Talented ice sculptor Jake Thompson had fame and fortune in St. Louis, but he’s been forced to start over after a disastrous relationship left him embittered and in deeply debt. His sister’s remote vacation home in Northern Michigan is the ideal retreat to lick his wounds and rebuild his career in peace and quiet—except a certain feisty redhead and her teenage son have a penchant for disturbing his solitude.
In the snowy winter, Jake and Jess unexpectedly find their lives and attitudes begin to change. Will family involvements and ghosts from the past keep them apart, or are they strong enough to risk rising from the ashes of their lives like the mythical phoenix?
"What in Sam Hill are you doing?" he yelled.
She blinked. "I'm plowing your drive. Didn't you hire me to do it?"
"No! I can plow my own drive, if I need it. But I can't work with all this noise, and you shaking the ice in my workshop."
Shaking the ice? What on earth is he talking about? "Aren't you Mr. Hanks? Isn't this 1285 Fairview Lane?"
"No! That's old Ben, next door. Now, get off my property before I get my shotgun and blow out your tires."
Without a word, she closed her window. She backed up, turned the truck around and made her way back to the road. No need to tell her twice. What a grouchy, ungrateful man, she thought. With his shaggy beard and piercing dark eyes, he'd resembled a wild mountaineer as he'd waved his arms like a madman. Too bad he'd let her plow that long drive before telling her it was the wrong address. She should send him a bill.
She found "old Ben's" house, which thankfully had a short, straight drive. She plowed, left a bill in the mailbox, then made her way back home.
Rory was on his way out the door when she pulled in her driveway. She held her hand out to him, and he grimaced but gave her his backpack to check. It was nearly empty.
"Where are your books?"
"Didn't have any."
"You had your math book when you came home last night."
"Get it. Did you do your work?"
"I don't know."
She sighed. He was going to miss the bus again.
They found the book under his desk. Sure enough, he hadn't done his work. Jess got him some notebook paper and sat him down at the kitchen table to finish his assignment while she made his lunch and changed clothes for her day job.
They packed up, loaded into the truck and got to the school building with two minutes to spare. Like a good, invisible mom, she dropped him off on the opposite side of the street and refrained from giving him a goodbye kiss.
She drove on to her waitressing job, feeling like she had already put in a full day. Things had to get better, soon.
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