Still reeling from the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter, Matt Tyler trudges through life, caring for his young son, managing his cantankerous father, and working as much as he can. Despite his best efforts, bills are piling up and his vindictive in-laws seem determined to take Luke away from him.
Things change when he stumbles upon Sammie Morgan—with a car that won’t run and her mother’s ashes in the backseat. Best friends growing up, Matt and Sammie have spent years apart following very different paths. Now they’ve both run out of options. Without a dime in her pocket, Sammie has nowhere to go. And Matt lacks the stable home life he needs to fight his former in-laws.
Their hasty solution? A marriage of convenience.
But how convenient will this reintroduction be if it means Matt and Sammie have to relive the most painful parts of their past?
“Would you like Sammie to stay here?” Matt asked his son.
Luke continued to pet the cat, whose tail was now flicking. “Sure. She makes good pancakes. Is she your girlfriend?”
“I, uh, guess you’d call her that.” Matt stayed his hand, and the cat jumped off the step with an agitated tail swish. Rufus picked up his head but soon returned to his nap.
“I have two girlfriends: Angela and Kenzie.” Luke turned his attention to his trucks.
“Two, huh? That could cause you a heap of hurt, son.”
“Nah, Pa told me it was good not to get tied down to just one girl. He calls it playing the field. Girls are all the same anyways.”
Great, Pa’s offering dating advice to my four-year-old. “No, they’re not. They’re like flowers—kinda the same but different. And you need to handle ’em gently.”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t want to hurt their feelings.”
“What kind of flower was Mommy?”
Memories of Karen flashed like a newsreel—laughing at the dinner table, crying when Elizabeth started school, playing in her parents’ pool with the kids, and holed up in a dark room not talking.
“Mommy was an orchid. She was beautiful but had to be handled with care.”
“I’d say she was a daisy, bright and cheerful.”
“What about Sammie?”
“Sammie’s a sunflower. She strong and a survivor. The point is, they’re all flowers, all beautiful in their own way, and you have to take care of them differently. So be careful with Angela and Kenzie. Okay? You don’t want to hurt their feelings. And really? Being friends is a lot easier than dealing with girlfriends. Trust me on that one.”
“Anyway, Sammie’s gonna stay here and help me take care of you.”
Guilt engulfed him. Oh shit. What’s gonna happen to Luke if Sam leaves? What if this doesn’t work out?
“Uh, kind of, yes. You know your mother loved you more than anything in this world, right?”
Luke gazed up at him and smiled. “She loved me lots and lots. Lizbeth did, too. Even when I went in her room.”
Matt blinked back tears. In the midst of the epic fights that used to spring up between his children, he never once thought, I’ll miss this pandemonium. But he did. Every damn day. The house was too quiet without his daughter.
As if sensing his mood, Luke stopped playing and crawled into his lap, hugging him. “Don’t be sad, Daddy. Sammie will take care of you, too.”
“Okay.” He smiled against his son’s hair and held him for a few minutes longer.
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About the Author
During the day, Nancee works as a nurse/counselor in the field of addiction. This supports her coffee and reading habit. Nights are spent writing paranormal and contemporary romances with a serrated edge. Readers say her stories are character driven and full of angst with humor. She is represented by Stephanie Phillips of SBR Media.