Love is in the Air. Devon Vaughn Archer
to believe Momma’s gone.”
“Yep. Time can only do so much to heal the wounds.”
Holly had considered her mother to be her best friend and someone to whom she could talk about anything. Now she would never get to see what life had in store for her daughter.
“She’d want you to get more out of life,” Holly said.
“I’m getting plenty out of life,” he insisted.
“What about companionship?” She had not really gone down this path with him before. But, since he’d been a widower for five years, maybe it was time he looked for someone else to spend his time with.
“What about it?” he asked.
“Momma wouldn’t want you to be all alone.”
“Actually, your momma wouldn’t want you to be alone,” Robert said bluntly. “I’m sixty-three years old and past the stage where I need someone in that way. But you’re still young and still single. Maybe it’s time you let someone in.”
Holly thought that was pretty slick of him to turn the tables so it was all about her. She decided to take the bait. “I’m not afraid to do that.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“Yes, I’m picky, but if he comes along I’ll know it—and so will you.”
He chuckled coarsely. “Okay, just don’t keep me waiting too long. I won’t be around forever.”
“Don’t be too sure about that,” she countered. “I have a feeling you’ve got plenty of gas in the tank and will be there for as many grandchildren as you can handle.”
His eyes widened. “You mean there could be more?”
Holly immediately regretted saying that. Yes, she wanted kids, but had no way of knowing if that would ever happen for her. First she had to find a man she liked well enough to become a potential father to her children. Then he had to want kids, too.
Anderson Gunn popped into her head.
Holly lived in a cul-de-sac in the River Oaks section of Houston, between the downtown and uptown districts. Her modern ranch-style home had hardwood floors, granite countertops, plenty of windows—everything she had wanted. She also had a home office and workout room, though she preferred to exercise outside, jogging and riding her bicycle.
After putting her things away and catching up on mail and email, she showered and dressed before heading out to meet her friend Madison Wagner for cocktails. The two had met a few weeks ago at a book fair and hit it off.
When Holly walked into the Blue Café, she immediately spotted Madison. She was hard to miss with her long, curly brown hair with blond highlights, gold-flecked brown eyes, beautiful caramel skin tone and an enviously slender frame that Holly would kill to have. As usual, Madison was smartly dressed in designer clothes.
“Hey,” Holly said as she approached her.
“Hey, girl.” Madison flashed a smile. “Thanks for coming.”
“Had to get your take on the hottest books,” Holly said. Madison was a successful book reviewer and was known for being brutally honest in her reviews.
“I’ll be happy to share. Let’s find a place to sit.”
Though the place was crowded, they found a table near the back and ordered drinks.
“So how’s that good-looking brother of yours doing?” Madison asked.
Though they had never met face-to-face, Madison and Stuart had video chatted one day.
“Busy as ever with work and playing daddy,” Holly told her.
“Good for him. Honestly, I’ve never been the mommy type, but I applaud any single parent who can balance everything in life as he seems to be doing.”
Holly had assumed that Madison was cool with children, but apparently not. So much for any possibility of Madison and Stuart getting together someday. Not that she could pass judgment, considering children were not exactly a priority in her own busy life these days. Though not having a man made the idea of being a mother that much harder to grasp.
“It can be very challenging at times,” Holly said. “But somehow he manages to get by.”
“Don’t we all, no matter our challenges.”
A young couple who couldn’t seem to keep their hands off each other got up from the table beside theirs. Holly couldn’t help but notice the enormous wedding ring on the woman’s finger.
“Did you get a load of her ring?” she asked.
Madison smirked. “How could I not?”
Holly sensed that she had hit a sore spot. “What?”
“Two years ago I was engaged. Then my asshole fiancé called the wedding off a week before we were supposed to walk down the aisle.”
“You’re joking?” Holly asked, though it was evident by the anger in Madison’s face that she was anything but playing around.
“I wish I were. It was a terrible time in my life and it still hurts.”
“That’s awful. I’m sorry. You should’ve told me before now.”
“It’s not exactly the way I wanted to begin a new friendship, by sulking over my ex,” Madison said. “Especially when I’m trying to move on and forget him, hard as it has been to do.”
“I understand.” In truth, Holly couldn’t imagine falling for someone only to have the rug ripped out from beneath her because he got cold feet or whatever.
“Sorry about that,” Madison said. “I didn’t mean for tonight to be a downer.”
“If I’d known, I never would’ve gawked over that ring,” Holly told her, feeling a little guilty.
“Really, it’s fine,” Madison assured her. “Just because I was hurt by a jerk doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to picturing a man slipping a ring on your finger someday.”
Holly envisioned that for just a moment, but it still seemed so far away.
Besides, right now this was about Madison, not her.
“I hope you don’t let that jerk keep you from giving your heart to another man,” Holly said sympathetically.
“I don’t want to,” Madison said, lifting her drink. “But it is what it is. After putting everything I had into that relationship only to get burned, I’m not ready to get back into the dating game. Maybe someday.”
Holly figured this probably wasn’t the best time to talk about her own romantic prospects. Especially since she didn’t have too many prospects lately.
“Let’s talk about books,” she said, changing to a more agreeable subject. “I just finished a thriller by Zolton Elliot. It was pretty intense and I would definitely recommend the book, even though the protagonist was a little too perfect. What should I try next?”
Madison tossed back her hair, smiling. “I’m so glad you asked. I can recommend several books and you can pick which one sounds most enticing.”
Holly typed in the recommendations on her iPhone, hoping to read them all eventually. They ordered a second cocktail.
* * *
On Saturday morning, Anderson watched the large television screen above the elliptical machine as he worked out at the fitness center. Holly’s lovely face was on display as she delivered the news with the professionalism and anchor voice that showed she was in her true element. Since they had said their goodbyes five days ago, he hadn’t been able to