A feisty single mom on her own. A firefighter with a rocky past. Can they lower their guard long enough to let love in?
Luck has never smiled on Dante Ventura. He’s never had a home or much of a family. But when he learns he has a daughter he never knew existed, he’s determined to change his life. To become the kind of man she can look up to. Becoming a firefighter was the first step. Now he needs a decent place to live—someplace he’s not ashamed to bring his little girl.
Brianna Pulaski is struggling to raise her troubled son Tommy. Renting out a room in her home to the newly-minted firefighter would help her financially as well as provide her boy with the role model he desperately needs. What she doesn’t know is that soon after offering Dante a room, she’ll be offering her heart as well. Can her love turn Dante’s luck around for good?
When lunch was finished, Tommy was raring to get back to his rod and reel, but Dante told him to wait. “Your mom fixed us this nice meal. Let’s show her how much we appreciate it by helping her clean up.”
“I don’t mind,” she told him. “You guys go on ahead.”
“No.” His voice was firm. He gave her son a look. “Tom?”
“Yeah.” Surprisingly, Tommy didn’t whine or pout. He pitched right in packing up leftover sandwiches and cookies. The chips were long gone.
“You mind if I stay and hang out with you guys for a while?” she said, reluctant to return to a quiet, empty house. She wanted this lovely afternoon to last. She’d much rather be here, with Dante and her son, just the three of them. Almost like a—
Her brain stuttered. Almost like a family? Was that where her thoughts had been heading?
No, no, no. Big mistake.
They weren’t a family. She was a single mom bringing up her son as best she could. Dante was a nice guy doing a good turn for a troubled boy. That didn’t mean he had any feelings for her. She mustn’t let herself lapse into daydreams of how things might be different. How nice it would be to have a man in her life.
Not just any man. This man.
Cut it out. Between raising Tommy and dealing with Marty, you’ve got all you can handle. There’s no room for romance. No matter how lonely you are.
There it was. You’d think with all the balls she had to juggle, she wouldn’t even have time to be lonely. But loneliness managed to creep through all the little cracks in her life. Those tiny moments she was on her own. While she drank her morning coffee after putting Tommy on the school bus. When she ate lunch at her desk at the office. When sitting alone at Applewood Coffee, watching all the couples sit holding hands, letting their drinks grow cold as they gazed into each other’s eyes.
So what, Brianna? You’re lonely. Like Tommy would say, big whoop. That doesn’t mean you get to include Dante in your little romance fantasies. Just because he’s nice to your kid doesn’t mean he’s interested in you.
That realization should have depressed her, but instead bolstered her resolve to stay and enjoy the remainder of this day. Her son was having a great time with a very kind man who had no designs on her whatsoever.
Which is exactly how it should be, she told herself firmly.
She stood beside her little fisherman on the pier, making no sound so as not to scare the fishes. From time to time she looked out on the rippling water as an occasional duck floated farther out on the lake. Dante advised Tommy on how to bait his hook and cast his rod while Tommy listened, squinting in concentration and following instructions as best he could.
Pride filled Brianna’s chest at how seriously her son took his lessons. A tender sense of gratitude followed for how patiently Dante taught him.
Gratitude, that’s all, she reminded herself. Nothing more.