Title: I’m Yours
Author: Jennifer Van Wyk
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Single Dad Romance
I left Lakeside, Montana heartbroken and lost with no desire to ever return.
But life had other plans.
Moving back wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I’d do anything for my daughter Emmy. Including put myself right in the path of Sadie Jones.
My daughter’s new dance teacher.
The reason my heart was never fully opened to anyone else was because it’s always belonged to her.
When I watched Reed Sanders drive away from Lakeside, I knew my heart would never recover.
He was meant for more than what this town could offer him.
Than what I could offer him.
I tried to warn him to stay away from me but he refused to listen.
If only he would have, maybe then I wouldn’t feel so broken.
The heart is mysterious. It can be closed off and open at the same time.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes danger lurking around the corner to make it choose a side.
All I can hope is that one day I can finally hear the words… I’m Yours.
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I pull on the door and step inside, looking around. I hear sultry music from the back and hear someone call out, “I’ll be out in a second!”
I look around, pictures of dancers grace the walls. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but inside tells a different story. There are four rooms plus what looks like an office, each of the dance rooms have a large glass wall and a quick look inside shows a mirror on the opposite wall. There’s a sign that says “No shoes allowed past this point” and I furrow my brow, wondering what that means. There’s a built-in shelf that looks like it’s to store shoes and maybe even hang backpacks and coats. It’s impressive, really.
This same studio was here when I was growing up, but it looks updated, modern, and when I look to the side at another sign that reads “All dancers welcome here” I know that it’s exactly where I want Emmy to be.
“Keep going, ladies. You’re looking great.”
That voice. I know that voice.
It arrests me, my feet glued to the floor.
And then I see her.
She’s standing probably ten feet away from me and she gasps. I open my mouth to say something but I don’t even know what to say. Sadie. Our eyes connect and she takes a step forward then another. I do the same but then neither of us come any closer.
“Holy shit,” Sadie breathes, stopping in her tracks. My sentiments exactly. I had no idea she still lived in Lakeside, though I made it very clear to my parents that I didn’t want to know details on Sadie’s life.
We stare at each other, eyes blinking slowly. “What…” the rest of my question sticks in my throat. I’m not even sure what I was going to ask her. What is she doing here? What’s she been up to the last dozen years? Why couldn’t she love me back all those years ago?
“Reed.” My name sounds like heaven coming from her lips. I close my eyes, letting it wash over me. It’s been so long since I’ve heard her voice or seen her in the flesh, not just in my dreams.
“Sadie.” My voice is thick and scratchy. She bites her lip and looks over her shoulder when the music in the back changes, someone calling her name and asking if Sadie wants her to continue.
“Can you take over for a bit, Kandace?”
“You got it!”
When her eyes return to mine, we continue our stare down, neither of us making a move.
“My daughter. She’s looking for dance classes.” It’s the first thing that comes to mind to say. But what am I supposed to do here? Shoot the shit with her? Make small talk? She made it clear twelve years ago that she no longer cared about me, so it’s best to keep things cordial now. If she came out to help a visitor, that must mean she works here, right? It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way; like my mind is stuck.
Her eyes widen at my mention of Emmy but they don’t seem surprised. Of course they aren’t. I’m sure she’s heard all about Emmy from my mom. Possibly even the fact that Katherine died, too. I assumed that when mom was keeping in touch with Sadie, it meant that they were doing so over social media or the occasional phone call. Now I wonder if they’re hanging out together, spending time with one another.
“I heard… about your wife. I’m sorry.” So, she did know.
I nod, shoving my hands in my pockets. I never understood why people said they were sorry. It wasn’t her who forced Katherine to stare at her phone screen rather than focus on the road ahead of her. I suppose it’s one of those sayings that started years ago and it just never changed over time.
She looks away and then back again, her eyes still so pretty. “Has Emerson danced before?”
My entire body flinches at her use of my daughter’s name. She knows about me. Possibly knew I was moving home and I didn’t even know she was still here. I take a minute to really look at her and that’s when I realize what she’s wearing.
Fish neck stockings, heels that look like they could be used as a weapon, they’re so tall, a pair of shiny bright green underwear and a black bra thing that looks incredibly complicated with all the straps.
“What the hell are you wearing?” I ask, probably rudely but she just smiles, giggling a little and it’s like a vice is gripping my heart. I haven’t heard her voice, her laugh, in so long. I missed it. I missed her. The way her eyes sparkle in amusement and her lips lift in a smile. Damn, she’s even more beautiful than I remember. When I last saw her, she was still growing into herself. Now, though, I see everything, thanks to her attire. Firm stomach, full breasts, strong arms and legs. The only thing that’s the same about Sadie Jones is her hair. Still pin straight and blonde.
She throws a thumb over her shoulder. “I teach pole dancing in the back.”
“My daughter isn’t pole dancing!” I’m sure I look horrified but I figured this was a regular dance studio for little kids.
“That’s good because she’s not old enough for that. Maybe we could start her out with some beginner ballet?” A teasing smile stretches across her face and I can’t stop my eyes from drifting down, focusing on her full lips.
I’m standing here in front of Sadie for the first time in twelve years as she takes a break from teaching a pole dancing class. We’re discussing starting my daughter out with some beginner ballet classes while she’s at her first day of Kindergarten. How is this my life? I’m barely holding it together, feeling like I’m about to come out of my own skin. It’s too much for me to deal with. She’s too pretty and sexy and my daughter just started school and… shit. I need a drink. And I rarely drink.
“Okay,” I find myself saying.
She moves with ease on heels that should roll her ankle and brushes past me, her scent lingering in the air between us. A mixture of something sweet that reminds me of when my mom would bake pumpkin bars in the fall and something else that brings back memories better left buried.
She hands me a piece of paper and pen. “Fill this out and here’s a list of our classes and the times so you can take a look at what works for your schedule. How old is she? Five?”
“Yes,” I tell her, wondering how she’s so calm. Meanwhile, I’m about to come unglued and out of my skin.
This book has all my favorite tropes; small town romance, second chance and single dad.
Sadie and Reed saw each other for the first time when they were 14 years and Reed fell in love with Sadie.
But Sadie wanted to only stay friends because of her low self esteem and thinking that she is not good enough for Reed.
The night before Reed goes to college, he confesses his love and they spend the night together. But Sadie broke his heart and he left for college.
12 years later Reed returns as a widow and a little sweet and spunky 5 years old daughter and couldn’t even imagine that his first love was still living there.
Love the storyline. It’s a sweet second chance romance.
Love that Sadie got stronger throughout the years.
Reed is one of the sweetest dads that I’ve read. He tried his best to be a good dad for Emmy.
And Emmy..what a sweet little girl. Love her.
This story is A beautiful story about second chance at love. About healing after a devastating loss.
My Rating: 4,5 STARS!!
From the Ground Up is Jennifer’s first published novel, with the hopes of many more to come. Jennifer makes her home in rural Iowa with her high school sweetheart, three beautiful and amazing kids, one crazy Jack Russell terrier. This is where her love for all things reading, baking, and cooking happen. Jennifer’s family enjoys camping, boating, and spending time outside as much as possible. When she’s not writing or editing/proofreading manuscripts for the many talented authors she’s come to love, she’s sipping coffee or iced tea with her kindle in her lap or binging on Netflix.
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