Return to Sweet Home, Texas!
High school administrator, Sparrow Walker, has just moved to Sweet Home into a rental house closer to the school. The Hearth family eagerly welcomes her to town. But the eldest son - workaholic and heart shy Gabriel Hearth - isn't too pleased about having his son's pushy principal living next door.
Sparrow's concerned determination could prove to be Gabriel's saving grace. If only she can convince him to go along with her plan. Proud and private Gabriel isn't exactly willing, so she decides to turn the tables - using her behavior management tactics on him! With her program in place, this time for the parent instead of the student, it's up to Gabriel to make the next move and risk falling in love again. If he can't, he just might lose the one woman strong enough to love a man like him.
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Copyright 2014 © Jayna Morrow
“Stop behaving like a fool. This is not how a grown man acts. I’m done with this conversation. We can continue this later when you’ve calmed down. In the meantime, send all the wedding bills to my office. My assistant will take care of everything.”
She stormed off to the house.
Gabriel took a deep breath to calm down. A giant swan fountain filled with dead leaves stood in the center of the circle drive. The bushes, once shaped into various geometric and animal designs, were now bare and trimmed back. A giant silver wreath with glittering snowflakes adorned the front door. Too gaudy for his taste. Much like their winter wonderland wedding and everything else Lyra had planned for his life, it wasn’t his style.
He still refused to shed a single tear. Only leaves fell, not tears.
He blinked away the insistent moisture in his eyes and shook his head. He hated himself for getting emotional, but he was starting to feel the full weight of rejection.
He grabbed the tailgate with both hands to keep from following her into the house. The cold metal calmed the threat of tears and restored a bit of balance to his emotions.
For all his good qualities, she still didn’t want him. That’s what it boiled down to—she didn’t want his lifestyle. His son Slade’s mother had been the same way. Of course, they’d both been too young in that relationship, but she’d also had big aspirations that didn’t involve Sweet Home.
He walked around the side of his truck and pulled open the door. A few leaves stuck to his front window, and he brushed them off. The driveway was littered with them. He felt dried up and fallen too. Lyra had blown his heart around like leaves in the wind. What was he going to tell everyone? What would they all think? All he’d ever wanted was to marry someone he loved, someone who loved him back equally.
He’d gone and blown it again.
Why couldn’t she see that they were perfect for each other? He was a workaholic. She made time for fun. He lacked sophistication. She was all too willing to polish him to a perfect shine. He had a tendency to take too much control. She knew how to finagle the reins from his calloused hands.
No, this was not right. There was more to her decision than she was willing to admit. She’d change her mind. She’d miss him. There was a side of her that liked to roll in the mud and come up laughing. Though she’d never admit it, she liked quiet moments rocking on the porch and counting stars. Without him, her life would be completely scheduled and routine.
They were supposed to be celebrating their marriage and a baby on the way right now. He had to handle this situation very carefully so he didn’t burn any bridges.
Instead of getting angry like everyone would expect, and flying off the handle, he’d maintain his composure. The business he owned and operated was the largest employer in Sweet Home. He couldn’t always be the good guy. He’d hardened over the years and people expected his gruff nature and business-is-business attitude.
Lyra wasn’t an employee and this wasn’t a business problem. If he had any chance of winning her back, he’d have to learn to separate business from personal matters. And keep his mouth shut.
Not wanting to stay here another minute, he hopped in the truck and shut the door, suddenly wanting to get home. His cell phone beeped its programmed “message waiting” tone. Most likely family or friends wanting to root in his business. This was only the first of many such calls he’d be receiving.
Sighing, he pressed and held down the number one key that automatically sent him to his voicemail box. Then he put his truck in gear and headed in the direction of Sweet Home, trying to ignore the painful throb of his heart.
The first message began to play, and he swallowed hard upon hearing the sultry voice of Sparrow Walker—a woman he tried to avoid at all cost.
The thrum of her voice said nothing of the person attached to it. Miss Walker was five and a half feet of bulldog and she regarded him like one of his milk trucks, always chasing him down for one reason or another. He pulled the phone away from his ear as she made her lengthy introduction and threw his head back. As if he didn’t know who she was.
“Mr. Hearth, I’m calling about Slade. He’s climbed the elementary school fence with some buddies, not our students, and is playing on the playground equipment. I received a complaint from concerned parents that they are being loud. While we do allow public use of the grounds, it is in our policy that everything closes at dark and the gates are locked. I heard you were getting married today, and I don’t mean to disturb you, but I need you to come over to the school and remove your son and his friends from school property. Thank you.”
The overly sweet and high-pitched thank you at the end settled like vinegar in his stomach. Sparrow Walker was the young principal at Sweet Home High School where Slade attended tenth grade, but the boy hadn’t exactly been a model student lately. Given all the calls Gabe had received from Miss Walker about his son, he was pretty sure the annoying woman had him on speed dial.
The last time Gabe had run into her, she’d treated him like one of her naughty students. She kept her brow furrowed and tapped the desk with a fingernail several times. Most people in town wouldn’t dare take him on like that, but Miss Walker hadn’t seemed the least bit scared of him. Still, he couldn’t help but find her amusing.
But the more he dealt with her, the less amusing she became. What he’d thought were a few minor disruptions at school had turned into a full-blown case of teen rebellion on Slade’s part. And while Miss Walker probably thought she was being helpful, she was only contributing to the problem. Slade continued on his destructive path. No one could control the boy, even though his principal seemed to think Gabe possessed magical powers that would enable him to do so. There’d been no improvement this school year either. In fact, things had gotten worse.
Remove Slade from school property?
“Yeah, I’ll get right on it,” he mumbled out loud.
Could this day get any worse?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Texas romance author, Jayna Morrow, has been creating imaginary worlds since a young age. As an elementary school teacher, Jayna juggles the demands of molding young minds, raising two precious daughters, and spending time with her husband/best friend... while making time for passion of writing romance novels. Read more about her at www.jaynamorrow.com.