Title: Barefoot Days
Author: Darlene Deluca
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Mary Logan believes in the goodness of people. She believes in grace under pressure. But when the ugliness of human nature touches her family, and a series of seismic events shake up her world, she’s put to the test again and again.
She and her husband are supposed to be enjoying a well-earned retirement. Their nest is empty. It’s time to travel and re-focus. It’s their time. But an alarming diagnosis and an unexpected announcement from their daughter change everything. Facing the possibility of a heartbreaking loss, Mary finds herself forcing smiles, keeping secrets, and worrying about the future.
Will a positive spirit be enough to see her through the challenges ahead?
Sara was talking to Maddie, Dana’s daughter, when she noticed Annie and her new husband laughing with a good-looking guy sporting a trim dark beard – and who nicely filled out his charcoal gray suit.
“Whoa, who is that?”
Maddie turned, and Sara gestured toward Annie. “Must be a friend of Blake’s.” She gave a little laugh. “Mmm. I might need an introduction.”
Maddie gave her a puzzled look. “Are you talking about–”
Sara sucked in her breath. “Oh, my gosh. Wait. Is that–”
“Sara, that’s Evan.”
Sara’s face flushed hot, and she wanted to drop through the floor. Not only had she not recognized Evan, she’d practically drooled over him in front of his sister. There was no chance that wouldn’t get back around to him. He obviously realized they were looking at him, because he stepped away from Annie and was heading straight toward them.
Sara tried to cover by addressing Evan before Maddie had a chance to open her mouth. “Hey, Evan.”
His smile widened as he reached them.
“Well, hi there,” he said, his eyes on Sara. “I was wondering if I’d ever get a chance to talk to you.” He moved forward, and wrapped her in a hug.
Brief though it was, Sara felt the muscular contours of his arms. The unexpected contact rattled her, and the subtle scent of his cologne clogged her brain. While Sara stood tongue-tied, she felt a sharp jab to her side.
“So, do you two need an introduction or what?” Maddie asked, her voice full of teasing laughter. She took Evan’s arm. “Sara, I’d like you to meet my big brother, Evan. Evan, may I present Sara Logan? You might remember we grew up together and used to–”
Evan held up a hand. “Thanks, Mad. I think we’ve got this.”
Finally, Sara came-to, and laughed at herself. Shaking her head, she touched Evan’s arm. “How are you?”
He nodded. “Doing great. How ’bout yourself? You look beautiful.”
“All right,” Maddie said. “I can see you two have a lot of catching up to do, so I’ll, uh, see you later.” As she turned to make her exit, Maddie leaned toward Sara and whispered, “Jeez, get a drink or something.”
Sara wished she had. If nothing else, it would give her something to do with her hands.
“It’s good to see you,” Evan said. “It’s been a while.”
“Yeah.” Oh, some spiked punch would be nice right about now. Why was talking with someone she’d known forever so awkward? She moistened her lips. “I’m kind of surprised to see you, actually.”
His brows pulled together. “Why’s that?”
Maybe it was her imagination, but she’d swear his smile had tightened. “Oh, I don’t know. It’s been–”
Evan shrugged. “It’s like a wedding in the family. Why wouldn’t I be here?”
Ah-ha. That said a lot. So he thought of Annie like a sister – which would mean the same for her. Except that– except he wasn’t looking at her as if she were his sister. His eyes looked deeply into hers. As if searching for a deeper connection. The connection of an old friend who knew her well, who could read her thoughts and feelings . . . Oh, God, she hoped not.
“Uh-oh. I think you’re wanted.” His gaze shifted past her.
Sara turned only a second before Elise grabbed hold of her. “Come on. We need you.” Sara flashed Evan an apologetic smile. “Sorry. Maid of Honor duties. Clap after my toast, okay?”
With a nod, he raised his glass to her.
As she made her way to the bridal party’s table, the DJ announced that it was time for Annie and Blake to begin the dinner buffet, so she made a detour, and fell into line behind them. A short reprieve from her duties.
. . . It had to be at least an hour later before Sara could catch her breath and take a break. She hurried to the bar, hoping to order a non-alcoholic drink without an audience.
About three steps later, Evan intercepted her. “Want to dance?” he asked.
Sara sagged. “Not really.”
“Kind of figured,” he said, looking down at her shoes. “Want to go sit in front of the fire and talk about the people drunk-dancing?”
She laughed out loud. “Yes! That sounds much more appealing.”
He grinned as he took hold of her arm. “That’s what I thought. Wait. Did you want a fresh drink?”
“You know what sounds really good?”
“A cup of coffee. It’s kind of chilly in here.”
His glance dropped to her bare shoulders. “I can see why. Let’s get the lady what she wants.” He stopped one of the wait staff. “Any chance you could bring us a cup of coffee?”
“Of course, sir.”
Sara chimed in, “Decaf, with a little sugar, please.”
The woman returned only moments later with a mug and saucer. Clutching her warm mug, Sara turned toward the lobby, and Evan fell into step beside her.
. . . Sara met his eyes, and once again registered a little jolt of surprise. He seemed so confident, secure in his own skin, and happy. She couldn’t help letting her gaze linger. Her mom was right. Evan Gerard all grown up was . . . interesting.
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Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.
Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave you either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as you turn the final page.
The Kansas City author currently has seven published novels.
Darlene has been a reader and writer since childhood. With a degree in Journalism, she started her career as a newspaper reporter. She writes day or night, whenever the words/mood/deadlines strike, and almost always has a cup of tea and a bit of dark chocolate nearby!
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