Friday, 2 March 2018

Always the Hero: Anna J. Stewart

Always the Hero by Anna J. Stewart

He never relied on anyone but himself...but he needs her now! Butterfly Harbor deputy Matt Knight wants two things: to date Lori Bradley and the chance to adopt Kyle, a troubled teen. Wounded in Afghanistan, Matt knows he can't move forward anchored to the past. But once he regains the guarded hotel manager's trust, will his need to protect those he loves cost him a future with this extraordinary woman?

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Praise for Anna J Stewart “The talented Anna J Stewart delivers every time.” ~NYTimes Bestselling Author Brenda Novak “Anna J. Stewart will tug at your heartstrings more than once while leaving you utterly besotted with her characters.” ~The Romance Reviews

Matt Knight was all about doing right by people. Especially those he cared about. But there wasn’t any moving forward, not with his life, not with Lori, as long as he was still anchored to the past. The phone rang. Before Matt could reach for the receiver, Jasper answered. “It’s for you, Matt. A Chris Walters?” “That’s Kyle’s caseworker,” Matt said as he picked up his extension. “Chris? Kyle okay?” “Doing well, actually.” The social worker’s encouraging words belied the tension in his voice. “We’re still on track for an early release. For now at least.” “What’s that mean?” Matt squeezed the receiver so hard his fingers tingled. “What’s going on?” “The judge in charge of Kyle’s case is retiring. His replacement is reviewing all the cases ahead of time and, well, since we’re jumping beyond fosterage to adoption, she has some concerns about your living situation.” “What’s wrong with my living situation?” Matt asked. “I’ve got a room ready for him, he’ll have a part-time job with the sheriff’s department, and most importantly he’ll have more stability than he’s known in years.” “I’m on your side, remember? You don’t have to convince me. She’s not denying your petition, Matt, but she has suggested a female influence in the house wouldn’t be a bad thing for Kyle. And given your marital status...” “That’s about to be resolved.” Matt looked down at the papers on his desk. “I filed the divorce papers and am getting ready to sign them as we speak.” “Okay. We’ll have to see how that plays with the judge.” “Given Kyle’s last female influence was too hopped-up on prescription meds to give him a second thought, I wouldn’t think this would be any judge’s first concern.” Matt hated to speak ill of Kyle’s mother, but the truth was the truth. “It’s a concern, Matt. And the judge only suggested it would be in your and Kyle’s best interest if there was someone in your life to help bring a bit of balance. Even if it’s just a girlfriend, which brings me to what we talked about before. She’s going to want to call Lori as a character witness.” “Lori? How does she know about Lori?” The last time his heart had pounded this hard he’d been dodging bullets. “Because I listed her in my report. You said you were dating her, that you thought it was getting serious. Are you telling me something’s changed?” Changed? Other than Matt all but ignoring her the last few weeks while he got his head on straight and cleared the emotional deck? “No, nothing’s changed,” Matt blurted before his brain could catch up with the panic seizing his chest. He’d made a promise to Kyle, and Matt Knight never made a promise he couldn’t keep. “We’ve been seeing each other for a while, off and on.” Most recently off. All the more reason to remedy that. “She’s completely on board with me taking Kyle in.” “So you’re okay with her listed as a character witness? She’ll back up your statement should the judge want to call her in during Kyle’s hearing?” “Yeah, of course.” Matt swallowed the lie. Well, it wasn’t a lie exactly. Lori did know about Kyle but Matt’s current relationship with her might be a bit, well, up in the air. “Have they set a date yet for the hearing?” “Um, yeah. Hang on, I’ve got that right...” The sound of shuffling papers scraped against Matt’s ear. “Three weeks from Monday. Looks like the judge has us penciled in for two in the afternoon.” Matt scribbled the date on his calendar, noting that was the same day as the big welcome dinner that opened the Butterfly Festival. That would take some juggling given it was all hands on deck in town for the department. “I’ll be there.” Somehow. “I thought I’d come up and see him in a couple of weeks. Need to figure out my days off.” “You’re on the visitor’s list for anytime,” Chris said. “I’m glad you told me about Lori. This will go a long way with this judge in approving Kyle’s placement.” “I hope so.” With Kyle’s troubled past, the only other placement option for him would be a group foster home or to extend his stint in the detention center he currently resided in. “Let me know if there are any more changes.” “You got it.” Matt hung up. Why was it, even when he had the best of intentions, he ended up messing things up? At least now he had even more of a reason to apologize to Lori. As much as he wanted her back in his life, he needed her. Kyle needed her. Unease settled in his gut like a stone. He hated lying. To anyone. But especially to Lori Bradley. “Everything okay?” Jasper asked. “Is Kyle still getting out?” “He sure is.” Matt picked up his pen, clicked it open and scratched his name on the divorce degree. A few seconds later, he set the sealed envelope on the counter, where it would go out in the afternoon mail.


Author Anna J. Stewart

USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart writes sweet to sexy romance for Harlequin's Heartwarming and Romantic Suspense lines. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for her independent heroines. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her). When she's not writing books or her monthly blog for USA Today’s Happy Ever After, you can find her at fan conventions or at her local movie theater, or building her client list for her content editing services.

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