Title: A Heart of Little Faith
Author: Jennifer Wilck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.
With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens. As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms?
He left work early and made his way to Claire’s school. As he arrived, lots of other men entered the building. What am I getting into?
He followed the crowd down the hall, around a corner and into the Kindergarten wing. The hallways smelled of chalk, paste and that unknown odor that all schools possessed. He smiled as he passed open classroom doors and heard the sweet voices inside. He and some of the other men stopped in front of Room 10, where the kids met each man at the door. When Gideon peeked in, Claire squealed. Then with a dignity she’d obviously practiced, she clamped her lips together, straightened her shoulders, walked up to him and hugged him. Her arms tightened around him in a bear hug, and he wanted to pick her up and spin her around. But he didn’t want to embarrass her, so he let her go and followed her to her table.
“You came!” Her face glowed. Her rainbow striped dress and white sandals were adorable. Gideon’s heart swelled with the knowledge she dressed up for him.
“Of course I did, Claire. I promised you I would.” She jumped into his lap and hugged him again. Her weight filled his heart. Nothing could be better than this. The children nearby studied the chair, while some of the fathers made efforts to distract them. Gideon ignored their reactions. The kids would adjust, probably faster than the adults. Besides, today was all about Claire. He hugged her hard before she sat in the chair next to his. He introduced himself to the other men at the table, and quieted when the teacher approached the front of the class to speak.
“Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Mrs. Nelson. I’d like to welcome all of our guests to our Father/Daughter, Father/Son lunch. We are very happy you could all take time out of your busy schedules to attend.”
She motioned to the class, and all of the children walked to the front of the room. As they moved into two rows, Claire met Gideon’s gaze and waved. He waggled his fingers and made a goofy grin. She hid her giggle behind her hand. At the teacher’s lead, the children began to sing “You Are My Sunshine.” Their off-key song made him smile. To his ears, their sweet, earnest voices sounded better than the most talented opera singer. After everyone finished and the clapping ended, each child stepped forward and recited a line of Edgar Guest’s poem, “Only A Dad.” When they finished, the children returned to their seats and Mrs. Nelson rose.
“We hope you enjoyed our presentation. The children will now serve you lunch.”
Murmurs of congratulations were cut short as chairs squeaked against the floor and the children rushed to the opposite side of the room, followed at a more leisurely pace by the dads. Platters of breads, meats and cheeses filled two tables against the wall. There were bowls of potato and macaroni salads and plates of brownies and cookies. There were also drinks the children poured, with only a little spillage. After Claire determined what Gideon would like from the selection, she brought him his plate and cup — carefully balanced so as not to spill — along with a napkin. This time, he didn’t mind being served. She returned with her own food and they sat and ate together. Gideon savored every salty bite as Claire gulped her food then rushed to point out her friends, including Max.
“He’s your boyfriend, right?”
Claire giggled and said yes as her cheeks pinked. She was adorable. When they finished, she led Gideon around, as she showed off her artwork and pointed out the class’ caterpillars, waiting to turn into butterflies.
While they checked out the classroom, some of the children came over and asked about the chair. They touched the wheels and the handles and Gideon put on the brake. He was amazed when Claire explained it helped him get around, like it was no big deal. Enthralled, several asked for rides, but before Gideon could reply, Claire informed them he was all hers. The sound of her matter-of-fact tone touched him, as well as the pride she took in showing him everything they did in class.
Finally, she introduced him to Mrs. Nelson. “Mrs. Nelson, this is my friend, Gideon.”
The teacher grinned and shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. Claire has spoken often of you, and was excited when she learned you’d be attending today.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too. I’m honored she would want me to come. The kids did a great job.” Claire beamed and Gideon squeezed her fingers.
All too soon the lunch ended and the dads said goodbye. Claire gave Gideon a bear hug, and he tweaked her nose, pulled her curls and whispered in her ear, “I’m glad you asked me today.”
When he returned to the office, he called Lily and left a message for her at work. Then he texted Samantha.
i think I’m in love. He grinned, his cheeks stretched tight.
really? with whom?
just her? I hear her mom is quite a catch
She was, but he wasn’t giving his sister the satisfaction of hearing that from him.
shut up, Sam
guessing you had fun
Smiling once again, he rushed to text her all about his afternoon. After a few more minutes, they signed off, and he went to work. Whistling.
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Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, many of which feature Jewish characters in non-religious settings (#ownvoices). She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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