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The Forever Gift, #2

The Forever Gift, #2

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When love beckons again, will young widow Rae Cavanaugh answer?  Rae clings to her friendship with Dylan Rademaker, pledging to herself to stay single for her young children. Meanwhile, Dylan harbors a secret, burning love for Rae. He determines to win more than her friendship but, if his plan fails, he faces the torment of remaining her closest confidant while witnessing her fall for another man.

Main Tropes

  • Widow Romance
  • Friends to Lovers
  • Close Proximity

Synopsis

When love beckons again, will young widow Rae Cavanaugh answer?

Rae never expected to be a widow at twenty-six, but she’s found solace in her unwavering friendship with Dylan. While she yearns to love again, she remains steadfast in her commitment to remain single until her children are grown. Little does she know the love she craves may be closer than she ever imagined.

Dylan Rademaker harbors a deep and passionate love for Rae. He’s held back, understanding her need to heal. When a coworker shows interest in her, Dylan determines to win more than her friendship.

But if his plan fails, he faces the torment of remaining her closest confidant while witnessing her fall for another man.

Intro Into Chapter One

“Hey, beautiful.” Jason Lee sauntered into the main office.

Rae Cavanaugh pursed her lips in disgust. Handsome men should keep their clichéd antics to themselves. She refused to glance in the direction of the staff door where flirt-meister stood. From the corner of her eye, she could tell he was looking in her direction. She didn’t need him to bug her right now, not while she was fighting to meet the end-of-month deadline.

The protection of widowhood was wearing off, and more than once Rae had wished she lived in the time when people had to wait a full year before being expected to socialize. She and her late husband had been married for five years. It seemed an eternity since she’d been the target of a man’s interest, and she didn’t like it.

Where was Dylan? Her friend and coworker always managed to discourage too much of the come-on.

“I said: Hey, beautiful.” Jason Lee stopped in front of her desk, obviously peeved she was ignoring him.

Rae exchanged a quick glance with Amelia, the office manager. She shrugged. The older woman had more patience with their newest termite inspector.

Yes, his Eurasian handsomeness gave him an almost exotic look, but as far as Rae could tell, he flirted with everyone with XX chromosomes, whether customer or coworker. He used it to his advantage and had the highest sales in the office. Once she’d become the target of his attentions, she’d wished more than once he’d take a job with one of those national chains instead of a small, local pest control company like Green.

“Hello, Jason. I'm kind of in a time crunch right now.” She didn’t have to try to make herself sound stressed.

“You need to take a break, love.”

Rae cringed internally at the endearment. Jason reached over like he meant to touch her shoulder, but she leaned out of his reach. A flash of surprise crossed his face, but it was quickly replaced by one of a man accepting a challenge. Ugh.

“How do you know I didn’t just come off a break?” Rae asked, hurriedly.

“Did she, Amelia?” Jason asked with a chuckle.

Rae shot her friend a pleading glance.

“She didn’t.”

Traitor. If Amelia thought this was how to get Rae to start dating again, she’d have to set the woman straight.

“That’s what I thought.” Jason’s voice had turned low and soft. He put his hand on her desk near her keyboard, only a couple of inches from her hand. “You’re working too hard, love.”

Rae pulled back and looked up at him for the first time since he’d entered the room. His expression was sincere and even a little concerned. It did more to soften her defenses than any of his come-ons.

It’d been ten months since her husband had died. Looking into Jason’s deep brown eyes brought home something she’d missed. He practically oozed masculinity.

Rae blinked. Why had she even thought that? Dylan Rademaker had it too, that special spark of attractiveness, but he made her feel safe. He’d never come on to her like this.

“You need to take some time for yourself,” Jason seemed to take her silence as encouragement.

“He’s right.” Amelia sent Rae one of those motherly looks she dished out so well when she was sure she knew best.

“Not on the clock, I don’t.” Rae wanted to get back to work but that would put her hands on the keyboard and too close to Jason.

“She’s right too.” As Amelia walked by him, she shot him a you-lost-this-round glance.

“Later then.” Jason winked at Rae and strode over to the termite account bookkeeper’s desk in the other office.

Only then did Rae allow herself a little shiver. It made sense she’d find him attractive—she hadn’t seen a woman yet who didn’t. What she couldn’t understand was why he’d target her anyway. From what he’d said about his social life, he was only interested in a good time. She had two young children. Didn’t that discourage flirty men like Jason? And they were the reason she wouldn’t get involved again, not until they were grown. There was no point in setting herself, and them, up for possible heartbreak.

But she was jumping the gun. She hadn’t even made up her mind to start dating yet, despite Amelia’s pressure. That was probably why she’d sided with Jason.

Rae started typing again. It wasn’t like dating was an alien idea. She’d been asked out a few times since the holidays, but she’d turned them all down. It’d been too soon. Did Amelia think Jason would be a good first date for Rae?

What would bringing a strange man into her life do to her children, anyway? Since her husband’s death, Rae’s biggest fear had been the inability to provide what their father had given them. She might try her best, but she wasn’t a guy and didn’t handle things the way her husband would have. If not for Dylan filling that need, she’d have resorted to finding a mentor for Preston.

Dylan. She smiled to herself. He’d turned out to be the very best of friends. They’d worked together for a couple of years before her family’s tragedy, but they hadn’t gotten close until he’d moved next door to her last fall. Dylan had filled the gap in her children’s lives. Well, all their lives. As long as she had a friend like Dylan, she didn’t need romance.

Rae felt a funny little twinge of longing at the thought but pushed it aside. She couldn’t afford to consider him as anything more. Their friendship was too important to risk with anything like casual dating, too important to both her and her children. Besides, he’d never looked at her as anything but a friend either. She gave herself a mental shake. It didn’t matter anyway.

With a sigh of relief, Rae typed in the last of the information and glanced at the clock. Perfect timing. She’d be ready to handle her route peeps who’d be bringing in their receipts. Unless something unexpected came up, she’d get out of here on time.

“Now that you’re finished, love, you’ve earned a break.” Jason grinned as he walked back to Rae’s desk.

She gave a mental groan.

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