A small town called Fairview is Lily Wakefield's last stop--there's nowhere left to go. Maybe here she can finally stop running and start a new life. Which just might include Simon McCarthy, the newspaperman and single father who's starting to make her believe in love again.
Just as she and Simon start becoming a real family that includes her baby twins and his daughter, Lily's past catches up with her. And that past could rob her of her chance at happiness.
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March 10, 2008
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Excerpt from Be My Babies by Kathryn Shay
Standing outside the Sentinel, Lily Wakefield slid the crumpled yellowed article from her purse and held it up in front of the old brick edifice. The newspaper office looked more or less the same as it had when her mother, Cameron, clipped the picture just before she left Fairview, New York, carrying a suitcase containing practical clothes, serviceable shoes and one hundred dollars. Now, Lily stood before the building in her Prada sandals, DKNY slacks and tailored jacket, with about the same amount of cash in her wallet. The Louis Vuitton bag at her side held a few more outfits, but only as many as she could carry.
Someone bumped into her, said, "Excuse me," and kept going.
Lily nodded and stayed where she was.
About five feet away, the man turned back. "Are you all right?"
"What? Oh, yes."
Glancing up at the sky, he frowned. "Looks like we're in for one of those April showers." His comment was underscored by a draft of wind that lifted and swirled her dark chin-length hair around her face. He pointed to the office. "There's a pot of coffee in there and some homemade cookies that Mrs. Billings made. Want to come in?"
"Um, yes, I guess I do. Thanks."
Bending down, he picked up her suitcase before she could take hold of it and walked alongside her toward the front doors.
It's a beautiful place. It used to be an old home, and then it was converted into the newspaper offices. In the front reception and waiting area, there's a fireplace, a comfortable couch and chairs, and a worn desk like the kind you'd see in reruns of the old TV show, Superman. I used to love to go there after school and wait for Daddy to be done with work.
What Lily's mother hadn't told her, and what she only figured out years later, was that Cameron would have done anything to delay going home to her own mother.
Once they were inside, the man motioned to the couch. "Please, sit down." When she'd seated herself, he added, "I'm Simon McCarthy."
"Nice to meet you." Again, he smiled. His hazel eyes did, too. "Would you like some coffee?"
"I--I can't have that."
"Oh." When Lily said no more, he asked, "How about tea?"
"Decaffeinated would be okay. Lovely, really, but don't fuss."
"No problem." He went into the back room, and while he was gone Lily studied her surroundings. The windows let in the afternoon breeze, along with the chirping of the birds in the leafy maple trees outside. Engraved plaques hung on the wall before her, citing the Sentinel and its editor for various good works. Pictures were interspersed with the awards describing the accomplishments of the paper and its reporters. A few minutes later, Simon returned with a steaming mug. Lily took the cup and sniffed. Mmm. Cinnamon. "Thank you so much." It had been a long time since a man had waited on her.
When she said nothing more, he sat down on a chair opposite her. "Is there a reason you were out there just staring at the building?" He nodded to the suitcase. "With that?"
Her stomach churned. She prayed she wouldn't get sick all over this total stranger. "Yes." She glanced up at one of the pictures she'd noticed earlier. Its headline read, Gardner Garners The Gold--Best Of Small-town Newspapers. From other photos she'd seen, she recognized the man. "I'm looking for him, Gil Gardner."
Simon tracked her gaze. "I'm not quite sure where he is today."
"Is he out on a story?"
"No, he doesn't cover the news anymore." Sandy eyebrows were raised. They matched his short, dark blond hair, which had a bit of curl. "He's at the office sometimes, but he doesn't do much reporting."
"Doesn't he own the paper?"
"Yeah, he's still the owner. But I run the place. I'm editor in chief." He chuckled self-effacingly. "And a lot of other things. Our staff is small and the tasks are many."