Love and the Single Mom
Book One of the Singles... With Kids Series
Is it really possible to find true love when you're single...with kids?
She was an ex-wife, ex-lawyer and soon-to-be ex-owner if her restaurant didn’t turn around. To top things off, Margo Evans‘ ex was getting married again. What if her two children preferred their new stepmom?
But all was not lost. A new lunchtime regular, Robert Brooks, seemed likely to add some spice to her life–or he would if a single mom hadn’t recently left him standing at the altar, wrenching away the child he’d begun to love.
Could Margo coax the conservative banker to swallow his fear of women with kids? And show him to a table for four?
- Try Margo's Daily Soups! Get the recipes from the Extras page.
- When hearts break, dreams die and a marriage ends, sometimes the idea of loving again feels like an impossible fantasy. Especially when kids are in the picture.
- Dating is challenging enough without adding the complication of children to the mix. Single parents are busy people. Working, raising kids and running a household all on your own, leaves precious little time for dating. And yet, given the contemporary divorce rate, this is the reality many of us face.
- I’d like to welcome you to a new series about women (and men) who find themselves in this exact situation. In Love And The Single Mom you’ll meet Margo Evans. Once Margo was young and pretty and popular and full of hopes for her future. She studied law, became a lawyer, married a smart man and had two beautiful children. She thought she was living her dream until her marriage snapped over an unexpected infidelity.
- Suddenly single, Margo reassesses her goals and decides to forgo the law career in order to open a bistro. With two children and a new business to worry about, she definitely doesn’t have time for dating. Or so she thinks...
Enjoy an Excerpt
“Phew. Sorry about that.” Margo sank into the rattan couch next to Nora, after running upstairs to check on the kids. On the table in front of them was the chocolate zucchini cake and a packet of photographs she’d put there earlier.
“No problem,” Nora assured her. “Everything okay?”
“Both sound asleep.” Stairs from the bistro kitchen ran up to the door of their apartment so it was easy for Margo to run back and forth. It was like being on different levels in a two-story home, but just to be cautious Margo also had a two-way monitor set up so they could talk to one another if needed. She placed the small receiver on the table, next to the cake. “So how was your week?”
“Busy.” Nora sighed. “Like usual.”
As well as being the mother of an active little boy, Nora had a full time job as a physiotherapist. On top of all that, her sister was living with her but not paying her share of the household expenses.
“How are Suzanne’s wedding plans coming along?”
“I’m not sure. Suzanne’s being a little cagey lately. I hope her fiancé knows what he’s getting into. I love my sister. But—"
She didn’t need to say any more. Suzanne was a charming person, but not exactly reliable where money was concerned.
“So how about you, Margo?” Nora helped herself to a piece of the cake, then lost no time digging into it.
“It’s been one of those days...”
“I had a call from my ex. But first, take a look at these.” Margo slipped the photographs from their packet. “I had the pictures from last week’s party developed. There are some really cute ones of Danny.”
Like any proud mother, Nora reached for the pictures eagerly. She’d ohhed and ahhed through about half of them when she suddenly stopped. Leaning close to Margo she whispered, “Who is that guy? In the back. The one staring at you?”
Margo felt a prickling at the base of her neck. Not a creepy, icky prickling, but a sensual, exciting sort of tingle.
She knew without looking.
He’d come back.
She pretended to check out the washroom door. Yes, it was the guy in the suit from earlier, only he wasn’t dressed in his suit now, but in jeans and a t-shirt and he looked hot.
Suddenly she became very aware of the ambiance in the room. In the daytime, when sunlight streamed in from the floor to ceiling windows and highlighted the lemon tree and the hibiscus, the Bistro’s annex room had the feel of a greenhouse.
At night, however, when she drew the ginger-colored curtains and lit the candles, then, the annex was transformed into an intimate, slightly exotic place--a world away from the bustle of cosmopolitan San Francisco on the other side of the walls.
In short, it became a room perfect for romance...
“Is he looking this way?” she asked Nora.
“Not any more. Now he’s eating his soup. Do you know him?”
“He came in yesterday, then again this afternoon. But the answer is no. I don’t know him.” That prickle of a memory just would not take any substantial shape. She wondered if perhaps she justwished she’d met him before.
“Would you like another piece of cake?” Margo asked. Nora was already finished her first and was sipping on her chai latte.
“Forget the cake. How long has it been since you’ve been on a date?”
“Are you trying to be cruel?” No one knew better than Nora the pathetic state of her social life. That was one of the subjects they often talked about--how hard it was to meet men when you had kids and worked full time.
Sometimes Margo wondered if that part of her life was over for good.
“Wait.” Nora tried to appear blasé. “He’s looking this way again.”
“Probably at you.”
“No way. This one is yours, Margo. What are you going to do about it? He’s coming this way.”
“He is not.” But he was. Margo couldn’t believe it. She set down her fork, but in her nervousness, she knocked aside the photographs she and Nora had been looking at.
Several of the glossy four-by-sixes fell to the floor.
The hot guy scooped them up as if he’d crossed the room for exactly this purpose. Before handing them over, he glanced at the photos. His eyes widened and his skin paled.
“Thank you.” Margo accepted the pictures and set them on the table. “That was clumsy of me.”
The guy had boy-next-door looks, except for his eyes, which were darkly lashed and deeply blue. Right now those eyes seemed to be looking at everything in the room except her.
“No problem. I was just coming by to tell you how much I enjoy your soups. Do you make them here?”
Soup? He’d crossed the room to ask about soup? Margo shot an “I told you this wasn’t what you thought it was” look at Nora. “Sure. We have a different special every day, and they’re all my own recipes. I’m glad you like them.”
“The best I’ve ever tasted.”
She sensed Nora grinning at her and her face grew hot. “By the way, I’m Margo.”
“Yeah. I assumed as much. From the name of the place.”
Margo felt her face grow hotter. “Margo Evans,” she clarified.
“Robert Brookman,” he said before shaking first her hand, then Nora’s.
Realizing she hadn’t introduced her friend, Margo added quickly, “And this is my friend Nora Clark. She’s a physiotherapist.”
“Really? Where do you work?”
Robert seemed keenly interested, and Margo sank back into the cushions of the sofa. She’d been right after all...it was Nora he was interested in. Or maybe he’d just been desperate to change the subject.
As she listened to Robert tell Nora about a buddy with a sore knee, Margo prayed desperately for Sandy or Edward to call her with an emergency from the kitchen. She’d known Robert wasn’t looking at her. He liked her soups. Not her.
Nora told him about a colleague who ought to be able to help his friend, then scribbled a number on the back of one of her business cards.
“Thanks a lot.” Robert pocketed the card. “Well, I should be going. Sorry to interrupt, but it was good to meet you, Nora. You too, Margo.”
He left without giving either of them a backward glance. Margo turned a blank face to Nora. “Was it something I said?”
Nora laughed. “Actually, I think it was something he saw.” She tapped the photographs. “He definitely got cold feet after he picked up these.”
“I don’t know how cold his feet were. He left with your phone number.”
“That was just business. I get that reaction all the time when people find out what I do for a living.”
Margo wasn’t so sure.
“Trust me,” Nora added. “He was planning to talk to you until he saw those pictures. Maybe he’s worried you’re married.”
Maybe. Margo looked at her ring-less hands. Somehow she didn’t think that was it. “Oh, well. He looked kind of dull, don’t you think?”
“You should have seen him in his suit.” In his dark blue pin-stripe, Robert Brookman had looked of the same ilk as her ex...a business-obsessed workaholic, who scheduled outings with his wife with less frequency than his semi-annual dental check-ups.
“I bet he looked really hot in his suit, too.”
Margo wouldn’t admit that Nora was right. “It’s probably just as well. My life is too hectic for romance, anyway. If he calls you, make sure you say yes.”
“I keep telling you—it’s not me he’s interested in. But even if he was...I’m not sure I’m ready to start dating yet.”
Nora’s expression grew sad and Margo knew she was thinking about Kevin.
Nora didn’t talk about him much. All Margo knew was that he’d been a cop, killed in a car accident before Danny’s birth. It was a loss Nora didn’t seem fully recovered from. But Margo hoped that she would move on soon.
Kids were terrific. A job you loved was great, too. But there were times when Margo longed for more and she knew Nora did, too. With a sigh, she picked up her fork and took another taste of cake.
After a moment’s silence, Nora said, “Weren’t you going to tell me something about your ex?”
Good lord. How could she have forgotten? “I need more coffee before I get into that story. Hang on a minute.”
Margo hurried to the other room and slipped behind the counter. No customers were waiting in line at the moment so she had free access to the espresso machine. Sandy was clearing tables, while Edward made a show of re-arranging the goodies in the display case.
A few minutes later Margo returned to the annex room with a fresh chai latte for Nora and a top-up to her mocha.
“So...?” Nora prodded.
“You’ll never believe this.” Margo settled back into the couch, then took a deep breath. “Tom’s getting married again.”
Nora looked shocked. “But didn’t you say his affair with the bimbo was over?”
“Apparently he started dating someone else, about four months ago. Her name is Catherine and she works part-time in reception at a law firm. That’s all I know about her.”
“Does she have children?”
Good question. “I don’t think so.”
“Hopefully your kids won’t have step-siblings to worry about.” Nora was working hard to find something positive to say.
“But that means Catherine will be clueless about kids.”
“True. Like in that movie Stepmom, when Julia Robert’s character is so insensitive in the beginning.”
“Not to mention the real mother dies in that movie,” Margo pointed out.
“Okay, so that was a bad example. Sorry. I really am trying to make you feel better. Eat some more cake. I’m sure this Catherine will turn out to be a very nice woman.”
Margo took a bite of cake and wondered why neither Nora’s comforting words, nor chocolate, seemed to help.
“You need a distraction. Like that guy, Robert Brookman...”
“The guy who couldn’t get out of here fast enough once he saw a picture of my children?”
“Maybe I was wrong about that. As you said, he was probably worried that you might be married and just choosing not to wear a ring.”
“That’s an optimistic interpretation.”
“Tell you what,” Nora said. “If he comes by again tomorrow, you’ll know he’s interested. If he doesn’t...then start looking for someone else.”
“Someone else? I thought we’d just established the fact that neither of us have time for a man in our lives right now?”
“Hey, you were the one complaining about your ex-husband’s new fiancé. Don’t you know that the best defense is a good offence? Instead of worrying about the new woman in Tom’s life, I say you make him worry about the new man in yours.”
End of Excerpt
Find out more about the Singles... With Kids Series →