A Rosewood Novel By Susan Lute
All Benjamin Quincy wants is to make a stable home for his ten year old daughter in the town he grew up in and left in bitter disappointment. Young and hot headed, he made a mistake.
Eleven years later, he’s a divorced, single dad with a troubled child, and a lot to make up for.
Sydney Marshall has finally snagged the perfect job at a coveted travel magazine in New York.
Does she care that her ex has returned to the tiny town of Rosewood with a precious daughter who’s not hers?
Does it matter that every time he comes near, her heat flutters madly like in the old days? No! Her bags are packed; plane tickets are stashed in her carry on bag; the adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.
There’s only one problem. Life and Rosewood have a penchant for interfering in the best laid plans.
Ben wanted her to be happy, but he didn’t dare let his daughter see how easily she could scored points off her old man. Solely responsible for her now, he wasn’t about to give in because being a good dad was the hardest thing he’d ever tackled.
A gamin face snuck into his thoughts. Riotous blonde curls kissed with sunlight framed clear topaz eyes. It took him back almost a dozen years. Ben swore under his breath. It was inevitable that coming back to the scene of his own happy childhood would resurrect the memories he’d buried of his high school girlfriend.
Sydney Marshall should be long gone from Rosewood. It was all she’d ever talked about - until the day her dad was diagnosed with bone cancer. Forget her. You have more important fish to fry. Not the easiest advise to follow. Never had been.
“Daaad! You’re not listening.”
“Of course I am. Go check out the upstairs. You can’t tell me you don’t like the house until you’ve seen the whole thing.”
Isabel huffed out a breath on a high dramatic note, but did as she was told. Her shoulders slumped as she dragged her feet up the stairs. The toes of her shoes caught each riser, leaving behind a rhythmic hollow clunk.
Despite his efforts to push Sydney’s image out of his mind, along with the way she’d heartlessly cast him out of her life, he could still hear the tinkle of her laughter. Thinking Isabel hardly ever laughed, he buried the offending memory. Again.
Stay focused, Quincy.
He went through the rest of the first floor with an eye to what improvements needed to be done before they could move in. The craftsman style bungalow needed work, but at a glance it looked like he should be able to do most of it himself.
Isabel needed this. He needed this. He couldn’t fail his daughter again, the way he had when he’d mistakenly let Diana take her to New York, thinking a child should be with its mother. Listening to her footsteps moving from room to room above his head, he found the realtor, Robin Weston, a sultry brunette, with a teasing wink and wicked smile aimed directly at him, in the kitchen.
He considered her unspoken offer. Dating a local girl. Could work. Perhaps later, when his pride didn’t feel quite so bruised. Two blunders in the female department wasn’t the best track record for a single dad. “How long will it take to close on the house?”
“Not long at all. Mrs. Frank is quite happy with your offer,” Robin all but purred. “I hear you’re getting The Gazette, too. Meredith must be so relieved you’re buying it. It’s been a financial burden for her for a long time, and now, with her recent illness and Sydney Marshall moving to New York-”
His brows slammed together. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Frank is sick?”
“You haven’t heard? Well. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Meredith had a stroke three days ago.”
Three days ago he’d been on the road with Isabel. Before he’d left Chicago, he’d made arrangements to have lunch with Meredith - he glanced at his watch - in an hour to sign papers and finalize their agreement to partner for the first year while he got his feet underneath him.
Disturbed by the news and worried for the older woman he’d been dealing with by phone for the last three months, he gave Robin his cell number, then eased her out of the house. He’d grown fond of Meredith. Respected her long business experience. Her ill health was unexpected, but he would untangle the legal ramifications after he saw her. Unless The Gazette was in bankruptcy, he saw no reason to change his plans at this juncture.
Anxious to check on his soon-to-be business partner, he took the stairs two at a time, making it to the second floor before it percolated what else Robin had said.
Sydney Marshall was moving to New York. Sydney was still in Rosewood? The world stood still until he found his daughter in one of the rooms that opened off the landing.
Isabel. She was the one who mattered now. Shoulders slumped, she stood at a window overlooking the town. It’d started to rain; a soft, reassuring patter on the roof. In the diffused light, the ten year old watched cars moving lazily along the wet streets below.
Ben’s heart skipped. His girl spent way too much of her time watching and not doing. “I told the Real Estate lady we’d take the house.”
Isabel’s chin drooped to her chest. “Mom’s not going to let me live with her, is she?”
He could do this. He could be a good dad. Half the problem was his kid was too smart for her own good. He shoved a hand in his pocket and crossed his fingers. The musty smell of the empty house enveloped him. “No Baby, she’s not.”
She squeezed her eyes in an effort to hold back tears. His heart pinched st her bravery.
Voice wobbling, she exhaled softly. “You could talk to her. Make her-”
He dropped to his knees, drawing his darling girl into his arms. Her trembling frame was too fragile, so he told a bad lie mixed with most of the truth. “I would. If I thought it was best for you to be with your mom. But I think it’s better you stay with me.”
How could he make his child understand, while living in the shadow of her mother’s career, Isabel had become a ghost in Diana’s life? “Is it such a terrible thing, living with your old man?”
Isabel sniffled against his shoulder. “I guess not.”
About the Author
Like all children of military families, Susan spent her childhood moving from one duty station to the next. An ardent student of human nature, she acquired a love for ancient history and myth, a fascination for the ridiculous and unusual, and is the first to admit, she still collects way too much useless information.
These days, when not working as a Registered Nurse, she writes whenever she can. When not writing, her favorite things to do are spend time with family, read, watch movies, garden, take black-and-white photos, travel, and remodel her house.
Want to learn more about Susan? Here are some links... Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon Author Page