An Unexpected Father by Lisa Ruff - Romance>Contemporary
After a decade on the road, single mom Mimi Green gives up her rock star dreams and goes home to Crab Creek, Maryland. Her troubled son needs stability. Grandparents. A good school and friends his own age.
She's not looking for a new father for Jack--but when she meets Ian Berzani she may need the handsome sailor for herself!
When Ian nabs a nine-year-old trespasser in the family boatyard, he thinks, miniature rebel without a clue. One look at the kid's mother and Ian's thoughts veer into dangerous, uncharted territory. Mimi was tempting him to stay.
The timing couldn't be worse for a man three months, seven days and eleven hours from a lifelong dream of sailing around the world. He doesn't want an instant family to change his plans, but how can he set sail and leave his heart behind?
Ian shut the wood-shop door behind him. A warm breeze brushed his face and he automatically looked up at the flag over the marina office. West by Northwest. Even though the sky was dark with the threat of rain, the wind was perfect for sailing south. He could be in Norfolk by noon tomorrow. He wouldn't stop, though. He would just hang a left at the mouth of the Chesapeake and head out to sea, straight for Bermuda.
The longing for freedom, for the wind and endless expanse of open sea, was so strong, Ian ached with the possibility.
Sighing, he walked across the boatyard. He wasn't going anywhere, not today. Today, he was going to go finish the teak trim on Buckman's boat so the varnishers could start coating the wood. Then he would go on to the next project and the one after that. Four months. Then he could leave. Ian stepped onto the ramp that connected the dock to the shore. Lost in his reverie, he almost missed seeing the young boy who was crouched down at the water's edge. He was poking a stick at a clump of reeds in the rocks.
"Hey, kid. Leave that alone. That might be a duck's nest in there."
The boy looked up and slowly stood. "I wasn't doing nothing."
"Anything," Ian said, then winced. Since when had he become a grammarian?
"Whatever. You sound like my mother."
Ian had to laugh. The kid had hit the mark, dead-on. He took a better look at him. Though he tried to sound tough, the boy was small and scrawny. He was dressed in faded jeans that had both knees blown out. A black, hooded sweatshirt covered a white T-shirt and hung down past his hips, dwarfing his thin frame. Except for the holes in the jeans and the bagginess of the clothes, Ian was dressed the same, right down to the color of the hoodie.
"You and I must go to the same tailor," Ian said with a smile.
The kid just stared back at him silently. Sandy-brown hair mingled with brows the same color and partially covered eyes that were a deep, intense blue. Those eyes were full of sullen antipathy. Ian didn't take the hostility personally. It looked as if the kid's face was permanently set in that grumpy mold.
"Your parents have a boat in the yard?" Ian asked.
"Do they moor one here?"
Ian sighed. "Then what are you doing hanging around?"
The boy shrugged and lowered his lashes. He dug the end of the stick he still carried into the mud at his feet. His black-and-white tennis shoes were liberally coated with the same muck, as if he had been poking around the shoreline for a while. With another sigh--this one in exasperation--Ian stuck his hands into the pockets of his sweatshirt.
"This isn't a playground, kid. It's kind of dangerous."
The boy looked up at him and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right."
Ian pointed toward the gate at the back of the boatyard. "Scram."
"You can't tell me what to do," the kid said. "You're not my dad."
"No, but I could be."
The kid rolled his eyes again and snorted. "You don't own the world."
"Nope." Ian cocked his head. "But I own this little corner of it."
"Do, too." Ian shook his head. He was supposed to be the adult here, he reminded himself. He tried again. "What's your name? "
"My mom told me not to talk to strangers."
"She tell you not to trespass, too? Where do you live?"
"None of your business."
"I'm making it my business." Ian took a step...