Resisting the Hero:An Accidentally in Love Novel(8)

By: Cindi Madsen

“I’ll go get Paul,” Brynn said. “He’s engaged now, and I’m sure he’ll tell you all about his bride-to-be. If you need an out, just give me the signal.”

Faith laughed. “I forgot about the signal.” Back in the day, when her family used to hang out with the McAdamses, she, Brynn, and Paul would rub the side of their nose with one finger and then come up with a reason to escape. They’d sneak out to the lake or just relax in the backyard. The scent of charred meat would still be hanging in the air from Dad barbequing and Mom’s laughter would occasionally ring out—she used to have the loudest laugh.

But those were the happy years. The before.

The lake water–scented air that’d smelled so fresh moments before turned sour. She’d thought the years away would’ve made everything easier—that she’d dealt with the past through college level psychology classes and real world experience. But it was different when the past was in every place she looked. It was why she’d run from here as soon as she’d gotten out of high school. When things went bad in Atlanta, she’d fled there, too. So much for facing things like a grown-up.

Paul McAdams stepped out of the store and grinned. His brown hair was shorter than he used to wear it in high school, and he’d filled out quite a bit. “Why, Shorty Fitzpatrick. Long time no see.”

He pulled Faith into a hug, and the anxiety that’d been working its way through her eased. Whenever she thought about home, she tended to focus on the bad memories and sorrow. She’d forgotten how friendly people were here. How nice it was to be around others who knew the real her. Everyone who’d known Daddy had come together to try to help her family. They’d done everything they could. Faith appreciated it, and she knew Mom had, too. But it hadn’t changed the fact that they were missing someone who should’ve been with them still.

“We’ve got to plan a fishing trip,” Paul said, and Faith returned to the present. She forced a smile and nodded. But she couldn’t stop thinking about how this sleepy, innocent-looking town had taken her dad.

And she couldn’t help thinking it might take Kaleb next.

Faith could hear deep voices in the living room, Kaleb’s and another. She couldn’t make out the words, but Anna was talking with them. Faith closed her laptop and set it on the nightstand. After several hours searching through pictures of apartments, her eyes burned and the spot between her shoulder blades ached.

She stepped over the boxes she wasn’t sure whether to put away or leave packed. Anna and Kaleb both said she could stay as long as she wanted, which was nice, but she wouldn’t feel like she was starting over until she had her own place. Preferably close to the UNC School of Medicine, where she’d be doing her internship. Maybe living in Charlotte would be enough to get away from all the memories, but close enough to stay connected to her brother and his family.

Again she was glad Doctor Schaeffer had reached out to her. He was a long-time friend of the family, had set her, Mom, and Kaleb up with a nice counselor to help deal with Dad’s passing, and had advised her when she told him she was interested in becoming a counselor. Clinical spots were difficult to find, and she couldn’t wait to get started. Having a couple of months off had sounded nice at first, especially after six straight years of studying day and night. But with all the memories rising up, she might need a temporary job to keep herself busy.

Faith stepped into the hallway and walked toward the scent of food, garlic, and spices—whatever it was, it smelled amazing and made her stomach growl.

She froze in her tracks when she spotted Connor. He caught her eye and grinned. She hated how her heart fluttered. Hated that all day she’d been thinking about seeing him out running with his dog.

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