While Ben was still inside, Katie let her gaze wander the length and breadth of Main Street. She was surprised by the emotions she felt at the sight of her hometown. She hadn't thought she wanted to return to Homestead, to leave her friends and the intense activities of Washington for the quiet sameness of Idaho. Yet now that she was here, she was glad. It was here, right down the street in the Homestead Community Church, where she'd first felt God tugging on her heart, placing in her a desire to make a difference for good in the lives of others. Coming home again had stirred up so many memories, memories that had already strengthened her resolve to complete the work God had set before her.
She heard the door close. She glanced at Ben as he stepped up beside her.
Homestead might not have changed much, but the same couldn't be said for Ben Rafferty. He'd grown tall, and his shoulders were amazingly broad beneath the cut of his suit coat. The angles of his face had sharpened, matured. The boyish good looks had more than fulfilled their promise in the man he'd become. The color of his hair—which brushed his collar and begged to be trimmed—had darkened to a rich shade of gold. She thought it a shame when he placed his hat on his head, hiding it from view.
"Ready?" he asked, glancing down and meeting her gaze.
She felt a sudden embarrassment, as if she'd been caught doing something inappropriate.
She saw a teasing good humor in his dark blue eyes, and her embarrassment vanished. This was Benjie. This was her dearest friend in the world.
"I'm ready," she answered.
Ben took hold of her arm and guided her toward the passenger door. "Mind if I do the driving?"
She cast a dubious look in his direction.
"I know how to drive, Katie. I went to college, too."
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him she never allowed anyone else to drive her motorcar, but his next words caused her to swallow the argument unspoken.
"You wouldn't withhold the pleasure from me, would you?" He ran his fingers along the side of the door. "It's been a long time since I've had the opportunity."
"Of course you may drive her, Benjie. Anytime you wish."
Grinning like a schoolboy, Ben reached inside the automobile and pulled the latch, then opened the door with a flourish and assisted Katie onto the running board and into the Susan B. When she was settled and the door once again closed, he went around to the opposite door, reached in, and set the levers. He whistled a tuneless melody as he walked to the front of the motorcar and gave the engine crank a hefty turn. Without a trace of her sometimes temperamental behavior, the Susan B sprang to life.
Straightening, Ben shot Katie a look of pure joy before returning to the driver's side, where he vaulted over the stationary door and settled onto the seat behind the wheel. A few minutes later, the two of them were well on their way to the Lazy L Ranch.
Excerpted from CATCHING KATIE (HeartQuest) © Copyright 2003 by Robin Lee Hatcher. Reprinted with permission by Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.