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The Heart Stone

The Heart Stone, April 2013
by Sherry Kyle

Abingdon Press
320 pages
ISBN: 1426733518
EAN: 9781426733512
Kindle: B00BPWCQTK
Paperback / e-Book
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"Can You Ever find Total Forgiveness?"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Heart Stone
Sherry Kyle

Reviewed by Susan Dyer
Posted May 26, 2013

Women's Fiction | Fiction Inspirational

THE HEART STONE by Sherry Kyle is a story of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Jessica and her son having been making it on their own with no help or contact with Jacob's biological father Andrew. When Andrew decides to break their custody agreement Jessica and Jacob figure now is a good time to visit Uncle George. George is Jessica's uncle who took them in when Jessica was pregnant and had no one to help her. When Jessica moves out on her own with Jacob she takes lots of good memories with her.

Fast forward six years and Jessica finds Uncle George in a rehab center. He has had his leg amputated. While he was a missionary in the Philippines, he got an infection in his leg and came back to the States for treatment. He was very ill and they could not save the leg. Uncle George is very bitter and having a hard time with his loss. Jessica also learns that he is still pining for his long lost love, Evelyn. Once back in the states, he learns Evelyn has moved on a long time ago and married someone else. At the rehab center Jessica meets the woman in charge, Holly. Holly invites them all over for Easter dessert. There she meets Nick. She is instantly attracted to him as he is to her, but she doesn't act on it because of her past. Uncle George's time is up at the rehab center and Jessica tries to convince Nick to let them rent his cottage. This is where the fun begins.

THE HEART STONE is an awesome and totally believable story with characters you will fall in love with. You will be cheering for Nick and Jessica to come together and fight Jessica's troubles together. The widow Evelyn still thinks of George all the time now and wants to reconnect with him. George is too stubborn to let go of the hurt he felt in the past when he found out Evelyn married someone else. You will find yourself turning the pages very quickly to find out what happens to all of them. Sherry does a great job of bringing all of the characters in to your heart and wanting to be right there with them. THE HEART STONE has lots of twists and turns and will tug on your heart strings as you turn page after page.

Learn more about The Heart Stone

SUMMARY

When the biological father of Jessica MacAllister’s son decides to break their custody agreement, Jessica and her son visit her Uncle George for advice and refuge…

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister…

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Jessi, it's Andrew . . . Andrew Lawson."

At the sound of his voice, Jessica MacAllister's knees went limp and her palms grew moist. She sat down on the wooden stool near the kitchen counter and leaned her head on her hand, her elbow resting against the cold tile. Why was he calling? She hadn't heard from him since he signed the papers relinquishing his rights to Jacob six years before.

"Jessi, you there?"

She fought the urge to hang up the phone. "I'm here." "

I want to see him."

Her heart beat a strange rhythm. She had prayed this day would never come. "Andrew, I—I—I don't know," she stuttered. As a speech pathologist, she prided herself on her communication skills, but this man could trip her up regardless of her training.

"We can meet at a park. I'll sit at a distance and watch." The desperation in his voice was palpable.

Jessica's jaw clenched and her stomach churned. How could she trust that he wouldn't rush up to Jacob and tell him that he was his biological father? Or worse, what if he wasn't sober? His behavior when he was drunk could be . . . No. She wouldn't let a man who had no part in Jacob's upbringing suddenly waltz into his life—especially someone who had shown her the ways of the world. But Andrew wasn't entirely to blame. She'd given in.

"No. No, that won't work." Jessica ran her hand through her shoulder–length hair.

"How about a restaurant? I'll eat at a separate table. I only want to see our son."

Our son. Jacob was not their son. He was hers and hers only. Andrew wasn't there for her when she was pregnant or gave birth. He'd never been there. Why the sudden interest now?

When Jessica woke this morning, she planned to spend the whole afternoon with Jacob—alone. What right did Andrew have to show up in her life after she'd assumed he was long gone? He'd abandoned her when she needed him most. The wound hurt deep and it would take a lot more than a casual demand.

A fire burned in her belly. "The answer is no—"

"Mommy, who you talking to?" Jacob padded into the kitchen, clad in his dinosaur pajamas. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

"Is that my boy?" Andrew's voice rose.

Jessica stared at her innocent son. Her hand shook and a lump lodged in her throat. She couldn't tell Jacob who was calling, and she couldn't tell Andrew the small voice he heard was indeed his son's.

"Come on, Jessi, work with me here—"

A firm resolve flowed through her veins. She wouldn't allow Andrew to worm his way into her son's life. Not now, not ever. "I've got to go." She pressed the off button and hung up the receiver.

"Hungry, buddy?" On shaky legs, she swung around the counter. She hoped Jacob didn't notice how rattled she felt. "How about some pancakes?"

"With chocolate chips?" He hopped on a stool and grinned, showing the gap that once held a baby tooth.

Several months ago, she'd made his favorite pancakes for his birthday. And now, after receiving the unexpected phone call from his birthfather, she'd give Jacob anything he wanted. "Sure." She smiled back.

"Can we go see Uncle George today?" Jacob pleaded.

"Thought you wanted to spend the day with me." A twinge of jealousy twisted her insides.

She chided herself, and then grabbed a mixing bowl from the cabinet. Uncle George had been through a difficult patch lately. If they could spend an hour or two visiting, it would make a world of difference to the older man.

"I've never seen someone without a leg." Jacob's eyes grew big and round.

Jessica cringed—neither had she. Why hadn't she taken the time to visit her uncle before now? The answer made her pulse race. Fear. The smell of hospitals and rehabilitation centers turned her stomach. Glancing down at her hand, the heart– shaped stone glistened and caught the light filtering through the window. Uncle George had given her the diamond ring when he found out she was pregnant with Jacob to fend off any unwanted advances—or unwanted questions. He had said, "It's hard enough being a single parent."

"Can we, Mom?" Jacob's voice interrupted her thoughts.

The phone rang. She recognized the number from moments ago. Andrew.

The phone rang twice more.

Jessica continued to gather the utensils and ingredients for the pancakes. Maybe if she ignored him, he'd go away.

"Can I answer it?" Jacob reached for the phone.

"NO!" She stopped him, and then clicked the off button of the answering machine before it could pick up.

"Who keeps calling?" Melissa, her roommate of a couple years, strode into the room. Her short blonde hair stuck out here and there, and her pink jersey T–shirt hung almost to her knees over navy sweat pants.

Jessica shot her a "don't ask" look, and then gestured to her little boy. "Jacob and I are going to Santa Cruz today to see Uncle George."

"Yeah!" Jacob hopped off the stool and thrust his arms in the air. He ran around the table like a speeding train pumping his small fists.

"Whoa, buddy." Jessica caught him, wrapping her arms around his chest. "Jacob, listen. I need to talk with Melissa. Why don't you watch cartoons and I'll call you when the pancakes are ready." Jessica rubbed the top of his head, his soft, brown hair slipping between her fingers.

"Okay." He ran toward the couch. On his way, he reached down and grabbed his favorite dump truck from the floor, and then huddled in the corner cushion of the sofa.

Jessica flipped on the television, then motioned for her roommate to join her in her bedroom.

"What's up?" Melissa planted her hands on her hips. "You're acting strange."

"It's Jacob's birthfather. I spoke with him this morning." Jessica paced the room. She grabbed her purple terrycloth robe and slipped it over her shoulders. "I hung up on him. And now he's calling again."

"What does he want?" Melissa sat on the edge of Jessica's unmade bed and covered her legs with the striped comforter.

"To see Jacob." Jessica leaned against the wall, slid down, and landed with a thud on the hardwood floor.

"Has he ever been part of Jacob's life?"

"No, and I won't let him start now. When he found out I was pregnant, he made it clear he didn't want anything to do with the baby or me. He even blamed me for sleeping around, saying the baby wasn't his." Jessica hugged her legs with both arms. "I wish I'd never gone to Mexico on that college trip. But I did." She sighed. "My roommates and I wanted to celebrate. I knew better."

"Celebrate what?"

"Graduation from Fresno State." Jessica bit her lower lip. "We were seniors looking for a good time. That's where I met Andrew." She stared at the floor, wishing the memories away.

"Don't be too hard on yourself. You have a beautiful little boy." Melissa stood and meandered over to where Jessica sat. Holding out both hands, she pulled her up. "From now on, I'll answer the phone. I think Jacob's waiting for those pancakes."

Her roommate was never one to mope and she wouldn't allow Jessica to either. She cinched the belt of her robe. "Please don't tell Jacob who called."

"Never in a million years." Melissa led her back to the kitchen. "So, when do you leave for Santa Cruz?"

"Right after breakfast."

"It's spring break. Why don't you take the whole week? I'll ward off any unwanted callers."

With Jacob having time off from school, Jessica had cancelled all her clients. Her speech pathology business, Speak Easy, would take a hit financially but she'd promised Jacob to spend time with him. Santa Cruz sounded great. Still . . . .

"But tomorrow is Easter and we planned a big dinner. I can't leave you alone." Jessica poured a cup of coffee and handed it to Melissa. "I bought more vanilla creamer. It's in the side door of the refrigerator."

"Don't worry about me." Melissa's eyes danced. "A guy from work hinted he had no place to go."

"Oh, I get it." Jessica grinned. "Don't let us get in your way."

"It's not like that, and you know it." Melissa returned the tease. "I was going to ask you today if he could join us, but since you're leaving town, I didn't want you to worry." She grabbed the creamer and poured a hefty portion into her coffee.

"If it makes you feel any better, I'm glad you'll have company."

"Where will you stay in Santa Cruz?"

"My uncle has a trailer. I'm sure we can crash there." Jessica cracked two eggs into a bowl and beat them before adding the flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk to the bowl. "He's going to be surprised to see us. I've been hesitating—didn't want to scare Jacob. He's never seen someone without a leg."

Melissa took a swig of her coffee. "Jacob didn't look scared to me. Are you sure you're not the one who's nervous?" She winked.

Jessica placed a small bowl of butter in the microwave. "Okay, you got me there. I admit I'm scared. I can't imagine my uncle, someone I've leaned on for strength my whole life, needing assistance. I'm glad the nurses at Pacific Coast Manor are available around the clock." She stirred the batter gently, leaving small clumps of dry ingredients. "I almost forgot the chocolate chips."

"In the pancake batter? It's not anyone's birthday." Melissa opened the cabinet above the dishwasher and handed the bag to Jessica. "You really are worried about that phone call."

Jessica nodded and let out a breath.

Melissa sidled up to her and spoke in hushed tones. "Remember, it's not the end of the world. So, he wants to see his son. Are you sure that would be a bad thing?"

Jessica scrunched up her nose and looked directly at her roommate. "I'm positive." She placed a frying pan on the stove and turned the heat to medium low before she added a handful of chocolate chips to the mix.

Melissa dropped a pat of butter into the pan. "Okay, if you're sure, then I'm with you on this."

"Thank you."

"But promise me you'll take this week to really think it through. Jacob needs a man in his life. And you haven't brought one around since he was born." Melissa sprinkled a few flecks of water into the pan. The drops sizzled.

"You forget. We're going to visit my uncle. He's the best role model I could ask for. No other man is needed." Jessica poured circles of batter onto the hot griddle.

"If you say so."

"Jacob, can you please turn off the television," Jessica called. "It's time for pancakes."


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