Welcome Author Tanya Eavenson to Historical Heartbeats as she spotlights her new novella, To Gain a Mommy. Tanya Eavenson is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author.
Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.
To Gain a Mommy
To Gain a Mommy is a beautiful story that was a joy to read. They had a plan, but will it work? ~ Marilyn R.
Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.
Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.
When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?
Patrick Reynolds wove his car through downtown Helen traffic, catching sight of license plates from all over the country. Most people traveled through this small town in Georgia on their way to and from the mountains. Some stopped to visit the shops during Christmas. Others became enthralled with the quaint community and slower pace of life and moved right in.
He, on the other hand, had left shortly after college for Germantown, Maryland, in search of a career and happiness. Anywhere would have served, so long as it wasn’t here between the rows of shops with German façades and Main Street where he’d grown up. How ironic he was now pulling up to his sister’s driveway, running from a failed engagement and a thriving career that, at the moment, he wanted little to do with.
He glanced at the Federal-style home that had been in the family since the late 1800s. He turned off the engine and lingered, inhaling a long breath. Perhaps Rachel was right. It would do him good to get away from the memories even for a short time to pet-sit for his sister. It had been a year, and somehow, the dull ache in his chest hadn’t gone away.
Patrick climbed from the car and his stomach growled in protest. He’d eaten nothing but a single pack of peanut butter crackers when he left his apartment earlier that morning.
His phone rang, and he slipped it from his jacket pocket, glancing at his sister’s name. On the fourth ring, he answered. “Hey, Rach. I just pulled up.” He popped his trunk and closed the driver’s-side door.
“Great, but I forgot to buy the animals’ food before we left. I called Amabelle about five minutes ago and told her to swing by the house to drop it off when she leaves work.”
He pulled his suitcase out of the trunk and slammed it closed. “Do you think you can call her back? I haven’t eaten and was about to grab a bite. I can stop by the pet shop afterward. No big deal.”
“You don’t mind?”
“It will be good to stretch my legs after the long drive.” Climbing the front porch steps, he spotted the terracotta pot with fake flowers potted inside. Marigold’s never looked so good in the middle of winter. “Key still under your pseudo-flower garden?”
She sighed. “You leave me alone. It’s not my fault I don’t have a green thumb. And yes, you’ll find the key under the pot.”
Patrick chuckled. Her thumb might be brown, but she certainly grew boys, five rowdy ones all under the age of ten. How she homeschooled was beyond him. “Only kidding. Hey, I’m sorry I missed seeing you and Tim before you left. I had an emergency and couldn’t get away any sooner.”
“Everything all right?”
“Yeah, had a baby with Respiratory Syncytial Virus, you know, RSV. He’s pretty healthy. I’m sure he’ll be fine. I told one of the other doctors who’s covering my patients about him. He’ll be well taken care of.”
“I don’t envy you. I have a hard enough time worrying about my own boys. Taking care of other people’s children is a burden I couldn’t bear.” A ruckus erupted in the background. Her children must have found her. “I’ll send you Amabelle’s contact info so you can call her.”
“Sounds good.” He unlocked the front door, pushed it open, and stuck his suitcase inside the foyer. “Visiting the zoo while you’re on vacation?” He pulled the door closed and strode back to the car.
“We’re about to leave now. How’d you ever guess?” She chuckled. “Okay, boys, say good-bye to Uncle Patrick.”
High-pitched screams called to him and his heart warmed. “Love you, Caleb, Jessy, and Gabe. You be good for your mama.”
Caleb, the oldest, responded. “Yes, sir! Jack and Ryan are with dad. I’ll tell them you said hello.”
Reaching the driver’s side, he paused. “You do that.”
Rachel instructed them to grab their shoes. She let out a long breath. “So, call Amabelle, get the food, and don’t forget to feed the animals. If anything were to happen to them…”
“It sounds like you already have a zoo.”
“Haha. Very funny. Love ya, brother. If you need anything, let me know.”
“You got it. Talk to you soon.” He ended the call and slid back into the driver’s seat. By the time he backed his car out onto the street, Amabelle’s contact info came through. He dialed.
“Hello,” she answered quickly.
How he loved the sound of her voice. He’d missed it. “Amabelle, this is Patrick.”
“I was just thinking about you. I’m about to close shop. I’ll be over to the house in a few. Your sister forgot the animals’ food.”
“That’s why I’m calling. I’m heading to Tony’s Place for a bite to eat, and since it’s only a block from there, I can stop by afterward.”
“How about I meet you there? I’ve got an appointment, and it’s on my way.”
“Great. I’ll see you then.”
Patrick ended the call and made his way to the best Italian restaurant he knew. Stepping into Tony’s Place, he inhaled the aroma of fresh bread. A blast of cool air followed him inside. He thought it might snow as he drove, but the white stuff hadn’t materialized.
Tony greeted him with a wide smile. “Hey, Patrick! It’s been a long time. How are you?”
“Doing well. Babysitting the nephews’ pets while Rachel and the family are on vacation.”
“Oh, yes. The kids were excited to leave for the beach. I thought they were kidding, beach this time of the year, but hey, boys will be boys.” Tony threw pizza dough through the air, catching it in his palms, then slung it again. “Find yourself a seat. One of the girls will be with you.”
Patrick nodded his thanks, took off his jacket, and slid into the first booth he saw, next to the window. He loved this place, the brick walls, and the antique Coca-Cola Tiffany-style lampshades that lit every booth. He glanced at Tony flinging dough from his knuckles into the air, and his muscles relaxed. It was good to be home.
A young waitress with her hair tinted pale pink came to him. “Can I take your order, sir?” She pulled a small note pad from her apron.
He looked up from the menu and tapped his finger on the supreme pizza. “I’ll take a large supreme and a tea.”
She scribbled on her pad. “Anything else, sir?”
Sir. How old did he look? “Thanks. I’m good.”
She flashed him a quick smile then turned to the next table.
Patrick gazed out the two-story window as a couple strolled by hand in hand. He frowned. Unable to turn away, he watched them briefly, allowing memories of Hope to fill his thoughts. How easy it was for his mind to recall, and he hated himself for it. But what else did he have now? Another reminder that at age thirty-two he was alone and his dreams of a family hadn’t been realized? He’d move on, if only he knew how.
The waitress brought his pizza and slid it in front of him and set plates alongside the tray. “Here you go, sir. It’s hot, so be careful. Can I get you anything else?”
He glanced at the table, noticing his missing drink. “The tea would be great.”
“Oh, yes! I’ll be right back.”
He caught sight of Amabelle near the entrance, speaking with Tony. Instantly, he grinned, taken aback by how long it had been since he’d seen her. Missed her. Three years his junior, she shadowed him everywhere when they were younger. Almost.
Amabelle tucked her brown hair behind her ear, and he couldn’t help but notice the elegant lines of her profile, the smile on her lips. There was no denying her beauty. The Latin meaning of her name meant beautiful, the French, loveable, and she was definitely both. If only time could have stood still years earlier.
She caught his gaze and smiled at him from across the room. His heart jolted. Why after all this time did she still have a way of affecting him?
Amabelle strolled toward him. “Hey, stranger. Glad to be home?”
“So far so good.” He stood and gave her a hug. “Please, sit with me.”
“Sure. Only for a few minutes.” She scooted into the booth across from him. “I had a feeling this would be your first stop.”
“Our favorite place.” He grabbed a plate and added a slice of pizza, placing it in front of her.
“It is, but I didn’t come to eat your pizza.” She pushed it toward him. “Thank you, though.”
“You think I ordered a large for me?” He grabbed a slice for him and took a bite.
The corner of her mouth tilted into a smile. “Okay. I have about ten minutes.” She slid the plate back and lifted the slice, taking her own bite.
“Still the best.”
“So, how’s the pediatric practice going? Your sister said you’re partner now. That’s got to be exciting.”
He took another bite, trying to think of how to respond. He loved his job and patients, but the constant memories of Hope in the office were killing him. “It’s good.”
“Your sister is very proud of you. And I knew you were going to make your dreams come true, the way you spoke, the excitement in your eyes.”
He glanced out the window. Some dreams he couldn’t make come true no matter how hard he tried. “I can’t believe it’s been three years since I’ve been back. I shouldn’t have waited so long.”
“You were preoccupied. Love can do that.” Her brows dipped slightly, and she set her pizza down. “Your sister told me what happened. I’m sorry, Patrick.”
He wiped his mouth with his napkin and forced a smile. “It’s for the best.” Perhaps one day I’ll believe it.
“I understand that better than anyone.” She withdrew her cell. “Well, I’ve gotta go.” She scooted out of the booth and shoved her phone in the back pocket of her fitted jeans. “If you wouldn’t mind unlocking your car, I’ll load everything for you.”
“Nonsense. I’ll help.”
She shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
Patrick followed Amabelle, telling Tony he’d be right back and not to clear the table. At her car, she lifted a large bag of dry dog food from the trunk.
He grabbed it from her. “Who is this for?”
She frowned. “The Lab, of course.”
“What Lab?” He clicked the trunk button on his key fob. “They have a dog now?”
“Didn’t you see him when you were in the house?”
“No. I stepped one foot into the house, stuck my suitcase in the foyer, then shut the door and left.”
How he’d missed that sound. “What’s so funny?”
“I’ll grab the two other bags. Where’s your car?”
He nodded. “Two cars over. Black. Trunk is lifted.”
“I see it.”
They strolled over and placed the dog food and two shopping bags of who-knows-what inside before he closed the trunk.
“It was great seeing you again, Patrick.”
Indeed, it was. “Same here.”
Time seemed to stand still before she gave him a sweet smile, then turned and walked to her car. She didn’t wave or glance at him as she drove away. For some reason, he had wanted her to.
Returning to the table, he asked the waitress for a to-go box to carry his pizza back to the house, but while he waited, he couldn’t help feeling like he had missed something while they were talking. What had she meant by “she understood better than anyone else”?
Once back at his sister’s, he unlocked the door and immediately a dog barked from the other side. Why hadn’t he seen it before? Where had the dog been?
He pushed open the door and large paws crashed across his chest, pushing him back two steps. He tightened his grip on the pizza box. The dog was now sniffing the edges of the cardboard container with zeal. Was that a blue feather on the corner of his mouth?
“Down, boy!” He shoved the dog away, his gaze catching on the clothes scattered all over the floor.
He followed the trail of clothes into the living room, stopping at his ripped suitcase and his slobbered-up boxers slung onto the lamp. He gripped the pizza box tighter.
“Rach, what have you gotten me into?”