Published: November 2010
Available: Smashwords.com or Amazon.com
Upon the untimely death of her husband and feeling alone, Rhianna Rider shuns the world and secludes herself and her daughters from the dangers that lay beyond her front door. Depression and loneliness are her constant companions until her best friend, Nicole Hendricks, persuades her broach her fears and she attends an autumn party. Scared and feeling ostracized, she decides to leave the gathering when her path crosses an old boyfriend.
Jerrick Mason is forever trying to evade his family’s questions about his future. He asks Rhianna and her girls to join him for Thanksgiving under the pretense of being his girlfriend. When Rhianna accepts his proposal, they are sent into a whirlwind of healing past pains and the discovery of a new relationship together. But forever blocking her path are the memories, heartache, and the loyalty she still feels toward her lost husband. Through her friendship with Jerrick, she must overcome her fears or face the possibilities of being alone forever.
A Season For Love displays the hope that can be found after tragedy. Through heartache and devastation, this novel embraces the tender and delicate emotions that surround life and bring two souls together in a binding and eternal love.
The doorbell rang and Rhianna hurried to answer it. To her surprise, both the baby sitter and Jerrick stood on the front porch. “Come in.” She gave the sitter a quick run down of everything she might need to know and left her cell phone number on the fridge.
“I need a kiss, Mommy,” Lark said with her arms open wide.
“Have fun, honey, and be good. Help Stephanie with Lavender.”
“Bye, Mommy,” Lavender said as she buried herself in Rhianna’s arms.
“You be a good girl and go to bed.”
“You aren’t terribly comfortable leaving the girls, are you?” Jerrick asked once they were in the car. “Peppermint?” She took one and put it into her mouth, which saved her scarf from momentarily being twisted into further knots.
“Is that a bad thing?”
“No. I think it’s a good thing. Too many parents don’t have any qualms about leaving their children with a sitter far too often. I think it’s great that you have such a close relationship with them.”
They drove in silence for a few minutes before Rhianna finally spoke again. “Where are we going?”
“Yeah. Your little friend decided that would be a great activity.”
Of course she did. Nicole’s favorite thing to do was go bowling. Rhianna shook her head. The second she mentioned that she and the girls would be spending Thanksgiving with Jerrick, Nicole had decided to set up a double date. Rather than plan it with Rhianna, Nicole called Jerrick and the two set up the evening.
In the past week and a half, Jerrick had been over several times. Just to stop by and say hello, or play with the girls. Once, when he stopped by, Lark said very loudly with annoyance, “Mommy, when is that man going to leave?” Jerrick and Rhianna had to try earnestly not to laugh. But Lark finally started to warm to him some, though they were not bosom buddies. Jerrick claimed he stopped by so the girls would feel comfortable with him and not give away the charade come Thanksgiving time. Whether that was his true purpose or if he had other motives for stopping by, Rhianna admitted that it was enjoyable to have him around.
After securing a lane and renting hideous bowling shoes, Rhianna and Jerrick selected bowling balls and awaited Nicole and her date’s arrival. “Are you any good at this?” Jerrick asked as he laced up his shoes.
“No. Unfortunately, Nicole is very good.”
“Oh, so I’ll have some competition?”
“Are you good?” she asked, concerned that she might humiliate herself tonight.
“No,” he chuckled. “I usually do all right the first four or five turns, but then my shoulder starts bothering me and I get gutter balls from there on out.”
Rhianna laughed, relieved that she may not be the worst one there. Looking at Jerrick, she felt the nervous butterflies in her stomach start anew. Feeling unsettled by him was a strange sensation. She had known him most of her growing-up life. He was a dear friend and there was no reason she needed to feel nervous around him. Yet as they sat waiting for Nicole, Rhianna had a few minutes to contemplate her strange new feelings for Jerrick.
She found herself laughing with him frequently and even felt a desire to be a better person when in his company. He had a way of making her feel like her old self again and she reveled in the thought that perhaps she could be that girl again. But reality always seemed to be a breath or two away. As soon as solitude found her once more, the carefree person she was around Jerrick disappeared to be replaced by her lonely, depressed self. However, the more Jerrick came around, the less intense her loneliness became.
“I hope Nicole is actually planning to show up,” Rhianna muttered aloud. It would amuse Nicole to simply stay home and let Rhianna fend for herself.
“We’re in luck. I think that’s her right there.” He pointing to a couple on the other side of the room.
A half hour later, Nicole and her date, Adam, and Jerrick and Rhianna were starting their first game. Rhianna thought she was doing fairly well, though not as well as anyone else. “Here, let me help you,” Jerrick said on her third turn.
“Am I that bad?” she asked as he came to stand next to her.
“No,” he mumbled quietly. “I just want one of us to be able to give Nicole a run for her money. And since my game will be over in two more turns, it’s up to you, kitten.” He winked at her and she felt her face flush with color. Glancing over at Nicole and Adam, she realized they were so wrapped up in there own silly little conversation that they hardly seemed to notice Rhianna and Jerrick.
“Now,” he said more loudly. “Come up here.” Rhianna looked at him in question, but did as he said and walked to the beginning of the lane. “Now turn around and show me your foot work.”
“But I’m backward.”
“I know. Just show me what your feet do.” She complied and then he said, “Good. Now see where you stopped. Turn around there and try just your feet again and see where you land.”
She did as he instructed and ended up right where she had started the first time. “Okay, now what?” she asked, mimicking a knowledge starved pupil.
“Now, my dearest kitten,” he said teasingly, “you see those arrows on the lane?” Rhianna nodded. “That’s what you are aiming for. Those are your guides to the pins.”
Rhianna had heard all this before. She had taken a gym class in high school where they had learned to bowl, but she found it helpful to have a few basics reviewed. “Are you going to show me how to swing too?”
“I wasn’t. But if you insist,” he said with a sly smile. Taking the ball away from her, he set it down and stood behind her. The second his hands clasped hers, her arms broke out in goose bumps. He pulled her back to her new starting position and pulled her body flush against his, holding her with his hand around her waist. Her breath quickened as he began counting softly in her ear and guided her through the steps. He took her hand and swinging their arms, mimicked the actions of bowling a ball down the lane as though this was nothing more than a graceful dance.
When they released the imaginary ball, she could feel his chest raising and falling with each breath, faster than it should and her own heart seemed to be racing with his down the lane. Slowly, she turned around and gazed into his eyes. Her entire body trembled as she looked at him. His eyes caressed her face and she fancied they lingered on her lips a moment too long. Her eyes, too, traveled over his face and she felt an excess amount of water building up in her mouth and had to swallow before she could speak. “Thank you,” she whispered. “I think I have the hang of it now.”
“Are you sure?” he asked in a husky voice.
“Yes,” she said with more confidence and volume. Stepping around him, she went to retrieve her ball.
Difficult though the task was Rhianna tried to push her tutorial with Jerrick from her mind. It was simply an instructional lesson, nothing more. But the feelings that the lesson evoked troubled her. Convinced that she could never love another man or even feel a fondness for one, her pounding heart now caused her to tremble with fear. She had vowed to be forever loyal to Scott, and these betraying feelings distressed her. How would Scott feel, to be replaced after less than a year? No. She would not allow Jerrick or anyone else to sway her loyalty from Scott. Nothing could dispel his memory. And she would not allow anyone to provoke those kinds of feelings again. Jerrick was simply a friend in need and she would not allow him to be anything more. With renewed conviction, she took her stance, pushed Jerrick from her mind and rolled a strike.