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- Second Chance Romance
- Military Romance
- Family Reunion
She makes him tongue-tied. He makes her frazzled. Can love clear things up?
Brash, retired Army veteran, Timothy Elliott, has a way with words—on paper, anyway. Give him a pen, and he could devise a winning plan for any situation or craft a letter that could make the harshest critic weep. For years he’s been successfully using his gift of written words to express love for his dear granddaughter. Which works just fine when they’re miles away. But now his granddaughter is living with him. Now, he’ll have to use the spoken word to express himself. Not an easy task for this rough veteran since he keeps choosing the wrong ones. After twenty years of teaching and traveling the world,
Samantha Doyle has come to Grovestown to sell her hand-knit creations while she rests and regroups. She’s done searching for a love she’s never been able to find. It’s time to give it up. And when she meets the impossible Timothy Elliott, she decides that she gave up on love just in time—the man had zero redeeming qualities! She couldn’t fathom why anyone would trust their child in his care! Timothy, on the other hand, can’t believe how open and honest Samantha is. She’s everything his written words once were. But his spoken ones keep getting in the way.
Will Timothy ever find the right words to express his growing affection for her? Will she be able to slow down enough to listen, or will love elude her once again?
Come read between the lines of romance! Grab your copy today!
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
smooth movements are meant for waves, not women turning fifty. Samantha Doyle
tried to follow the fluid moves of the senior tai chi instructor. The class had
been advertised as a beginner introduction. In fact, Samantha had spoken to Ms.
Arken, who assured her all the moves were mild and easy on the joints. The
class was slow, but all of Samantha’s joints were protesting.
should’ve known there was something up when Ms. Arken told everyone to get
their jackets. After doing this for three weeks, Samantha was no closer to
understanding Tai chi's moves or appreciating the brisk morning air. Samantha
knew her body was trying to rebel when she kept staying up later and later in
hopes of not hearing her morning alarm.
if that would ever happen. Samantha woke up promptly at 6.00 a.m. One of the
leftover perks from being a teacher. She may have retired but her internal
was definitely not going to be her new workout routine but she would finish up
the 8 weeks. Samantha was a woman of her word, and she hated the idea that
something 85 year old Ms. Arken could do would get the better of her.
your arms and hold this pose. Sink into the pose and let it flow through you,”
Ms. Arden said.
through her? At this rate Samantha would be grateful if her arms would not
tremble unwittingly shaking her “wings” that she had come to this class to get
rid of. It looked like she would be going back to wrapping her wings up with
plastic wrap hoping to sweat the flaps away.
you shift your weight to your back foot, bring your arms down and pretend you
are scooping up cleansing energy and bring it into yourself.”
brought her arms down and looked at the green grass and the glistening dew that
was still on the blades. When she did her scoop and stood up she was greeted
with the fleeting rays of sun that shown across the park offering light but
little warmth. If Samantha was honest just walking to the park from her rented
townhouse was a treat for her.
Florida was a snow bird hideaway that quickly became overrun with tourists and
arriving snow birds in the month of November. Everything from dog walkers to
runners to ornithologist would be up stalking about the park. If Samantha was
honest with herself she would confess the opportunity to do some exercise
wasn’t the only appeal to waking up at this time. After the first day of class
it was an unexpected perk that she got to have a peaceful walk in the park
after the class and it gave her time to think and be with herself.
twenty minutes of polite torture Samantha was more than ready for her solitary
walk. Today she was going to dedicate time to figuring out what she as going to
do with her life. She was a retired teacher and a well-travelled woman. Being
single had its perks. Having the ability to book a flight today and leave
tomorrow was a freedom she treasured. However, if Samantha was honest, she’d
have to confess that while she had taught school, tutored in foreign countries
and travelled to see world wonders she had hoped that she would find the rarest
treasure of them all, someone to love.
my mood is tanking this morning,” she murmured to herself as she rubbed her
arms hoping to shake the chill of imminent loneliness. “Being a lone doesn’t
mean that a person is lonely. It’s all about the mindset.”
heard a barking dog in the background and thought the dog had more direction
than she did.
on Sam, pull yourself together. The best course of action is to put it out of
your mind and just accept what is.”
walked along the path, pushing her hands deeper into her pockets and taking
deep breaths to ward off the hot flush that held back the tears. An errant wind
came by as if Mother Nature knew she needed a napkin to dab at her eyes. Again
Samantha blew out a breath just like Ms. Arken had taught in the class. Moments later a cat walked out onto the
pathway and sat in the middle of it.
one of us is in the wrong place,” she said as she bent down and offered her
hand to the cat. It didn’t have a collar but it smelled suspiciously of
cookies. Then as if the cat knew what she was smelling it picked up its paw and
began to lick it.
blinked in shock and then laughed as she reached to pick up the cat.
I don’t think you’re a stray, and if your weight is anything to go by, you
haven’t been missing any meals either. I’ll take you home, post some pictures
and see if your owners show up.”
cat gave her a second look and then settled into her arms as if he deserved
nothing less. Samantha stroked the cat as she continued her walk. The cat
wasn’t concerned about being alone. It was a sad statement to think this cat
had settled more of its life than she had.
was at the end of walkway when she heard a little girl calling out.
Where are you?”
cat in her arms picked its head up and turned in the direction.
I knew you were a little too hefty to be a stray. It seems like your owner has
come to collect you.”
few moments later a small girl appeared. The girl had golden hair that was disheveled
and she wore denim overalls. If Samantha had to guess she’d say the girl was
about eight years old. She had on a white tee shirt, no socks and what looked
like blue canvas sneakers.
dainty cat jumped from her arms and strode toward the little girl. It didn’t
run as if it knew that everyone would wait for it. While the cat and she walked
toward the girl Samantha took in the open expanse of the park and saw no other
adult with the child. She didn’t want to approach the child and frighten her.
Samantha wanted to introduce herself to her parent first, if only she could
find one here. The child saw the cat and scooped him up in her arms, hugging
him as if he were the lost one.
morning,” Samantha said standing an arm’s length away so the girl wouldn’t feel
holding the cat in her arms she gave Samantha a nod.
to you. Did Midnight stay with you last night?”
the beast was called Midnight. Samantha could tell he was used to being with
the girl as it took what she could only imagine would be an affront of
affection if anyone else had been holding it.
was not with me last night. We only met this morning. You say its name is
girl nodded her head vigorously sending her mop of golden hair bouncing on her
his name is Midnight,” she replied.
name is Samantha but you can call me Sam, and hello to you Mr. Midnight.”
name is Iris Elliott, that would be Elliott with two ‘l’’s and two ‘t’’s.”
smiled to herself. This child had an air about her that said she was life older
than eight. Her eyes were a deep blue and they were so intense they pulled you
in. Again Mother Nature sent a wake up breeze to help Samantha focus.
where are your parents?”
pulled midnight closer to her chest a let out a small sigh.
mom and dad are gone to be with each other and the Lord but my Pop pop is here.
He’s going to stay with me so I won’t be lonely until I see my mom again. He
promised he’d stay and we’d be happy. I don’t know how happy we are but I know
my Pop pop is working real hard on it.”
is your Pop pop now?” Samantha asked. To be honest Samantha was not feeling
very charitable toward this Pop pop. Who lets a child come out alone in this
day and age? Its true Grovetown was a quaint place where everyone knew everyone
and there were probably more residents watching the streets than there were
policemen but still this behavior was reckless.
left Pop pop swimming. He gets up every morning and he does push-ups, sit-ups
and then swims for a long time in the pool. I told him last night Midnight was
gone. He told me Midnight would be okay but I wanted to make sure.”
did a 240 degree turn to see who else was in the park. People were just starting to come into the
park to enjoy their morning rituals.
why don’t I walk you back home? I wouldn’t feel right leaving you.”
me? You don’t have to worry about
leaving me I know my way home,” Iris said proudly. “Pop brings me out and then
lets me find my way home all the time,”
couldn’t say a word. Certainly the child must have been mistaken.
leaves you places?”
nodded. “He does. He says it helps me be independent.”
kept her lips tight in a smile.
I agree little girls should be independent. I don’t recall seeing you in town
and I’m always running around.”
Iris asked skeptically.
teach a class called indigenous arts and crafts. It means I show women and
girls how to weave with grass we find and cook with berries that we find
growing all around town.”
Samantha had come to Grovetown the only jobs she could find that didn’t require
a year commitment were teaching jobs for the community center. Paloma Gibson
runs the center and she challenged Samantha to come up with a class and she’d
let her teach it.
Pop does a lot of talking on the phone because he’s leaving the military. He
says when he finishes talking to everyone we’ll find a place to settle. I think
it sounds like a lot of fun what you do though. I bet you’re having more fun
than Pop pop.”
opinion of ‘Pop Pop’ was getting lower and lower. Goodness she hadn’t even met
the man and she had to admit she had an unfavorable vision of him. Iris
appeared to be a sweet child. Certainly if she would take care of a cat and be
concerned about its welfare says something to her character. However, this ‘Pop
pop’ seemed like he was getting his life together and ignoring this sensitive
child. A military man who was heartless and had no time for this sweet caring
was very protective of children and their feelings. She loved teaching and
seeing Iris out here looking for midnight because he was obviously the only one
who gave her any attention brought up all of her mothering instincts.
I’m glad that you’re here. Now I won’t have to walk home alone. Where do you
live two blocks away from the entrance to the park.”
you really know your way around. I live four blocks away from the entrance to
pop says we have to stay in the house because it was momma’s and there’s no
sense in spending money when we don’t’ have to.”
was trying not to judge this man but now on top of it all he was stingy
doesn’t make a lot of sense is why we have to stay at the house when it makes
pop pop so sad. Sometimes I hear him in mommy’s old room crying real quiet,
like when grams died.”
held her smile in place and nodded as they walked out of the park. This man
might be a lot of things but it was obvious that he had known grief. Samantha
could imagine what it would be like to meet someone who you wanted to share the
rest of your life with and then have to find a way to go on without that
see if we can get you back home before your Pop pop is done with his morning
swim,” Samantha said.
bobbed her head sending her hair going in all directions. When the strands landed
midnight had to sneeze to move them from covering him.
did you know my Pop pop likes things to stay in place?”
stopped herself from snorting and saying she knew because that was how all
tyrants were. As they walked out of the park and onto the sidewalk Iris kept on
talking about everything in her life. Iris spoke about how she was always
moving around. She used to move a lot with her mother but then her mom got sick
and went to be with her daddy. She spoke about her love of reading and Samantha
was sure the child was mistaken and just had a healthy dose of hero worship
when she spoke of her grandfather who would write to her everyday he was away.
He wrote to her everyday they were apart, not so much now that they were
together. Iris spoke of how sometimes
gram would read her letters and they would make her happy. She also spoke of
how she wished he would write to her again even if they were living together.
was confused by the new image Iris presented. How could some cold, military guy
write anything to a child that would appeal at all? Samantha was always getting
involved with her kids’ lives. In fact, it was one of the things that would
routinely get her in trouble as well as make her the most requested teacher in
had passed the entrance of the park and were on the second block when Iris
my mom’s place. It’s where we are staying now.”
knew this house. When she had first come with the realtor it had been empty.
The house was on the corner and had more space than any other on the
block. She had asked if it were
available and the realtor had told her it was having estate issues. She had
shrugged and gone on to the rental she had now but she had never forgotten how
homey it was with its dark brown trim and Tudor look. While all the houses in
Grovetown matched this house had a little more flare to it that made her think
about fairy tales and adventures.
go,” Iris said. They walked up to the house and Iris turned the knob but the
door didn’t budge.
your key, Iris?”
turned to Samantha pulling Midnight a little closer to her chest.
didn’t bring one. I left the door open so I wouldn’t need it. I wasn’t going to
be gone for long.”
reached for the bell when Iris spoke.
I should just walk around the back. If Pop pop is there then he’ll see me but
if he’s not I now the back door will be open, “she said with a smile.
looked down at the child and wondered if Iris just didn’t want to get into
trouble or if she should be concerned. Normally, Samantha relied on her
instincts when it came to children but she hadn’t met the mysterious Pop pop. It was now or never so she pushed the bell
and watched Iris’s shoulders sink and her face nuzzle Midnight. Butterflies
were in Samantha’s stomach as she waited to see the infamous Pop pop.
was about to reach out to Iris to comfort her when the door opened. Samantha
wasn’t a small woman, in fact had you asked her before this moment she might
have even said she was too tall. She could now say for the right man she wasn’t
too tall at all.
wasn’t sure what she was expecting but the man before her wasn’t it. Samantha
was five foot eight. The man before her was about six feet of calm and control.
He hadn’t ripped open the door but slowly pulled it back as if it were a cover
reveal. And from what Samantha was looking at the man did have something to
wasn’t often that Samantha was at a loss for words. This man took her breath
away. He was no golden skinned Adonis. He had a square jaw with a small
crescent scar on his chin. His hair was windblown and was unrepentantly grey.
His eyes were bright and if her eyes could be believed his nose had a little
bend in it as if it had been broken. No this wasn’t a man who’d ever have a
chance at being the next model but he was the poster man for what a blue-collar
working man should look like. He had laugh lines about his eyes that smoothed
his countenance. Samantha saw his wide shoulders covered by a dark green shirt
with the slogan on that read ‘Army of One’.
thought to herself if they still made men like that, you’d only need an army of
he cleared his throat and Samantha blinked as the realization that he had
noticed her open perusal of him. Right after that thought came the second
mortifying thought that she was standing in her yoga pants that undoubtedly had
grass stains on them and her loose sweater that was speckled grey. It was an
easy item to carry and would fight off the morning chill but it had to be one
of her more unattractive sweaters.
he said. Somehow the word came out less like a question and more like a
judgement. Samantha reached her hand out to put it on Iris’s shoulder only to
see Iris had moved to the side. Samantha guided her back in front of her and
the composed visage cracked and showed and an agitated frown.
he said tilting his head to the side and then letting out a sigh. “You do know
you should be behind me and not on the porch?”
you by chance have your emergency pack on you?”
hugged Midnight a little closer and then shook her head.
sir, I forgot it. I thought Midnight would be right outside. When he wasn’t I
walked a little bit so he could hear me calling him. Finally, I found him and
Sam brought us back,” Iris said as the words tumbled from her lips.
it were possible he stood up taller. He squared his shoulders and his eyebrow
lifted giving Iris a look of disbelief.
deliberately disobeyed me and you didn’t have enough foresight and
consideration to take your emergency pack?”
gave a large exaggerated sigh.
would have invited you but you were swimming. I thought I’d be back before you
soldier, gather yourself and your cat and go up to your room. We will review
rules and why they’re important.”
heard his firm voice but didn’t feel any malice or ill intent toward Iris. Her
feelings were confirmed when he reached out and tucked a hank of Iris’s
windblown hair behind her ear. Iris unknowingly leaned into the gesture and for
all the bluster Samantha heard she knew this man cared for Iris and there was a
true affection there even if he sounded like a beast.
looked up at him.
know the rules Pop pop,” she whined.
you know them but you’re standing where you are it means that you don’t believe
them or think they are not right.”
Pop pop it’s just-“
don’t do scenes in public do we Iris?”
looked over her shoulder at Samantha and in that moment she felt as if she were
eight years old. As if it were her parents who were both reporters telling her
not to make a scene and be quiet just for this interview and then they’d go to
didn’t like remembering how she always felt as if she were interrupting her
parents to ask for time or for them to go to her plays. Her chest tightened
from the anxiety of the memories she couldn’t escape. To make matters worse she
knew the man should be upset and look out for Iris’s safety. This is what
loving, responsible parents were supposed to do, with all of the other loving
things they were supposed to do.
sir, we don’t, and I didn’t have my pack but I had Sam. She goes everywhere in
town because she teaches girls how to do diligent skills,”
teach a class on indigenous skills that women have always done,” Samantha
that. I think that is so amazing. She makes stuff and picks berries and they do
it all here in town,” Iris said.
he said. That was when he shifted from
talking to Iris and then his blue gaze was upon Samantha.
forgive me for not introducing myself. I’m Samantha Doyle,” she said, inwardly
wincing at the fact there was a couple of blades of grass on the hand she had
extended to him. He didn’t hesitate. He engulfed her hand in his.
already told her your name Pop pop.”
adults looked at Iris and nodded and then he looked at Samantha with a smile
dancing about his mouth.
Timothy Elliott, you can call me Elliott. Thank you for escorting my
marveled at the way his tone and his grip on her hand were at odds. He sounded
so professional and she thought he would either not touch her hand or give her
a very professional shake and let go. She was very wrong. His hand was warm and
she could tell he was trying to be careful with his grip. Mr. Elliott was
turning out to be a man who understood his own strength. The fact that they
were still holding hands wasn’t lost on her either. Holding his hand felt odd
and comforting. She wasn’t sure what to really call it but she didn’t want to
lose it. Samantha assumed he felt the same way because neither one of them had
let go yet.
no problem. Iris was coming back and my house is on the way.”
crafts? I suppose that’s you?”
pop is there something wrong with Sam’s hand?”
both of them pulled their hands back as if they had been caught doing something
Iris all is well except for you young lady who should be going up the stairs to
wait for me.”
looked at the dejected Iris and couldn’t stop the words before they passed her
growing girls need to get out sometimes, and keeping up with them keeps us all
healthy, wealthy and wise,” Samantha said.
gave her a small smile which quickly vanished when she looked at her
was easier to get through basic training, “Elliott murmured.
bent down and gave Iris one last hug.
be good now okay Iris. Wait for Midnight I think he may know how to find his
way all around Grovetown.”
you can?” the girl asked with a smile.
I bet he knows all the best places twice as well as I do.”
With that the little
girl turned and went into the house. When Samantha stood up she found herself
facing a stone faced Elliott.Maybe she
had just imagined something had been going on with that hand shake. Whatever it
was she gave him a fake salute and then turned to go on her way. She had a
class to prepare for and a rude, stuffy handsome looking man to forget.