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With his gift for storytelling and his degree in film making, his plan had always been to see the world. A semester from finishing his graduate degree, Ben was assigned to make a dying girl’s wish come true. If he could hold it together, he might just fulfill one of his own. The problem was he’d never been good with kids and even less comfortable with beautiful women.
Life hadn’t been easy for Charlie after being kicked out of her parent’s house and dumped by her boyfriend when she refused to have an abortion. Now, six years later, Charlie’s daughter had leukemia and all she wanted was the same thing she’d wanted since she took the pregnancy test so long ago: for her baby to live.
After two long years of treatment, and news it hadn’t helped, Olivia had one last wish: to leave a legacy for her mother. As she worked on the documentary with Ben, it seemed to be working and Olivia felt better than she had in a very long time. Then the father she’d never met showed up.
Three people. Three wishes. One chance to make all their dreams come true.
“Why would you do this?” My voice came out a whimper.
“Babe, I’m trying to help.” He sounded more than a little exasperated.
“How does it help me to know I have so many people pitying me?” I shook my head as tears dripped down my nose. “All I have is my self-respect and my pride. You’re killing it.”
“How’s that?” Ben backed away from me and threw his hands in the air.
“My father obviously now knows we’re struggling. He’ll run and tell my mother. She’ll get to be all smug about our situation.” I dabbed at my eyes with the handkerchief he’d given me when he arrived.
“Listen, if they are sitting around gloating about your ‘situation’ as you put it, then they are shit human beings. If they have the ability to help out and they aren’t, they are shit human beings. If they aren’t there for you in your time of need…”
I glared up at him. “Newsflash, Ben. They are shit human beings. Glad we’re all caught up.” I watched as he swallowed hard. Obviously, my words hit him hard.
“I don’t know why this surprises me so.” He closed the distance and reached out to hold my hand. “I guess it’s more that I don’t understand how someone could abandon you, hurt you and Ollie.” Ben pressed his cheek to my thigh.
“Good Lord! Are you pitying me too?” I reached out to push him away.
“No one pities you, Charlie. Do you not get that yet?” He stuffed his phone in his pocket. “These people donating want to help. I want to help. No one should have to go it alone. Understand?” He gazed up at me with these pleading eyes.
“Not really. I’m not used to this. It feels bad to me.” My head hung and I couldn’t face him.
“An outpouring of love can be overwhelming at first. Just accept it. Let them love you.” Ben took both of my hands in his. “Let me love you.”
Professor Morceau sighed. “Anyway, I thought the timing might be better now for you to meet her.”
I wished I didn’t have to talk to him in the car. I thought better when I could move around, give my ideas room grow. The car was stifling in every sense. “Why would now be better? Ollie’s sick. She’s convinced she’s dying.” My heart froze. “Did you think I’d be a better match for Charlie if Ollie was gone?”
“Well, who would want to raise another man’s child? Who would want her?” He spat.
Bile rose in my throat. This man completely sickened me. I can’t believe I ever admired him. “A good man. A good man would see what a treasure Ollie is. A good man would fall madly in love with the incredible woman Charlie has become. I’m that man. I always was.” I slammed my hand on the dashboard. “I could’ve been there for them the whole time. I would’ve.” I rubbed my forehead, feeling one hell of a headache threatening. “You stole years from us. You decided Charlie’s fate, threw her into the cold when she needed a safe haven. How could you?”
Breathing easier, I stepped off the elevator and rushed to Ollie’s room. I swear I just wanted to gather both of them in my arms and never let them go, maybe run off even. We could find a new hospital, new doctors, and I’d stay off the internet this time.
That thought was immediately crushed when I met Charlie’s scowling face at the door. “Outside,” she growled as she backed me out of the room.
“So, we gave blood. Damien says he’ll be back later, but you never really know with that guy, do you?” I shrugged. “Anyway, I’m here, and I thought I’d work with Ollie for a while before her lunch and nap. You know, the usual, from a guy you can count on.” I started to give her a kiss on the cheek, but she pushed me back. Undeterred, I started to open the door.
“We’re not finished yet,” Charlie snapped.
“We aren’t?” I feigned confusion and scratched at my head as if I couldn’t possibly imagine what we had left to say to one another on the subject.
“Listen, you need to pull it together. I can understand why you’d be upset…” She threw her hands in the air.
“Good. I’m glad you get it. I’m glad you understand.” I huffed for a moment, but the last thing I wanted was to push her further away. Rubbing the back of my neck, I bit my cheek for a moment as I struggled to calm down. “Please, can we get back to where we were, before he came, back when you liked me?” I gave her a pleading look.
Charlie softened some. “I’d like that, but I think there’s something you need to know first.” She limped closer and wrapped her arms around my waist. I could feel my fury beginning to dissipate. “Damien wants to spend time with us, wants to get to know Ollie.”
I stiffened and peeled her off me so I could look her in the eyes. “Do you think this is a good idea? She’s so fragile right now. I mean, the way you explained it, the guy abandoned you. I don’t want Ollie exposed to someone who could hurt her like that.” I meant it too. It was all about what was right for Ollie. It just so happened that having him gone for good was better for Charlie and me as well.
She took a step back and crossed her arms over her chest. “Then it’s a good thing this isn’t up to you. Who do you think you are anyway?” Charlie frowned.
“I thought I was the guy who loved you, the guy who was always there for both of you. I guess I thought maybe that gave me the right to an opinion, being taken into consideration.” My heart sank. “I forgot there’s only room for two in your world. My mistake.” Slowly, I turned to walk away. I needed to clear my head and get these raging emotions under control before I spent any time with Ollie. The kid didn’t miss a thing and she didn’t need to be part of our fight.
“That’s right. Run away. Run just like every other guy I’ve ever known,” she hissed.
Whipping around, I flexed my hands a few times before speaking. “I’m not running. I need a cool down period. I think I deserve at least that. I’ll be back.” I sighed. “I always come back.”
Charlie crumbled against the wall. I wanted to go to her, to hold her and tell her everything would be all right, that I would help her handle whatever came our way. Only this time, I didn’t know if it was true. I didn’t know where I stood now that Damien had returned. There was an ache in my chest like I hadn’t felt since my mother died. Oh, but I recognized it, the feeling of loss, despair. Although this time, no one had died, but our relationship seemed to be in cardiac arrest.
What made her decide to be a romance author?
How else was she going to parlay her two favorite past times into a career?
Emma is single and loving it. Like her first character, Alysin, Sin for short, she doesn’t believe in settling or in settling down. She loves to indulge in her passions whenever the mood strikes and enjoys keeping all of life’s cliché moments spicy.
Known for her sense of humor, Emma surrounds herself with friends whose antics often become the source of book fodder. Her ideal situation would be to explore the Caribbean while writing. She pursues that dream daily.
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