Hi! My name is Dafne Santoro, and I’m taking over the blog today for my author, Valerie Comer. If you’ve been hanging around in her fictional world for a while, we’ve probably already met, since she’s recorded the romances of my older brother and sister and a whole bunch of my cousins over the past few years. I’ve popped in and out of many of those stories.
But I volunteered to come here today and ask you this: have you ever messed up in a really big way and then spent years trying to atone for it?
No? Just me?
I was a rebel as a teen and dated a guy my parents didn’t approve of. I knew best, of course. I was sixteen. Of course, I knew best. [Insert eyeroll here!]
I panicked when I realized I was pregnant. Connor went ballistic, demanding I get an abortion and not tell anyone. I think he figured my dad would kill him for violating his baby girl, so this was just easiest.
For whom, right?
I couldn’t go through with it. I ran away and found myself miles from Spokane on Christmas Eve, heartbroken and alone. Then I realized I wasn’t too far from my cousin Rob’s place, and I phoned him. He and his fiancée rescued me and smoothed things for my return home.
You can read all about that in Rob and Bren’s story, Other Than a Halo, if you’re interested. I mean, it’s not all about me, but I do make an appearance. I owe them a lot.
For the rest of my Junior year, I debated whether to keep the baby or give him up for adoption. When Gavin was born in July, I knew I had to keep him. My mom and dad fixed up the basement for us then did everything they could to support me for the next six years.
Oh, they didn’t take over Gavin’s care, but they sure pitched in. So did my sister, Ava. I finished high school and went on to college. My parents gave up so much because of my mistake. They’d been planning their empty-nest lifestyle with a lot of travel, and there they were with a baby/toddler in the house.
I was super determined to do everything right from there on out. Be the best mom Gavin could ever have hoped for. Figure out how to support him all by myself. Let my parents have their life and house back.
So, when I finally got my teaching degree (because that made the most sense to me – keeping my schedule and Gavin’s as meshed as possible), I began looking for a full-time position. My sister is also a teacher (music and dance), and she’d struggled to put together the equivalent of a full-time job, so when all I found was substitute teaching gigs, I began looking farther afield.
The posting at Creekside Academy in Jewel Lake, Montana, jumped out at me. Not only was it full-time (teaching high school Social Studies and History), but it was a private Christian school, and – get this – Gavin could attend for free! That’s right, my precious boy was ready to enter first grade. AND, there’s a daycare in the building, so he could have after-school care right on the premises. Win, win, right?
My parents, brother, sister, nonna, cousins – everyone – did not agree with my assessment. How could I move so far away from the family nest? I mean, practically every Santoro lives within a few blocks of each other in Bridgeview, the greatest neighborhood in Spokane.
But I had something to prove, you know? It seemed the best way to thank my parents for everything was to cut off my reliance on them. Chop the apron strings or umbilical cord or whatever. Prove they hadn’t wasted their sacrifices. They didn’t see it that way. My sister was sure I’d get my new rebellion out of my system and move back home the next summer, find a great guy, and stay forever, preferably next door to her.
That’s not what I intended, and that’s not how things turned out. But I certainly never meant to meet a cowboy. Never meant to ride a horse — have you seen how huge those beasts are???? Never meant to let Gavin do anything remotely dangerous.
I certainly never planned to kick a man’s feet out from under him and land him on his tailbone on a coffee shop floor because he mistook me for someone else.
Oh, you hadn’t heard about that? That’s how Kiss Me Like You Mean It, Cowboy begins. Also, I’m super embarrassed about that title. I mean, I would never say words like that, especially not to Blake Cavanagh. Except… well… you’ll have to read the story, I guess.
It’s coming soon on Amazon, and I hear it will be in Kindle Unlimited.
P.S. That isn’t a real photo of Gavin and me up at the top, since I’m all about protecting his identity online. One can never be too careful these days. My author downloaded that image from Deposit Photos to represent us. Also, Gavin is much cuter in real life.
P.P.S. Do you ever have trouble forgiving yourself? I found a lot of scriptures that helped me overcome that issue. What verses or advice would you share with someone like me? Please let me know in comments.
One commenter will win an Advance Reader Copy (e-book only, worldwide via Bookfunnel) of Kiss Me Like You Mean It, Cowboy. If you’d like to put your name in the hat, please comment before Friday, January 14. Winner will be contacted privately and announced in the Sunday Edition.
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