By Andrew Grey
Clay Kartwell loses his job and gets a call from his estranged father asking for his help back on the family farm, all on the same day. Clay knows he has to return home, even though it’s the last thing he wants to do. Some things back home are best left unremembered.
Dell Warrington was Clay’s unrequited high school crush and the man he least wants to see. He’s everything Clay remembered and more, including the father of four-year-old Archie. But Dell hasn’t had it easy either, and not everything is as it seems.
Clay sets out to save the farm and bring in the crops with Dell’s help. Old assumptions fall to the side as the two men reconnect, and the second chance that Clay never knew he wanted seems within his grasp. But Clay left the farm for a reason, and reconciliation with his stoic father won’t be easy. When his city life offers a new opportunity, he must decide whether to accept what he knows, or follow his heart.
I went inside, berating myself for the way my heart beat a little faster just because he’d looked back at me. I told myself I wasn’t going to fall back into the old habits that had left my heart ripped in two and me unable to look myself in the mirror. If I were honest, I probably would have stayed here regardless of how things had been with my dad if Dell had felt the way about me that I did for him. But there was no use going over all that mess for the millionth time.
I approached the pharmacy counter, explained what I needed, and stepped back while he got Dad’s prescriptions. They added the cost to Dad’s account, and I headed for my car, anxious to return to the farm and figure out exactly what kind of mess I was walking into.
“Clay,” Dell called, and I looked around as he and Archie approached.
“We’re gonna get ice cream. Daddy promised,” Archie said with a wild-eyed grin as though he were checking that Dell remembered.READ MORE
“Would you like to join us?” Dell asked.
I turned to where Rex had his nose out the window. The offer was danged tempting. “I really need to get back to—”
“A puppy!” Archie yelled, jumping up and down. “Is he nice?”
“Yes, he is.” I grinned as Rex began whining to get out.
“We’re going to the Whippy Dip down by the park. If you want to come, you can bring him along. Archie will love it.” Dell’s smile was infectious, and Rex was going nuts. I found myself nodding and agreeing to meet them there.
I got into the car, drove to the edge of town, and pulled into the parking lot of the ice cream stand. Archie was already hurrying over before I had the door open. Rex jumped down as soon as I got out, his tail wagging, and scooted over to Archie, then sat still so he could be lavished with attention.
“Daddy, can we get a doggie like this?” Archie asked as he petted Rex.
Dell chuckled. “We’ll see,” he answered before turning to me. “He’s been asking that same question about every dog he’s seen since he was able to talk.”
“How old is he?” I asked. Archie was adorable, and from the black hair and intense eyes, he was definitely Dell’s son. No doubt about that.
“Four and a half,” Dell answered. “He’s totally amazing.”
Instantly a lot of things fell into place for me. By the time I left, Dell had already gotten Archie’s mother pregnant. Which meant that whatever I thought there might have been between the two of us had all been in my head. The furtive looks and the way he seemed to seek me out sometimes…. I’d wrapped it all up into my own wants and wishes until my mind had conjured up this whole special relationship, and now I was staring at the definitive proof that it had all been in my mind.COLLAPSE