Silver Fox Collection - Ebook Bundle
Silver Fox Collection - Ebook Bundle
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Coming home is never easy.
Love can find you anywhere and it when it does, it takes no prisoners. Follow these stories of brave men and women who have come home to heal and love.
- Military Romance
- Second Chance romance
- Small town Romance
Coming home is never easy.Follow these friends as they discover how to transition to a civilian life and learn that love can come at any age and at any time. There are no rules to finding true love. Love can find you anywhere and it when it does, it takes no prisoners.
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
did I get in this situation?”
Cade looked at Peaches, the 60-pound tan
and white pit
bull, sitting in the back seat of her car. Somehow, Delilah had been talked into fostering Peaches for a
little bit. In retrospect, she had no idea exactly how long a little bit was, but she had agreed. How could she not have? At a tent at the fair, workers had been
showing off dogs that needed to be adopted. Peaches had lain on the ground, off
to the side, and no one had even gone over
to pet her.
Delilah had asked the worker about her,
she’d replied that Peaches was a senior dog. She didn’t move as well and had some
arthritis in her hip. If Peaches didn’t get adopted today, she’d probably have to be put down. With so many dogs coming
in and Peaches' chance of getting adopted
being so slim, they had no choice unless
another agency took her or they found a foster home.
68, Delilah understood what it meant to be put on the side. Not that long ago,
she had been thinking about taking herself somewhere out of sight so she
wouldn’t be a bother or a nuisance. When Delilah had gone over to pet Peaches, the dog had lifted her head and
smiled. What had happened after that was all a blur. What Delilah remembered
was leaving with Peaches to go to her rental in town. The shelter owner knew
the address, and everyone knew she was
Adam Cade’s grandmother. For once in Sweet Blooms, having everyone know her
name was a plus.
good deed goes unpunished,” Delilah muttered as she reached to the back of her
car and made sure Peaches was okay and still sleeping. She had bought a child
monitor, with a speaker and a screen, that was supposedly good up to a quarter
of a mile away. Delilah looked at the portable monitor in her purse and checked
she could see and hear Peaches.
less than five minutes, she had a meeting with Robert Parker, her new partner
for the next couple of months. Like she needed that in her life. Delilah had
been a widow for close to twenty years. What did she know about partnerships
tucking the monitor in her purse, she left the handbag open so she could look
into it. Then she went inside the Banter House restaurant, the local diner that everyone wound up at eventually.
When she saw the hostess, the young lady smiled and greeted her.
here to meet Robert Parker.”
young lady nodded rather vigorously and pointed to a booth in front of them.
you.” While walking toward the booth, Delilah glanced in her bag. Peaches was still asleep, thank goodness. Delilah would
make her introductions and go.
she approached, a man rose and stood by
had been a long time since a man had had enough training to stand when Delilah
came to a table.
am. You are Robert Parker?”
nodded. For a moment. she was still so shocked by his manners that she didn’t
comprehend why they were both standing.
my! Please, take a seat.”
will, after you.”
thought to tell him such chivalry wasn’t necessary, but something in his tone told her this wasn’t really a
conversation. He would stand there all day long if need be.
took a seat in the booth and positioned her purse on her side so she could
still see the monitor. For a moment, she thought Peaches was waking up, but she was just having doggy dreams and rolled over on her side.
Mr. Parker, you are probably wondering why I asked to meet you.”
I know why you’re here.”
“Well, the reason is—” As his words penetrated
her consciousness, she looked at him sitting serenely across from her.
nothing to excuse,” he said. “I’m aware of the issue with Pierce Morgan. I’m
the one who told Adam Pierce was using inferior
products and disreputable vendors. Then he asked whether I would manage the
project. I said yes. Hannah asked if I would be offended if I co-managed with
someone from the company. She needed someone who represented their values and
interests involved. I agreed.”
listened to him itemize their meeting, and
for a moment, couldn’t respond. In her mind,
she was strangling him. Did he have any idea how she’d tried to think of ways to tell him all the things he obviously
already knew and get him to agree?
“Well, if you knew all of that then why did you agree to meet
me? You could have saved us both some time,” she said as politely as she could and
moved to get up.
“Ms. Cade, please. I saved you some time so you wouldn’t have
to ask me anything. I agree to the partnership, of course. I went along with
the meeting because I wanted to meet you. We’re going to be working together.”
“I agree we should know each other, but let’s be clear. You
didn’t save me any time. I only have an hour at best. If you were truly going
to save me the time, we’d leave now,” she said sweetly.
He raised his hand. A young woman came to the table right
“Do you want to place an order?” she asked eagerly.
Robert smiled. “We’re not staying long; two sweet teas will
do for now.” The waitress went off to do his bidding, not even waiting to see
if Delilah wanted to order.
Delilah curled her hand on the table. This man had gotten her
hackles up, and she hadn’t even been around him for ten minutes. She wasn’t
blind. He was handsome, with his low cut salt-and-pepper hair and trimmed beard.
His brown eyes had seen their share of life. One of the things she liked was
his dimples. Two of them showed up when he smiled. His dimples almost made up
for the high-handed way he’d ordered for them both.
“Presumptuous, aren’t you? What if I didn’t drink sweet tea?”
“I would have had two teas and ordered you whatever you
wanted,” he said without missing a beat.
She had to admit, he wasn’t what she’d been expecting. She
opened her bag a little wider to ensure she could see the baby monitor. Peaches
still slept. Delilah didn’t want to be rude and leave, but she also didn’t want
to push her luck on how long the dog would sleep.
Delilah’s gaze focused on Robert Parker.
“You’d like to talk, so let’s begin. The hour is ticking.”
“Okay.” Robert grinned. “Are you single?”
Delilah couldn’t control her shock.
“What kind of question is that?” she snapped.
“An important one, from where I’m sitting.”
“Then I suggest you re-evaluate,” she said through tight
lips. Just then the waitress, all smiles, returned.
“Here are your teas,” she said with a peppy little bob.
He pushed a tea toward Delilah. “Please, have some, before
you decide to put me in my place.”
Delilah nodded and took a sip. “Listen, Mr. Parker. I don’t
know if you are aware, but I’m a widow. I’m in town with my grandchildren. In
fact, the project you and I will be working on is for my grandson. I don’t engage
in one-night stands. I’m not interested in being friends who engage in extracurricular
activities, and I feel no need to keep a side piece or otherwise in the wings.
I’ll be working on this project with you to make sure my grandson's interests are
represented. Are we clear?”
“Crystal.” His smile would have melted right through her resolve
if she hadn’t heard a bark on the child monitor. She took a look, and sure enough,
Peaches had her head up and was looking around the car. She hadn’t got up yet, but
Delilah knew it was only a matter of time.
“I’m so sorry. I’ve got to go.” Delilah scooted out from the
booth only to find Robert standing before her. How he’d managed to beat her out
of the seat was an unknown she’d have to think about later.
“I’ll see you soon, Delilah Cade.”
“Yes, yes, the project is starting soon. Glad we’ve met and
laid down some ground rules. I have to leave.”
A whimper came from the monitor, and Delilah didn’t even
bother to pull her coat together. Instead, she rushed to the car. Peaches' nose
was pressed against the window, and her breath had created a little fog on the glass.
When Delilah got into the vehicle, she had to pat Peaches on the head and calm
“See? I wasn’t gone long, and I came right back as soon as
you got up,” Delilah crooned. After a couple more reassuring pats, Peaches laid
back down, and Delilah turned to go home. Originally, she had come to Sweet
Blooms and stayed at the bed and breakfast owned by Hannah Jenkins. After a
couple of weeks, Hannah had fallen in love with Delilah’s grandson, Adam Cade.
When the relationship had taken off, Delilah had thought it best she had her
own place. As a result, she had rented a small cottage at the edge of town.
On her drive to the cottage, she thought about Robert Parker.
When was the last time she had thought about a man as a man? She knew lots of
men, but they were friends or acquaintances. Robert Parker was definitely a
man. Frustrating, too, for him to have asked about her status, as if it would
ever be an issue for him to worry about. Even worse: While he was a thorn used
to getting his way, for a hot minute after he had smiled at her, she’d felt a
spark of interest.
It wasn’t lust; that was such a primitive word. The spark had
said to her: Give him a second look. Let’s
see if he can talk about anything interesting. Give him a chance to engage your mind. Robert Parker didn’t look
like he would lack romantic partners, period. She had no interest in reliving
her twenties in her mid-sixties body. She was a woman who had already known being
loved by a man who adored her. Since her husband's death, she hadn’t been
interested in any other man.
Robert Parker sparked an interest in her. She shook her head.
He seemed accustomed to getting his way, and since she had already said no, he’d
find some other female who’d enjoy his attention.
She was a woman from a different time. She wasn’t even sure
what it meant to be in a relationship today. Peaches snored. Delilah laughed.
She didn’t have to worry about a relationship; she now had a four-legged child.
* * *
Robert pushed the two dry erase boards together. He’d been
working on getting this group together for months. He wasn’t concerned about the
material; he knew the material. He was concerned about the audience. When he’d
retired to Sweet Blooms three years ago, a bunch of “swamp men,” as they were called,
had lived in the nearby swamps and had only come into town to bring in crafts
they’d made by hand or items their wives had made. Most of the men were descended
from local tribes that had retained some land, or they were people who had
decided they wanted a different kind of life. They didn’t have a lot of contact
with the town, and they only brought their goods when they needed extra funds.
Since Robert had come home, he had reached out to them and been their spokesperson
for the last year. It was time to pull the business plan together and in action.
He’d seen the way they lived, and they and their families deserved a better
quality of life.
When he’d moved back to Sweet Blooms, he’d bought an old farm.
At the time, he’d had no use for the property’s two external buildings. One of
them had had some sleeping gear in it. Two weeks later, a swamp man, bringing
goods, had come to sleep over. That was when Robert had met Evan. Evan had explained
the swamp men’s plight, and Robert had decided what to do with the buildings.
One he’d converted into three rooms in which the swamp men could stay over; the
other had become a meeting and working house where the craftsmen could gather
to discuss issues as well as do last minute put-together work before they
dropped off their products in town.
He was setting up in the workhouse to show a proposal to the men
who were coming today. To earn this trust, Robert had spent a day or two with
them in their homes. He wanted to do right by them, and it gave him purpose
while he was in town. He understood men who’d sacrificed for their families.
After being career military, he still had the need to give back, and this
opportunity allowed him to do so.
He’d also gone over his own life goals and decided how he
wanted to serve and what part he wanted to play at Sweet Blooms. Setting up
this guild of craftsmen allowed him the opportunity to serve, to be involved locally,
and to generate income.
Thirty minutes later, the swamp men walked in. Robert had set
out coffee on the side table and some biscuits as well. Doing a PowerPoint presentation
wasn’t going to help as most of the swamp men didn’t even own computers. Instead,
Robert had opted to use dry erase boards. On one, he’d written all of their
names and how much money they had made in town last year. If he could
streamline their production and do pickup from them as well, he could get them
steady work and more income.
“Grab some food and take a seat,” Robert said. He waited
until everyone had settled down. “Thanks for coming. I tried to make this
meeting convenient. I know a lot of you are here to drop off goods for the
fair. I’ve been watching for the last
two years, and I’ve seen how you all make ends meet. I’d like to suggest we
build something called a guild. This guild will go to town and get requests for
goods and then tell you as the orders come in what we would need. The value of
this arrangment is that I can advocate for you. This means if you tell me you
or your wives have specific crafts you want to sell, I’ll let the buyers know
and get you some sales.
A lot of you may be thinking your lives will be taken over
having to make things and you won’t be able to do your daily work. Let me
assure you, that will not be the case. All of you produce natural goods that,
for lack of better wording, tourists and city people love. You can make as much
or as little as you want. I’ll sit with each of you to go over the goals you
want to meet.
I wrote some goals on the board. Evan needs a new generator.
Case and his brother are looking for building materials for an ice house, and I
hear congratulations are in order; Tom will have a new arrival come the
After Tom received several pats on the back, Robert knew he
had the group’s interest and went on to show them what they were making and how
they could earn more. He asked what concerns they had and how they wanted to
address them in the guild. They went over everything from trade and barter to pricing
“This has been a productive meeting. There are two items to
discuss to finish up. We all have to say if we think the guild is a good idea,
and if so, we’ll then decide who will go to the town council and let them know
there will be a new way to ask for items from us. While I put the plan together,
that doesn’t mean I lead it. It’s your hard work, and I want you to make sure
you are involved in how the guild’s run.”
Robert turned the meeting over to the swamp men. They looked
at one another and gathered in small groups for all of ten minutes. Evan looked
around the nodding crowd before he spoke.
“We’re all good that you should be the one,” he said. “None
of us wants to be in town that much. You did all the work, and you’ve spent all
the time making sure we’re good. You should do it.”
Case raised his hand, and after Robert’s nod, stood up. “What
do you think the town council will do?”
“The council likes the way we bring people to the town. Almost
all of our items sell out. On top of that, I’m working with Adam Cade. He’s building
a woodworking shop. I have some things here you can use, but when his shop is
done, you’ll love working there. Adam is a big name in the town, so we have
lots of support.”
Tom raised his hand.
“You spent a lot of time looking at the things people make,
but my Sissy, she cooks. Is this going to work for her, too?”
Robert looked at the weathered man. Tom, in his late 40s, ran
a small farm. With the furniture he made and his wife’s cooking, they traded
for their livelihood.
“I asked about the perishable goods as well. We have a
following when it comes to pies. The Banter House diner in town is interested
in getting baked goods—fresh and frozen—for their place.”
Tom smiled and nodded before settling back in his seat.
For a while longer, they talked about transportation and
communication, each man making sure he wasn’t taking from the other. In some cases,
Robert heard them say who would craft what so they wouldn’t overlap.
Robert just looked on while they worked out details amongst
themselves. He experienced more than just satisfaction that his pitch had gone
well. These men reminded him of his team in the service. Although a lot of his
military colleagues weren’t alive anymore, he saw the same dedication and
loyalty amongst the swamp men that he had with his old unit. Some hard times would
be coming, but he looked forward to creating something that would stand the
test of time and help these men and their families.