“You never should have left.” His voice was low, menacing.
“I had to.” She glared. “I needed to. I needed to look for my son.”
“I searched,” he ground out, shaking his head. “For weeks. Every day for weeks, from sun up to sun down. What makes you think you could find him, when I couldn’t?”
“I don’t know,” she cried. “But I had to try. I had to try. He’s my son. I had to look for him.”
“He’s my son, too,” Jake rasped. “Do you think I didn’t look every place I could think of, and then some? Why don’t you trust me?”
“I never said I don’t trust you.”
“No. You never say it with words—”
“Damn you and your… body language!” She swiped at the tears burning her eyes. “You’re not God. You don’t know everything. You can’t know everything. How dare you? How dare you question my need to look for my son?!”
“He’s my son, too.” His voice was soft, tinged with hurt.
“No.” She shook her head, anger and humiliation colliding in a frenzy of irrational fury. “He’s mine. It was my body he grew in. Mine. I laboured to deliver him. I nursed him and changed him, and I sang him to sleep. You… you didn’t even see him, until he was six months old!”
If there were any way to take the words back, she would have done so, the instant they left her mouth.
Jake’s face crumpled, and the anger blazing in his eyes died, as his shoulders slumped. He seemed to age before her eyes, the laugh lines around his eyes deepening to heavy creases, grief dragging the corners of his wide mouth.
“So that’s how it is,” he said quietly.
She swallowed and shook her head. “No, Jake, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean it. He is your son. Maybe not by blood, but legally, and more importantly, by heart. I know you love him as much as I—”
“Don’t touch me,” he muttered, flinching away when she reached for him.
“I’m sorry, Jake. I am. I was mad. And that’s no excuse. I didn’t mean it. Truly. Please, please forgive me.” She touched her fingers to her mouth, shook her head. “Please Jake,” she whispered. “You must believe me. I didn’t mean it.”
His jaw muscles bulged, as he scowled at the ground, his hands balled in fists. Her lungs ached with the effort of holding her breath, praying he would forgive her, understand it was… anguish that drove her to unkind words. Unimaginably cruel words.
With a strong inhalation, he angled his jaw up and side to side, stretching his neck. Exhaling slowly, he murmured, “Why here?”
She followed his gaze.
The oak tree’s green leaves flashed umber and gold the glow of the setting sun. Only the tips of the crosses and headstones were visible beneath its leafy shelter. She closed her eyes, recalling the names engraved on the stone markers: Connemara Rosita Vásquez Douglas, Jonathon Andrew Douglas, Jackson John ‘Three Bears’ Douglas: Jake’s first wife, son, and stepfather. And now a new marker would join them, another son’s: Jackson James Edward Marshall Douglas.
“I… wanted to talk to her,” she rasped. “To… Connie.”
He looked at her.
She dropped her gaze to her hands she had locked together, heels of her palms pressed so tightly her elbows ached.
“I… asked her to look after JJ for me.” And with the words, the last of her anger dissipated, sucked away in a windstorm of grief. Her knees gave out. Jake caught her, and she went willingly to his arms.
Gripping his shirtfront, she sobbed, so deep in her misery she did not at first register his words. Then the low rumbles in his chest formed a coherent sentence in the air.
“What?” She wiped at her eyes, tilted her head to stare at him.
“I said,” he said hoarsely. “It might be too early to ask that of Connie.”
She clutched at him. “What? Why? What do you know? What do you know, Jake?”
My Own is the culmination of Dianna and Jake’s journey to greater love and understanding, but the series doesn’t end there.
Book III, My One True Love, features Margaret Stewart, Dianna’s former benefactress and current friend from Book I and II, who, twice widowed, has no intention of ever marrying again. Her heart cannot withstand another loss. But fate has other plans for her in the form of Joe Banner…