A snippet from Heartfelt, due out Fall 2012:
After giving Trish a quick kiss through the passenger window, Bella galloped off. Trish watched until her daughter’s red T-shirt blended with the other red-shirted day campers. Sending Bella to Camp Laurel had been a huge step in the process of letting go of the child to let her make her own way in the world. But it hadn’t been an easy one. If Trish had her way, her daughter would stay by her side, safe and protected.
“You have that same look on your face every time we drop her off,” murmured Ashley from behind the wheel of her midsize sedan.
Startled by the observation, Trish slumped back in her seat and sent her friend a sideways glance. “What look is that? And how do you know what I look like anyway, since I was looking out the window?”
Sunlight filtered through the windshield and flashed off of shiny red nail polish as Ashley pointed to the side view mirror. “The look that says you want to go with her and make sure she doesn’t have to fight any battles today.”
A soft laugh escaped Trish’s lips. “I guess I just got so used to doing it from the time she was little.”
Ashley lifted an eyebrow. “It’s the same look you lay on Danny when you send him off for the day.”
The laugh stuck in Trish’s throat and she nearly choked on the indignation that rose like bile. “I do not look at Dan like that. He’s the most capable man I’ve ever met, even without his sight.”
“Well, there’s capable and there’s… capable.” Ashley shrugged and turned the ignition key. “And there are definitely things you shelter your man from the same way you shelter your daughter.”
“Am I?” Ashley spun the wheel and they made a left onto the road that would carry them to Morehead City. “Why didn’t you tell Dan about your appointment today?”
Trish puffed out her cheeks and then released the breath through pursed lips. “Because I’m having a sonogram. The last one before I deliver, barring any problems.”
“Trish, that’s a big deal!” Ashley spared her a brief glance before returned her eyes to the road. “Why wouldn’t you want Danny along?”
This time the chuckle that squeezed out wasn’t so amused. “You’re kidding, right? He can’t see the pictures.”
“Oh, like you couldn’t describe them to him in exquisite detail.”
They turned onto the four-lane Atlantic Beach Causeway and the buildings they passed became a blur of rental condos and charter fishing outfits. A pawn shop advertised military surplus items. Close enough to Camp Lejeune that personnel willing to make the nearly hour-long drive lived there, but with perfect access to beaches and ocean fishing, Morehead City was an odd mix of tourists and Marines.
Trish swallowed over the lump of emotion in her throat. “It hurts him… Ash. It hurts him that he’ll never see the baby. It disappoints him when the baby stops moving and he can’t feel him kicking.”
The tires hit the long bridge and began to sing along the pavement as they left the causeway behind. The fishy smell of the ocean hit her nostrils and her stomach began to protest. Trish closed her eyes. Probably even before the road whine began, Dan would have known exactly where they were if he’d come along. Sounds and smells. That was how Dan found his way most of the time. Sounds, smells, his sharp memory. His guide dog, Jack. Her arm and her descriptions. Even Bella was learning to adapt to Dan’s blindness, though that was a doubly good thing since he required her to talk more and her speech had improved as a result.
They approached an intersection in time for the light to flash up to yellow and then red. Ashley eased off the accelerator, sending another quick look in Trish’s direction as she braked to a stop behind a sporty red SUV. “And you know this how?”
“It’s all over his face.” Trish sighed. “He couldn’t feel the baby kick this morning.” The baby had been so active but the minute Dan had touched her belly, all the internal pokes and jumps and waves had stopped—almost as though someone had waved a magic wand. Dan had grinned and shrugged but his brow had pinched ever so slightly and a small sigh had escaped. It broke Trish’s heart every time that happened, and lately she’d seen it happen a lot.