By: J.M. Kelley | Other books by J.M. Kelley
Published By: Turquoise Morning Press
Published: Jan 28, 2013
ISBN # 9781622371068
Published By: Turquoise Morning Press
Published: Jan 28, 2013
ISBN # 9781622371068
Word Count: 90,500
Available in: Epub, HTML, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.mobi), Palm DOC/iSolo, Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.prc), Rocket
DescriptionSometimes, returning home isn’t about confronting your past; it’s about discovering your future.
Janie McGee, the black sheep of her family, is free-spirited, uninhibited, and never one to stay in the same place for too long. When Janie learns her father, Joe, is gravely ill, she reluctantly returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for him. Joe’s neighbor, David Harris, sports a pocket protector, collects coins, and is addicted to Antiques Roadshow. Everything about him rubs Janie the wrong way, from his nerdy wardrobe to his enviable friendship with Joe. And to make matters worse, her father thinks they’re perfect for each other, proof positive of how little Joe knows his own daughter…or so Janie thinks.
A shared devotion to the elder McGee begins to close the gulf between Janie and David, but a burgeoning romance opens the door to new problems and unexpected consequences neither could foresee. Joe, however, remains steadfast in his resolve to show Janie that Daddy knows what’s best for his little girl. Can Janie finally open her heart to David while watching the first man she ever truly loved fade away?
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
Excerpt:“What the hell are you doing here?”
Startled, Janie McGee nearly fell out of the faux-leather chair she sat in over in the far corner of the room. “Well, hello to you too, Daddy,” she said. She remained seated as an orderly helped her father out of his wheelchair and into his narrow bed.
The walls of Joe McGee’s tiny, but private, hospital room were painted what may have once been a calming combination of ivory and green, but years of wear and tear had dulled the colors. The off-white walls had yellowed over time and the mottled green border resembled day-old pea soup.
The walls look sick, too, Janie thought.
“You didn’t answer me,” Joe said sharply, jostling Janie from her thoughts.
Janie got to her feet and squared her shoulders, ready for a verbal sparring match. “Daddy,” she said. “Colleen was very upset when she called last night to tell me you were in the hospital. She thought I should come home. I agreed. Therefore.” She spread her arms wide. “Taa daa. Here I am.”
Janie didn’t expand on the fact that her older sister had roused her at two in the morning, sobbing hysterically. Her initial fear was that her father was dead, until her sister calmed down enough to give her the details.
“You shouldn’t have bothered.” The scowl on her father’s face was unnecessary. His displeasure over his younger daughter’s return was palpable enough without it.
“Sorry,” Janie muttered, moving back to her perch in the corner. “I guess I wanted to be sure everything was all right.”
Janie rolled her eyes. “Which is why they kept you for observation.”
“I’m fine,” Joe snapped.
“Mm hmm.” Janie fixed a skeptical gaze on her father. “When I arrived, a nurse told me you were in the midst of some testing. What tests would those be?”
“Nothing interesting,” he said, a little too dismissively for Janie’s taste. “They just want to poke me with needles and charge a hundred bucks a pop for pills that won’t do a damn thing for me. It’s all about how to make money, not how to cure what ails you.” Typical Joe, always growling about what was wrong with the system.
“Come on, Daddy. There must be a reason….”
With an angry snarl, Joe rolled away from Janie and pulled the bed sheet up to his chin. “Enough talk,” he said. “I’m tired. And I’m taking a nap.”
“Okay.” Janie closed her eyes and took a cleansing breath. Bullheadedness was practically an art form in the McGee family, and she was no exception to the rule. She’d learned from the best, after all.
As Joe drifted off to sleep, Janie’s mind whirled as she considered what may be wrong with her father. Hospitals were not foreign territory to Joe, a man whose litany of ailments was longer than the average person’s monthly grocery list.
The emphysema might be getting worse. She remembered her grandfather and the large green oxygen tank that took up permanent residence by the side of his bed. Poppa had left little of monetary value behind in the wake of his death, and Joe had once declared that he could have done without inheriting his own father’s bum lungs.
Her father made due with inhalers and medication, but if the emphysema worsened, things would have to change. Janie wondered what their next move would be, if that were the case.
It was the last coherent thought before sleep overtook her. The train ride from Philadelphia to Meyersville was short, but still draining. That, combined with her nervousness over her father’s sudden hospitalization, was enough to wear Janie out.
She woke up a half hour later, bleary-eyed and disoriented. Joe lounged in his bed and gazed at her. “You snore,” he said in greeting and tugged a blanket higher around his waist.
Janie took a moment to critique his appearance. Joe McGee’s frame had always sported an impressive belly. A beer gut minus the beer, Janie and Colleen often joked. This gaunt man before her caused a ripple of fear to dance down her spine.
His elbows came to sharp points and loose skin hung from his exposed, thin arms. Gone was the more salt than pepper hair he combed straight back from his forehead. Thin wisps of snowy white covered his scalp, and his face was sallow and haggard. Perhaps the stark fluorescent lights in the room were partially to blame for his appearance—everything in its reach took on an unhealthy pallor.
“I don’t snore, Daddy.” Janie rose to her feet and shook her right leg. The sensation of pins and needles set in below her knee. “Foot’s asleep,” she announced and limped over to his bed.
“Must be sleep-walking.”
Janie bent over to give him an awkward hug. All hugs with her father were awkward. In the McGee family, embraces happened only in hospitals and funeral parlors. But he did his best, she noted as they pulled apart. A clumsy pat on the back was Joe’s way of showing he was glad she’d come home after all.
“How do you feel?” Janie sat on the edge of the bed and tried not to be too obvious in her appraisal of his physical appearance.
“Like somebody stabbed me in the back.”
Joe grunted. “Because somebody stabbed me in the back with a needle.”
With a nod of silent agreement, Joe reached for the remote control and turned on the television set. There was little room for meandering commentary in Joe McGee’s world.
Janie slid off the bed and walked back to her chair, leaning over to pull her purse out from underneath. After a brief search through the jumbled contents, she produced a change purse and returned to her father’s side. The clink of metal piqued his interest and he tore his eyes away from the television set. “What do you have?”
With a flourish, Janie dumped the coins on the dinner tray beside Joe’s bed and began to inspect them. She held up a gleaming quarter. “Oklahoma,” she announced, pleased when Joe held out an open palm. After dropping the quarter into his hand, she waited while he inspected one in a series of coins minted to commemorate each of the fifty states.
“Philadelphia mint,” he muttered. “Denver mint would be a coup. Good condition, though. Better than the quarters I have.” They continued to paw through her loose change, Joe setting aside the coins he intended to keep.
This is our thing. Rare were the times she felt close to her father, but she enjoyed the strange habit Joe had of taking possession of her random pennies and quarters. Usually, he berated her for walking around with a wheat penny in her pocket because she might have foolishly spent the coin.
“This is silver,” Joe said and placed a grime-encrusted dime on the tray next to his growing pile of confiscated change.
“Is it valuable?”
Joe shot his daughter a withering stare. “It’s worth more than ten cents.”
Janie looked appropriately humbled by his discovery. The dime was more than likely worth a whole dollar, at best, considering her father’s interests. Joe McGee didn’t collect coins for rarity and value. He simply liked to keep coins he personally deemed intriguing.
“David might want to trade,” Joe said, more to himself than Janie. He kept the dime, along with the Oklahoma quarter and a few ancient pennies he wanted to research.
Janie cocked her head to the side. “Who’s David?”
“Neighbor.” Janie waited for further explanation, but soon ascertained he would share no more than the one word. She wandered the room, a slow back and forth pace, while Joe inspected the rest of her money. When the dull clink of coin against coin stopped, she turned to face her father.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?” she asked softly. “Why did they stab you in the back?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “They poke, they stab, and they use big, complicated words that don’t tell you a damn thing. I suppose my lungs are giving out, along with the rest of my body.”
“I could stay for a day or two.” Janie faced her father. “Would that be okay with you?”
Joe’s brow furrowed. “I guess so.” He was quiet, deep in thought. “Your bed has a trunk on it. It’s filled with junk. If memory serves, I stored a bowling ball in it.”
With a chuckle, Janie shook her head. “Why did you put a full trunk on the bed?”
“Because,” Joe said. He smoothed back the remaining hair on the top of his head. “There’s no room on the floor.” As if that was a perfectly reasonable explanation. “Maybe David can come over and help you move the damn thing.”
“Just don’t try to put it on the floor, I guess.”
“If you can find floor space, go ahead.” He collected the coins he’d decided to keep and reached for an empty paper cup sitting nearby. After he filled it with his purloined collection, he held the cup out to Janie. “When you get home, you’ll find my wallet in the top drawer of my desk. Take a couple of dollar bills out for the trade.”
Janie took the cup. “Just check the dates, right?”
A brisk nod signaled his approval. “Yes. Check the dates.”