Are you ready for your first official sneak peek my next book?
Ryan, Is Hailey's brother's best friend. The bad boy who left town when he got his girlfriend pregnant at eighteen. Now he's back. His son, Corey, is the town's troublemaker from the first few books in the Second Chance Harbor Series. Hailey wants to help Corey despite the trouble he caused. She sees herself in Corey, and she always had a crush on his father. Too bad her brother warned against guys like him.
Enjoy your first glimpse into My Best Chance:
When I lifted the flap of a box, dust floated through the air, seemingly dancing in the light filtering through the window. I recognized books from my childhood stacked neatly, the spines facing up. I lifted each one, admiring the covers and the dog-eared pages. These books had been my escape as a child. All were fantasies about imaginary worlds with dragons and magic.
“I wondered what happened to those. Will you keep them?” Jake asked, dropping two more boxes on the carpet.
“Of course.” I couldn’t imagine giving them away. I’d save them for my future children.
“I’ll grab a couple of garbage bags for donation and trash.” Jake walked out.
Instead of returning to the attic, Ryan stood next to me, his arms crossed over his chest. “This is hard for you.”
“My whole life is in these boxes.” I sat back on my haunches.
Ryan shook his head, looking around ruefully. “If this were my family’s stuff, I’d junk everything.”
I glanced up at him in surprise. He’d been a constant in my life growing up, but he hadn’t talked much about his home life. “Why is that?”
His gaze met mine, and I sucked in a breath at the depth of pain I saw in them. “I don’t have a lot of good memories from home.”
I sighed, feeling weary, even though I wasn’t the one doing manual labor. “I don’t either. At least, not before I came to live with Nana.”
Each time Mom showed up for a visit, I couldn’t help myself from hoping she’d either stay or take me with her. It was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, longing and disappointment. Jake and Nana held me together. I owed them everything.
Focusing on the task at hand, I wrote Keep on the box of books, and Ryan closed the flaps, moving it to the wall by the door. The next box was a stack of photo albums. Not opening them, I wrote Keep, and shoved it aside.
“You don’t want to look at them?” Ryan asked softly.
“Not now. Maybe later.” There was a possibility my mom would be in one of them, and I needed to be alone where no one could see me cry. Seeing her would bring everything to the surface.
With a nod, Ryan set the box on top of the first one and left the room.
The next few boxes contained toys we’d prized as kids. Cars and trucks for Jake, dolls and their dresses for me. After debating whether to donate or keep them, I chucked the ones that were in poor shape, and kept the best ones to possibly pass on to our children, even though Jake was adamant about not wanting any.
I could only hope Jake and I had a happier future ahead of us than our pasts indicated.
I spent a couple of hours going through the boxes they brought down. Then Ryan took out the accumulating garbage bags.
Ryan returned with a fresh glass of lemonade. “Are you sure you’re okay with Corey helping you at the store?”
I stood, wiping the sweat from my forehead before taking the glass. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Ryan’s jaw tightened. “He broke into your store.”
I huffed out a laugh. “To be fair, I left it unlocked.”
Ryan took a step toward me like he wanted me to listen carefully. “He entered without permission.”
“I get that. But I also don’t think I have anything to worry about. He didn’t take anything. He didn’t hurt me. He’s twelve years old, and he was going through something.” Corey’s mom, Tiffany, recently sent him to live with Ryan. It meant a new school, new town, new friends. It had been a difficult transition. I felt for him because I knew how it felt to feel like your mother abandoned you.
Ryan shook his head.
“Corey’s a good kid. He just needs to know he has a permanent place with you.”
Ryan shifted on his feet, considering me. “You feel a kinship to him because of your past.”
“I do.” Ryan saw first-hand how it was for us when my mom would show up and then leave. It made Jake angry, but I fell apart. I’d wait at the window for her to come back.
“I can see that.”
“Tiffany sent him to live with you?” I’d heard a little from Jake. Ryan and I didn’t usually have heart-to-hearts.
He ran a hand through his hair, making it stand on end. “Tiffany said she couldn’t handle him anymore.”
“How do you think that feels to Corey?”
Ryan shook his head. “Not great.”
Sympathy for Corey flowed through my body. “His mother sent him away.”
“This is my chance to be the dad he needs me to be, but how do I do that when I’m not exactly the most upstanding guy?”
I wasn’t sure about that. Sure, he’d caused trouble in his youth, but he’d never got into any real trouble. Ryan was a pro at skirting that line. Just enough to stay in school, to graduate, and to avoid arrest.
I tipped my head to the side, considering him. “Has he ever lived with you for an extended period of time?”
“Just short visits during the school year and a couple weeks in the summer. Those times were fun, not the daily routines in his life. I never had to remind him to do his homework or stay out of trouble.”
“I get that.” He was scared. I could sense it in his expression, his jerky movements. Ryan was usually so confident and sure of himself, but he was questioning his ability to be a good dad. My heart contracted in response. It was endearing, and I wanted to help him.
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