Published by Tule Publishing Group on August 14, 2018
They say time heals all wounds…
It’s been two years since former engineer Gabriel Ivers lost his wife and accepted a job as a building superintendent to be home with his children. His focus is being both mom and dad to his girls, until the beautiful Amelia Blake moves next door and reminds him he’s a man as well as a dad. Just as he begins to hope that his life can once again hold more than homework, chores, and movie-and-manicure nights with his girls, he discovers the reason for the fragility beneath Lia's warm smile.
Lia is trying to move on with her life after a miscarriage ends all hope for a baby, and a subsequent betrayal destroys her marriage. She’s charmed by her new neighbor with his sparkling manicure, multi-colored hair clips, and his brood of girls, but disturbed by the sexual tension that sizzles between them. Gabe and his daughters remind her of everything she’s always wanted and it would be so easy to take what he's offering her. But is she ready to risk her heart again, especially when her heart isn't the only one in play?
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard. Good thing Gabe is a fighter who's determined to prove to Lia he’s in this for the long haul…the rest of their lives.
Praise for NOBODY SAID IT’D BE EASY
“Patty Blount creates a community you’ll want to visit in this heartfelt, realistic romance with a hero everyone will adore!” ―Jamie Beck, national bestselling author of Before I Knew and Unexpectedly Hers
“Patty Blount’s Nobody Said It’d Be Easy is a sweet, heartwarming story with genuine emotion and a Single Dad To-Die-For!” ― New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra
“It’s okay, E-Rex. Car’s broken. Daddy will fix it.” Just like he fixed every other damn thing. He grabbed his keys, popped the hood, and locked Emmy inside the vehicle while he stepped out to wave traffic around him. The street was narrow—one lane of traffic in either direction, separated by a double-yellow line. Parked cars edged both sides of the street. There was nowhere to push the SUV—assuming he could even move it by himself. The inspector was due by nine and damn it, he had a whole clipboard of things to do today. Damn it all the way to hell and back again.
A woman walked toward him and he forgot all about his annoyance. She didn’t walk so much as…flow, he decided. She wore jeans and a soft T-shirt under a light jacket, but that wasn’t why he noticed her. He’d been caught by her hair. Dark auburn and long, it bounced all around her shoulders, and glowed like fire where the sun hit it. She walked toward him, lips curved in a smile that sucked him in like a vortex. Jeez, she was beautiful.
And jeez, what the hell was wrong with him? He was married—
Pain shot through him like a bullet.
“Car trouble?” she asked.
Her eyebrows popped up from behind the oversized sunglasses she wore and he frowned.
“Ah,” she said. That was it. Just ah. And continued to look him up and down, the smile on her lips.
Annoyance flared. “What?” he demanded.
She shook her head and held up her hands, one of which clutched a pile of papers and a book. A map, he noticed. And a notebook.
“You’re blocking traffic,” she finally said.
“I’m aware. As I said, dead battery.”
Her lips twitched and Gabe wondered just what the hell she found so funny.
Temper blazed and he bit his tongue, deciding to take the high road. “I don’t suppose you have a car nearby and could give me a jump start?”
“Yes, actually, I do,” she responded. “Mine is the car you’re currently blocking.”
She pointed to an aging Hyundai parked right beside his, at the corner. If Gabe hadn’t been pissed off, he might have appreciated the serendipity. “This is yours? This is perfect.”
“I’ve got jumper cables. Give me a jump and I can move mine right into your spot. Then I won’t have to have it towed. I can walk back here and repair it myself—” When? When in the actual hell was he going to do that? “Tonight.” He waved a hand. He’d figure it out.
She smiled. “I like your nails.”
He glanced down at his cotton candy pink nail polish and tried not to blush. His daughters enjoyed their Friday night manicure parties. They’d been disappointed enough. He wasn’t about to tell them real men didn’t wear nail polish. “So do my kids.”
He strode around to the rear of the truck, snatched the jumper cables and Emmy wriggled around in her car seat. “Dad-dee!”
“It’s okay, Emmy. Daddy’s fixing the car.”
“Dad-dee!” She started to wail and he sighed. Okay. He moved to her door, sprung her free from the car seat. With his daughter in one hand and cables in the other, he returned to the woman who owned the Hyundai.
“Pop your hood.”
“What’s that?” she asked, a horrified expression on her face.
Gabe looked around. And when he realized she’d been referring to his daughter, his jaw clenched. “That is commonly known as a baby.”
The woman’s face went red and she looked down for a moment. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—I just wondered—well, how are you going tojump-start [HN1] a car with a baby in your arms? She could get hurt.”
Gabe would die before he let that happen. “Fine. You hold her.”
The woman literally jumped back a step. “No! I can’t do that.”
Through gritted teeth, Gabe asked, “Any particular reason why not?”
“Because!” She waved a hand. “I’m…I’m a stranger. I’ll make her cry.”
Emmy was already screaming so Gabe figured it couldn’t get much worse. “I’ll risk it. Here.” He leaned over, handed Emmy to her before either of them knew what was happening.
Emmy balked and tried to cling to him like a sock on a towel fresh from the dryer but he peeled her off. “It’s okay, baby. Daddy’s gonna fix the car. You watch, okay?”
The woman held Emmy like she was a bomb about to detonate, which—Gabe had to admit—wasn’t far from the truth. Emmy’s wails were climbing the decibel chart.
That’s when the most extraordinary transformation happened.
It was almost as if Emmy had cast a spell over this woman. Or maybe, the woman cast a spell over Emmy. Their eyes met. The woman shook her head, as if to clear it. She smiled and cooed at his daughter, bounced her and talked nonsense about the pizza slice on her T-shirt. Emmy soon stopped screaming. She even spoke to the woman, told her that Daddy was going to fix the car.
She may have more confidence in his abilities than he did.
The woman followed Emmy’s every syllable, trying to decipher what was often gibberish. Fear gave way to intrigue to…to pure, naked emotion. He figured they were good now, so he made quick work of the job, talking to the baby the whole time.
“Look at the cables, sweetheart. What color is this?”
She blinked tear-filled eyes at him. “Wed.”
“Red, good girl. The red one goes here. What color is this one?”
“Black, yes! High five.” He held up a palm and Emmy slapped it. “Okay, the black one goes here.” He hooked up the cables and said, “Hey, go rev your engine a bit, will you?”
“You—um—you want me to rev my engine,” she echoed, the words sounding almost dirty the way she said them. She had a soft, sort of smoky voice.
Praying for patience, he slowly nodded. “Please.”
Still holding Emmy, the woman slipped behind the wheel, the baby now on her lap.
“Dad-dee! I dwive.” Emmy gripped the Hyundai’s steering wheel and pulled a face of such intensity, he realized, after a second, that it was probably the one he wore while trying to get the girls to school on time.[HN2]
Yeah. He’d have to work on that.
When he heard her engine rev, he tried cranking his ignition. It was slow at first and then, the engine caught. He let it run for a few minutes, his eyes pinned to the dashboard, where an indicator light glowed steady. “Hell.” The rest of the curses, he spelled.
He walked back to her. “You can stop revving it now.”
“Oh. Good.” She took her foot off the accelerator and stuck Emmy out the door like a sack of groceries. He grabbed his daughter and Emmy curled into him like they’d been cruelly parted for centuries.
“Okay, baby girl, okay.”
“Car fix, Dad-dee?”
“No, E-Rex. It’s not.”
The woman lifted her dark glasses, revealing an arresting pair of brown eyes. “It’s not? What do you mean, it’s not?”
“It’s the alternator, not the battery.”
“But it’s running.”
“Yes and it’s going to drain again because the alternator isn’t charging.”
“Great. Are you telling me I’m trapped here?”
“No. It’ll hold for a few minutes. As soon as you move your car, I’ll slide into your spot, get it out of traffic. Thanks for the jump. And for holding my daughter.”
Those amazing dark eyes warmed as they slid to Emmy and the woman nodded. “You’re welcome. Are we, um, finished?”
“Yeah. Gimme a minute. I’ll get her buckled back into her seat and disconnect the cables.”
Gabe soothed Emerson, rocking and bouncing her as he walked back to his SUV. She put her head on his shoulder, one chubby hand wrapped around the longest part of his hair. “Okay, baby girl. We’re going to walk home in your stroller, but first, Daddy has to park the car. You sit in your seat for a few minutes. Be right back.”
“No! Dad-dee!” She screamed and arched her back, but he got her buckled in. He shut the rear door, disconnected the cables, dropped the hoods on both cars.
“Okay. That’s it. You can pull out now. Thanks again.”
“You’re welcome.” She replaced her sunglasses. “Your daughter…” she began and trailed off, biting her lip. “You’re very lucky.”
“I know it.” He grinned.
She said nothing else.
He watched her slide back into her own car, her butt in those jeans hypnotizing him. Then he climbed back into his own vehicle, tossed the cables on the passenger seat. As soon as she pulled out, he maneuvered into her spot.
The gorgeous redhead was long gone by the time he’d pulled Emmy’s stroller from the rear, unfolded it and got her transferred from car seat to stroller. They were only a few blocks from home where the inspector from the city was likely already waiting for him. But he had to make a stop first. He steered Emmy’s stroller into an auto parts store.
Two hundred dollars later, he, his daughter, and his alternator were on their way back to their apartment.
Lia lifted her sunglasses, watched the man with the pretty baby move.
His gait devoured the pavement and with hardly three strides, he’d reached her. “So you’re Amelia? I’m the super. Gabe.”
Super Gabe. The ridiculous urge to giggle struck her. Not so super since she’d had to rescue him. But then again, the clips in his hair and pink polish on his fingers meant he was some kind of Super Dad.
And that meant everything in Lia’s book.
He carried his pretty baby on his hip, a heavy toolbox in his other hand. What a picture he made. A tall man, easily six-three or six-four, with broad shoulders, large hands, and all that toasted almond hair that looked as if it had been professionally highlighted—and held up by three shiny clips, one of which was adorned with a rainbow heart.
His nail polish was chipped and, strangely, that made it somehow sweeter. His black T-shirt had a pizza pie on the front, missing one slice and she grinned. She’d caught him giving her a good long look earlier, which confused her because this beautiful baby whose bright blue eyes broke her heart wore a coordinating T-shirt picturing the missing slice. It branded them as a unit, a family.
Her[HN3] heart gave one traitorous beat before pounding at top speed and she willed it to behave itself. Yes, so he was the hottest guy she’d seen in—well, ever—and that included her ex, but that wasn’t what had sent her heart tripping.
It was knowing – with one glance– that this was a man who’d do anything for his family. There was simply nothing sexier than that.
Copyright © 2018 by Patty Blount
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