A Destiny Falls Novel
*4 Stars! RT Book Reviews
*Kindle Contemporary Romance Bestseller
*Finalist, RWA Golden Heart®
Blue Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-0-9880884-7-4 Ebook
ISBN: 978-0-9880884-6-7 Trade Paperback
Five Star Expressions
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2545-4 Hardcover
She never wants to go home again.
For Jess Morgan, Destiny Falls holds too many painful memories. Nine years ago, a logging accident near the remote timber town killed her dad and her high school sweetheart. To make matters worse, her mother quickly sought comfort with another man. That choice tore Jess apart and drove her to seek a life far away. But now fate steps in, and family obligations force her return home. Before long, she’s convinced that persuading her mom to live with her in Toronto will repair their shattered bond. However, she doesn’t count on a long-ago friend re-entering her life and challenging her convictions.
Rugged forester Adam Wright believes in family, roots, and not running from heartache. Now, all he wants is to help Jess break down the walls of the lonely sanctuary she’s built for herself and heal her past hurts. It’s not until she rejects his plans for their future that he realizes his persistence is pushing her away—not at all what he intends.
Has he lost his chance? Or can he convince Jess that where she truly belongs is with him...forever?
4 Stars! "Procter-King has written a 'home' for all of us. Destiny Falls is the place that holds your first love, your first triumph; it's where you lost a person you cared about. Jess is a character who women will identify with, having to forget a past that is beyond difficult to do. Coming to terms with loss, while attempting to understand that a parent is also a person who needs their own life and love, is a tough road. But the author has done a good job of showing readers that out of anguish can come hope." RT Book Reviews.
4 Books! "Cindy Procter-King weaves together the lives of her characters with a skill that creates a beautiful pattern of love with just enough darkness in the design to highlight the beauty of unconditional friendship, familial love that ebbs and flows but never disappears, and best of all, she weaves in the love of a man and woman who suffered bitter grief and loss but come out of that dark part of life to the glorious light of true love." Long and Short Reviews.
"WHERE SHE BELONGS is a very emotional and heartfelt story of broken relationships and painful memories. Finding where she truly belongs is a heartwarming lesson for Jess in revealing the true meaning of love and the ability to forgive. The story is very well written and the passion as well as pain the characters feel is clearly felt by the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful story of love and finding oneself in the process." Fresh Fiction.
"The latest from Procter-King, a Golden Heart finalist and author of Borrowing Alex (2007), is a sentimental novel about love, grief, and coming home again. Jess is a sympathetic protagonist who learns the well-worn lesson that home is with the people you love." Booklist Online.
"An engaging tale of rediscovering your roots and family..." Romance Reviews Today.
Kindle Contemporary Romance Bestseller, February 2013
Finalist, Long Contemporary, Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award, 2007
Twenty minutes later, Jess left her room with her hair wet from her shower and the bunny slippers slapping the floor. Her suitcase with her favorite PJs remained downstairs. She hadn’t been about to risk bumping into Adam wearing nothing but her robe to get it. However, a rummage through the dresser had produced a granny nightgown, which she wore beneath the old robe. She’d scrubbed her face free of makeup and vanquished her headache with the aspirin. If not for the chance that Molly’s cousin hung around, she’d be ready for bed.
She checked on her sleeping mother, then went downstairs. The living room was empty and the fire dead, but the lights, though dimmed, still glowed. A tantalizing scent teased her nostrils. Pancakes? Her stomach growled.
She entered the kitchen. Pancake mix dusted the orange countertop, several cupboards stood open, and a batter-clumped whisk lay beside a glass measuring cup. At the stove with his back to her, Adam blithely flipped pancakes. His jean jacket sprawled on the chair by the phone, one sleeve brushing the floor.
Not only was he here, he’d ransacked the place! “What are you doing?”
He faced her. His gaze lowered to the bunny slippers, and his mouth twitched. “Molly said to feed you.”
Molly said. “I thought you’d left.” Jess tightened the bathrobe’s frayed belt. “Didn’t the door slam?”
“Yeah, sorry. I didn’t expect it to swing shut so fast.”
She didn’t want him apologizing. It made her feel mean. “So you were leaving?”
“I didn’t say that.” Amusement flickered in his light blue eyes.
I sound like a witch. And probably looked ridiculous. She refused to squirm beneath his penetrating gaze, though. She belonged here—he didn’t.
Yet Adam Wright looked more at home in her mother’s kitchen than Jess had felt in years.
“I went to get my dog. That’s why the door slammed,” he said in a deep, mellow voice. “She’s on the back porch. Hope that’s okay. The truck drives her stir-crazy after awhile.”
“Oh.” Heat climbed her neck. First her mom, now the dog, even Jess—didn’t he treat anyone like trash? It would be a lot easier to follow through on her plan of kicking him out if he did. “You shouldn’t leave her on the porch. Mom leases the pasture to the neighbors. The horses wander up to the fence sometimes, even at night.”
“Sheba doesn’t chase horses. An irate mare nipped her in the rear when she was a puppy. She learned her lesson.” His gaze drifted over Jess, cheeky and bold. “Nice housecoat.”
The heat exploded, splashing her face and shooting sparks to her nerve-endings. So much for putting him off-guard. The man couldn’t be swayed.
She focused on an invisible spot above his left shoulder. “It’s cold out. You should bring her in.”
“It’s nearly April. Not cold for a German shepherd who sleeps outdoors eight months of the year.”
“It doesn’t matter. She can come in.” She forced herself to meet his gaze. With the ivory shirt setting off his wide shoulders and his hips encased in the low-riding jeans, he dominated the country kitchen. Hopefully, he would seem less imposing with his dog around, less likely to cause her to combust again. She couldn’t kick him out now that he’d fixed the pancakes. She did have some manners.
“We’ll put her in the mudroom,” she said. “If she barks, there’s less chance Mom will hear her.”
“You’ll eat with me, then?” Half-turning, he transferred the browned pancakes to a platter. He ladled three more dollops of batter onto the hot pan, and the thick mixture sizzled.
“I guess.” Her grumbling stomach seconded the motion.
“You guess? That’s your invite?”
Her face warmed. “I’m asking.”
“For you to stay.” She smiled stiffly.
“Stay and eat. Okay, great. I will. Thanks.” He lowered the element beneath the gurgling coffeepot. “Like pulling teeth,” he murmured.
A smile played around his mouth as he winked, and images of the seventeen-year-old guy who’d once teased her and Molly filled her mind.
Her tummy fluttered. For a second, she almost felt “thirteen going on fourteen” again. Adam had shot her that same killer wink when she’d caught him staring at her over the triple-patty Load ’Em Up Special he’d inhaled during her and Molly’s double fourteenth birthday party at a long-defunct burger joint.
However, back then, coerced by his aunt to join the family outing, he’d winked at Jess to torment her—no different than tormenting his cousin. Now, he probably got his jollies by keeping the rude city girl off-balance.
The trick was not to let him know how well it worked.
He strolled to the back door and let in his dog.
“Hi, girl,” Jess said when Sheba nosed past her. The German shepherd’s tail wagged, and her brown eyes glittered.
“She likes you.”
Sheba’s winking master sounded surprised. Score one for Rude City Girl. How gratifying to up-end him for once.
Jess tore a bit of warm pancake from the stack on the platter and fed the piece to the dog. Sheba gobbled the tidbit, then woofed softly. Jess rewarded her with another chunk of pancake.
“Of course she likes me.” She wiped her hands on a tea towel, then flipped the remaining pancakes on the stove. “When I was a kid, I had a German shepherd who could have been her twin. She loved pancakes, too.”
Adam gazed at her with a new light in his eyes. Respect or bafflement? Hard to tell.
“What did you call her?”
He flashed a devastating grin. “Great minds.”
Jess smiled back at him before she could stop herself. Something subtle had changed between them. Because they liked the same breed of dog?
Whatever, she’d take it over the unease stretching between them earlier.
She closed the cupboards while he settled Sheba in the mudroom with a bowl of fresh water and a promise for an entire pancake if she didn’t bark again.
“By the way,” Jess said while he was out of view. “Thanks again for getting me from the airport so Molly could stay here with Mom. She liked the toast. You were right, she was hungry. She loved the flower. I left the glass on her dresser.”
See? She could do this. Humor the man to placate Molly, then send him on his way.
He emerged from the mudroom, wiping his hands on his butt. “It was no big deal.”
“Sure it was.” Jess stacked pancakes on the platter. “You said Mom wouldn’t mind if you stayed, and you were right about that, too. She said you knew Pete from some group that mentors teenagers?”
He nodded. “Destiny Falls Young Achievers.”
“Well, I’m sure you could have found a better way to spend your Friday night. I appreciate everything you’ve done. I really do. I’m sorry if I’ve come off a little, um, rude.”
“You haven’t been rude.”
“I wasn’t the height of graciousness when you offered to stay.”
“When I wouldn’t leave, you mean?”
“Something like that.”
“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t get you from the airport to score points in the good guy department, Jess. I went because Molly asked me to and because I respect your mom. As for staying, that’s turning out to my benefit, I think. It’s not every day I have a chance to make pancakes at midnight. Now I get to share a nice meal with you and a couple of damn cute purple bunnies.”
His smile, slow and incredibly sexy, warmed her from her soon-to-frizz curls down to her rabbit-eared toes. “You’re okay, Adam Wright, you know that?”
“How about you taste my pancakes and then you can judge my okay-ability?”
She smiled back. Darn it, but it was difficult not to.