Read Words From The Heart (Spring-Summer Romance Book 2) Online
Authors: Alex Greenville
SPRING-SUMMER ROMANCE 2
SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING (Spring-Summer Romance) Book 2
by ALEX GREENVILLE.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
The doctor’s words pummeled him in the chest, and despite his infant daughter’s continued screams, Bennett Adams sank, silent, into the chair he’d just vacated, his gaze trailing downward onto his sneakers. The laces on the left were untied, a stain of what looked like spaghetti sauce dotting the strings. Ironic, given his past. When was the last time he’d worn anything nicer?
His son, Jeffrey, age five, tugged at his sleeve, his empty hand packed over one ear. Bennett turned his head, his brain numb, and his son covered his other ear.
“Daddy, make her stop.”
Make her stop. Make June not cry so much. Day and night. Day and night. Day and night.
“Mr. Adams …” The doctor had to shout to be heard above the noise. “Trust me. This is your best option. There’s an agency … the receptionist will get you the name and number. All the women are vetted … background checks, etcetera. I think it’s the solution you’re looking for. Your daughter isn’t thriving on formula, and I can see for myself, your sanity is slipping.”
He gazed at the pediatrician again. She was a nice lady, had been there for his son these first five years. She’d come to the funeral for his wife six weeks ago. She was also well qualified, had graduated from Johns Hopkins University, and had worked with children, including her own grown sons, for more than twenty. He had no reason to think her idea … her crazy, insane idea … wasn’t a viable one. Except it
crazy-insane, but she was right, he was desperate.
Bennett snapped awake. He shifted June to the opposite shoulder and forced himself to his feet. “Thank you, Doctor. I’ll get the number.”
She offered a pained smiled. “I want you to bring her back next week … and call and let me know how the wet nurse works out.”
Wet nurse. Farm his daughter off on some other woman’s breast like … like a cow. That was the image stuck in his head, his daughter nursing a cow. This wasn’t the eighteenth century. Women didn’t still nurse other people’s children. Did they?
The doctor said they did. Furthermore, she said it would give his daughter the security she needed, a mother’s grasp her three-month-old mind was searching for. Thought of his wife’s passing curled around his heart again and squeezed, but he refused to give into the tears. She’d made him promise not to cry. He had anyhow. How could he not? But he’d heard her voice in his head the entire time.
We knew what would happen. It was either lose June or risk myself. We chose June, and I have no regrets.
He had a ton. That protecting June, carrying her to term, had cost his wife her life. That his house was in disarray since she’d gone. That his children kept asking, even the baby apparently, where their mother was.
And don’t be afraid to love again,
But love for any other woman simply wouldn’t happen. How could he even consider it? His wife had been … the best. Kind, loving, a perfect mother. He could never move another woman in to take her place.
Reaching for his son’s hand, he exited the examination room, the baby’s squalls drawing the gazes of the clinic’s nurses. He offered an apologetic glance and trailed down the hallway, Jeffrey dragging his feet, and out the double doors into the waiting area. Someone let out an oath when he exited, and he tried to look sorry for the noise again. But not knowing who’d spoken, he soon gave up on apologizing and pressed against the receptionist’s high counter. “I’m supposed to get the name and number of … of … an agency for … wet … wet nurses.”
The girl nodded as if that were the most normal thing and, after digging around in her desk, pulled out a card and slid it to him. Bennett stared at the embossed words, then with a sigh, stuck the card in his shirt pocket.
There wasn’t much else to do except leave, and as he exited the doors, he fancied he heard a collective sigh of relief.
“Daddy, can we get ice cream?” Jeffrey asked.
Bennett settled June in her carrier, fastening the buckles, then saw to it his son was secured as well. He paused and stared at the little boy, his eyes so much like Beth’s. “Sure and we’ll drive around. That should help your sister go to sleep.”
It usually did, and so he’d spent hours and hours, over the last few weeks, driving in circles, mindless, listening to children’s tunes to please his son.
He climbed behind the wheel and reversed from the lot. Pulling into traffic, he aimed for the mesh of slower, more rural streets. Driving up one and down another, thankfully, June finally nodded off. Grateful for the quiet, he circled a neighborhood, coming out behind a fast food place. A quick trip through the drive-thru acquired his son the promised cone, then, oblivious to any mess Jeffrey was making, he headed for the spot that gave him the most peace.
Parked outside the public library, he stared at the colorful sign draped across the front and mourned his wife once more. She’d loved this place, would bring Jeff here for children’s events twice a week. She’d even made him bring her, after she’d gotten her diagnosis, simply to sit and, as she said, “drink it in.” Books had been her life.
Be sure to bring the children after I’m gone,
she’d told him.
He’d fussed at her for talking that way. Yet, here he was … He glanced into the back seat. June lay motionless. Jeff, on the other hand, now wore most of his ice cream.
“Oh, son …” He groaned. Unbuckling, he got out and moved to the back door. “Let’s take you in and clean you up.”
Jeff turned his small eyes toward his sister. “Won’t sissy wake up?”
Bennett stared at his daughter and argued with himself. “Maybe, but if she does, we’ll just drive around again.”
He was several minutes taking both children out of the car. The carrier in his left hand, Jeff in his right, he finally set out for the electronic doors. They rushed open, expelling a blast of frigid air. His hair lifted, blowing sideways. He shook his head to, hopefully, shift it back into place and wended his way through the lobby and another set of doors into the library proper.
The scent of books and the general quiet of the place brought Beth rushing in. He paused, thinking of her, then directed his son toward a short hallway and the men’s restroom. He met the gaze of another man as he entered. The man stared from him to the children and back, then with a peculiar expression, practically ran out.
Bennett sighed. “Yeah, be grateful you’re not me.”
Bennett looked downward at his son. “Nothing. Let’s get you cleaned up.”
A half-dozen paper towels later, Jeff was, at least, less sticky. June had begun to stir, however, and he feared for the moment she awoke. Grunting, her small cheeks reddening, she twisted her head in search of Beth. Grasping the handle, Bennett made a beeline for the hallway and, at the end of it, the exit.
He wouldn’t make a scene again. He was through explaining why his daughter cried. If he’d calculated it right, he had exactly sixty seconds. Walking too fast, Jeff bumping along behind, he sped for the double doors.
But pushing through them, he collided with a woman headed the other way. The carrier tilted, June let out a scream, and the woman slid backwards, barely catching her fall, one hand on the display sign right outside. She blinked in shock.
“Are you okay?” they asked in tandem.
June’s screams gave the answer.
The woman, her gaze trained on the baby, approached and leaned in. “Oh … she’s … she’s lovely.” She flicked him a glance.
She was an attractive woman, if he guessed, probably twelve to fifteen years his junior, maybe thirty years old. Slender, but with shapely hips, green eyes, surrounded by auburn lashes.
“You look exhausted,” she said. She glanced back at the baby. “Can I …?” Her face lifted again. “Can I hold her? I … I think I can quiet her down.”
He doubted that, and it was on the tip of his tongue to refuse. But she was the first person to act like she cared, and he was, as she’d said, exhausted. Who was he kidding? He’d drive around, get June back to sleep, only to have her cry the minute he got home.
The card in his pocket seemed to dig a hole then. If it’d work, if finding her a wet nurse would bring some peace, it might be worth it.
He walked over to a small concrete bench and, his legs folding beneath him, sank to a seat, his son, his eyes wide, stared upward. Placing the baby carrier at his feet, he lifted the boy into his lap.
The woman knelt, her skirt flaring around her ankles. She unsnapped the buckle. “What’s her name?”
The woman gingerly lifted his daughter, with clear experience, and folded her against her neck. She bounced and swayed, singing softly. The baby continued to cry.
Bennett sagged further. “Adams. June Adams, and this is her brother, my son, Jeff. He’s five. My name’s Bennett Adams.”
The woman stared at him, still rocking the baby. “Not that it’s any of my business, but something tells me, you’re all alone in this.”
He nodded and bent over at the waist, one hand running through his hair. “My wife … their mother …” He thought of Jeff and gave a softer answer. “She’s gone … to heaven.”
Sorrow held in the woman’s voice, and he glanced upward.
“I’m very sorry. You’re overwhelmed then.”
June paused, but he knew it was only to gather her breath. Ten seconds later, she let out another howl.
“You took her to a doctor? Again … I don’t mean to pry, but I have a little one pushing ten months. Many things can cause a baby to be this restless.”
“I just came from there,” he replied. “She said there’s nothing wrong with her. She just … just … misses her mother.” The words left his mouth, and his gaze spread wide. Staring at the woman’s blouse, he gulped.
The woman gazed at him, then down at herself. Her cheeks colored, and she gave a small laugh. “I did say I had a ten month old.”
Two damp circles had formed on her breasts, spreading outward on the flimsy cloth.
“I’ve been trying to wean him, and he’s doing pretty well. I thought just once, just for today … I guess it doesn’t matter what I thought. I didn’t mean to … spring a leak.” She laughed again and revolved a little out of his view, in doing so, adjusting her hold on June. His daughter in a more crosswise position, as if on cue, June rooted her tiny lips at the woman’s blouse.
Heat flashed up his face. He should … do something … except he realized, sitting there, June had stopped crying. The woman gazed down at the baby, then across at him. “Is she eating at all?”
“Some,” he replied. “But she’s allergic to almost every formula out there. The one she can tolerate … she hates bottles … and I don’t know what I’m doing and …” Everything he’d been struggling with fell off his lips at once. He heard his whine, heard the sob leave his throat, and couldn’t stop the fresh round of tears from falling.
Compassion filled the woman’s gaze as she hovered overhead. June, not finding what she wanted, gave a hiccup and returned to her screams.
Bennett wiped his eyes. He’d made a wonderful impression now. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to dump on you. The doctor suggested I hire someone … to feed her. It sounds really strange to me, but maybe she’s right.”
“You … you want to hire someone?” she asked.
He pulled himself straighter, his arms around his son. Jeff had buried his face against his neck.
“I guess? And … I guess whoever that is would have to … to move in. There’s a guest room. I haven’t given it much thought, but if …”
“I’ll do it.”
The woman exhaled. “I should introduce myself first. Audrey Ferguson.”
The name jabbed Bennett sharp. “Ferguson? As in, Dale and Everly Ferguson’s daughter?”
She nodded. “You know my parents?”
“Worked with your dad, but I thought …” He snapped his mouth shut.
“It’s okay,” she said. “My husband decided a baby was too much work. I moved home for moral support, and my parents … they’ve been super. But they live in an adult community, so I’m there on borrowed time. Plus, I’d hoped to get a job doing … something. I thought eventually I’d be able to get a place.” She frowned. “My son’s father is a deadbeat and not about to give us a dime. Meanwhile, I’m stuck in the basement with the washing machine.” She hushed. “Now, I’m dumping on you. But … since you know my parents, you wouldn’t have to worry, and clearly, I’m already stuck in ‘mommy mode’.”
June’s crying took on a new tenor, filled with suppressed anger. Her lips puckered, eyes squeezed shut, she flailed her tiny fists.
“Say ‘yes’,” Audrey pleaded. “I have to think this is meant to be, and I
you don’t want to listen to her cry anymore. My son, August, can stay with me in my room. He’s very quiet, never fusses …” Her head tilted. “August … June.”
Bennett tried to smile, tried to find a reason to refuse. But no matter how he looked at it, that reason eluded him. Audrey wanted to get out from under her parents. June needed a mother’s care.
“Daddy … make her stop.”
Jeff’s pleas decided it for him. Bennett nodded, and Audrey smiled.
“When can you start?” he asked.