Enjoy millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more, with a free trial

Only $11.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

Ebook250 pages4 hours


Rating: 0 out of 5 stars


Read preview

About this ebook

The story that began on a North Carolina beach with a blind marine, a divorced mother, and a child with Down syndrome continues as the young family struggles to adapt to a new addition. Now eight months pregnant, Trish worries about her baby, her daughter, and her husband. But maybe she should be more concerned with herself. Dan struggles to prove himself at work in the face of what others consider his disability. As he wrestles with his job, he is also concerned with life at home and the impending birth of his son. How will he connect with a son when he’ll never even be able to play a game of catch with him?

Release dateApr 7, 2016
Read preview

Kay Springsteen

Kay Springsteen grew up in Michigan but transplanted to the south about 10 years ago and now resides in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia with her five small dogs. Two of her four children live nearby, a married son who has a daughter of his own, and one of her twins. The other twin lives just outside of USMC Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Her oldest daughter still resides in Michigan. When she's not writing, she is transcribing and editing medical reports. Besides being an avid reader, hobbies include photography, gardening, hiking and camping, and of course spending time with her terrific G-baby. She is a firm believer in happily ever after endings and believes there is one out there for everyone; it just may not be exactly what you expect or think you want.

Read more from Kay Springsteen

Related to Heartfelt

Related ebooks

Reviews for Heartfelt

Rating: 0 out of 5 stars
0 ratings

0 ratings0 reviews

What did you think?

Tap to rate

Review must be at least 10 words

    Book preview

    Heartfelt - Kay Springsteen


    by Kay Springsteen

    Smashwords Edition

    Published by esKape Press


    All Rights Reserved

    Copyright © 2016 Kay Springsteen

    ISBN-10: 1940695910

    ISBN-13: 9781940695914

    Cover Art Designed by For the Muse Design

    This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and/or persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are the property of their respective owners and are used for reference only and not an implied endorsement.

    Except for review purposes, the reproduction and distribution of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, without the written permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book, other than for review purposes, please obtain written permission first by contacting the publisher at eskapepress@eskapepress.com.

    Thank you for your support of the author’s rights as provided for in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.

    For subsidiary rights, foreign and domestic, please contact the publisher at eskapepress@eskapepress.com

    If you’d like to know about new releases and giveaways, please sign up for our mailing list by visiting eskapepress.com and completing the form on the sidebar. We will never sell or share your information.

    Books by Kay Springsteen

    Contemporary Romance

    Watercolors in the Rain

    The Heart Stories series



    Camp Wedding: The Heartsight Nuptials

    Operation: Christmas Hearts


    The 13 of Hearts

    Regency Romance

    The Toymaker

    Teach Me Under the Mistletoe

    Like a Lady series

    A Lot Like a Lady (with Kim Bowman)

    Something Like a Lady (with Kim Bowman)

    Contemporary Western

    The Echoes of Orson’s Folly series

    Lifeline Echoes (free)

    Elusive Echoes

    Abiding Echoes

    Bootful of Echoes

    The Journals of Orson’s Folly series

    Orson’s Echoes


    For the Lord, my God, without whom I would be completely lost. Thank you for all the blessings you have given me.

    With a hearty thank you to J. Gunnar Grey for showing me where the dark tunnel was supposed to lead.

    Dedicated with love to military families everywhere, but especially for Mary and Matthew. I love you, Sweet Pea, and am so proud of you, Matt. Stay safe!

    Chapter One

    The light tinkle of Bella’s laughter filtered through the headset plugged into Dan’s laptop, and he paused the program that had been reading to him. The Internet version of the Thursday morning AP wire could wait. He slipped off the ear buds and laid them on the table.

    Okay, I’ll bite. What’s so funny? he asked the nearly eight-year-old.

    Mama’s tummy. It’s — moving. Bella’s chortles almost obscured her breathy-voiced answer.

    He couldn’t help it. The grin spreading over his face wouldn’t be denied. It was the same way with every mention of the baby. They’d about given up hope of ever having one and then bam! An out-of-the-blue Christmas miracle.

    Well, Bella was convinced it was anyway. The miracle part Dan couldn’t deny, given the grim prognosis for future progeny handed to them by every one of the top specialists they’d seen. His little family had certainly experienced a fair share of miracles from the start, so he knew they happened. And he supposed it was a Christmas miracle, considering that was when they’d found out about the little guy.

    Oh! Trish’s peal of laughter sent happy tingles along Dan’s spine. I think he’s dancing a jig this morning.

    Pfft! Dancing? Please! He’s gonna play football… or soccer maybe. Dan chuckled.

    Here. Trish touched him on the forearm then lifted his hand and pulled it across her abdomen. You tell me.

    The soft cotton top stretched tightly over her swollen abdomen. Had she grown that much just overnight? He added his other hand and cradled her belly.

    Nothing happened, and Dan shook his head. Seems to me he’s going to be spending his days lazing in a hammock.

    Huh! Trish covered his hand with hers. It’s so weird how he calms down whenever you touch him.

    Dan concentrated on not frowning. Because the fact was, he wasn’t touching the baby. Only Trish’s rounded belly. Other people got to see his acrobatics under her blouses, but not Dan. And except for one time when the baby had first kicked, Dan hadn't felt anything either. It had been an emotional struggle listening to the other men in the childbirth class rambling on about the beauty of falling asleep with the baby’s gentle pokes against their hands.

    Trish chuckled and gave Dan’s hand a little squeeze. Little man, you’d better give a kick, or Daddy’s gonna think all I did was swallow a beach ball and call it a baby.

    Hello? Hello? Dan stroked one thumb back and forth next to Trish’s protruding belly button. Are you in there, Little Boy Blue?

    Bella giggled. "That is not — his name."

    I dunno. Dan dropped his hands. It will be if we don’t agree on what we’re going to call him. Little Boy Blue Conway. I think it has a nice ring to it.

    Bella made a raspberry.

    Dan chuckled, keeping his sigh of frustration to himself. Soon enough, he’d feel his son move. After all, he was due to make his debut in just about a month.

    Bella, are you ready for camp? asked Trish, moving off.

    I’m not done with — my cereal yet.

    Isabella Marie! Trish heaved an impatient sigh. What have you been doing?

    Reading my book — about — cats.

    Gotcha, Mom. You can’t exactly tell her not to read. Dan leaned back in his seat and waited. He loved the interactions between mother and daughter. The two of them were nearly identical in personality… with different likes and dislikes but equal degrees of stubbornness.

    Well, I need you to finish eating and that means your cat book will have to wait. Water from the tap splashed into the enamel sink moments later and was just as quickly turned off with a squeak of the handle. I have errands to run, so we need to leave early.

    Dan powered down his laptop and closed it. Are you sure it’s okay to be driving this late in the pregnancy?

    Trish didn’t answer, though he could hear her exasperated breathing.

    All done! I’ll be — right back. Bella scampered away from the table with a slap of bare feet on the linoleum.

    Still no answer from Trish, so he offered a grin. You’re saying nothing pretty loud again. Are you glaring at me?

    With a slight rustle of cloth, she crossed the room. One, two, three, four light footfalls. Her arms wrapped around his neck from the left, and she pressed her soft cheek against his.

    Her every touch was as thrilling as the first time she’d picked up his hand on the beach and guided him into an introductory handshake. He rubbed his cheek on hers and released a contented sigh.

    Trish changed the angle of embrace and slid her lips along his. I don’t glare, she whispered against his mouth.

    Uh-huh. Dan pushed his arms around her waist — or at least the approximate place her waist would be if his son hadn’t taken up residence there. Guess I’ll have to take your word for it. He leaned into the brush of her lips at the precise moment she bent closer and deepened the kiss.

    The air between them charged with electricity and heated up.

    A man’s chuckle from the vicinity of the back door brought about a return to the real world and the stack of work awaiting Dan at the office.

    Better watch it, said Nick Turner, U.S. Marine captain, co-worker, and best friend. I’ve heard that’s a gateway for heavier stuff… like sleepless nights, baby bottles, and… He coughed. …diapers.

    A giggle burst from Trish as she pulled away. Hey, Nick. Have you come to spirit my husband away to the world of whatever top-secrety thing it is he does these days?

    Yup. And Ash is right behind me to get Bella to camp for you.

    Busted! Trish must have already handled the problem of transportation by calling Ashley. But why hadn’t she said anything? And he was pretty sure she had been glaring. That silence had definitely been her glaring silence. With a shrug, Dan slid his laptop into the case and zipped it shut. Give him a suspicious enemy troop movement to analyze any day. Pregnant women — his pregnant woman in particular — befuddled him.


    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 the Camp Laurel day program 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. I try not to think of everything in terms of her having Down syndrome, but it’s not always easy when her differences from other kids show up.

    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.

    The thought of needing to shelter Dan from anything was ludicrous. He’d walked blind through a hurricane to save Bella, for pity’s sake. Trish shook her head. You’re crazy.

    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 anything.

    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 been 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 good thing, since helping him required her to talk more, and her speech had improved as a result. She’d always felt deep down that meeting Dan had been a miracle for her and Bella.

    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 rubbed her forehead and sighed. He couldn’t feel the baby kick this morning. The baby had been jumping and rolling, but the minute Dan had touched her belly, all the internal pokes 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.

    It worried her. What if Dan couldn’t bond with his son? What if he was having second thoughts about having a baby at all?

    Trish… you’ve kept a lot from Dan through this pregnancy. The first ultrasound. That early test with all the letters? Ashley’s tone was even, but her voice was tight.

    Wonderful, I’m even learning to pick up voice inflection the way Dan does.

    The light changed, and they started to move again.

    The CVS — chorionic villus sampling. A lump formed again. She’d bled for a week after the doctor had stuck a needle through her cervix and pinched off a tissue sample from the placenta. She’d been certain she would lose the baby. And Dan was in DC when I had it.

    "You didn’t tell him you were going to have it, Ashley reminded her. She flipped up the turn signal lever and swung into a right turn. You swore me to secrecy… even from Nick."

    Trish huffed out a breath. Because they’re best friends! Nick would have told Dan. You know that.

    What was the big deal about the test, anyway? Ashley winced as the car bounced into then out of a pothole.

    Bella’s Down syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome. The CVS on Baby Conway examined the chromosomes and determined that he was healthy.

    And Dan had been livid when she’d confessed what she’d done. Down syndrome won’t be a problem, he’d grated out. Losing the baby… that’d be a problem for me. You not telling me you were worried… that’s a problem for me.

    Ashley steered into the driveway of a red brick building that wasn’t much bigger than a sprawling ranch-style house. Two cars were parked in the lot, one on either side of the double front doors. They pulled into a spot beneath a tall oak tree, and Ashley turned off the car.

    She tapped one finger on the steering wheel a few times then abruptly turned to face Trish, fixing her in a narrow-eyed stare. Don’t you think Dan would have wanted to support you through the C — ah… the CVS?

    No. He wouldn’t have. Heat crept up from Trish’s neck and into her face at the admission. He didn’t want me to have the test because it’s invasive and has a ten percent miscarriage rate.

    What? That’s high! Ashley frowned. I don’t know if I’d have taken you to have it if you’d told me what a chance you were taking.

    Trish leveled a gaze on her friend. It was my risk to take, Ash. She smoothed a hand over her belly trying to settle the slow roll of nausea that had nothing to do with the baby’s movements. I had to know. I love Bella. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. But I had to know if this baby was okay. I… I’m ready for a baby that won’t need heart surgery or speech therapy or mainstream special ed. Tears pricked the backs of her eyelids but she blinked them back. Dan said he didn’t care. That whatever happens we’ll deal with it. And I thought I wouldn’t care either but… She lifted a shoulder, praying Ashley would show understanding. At least a little. The more I tried to convince myself it would be okay, the more I found myself worrying about it. And… I had to know. When Dan got assigned to that task force at the Pentagon, that was like a sign I should…

    Oh, hon, said Ashley, laying a hand on Trish’s forearm. So much worry, and you went through it all alone.

    Dan was so over-the-moon happy about this baby… I didn’t want to take all that away from him by telling him how scared I was.

    Ashley swallowed hard. You could have told me.

    Trish smiled and dashed away the last of her tears with the back of her hand. Her next words gushed out with a sense of relief. I just did, she whispered, and pulled the silver handle that opened the car door.

    Chapter Two

    Dan set his laptop on the table in the conference room and took his seat. At ease, he murmured to Jack, who promptly sprawled out. Lazy. But he reached down and scratched the German shepherd between his ears.

    From across the table came the tinny sounds of snorts and then mini-explosions followed by cheers mixed in with a chorus of Ow-ow-ow! The sequence finished with squeals and snorted laughter that gave Dan an unexpected craving for bacon.

    Nick, what are you playing now? It sounds like talking cockroaches.

    The sounds abruptly cut off. Sorry. It’s a game APP. I’m hurling birds at pigs.

    Dan opened his mouth, but nothing came out as he tried to make sense of what his friend had just said. Finally, he had to ask the obvious question. Why?

    Ahh… eye-hand coordination, reflexes, honing trajectory skills? Nick laughed. Ashley got me hooked on it.

    Ashley! That… was a surprise. She hates video games.

    Nick’s suggestive chuckle filled the air. "Yeah… exactly. She gets in this zone when she’s working on one of her art projects… and nothing cracks that bubble. Not

    Enjoying the preview?
    Page 1 of 1