The Good Neighbor

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Frankie and Sean’s story is about fathers and daughters, and the struggle of keeping families together. But it wouldn’t be Fortune Bay if they didn’t find romance along the way.

Frankie’s troubled relationship with her father is preventing her from finding meaningful relationships with men in her life. Sean’s troubles began years ago when as a teen he gave up a daughter for adoption.

The stories of women who give up babies are painful and poignant, but often known. At least among women. The fathers have seldom been allowed a voice and even today, many carry the loss with them silently for years. In this book, I wanted to give them a voice.

Readers have told me they’d like to know more about Stephanie, the matriarch of these stories so, in The Good Neighbor, Stephanie gets her own story line, and a bit of romance, too.

An excerpt from The Good Neighbor.

Frankie’s eyes widened and her breath hitched when Louise spun her chair around to face the mirror.

“Oh my,” she whispered. The transformation was miraculous.

Iridescent blusher on her cheeks caught the light as a shy smile flickered across her face. Her hand tentatively brushed the fall of shiny brown hair that covered her shoulders. Louise was indeed a magician. She had picked up the golden, sun-streaked tendrils from around Frankie’s face and looped them back, catching each strand with a tiny pearl pin, creating an effect that was delicate, yet not uncomfortably overdone.

Frankie dipped her head slightly, turning from side to side to examine the makeup her friends had applied. It was more, much more, than she ever wore. In summer, with her skin dusky from the sun, she usually wore none at all. The pearl pink on her cheeks and eyelids added a sparkle that made her feel as if she’d been sprinkled with fairy dust and was ready for the ball.

The doorbell rang and Maddie, still in her underwear, ran for the bathroom, crying, “If it’s Jake—don’t let him in.”

Frankie headed to the front door. “It’s probably Stephanie and Sarah.” The heels were starting to feel pretty good. Like riding a bicycle, you don’t forget that kind of training.

She opened the door and Sarah shot through, no doubt sensing the feminine initiation ritual unfolding within. Frankie knew the allure only too well, having grown up alone with a single father herself. Sarah was lucky though. She’d have Maddie to help her negotiate the quagmire of her teenage years.

Frankie turned back to the doorway. It wasn’t Stephanie, it was Sean, standing on the stoop. His baby-blue eyes slid over her, thorough as an airport pat-down. A blush crept up her neck. She straightened her shoulders, determined not to show how much the attention unnerved her. Forcing a smile, she looked him up and down. “Very GQ, Sean.”

The man could wear anything and always managed to look like an ad in a classy men’s magazine. His compact form exuded confidence and standing there with his hands in his pants pockets, he looked casual and relaxed in his dove grey tux.

Not her type at all. Groomed for success, he looked like he belonged in a board room or at her father’s club. In fact, he was exactly the kind of guy her father loved. Exactly who he had always set her up with. Exactly what she’d been trying to escape when she moved to Fortune Bay.

But despite his cosmopolitan sheen, Sean had grown up here. Frankie had always wondered why he’d returned to live in this rainforest town. His easy blend of sophistication and small town charm left her running hot and cold. Usually hot. Darn it. Not that he ever noticed.

And to top it off, oh yay, good fortune had made him her date for the day. Mercifully, not her actual date, but as maid-of-honor and best man, they would undoubtedly be thrown together frequently throughout the celebration.

For the first time in their acquaintance, Sean didn’t seem to have anything to say. Frankie looked down at the flowery dress. No wonder. He was probably wondering how he’d gotten stuck with her. Not that there was much either of them could do about being paired up together for the wedding.

Nerves bounced against her stomach walls like caged butterflies at the thought of dancing the first dance with him tonight. Panic or excitement? She hadn’t a clue. She chewed on her lip. Pull yourself together.

The silence stretched between them, hot and sticky, until he finally said, “You look fabulous, Frankie.” His hand came up and brushed her hair back over her bare shoulder, lingering for an instant on the brink.

Sean was a toucher, and entirely too easy with a compliment. She knew this from watching him with other women ever since he’d returned from Europe two years ago when his father died. It took all her self-control to hold her ground and not step back.

Then his eyes swept down to the revealing bodice, and widened slightly. Her shoulders inched forward. Damn push-up bra. She ransacked her brain for something to say.

“Thanks for bringing Sarah over.” His eyes snapped up to hers. “How’s Jake doing?”

“Nervous. Battling his bow tie. But don’t worry, Mom is at the farm so he’ll be on time.” He looked at his watch. “I’d better go. Guests will be arriving already. See you there.” Swinging back down the stairs, he headed across the grass in his shiny black shoes, in the direction of the cabin and Maddie and Jake’s new house.

Frankie watched him disappear into the trees. She took a deep breath and blew it out. She had to keep it together today, but it would be hard, running into Mr. GQ every two minutes.

With a shake of her head she forced her focus back to her own responsibilities and went inside to round up her flock.

* * *

Sean whistled softly under his breath as he crossed the grass and headed into the trees. What was it about high heels that made a man want to run his hand right down a woman’s leg? He laughed as he skirted the cabin and picked up the path along the lake. He was pretty sure Frankie would slap his hand away before he got anywhere near her slim ankle. It occurred to him he’d never seen her legs before, usually hidden as they were in baggy pants.

She’d always had a pretty face, but normally her clothes hung on her like lumpy sacks. This curve-hugging dress with the tight waist revealed a lush, hourglass figure he hadn’t expected, and a nice view of cleavage peeking out at the neck. Frankie’s long hair, normally pulled back in a little-house-on-the-prairie braid, lay soft and loose and golden brown on her shoulders, making him want to run his fingers through it, if only just once.

And when she bit that seductively bronzed lip, he’d been speechless.

Normally Sean towered over her—an unusual and not unpleasant feeling since, at five ten, he didn’t tower over anyone in his family. This time, however, she was in heels and standing on a step above him so they were eye to eye. But still, her chocolate-brown eyes had looked him over with their usual distain, a reaction he didn’t quite understand.

Sean loved women, and felt he had a good read on most of them. Except Frankie. Her cool stare always reduced him to a fumbling six-year-old, and standing there on the step, he’d had to fight to maintain his casual hand-in-the-pocket stance.

She’d moved to Fortune Bay while he was in Europe and since he’d been back he had only run into her a few times before last year, when Jake started courting Maddie.

Sean didn’t know exactly what Frankie thought of him, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t good.

A grin quirked one corner of his mouth. He didn’t know what he’d done to deserve the chill, but he was up to the challenge. Surely he could make her change her mind.

 * * *

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