To my beta readers Lisa and Jean, thank you girls for your endless support and suggestions. To my wonderful family who put up with watching me sit at the computer for endless hours and making sure that I had enough to eat when I couldn't drag myself away, thank you with all my heart. And finally to Michelle who took a chance on an untried author and a book that resembled a rock and helped to polish it until it glittered, thank you.
Once upon a time, Jake Maxfield had the perfect life. He had a great job that made him plenty of money, a beautiful wife, and two wonderful kids. It was a fairy tale existence, and Jake had been too busy to realize just how good he had it. He'd watched it all dry up and blow away like tumbleweeds, aimlessly bouncing in the middle of the road. Molly had gotten sick, and then they found out she was dying. His job tanked after six long years of making more money than anyone else in the history of the company. Real estate finally became insane enough that the market rebelled, and now the house he'd paid so much for, both financially and emotionally, was worth half of what he owed on the mortgage. Molly had died after eleven months of pain, discomfort, and sadness at the thought of leaving Jake and the kids alone.
The bottom line was that something had to change, and it had better happen quickly. The registered letter he had just signed for might be the solution. Jake didn't get all excited right away. The last eighteen months had beaten his optimism to an all-time low. If he hadn't had the kids to consider, he might have given up. But he'd promised Molly that he would take care of them, and Jake was a man of his word.
They needed a fresh start. It was hard to move on when everything he touched and saw was a reminder of other times, when life had been full and his family had been a safe haven to relax in after a day of swimming with the sharks in the mortgage industry. He couldn't help the way he felt. He and Molly had picked out the house and everything in it together, during much happier times. Sometimes he felt choked by the memories, a little bit suffocated. The kids seemed okay, but in all honesty, he didn't really know them that well. He loved them and would do anything for them, but he hadn't spent enough time with them to learn the little things. Molly had been such a good mom. Jake wanted to be a good dad.