Soaring (Magdalene #2)
Author:Kristen Ashley

“Oh, right,” I said to the man’s back.

 

We entered a tidy office and I did it surprised boxers could be tidy. Then I forced myself to stop being surprised because I didn’t know any boxers and that was judgmental, a reaction my parents would have. And I forced myself to stop thinking about it at all when I halted as he continued walking to the desk.

 

He bent at the waist (a trim waist, I could see that through his well-fitting t-shirt), scribbled on a piece of paper, turned and came to me.

 

He held out the paper. “Josie’s number,” he declared. “I’ll give her the heads up you’re callin’. You wanna leave yours, I’ll give her your number too.” He grinned again and said, “And by the way, I’m Jake Spear. Owner of Truck’s Gym and the man behind Magdalene’s junior boxing league.”

 

I took the paper, shoved it into my purse with my phone and held out my hand, “Nice to meet you, Jake. I’m Amelia Hathaway.”

 

He took my hand, and much like when Mickey did it (with obvious differences, seeing as he wasn’t quite as attractive, not to mention the significant fact he was married), the strength and warmth of his fingers around mine communicated something I liked.

 

Deeply.

 

“Good to meet you, Amelia,” he replied, squeezing my fingers lightly and briefly before letting me go. “Real good to meet you, you raise some cake for my kids.”

 

I had a feeling, considering my plan, how much stuff I was selling and how nice it was, I’d definitely raise some cake for his kids.

 

I smiled at him then looked to his desk before moving my gaze back to him. “Shall I write down my number for your wife so we can introduce ourselves and make plans?”

 

“Absolutely,” he said while walking back to the desk.

 

I followed and did what he did, bending and writing my name and number on a sheet of paper.

 

I straightened and looked up to him. “I’ll give her a call today or tomorrow, if that’s okay.”

 

“You don’t, she’ll call you,” he told me. “A lot of the equipment is shot and enrollment is up. We need cash to cover the expansion. The last gig she did she wasn’t pleased with the results. Put her all into it and we made dick. She’s a dog with a bone now. So you might get a call before you even have time to drive home.”

 

I wouldn’t mind that. I hadn’t been there a week but I needed to settle in. Get the lay of the land. Sort out my home. Win back my family.

 

But I also needed to start a life.

 

That was what I’d failed to do when Conrad left. My life had been him. I should have licked my wounds, found a way to let them heal and moved on.

 

I didn’t do that.

 

Now, I had to do that. My thought: a healthy mom means a healthy home, which ends in a healthy relationship with my children.

 

My goal. What I was living for.

 

And although this Jake Spear didn’t hesitate to curse in front of a stranger who was also a female (my mother and father would lose their minds at that, genteelly, of course), he ran a junior boxing league. At least that said good things about him and a good man (sometimes) meant a good woman as his wife.

 

I needed to know good people.

 

And I needed friends.

 

This Josie might not be one but at least she was someone calling me that was not thousands of miles away and better, not my mother.

 

“Babe.”

 

At the word, a trill raced down my spine, exploding along my lower back and cascading over my bottom. I experienced this swift, surprising and alarmingly pleasant sensation and slowly turned to the door.

 

One syllable. He’d said one syllable and I’d met him once and I knew who would be there. I knew who made me feel that feeling.

 

I was right.

 

In the office doorway stood Mickey Donovan in loose fitting, navy track pants and a short-sleeved, skintight white workout shirt.

 

And he was smiling, doing it warmly, looking pleasantly startled (likely at my being in a boxing gym) and very welcoming.

 

I was startled he was there at that precise moment, but I wasn’t surprised he was at a boxing gym.

 

“Not where I expected to run into you,” Mickey remarked.

 

“Well…no,” I replied. “How are you, Mickey?”

 

“Doin’ good,” he told me, leaning a shoulder against the doorjamb, a casual stance I found oddly devastating to my peace of mind. “You?”

 

“Just fine,” I lied.

 

“You know Amelia?” Jake asked and Mickey’s eyes went to him.

 

“She’s my new neighbor,” Mickey shared then added, “The Cameron place.”

 

I felt Jake’s gaze and tore mine off Mickey to look up at him.

 

“The Cameron place?” he asked when he got my gaze, then noted, “That’s a fuckuva score.”

 

“You’re right,” I agreed, even though I wasn’t entirely certain how he meant that. I took a guess and remarked, “It’s an amazing property.”

 

He nodded. “It is. No way me, Josie and the kids’d ever leave Lavender House, but the realtor had an open house for Cliff Blue so we went and we all loved it. The place is phenomenal.”

 

I liked that he agreed with me but I was confused.