In the town of Tranquility Bay, summer is the season of second chances...
Single mother Hope Thompson has built a happy life for herself and her twins in beautiful Tranquility Bay, Washington. She doesn’t dwell on her painful past—especially not on the man who broke her heart all those years ago. But when Hope’s beloved son needs help, she takes a desperate chance and reaches out to her children’s father.
Nick Fortune lives life in the spotlight as a champion race car driver. He’s shocked to hear from Hope and even more surprised to learn that he’s a father. He immediately heads to the Pacific Northwest to confront the past—and the woman he once loved.
There, on the quiet lakeshore, Nick and Hope must work together to save their son—even if it means facing their complicated past—for a second chance as a family.
The phone felt heavy in Hope Thompson’s hand. She traced the buttons, unconsciously pausing at the numbers that would soon connect her to a voice she hadn’t heard in nearly sixteen years.
She thought about shutting herself away in a closet. Maybe then, if she was hidden with only darkness surrounding her, this call wouldn’t be so hard to make. But Hope knew darkness did not shut out memories—if anything, it enhanced them, becoming a large ebony canvas that allowed them to play over and over in her mind until sleep was impossible.
She reached for her cup of tea on the end table next to the sofa and took a sip. It was cold. She was halfway off the couch to reheat it before she stopped. Stalling. That was what she was doing. She sat back down, grabbed the phone, and dialed quickly before she lost her nerve.
Hope’s grip tightened. Sixteen years. It had been sixteen years since she’d heard her mother’s voice, but it felt as if it were yesterday. “Hello, Mo—Claire.”
There was a long pause and then, “Charlotte, is that you?”
A pain settled in Hope’s chest. Why had she believed her mother would recognize her? “No. It’s me. Hope.”
A faint crinkling drifted across the phone line, and Hope knew it was her mother shifting positions on the sofa’s plastic protector. “Hope?”
“I know, Claire. It’s been a long time.”
After so many years, there should have been a thousand things they had to say to each other. A million tiny details that had filled their lives and the lives of the two grandchildren her mother had never wanted to meet. Instead, Hope didn’t know where to begin—what to say. Should she start with: Your grandchildren’s names are Joshua and Susan, and they are bright and beautiful and make me so proud every day. Or: They will be sixteen in a few months, and they can’t wait to get their drivers’ licenses. Joshua loves football, music, and cars. He has his first steady girlfriend, and I don’t know if that makes me happy or scared. And Susan. She’s everything I wish I could be. She’s confident and smart and funny. She was elected class president, and captain of her soccer team for the second year in a row.
But Hope knew what she should tell her mom was the complete truth: My whole life is about to fall apart for the second time and this time I need you. We need you. Please don’t send us away again.
She was thirty-two years old and still she hesitated, not wanting to face the rejection she knew she’d hear in her mother’s voice. So instead, she heard herself asking, “How have you been?”
“Been good. Been real good except for my garden. With this terrible heat spell we’ve been going through, I should have mulched, that’s what I should’ve done. Sue Ellen down at the Piggly Wiggly told me she was going to mulch but I thought for sure I wouldn’t need to. I got an air conditioner last week. You got one?”
An air conditioner. After all these years, her mother wanted to know if she owned an air conditioner. “No, I don’t.”
“Well, don’t suppose you’d have much use for one up there in the Pacific Northwest. Not with all that rain. Never could understand why anyone would choose to live in a place that rained nine months out of the year.”
“I didn’t choose.”
Claire ignored Hope’s comment, as she had with anything she found unpleasant. “Well now.”
Why had she even bothered to hope that her mother had changed? That small crack in her heart—the old hurt that would never completely heal—wedged open a fraction more. “Aren’t you going to ask about your grandchildren?”
There was a long pause. “My show just got over, Hope. I need to go. If I don’t leave right after the third hymn, I’ll be late to the committee meeting. I made my special pineapple rum cake, though I didn’t add the rum because Pastor Gilbert may stop by. I don’t believe he’d take kindly to us ladies consuming outside of the sacramental wine.”
“Their names are Joshua and Susan.”
“I have to go, Hope.”
“Wait.” Hope closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Please, Mama, I need your help.”
A soft whoosh of air filled the earpiece. “My help?” Another pause. “Well, Hope Marie, you’re a big girl now. I don’t see how I can be of any help. I thought you were doing just fine up there in Washington.”
“We’re not fine.” Hope could feel her entire life crumbling away like a dry sand castle. “My son has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. The doctors told us our best hope for a match is with a family member.”
Silence filled the phone lines. “Leukemia? I always knew something like this would happen. Didn’t I tell you?”
You keep that baby, Hope Marie, and something bad will happen. You just wait and see. Should have named you Hopeless because that’s what you are—hopeless.
Hope wasn’t seventeen anymore; this time she wasn’t going to let her mother refuse to help.
“What about your other one?” her mother asked. “His sister? Being twins and all, wouldn’t she do?”
Hope swallowed, praying the bitter taste in the back of her throat would go away. “Susan and I aren’t a match.” Did her mother really think Hope wouldn’t have explored every other option before contacting her?
“Well, I just don’t see how I can be of any help. I’m not much for doctors. I couldn’t even go and see Pastor Gilbert’s wife before she passed away, God rest her soul. All those smells and sick people. Really, Hope, you know how they affect me. Besides, don’t they have radiation or something for this? When Hester Pritchett’s second cousin down in Alabama got the cancer, they did something that fixed her right up. I do believe Hester said she lost all her hair but really, Hope, she didn’t go asking her relatives for help. No, I don’t see how I can be of any help.”
Hope gripped the phone so tight she was surprised it didn’t shatter. She kept her voice deadly calm, knowing it was the only way to deal with Claire Montgomery. “Joshua has had chemotherapy, Mother. It didn’t work.”
“Maybe you aren’t taking that boy to the right doctors.”
“My son’s name is Joshua and I have taken him to the very best doctors.”
“There’s no need for that tone with me. All I was saying, maybe you should take him to one of those specialists.”
“We’ve seen the specialists. And they agree that what my son needs is a bone marrow transplant.”
Her mother could ignore Hope all she wanted. She could continue to pretend to her church friends that her only child hadn’t gotten pregnant at seventeen but instead had graduated early and received a full scholarship to some college far, far away. She could go on living that lie, but if she thought for one moment Hope would let her refuse to help her grandson, she was mistaken.
“I still don’t know why you’re calling me when you should be calling that man.”
“What man, Mom?”
An impatient grunt came across the line. “Their father, that’s who. Call him.”
For just a moment Hope’s heart ached. “I need all of Joshua’s relatives to be tested. The initial test to see if you are a match is simple. All you have to do is go to your doctor and explain what you need done. I can call him, or I can have Joshua’s doctor call and explain if that would be easier.”
“This is not a problem that concerns Dr. Brown.”
Hope sighed tiredly. “I thought you might feel that way. Joshua’s doctor gave me the name and number of a colleague in St. Paul. Call him, please, and set up an appointment as soon as you can. I will arrange for a taxi to take you.” Hope gave her mother the doctor’s name and telephone number.
“How much will this cost?”
“Don’t worry about the money. If your insurance doesn’t cover it or even if you don’t want to submit the claim, I’ll pay for it. It won’t cost you a cent to see if you can save your grandson.”
Hope had no idea where she’d come up with the money, but she’d find it somehow.
“You know I live on a fixed income. My question isn’t a bit out of line.”
“I know, Mama. I know.”
A heartbeat of silence filled the air. And then another. Enough time to say I’ve missed you or I love you.
When it became apparent her mother wasn’t going to say anything else, Hope said, “Call the doctor—”
The other end of the phone disconnected before Hope could finish.
About the Author
A past recipient of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Award, Kimberly Fisk is the bestselling author of Lake Magic. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, and too many four-legged critters to count.
Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Boardwalk Summer.