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- Second Chance Romance
- Small Town Romance
- Beach Read
A treasure worth having is a treasure worth waiting for.
For so long, Daniel and Karina had wanted a child to complete their family. The need for a child had taken over their relationship, and they got lost in the journey. When they finally did get their gift, they found they was a chasm between them. After a misunderstanding, a divorce ensued. Daniel thought Karina just needed time, but when it doesn’t look like she was thinking about them reconciling. Daniel knows something has to be done.
Daniel isn’t ready to give up on the only woman he’s ever loved. When his daughter runs away to his house, he knows this is a sign for him to put it all on the line, to try to win Karina over and get his family back. He’s not a romantic guy in the least, but he’s sure the same skillsets he uses in his computer business will help him form a plan to get his soul mate back. Daniel doesn’t have the details worked out, but he’s decided Karina is a treasure worth fighting for.
Will Karina be able to learn to trust again? Will Daniel be able to remind Karina why they fell in love? Come see if together, they can find forever.
Grab your copy today!
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
smell of bacon would always be associated with the end of all things good. Ten-year-old
Victoria got up that Sunday morning because the smell of bacon called her like
the pied piper. When she sat up in the bed, she could hear the muted sounds
coming from the kitchen. It was like a low hum, but the sounds had a back-and-forth
quality to them.
out of bed in her clothes from last night, Victoria realized she had fallen
asleep before she could change. If she didn’t want her mother to go ballistic
about her staying up all the time, she’d have to change her clothes. Victoria
went to the laundry room and the low hum was now clearly her parents arguing.
listen to me,” Victoria’s father pleaded.
listen to you all the time and for what? So you can leave and hang out with
your friends and do what you want to do?” Karina fired back.
don’t understand the half of it. Don’t do like you normally do and go half-baked
and try to fill in the rest. That’s one of our problems. When you don’t have an
answer or when you don’t know all of it, you fill it in and keep on going!”
picked up her items and shook her head. Lately, her parents were having more
and more fights. She knew they’d work it out. Victoria didn’t understand why
they needed to argue so much and then make up all the time. In the grand scheme
of things Victoria didn’t care as long as her family was well.
there is nothing to fill in here. You cheated on me!”
stopped as she pulled out clothes from the dryer. She stood up and walked until
her back was against a wall and she listened.
was wrong,” her father murmured.
throw away all that we built, the time and the trust and you think a ‘I was
wrong’ is going to fix it?!” her mother yelled back.
don’t do this, Karina. We’ve both made mistakes. I’m not saying there is
anything you did that justifies what I did but don’t become the wounded martyr
left the dryer door open and stumbled
out of the laundry room and went down the steps. The kitchen was below the
laundry room and Victoria was drawn by her parents’ voices and the sizzle of
did what I was supposed to do! I was faithful. I kept the house. I tried to
make sure we had a family and -”
Karina, just stop. I was happy with you, Karina. We didn’t need to go from
fertility doctor to fertility doctor. For two years that’s all we did; it was
like we didn’t even have a marriage if it wasn’t for the fertility doctors.”
what! We have Victoria because of it. We–”
it, there was no we! You wanted a baby and I told you I loved you with or
without one and you didn’t listen, Karina. It was like our relationship didn’t
exist unless we had a child. You were obsessed and you took what was in our
relationship and stripped it out and gave it all to Victoria and then you
wanted another one,” he murmured.
you blaming your indiscretion on me because I love our daughter?! Because I
don’t want her to be an only child.”
twisting my words! There is no reason why I was so stupid and cheated. I was
wrong. I was stupid. Whatever you want to put in there you would be right. It’s
not your fault, Karina. What I did was wrong and stupid and had more to do with
me than you.
you started on this let’s have another child, the only thing I could think of
was how close we came to breaking up.”
what are you saying?”
was standing in the doorway of the kitchen and her mother had just caught her
eye. Her dad’s back was to her, and he didn’t know she was standing in the
door. Just when she was about to ask them what was going on, her dad spoke.
I’m saying is you wanted kids and that seemed to be the most important thing to
you. The only thing I’ve ever wanted was you, Karina, but somehow that just
gasped. Her father spun around and then swore. He took a step toward her, and
she instinctively stepped back.
shook her head.
get it. You love Mom but got stuck with me. Yeah, Daddy, I know all about not
being enough. Not being enough for my dad to love me and not being enough for Mom,
either, and that’s why she wants another kid.”
ran out from the kitchen, up the stairs to her room and locked the door.
Moments later, like she suspected, she heard her parents knocking on her door
to come out. Victoria threw herself across her bed and cried.
sound of the front door closing stopped Karina in the kitchen. She looked up at
the clock. It was eight a.m. She put the cereal box on the table and sat down
with her cup of coffee. She heard fourteen-year-old Victoria upstairs rummaging
around, probably for fresh clothes since she'd just come back into the house.
When Victoria did come into the kitchen, Karina saw her stop at the door and
then take a deep breath.
was how it was between them. They were always on edge around one another. Since
the divorce, a year ago, their relationship had been strained at best. After
her ex cheated on her, they had separated for a year and then divorced. When
they separated, Daniel moved away from Cooper's Sand and started taking on
consulting jobs that had him on the road most of the time. He had run away from
them and left her alone to deal with Victoria and her habit of staying out
later and later.
is it going to be the inquisition before I go to school?” Victoria asked as she
plopped herself into the table chair. She grabbed the box of cereal and poured
it into the bowl dry. Just like Karina had thought, she had changed clothes for
school. However, that could be circumspect, according to Karina. It appeared to
Karina every day Victoria wore the same thing, black jeans with a black
tee-shirt. Sometimes the tee-shirt had words or a logo on it and sometimes not.
took everything in Karina not to ask why Victoria was just coming in at eight
in the morning. Victoria had been in her room last night when she checked on
her at midnight.
there's need for the inquisition, then the answer is yes, let the inquiry
here. I'm safe. That would be enough for some parents. I'm not doing drugs, and
I'm not pregnant. It seems like you are hitting the jackpot,” Vicky said,
giving her a raised eyebrow. “You know, I read that single moms don't talk to
their children as much. We talk all the time. Even at times I don't want to
talk. You've got to see how you are ahead of the game.”
only I were worried about what the statistics say, which, by the way, I'm not.
Also, the last time I looked, you are fourteen, and that means pregnancy could
be right around the corner if you're not careful. You're still young and
impressionable, which means you believe whatever it is someone says as long as
it agrees with what you're thinking. So, the idea that you haven't fallen into
a trap yet is not comforting,” Karina told her.
you like to hear the stats on working women with successful companies and their
relationships?” Vicky asked.
I would not. I'd like to know when you left home and why?” Karina said in a
calm voice, trying not to fly off the handle like she felt. Butterflies were
swirling around in her gut, and she had to fight nausea. Was her career the problem?
She had opened her own medical billing business and it had taken off. She was
so grateful to have a way to pay for her and her daughter and stay at home. She
thought when she divorced Daniel, that would be a saving grace and bring them
together. It didn't help at all. In fact, her being at home and available
seemed to frustrate her, and she began to pull away and go on trips or leave
the house anytime she could.
didn't wake you. I wasn't at a party,” Vicky said, popping more cereal in her
Karina said in a low, firm voice.
was at the beach looking at the tide come in. I couldn't go back to sleep,” she
it's a twenty-minute walk. I know we live in a small town, but you still need
to be careful, we have people who come through town all the time.”
through this town? It's like a vampire town. If anyone comes in, they come in
the day and make sure they are out of Cooper’s Sand by nightfall,” she said
with that sassy matter of fact voice
that just put Karina on edge.
sweet child had been changing. Karina expected some changes as Vicky grew up,
but this was beyond those changes. This wasn't a young lady having a
coming-of-age moment. She was losing her young woman to some distant, sarcastic
woman that Karina would ignore on the street if she met her.
held on to the mug of coffee as if it were a lifeline. After reviewing claims until
late at night, she was in no condition to have a verbal play with her daughter.
Karina had just gotten a new client that was more demanding than what she had
expected. Between her business and the business venture she had with her best
friends, she was running on empty most of the time.
know we're only two months into the new school year. I'm hoping that this year
we don't have to face the same things from your teacher saying that you're
sleeping in class or just missing them,” Karina said.
shook her head.
don't know why it matters so much that I show up in the class, if I know how to
do all the work already?”
about Cory? I thought you would at least be going to school to see him?” Karina
wasn't thrilled with the instant interest that Vicky had taken with Cory.
Still, at this point, she was rather desperate. If she had to watch the
interaction between her daughter and one boy, that was a small price to pay to
make sure that Vicky went to school.
was my tutor last year. He was only my tutor because I was a freshman. He can't
be with me this year because I'm a sophomore. I told you this all last year,
not that you were listening to me then.”
it's not that I'm not listening. It's just your life is way more active than
mine,” Karina said. If Karina remembered correctly, Cory was going through his
problems last year. He had just transferred over to the school with his aunt from
a little town called Sweet Blooms in Florida. Despite him being the new kid on
the block, he was astute, and he found himself hanging out with the “in” crowd.
The school had a policy of all A students doing tutoring work with the incoming
freshman. Karina was hesitant as Vicky
was younger than most since her birthday was late in the year, but Cory had
proved to be a good influence on her. She actually listened to him, which was
more than Karina could say for now.
to stay and finish our mother-daughter chat. However, I want to make sure I get
to school on time, so we don't have to have another mother-daughter chat which
talks about why I'm always late,” Vicky said as she made for the front door.
know we have to talk about your just disappearing.”
not disappearing if I show back up. Besides, you don’t even know I’m gone
unless I make noise coming back, so how bad could it be? I’ll be here when you
call,” Vicky said as she gave her mom a quick hug and then left out.
Karina went back in to get ready for another day of work, she saw the hot pink
iPhone on the table. Vicky had left her phone, and Karina knew she had done it
deliberately, just as she knew that Vicky had been sneaking out more than she
had been letting on.
knew she had a problem but wasn’t sure how to fix it or address it. How did you
keep someone with you who didn’t want to stay? The errant thought raced through
her head. She was going to lose her daughter just like she lost her ex-husband.
They were just going to walk out on her like her dad walked out on her mom.
can I do?” she whispered to the empty room. “What do I do?”
* * *
brought some cases of water because I noticed we were running a little low,”
Austin Presley said as Karina walked into the flat that doubled as her main
office. “Did you like the brand that I got last time?”
Karina was trying to think of new ways to get rid of the water. Oh, what she
wouldn’t do for a nice cola of any kind. She remembered the days when she
turned her nose up at generic brand colas, now she’d gladly take a two liter
and be happy. As part of her new diet to bring her blood pressure down, she had
agreed under duress to give up soda. She figured having carbonated water would
be fine. She wasn’t addicted to it or anything. As she listened to Austin speak,
she was kicking herself for tempting fate and throwing down that gauntlet.
a little quiet, did you want me to get some lemons or water flavor drops?” he
lemons are fine. I’m sure if I started to like the flavor drops, someone will
come up with something and say those are bad for you, too.”
understood that she had built her business by being available 24/7. That it was
her ability to have a quick and efficient turn around, as well as do compliance
checking on medical claims that had been her niche. Everything came with a cost, her mother used
to say, and it turned out she was right.
had put in an ad looking for some remote help and someone she could train in
the medical claims business. Austin showed up and he had a prior history
working as a nutritionist and in the hospital. She knew that there was more to
Austin than just that, but she respected his privacy and he respected hers. Not
once since they had worked together in all of these years had he ever asked her
about Daniel. She was sure he had heard all the gossip. It was hard not to hear
the gossip in Cooper’s Sand.
any rate, Austin took to the medical claims business like a fish to water. She
only had to train him for a week and then he was able to start doing some of
the queues on his own. Eight months ago, Austin had been in the office when Karina
had to sit down when her heart started to beat fast. He was going to call the ambulance,
but she could see that scare running through town stressing Vicky. Instead, he
drove her to the doctor and found out that her blood pressure was sky high and
that she needed to do something or there could be permanent damage to her
hadn’t badgered her about it, but he did mention he was kicking soda and Karina
followed him. So now, every day they were working together, it was a water
fest. She also noticed he started to work more in the office. Again, it was a
little thing that she appreciated and dreaded at the same time. Austin was a
reminder of what she was doing wrong and what seemed beyond her control.
knew that Austin could leave and get a better paying job, but he stayed with
her. He had been a lifesaver so many times when she wasn’t sure if she was
going to be able to deliver on the claims. Austin knew compliance now almost as
well as she did.
she had told Austin about her plan to open up a project management business
with her friends, he hadn’t said a word. Finally, after weeks of being quiet,
Karina asked him to talk.
think it’s a great idea for you to expand into new businesses, if that’s what
you want to do,” Austin said.
because I hear the but in there Austin,” she prodded.
just say that I would not have taken the approach of starting a brand-new
business in order to avoid my health concerns,” he said.
not avoiding the health concerns. In fact, it’s me going ahead and doing this
project, it makes me think I’ll just be so tied up in it, my health will get
said nothing but looked at her. Then she threw up her hands and walked off,
throwing over her shoulder the words ‘you’ll see.’ Twice a week she’d take her
blood pressure with the machine in the office and if the machine was any
indicator, it was him that was seeing.
didn’t believe in running away. If her divorce had taught her anything, it was
she couldn’t run away like Vicky was doing.
sat at her desk and looked at the items there as if they were all foreign. Then
she saw the bottle of water appear on her right-hand side and new Austin had
brought it for her.
seems like someone’s not really here.”
The statement made Karina look up and see Austin
standing next to her with a concerned look on his face.
it do me much good if I told you just to butt out of my business?”
but you could try,” he said with a smile. “I want you to know I’m not being
insensitive. If you don’t want to talk to me and you have a girl problem, you
can always go ahead and call one of your best friends and I’ll take care of
what needs to be done for today.”
you saying I can’t do my job?” Karina asked frustrated.
saying you are not here and you’re looking for a fight,” Austin said as he
turned to sit at his desk behind her. Karina knew he was right, but it didn’t
make it any better. The whole thing with Vicky was putting her off her game.
found herself driving by the high school to drop off lunch to make sure Vicky
was there. Or she’d call the office to ask her to come to the phone to make
sure she was in school. The nights were the worst. Karina normally went to bed
around nine. With her worried about Vicky, she would lay down at nine but get
up to check if she was still in the bed every two hours until she fell asleep.
Then, in the morning, she’d go by Vicky’s room to see if her bed had been slept
in and if she was still there. If not, she’d wait at the kitchen table to hear
the excuse of the day.
didn’t know what to do. Vicky was above average smart, and Karina felt as
though she was missing something or just not getting it. Austin was right, she
needed a friend. She picked up the phone and called her business partner and
best friend, Ava Reynolds. Well, at least she was a Reynolds for another six months
and then she’d be a Stansi.
morning, Ava, how’s it going over there?” Karina asked.
Karina answered, worried now that she had called at a bad time.
sitting down. What’s wrong?” Ava asked.
made Karina feel defensive.
make it sound like I only call when I have a problem.”
but you usually know better than to call me before ten-thirty, which would be
after my second cappuccino. The fact that you are ignoring that rule means
something is very wrong.”
looked at her watch and sure enough, it said nine-thirty. Ava would just be
finishing that first cappuccino.
you believe me if I told you, I thought the nine was a ten?”
let me think. Ah, no! One, I know you can see perfectly well looking at claims
all day. Two, if you though it was a ten, it was because you need me now. So,
I’ll ask again, what’s wrong?”
came in late this morning. You know when Daniel and I broke up she needed time
away from everything, but I thought that was over since she seemed like she was
doing so well with Cory last year. Now here we are again. She says she’s
leaving and going to the beach or walking around town because she can’t sleep. I
feel like the past year was just fake. Uh, I don’t know what I feel.”
let me ask the other question you didn’t bring up. Has the cutting stopped?”
well, at least she’s wearing tee- shirts, so I assume so. I asked her about
Cory today. She said that it was because she was a freshman that they were
paired. I think he was such a good influence on her, though. I don’t want to go
to his aunt and have to explain Vicky’s problems.”
I’ll ask Everett,” Ava said.
he’s doing some mentoring at the school and Cory is in his group so -”
my goodness, yes, please,” Karina said.
I have to ask, so I’m not promising,” Ava said.
know, it’s just right now I’m feeling so desperate to help her.”
you do know that Vicky is a gifted child.”
it comes to books she’s gifted, but when it comes to everything else, she’s
just a child. She’s even more so a child
after Daniel just left us,” Karina said.
been two years; you think this has something to do with Daniel?”
and I argued over having kids and I think she has it in her head that she
wasn’t enough for either of us.”
remember you wanting a second child so she wouldn’t grow up alone,” Ava said.
all the time she was listening she never quite heard that. Not being able to
talk to her is driving me crazy. I feel so useless.”
get this done. Don’t worry. Let me find Everett and get the ball rolling.”
Karina hung up the
phone and looked at her cell in her hand. This had to work. She was running out