Fast forward to present day...
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Here's an excerpt from FORD:
Looking around, he remembered how his grandmother had a thing for hiding spare keys in flowerpots and, sure enough, after feeling around in the three next to the front door, he found one. Within minutes, he was inside and closing the door behind him. The space was warmer than he imagined it would be, but it was also pitch black.
Cursing the lack of electricity, he carefully made his way across the room toward the small bedroom in the back. The space was tiny by any standards, but the main floor housed a one-room living room-kitchen combo, a bathroom and a bedroom. There was a small loft space upstairs that was also used for sleeping, but he had a feeling it had been primarily used for storage in recent years. The bedroom seemed like the safest place to go.
Inside, he silently prayed there were blankets on the bed and, reaching out blindly, he was able to confirm that there were.
“I’ve slept in worse conditions,” he quietly reminded himself as he kicked off his shoes and shrugged out of his jacket. With little concern, he dropped the garment on the floor and quickly did the same with his socks, shirt and jeans. In nothing more than his briefs, he slid beneath the blankets and sighed at how good it felt to be lying down.
His eyes were heavy, and he cleared his mind of the craziness of the day, the damage he’d just witnessed on the main house, and all of the work that lay ahead of him and forced himself to simply not think. Sleep wasn’t going to be a problem once his brain quieted down, and as he settled a little farther down under the blankets, he yawned and closed his eyes and felt himself smile as sleep began to claim him.
Tomorrow was another day, and no doubt, he was going to need his rest.
He could have been asleep for minutes or hours—but it was the scream that woke him up and had him jumping from the bed in near terror.
“Oh my God! Who are you? What are you doing here?”
The voice was female, but it was too dark and he had no idea who was speaking. His brain was foggy and it took a full minute for Ford to get his bearings.
On the other side of the room, he heard footsteps and things moving around, and the next thing he knew, something was poking him—hard—in the shoulder. “Hey! What the…?”
“I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it!” the female voice said, but Ford heard the slight tremor there, and he was no idiot—it wasn’t a gun poking him. It was a bat.
“Look, um…I’m Ford Garrison,” he said, his own voice firm and commanding as he reached out and grabbed the bat from her hands. She shrieked at his actions but he wasn’t going to be deterred. “This is my grandmother’s home and property and you’re trespassing. Now why don’t you just get your things and get going and we’ll forget all about this.”
That sounded logical, right?
“Ford?” she said weakly. “But…no. You’re lying. Ford wouldn’t be here right now.”
Seriously? “And how would you know that?” he demanded, growing tired of this conversation after less than a minute.
“Be…because Ford never comes home and Margaret is always talking about it. So…whoever you are, you need to leave because I’m calling the police,” she said, her voice a little steadier now.
And that’s when an idea hit him – his phone was in the pocket of his jeans. Slowly, silently, he crouched down and fished it out and turned it on, illuminating the room a little. When the light hit his would-be assailant, he stiffened.
Long, tousled honey-blonde hair, big blue eyes…damn. He tilted the phone and took in her flannel pajama pants and ribbed tank top and…double damn. When his gaze hit her face again, Ford noticed the flash of annoyance there. That’s when he opted to put the focus on himself so she could see he was who he claimed to be. Her soft gasp told him she recognized him.
If only he could say the same of her…
“Okay,” he said calmly. “I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but…as you can see, I am Margaret’s grandson. I know it’s late but…you’ve got to go.”
She crossed her arms over her chest—which was a shame—and continued to glare at him. “I’m not going anywhere,” she said defiantly. “I’m renting this house from Margaret, so if anyone’s going to leave, it’s you.”
“You rent this place? Since when?” As he spoke, the light of the phone seemed to get her right in the eyes, because she instantly shielded them. And as much as he wanted answers, Ford was fairly certain he could get them without blinding her.
“For the last three months,” she said as she sat down on the corner of the bed. “No one mentioned you were coming to visit.”
“I hopped on a plane as soon as I heard about Grams’ accident,” he explained, wondering how they were being so calm when everything was so confusing. “And no one mentioned you were renting this place.” He paused. “Who are you?”
With a smile that was tinged with disappointment, she said, “Callie James.” When he didn’t react, she went on, “My mother used to come and clean for Margaret and Ben once a week when I was younger.” He still didn’t say anything, and her disappointment turned to annoyance. “You were about four years ahead of me but we went to school together…”
Blaming his befuddled mind on exhaustion, Ford did his best to rack his brain for what she was saying to him and then…
“Wait, you’re Ruthie’s daughter?”
She nodded. “Yup. That’s me,” she said, forcing a smile. “I spent a lot of time here when I was younger, and when I got the job teaching kindergarten at the elementary school, your grandmother offered me the guesthouse to live in.” She shrugged. “Saves time on the commute and all.”
Ford nodded. “I’ll be honest, I had no idea anyone was living out here. Grams didn’t mention it, and I just assumed I’d stay here while some of the work was being done on the house.”
“Looks like you need to have a Plan B.”
I'm a big fan of the trope where we have a reluctant hero returning to his home town and finding not only love, but himself, and that is totally Ford's story. As I mentioned, there are seven books in the series and you really don't want to miss them. You can check them all out here:
And you can enter to win an iPad mini plus a signed paperback copy of MADE FOR US (Shaughnessy Brothers book one) here: http://www.barbarafreethy.com/promo/#start