I am posting a Short Snippet Saturday post on the actual day this time. Hehe. This excerpt, not snippet, comes from Whispers of Forever: Mending Christmas. This is book one. Finding Kimber is book two. I thought it was fitting to post from a holiday themed book since it’s getting closer to Christmas each day.
This is one of my favorite books. Oh, darn, who am I fooling? I say the same thing about all of them. Really, though, this one is about first love and second chances. It’s close to my heart.
Before this scene happens, Beth, Jake’s first love in high school, recently moved back to town. Is it the perfect time, or has too many years apart put an end to what should’ve been years ago?
Canyon Junction: Hearts in Love Series: #1
The excerpt speaks for itself:
“Santa will be coming before you know it, and you’ll be here with your dad over break,” said Paige.
What the hell? Why had she said that? Christmas was a freaking two months away. Jake shot her a condescending glare.
“Will you be here for Christmas, Mom?”
Paige glanced at Jake, and then answered, “Not me, but you have your father, your horses, and of course, Kasha. That’s enough to keep you busy. I’ll send a big Christmas present for you, though, so you’ll have one from me, too.” At the mention of her name, Kasha got up and moseyed over, shoving her nose beneath Paige’s hand resting on her lap, forcing a pat. “That’a girl. You’re a good dog.”
Trace stared off at the pepper grinder in the center of the table, a frown on his forehead—a probable awakening—guessing she’d be gone for a long time.
Yeah, Christmas present all right. A baby half-brother or sister. Now he wanted to punch something or gag. The longer she sat there in the kitchen they used to share as a couple, the more pissed off he became. In fact, he had to leave. He slid his chair out. “I forgot to take care of a chore in the barn. I need to double check on an order, too. You two finish dinner. There’s some cherry-chocolate ice cream in the fridge for dessert.” Jake mussed T.J.’s hair and winked at his kid. “Finish dinner. I’ll be in soon.” He left out the door in a calm manner.
Dammit. Why’d he offer her to come to dinner? With a palliative breath, he knew why. He checked his phone. No messages. Since he hadn’t had anything to check in the barns, he turned on the conveyor and sent hay bales to the loft, then went up there to stack them. Jake believed the chance for her to come back for Trace was slim, and in fact, he expected her to cut ties with her old life. Maybe it was his gut telling him that.
An hour and a half later, he entered the back door. Paige and Trace were in the living room, and someone plugged in the lighted pumpkin. Without a Halloween display like the one Paige had at her place, this one looked bare over on the square table near the bay window.
“What’s going on?” he asked as he entered the living room with a beer. “Nice pumpkin.”
“I like it, Dad. I plugged it in. We’re looking at pictures. Come see them!” He held up a picture and shoved it into Jake’s hand. “This is Austin’s plane.”
Yeah, great. “Hmm, not that small.” He turned it over and read “Piper PA32 Small Aircraft.” Screw it. He handed it back to Trace. “Nice.” In reality, he was about to vomit. The guy had a freaking Piper PA32. That wasn’t cheap.
Paige stood. “Well, it’s time I go. Our flight is scheduled to leave in a couple hours. Trace, come give Mom a hug, honey. I’m going to miss you.” She bent to hug him. Over Trace’s shoulder, she lifted her eyes to Jake.
A lump stuck in his throat. This was it. He turned her over to another man like a father at a wedding. She was leaving them. The tear-filled look in her eyes was one he’d never forget.
Trace cried when they parted. “Mommy…”
“Shh,” she said, placing her finger over his lips. “I know you’re sad. I’ll call you later, big guy.” She hugged him again. “Don’t ever forget I love you, sweetheart.” Again she peered up at Jake who glanced away.
His heart beat fast and strong. It took all the strength he had to stand there straight-faced, feigning calm as if he didn’t care. He cared. Even if he had wanted to hate her, he couldn’t, but it slowly brewed in his body and mind, especially after seeing the pain in his boy’s eyes—pain she had caused. He wanted to tell her she didn’t have to do this, but it would be worthless. She loved the other guy enough to have his baby—to give everything up for him. Yep, hate began to boil now. “Take care of yourself, Paige. I’ll take good care of our boy.”
“I know you will, sweetie,” she said softly with a tenderness in her eyes he hadn’t seen in ages. Paige released Trace and hugged Jake, whispering, “A part of me will always…well, you know.”
“But not enough…” Jake took a deep breath and left her embrace. “Come here, bud.” He lifted his son who was more than half of Jake’s height, and carried him outside to see her off. Trace didn’t object, now crying on his shoulder as Paige drove away.
“What, son?” he gulped out as the taillights faded.
“Will Mom come back?”
Trace’s heart beat as hard and fast as his did. He hugged him tighter, a desert-sand dryness blocking a normal swallow. “She said she would.” Jake gulped again. “Let’s take a walk through the barn.” He started to put T.J. down, but he tightened his hold around his dad’s neck.
“No.” He cried and Jake stood right there holding him, and he cried internally.
Thanks for reading.
Image credits: Pixabay. Little boy: © Michael Klenetsky | Dreamstime.com. Graphics created by me.