“You never should have left.”
“I had to.” She glared. “I needed to. I needed to look for my son.”
“I already searched,” he said. “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. He’s my son. I had to look for him.”
“He’s my son, too—”
“No.” She shook her head, anger, humiliation, and grief 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 was any way to take back the words, she would have, the instant they left her mouth.
Jake’s face crumpled, and the anger blazing in his dark eyes died as his shoulders slumped. He seemed to age before her eyes, the laugh lines around his eyes deepening to creases, grief dragging the corners of his wide mouth.
“So that’s how it is,” he murmured.
“No.” She swallowed. “I’m sorry, Jake. I didn’t mean it. He is your son. And I know you love him as much as I—”
“Don’t touch me.” He flinched away when she reached for him.
She twined her hands together. “I’m sorry, Jake. I am. I was… mad. And that’s no excuse. I know. But you must believe me, I didn’t mean it. Truly. Please, please forgive me. Please Jake,” she whispered. “Please believe me, I didn’t mean it.”
He stared at the ground, his jaw muscles bunching, hands flexing and closing 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 jerked his jaw up, angled his head side to side, stretching corded neck muscles. Finally, after a slow exhalation, 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 canopy.
She closed her eyes recalling the names engraved on the stone markers: Connemara Rosita Vásquez Douglas. Jonathon Andrew Douglas. Jackson ‘Three Bears’ Douglas. Jake’s first wife and son, lost in childbirth, and his stepfather, victim of a cow’s maternal ire.
“I… wanted to talk to her,” she rasped. “To Connie.”
He looked at her, frowned. She dropped her gaze to her hands she had locked together, heels of her palms pressed so tightly, her elbows ached.
“I… ” She swallowed. “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.
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 Books I and II, who, twice widowed, has no intention of ever marrying again. Only fate has other plans for her in the form of Joe Banner…
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