Anna looked so sincere.
So willing to fight for him to believe in them, just as she always seemed so willing to fight for Colm.
Liam suddenly wanted to lean over the coffee table to close the distance between them…and kiss her. The urge caught him totally unaware. It wasn’t that he hadn’t noticed that Anna was attractive. That smile and laugh—he couldn’t shake them. A guy would have to be dead not to appreciate either feature. And he’d quickly begun to admire that she was good at her job—good with his brother.
But wanting to kiss her?
No. The temptation was a surprise, but not one he could indulge in. Instead, he reached out and simply placed his hand on top of hers.
About the Author
In 2000, HOLLY JACOBS sold her first book. She’s since sold more than twenty-five novels. Her romances have won numerous awards and made the Waldenbooks bestseller list. In 2005, Holly won a prestigious Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews. In her non-writing life Holly is married to a police captain, and together they have four children. Visit Holly at www. hollyjacobs.com, or you can snail-mail her at PO Box 11102, Erie, PA 16514-1102, USA.
This one is for everyone at
Harlequin’s Distribution Center. Thanks for letting me spend the day. I’m already planning on coming back on a Friday next time!
“WE GOT the house,” Anna Chapel practically sang as she burst into The Sunrise Foundation’s small reception area. The first thing that caught her eye was the big sign that boldly and proudly announced: Sunrise Foundation, Helping Exceptional People Lead Exceptional Lives.
Today’s news was certainly going to go a long way toward helping a small group of Whedon, Pennsylvania’s exceptional people lead more independent, and certainly exceptional, lives.
“It’s ours,” she sang out again. “We got it.”
Anna was so excited she couldn’t contain the feeling any longer and wiggled her hips. There were some things in life that Anna felt she was blessed with, but there were others she knew she was not. Rhythm and her hair were two of the “were-not” areas. She wiggled her hips again and felt a few more of her Medusa curls escape her ponytail, but she was simply too happy to mind.
“Was that a dance?” her friend Deanne Cellino, Ceelie as she was known, laughed. “Because if it was…” She shook her head and her long blond hair swished back and forth along her shoulders—shoulders that were so much higher than Anna’s five-foot five-inch frame. Anna always thought of Ceelie as a bit Amazonian—she looked like a warrior, but had the heart of an earth mother. She always got warm and fuzzy over the small things.
“Hey, that was a Snoopy Dance of Joy, my friend. And you’re not going to dim my absolute glee by pointing out that I have no sense of rhythm. If there was such a thing as an anti-rhythm, I realize that’s what I’d have. But when one is dancing a Snoopy Dance, all you need is joy and I’ve got that. Come on.”
She grabbed Ceelie’s hands and Snoopy-danced again. Ceelie was laughing so hard that all she did was stand there, but she finally got herself under control and did a bit of a jig as well.
“You are absolutely crazy, girl,” Ceelie assured Anna with a friend’s affection.
“I might be, but you’re talking to a crazy person who got the house. It’s so perfect, Ceelie. Three bedrooms, two full baths. A ranch, so with the addition of a ramp, it’s handicap-accessible and it’s—”
“Perfect,” Ceelie filled in for her.
Anna sighed, still riding the glow of her success. “Yes, perfect for our clients. It will make a great group home.”
All her joyful dancing had drained off enough of her excess energy that Anna could sit down. She plopped onto the small loveseat in the reception area. “Now, the work begins. We need to get our variance from the zoning board, then start the renovations and…” Her sentence faded as she started mulling over the long list of jobs that lay ahead of her.
“Listen, enjoy the moment. Don’t worry too much about what’s coming up and what’s behind you. Live in the now.”
“Deanne Cellino, ladies and gentlemen,” Anna said to a nonexistent audience, “mystic, sage, warrior princess and all-around advisor to the world.”
Ceelie blew a raspberry in her direction. “You know I’m right.”
“Yes, I do.” Anna studied her friend. Ceelie liked to say she was vertically challenged, but her abundance of height was needed to contain her giant spirit. Ceelie was one of those people who always seemed to have things together. She balanced a demanding job and parenting two children with apparent ease.
Anna and Ceelie made up the entire staff of The Sunrise Foundation. Anna and Ceelie served as life coaches. Ceelie had come up with the job title and Anna always thought it was an apt description for a job that varied based on each client’s highly individual medical and emotional needs.
Ceelie’s smile faded a bit. “And not that I’m anxious to bring down your happy mood, but your mother called.”
“Oh.” Anna forced a smile she didn’t feel. Her mother calling during a work day never boded well. “Did she say what she wants?”
“She wants you to call her back as soon as possible. She said she tried your cell, but it went to voice mail.”
“I turned it off at my meeting with the real-estate agent, haven’t turned it back on yet.” She reached in her bag, pulled out the phone and switched it on, then scrolled through the missed calls—four from her mother. No, this did not bode well.
“You should probably give her a call. You have an appointment in half an hour with that new case.” Ceelie somehow honed in on the correct file that was midway through a huge stack and handed it to her. “A thirty-year-old who’s been in his brother’s custody for two years since their parents died in a car accident.”
Anna looked at the file labeled Colm Franklin. She opened it and found that other than an initial fact sheet, it was empty. Normally clients came to Sunrise with all kinds of documentation from other programs. “No notes?”
“None. He was in special-ed classes back in high school. Long before Whedon practiced mainstreaming. Once he finished school, he stayed home with his mother.”
“Oh. Do we have anything from the school?”
“It’s so long ago at this point that it’s not really worth much—that would be my thought. Though you can call and see what the school has.”
“Even if I find something, I’m basically starting from scratch, right?” She shut the folder.
“Yes, that’s about the gist of it.”
“Any insights on the brother?” Family members called Sunrise for a variety of reasons. It helped to know what they wanted from the program.
The Sunrise Foundation was a small non-profit organization that survived on a shoe-string budget with grants from both government and charitable foundations. The money for the new group home came from a huge grant last year. Ceelie had become a grant-writing pro, but there was never quite enough money to accomplish everything they’d like to do. And at Sunrise, everything was pretty much anything. From helping clients find housing, to teaching