Part of the NOTED Special Collection by eXtasy Books and Devine Destinies.
Cover art by MARTINE JARDIN.
Awarded the EDITOR'S CHOICE Seal for excellence and enjoyable reading by eXtasy Books on September 27, 2019.
"This story blew me away from the get-go. Released as part of the new Noted category, the plot encapsulates all the drama that one note can create. Well written, interesting characters and snappy dialogue. What more can you ask for?" ~ Editor
Tagline: Sometimes you have to go back to move forward.
What would you do if you found out your late spouse wasn’t the biological parent of your stepchild as they had led you to believe? Would you let it go, in hopes the child wouldn’t go looking for their birth family, or would you help them in their search?
This is the dilemma Neil Falcon faces when he first discovers his late wife, Rita, wasn’t the biological mother of his teenage stepdaughter, Rikki.
His decision to look for her roots puts them on a path that leads them to a part of Neil’s past, one he thought was locked away forever.
Kelsey Wagner is shocked to see the man she once adored appear on her doorstep with claims that Rikki may be her biological child. After finding out her daughter wants her to be a part of her life, she agrees,.
With Neil’s help, Kelsey settles into the role of helping him raise their daughter.
Amidst the confusion of raising a teenage daughter, the old feelings resurface.
They know their daughter wants them to become a family, but can they make it work?
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Rikki squealed in excitement as she held up the box set of DVDs on Christmas Morning. “How’d you know I love the show?” It was every single season of the revival part of a science fiction series, plus all the specials.
Neil and Kelsey exchanged a grin.
“Thank your dad, it was his idea,” she said.
“Actually, your mom wanted to know what to get you and—Oomph,” Neil groaned.
Rikki jumped on his lap and hugged him tightly.
“You two are the best parents ever,” she exclaimed and grabbed her mother.
Kelsey’s head connected hard with Neil’s.
They yelped in unison.
Rikki leapt up and yelled as she ran out of the room, “I’m going to call Taffy and let her know.”
Kelsey rubbed the side of her head and cringed. “Did you get a goose egg from that too?”
“That girl doesn’t know her own strength.” He cricked his neck and grinned. “I should have known she was going to go nuts when she saw that. She’s been a fan since the series premiere.”
“Next time, we’ll wear helmets,” Kelsey promised and leaned her arm into his. “Something tells me we’re going to be watching a lot of DVDs over the rest of the holiday break.”
“I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of it, and not any of the newer ones. I don’t have a clue who she’s talking about, and she’s been grumbling at me.”
His arm went around her shoulders. “Look at it like this, watching all of the episodes will get you in the loop.”
Damn, she looks so cute when she’s confused.
He quickly cut off that train of thought and gestured to the hoodie on the floor beside them. “You remembered my favourite team.”
She grinned. The New York baseball team sweater was a joint gift from her, Rikki and the pets. “It’s not every day you meet a Canadian who loves an American team. Most people I know are Toronto fans,” she replied.
“I don’t remember telling you.”
“You wore their shirts a lot, so it was easy to remember.”
Kelsey and her photographic memory.
He laughed and pulled something out from behind a pillow. “Merry Christmas, Kelsey.”
She eyed the small, gaily wrapped box warily. “What’s this?”
“Not much, it’s something I thought you’d like.”
I hope she loves it, and Rikki better have given me the correct size.
It’ll be a bitch to get it fixed or replaced if she hates it.
She gave him a puzzled glance and slowly started to peel off the wrapping. When she pulled off the cover, she gasped with wide eyes, and put a hand over her mouth.
Shit, she hates it.
“Don’t you like it?”
She caressed the small silver and onyx ring with a sniffle. “I love it.”
“I can’t accept it.”
“It’s not appropriate.”
His eyes rolled. “How so?”
She let out a long breath. “Friends don’t give friends rings.”
“That’s bullshit, Kelsey, and you know it. You’re more than a friend to me.”
She peered up at him. “Says who?”
His cheeks warmed under the scrutiny. “We’re Rikki’s parents and members of the same family. An unconventional one, but we’re still a family.”
Kelsey stared at him for a moment and started to nod slowly. “I don’t think it’s right for you to give me a ring.”
Neil sighed. “It was Rikki’s idea to get it for you, so technically it’s from both of us.” When she opened her mouth to protest again, he added, “Mothers are allowed to get rings from their children.”
She nodded again.
Is she crying? Not yet.
He tightened his arm around her. “She’s going to be disappointed if you don’t wear it.”
Kelsey shot him a filthy look and with a shake of her head, took the ring out of the box. “I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
He grinned triumphantly.
“Put it on before she comes back.”
She slid it on her right ring finger and admired it. “How did you know what size—oh, never mind. Rikki told you.”
He laughed. “She picked it out and insisted on getting it in silver. She knows you like it better than gold.”
“She’s too smart for our good,” Kelsey grumbled jokingly. She reached up to touch his cheek and rested her head on his shoulder. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” he whispered.
His gaze locked with hers and he felt something nudge him, hard. Without thinking, he nuzzled his forehead against hers, and his eyes slid shut as he leaned toward her.
“Punky, get back here, you brat!”
Neil and Kelsey jumped and straightened as the corgi blew past them and into the kitchen with a ribbon in his mouth. Rikki skittered around the corner in her sock feet and almost slid out of the room as she tried to catch her dog.
With an uncomfortable glance and chuckle, Kelsey and Neil shifted away from each other.
She stood up when an annoyed meow echoed from the next room. “Maybe I’d better help.”
“Yeah,” he replied and with a sigh, got up. “Hopefully that damn chowder head will let us catch him this time.”
That was too fucking close.
Next time, kiss her fast, don’t hold back.
Or don’t kiss her at all.
He let out a long sigh as he got up and followed Kelsey into the next room.