A Girl's Guide to Moving On (New Beginnings #2)(5) by Debbie Macomber

“Did you have fun at the park?” I asked.

“Grandma took me on the slide.”

“Was it scary?”

He nodded and then, typically, the first question he wanted to ask was about dinner. “Can we have hot dogs for dinner?”

“Sure.” Wieners were his all-time favorite meal, along with macaroni and cheese. Good thing, because with what I’d been forced to pay for the tow, we were going to need to cut back on groceries.

“Did you have a good day?” Leanne asked.

I nodded. “It was great.” And it had been until the call from Jake.

I didn’t tell her about our discussion. I would later. Her divorce had been finalized eighteen months ago. Sean had made it as easy as possible, giving her whatever she wanted. He seemed almost glad to be out of the marriage. I was envious Leanne hadn’t been dragged into this emotional minefield Jake seemed intent on putting me through.

That was until I found Leanne crying nearly hysterically one afternoon, shortly after she’d signed the papers. It hadn’t been kindness or guilt that had prompted Sean’s actions, she’d told me. Sean said he was simply glad to have her out of his life. According to him, she’d gone to seed and he’d lost all desire for her years ago.

If I hadn’t disliked my father-in-law before, then I detested him now. How a man could be so thoughtless and cruel to a woman who had shared his life all those years was beyond me. Leanne was a beautiful woman. Yes, she was a few pounds overweight, but it didn’t distract from her overall appearance or beauty. She was kind and thoughtful, loving and generous. I admired her more than any other woman I’d ever known.

Owen collected his things and we walked across the hall to our two-bedroom apartment. It was about a third of the size of our home near Lake Oswego. I missed my garden and the flower beds. Gardening had become a passion of mine. When Owen and I could manage it, I’d buy a house and plant another garden.

Happy to be in his own home, Owen raced around the living room, his chubby legs pumping as he ran circles around me. I hoped it would tire him out enough that he’d go down for the night without a problem. I read to him each night, and the stack of books grew as he wanted to listen to all his favorite stories. I knew Jake didn’t read to him, because Owen complained that he didn’t.

We ate wieners for dinner along with green beans that Owen lined up on the tabletop in an arch above his plate. I managed to bribe him to eat two of the green beans. Getting him to eat his vegetables was an ongoing battle.

After I read him his ten favorite books, he settled down for the night. It’d been quiet all evening, which was unusual. I hadn’t gotten a single call, which made me wonder if I’d let my battery run down. I probably needed to charge my phone. But when I dug through my purse I couldn’t find it.

Immediately a sense of panic filled me. I needed my phone. Thinking I must have somehow missed it, I emptied the entire contents of my large purse and sorted through each and every item.

No phone.

I stood with my hand over my heart when the doorbell chimed. From the peephole I saw it was Rocco, the tow truck driver, standing on the other side. He must have known I was checking because he held up my phone as if to explain the reason for his visit.

Unlatching the door, I heaved a sigh. “Where did you find it?” I asked, with a deep sense of relief.

“After you drove off I saw it lying there on the blacktop and realized it must be yours. I got your address off the check you wrote.”

“Of course. Come in.”

He stepped into the apartment and his bulk seemed to fill the entire room. His size was intimidating. I figured he had to be at least six-four. He’d cleaned up and changed out of his coveralls. Now he wore a T-shirt and faded blue jeans that emphasized his long legs.

“I just realized I didn’t have my phone and was going into panic mode. Thank you.” I clenched the cell to my chest.

“No problem.” He stuffed his hands into his pockets. His sleeves bulged with his muscles. I wanted to examine his tattoos but didn’t want to be obvious about it. It made me curious if he had more tattoos elsewhere on his body.

“Daddy?” Owen said, racing out of his bedroom. The doorbell must have woken him. Either that or he hadn’t been entirely asleep. He came to a screeching stop when he realized the large man standing just inside the apartment wasn’t Jake.

Owen’s eyes grew huge as he tilted his head back and gazed up with wide-eyed wonder at Rocco.

Rocco squatted down and held out his hand. “How about giving me a high five, little man?”

Owen hesitated for only a moment before swinging his arm into a big circle, slamming it down on Rocco’s open palm.

“That’s quite a hit for such a little guy.”

Owen smiled proudly.

I placed my hands on Owen’s shoulders, steering him back toward his bedroom. “Okay, young man, back to bed.”

“When will I see Daddy?” he asked, his big brown eyes pleading with me.

“He’ll come for you next weekend, buddy,” I assured my son. I glanced toward Rocco. “I need to put him back to bed.”

He surprised me by asking, “Do you mind if I wait?”

Although I was taken aback, I gestured to the sofa. “Make yourself at home. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.”

Maybe Rocco was looking for a reward for returning my phone. My mind raced with what I could possibly give him. Maybe I didn’t want to know. It probably hadn’t been the smartest idea inviting him into the apartment. I was a woman alone, and I needed to be more aware of dangers. Funny, really. As big as he was, I didn’t feel the least bit threatened. I’d learned to listen to my instincts and they said I was safe.

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