents through life's unexpected turns and engaging journeys. Lost in Lumby turns a humorous but insightful lens on the value of truth - within families and within a community. After Pam Walker steps off the mayoral campaign trail to return to her childhood home, she discovers a tattered birth certificate of a disowned child that leads her to question the value of honesty between loved ones and the definition of "family". Following the trail to a sibling she never knew, a quirky guise lures an unsuspecting sister to Montis Inn where new relationships are tested, and a husband becomes dangerously lost in Lumby.
At Saint Cross Abbey: Forty miles to the west, the storm engulfed the small town of Franklin just as the residents of the sleepy village were heading to bed and the monks at Saint Cross Abbey were beginning their nightly prayers. Deep thunder rolled in and echoed against the mountain ridges as lightning sparked for miles around.

A disheveled man, drenched and physically at the end of his rope, stood at the beginning of the monastery's driveway. Only by mere chance and good fortune had he come across the abbey that night. The few lights on in the buildings were soft and distant. He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt down over his eyes and trudged forward through the downpour.

Standing at the front door, the stranger hesitated. It had been a long, grueling journey-over sixty miles of terrain rugged enough to kill any man-one that had begun at his brother's house several weeks earlier. He knew he no longer resembled himself, but would never have guessed to what degree. The unrelenting lack of sleep and food, and his longer hair and beard, had aged him ten years. The filth that accumulated on his clothes and skin added another five years.

With the last of his strength, he knocked on the door so weakly he doubted anyone would hear. He leaned forward and placed his palm on the small center window. Dried blood was between his fingers.

"Please," he whispered.

The lights came on in the abbey's entrance.

As the door was opened, the light blinded the man and he quickly covered his eyes.

Brother Michael jumped back, startled by this erratic gesture. Because the man's hood was pulled down over his eyes, the monk couldn't see his face. But he did notice his sodden clothes. One sleeve was shredded and blood stained, and it failed to cover a deep cut in the man's arm.

"May I help you?" Brother Michael asked.

With a shaking hand, the man reached out to the monk. "Please hide me."
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ONE

Running


"There never is a bad time for a margarita, is there?" Pam Walker asked Brooke as she mindlessly swirled her glass. They were watching the comings and goings along Main Street from their sidewalk table in front of The Green Chile.

Brooke Turner adjusted the dazzling yellow and green umbrella that billowed overhead. "If the margaritas are so good, why haven't you even taken a sip?"

Pam grinned. "Because I'm one drink away from becoming a blabbering idiot on the podium. I don't think anyone wants to see that."

"So you're worried that Biscuit is going to win the debate?" Brooke teased.

"Oh, he's such a good dog, isn't he? I'd even vote for him. But seriously, some name was added to the ballot yesterday, and I don't think it's another golden retriever." Pam leaned back in her chair, closed her eyes and tilted her face to the sun. "Do you ever have those dreams where you're naked standing in front of your locker in high school?"

"Yeah, I love those," Brooke said.

Pam rolled her eyes. "Of course you would. And if I didn't know you so well, I'd be very worried about that comment," Pam said. "But I had one last night."

"You're just nervous about speaking in front of a crowd."

"Yeah, and look at them all!" Pam said, pointing toward the park. The crowd that had gathered for Lumby's first mayoral debate had grown larger than the park could contain, and had flowed out into the street, all but stopping traffic in both directions. "Hovering like vultures."

"Pam! They're all your friends. You and Mark are the two most popular people in town."

She ran her hand through her hair. "I just don't think this is a good idea."

"There's no one who would be a better mayor for our town than you," Brooke said.

"Gabrielle?"

"Great chef, but no," Brooke quickly replied.

Pam took a small swig of her drink. "Well, if nothing else, the amount of tequila in this margarita proves how much she loves us and wants us all to be happy."

Brooke was intently staring at something across the street. "Well, she certainly looks like she is."

Pam looked over at Brooke. "What do you mean?"

Brooke discreetly pointed toward the library, where Gabrielle Beezer was walking with an incredibly handsome man who definitely was not her husband. She was waving one arm about as she laughed. Her other hand rested comfortably on his arm.

"Stunning," Pam said.

"Shocking," Brooke added.

Brooke tilted the umbrella back to improve their line of sight. It was a rare occasion when such an eye-catching stranger walked down Main Street, they didn't want to miss any details. The man was at least six feet four, and had a long, loose stride that Gabrielle struggled to keep up with. His starch-pressed, black T-shirt was tight enough to show washboard abs and sculpted shoulders and biceps, but not so tight to be offensive or appear narcissistic. His jacket hung loosely over his shoulder, hooked on one finger.

Mark stepped out of the restaurant. "Okay, the flyers are up. What's next, honey?"

Pam didn't hear him.

"What are you guys looking at?" Mark focused on where both women were looking.

"Why does he look so familiar?" Pam asked.

"Because he's gorgeous and you're just wishing he was one of your college dates," Brooke teased.

"Wow," Mark said. "That's the last person I would expect to see in Lumby."

Pam finally realized Mark was standing behind her. "Who is he?"

Mark scratched his head. "I can't remember his name, but I think he won the decathlon gold medal in the late nineties...maybe at the Atlanta Olympics. He was on the Wheaties box forever."

Pam slapped Brooke's arm with the back of her hand. "That's where we've seen him! In bed on Sunday mornings."

"Don't you wish," Brooke chided.

Pam immediately blushed. "No, you know what I mean-when Mark brings me breakfast."

Joshua called out from the bookstore next door. "Mark! I could use your help over here."

Mark waved back to Joshua before leaning over and kissing his wife. "I'll see you in the park in twenty minutes," he whispered. "Don't be nervous, and don't get plastered beforehand. This may be a shoo-in, but lots of folks are counting on you."

Pam took another sip of her margarita. "Please don't remind me."

Just then a commotion from down the street caught everyone's attention. Loud voices could be heard coming from the crowd in front of the park. Suddenly, the mass of people began to divide, scrambling in two opposite directions.

Pam gawked at the sight. "It's like the parting of the Red Sea."

A Clydesdale the size of a small school bus trotted into the clearing, heading straight down Main Street. Stranger still was what was riding the mare: a true knight in shining armor. Fully geared in medieval regalia, the only things it was missing were a lance and a fair maiden.

But the armor wasn't holding together particularly well. The horse was of such enormous proportions that with each thunderous step it took, a piece of armor fell off and immediately became sixteenth-century street litter. First the knee coverings and elbow joints broke off, and then metal arms and headgear went flying everywhere. When a piece of armor would hit the mare's flanks, she shied left or right, losing the gear all the more.

The crowd collectively gasped in preparation for the unsightly accident that would surely follow.

But the Clydesdale did what the breed was known for: she put her head down and shouldered forward. Likewise, the brave knight continued in the face of adversity.

When the Clydesdale cleared the crowd, its pace quickened, and that's when odd turned to bizarre, even for Lumby. At a small canter, the vibration shook off both the helmet and the chest guard. Underneath was not some poor lad looking for attention, but instead, a full-sized human skeleton.

Only then did Pam notice that the legs were duct-taped to the cinch of the saddle that wrapped under the horse's underbelly, and its hands taped to the reins. To her surprise, the mannequin knight actually had very good riding posture.

A teenage boy was running behind the horse as fast as he could, but was clearly losing ground.

Within seconds the horse was almost to the bookstore, where Mark and Joshua were taping up posters.

"Mark! Stop the horse!" Pam yelled.

Mark spun around, his foot catching the leg of the ladder Joshua was on, forcing Joshua to grab hold of the awning and hang on for dear life. Mark bolted toward the horse and heroically dove into the air, grabbing the dummy around the waist as if he was making a football tackle. Both Mark and the dummy slid partway down the mare's side, so the dummy was perpendicular to the ground. Mark lost his grip, and in a last-ditch effort to hold on, grabbed the dummy's head, which separated from the body.

"Ew," Pam exhaled.

Now used to the commotion on its back, the Clydesdale paid little attention and never missed a beat, continuing to canter down Main Street, leaving Mark in the dust waving the skull in the air.

"He looks a little like Hamlet," Brooke commented.

Suddenly, the stranger who had been with Gabrielle ran out into the street and waved his jacket in front of the horse. "Whoa!" he said in a deep, commanding voice.

The horse came to an abrupt stop.

A few seconds later, the boy caught up and grabbed the reins.

"Thanks, mister," the kid said. "She would have run all the way to Franklin."

"She looks like a good horse," the man said, slapping the thick neck of the mare. "Perhaps she shouldn't be the butt of your pranks next time."

"Yeah, but I won the bet," the boy said, turning around to see if his cohorts were nearby.

Mark walked up to them and handed the youngster the skull. "I'm assuming this yours as well?"

"Nice tackle, Mr. Walker," the boy said before leading the horse away.

Mark shook the stranger's hand and they spoke briefly before Gabrielle led them over to The Green Chile.

Mark was more excited than usual. "Pam, you'll never believe who this is!"

Joshua called out, waving from on top of the awning. "Mark! The ladder!"

"Oh, got to go," Mark said, dashing to Joshua's rescue.

Pam stood. "Hi, I'm Pam Walker."

"An honor to finally meet you," the man said.

His voice was so smooth and deep one could get lost in it forever, Pam thought.

"I understand the privilege is mine," Pam said. "And thanks for taking care of the horse."

"It was nothing at all," the man said, shaking out his jacket.

"You underrate yourself, Duke," Gabrielle said.

Pam wrinkled her brow, confused. "Duke?"

"Yes, Pam. This is Duke Blackstone," Gabrielle chirped in an unnaturally high voice.

Pam narrowed her eyes, taking a better look at the stranger. "So you're the one who's added his name to the ballot?" she said, forcing a smile. "I didn't know you were a resident of Lumby."

"I own a small place west of town on Cherry Creek."

Pam thought for a minute. "You bought the old Kremmer place last month?"

The man smiled and nodded.

Brooke sensed that Pam had been caught off guard, and immediately introduced herself. "I'm sure you'll bring a lot to the debate. The other two candidates have pretty weak platforms."

Duke laughed. "I can understand why-a dog and the deceased incumbent." His smile was utterly engaging. "Well, I'd love to talk with all of you some more, but let me go and offer Mark some help." Before leaving, he turned to Gabrielle. "I just wanted to thank you for last night," he said graciously, kissing her on the cheek. "I could not have asked for a better hostess."

"It was my pleasure," Gabrielle gushed. "We'll see you again tomorrow night."

Pam's jaw dropped even farther.

Gabrielle grabbed a chair as the women watched Duke saunter away.

"How can any man be that good-looking?" Brooke asked before taking another gulp of her margarita.

"He's actually nicer than he is good-looking," Gabrielle said.

Pam sat down slowly without taking her eyes off Duke Blackstone. "But...don't you think it's odd that Mr. Blackstone shows up out of nowhere, quietly buys a dilapidated, uninhabitable shack, becomes a Lumby resident overnight, and then throws his hat into the ring for town mayor?"

"He said he's renting a home in Rocky Mount," Gabrielle said.

Pam glanced over at Gabrielle. "How do you know him?"

"I don't really," she replied. "He brought his campaign staff to my restaurant for dinner last night."

"He has a staff?"

"Only four or five men," Gabrielle said.

"To run for town mayor?" Pam asked in disbelief. Either she had radically underestimated the responsibilities of the position or she'd drastically misjudged the likelihood of her winning the position. Or both.

Mark called over to Pam. "Honey, you're up."

Gabrielle grabbed Pam's arm. "Be gentle with Duke," she asked.

Pam shuffled back a step. "Gentle?"

"He said he's new to small-town politics," Gabrielle explained. "And he really doesn't know anything about Lumby."

Pam laughed. "Don't worry. He's so charming, I'm sure he'll be just fine."

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Lost in Lumby Reading Group Guide

About this Guide

The proposed topics for discussion, presented most often in question format, are designed to support and enhance your individual thoughts about, or group's discussion of Gail Fraser's novel, Lost in Lumby. Comments and suggestions are invited by the author at www.lumbybooks.com.

For Discussion

  1. Lost in Lumby once again brings us to Main Street, America, where small communities matter, families are the nucleus of support, and a good quality of life can be found. Is Lumby just an escape to a way of life that we have permanently lost, or does that world still exist? If so, can we find it only in rural towns or can those same core values and everyday priorities exist in a city as well?
  2. There are a lot of truths withheld and secrets kept in the novel - Kay's secret about having another child, Pam's true reason for asking Janet to Montis, Mark not telling Pam about Alan Blackstone, and Brian's decision to print Turn the Paige. Although most would agree that "honesty is always the best policy," were any of those secrets justified? Are there times when withholding the truth, or even changing it, is a better alternative?
  3. Pam frequently feels "alone in the world" because (she thought) she had no siblings. But does having a brother or a sister, whether it be one or many, always change a person's life for the better, and always make you feel less "alone?"
  4. Regarding siblings, Duke and Alan Blackstone are complete opposites with no love lost between them. Given their fragmented relationship, do they still have a responsibility to each other? What obligation do family members have to each other when there is little commonality between them?
  5. When Dennis Beezer discovers that Brian had gone behind his back to publish Turn the Paige, a storm erupts. Brian's reason was to save the family business from financial ruin, while Dennis thought it was more important to maintain high moral and literary standards. Was one more right than the other? And then Gabrielle plays a key role in facilitating the differences between father and son and reaching a compromise. Do you think she felt comfortable in that position or would she have preferred to have more strongly backed her husband or her son? If so, which one?
  6. Although we never meet Paige Petrosyan, she seems to elicit a strong, almost visceral distain by many. Today, the worlds of fame and media are filled with the likes of Paige, who are only famous for their narcissism, ego and selfies. Nonetheless, they have tens of millions of fans. But why? What do these celebrities offer that make them so popular among their fan base?
  7. From the onset, Sister Megan appears to be attracted to Alan Blackstone. Is that natural for someone who has given her life to God to question her commitment, or does she just represent how we all go through life reexamining our decisions, especially when fate shows us a different path we could have taken?
  8. At the beginning of Lost in Lumby, Caroline Ross is trying to recover from the pain and humiliation of her husband's unexpected abandonment. Did Aaron come into Caroline's life too soon? And is her hesitancy to become involved with Aaron wise or foolish given the difficulties she faced (and ignored) in her marriage with Kai?
  9. Girls night out in Wheatley is always a memorable one for Pam, Brooke, Caroline and Mac. They would all agree that their shared friendship helps define who they are and supports who they will become. Do you have a similar circle of friends who you couldn't live without?
  10. n a few occasions, Mark's unbridled optimism and enthusiasm run amuck, resulting in some hearty laughter. But how does his passion make such a positive impact on Pam, his friends, and Lumby?