A Family of Their Own - By Gail Gaymer Martin Page 0,1

It’s always been a women’s organization—you know, Mothers of Special Kids—and I’d hoped you could find another resource out of the ones that I suggested.”

Ross touched her arm. “Please. I wasn’t trying to embarrass you. I knew it was a long shot.” He lowered his eyes. “Ethan gave me the other support groups’ phone numbers, but—”

“We’d never thought of men joining our group.” Heat soared to her cheeks. “When we discussed it…” She captured his gaze. “And we did—all the women thought that men didn’t really like talking about their feelings.”

He flinched.

She wished she’d phrased it differently. “We thought men preferred to get things done, not talk about them.”

“But when a man has a seriously ill child, there’s little he can do.”

The comment twisted in her chest. Lucy’s operations for brain tumors tore into her memory. “I understand. I always felt so lonely before MOSK.”

With a slight nod, he lowered his head. “It’s hard to open up, but I think hearing about others struggling with similar problems would be helpful. I’m sure I would benefit from everyone’s experiences.”

“Ross, I’m really sorry.” She dragged in a breath. “Now that I’ve heard what you have to say, I could try again in a while.”

His gaze drifted to hers. “Thanks.” He wove his fingers together and dropped his clenched hands into his lap. “I did call the other agencies, but either the meeting times didn’t work for me or some of them had disbanded their groups.” He lifted his chin. “I’m Peyton’s only parent, and…”

“I understand.” Apologizing again offered little solace for the group’s rejection. It made sense at the time, but now… She evaded his eyes, and before she could rally, a noise from outside caught everyone’s attention.

Cooper’s excitement split the air. “It’s Ethan.”

The doorknob turned, and Ethan stepped into the foyer, snow drifting from his coat as he waved to everyone waiting. He slipped his arm around Lexie and gave her a fleeting kiss. The gesture triggered a flutter of envy in Kelsey. Years had passed since she’d been hugged by a man, let alone been kissed.

Ethan greeted each person, and when he stopped at the sofa, his eyes captured hers. “I see you’ve met Ross.” A grin flickered on his wind-flushed cheeks.

Guilt snaked through her. “Yes, and we’ve talked.”

He gave Ross a wink and shook his hand.

As he headed back to Lexie, the bell rang again. Ethan answered and welcomed their pastor inside, but when he turned toward the archway where Lexie had been standing, Ethan’s eyes widened. “Where’d she go?”

His mother laughed. “She’s getting ready for her wedding.” She shook her finger at him as if he were still her little boy. “You can’t see the bride in her finery before the ceremony. You know that.”

Ethan’s sheepish nod provided Kelsey with motivation to rise. “I’ll go check on her.” Escaping up the staircase, she reached the top, then slowed and drew in a deep breath. She needed to get her head untangled from Ross’s presence. She’d suspected that her concern had focused on Ross’s reaction to the MOSK group’s veto, but that wasn’t it. That would have been easier than the truth. She found him attractive in many ways. Besides his good looks, his vulnerability touched her and opened doors she thought had been closed.

Dealing with her emotions, she knocked on Lexie’s bedroom door, and when Lexie told her to enter, Kelsey slipped inside and faltered. “Lexie, you look gorgeous.” Kelsey swept to her side and wrapped Lexie in her arms. “Just beautiful.” Though she’d seen her friend’s wedding dress on the hanger, she hadn’t seen it on Lexie. The white A-line satin gown featured a beaded bodice with a rounded neckline and cap sleeves. Lexie’s dark wavy hair hung below her shoulders and contrasted with the sparkling crystal beads. Words failed Kelsey.

Lexie’s mother wiped tears from her eyes. “I never thought I’d see this day. Never.”

The comment jolted Kelsey’s recollection. Lexie and her mother hadn’t been close in many years, but mending seemed to have occurred. Memories of Kelsey’s own lovely wedding came to mind, an amazing day that sadly ended years later when her husband had run off with her best friend. Lexie’s marriage, she believed, was made in heaven.

Could she ever dream of such a day? The question winged in her thoughts for a fleeting second to be replaced with Ross’s dark eyes. No. If she’d been foolish earlier, that speculation was the topper.

Lexie motioned to the table beneath the window. “Let’s not forget the flowers.”


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