The small Montana town of St. Adelbert was supposed to be a refuge for Abby Fairbanks and her young nephew, Kyle. But the well-dressed, far-too-good-looking stranger standing outside her front door could threaten all that.
His name is Reed Maxwell, and he's looking for his missing brother--possibly the father of the boy Abby has sworn to protect. Abby refuses to believe Reed is the type who'd take a child from his home and the people who love him. Because Reed seems like a good man, who didn't come to destroy a family but to mend one. Maybe even to find one.
But when events beyond their control threaten to come between them, will Reed walk away and take Kyle--and Abby's heart--with him?
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February 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Promise to a Boy by Mary Brady
"You're not Angelina Fairbanks."
"I knew that." Abby Fairbanks smiled at the man who had rung her front doorbell--insistently--interrupting an excellent game of Candy Land with her nephew. She brushed a clump of dark curls out of her eyes so she could get a better look at the tall and sullen stranger.
He studied a photo in his hand and then looked at her again. His dark brown eyes gave nothing away, but his frown deepened. "This is supposed to be the address of A. Fairbanks who moved here from Denver. Is Angelina here?"
Abby reached out and tipped the edge of the photo so she could see the image. It was Lena all right, from a few years ago when they lived in Denver, and it looked as if it had been taken at one of the parties during which her sister had partaken of more than one mood-altering substance.
She looked up at him and gave him a long steady not-quite glare.
"I guess that would depend on who you are." And what you want with my sister, mister. He didn't look like the law, thankfully, because Lena had cleaned up her act.
The man eyed her suspiciously.
Abby fingered a button at the V of her flowered Henley-style shirt and then tugged down the edge of the hem that must have flipped up when she sat on the floor playing with five-year-old Kyle. When she realized these twitchy actions probably made her look less confident than she wanted to look, she put one hand on the doorknob and stood up straighter.
"What do you mean, it depends on who I am?" he asked.
The man's rumpled blue-and-white-striped dress shirt had a small drop of something red--ketchup hopefully--on the front of it, and the quilted leather bomber jacket he wore looked high fashion, or rather...well, she'd think girlie if he didn't look so hot in it. Whoever he was, he had traveled far away from home.
"Montana's a big state and St. Adelbert is a small out-of-the-way town. We don't get many strangers here, especially on our doorsteps. It makes us cautious." Abby hoped the nudge acted like a warning shot fired over his head.
"It's important that I speak with Angelina. Is she here or not?" He widened his stance to look more intimidating. He didn't need to. His muscular body and deep frown were enough for that.
Abby suddenly felt something she hadn't felt since she moved back to the small town of St. Adelbert.
What if there was something in Lena's past she didn't know about, something bad enough to have some city man chase her down?
"I'll be back in a few minutes, sweetie," she called over her shoulder to her nephew, who no doubt was already getting anxious to continue their game. Then she stepped out onto the dull gray porch badly in need of paint and pulled the door closed behind her. She was safe outside. In a town this size, where everyone loved to know everyone else's business, all she needed to do was call loudly and at least three neighbors with weapons of some sort would converge. Even if it was just one of the gray-haired women across the street with a cast-iron skillet.
The man stepped back toward the wooden railing. His short dark hair looked as if it got the tender loving care of a city barber, no, make that a stylist. His nails were neat and his skin, probably a pale shade before he left home, had been cast with a pink tinge from exposure to the harsh mountain sun.
Things could go any which way. She could push and he could push back harder. She took a deep breath and decided the best thing to do was to keep things light, until he did something to actually threaten her or hers.
"If you're a bill collector, she's out of the country. If you're the police, she didn't do it. If you're a suitor..." Which Abby definitely knew he was not....