Title: You Belong to Me
Author: Jean C. Joachim
Genre: Single Dad Romance
What’s she doing here? Single dad, lumberjack Cal Morrison, stares out his window at the moving van across the street. A widower, he lives with his young son, Bobby.
I don’t need her. Neither does Bobby. Why doesn’t she go back to Europe and leave me alone? Still nursing a broken heart, he wants to turn away and forget Giselle Davenport. But he can’t. He’s drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
When she faces his house, her hands on her hips, she hesitates. Does she feel it, too? Cal has his son and a good job, he doesn’t need a woman. Especially that woman. At least that’s what he keeps telling himself.
When he looked over, their eyes met. She lowered hers first and turned away. Be embarrassed. You’ve got plenty to feel guilty about, Ms. Davenport. So, she couldn’t meet his stare? Well, good. It simply meant he wouldn’t have to bother with her.
“Come on, Dad. Sing. It’s almost Christmas.”
Cal joined in. Bobby’s ebullience raised his spirits. The child had no idea how many times his cheerfulness had saved Cal’s mood. The boy had been depressed for months after his mother’s death. At two, he didn’t understand and had adapted to having only his father and grandparents. Cal’s mother, Betty, stood in for Jane as much as possible.
There were times when Cal’s patience stretched from New York to California. The boy’s energy never seemed to give out, except five minutes before bedtime. Between being mother and father to his son and working in the tree and lawn business with his dad, Cal ended up exhausted by the end of the day. Consequently, his celibate lifestyle didn’t present much of a problem.
Now that Bobby had entered kindergarten, Cal admitted the time had come to find a new wife. While he and Jane hadn’t always gotten along, he missed living with a woman, sharing a bed, meals, and decisions about Bobby.
However, in a small town, there weren’t many options, and with a child…well, being a father closed him off to women who didn’t want the burden. With the arrival of winter, the tree and lawn business ground to a halt. Both Cal and his father had more free time than they could fill. Cal planned to make a list of indoor projects to accomplish while the weather was too rough to work outside.
He kissed his son goodbye and ambled toward home. At Giselle’s, there were only a few boxes left. The back of the truck was closed. Cal watched.
A man approached her with a piece of paper and a pen. She brought the paper right up to her face before scribbling something. Hmm, he didn’t remember her being so nearsighted. She must have left her glasses inside. But he didn’t recollect her wearing glasses, either. He shrugged it off. Things changed over time, he figured.
As he got to the place where their paths paralleled each other, he stopped. After the massive truck pulled out of her driveway, he faced her.
“You’re back?” he called out, narrowing his eyes.
She gave him a half smile and made her way down the walk. Halfway there, she stepped on an icy patch, slid, and fell hard on her butt.
“Ouch!” she blurted out.
Cal was by her side in a second. He grabbed her elbow and yanked her to her feet.
“You hurt?” He raised his hand to clean off her bottom but stopped in the nick of time.
Brushing off her pants, she shook her head. “Thanks.” She moved out of his grasp.
“What are you doing here?” Cal struggled to keep belligerence out of his voice but failed.
“In Pine Grove? It’s my hometown. I’ve always lived here.”
“Okay, then. On Pond Road? Right across the street from me?” His folded his arms across his chest.
“It wasn’t intentional. I needed a ranch. Small. Julia picked it out for me before I got back.”
“Oh? Julia? And she didn’t know I lived here?”
“I guess not. I think it was the only small ranch on the market.”
“What do you need a ranch for? What’s wrong with your father’s Victorian?”
“None of your business.” She pushed by him. “Thanks for the neighborly welcome,” she sniffed.
“I did help you up,” he said.
“And I thanked you. I could have gotten up by myself.”
“But you didn’t need to, did you?”
She whirled around and faced him. “What do you want? A medal? Should I call the newspaper? You did something neighborly and nice, but don’t ask me to give you a Purple Heart.” Giselle raised her chin for a second then turned and continued on her way.
He stood, frozen in place, watching her walk away. She still had that haughty sway, the I’m-better-than-you swing of her hips he’d so admired six years ago. Today, it simply appeared condescending and stuck-up.
At the stairs, she slipped again and went right down on the step. From where he stood, it appeared her shin landed right on the edge of the flagstone. She uttered a cry of pain and stopped. Her shoulders heaved once.
“Well, I suppose you can get up from that one on your own,” he said, his tone meaner than he’d intended.
“Damn right,” she called over her shoulder. But, for several minutes, she clutched the railing with one hand, and her leg with the other.
Cal gave in, strode over, and slid his hand under her elbow.
“I’ve got it.” She attempted to wiggle out of his grasp.
“No, you don’t. Why don’t you shut up and let me help you?” He eased her to her feet. She leaned against him for a moment.
“Thanks. I’ve got it,” she choked out, staring straight ahead and gripping the bannister.
“Then I’ll mosey on home.” He moved away from her property, his gaze glued to her back. Slowing his pace, he waited for her to move. Finally, she limped up the steps and fiddled around at the lock. Boy, she’d sure gotten clumsy since he’d last seen her. He shook his head and continued on his way home.
BARNES & NOBLE
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
Take a walk. Preferably in the park or by the woods in the country. But a city walk will do it, too.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
This book follows a couple blown apart by circumstance and finding themselves in difficult spots who want to come together but don’t know how to get over the past. Their struggles will capture your heart and take you into their world. And you’ll fall in love with little Bobby, Cal’s son. Great way to get away from the world. The heroine has a disability, she’s legally blind.
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