Daisy Parker isn’t the woman that rock star Robby Grant would have imagined himself falling for. She’s soft-spoken, sweet, and lives by a strange code the struggling musician is recognizing as Biblical.
And he’s helpless against it.
But Robby challenges Daisy in ways she’d long avoided.
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After nearly two years, Daisy Parker was finally awake.
Maybe it was the way spring suddenly appeared to shake the cold, gray skies back to swirls of blue dotted with white puffy clouds. It was the end of a long winter. Flower buds now waited to burst forth in striking colors and the spiky grass would soon need to be cut.
And today the birds sang just for Daisy, their music a challenge—an inspiration.
Spring was awake and, just like Daisy, it was ready to play.
She smiled as she tried to ignore the way the melting snow left trails of dirty tears down the once-sparkling window pane. There would be time to deal with the fallout of a bitter winter and its impending hours of clean-up. She shouldn’t think about anything but the work that waited for her in the next room, the kind that would help pay bills.
And yet it was easy to shove aside the thought of hours in front of a computer. She wanted to open windows, go outside, sing… Yes, she wanted to sing.
Daisy went to the piano, remembering how her father’s long fingers danced across the same keys eight years before. His absence was still painful. But he would be proud of her even if she still wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do with her life. She’d been stuck for so long that getting moving again seemed impossible.
She reached her hands out and started to play. She should get her coffee and go to work, but the draw of the music was too strong to ignore.
Slowly, she found the rhythm again, hoping to release some of the jumbled emotions that confused her. As usual, the music hurt like a stab wound, yet it was a healing balm to her soul. It was a tune she bore the weight of each day.
She closed her eyes as the melody built to a crescendo, fulfilling a promise it made from the start. It was nearly perfect. She had almost conquered her fear of playing the whole song when a door slammed, shattering her reverie.
“Daisy?” Nick Patterson’s voice jarred her back to reality. She stopped abruptly, grimacing, her fingers hitting the keys harder than she’d planned as the ballad, once again, came to a jolting and inconclusive end. Like so many other things in her life.
It didn’t matter that Nick was barely past seventy years old. His deep voice filled every inch of Daisy’s small home. She only hoped the music escaped his notice or she’d be forced to explain herself all over again.
Or worse, he’d try to talk her into leaving the house.
Daisy awkwardly lifted her hands from the keys and set them in her lap, almost as if she’d been caught breaking the law. But she wouldn’t try to hide anything from Nick. He wouldn’t judge her despite his strong opinions on everything from her relationships to career choice.
“I brought doughnuts—peanut butter.” Nick appeared in the doorway, grinning broadly as he held up the box in his calloused hands. His eyes sparkled under the brim of his worn baseball cap, which bore the name of a team that could no longer be read.
Nick was kind and funny and often brought Daisy groceries or fixed whatever was broken in her house. Sometimes she wished she were about twenty years older so she might seriously consider marrying the man. As it was, she settled for thinking of him as the father she’d lost.
“Mmm...” she slowly placed the fall over the keys and pushed her wheelchair back. She grabbed her lip gloss and methodically put some on, to let him know his arrival was more important than the music.
Daisy nervously ran her hand over the smooth, blonde hair that hung above her shoulders in a style that was easy to maintain yet not terribly risky. It suited her better than the way she’d worn her hair for so many years, down the middle of her back and curled so as to draw attention, something she now avoided at all costs.
“You’re looking gorgeous today, princess. Prince Charming stop by yet?” Nick asked with a wide grin. Daisy loved that he complimented her when he sensed she was down, which unfortunately was more often than ever lately.
Nick’s gray-blue eyes twinkled. “Play me something?”
Daisy smiled and lifted the fall. While she wouldn’t play that song for anyone, she was happy to play him anything else. She lifted the fall and fixed her hands on the keys, drew a deep breath and closed her eyes as she started playing a slow and beautiful melody.
When she finished, she gazed over at Nick. He put the doughnuts on the end table and then leaned in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest. He smiled.
“Now that’s something else,” he whispered in approval. “How ‘bout the other one?”
Daisy cleared her throat. “Did you say you brought doughnuts?”
Nick nodded. “I did.”
Daisy moved toward the kitchen where the coffee waited. She was nothing without her coffee.
Nick followed silently. Although a man of few words, his presence in her life was sometimes what made her get up in the morning. After the accident, he’d sat by her bed in the hospital for so long that when she woke he’d grown a full, silvery beard.
“Coffee?” she asked as she got herself a mug. Nick nodded and went to the refrigerator for the cream. He handed it to her.
“You’re too good to me, honey,” he said as she prepared his mug of coffee. “Any chance you’ll consider marrying me? I’d make an amazing husband.”
Daisy laughed. “Are you really flirting with me again, Mr. Patterson?”
Nick chuckled wryly as he sipped his coffee. His deep green eyes betrayed his thoughts, however, and Daisy averted her gaze lest she be forced to deal with them. She cleared her throat awkwardly as she fixed her own mug.
“Got a pretty good visiting pastor this week—and the ladies auxiliary is doing a luncheon after the service. Those women can cook like nobody’s business…want to join me? We can even call it a first date.”
Daisy’s heart nearly stopped beating. And it wasn’t because he acted as if he would date her given the chance. They both knew that was the only thing not to be taken seriously.
“Nick.” She tried again, avoiding his eyes as she did her best to yank her hair back into a clip. For the last two years, Daisy’s church attendance was a familiar argument. But Nick refused to understand it wasn’t that she didn’t want to go, it was more that she couldn’t go. Perhaps he felt she and her problems—or was it her excuses?—were a nuisance he no longer wanted to bother with. She hung her head shamefully, wanting to erase all that haunted her and forced her to hide in her home.
Nick silently sipped his coffee, but Daisy could tell he was working on his next angle. He rarely pressed her, but it was clear he wasn’t going to let this go easily. It didn’t matter that there were no words to change her mind. And for as much as she’d been praying, the resounding silence from above made her fear there were no answers.
Or maybe God was annoyed with her constant requests.
“Robby’s going back on tour again,” he said. “I’d like to finally introduce you.”
Daisy nearly spit her coffee across the room. This unexpected turn in the conversation blindsided her. Creative didn’t begin to describe this tactic. This was war.
“What is with you today?” she snapped. She finally looked at Nick and saw he was clearly amused, even as he tried to hide his face behind his coffee mug, sipping slowly at the rich brew.
“What?” he finally asked. “Can’t a man dream?”
Daisy busied herself with last night’s supper dishes, putting them into the dishwasher in an effort to show she didn’t care for the conversation. She reminded herself to breathe.
“You’ve been trying this for years,” she muttered. “I’m not interested. I doubt he is either.”
“You might be surprised,” Nick said and Daisy turned to him. She nodded. It was better to let Nick think he was winning. And he did mean well. He was just misguided.
Carefully, she finished cleaning up as Nick leaned against her low counter, his long legs crossed at the ankles in front of him.
“I think he’s still afraid to talk to me. But I trust his brother. Warren says he’s different this time.” Nick drank deeply from his mug, finishing his coffee. He put the mug into the dishwasher as he continued speaking. “Since you play that piano like it’s your religion, it seemed right you two form a professional relationship.”
Daisy swallowed hard. “If I tell you I’ll think about it, will you drop the subject?”
Nick smiled. “Two things Robby loves—beautiful women and music. He’d be defenseless against you…”
Daisy blushed, reminding herself to bake Nick a pie for all the flattery he was dishing out.
“I’ll leave the doughnuts.” Nick pushed away from the counter. “I got some work I want to get to in the barn today.”
“Oh no, you don’t!” Daisy hustled after him. “What about Steve? He said he’d help you after work, but that’s not until six o’clock. Why don’t you wait?” Although he was in his early seventies, Nick still lived as if he was twenty. He fixed everything from rooftops to sidewalks with the agility of a much younger man.
Nick waved his hand at her. “I’m cleaning out some hay and replacing a few boards. You act like I’m an old man.”
With a sigh, Daisy put her coffee down and moved toward the door. “I’m coming with you,” she said. “Let me grab my computer.”
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