FADE TO BLACK
Devlin Cross is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He has his pick of the scripts and his pick of the women. While on a break from filming his current movie, he takes a drive through the countryside and stops at a local art gallery. There, the owner isn’t star struck by having him in her shop.
Lily Walker is a single mother who wants nothing to do with men. Her goal in life is to raise her son to the best of her ability and give him the stable home life she never had. With her failed marriage behind her, the last thing on her radar is a relationship, especially one with a famous movie star.
Not every breakup is mutual. Some ex-lovers never let go. Some will do whatever it takes to have that person back in their lives. Dead… or alive.
“So you’ve already seen the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie? That’s not even out until August.” Leo stared with large eyes at Devlin; he was in awe of him. “How were you able to do that?”
“Yep, sure did. It was pretty cool, too.” He sat back and laced his fingers together behind his head.
“Wow. That’s so cool. Bet you can’t guess who my favorite turtle is.”
“Raphael? He’s my favorite.”
“He’s not bad, but no.”
“Oh, come on. I thought you knew this stuff, he’s not a turtle.”
“What about April?”
“A girl? Come on, man, no way. Besides, Kira can kick more butt.”
“Hmmm… I don’t know… maybe Leonardo?”
“Oh, yeah. He’s the coolest. And the leader. Plus we have the same name! I think Mom named me after him, she says it was after some artist, but she has to be wrong. I want to be a ninja when I grow up.”
Lily leaned over and ruffled his hair. “Okay, ninja. One, I’m never wrong, and two, it’s time to clean up and get ready for bed.”
“Mom. I’m not ready for bed.”
“I didn’t say you had to go to bed, just get ready. If you get your chores done, we’ll have time to play a game of Sorry before bed.”
“Awesome!” Leo pumped his fist in the air and jumped up, bringing his plate to the sink.
“Only one game, it’s a school night.”
“But school’s almost out.”
“But it’s not out yet. You know the rules.”
Lily reached over to grab Devlin’s plate the same time he did. His fingers ended up closing over hers. Their eyes locked for a moment before she looked away and pulled her hand from the plate. Picking up her plate, she took it to the sink. There were times she forgot a famous movie star was sitting at her kitchen table eating dinner with her and her son.
She started to fill the sink with hot water when she felt him come up behind her and slip his plate into the soapy water. “Why don’t you go take a break? Leo and I will clean up.”
She kept her traitorous body still and stared at the bubbles. “No, I couldn’t. You’re a guest, it’s not right.”
“Sure it is. You cooked. We’ll clean. That was always the rule in my house.” He gently placed his hand on her hip and pushed her aside. “Go on, break your rules, you know you want to.”
Knowing her face was turning crimson, she ducked her head and walked out of the room. Once alone in her son’s room, she sat down on his bed and put her head between her knees. It was exhausting acting as if he was just another man, when the whole time she was comparing what she was feeding him to the elegant dinners he most likely had been to. Looking at her faded jeans with a couple of holes in them, she knew they were nothing like the glamorous gowns he was probably used to seeing women in, not to mention the exotic locales. Here she was, the last business on Main Street in rural Maine.
She knew better than to compare herself to something completely different than what she was. And she knew what she was: a mother, an artist, and a business owner. Those things were what she needed to remember, and get back to. She went to her son’s backpack and removed his homework to double-check it. Not that she didn’t think Devlin couldn’t do it, she just knew her son better. By the time she was done, she had a frown on her face. He had done everything she would have done, and maybe even better. She knew she was a bit of an overprotective mother, but she was the only one her son had, the only one he could rely on. It was her duty as a mother to make sure they were both kept safe.
She shouldn’t be spending her time fantasizing about some famous movie star who was going to walk out of her life before she could count to ten. There was going to be no happily ever after. Why was she even thinking about this when settling down and marrying another man was never part of her plan? How could someone walk into her life one day and the very next be sitting down to have dinner with her and her most precious creation, her son? What was wrong with her? She’d spent years being happy with just her and Leo. She didn’t need a man in her life, but boy, would it be nice to have Devlin in her life.
She was surprised when she walked back into the living room and the game was already set up and waiting for her. With a frown, she looked into the kitchen and saw it was all put back in order. “Thank you, that was fast.” She sat down next to her son on the floor.
Devlin held his hand up and Leo slapped it. “We men don’t mess around.” He gave her a sly look. “So, did the homework check out?”
Lily blinked a few times at him. “Whatever makes you think I checked his homework?” When he didn’t answer and just mimicked her blinking, she continued, “Fine. Yes, I checked it. Happy?”
“Only if you are.” He turned toward Leo, “Are you ready to lose?”
“No way, dude, I’m totally going to kick some butt.”
She was more quiet than normal during the game as she watched her son interact with a male figure. She knew he needed a male role model in his life, but to finally be faced with it, and see someone take interest in him, she realized she had to change. For her son. They were having a good-natured battle and singing ‘Sorry’ as they sent each other back to start over and over. She knew it was getting late when Leo inched closer and rested his head on her shoulder as they continued to play. He was getting so big. The only time he sought out affection was when he was sick or tired. Glancing at their pieces on the board, she knew it wasn’t going to be much longer before the game was over. Sure enough, when Devlin drew the next card, he brought his last piece home.
“Come on, bubby, time for bed.”
“’K…” He stood up. “Night, Dev. Hey, will you come back soon so we can have a rematch?”
“Sure thing, let me check my schedule,” Devlin replied.
“Come on, let’s brush those teeth,” Lily said.
When he was done, she tucked him in bed and leaned down and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I love you, little man.”
“Love you, too, Mommy.”
“Dev is pretty cool.”
“Yes, he is. Now it’s time to go to sleep.”
“Can you believe he’s already seen the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie? That’s so awesome. I can’t wait to see it.”
“It is awesome, and I know you can’t wait, but it’s still time to go to sleep.”
“’K, night.” He rolled over onto his side, away from her.
Rubbing his back, she remembered what it was like when he was a baby and she’d do the same thing. Sighing and getting up, she made sure his blankets were exactly right and left the room leaving the door cracked open.
M. Stratton is an International Amazon bestselling author in the romantic suspense and mystery suspense categories for her Storm Series. She is a self-proclaimed dork that loves to make people laugh. It doesn’t matter if there is something to actually trip over or not, she will find it and trip, and laugh at herself. Her inner rock star is always on stage performing to a sold out crowd but is quiet and shy on the outside.She lives with her husband and son in Arizona, which is a big difference from where she grew up north of Chicago Illinois. As an only child she learned to tell herself stories to make the long winters go by quicker while dreaming of summer vacations. Now as an adult she still makes up stories to pass the time, but now she writes them down to share with other people.
M. Stratton spends her days plotting new ways to surprise her readers. She eloped after knowing her husband for only two months in 2006, they welcomed their son right after Thanksgiving in 2007. She loves to have fun with her son and husband and starts planning Halloween on November 1st of every year.