Authors: Jennifer Gracen
Seattle, WA 2014
COPYRIGHT 2014 JENNIFER GRACEN
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Cover Design by Greg Simanson
Edited by Susan Ethridge
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.
PRINT ISBN 978-1-62015-440-3
EPUB ISBN 978-1-62015-450-2
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014911532
This book is dedicated to all of my writing friends.
There are so many of you; I know I’m incredibly lucky, and I don’t take that for granted. You can’t know how much your
collective support, cheerleading, and shared knowledge have helped, guided,
and enhanced me, both as a writer and as a person. You all never
stopped encouraging me, never gave up on me—even when I was seriously close to throwing in the towel—and have taught me so much, I can’t begin to fathom it all.
You are a rare, precious breed, my fellow inkslingers. I think writers are the only ones who truly understand other writers. You are my people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Special buckets of gratitude for my two most trusted sounding boards, go-to people about all things writing: Jeannie Moon and KD McCrite. You both found me as a newbie and saw something in me;
your belief in me helped my belief in me grow and flourish. You
believed in my talent from the start, nurtured my dreams, cheered me on, and taught me countless invaluable things about writing (craft, skills, etc.) in general and the publishing industry as well.
And, most importantly, you both became my cherished friends, for which my life is richer. Thank you both, so much, for all you’ve done for me.
And, as always, every book I write is dedicated to my sons, Josh and Danny. You are the best works of art I’ve ever created. You make me laugh and beam with pride and joy every day. I love you
Every published book takes a village. Every author needs
support. I wouldn’t be able to do anything I do without the wonderful people in my supportive village, and I’m so lucky and grateful to have them all in my corner.
Thank you to the folks at Booktrope Publishing. I love being
involved in every step of the process to turn my manuscripts into an actual book; thank you for giving me that opportunity. It’s incredibly
satisfying. Thank you to Katherine Sears and Kenneth Shear, for
making that a reality for me. Thank you to Jesse James Freeman, the undisputed King of Badassary—H&O called again; they’re readying the golden yacht. Boundless thanks to my creative team: Jennifer Gilbert, my Book Manager, who keeps it all together with master precision, is a pleasure to work with, and is so incredibly
; Stevie McCoy, my proofreader, for once again loaning her eagle eyes; Greg Simanson, for giving me another beautiful cover to smile at from the inside out; and this time, along for the rest of the
Seasons Of Love
ride, huge thanks to my amazing editor, Susan Ethridge. You had too much on your plate but took this on anyway. I was so grateful you were willing to do that for me. You make my work stronger and better, we’re so in sync on the page, and I heart you, woman. #spd
Thank you to all of my family. But especially my mom, Linda; my dad, Rob; and my brother, Jamie. That you’ve been so happy about my authordom makes me glow. I know I drive you guys crazy sometimes, but I love you more than anything and know you love
me too. Thanks to my sons, Josh and Danny, who put up with a
messy house and are so adorably proud of my books. You’re the true lights in my life.
Thank you to ALL of my friends, near and far, local and online, who have been so unbelievably supportive, excited, and enthusiastic about my books being published. I can’t possibly summarize what it’s meant to me. xoxoxo
Thank you to the members of the Team Gracen Facebook group! You rock. I hope you like this one too.
Thank you to all my writing sisters in the LIRW (Long Island Romance Writers), who continue to guide me and help me learn and grow as a writer. Special hugs to Jeannie Moon, Patty Blount, and Lisa Jo Brennan, for brainstorming sessions that bring epiphanies, critiquing extraordinaire, and mutual cheerleading. I love how we support one another. #Fab4
Thank you to all my friends on Twitter, and in the Facebook
groups the Lounge, the Bordies, and the Dark Fairy Queen domain… You make me a better writer, as I learn with and from you. I strive to be as good as and as dedicated as the rest of you. I think we all bring up
each other’s game. You also make me laugh so much and feel
genuinely cared about every single day, and that’s a priceless gift.
Thank you, last in listing but not least in importance, to all the
new readers who enjoy my work. None of this would matter if I
didn’t have readers. You have my deepest gratitude and appreciation.
LYDIA POWELL COULDN’T
believe how quickly her mood could change. She had been so high, so elated, for the entire drive back from Connecticut; but as soon as she crossed the border into Matt’s town, she felt an instant, dramatic decline. The good feelings seeped
right out of her, and quickly, like the air being released from a
balloon. Some residual happiness from the magical weekend clung to heart with tiny claws, but the closer she got to her ex-husband’s apartment building, the darker she felt.
She hated how she could never find a parking spot in Long
Beach. To park anywhere near one of the many apartment complexes by the beach, she usually had to drive around, circling, searching for a good ten minutes or so before finding a space. Today wasn't any different;
if anything, it was worse because it was dinner time, so everyone
was home, and there were no open spots to be found. By the time Lydia found a space, three blocks away from Matt’s building, she was annoyed and disgruntled.
After exiting and locking her car, she raised her face to the early evening sun and took a few deep breaths to calm herself. Parked so close to the Atlantic, she could smell the salt of the ocean on the air.
Light gusts of wind lifted thick strands of her hair from her
shoulders and whipped them into her face. She took one last deep, cleansing breath, pushed her hair out of her eyes, and headed towards Matt’s apartment building.
She couldn't help but let her thoughts again drift back to Sam, the sweet, gorgeous man she'd met over her long weekend away. She’d travelled to Connecticut for her friend’s wedding, and really hit it off with the best man’s brother. Sam had knocked her flat with his easygoing nature, kindness, warmth, and delicious charm. And those warm brown eyes… and that lean, taut body… and that
. She'd never seen a smile that physically impacted her as his did. It made her feel silly, how much it affected her.
She wondered if she'd ever see him again.
He'd pursued her all weekend, then made a strong case
claimed he wanted to see her again, for them to give long distance dating a chance… but who knew if he was really sincere? Time would tell. In any case, it had been such a wonderful weekend, it barely seemed
real. Even as the prospect of dealing with her grouchy ex loomed,
thought of Sam kept a smile on her face and in her heart. It was
enough to buoy her up for now.
Lydia’s chin edged up defiantly as she entered the lobby of
building. She felt restored, renewed, and stronger as a result of the weekend away. Spending time with her three best girlfriends from
college, who'd been so supportive and fun… relaxing at the beautiful estate where the wedding had been held… and her unexpectedly delightful rendezvous with a new and appealing man. No one could take any of that away from her, not even her snide ex-husband.
She pushed the button for his apartment and waited for him to buzz the security door open. It took him a good twenty seconds, and she fleetingly wondered if he was genuinely busy, or if he was just making her wait to be obnoxious. She swatted the thought from her mind as she made her way across the lobby and into the elevator.
She checked her watch as she rode to the fourth floor; it was
almost five-thirty. Again she thought of Sam. If the flight was on time, he
and his extended family were probably taking off at that very
moment, headed back to Chicago… she made herself return to reality as she realized she had to figure out what to give her son for dinner.