Pathway to Peace
Pathway to Peace
Grant Us Grace book 5
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- Mistaken identity
- Wounded heroine
- Opposites attract
A woman hiding from her past. A man excited about his future. Opposites attract, but secrets threaten their happiness.
Lindsey Bowers has spent five years trying to escape her mistakes. She’s created a life, such as it is, where few people know her history. If that means she has to keep people at arm’s length, so be it.
Gavin Harder is ready to tackle the future. Newly relocated to the D.C. area, he plans to spend Christmas with his grandmother and get settled before attending the Police Academy in January. He can’t wait to protect and serve with his new brothers in blue.
When Gavin’s grandmother invites Lindsey to share Thanksgiving dinner with them, Gavin makes it clear he’s not looking for a relationship. But the instant attraction he feels has him rethinking that decision. Before long, attraction turns to friendship with the hope of something more.
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
Lindsey locked the front door behind her and toed off her shoes, kicking them toward the wall to join her dad’s boots. She shed her coat and tossed it at the closet doorknob, shrugging as it missed and made a heap on the floor. She’d pick it up later.
Carrying the pile of mail in her hand, she made kissing sounds. Where was Snickers? A streak of brown and black blurred past and she laughed. “There you are. Come on, Snicks. Let’s get a treat.”
The cat skidded, sat, and looked over his shoulder at her, ears twitching.
“That’s right. A treat. Come on.” Lindsey patted her leg and aimed for the kitchen. She’d get the cat a treat, sort the mail, and catch up on her TV watching. She winced as her father’s voice niggled in her head. Fine. She’d clean the bathroom first, and then watch her show.
The smell of fish filled the kitchen when she pried off the lid of the cat treat can. She wrinkled her nose as she tipped the treat into the cat’s bowl and set it on the floor. “I don’t know why you like these. They smell terrible.”
The cat ignored her and hunched down to nibble at the treat.
Lindsey set the can aside. The mail was mostly flyers and ads. Did credit card companies still get business this way? She tossed another pre-approved application onto the to-be-shredded pile and froze. The manila envelope bore the adoption agency’s return address. She wasn’t expecting a letter. Not today. Brian and Olivia, her son’s parents, only mailed her things on his birthday. She set the envelope aside and finished sorting the mail.
Hands shaking, she reached for the letter. It wasn’t a big deal. Shouldn’t be. It could be a super-early Christmas card. Or a picture that was too good not to share. It was the surprise that had her heart constricting to the point of pain. Lindsey shook her head. She wasn’t convincing herself. Better to just open the thing and find out.
She smiled as what had to be a school picture slid onto the table. His first school photo—and it was everything a kindergarten shot should be, down to the tiniest smudge of chocolate on his chin.
He looked identical to her memories of his father. Was there even the smallest hint of her in there? She squinted at the picture but couldn’t see one. Sometimes that made it easier.
Lindsey set the photo aside and blinked back her tears as she picked up the short letter. They were moving. To Thailand. As missionaries. She set the sheet of paper aside and closed her eyes.
It wasn’t as if they got together now. That had never been part of their arrangement. Lindsey hadn’t had any in-person contact with her son or his parents other than meeting them before he was born and at the hospital. But she’d always had the possibility.
Unless she was planning a trip to Thailand, that chance was gone.
“He’s not mine.” Her voice was a whisper, but the reminder was good. She cleared her throat and nodded. “He’s not mine. It was nice of them to tell me.”
Her phone buzzed, and she grabbed at it like a lifeline.
Maybe someone needed her at the store. Except the number wasn’t one she recognized.
Carrie – I’ve been thinking about you today. It’s been two years. I know I should have moved on by now. And I have. Mostly . . . I can’t help wishing things had turned out better. I hope you’re happy, wherever you are and whoever you’re with.
Lindsey swallowed as her eyes filled. Not because of some heartbroken stranger. That would be pathetic. It had to be the letter from Brian and Olivia. And yet. Her gaze drifted back to the phone. She hadn’t had the number long. Nine, ten months?
Something like that. Dad had gotten it in his head that changing carriers would save them money, and when he’d come home with two new phones, he’d said he hadn’t been able to transfer her number. She snorted. She hadn’t bought it, but she’d let Dad believe she had.
This was the second time Dad had mysteriously been unable to transfer her number. He was trying to protect her by removing the possibility of Ben attempting to contact her. Not that he’d tried in the last five years, but it was still worth avoiding. It was easy enough to text her handful of friends and give them the new number.
She reread the text. Should she reply to this guy? It had to be a guy, didn’t it? Should she let him know Carrie was no longer at this number? What would she want, if the situation was reversed?
Blowing out a breath, she picked up the phone and tapped.
Hi there. I thought you might like to know this isn’t Carrie’s number any longer. I’ve had it for almost a year now. Have a happy Thanksgiving?
Lindsey eyed the text and moved to delete the question mark. It’d be better with an exclamation point. Or just a period. After all, she’d wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, even if, as in this case, it didn’t seem likely to happen. Her finger brushed the screen and the message sent. She winced. Oh well. Question mark it was.
She texted her dad to let him know she was home from work and in for the night before sighing and heading to clean the bathroom. A deal was a deal, even if she’d made it with herself. Lindsey paused on the way to hang her coat up and glanced longingly at the couch. It wasn’t as if the TV shows were going anywhere, but still.
She sighed. “Just do it, Linds.
Then your night’s your own.”
Before long, she was settled in front of the TV with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a tall glass of milk. Snickers leapt onto the coffee table and sniffed.
“No, Snicks. That’s my milk. You have water in the kitchen.” But Lindsey dipped her finger in and offered it to the cat. His rough tongue rasped over her finger and he jumped to the couch and curled into a ball. “Tough life, cat.”
Lindsey queued up the next episode of her current binge watch. She loved police procedurals. This one wasn’t amazing, all things considered, but it was enough to hold her interest most days.
Her phone buzzed, and she rolled her eyes as she picked it up. Dad always had to respond to her texts.
Thanks for letting me know. I promise I’m not as desperate as that must have sounded.
Lindsey smiled and rubbed at the familiar ache in her chest. She tapped out a reply.
I get it. The holidays are hard when you’re alone. I pray you have people around you who make it a little easier.
She hit send before she could talk herself out of it. Now she probably seemed every bit as desperate as he’d worried he was in the first text. After all, who spent time replying to wrong texts in the first place? Maybe she could make a case for the first one—that was just polite—but to keep going?
Well, he wasn’t likely to respond again. It didn’t matter what a stranger thought of her. She hit play and settled back into the cushions as the opening theme started and the recurring characters flashed on screen. With any luck, the storyline would be enough to distract her from the ache in her heart.