Authors: Eve Gaddy
Tags: #romance, #Western
A Montana Born Homecoming Novella
Sing Me Back Home
Copyright © 2014 Eve Gaddy
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
For Maverick. I hope you’re having fun swimming every day, chewing on sticks, eating all the treats you want, running the opposite direction when someone calls you, and eating dinner at least four times a day. I miss you, sweet puppy.
Many thanks to Jane Porter for allowing me to be a part of the Tule team. You all rock! Everyone involved is so supportive and so fun to work with. I’m having a blast. I also want to thank Katherine Garbera for recommending me to Jane. Thanks, Kathy!
e heard it
through the grapevine.
In Marietta, Montana, the grapevine was Sally Driscoll, the barista at the Java Cafe. Along with Carol Bingley, manager of the pharmacy, she knew everything there was to know about the town and its citizens. Or thought she did, anyway.
Most mornings, Jack Gallagher stopped at the Java Cafe on the way to work. Ordinarily, he didn’t pay much attention to Sally. But today the gossip hit him in the chest like a kick from a horse.
“Dr. Gallagher, have you heard the news?”
“What news?” he asked, resigned, knowing Sally would hold his coffee hostage until he answered.
“Maya Parrish is in town. You know, the famous model.”
As always, her name gave him a jolt. Pleasure. And pain. “Her sister lives here. I imagine she’s in town to visit her.” He’d seen Maya a few times over the years, but only from a distance. They had managed to successfully avoid any closer interaction.
“No, not for a visit. Maya and her daughter are here to stay,” Sally said with relish. “They’ve moved into her great-great-great grandmother’s house on Bramble Lane. The one old Dina Parrish lived in until she died a few months ago.”
Maya’s ancient aunt had left her the house on Bramble Lane? Maya and her daughter had moved into a house the street over from his and he hadn’t even known it?
Speechless, Jack stared at the barista. Maya, his high school love, the woman who’d broken his heart all those years ago, was home to stay.
“Isn’t that cool? Who would’ve thought Maya Parrish would move back to Marietta?”
Not him, that was for sure. Sally probably didn’t know of his and Maya’s history. Probably. It wasn’t a secret, though, so she might. Since she was waiting expectantly for a response, he said, “No, I hadn’t heard that. I’m running late, Sally. I’ve got to get to the hospital. Could I have my coffee now?”
Jack tried his best to put Maya out of his mind after that, but that proved impossible. After he rounded on his hospital patients, he went to his office. Many of the town’s doctors had offices in the medical building across from the hospital, since it was so conveniently located. Jack had moved his own office into it shortly after the building was completed. He’d been back in Marietta since he finished his Family Practice residency and had never regretted coming home.
He was beginning to regret it today, however. His first patient, Eileen Delaney, should have clued him in.
He walked into the exam room and spoke as he washed his hands at the sink. “Hi, Mrs. Delaney. How have you been?”
“Not good, Doctor.” She patted her heart as she often did, though as far as Jack knew, she’d never had any evidence of coronary artery disease. “I’m not feeling at all well. I don’t think these allergy shots are working. What’s the point of getting jabbed all the time if it doesn’t do any good?”
Jack sighed inwardly. They went through the same exact conversation whenever Mrs. Delaney came in for her weekly allergy shot. The shot she insisted only Jack could give her. She didn’t
Jack’s nurse, Vera Lancaster.
The problem wasn’t one of trust, he knew. The two women had been at odds ever since Mrs. Delaney accused Vera of fixing the results of the bake-off at the Marietta Fair, causing Mrs. Delaney to lose to her archrival. Vera denied doing any such thing and maintained that Mrs. Delaney’s cooking was not as good as she thought it was. The feud had been ongoing for several years now. Naturally, Vera couldn’t stand Mrs. Delaney either.
“I can stop giving the shots to you any time,” Jack said, knowing what her answer would be. “Just say the word.”
“No, no. I’m here. Might as well take it.” She chattered on, talking about Marietta High School Homecoming, coming up in a few weeks. “Who do you think will be elected to the Homecoming court?”
“I have no idea. Gina hasn’t mentioned the Homecoming court,” Jack said, referring to his daughter. And as far as he knew, she didn’t care. Now, the football team and players were another matter altogether. Though school had only started a couple of days previously, Gina had a crush on one of the football players. She didn’t realize her old man knew about it. He’d have to be an idiot not to, since Gina was constantly on the phone or texting to Mattie Guthrie or one of her other friends, and Kevin Taylor was one of their main topics.
He was still dwelling on his baby girl being old enough to be interested in boys when Mrs. Delaney brought up another subject.
“Have you heard about Maya Parrish?”
“Yes,” he said, hoping to head her off. “I understand she’s moved back to town.”
“That’s right.” Nodding decisively, she added, “I hear she’s divorced.”
Jack made a noncommittal sound though he was well aware of Maya’s marital status.
Mrs. Delaney leaned forward and said knowingly, “Maya never took his name, you know. There’s something odd about that.”
Not really, he thought. “A lot of professional women keep their maiden name.”
Mrs. Delaney sniffed. “I don’t hold with that foolishness.”
Jack squelched the urge to defend Maya. What did it matter what Mrs. Delaney thought?
“Didn’t you and Maya date in high school?” She raised an eyebrow and damn near winked at him.
“Yes,” he said in his most imposing, abrupt voice. It had no effect on Mrs. Delaney. That was the problem with someone who’d known you all your life.
“Maya’s little girl is the same age as Gina,” she went on. “The girl’s name is Carmen. Carmen Collins.” She sniffed again.
He’d known Maya had a daughter, but had forgotten she was around Gina’s age. Great. Daughters the same age meant they’d see each other at school functions. Maybe Carmen wouldn’t have the same interests as Gina. His and Maya’s paths didn’t necessarily have to cross.
Oh, get over it
, he told himself.
All that was years ago and you’ve both been married since
. Running into Maya again shouldn’t be a big deal. He’d probably find out he wasn’t even attracted to her anymore.
Still, by the end of the day, Jack had developed a nervous tic every time someone brought up Maya. Which was every single patient. He wished he had “Yes, I know Maya Parrish is home to stay” tattooed on his forehead. Even that wouldn’t stop the talk, though.
He had a feeling nothing would.
Returning to Marietta
had been the right thing to do, Maya thought as she shopped in the local grocery store for a few things she needed to make her famous variation of the dessert, Death by Chocolate. Moving had been the right thing for Carmen as well as herself. Months ago, when Carmen’s father, Graham Collins, had told them he was getting remarried and moving to Europe, Carmen had been terribly upset. While she liked her father’s new wife, she wasn’t ready for him to move so far away. The promise of trips to Europe to stay with Graham and Adele didn’t seem to help much, either.
But for Maya it was a sign. There was nothing keeping her in Texas now. Her company, Maya’s Models, was slowly becoming Internet only, so she could base herself anywhere. Over the early summer, Carmen had been on the verge of getting in with the wrong crowd at her school, which gave Maya that much more reason to move.
As for Maya herself, she’d never thought she’d be back to stay. But over the years she’d found that she missed Montana and the mountains. And oddly enough, she missed small town life. Her sister Amy lived in Marietta now too. Another person who’d lived elsewhere and returned.