For my grandmother, Big Mama—a woman of tiny stature whose courage, faith, and conviction of character earned her status as big. May you always live on not just through the thousands of wonderful memories I possess, but through every woman I write who is strong and deals with the hand life dealt her with courage not complaint, who has an immense love of family and a strong faith, and who is smart, sassy, and sometimes just a little naughty.


Aidan tried to still the rapid beating of his heart as he raced up the front walkway. Stumbling on the porch steps, he lurched towards the front door. He banged both of his fists against the wood as hard as he could. “Please! Please open up! I have to talk to you!” he shouted. His hand slid down the jamb to the doorbell. His finger punched it relentlessly like a SOS call in Morse Code.

Finally, his desperate ministrations were rewarded by the front door swinging open. At the sight of her tear stained face, his soul twisted in agony. “Please…please just let me talk to you!”

She shook her head. “There’s nothing left to say, Aidan. We’ve been down this road too many times. I’ve come to the conclusion that your actions will always speak louder than your words.”

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