Widowed father Parker Townsend is stuck in a rut. After his two little hellions place a “Mom Wanted” ad in the local paper, he’s roped into a blind date. If that’s not bad enough, why did it have to be on Valentine’s Day—the most commercialized holiday of the year?
Claire Lauer answers the want ad to appease her daughter, not to connect with a handsome man drowning in emotional baggage. Hadn’t she learned anything from her ex-husband? But then an animal rights protest takes a turn, and she lands in her date’s bed.
With the past closing in, how will Parker and Claire seize their second chance at forever?
“You’re not a coward.” Claire gripped the steering wheel hard as she parked her beige car across the street from the Italian restaurant. A few minutes ahead of schedule, she stayed inside the warm vehicle and listed aloud all the reasons why she’d agreed to the date. As it stood, she couldn’t remember more than two. “Don’t drive off. Could you really stand a man up on Valentine’s Day? Just give him a chance.” She pried her hands off the wheel, grabbed her clutch purse, and opened the car door before she lost her nerve.
Shades of purple streaked across the evening sky. A cool breeze blew down the street. An old station wagon chugged by, emitting plumes of gray exhaust.
Claire bit her tongue, silencing the greenhouse statistics on her tongue. Marybeth definitely would’ve shouted at the driver. She smiled, both loving and hating her friend’s brassiness. She hurried across the asphalt, and a well-dressed doorman beneath the awning of the two-story building opened the door for her. Why did Parker suggest La Volare Giardino, and better yet, why did I agree to it? This restaurant is supposed to be one of the most romantic places in town. She loved to window shop in the ritzy area, but she couldn’t afford anything in the boutiques. If he flashes money at me and offers to get a room, I’m outta here.
Unlike her mother’s ridiculous claim, Claire would savor a few words of love compared to gifts, but she didn’t know or love the man she planned to meet. Hell, she didn’t know if she even liked him, but she couldn’t stand another Valentine’s Day alone. She’d been on several first dates and a few second dates since her divorce, but no thirds and none on February 14th. Her friends usually helped her forget her single status as they protested or shared dinner, but her failure as a wife sometimes clogged her throat as she tried to sleep. A simple date might make all the difference in the world to how I sleep tonight, if Parker proves to be a gentleman.
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