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Fortuity – Transcend
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A standalone contemporary romance.
Forty-something Gracelyn Glock is living the dream.
After a tragic accident, Gracelyn inherits her ten-year-old nephew. She signs a lease on a San Diego beach house and learns their neighbors for the summer are a sexy anatomy professor and his young daughter.
Professor Nathaniel Hunt has spent the last decade being a single dad … and not having sex.
So when he discovers Gracelyn has a peculiar outdoor stripping ritual, a million inappropriate thoughts fill his responsible mind.
When kisses are stolen, man-bans are broken, and summer comes to an end, will hearts stay in one piece and hope stay alive? Or will saying goodbye destroy everything?
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Why do the wrong people die?
The attorney offers a rehearsed smile, as if the cruise ship didn’t go up in flames. “Do you have any questions?”
My brother and his wife died, and they left me with their ten-year-old son, Gabriel.
Questions? Yes. I have so many questions.
Why didn’t they purchase more life insurance? Why couldn’t they have waited eight more years to die? I’m not implying I ever wanted them to die, but there’s something to be said for timing, especially in death.
“Kyle and Emily wanted you to live with Gabriel in their house. Keep him in the same school. Do as much as possible to not disrupt his life.”
“My nephew lost both of his parents. I think it’s a little late to not disrupt his life.”
“Of course.” Her smile slips from her face.
Pausing my temple-rubbing motions, I ease my gaze upward to meet that of the thirty-something brunette. I don’t know what to say.
Her face resembles a wadded up piece of paper. The cringe isn’t a good look on her. “I’m sorry. You don’t have to stay in their house. You don’t have to move to San Diego. Gabriel is ten. I have a ten-year-old son. They’re resilient. I’m sure he will adapt to Boise, a new school, and new friends.”
This doesn’t feel real. Please let her be nothing more than a bobblehead in one of my crazy, early morning dreams—that I wouldn’t have if I’d just get my ass out of bed instead of giving the middle finger to my Pilates class.
My brother and his wife took a cruise. How does one die in a fire surrounded by hundreds of miles of water? Just … jump in the water!
“Or … you don’t have to do this at all. There is nothing that legally requires you to take custody of Gabriel.”
Just wake the hell up and go to Pilates!
Kyle called to say goodbye and to let me know I would be responsible for Gabe if their plane went down on their way to Spain. It was an afterthought. A tiny footnote at the end of a long book. That was the first time Brother Dearest mentioned my huge responsibility. I brushed it off with “Wow! You must be desperate to choose me.”
He brushed it off with a laugh and “Mom and Dad are too old to do it. But don’t worry … we’ll make it back in one piece.”
“Gracelyn,” I correct her.
Her lips curl into a tiny smile. “Gracelyn, I realize no amount of money can make up for your family’s loss. However, I anticipate the cruise line will pay a sizable sum to settle multiple wrongful death suits. I’m not suggesting your family settle. I just don’t want you to feel like the life insurance is all you’ll have to cover the expenses of raising Gabriel.”
It’s not the money.
Okay … that’s not entirely true. I’ve made it forty-one years without an actual career, a husband, children, or a 401(k). Money will be a concern.
“Of course I’m taking him. I’ll figure it out.” I stand on shaky legs and slip my handbag over my shoulder. It weighs a hundred pounds—or maybe that’s the weight of the world. My chin juts upward; believing and an air of confidence is ninety percent. Right?
“Okay. We’ll be in touch. In the meantime, call me if you have any concerns or questions.” She hands me her business card and escorts me to the door.
After a quick stop in the ladies’ room to contemplate vomiting before splashing cold water on my face, I climb into Kyle’s and Emily’s green Land Rover and drive to their house. We buried their remains last week. Emily was an only child. Her father died of cancer five years ago, and her mom, Sharon, has early-onset dementia. Sharon’s caregiver (a cousin) took her back to the assisted living facility right after the funeral.
“Hey, how did it go?” Mom asks, rummaging through the fridge because …
She shuts the door and leans against it as I plop my ass into the chair, transfixed by the table covered in food—enough baked goods to give an entire village diabetes.
“Doesn’t sound fine.” She wipes a tear from her cheek.
I don’t know what it feels like to lose a child—or even have one for that matter. My tears fell quickly after the news of their deaths. More tears made a proper appearance at their funeral. Today, the reality of my new role replaced the tears.
I’m … a mom? No. That’s not right. I’m still a fun aunt. Gabe won’t think of me as his mom.
Maybe his friend.
An eight year babysitter.
“I know they thought we were too old to take care of Gabe, but that’s not true. He can come to Great Falls with us. I think he’d like living in Montana.” Mom wears a fairly believable smile on her weary face, but I notice her new wrinkles. Craters of pain that can never be erased.