An October Bride

By: Katie Ganshert

I’m a wordy person, so when Becky Philpott contacted me about writing a novella for their Year of Weddings series, I was honored but also a little frightened. Novels I could do. Novellas? Not so sure.

I had no idea that I would have so much fun writing this story! I fell in love with Jake and Emma and the small, quirky town of Mayfair, Wisconsin. I hope readers fall in love too!

A few shout-outs are most definitely in order . . .

A hearty thanks to all the people who have made this novella better than I could ever manage on my own—Becky Philpott, Jean Bloom, and Karli Cajka. It was a pleasure working with you!

Thank you to the entire team at Zondervan for inviting me to take part in such a fun project, Elizabeth Hudson for your passion and enthusiasm, and an especially loud shout-out to my fellow “bridesmaids.” It’s been an honor and a joy celebrating these novellas together!

Thank you to Marie Bates for giving me a sneak peek inside the life of a veterinarian, and to Joel Malm for helping me figure out the perfect occupation for adventure-seeking Liam. Any inaccuracies in the portrayal are all mine!

Carrie Pendergrass for sharing your husband’s words to you at a time I really needed to hear them. They became the words Emma’s dad shared with Emma in the horse carriage ride when she really needed to hear them. I pray they encourage readers as much as they did me!

Thanks, of course, to my agent, Rachelle Gardner, for all you do to get my work out there.

To my amazingly supportive husband and my wonderful family for all you do so that I can write.

To a lavishly good God for allowing me to do something that brings me such joy and for providing the words when I’m feeling wrung dry.

And to my fabulous readers—the ones who take that joy and multiply it exponentially with your support, your presence, and your encouragement. It’s an honor to write stories for you, and I will continue as the Lord allows!

The suddenness with which life can upend itself is alarming. One second you’re two months away from matrimony—unable to find that perfect dress but confident it’s out there in the wide abyss of bridal boutiques—and then wham. An MRI reveals a tumor in the brain of the man you love more than life.

Only that man isn’t your fiancé.

This singular diagnosis turns your entire world on its head. Instead of the bride-to-be, you are the woman who has canceled the cake order and returned the ring, all while apologizing profusely to your wounded ex-fiancé who was nothing but kind and patient.

It’s a hard thing to recover from—these sharp, unexpected upheavals.

And just when my life started to normalize, everything went flip all over again. Three weeks fresh and I’m trying to acclimate. After all, if Dad can do it—if he can go from the picture of health, to the trenches of cancer-battle, to the cruel tease that was four months of remission, to the shockingly cold waters of a two-month time clock, then what’s my excuse? In my weakness, I have forced my father to be the strong one, to comfort me, yet he’s the dying man.

This has to stop.

I take a deep breath, inhaling the aroma that is Mayfair, Wisconsin, in the beginning of autumn—a paradoxical combination of fresh air, burning leaves, and the scent of Eloise’s famous pumpkin bars wafting from the front windows of her bakery. A flock of geese honk overhead. I look up at the clear blue sky—the dark bodies in V-formation—wondering if I couldn’t join them somehow. Grow a pair of wings and take flight to someplace where time and death do not exist.

Instead, I let out my breath, remove the two-day accumulation of mail from the mailbox, and head up the walkway, taking in the modest home of my childhood—buttercream siding with country-blue shutters, flower boxes outside the windows, and a pair of burning bushes that bookend the front, their leaves a vibrant bloodred. It’s a house that carried my brother and me from infancy to adulthood and has since treated a pair of empty nesters with kindness these past nine years. At least until the diagnosis.

Will Mom put it on the market after he’s gone?

Shaking away the question, I unlock the door, step inside, and blink at the mess before me. Saying yes to cat-sitting while my parents drove up to Door County for the weekend was my first attempt at climbing aboard the be-strong-for-Dad train. If Mom and my brother can hop on so quickly, going about life with smiles and unshakable faith, then surely I can at least feed the cats and empty the litter box. Animals are, after all, my forte. What I failed to remember, as I eagerly agreed to the favor, was that my parents’ cats are not normal cats.

Case in point?

The mess of kitty litter and down feathers scattered across the hardwood floor. A groan escapes from my mouth like a slow leak. Off to the side, Oscar lounges beside the emptied-out carcass of a throw pillow.


His furry tail twitches lazily.

I head down the hall toward the room with the closet where Mom keeps the cleaning supplies. Floorboards creak beneath my cross trainers as I smooch the air and whistle for the other beastly feline to come out from hiding. The tabby is a no-show, which can only mean she’s responsible for the mangled pillow.