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- Second Chance Romance
- Small Town Romance
- Seasoned Couple
She’s been abused. He’s been battered. Together, they’ll heal.
Ben Prager has received an invite for a weekend away with his best friend, Robert Parker, who has recently married. Ben isn’t sure he wants to go and bring Robert and the group down. He just isn’t the man Robert knew in the army. He’s the shell of a person and simply trying to justify his existence in the world.
Patricia Coleman survived an abusive marriage and has now been given custody of her grandchildren after her daughter overdosed. In an attempt to provide them the security and love she had once known, she decides to bring them all back to her hometown. When Patricia returns home, she’ll find that Ben is back too. He’s a blast from a much happier past and sparks remembrance of joy in her. But Ben isn’t the fun-loving, outgoing man she once knew. He’s cautious and withdrawn, emotionally battered and bruised. Life has dealt them a difficult hand since their days as homecoming queens and football star.
Can they heal one another and find peace and love?
Get your copy today, and let the healing begin!
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
If ever she needed proof that things come full circle, moving back to
her hometown of Grovetown, Florida, and having the only available house for
rent be the one she grew up in, was proof enough.
When the realtor had told her the address on the phone, she'd asked him
if he was joking. The realtor droning on about the limited budget she had given
him emphasized this option as not a joke but her only option. 357 Barbee Court.
How long had she run from this place? Ran from it when she lost the love
of her life, ran into a marriage that promised escape but was just a prettier
cage, and now she was running back in a last-ditch effort to keep what was left
of what she loved.
Patricia stood on the sidewalk in front of the house. It stood like a
living entity, breathing and waiting for her. Now that she was standing in
front of it, she was unsure about walking in. Would her grandchildren find this
house to be less of a home and more of a prison-like she had when she was
growing up? To be fair the house hadn’t always felt that way. Was coming back
to Grovetown a way to come to terms with her past? Would being here be any
better for her grandkids than it was for her?
Patricia was out of
options. Her grandchildren needed something different. She wasn't ready to give
up on them and lose them too. Talking to the realtor about her old home was one
thing. The reality of the moment didn't begin to settle until she was standing
here in front of the house.
"This house is so old, I don't even think it has
internet," Matthew said as he came to stand beside Patricia.
"It's new enough. The important thing is that it has
three floors. That means we don't need to always see each other, and we
shouldn't have to eat with each other either," Michelle, Matthew's
fraternal twin, said.
Patricia took a deep breath. She let it out slowly and
remembered she loved these kids. They pushed her, and they prodded her because
they were unsure about their place in her life.
"Look up over there I think it's a cat," Michelle
said as she walked past Patricia onto the walkway to see what the little black
ball was. No sooner had Michelle reached out to touch the cat when it turned
around and squirreled under the nearby rose bush.
"Come on, little kitty. Come out before you get
hurt," Michelle cajoled. Two round black eyes peered out from the bush.
Patricia was about to warn Michelle about touching stray cats. She wanted to
tell her that the cat could have all types of diseases, and they could always
come back and try to find it, but for right now, if the cat was unwilling, she
should let it go. None of those words ever made it out of her mouth.
As if the cat knew Patricia was going to go ahead and write
her off. The feline slowly came from under the bush, bumped his head under
Michelle's hand, and then sat down, waiting for Michelle to pick her up.
Patricia paused, looking at Michelle. It was one of
the few times she had ever seen the softer side of Michelle.
“Hey, little guy, you are so cute, I wonder what your
name is?” Michelle crooned.
“There has always been a cat at this house. When I was
a kid, the story was a cat was always at the house to help a young lady find
her true love,” Patricia reminisced.
“I don't know about true love or if it even exists for
our family, but I know that this cat needs a home,” Michelle said.
“Well, we can hold on to it. Maybe it belongs to
someone. Until we know one way or the other, we can go ahead and keep it, okay,
Michelle?” Patricia said. Patricia didn't speak to the barb that Michelle had
said. But she knew deep in her heart that Michelle was right. They all needed
to find a home, or they weren’t going to make it.
“So, we're really going to be staying in this big
house?” Michelle asked as she stroked the black cat.
“We are really going to stay here,” Patricia replied. “You know I’ve lived in this house before.”
“Did Mom ever live here?” Matthew asked in a
Patricia nodded. Her mind filled with memories
of her little girl running through the house and tea parties where they would
pretend to be queens. Yes, her little girl lived here, and there were good
“Yes, your mom lived here,” Patricia whispered.
“Why did she leave?” Michelle asked.
Patricia was pulled back down memory lane. The sounds
of her little girl giggling floated through her mind—birthdays and holidays
filled with loving embraces and kisses. But just as quickly as those memories
came, they were tainted by night cries and the sound of breaking glass.
Patricia wondered if history was repeating itself
because of the house, or because of her. Patricia had managed to keep her
little girl here for ten summers, and then the fairy tale fell apart. She had
finally gotten enough courage to get a divorce, but the damage would linger for
them all. Her dream of having a family and living in the place that she loved
The divorce from Gary had been quiet but was still
What made things even worse was that he showed no interest in a daughter who
“We left because it was time,” Patricia said. “It’s like
coming full circle. I grew up here. Your mom enjoyed being here, and now we’re
here as well.”
In truth, there wasn’t any other place for them to go. If
this didn’t work, Patricia wasn’t sure what she was going to do. Patricia was
hoping that the magic that had kept her hopeful was still here and could be
used to help her grandkids heal. Grovetown had a high school and a college. She
was eager to find out who was still here that she knew—if anyone was here at
She walked up the walkway as the smells of honeysuckle and
jasmine floated in the air. Patricia could hear the strings of summer sounds welcoming
her back. She reached into her shoulder bag and pulled out the key. When it was
in her hand, she thought about how new and familiar this action was.
Just as she was about to push open the door, Michelle cried
Patricia looked over her shoulder, and Michelle was going
around the house, trying to catch the cat. Matthew looked at her and shrugged
and then followed behind his sister. Patricia looked at the cracked door and
pulled it closed.
“I should have known this wouldn’t go smoothly, because that would have
been too much to ask,” she muttered. “Hey, guys, be careful there’s a pool back there.”
Patricia walked swiftly to catch up, hoping the cat didn’t decide to fall into
the pool—if it was even still there.
When she came around the corner, she slowed her pace when she saw the
kids looking at the empty pool. She was already praying that the cat hadn’t fallen in it and
hurt itself or worse.
Going slower wasn’t
going to make it any better. Patricia took a couple more steps and saw what the
kids were looking at.
The cat was walking toward a man who appeared to be doing some type of
drain work in the pool. There were tools strewn across the empty bottom of the
pool, and then there was him. He was turned away, so the only thing she could
see was that he had no shirt on, but he did have an interesting tattoo that
went across his broad shoulders. It looked like gears moving when he moved. His
skin was tan and looked a bit weathered, but he was still in good shape. He had
on what looked like blue jean shorts and sneakers.
Patricia watched the cat wrap around his ankles. The man stopped, and as
he bent to pick up the cat, he turned in one fluid movement. He tucked the cat
to his side and brought his hand to his hip and grabbed air. She had the
feeling that he was used to having something at his hip, and it put her on red
alert. Patricia was done with men who thought violence, and their hands were
viable ways to solve problems.
On top of that, Patricia could tell that he was bold as well. He was the
one standing in the pool with a cat in his arm, and he was talking about
trespassing. She was building up a polite way to tell him to get out. She took
in his black, salt-peppered hair, brown eyes, and firm stance. His right foot
tapped as if he were the one waiting, and we were wasting his time.
At that moment, there was something about his tapping foot that made him
seem familiar to her. There was something she was trying to recall.
not trespassing. We are moving in,” Patricia said.
that today?” he
said incredulously, and then shook his head disgusted.
thought I was meeting
the realtor here today,” she
said, trying to offer him some way to be a little more polite.
you pay your deposit and rental fee to him?”
The cat wriggled out of his arm and proceeded to walk toward Michelle.
Michelle ignored them all and bent down as the cat found the nearby steps and
then walked into Michelle’s arms.
since he has his money, my thought is you won’t be seeing him again until the lease ends, and then
show up like Casper, the friendly ghost, to help you find a new place so he can
get another commission.”
Patricia let out a disgusted sigh. The twins looked at her, and she pasted
on a smile like she had been doing for the last year whenever they’d looked at her,
trying to gauge how bad things were.
Patricia nodded. “Thanks,
realize there was a pattern and process to this,”
she said. The bitter taste of disappointment was in
her mouth. What was it with her, men, and bad judgment? The realtor was a kid.
Was her sense so off? She didn’t
really know why she was harping on it. Patricia knew she wouldn’t catch them all,
but she wanted a good omen for the new place, at least.
let this get her down. Patricia knew it wasn’t the realtor that was making her doubt herself. It
was the recent events of the last year that had her doing a double-take on her
ability to do anything right. Then she heard the warbling of a cardinal. She
looked over her shoulder and saw one sitting on the fence. Her mother used to
tell her that cardinals were signs of good things to come. Now more than ever,
she needed to believe that.
to the matter at hand,” she
said with a bright smile and a toss of her shoulders. The man had taken the
time to walk closer to Patricia and the kids.
to be the one to tell you,” he said gruffly.
Now that he was closer and she could look into his brown eyes, she could
truly see him. She knew this man. How could she not? She was looking at the man
who had made her believe in love in the first place.
“It’s best to rip the Band-Aid
off quickly,” she
said once she got over the shock of seeing him. “So,
just to let you know. I’m
not trespassing. This was our move-in day, and I have keys. I was told the
owners would be here. Would that be you? We’re supposed to do a walkthrough before we actually
walkthrough, huh? I’m
not the owner.” He
reached out and took his white shirt, which was hanging on what looked like a
garden hose nozzle, and put it on. The logo on the shirt said Army Strong. “I don’t
know about the walkthrough, but I can tell you that the house has four
bedrooms. None of the bedrooms are on the first floor. Three of them are on the
second, and there is a fourth one on the third floor, but it’s small and has a
slanted ceiling like an attic apartment. The central air works, and the basic
electricity has been upgraded. There’s
still some outside electrical work that needs to be done and an integrated home
it all seems in order. You seem to know a lot about the house for someone who
know them. Good kids. I help them out when I can.”
can you do the walkthrough?”
She crossed her hands over her chest and gave him a quizzical stare. “And why not, if I may ask?”
What had happened to him? Maybe she was wrong, and it
him. Even as she thought the words, her mind wanted to deny it, but her heart
confirmed him to be hers.
He flexed his back and looked around the pool. “It’s not mine. I know
a lot about the place because I’m
a contractor. I live at the dead-end across the street. I run two businesses.
One of them is called Jack’s
Business, where I do all kinds of contract work, and the other is Prager’s Fishing.”
When she heard him say the other business, it confirmed his identity,
and internally she was giving herself a high five. It was him. Now that he had
confirmed it, she could see the shadow of the boy she knew. A smile came to her
lips when she remembered the tender moments they shared. He was her first kiss.
“Ben? Ben Prager?”
He stopped and took a step back. When Patricia saw that small retreat,
she started to doubt herself. “You know me?”
Then she let out a big breath. “I
knew you. We knew each other and were close in high school.”
Ben walked out of the pool until he was within arm’s length. She extended her hand to him.
Byman. It was Patricia Coleman. I used to live in this very house. I came back
and stayed here with my ex-husband, but you had already left for the military
then. I thought I had seen you in town once but you were gone so fast and that
was years ago. I guess you were on vacation from the Army.
Benjamin Prager was home. Her memories of him were the stuff of dreams.
It was based on Disney movies, and he lived up to every one of the stereotypes.
It was odd when she came home with Gary, she had looked for him. She wanted to
know what he thought of her husband. They never had the chance to meet one
another. It was probably for the best. It would only be harder to have that
If she were honest, she’d
admit she never expected to see him here in Grovetown. One of the reasons they
stayed together was because he couldn’t
bring himself to remain in Grovetown. He wanted to see the world. It was funny
how you thought you knew what you wanted when you were younger, and then you
run all around only to find the thing you originally had was what you wanted
has been good to you,” she
said. “Did I hear you, right? You own two businesses in town?
You came back.”