My Heavenly Father, thank You for my life. You never cease to amaze me with Your blessings!
To my husband, Lance, my children, family and friends. Thank you for your continued support. I appreciate and love you!
To my critique partner, Leslie Wright. Girl, those phone calls are a lifesaver! Thanks, sis.
A special thank-you to the readers and authors I’ve met on this journey. You continue to enrich my life.
Thank you to my editor, Patience Bloom, for your editorial guidance and support.
A very special thank-you to my agent, Sarah E. Younger. I appreciate you more than words can say.
“Hey, girl. You want to do lunch today?”
Faith Alexander smiled. “Sure. I’m just working on one of my web designs.” Once or twice a month on a Saturday she and her best friend, Kathi Norris, met for lunch. “Hang on, Kathi. Someone’s at the door,” she said. She saved the page she’d been working on and left the spare bedroom in her town house that she had converted to an office. It contained a desk, two bookshelves, a file cabinet and a sofa for those times when she planned to work all night, but needed a place to nap. She crossed the living room, opened the door and saw the mailman standing there.
He stuck a box into her hands along with a card and pen. “Just sign here, please.”
She cradled the phone against her ear, adjusted the box and signed the receipt. “Thank you.” Faith closed the door and frowned, not recognizing the sender.
Kathi’s voice drew Faith out of her thoughts. “Sorry. I just got a box from someone in Los Angeles named Thaddeus Whitcomb.”
“Ooh, girl, you’ve got a man sending you gifts from California?”
“No. I have no idea who this is.” She shook the box and heard a slight rustling.
“I have no idea,” she said, walking back to her office and placing it on the desk.
“Anyway, Cameron—the guy I’ve been dating—has a cute friend and I thought we could double-date,” Kathi said.
“No. The last time I went on one of your little blind double dates it turned into the month from hell. You’re on your own this time.”
“Grant wasn’t that bad.”
“Hmph. You weren’t the one he was calling ten times a day asking when I was going to let him come to my house. I swear that man had octopus arms and was just as slimy. He made my skin crawl.” She shivered with the remembrance.
“Okay, okay, I get your point. He did border on stalking.”
“But this guy is different—six feet, rich brown skin, fit and easy on the eyes.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m not interested.” After that fiasco six months ago, she had sworn off men and was content with building her year-old web design business.
“We aren’t getting any younger and I’d like to settle down and have a kid or two before my eggs shrivel up and die.”
She laughed. “Kathi, you act like we’re pushing fifty. We’re only thirty.” She cut into the box, pulled back the flap and saw a stack of letters with a rubber band around them. All were addressed to her from Thaddeus Whitcomb and had “Return to Sender” written on them. She quickly flipped through them and noted the postmarks went back almost twenty-eight years.
While half listening to Kathi list all the reasons why this guy would be different, Faith opened the gray envelope on the top that had her first name written in large letters and withdrew the sheet of paper. When she unfolded it, a photo of a man wearing an army uniform and holding a baby fell out. She didn’t know who he was, but she recognized the child. She quickly read the letter. Her eyes widened and her heart stopped and started up again. “It can’t be. He’s supposed to be dead,” she whispered in shock. “Kathi, I have to go.”
“Wait…what? What about lunch?”
“I need to take a rain check. I’ll call you later.”
Butterflies fluttered in her belly as she picked up the photo again and studied it for a moment before rereading the letter. Tears filled her eyes and anger rose within her. She tossed everything back into the box, slid her arms into a light jacket and grabbed the box, her purse and keys, and left. Although the sun shone, there was a slight breeze and the early June temperatures in Portland hovered near seventy. Twenty minutes later, she rang her parents’ doorbell.