Can they build a future on hope alone?
For years nurse and grief counselor Christie Bates has been teaching her patients to confront their fears, express themselves and trust in hope. But as her feelings for cancer survivor Eli Roberts and his two children grow, can she overcome her own fear and love a man who lives every day with the possibility of recurring illness?
Tackling cancer and single parenthood simultaneously has turned Eli into a devout realist. Which is why he finds Christie's perpetually upbeat attitude so aggravating. Still, despite himself, she's making a place in his heart. If only he could offer Christie more than an uncertain future.
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Without releasing her hand, he blurted, “Are you having a good time?” He almost smacked his head. What a stupid question.
Christie’s mouth quirked then grew serious again. “Actually. I am.” Her eyes met his, their gazes locked as tightly as their hands.
“I’m glad,” he heard himself say from some disembodied place that did not come from the land of reality and logic. “Happy you came.” He pressed her hand, exhilaration shooting through him when she squeezed back.
“Me, too. It reminds me of my dancing years. I wish Tommy could have been here.”
“Trust me. He’s sorrier than all of us combined. Poor guy.” He debated asking her the question that had been in the back of his mind. “Did your brother watch you dance?”
Christie’s lids lowered for a moment. In the silence, he gave himself a swift, mental kick. He wanted to know more about her, but not cause her pain. And her pale, clammy palm proved he’d done just that. “You don’t have to answer.”
When she reopened her eyes, her lashes were wet and spiky, but her voice was steady. “Before he got too sick, he always made these insane signs to make me laugh. Like ‘Christie the Great’ or ‘Christie is the Best Sistie.’ He did it to help me get over my stage fright, but the other girls made fun of it so I begged him to stop.”
He gathered her other, trembling hand.
“Now.” Her voice dropped to a notch above a whisper. “I’d give anything to have one of those signs.”
His heart expanded, wishing he could take away her pain. He’d gotten used to heartbreak. “You must have loved him very much.”
“Not as much as he deserved,” she said beneath her breath, more to herself, it seemed, than to him. “Excuse me.”When she scooted off to the ladies’ room, he berated himself. She’d done him a huge favor in joining him tonight—more than he’d guessed now that he knew about her brother. How brave of her to come to the recital for Becca, and him, when dance held such powerful memories.
He grabbed her shawl and purse and waited by the door into the auditorium. After a couple of minutes, she joined him, her cheeks damp but no longer ashen. When the crowd clapped inside the auditorium, they opened the door, tiptoed down the aisle and found their seats.
“I’m sorry Jacqueline didn’t come,” Christie breathed in his ear, sending shivers of awareness down his spine.
He looked into her earnest face and found himself unable to lie. “I’d rather have you here.”
Christie bit her lower lip then studied her lap. “I’m glad, too,” she surprised him by saying. Her shimmering eyes lifted to his.
His tight chest eased at her soft expression. They settled back in their seats and counted down the remaining routines, the silence between them as promising as the dancers who flitted gracefully across the stage.
When she’s not busy writing, Karen enjoys watching anything starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, cooking her Nona’s family Italian recipes, and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter and two King Charles Cavalier cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch,” though they’ve managed to teach her the trick! Hmmmm… wonder how that happened?! She loves to connect with other romance fans!
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This book is not an easy read due to the subject matter. But I guarantee if you take the time to read it you will come away smiling. Yes it will make you cry at parts, but the ending is just perfect.
Christie Bates is a nurse and grief counsellor. During the story we discover why she took the career path she did. Several incidents in her past changed Christie, causing her to still suffer even now. But the care and advice she gives her patients is second to none. What she went through previously has turned her into a person much more able to deal with certain situations.
Eli Roberts meets Christie during a cancer group Christie runs. Very quickly, and due to several unforeseen circumstances, they end up spending time together. Eli's children play a huge part in the story as they actually meet Christie first, unbeknown to their father, and instantly take to her.
Christie has a very positive outlook on things, and Eli doesn't. The reason for this becomes apparent later in the story.
Can two people with totally different outlooks on life be friends? Or more? Will Eli allow Christie to break down the barriers he has put up around both himself and his kids, or are they so strong that nothing will get through?
I loved the relationships in this story, especially the one between Christie and Eli's kids, Tommy and Becca. Becca is a typical teenager, trying to deal with teenage issues. She really clicks with Christie, and I think the author must have had experience dealing with teenagers before she wrote this as she gets it just right. Tommy is younger but equally as taken with Christie.
The way things progress between Christie and Eli is written just right too. It isn't rushed in any way, there are obstacles all the way through, and the way both of them deal with things is, again, just right.
As far as the ending goes, all I will say is this - it is perfect! It's not what a lot of readers will be expecting, and I guarantee you will be crying by then, but the author has chosen to do things slightly differently and for me it works. The ending leaves things open for the possibility of a second book, and I will be watching with interest to see if she goes down that route. But even if she doesn't, I won't complain as it is a great ending nevertheless.
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