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Can't wait till release day? The newest addition to The Friessens big family romance series is coming soon, but you can grab a sneak peek of HOW TO HEAL A HEART today!
Gabriel Friessen can’t shake his growing unrest at the idea that his seemingly perfect life is nothing but a lie he’s spent a lifetime running away from.
Even though he loves his wife and step-daughter and has a family who loves him, he suspects that to move forward, he needs to close the door on his past—namely, on the man who is his father, his real father, who turned his back on his mother and left her alone and pregnant in what seemed to be another lifetime, before he was born.
Just getting on with things is no longer as easy as it has been all his life. Andy Friessen adopted him, gave him his name, raised him, and loved him, but part of Gabriel needs to face the man who turned his mother away. His mother has moved on, and his brothers and sisters would never understand, but Gabriel knows that to find the peace he needs, he must confront his biological father before he spirals any further into guilt and anger.
HOW TO HEAL A HEART (The Friessens, Book 32) is available for pre-sale at:
“Shine the light over here,” Gabriel said. He was on his back on the concrete slab in their crawlspace, feeling a rock or a pebble jabbing into his ass as he gripped the wrench, putting everything he had into loosening the pipe fitting. He could barely see in the dim light, feeling another drop of water hit his head just as the light flashed in his eyes, blinding him.
“Shit, Elizabeth! What the hell…” He shut his eyes and turned his head, the water dripping on his cheek now.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s such a tight space. I’m doing the best I can.”
The edge to her voice had him wanting to snap, but he forced himself to put the wrench down and rolled over, sliding down to where he could sit up.
“Seriously, Gabriel, how about hiring a professional to fix it?” she said. “You know a plumber.”
He reached for the flashlight and took in the crawlspace around them. “I am a professional,” he said, “and I’m not spending money on a plumber when I can do it myself.”
He didn’t have to look over to Elizabeth to see her expression. Of course she was smarting, but then, he’d been an absolute ass as of late.
“Well, can it at least wait until the morning?” she said. “I mean, seriously, it’s not as if this is a new leak that has to be fixed right now. It’s been dripping for how long? I’m tired, you’re tired.”
“You know what? Go to bed, but I’m fixing this. Maybe that’s the problem. There’s far too much going on here that’s been left for too long, so no, I’m not leaving it. I have a hell of a big day tomorrow. I need to be at the job site before sun-up, as all the tradespeople are showing up at the same time—flooring, finishing, electricians to install the lights… I need to be there so no one screws anything else up, or I’ll have to go back and redo the job myself when I could have done it right to begin with.”
Elizabeth flinched. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a messy bun, and she wore faded jeans with a hole in the knee and one of his blue hoodies, which was covered with paint splotches.
“So we’re still there, are we?” she said. “Nobody can do anything right except you. Everyone is nothing but a screwup. You know, Gabriel, I’m doing my best, but there’s days I wonder, from the things you say to me and others, whether you can hear yourself or have any idea how people are taking it. Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?”
He took in the door to the crawlspace and then dragged his hand over his face. “Nothing is going on. I’m sorry, I’m just…” Tired, pissed off, not sleeping—or was it that he could feel his once firm footing slipping in every area of his life?
She said nothing, just sat, crossing her legs on the concrete, in the grit and dirt, waiting patiently. Fuck, why did she have to be so damn patient?
He pulled in a breath, and even he could feel the frustration building. He wanted to snap, and he flicked his fingers through his hair. This time, he felt her hand on his arm, stopping him.
“Are you going to sit there all night and snap at me and at everyone else?” she said. “I mean, when my brother stopped by before dinner tonight, I don’t remember you ever being so rude. Really, telling him we were about to eat dinner and asking how long he was planning on staying?”
Right, her family. He didn’t have the patience for Marty, her wannabe biker brother, six foot two and three hundred plus pounds, dropping by anytime he wanted. He just wanted some peace and quiet. “I’ll call him and apologize,” Gabriel said, “but seriously, Elizabeth, just once I’d like to come home and not have to wonder if Ruby, Marty, or even your mom and dad are going to show up—and that ridiculous way they ring the doorbell, leaning on it over and over? Then I’m constantly having to throw on more food to feed your brother and sister, who it seems don’t have lives of their own. They’re always here.”
Yeah, Elizabeth had the most dysfunctional family. They were entertaining, to say the least, but he was having a hard time dealing with them right now, wanting space and quiet and normal.
“Huh,” she replied, and he didn’t miss the edge. “So is this really about my family? You know Marty looks up to you, Gabriel, and you made him feel like absolute shit tonight, unwelcome. I can’t remember you ever treating anyone in my family like that. Do you want me to tell my family not to come over, or is it that you want them to schedule an appointment? Is that what this is about?”
He kicked the wrench and shoved it over. The last thing he wanted was hard feelings, and this seemed to be heading to a place that could divide everyone. But what the hell did he want? How could he make her understand his own confusion?
“No, it’s fine, but at the same time, how about some boundaries and space with your family? Do they have to be here every day?”
She made a face. “They’re not here every day, Gabriel…” She lifted her hand when he went to interrupt her. “Ah, let me finish. Marty has been going through a rough patch, and he’s been coming over here looking for some inspiration to get a handle on his diet. Did you know he had a panic attack? His doctor told him he had to clean up his diet and take off a lot of the excess weight. He sees how healthy you eat, and he’s trying to do what you do.”
He just stared at Elizabeth. He’d had no idea, and he wondered if the shock showed on his face. “I didn’t know he had a panic attack. When? Why?”
Elizabeth inclined her head. “Last Thursday. He thought it was a heart attack and called me down. He was at a pawn shop, looking at a ring, wanting to pop the question to Bonnie.”
Again, he wondered if his confusion showed. “Who’s Bonnie?”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “You know, his girlfriend, the one he’s been dating for eighteen months now?”
Right. Short, overweight, glasses, a few years older than Marty. How could he forget? He’d met her only once or maybe twice.
“Didn’t know it was serious,” he said. “How did I not know this? She’s never with him when he comes by. A pawn shop for a ring, seriously?”
The way Elizabeth was staring at him, he realized how wrapped up he was in himself. She shrugged. “Well, considering how you made Marty feel tonight, it’s a good thing she didn’t come. Nevertheless, she works nights. And what can I say? Marty loves pawn shops.” She paused. “But what happened with Marty tonight is kind of beside the point. You’ve been off for a while, and I’ve been pretty patient with you, beyond patient. Is this really about my family coming by? Because if it is, I’ll tell them to stop just showing up if that would make you feel better.”
Okay, now he felt like an absolute ass. Did her brother really look up to him? “No, I’m sorry. I’ll call Marty tomorrow. I’ll apologize. Is he really trying to clean up his diet?”
That was the way her entire family ate. Her father was the same, more than three hundred pounds, and her sister and mother were all about the TV dinners, the fast food. It was still a wonder to him how different Elizabeth was.
“Yup, he wants to still be around in ten, twenty years, to get married and have a future, to be more like you.” She actually reached over and rested her hand on his jean-clad leg, rubbing. The way she looked at him, the intensity, had him feeling like he was really such a total and complete ass, so unworthy of her.
“Yeah, well, not sure picking me to look up to is such a wise move,” he said, pulling back, feeling himself spiraling back into tiredness, disillusionment, everything he’d been drowning in as of late.
“Why would you say such a thing?” Elizabeth said. “Seriously, I have never heard you put yourself down—and for that matter, this mood of yours has been going on for a really long time, and I’m done with it. My brother looks up to you for the choices you’ve made, for the good, decent, and loving person you are, even though there are times like right now where I want to smack you silly. Look at everything you have, this place, your business. I thought you loved being a contractor, working for yourself, calling the shots. I mean, at least now you’re not having to chase people around to get paid. Now you get to handle it all. You said this was your dream, and I’ve supported you. Good God, Gabriel, even Shaunty has seen how off you’ve been. You’re distracted and moody, and we never know which Gabriel is going to walk through that door. I was starting to wonder if it was me.”
Even though it was dark, with just the flashlight casting a soft beam, he didn’t miss how her eyes seemed to glass over. She pressed her fingers to them and wiped.
“You thought it was you? No, Elizabeth, don’t ever think that. Get that out of your head.” He reached over and ran his hand over her arm and her cheek, feeling a tear he hadn’t seen run down her face. She sniffed. What had he done?
“Then what is it, Gabriel? Because you’re not sharing anything, and I’m not the only one who’s been wondering what’s going on with you. Even Sara said you snapped at her the other day. She called today and asked if everything was okay between the two of us. She said even your mom and dad and your brothers were wondering if our marriage was in trouble.”
He could feel his jaw slacken as he racked his brain, trying to figure out how they could come up with such a ridiculous idea. He laughed and shook his head. “Geez, talk about reading into something. So my family’s concerned for us, and what did you say to them?”
She shrugged. “It was just your sister, and she was worried. What was I supposed to say to her? Nothing, because I have no idea what’s going on with you. You’re a closed book, Gabriel, and when you don’t want to let someone into your thoughts and feelings, they’re not getting in. I know that, your family knows that. So if it’s not me you’re angry with, then who is it, Gabriel? I haven’t pushed. I’ve given you space. Shaunty and I feel at times as if we’re walking on eggshells around you. In case you forgot the part about us being married, I’m the one person you should be sharing with. For that matter, if it was me walking around, being moody and difficult and not sharing, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t give me the same space I’ve given you. Seriously, what was I supposed to think? I ask you something, you give me a one-word answer. We don’t talk about our days, how Shaunty is doing in school. It’s as if you’ve completely shut me out. You’ve stopped sharing anything…”
She lifted her hands, and he could feel the way the air was charged with emotion, anxiety, angst, and he was responsible for all of it.
“I want to find my father,” he said.
She said nothing at first, staring at him as if he’d lost his mind. “Why?”
“That’s why I said nothing, because of the look you’re giving me now.” He knew she didn’t get it. “Because I want him to look me in the eye when I tell him he’s a worthless piece of shit. No, scratch that.” He gestured to himself. “What I really want is for him to look me in the eye and tell me he’s sorry.”
Through December 2nd, IN THE STARS (The Friessens, Book 12) is on sale for 99cents!
Don't ever fall in love with your best friend!
Evie and Danny have been friends forever, and neither has considered the other in a romantic way. Then, one day, in drives Charlie Adams, the sexy, gorgeous daughter of the town banker. When she sets her sights on Danny, he just can't resist her charms.
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Will Danny realize that the love of his life may not be the woman he's dating?
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