Promises Kept<br/>

Author: Jan Abney
Publisher: Janet Abney
Published: 2011-10-25
ISBN(s) 978-1464474369
Pages: 246 pages
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Romance & Friendship Read Excerpt >

"I CAN'T believe it!" She paced the small living room like a caged animal. "I just can't believe he'd stoop so low to make my life so miserable. But I wouldn't put anything past him." She contradicted herself within the same breath.

"What is it?" Her roommate had been engrossed in a book before Faith came in the front door with the mail, announcing her disgust in the one letter she had opened. "You look as if..."

"You don't know the half of it." Interrupting her, she stopped in front of Dana, handing her the unfolded letter. "Here, read it for yourself." As soon as the woman was reading the shocking news, Faith resumed pacing.

"You've got to be kidding?" Dana read the letter wide-eyed as she made comments. "You can find a
hundred people to say you're a good mother to his one who will say whatever he's paid them to say. What is the matter with this dimwit?"

"Names don't help, Dana." Faith stopped in front of her again, retrieving the paper. "It just doesn't seem possible that he'd try this. I know he's angry, but this is unreasonable. What should I do?"
"If I were you, I'd change my name and move, for starters. But would that stop him?" Dana set her book upside-down on the coffee table, getting up from the low couch. "Where's Joey now?"

"Playing ball with the neighbors. Tee came over early and said his father was taking them to the ball field." Faith began pacing again. "What would I do if he decided to come here and take my son away from me? I don't think I could live without Joey." She stopped at the front door. "I'm going down to the field to bring him home."

"Faith, calm down. You know you'll just make Joey angry with you. He's a big boy. Let him have some space." Dana leaned a hand against the door to keep the worried woman from running out of the house to do what any other mother would do under the circumstances.

"I could go and watch, couldn't I? I mean, I do watch him play sometimes." Faith tried to reach around Dana to open the door, without success. "Please, Dana. I'm going to go crazy not knowing he's safe."

"Look, give it another hour. They won't be ready to quit now. I know you. You'll get there and insist he come home." She walked away from the door, hoping she'd convinced her friend. "Besides, I think he's safe enough with Mr. Wilson." She added this because she knew Faith trusted the man.

"If you had a child, I'm sure this wouldn't bother you?" Faith was out the door, going down the walkway, getting to the sidewalk before Dana caught up to her. "No matter what you say, I'm going to check on my son."

"All that paper says is that your ex-husband is going to take you to court to try to get custody of him. It doesn't say he's going to come steal him. For heaven's sake, Faith, think about it. The man might be a little dense in the head, but he isn't completely stupid." Dana had stopped short of the cement walk, watching the boy's mother continue on. "Okay, I'll wait here for you. I'll even have lunch ready for you and Joey."

"You don't know him the way I do." Faith muttered to herself as she continued toward the end of the block. "I'm the one who was married to him for three years. He can be cunning." Her pace quickened by the second.

The ball park was four blocks from the small house she shared with Dana. Trying to think of the woman who had taken them in two years before, didn't turn her thoughts from the fear that had grabbed her with the one piece of mail.

When she had reached the field and could see the boys, she was breathless. Her son waved at her as he reached up, catching a flying ball, whooping like an Indian, his legs taking him into the air several times. She smiled, waving back.

Tee's dad, bringing the bat to the bench, sat a foot away from her. "You're just in time. I needed to take a break, but those two energetic little boys out there think I'm an old man, and I've been trying to prove them wrong. I'm not sure I'm accomplishing anything more than finding out for myself that they're right." He watched as his son and hers threw the ball back and forth.

"Come on, Dad," Tee called. "We need more practice."

"In a minute, boys. You need to practice throwing, too. Little league starts in a few weeks. What are you going to do, stand out in the outfield catching flies? Gotta take your place on the bases and tag out the runners." He turned to Faith. "See what I mean?"

"One nine year old boy is enough for me. How can you handle both?" A sympathetic smile touched her lips. She still hadn't caught her breath, and her face was quite flushed.

"He can't be too much for you. He's a good boy. You don't look like he gives you a minute's worth of trouble." His eyes moved down her body. "You taking up jogging now?"

"Yeah," she lied, patting her chest. "I heard it was good for the old heart, so I thought I'd try it out. I just did a fast walk this morning. I feel it's better to get my legs used to doing more than walking around the office." She stretched her legs showing some pain. They felt like they were going to cramp. The exercise was definitely more than she was used to.

Mr. Wilson was easy to talk to. They'd been good friends for the two years she'd lived in his neighborhood, sharing their boys' accomplishments and fears, trading off watching them when the other had things to do during the evening. Faith felt she always came out ahead, having three evening classes a week.

"Good idea. A lot of beginners find out the hard way they can't just start jogging out of the blue." His voice seemed far away. The boys came running up, trying to drag him away from the bench. Their pleas finally winning out as he reached for Faith's hand, pulling her up with him. She let out a loud protest, but found the boys helping to pull her onto the field.

"Come on, Mom. It'll be more fun with the four of us." Joey urged her. "Want to use my glove, or bat the balls to us?"

"I've never been very good at batting, but my catching was worse. Let me have that bat," her voice plainly said she had given up fighting them. She took the wooden stick the man held out to her. Feeling its weight, she swung it as soon as they were out of her range. Mr. Wilson let out a long whistle.

"Better move way out there, boys. Looks like she could hit that ball pretty hard. That is, if the bat
connects." He smiled teasingly at her, standing on the pitcher's mound, winding up.

"I take it, Mr. Wilson, you don't think I can." She swung one more practice swing. "I'm ready when you
are." She stood bent slightly over home plate, poised as she'd seen the professionals do on television. She watched as the ball left his hand, coming straight over the plate, but her swing came too late.

"Well, it's like I said..." He chuckled at her reddened cheeks.

"I assure you, when I'm warmed up, you'd better duck." Faith mustered up all the frustration the letter had given her and readied herself. Picking up the ball, she threw it toward him with great force.

"Heads up, guys," he called to the outfielders. "I think she may be mad." He read her completely right, and he was ready to duck.

The ball was once again released from his strong hand, moving over the plate as the bat did the same. A loud crack sounded, and it was a good thing he was ready to hit the ground. The ball flew inches over his head as he went down. Into the out field the ball bounced past one gloved hand, then the other.

"Remind me not to make you mad again." He was walking toward her. "You got a good swing there." He openly admired more than that about her. "Ever thought about joining a ball team? I recommend the Mariners."

"You didn't make me mad, and no, I wouldn't consider competing against men in the field." She handed the bat to him. "My four brothers and I used to play. I was the only pitcher that was good enough for them."

"Want to pitch for me?" He had a new smile, one she hadn't noticed before, and he was more relaxed than she remembered him being in all the time she had known him. "I haven't found a good pitcher."

"It's been years. I doubt if I could..." She let the words trail off as she watched a car drive around the far side of the field, slowly.

"Is there something wrong, Faith?" He was quick to read the fear that had come into her eyes, his voice changing from playful to concern.

"No." Again she didn't tell him the truth. "Want me to pitch for you still?" Covering up the strong emotion of fear as well as she could, she moved to the pitcher's mound, calling for the boys to throw the ball to her.

She watched as he poised over the plate as she had done a few moments before. The muscles in his arms moved as he tightly gripped the bat, practicing his swing as she had done. He wore a white t-shirt, having discarded his red polo shirt before she arrived, his jeans hugging his hips and thighs.

"Ready any time you are," he mocked her.

The ball left her hand, going straight to his left leg, missing only because he had the insight to move. "I'm sorry." She apologized sincerely. "I need to practice my
pitch, don't I?"

Tossing the ball back to her gently, he joked, "Is there some way I can make you unmad?" He held the bat above his shoulder again getting ready for another wildly pitched ball.

To his surprise, the next one went straight over the base, connecting with the bat he swung. Unlike her hit, the ball went straight up in the air, coming down in his outstretched hand.

"The pitch or the hit?" she called to him.

"Definitely the pitch." His smile teased her as before. "Want to try again? Maybe third time's the charm?" He threw the ball back to her.

"Alright, Dad." Tee sounded impatient. "We've seen enough of what not to do, now hit the ball out this way." He was standing in the left field, legs parted dramatically, glove positioned as if the ball was coming right at his face.

Promises Kept   by   Jan Abney   |   See Bio >

Faith and Greg have been good friends and neighbors for two years. Their sons are best friends.
Just when things are looking up for Faith, her past comes back to haunt her.

The boys practicing for little league, Faith sees a car going slowly around the park. Fear is her
only emotion, until Greg asks what is wrong. Trying to hide her fear, they load up and go to
Gregs house to talk about what is bothering her today.

Divorced 7 years, Timmy's father shows up and wants his son.

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