All my stories touch my heart or I wouldn't write them. But this one is extra special, because as I was writing it, more than anything I wanted Garrett to win something that could never be taken away from him.
Garrett Bowman is shocked that fate has brought him to a family who can sign. He's spent much of his life on the outside looking in, even within his biological family, and to be accepted and employed is more than he could have hoped for. With Connor, who’s included him in his family, Garrett has found a true friend, but with the distant Brit Wilson Haskins, Garrett may have found something more. In no time, Garrett gets under Wilson’s skin and finds his way into Wilson’s heart, and over shared turbulent family histories, Wilson and Garrett form a strong bond.
Wilson’s especially impressed with the way Garrett’s so helpful to Janey, Connor and Dan’s daughter, who is also deaf. When Wilson’s past shows up in the form of his brother Reggie, bringing unscrupulous people to whom Reggie owes money, life begins to unravel. These thugs don’t care how they get their money, what they have to do, or who they might hurt. Without the strength of love and the bonds of family and friends, Garrett and Wilson could pay the ultimate price.
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Garrett slowed his piece-of-crap car as he started to panic. The needle on the gas gauge hovered at the E and hadn’t bounced in a while, the way it could sometimes. He had to be running on fumes, and he hadn’t seen a town or even a house in miles. He looked from side to side, hoping to see someone. It had been ten minutes since he’d seen a car coming the other way. He’d made a wrong turn. He knew he should have gone back when he discovered it, but he didn’t have enough gas to backtrack, so his only hope was to find a town. Mentally, Garrett went through what he had to his name, and it was completely pathetic. He had twenty dollars in his pocket and a little change in the cup between the beat-up seats.
He needed a job, but not many people were willing to hire him. He was a high school graduate with few skills that anyone wanted. Most people looked at him and saw his strength, and he could do any kind of physical labor. When they began to talk to him, he was still okay. But as soon as they looked away, Garrett was lost, and then they would turn back to him, ask a question, and he’d speak. And then…. Garrett pushed the thought out of his head. Thinking about that stuff now wouldn’t get him anywhere. He rounded the bend in the road and saw a red barn. He sighed with relief and hoped like hell it wasn’t empty. After a few seconds a house came into view, and then a truck parked out front. A clean, bright sign read “Christmas Tree Village.” Maybe he was in luck.
Lights flashed on the dashboard, and the car lurched forward before slowing down. The engine light showed yellow. Garrett put the car in neutral and coasted to the driveway. He turned and pulled off to the side. Then he stopped and turned off the car. He had no idea what he was going to do now. After pulling out his keys, he opened the door and got out, looking all around him.
The big barn to the left had huge wooden carousel horse cutouts on the side, brightly painted, with trees planted in front of it that were strung with the old-fashioned kind of lights, the ones with big colorful bulbs. Behind the barn and down a path was a Ferris wheel. Trees must have blocked its view from the road, but it stood tall and gleamed in the sun. Everything looked fresh and new. Beyond the yard area, small Christmas trees spread out in every direction, covering a small rise and then continuing beyond. The air was thick with the fresh pine scent, and Garrett inhaled deeply. For the first time in days he felt like he could breathe, and some of the disappointment that always seemed to fill his life drifted away on the pine-scented air.
A hand landed on his shoulder, and Garrett jumped before turning around. “Hello…,” he said as clearly as he could, hoping to come off as normal.
The man, who looked a little older than Garrett, smiled, and to Garrett’s amazement, he lifted his hands and began to sign. “What are you doing here?”
“How did you know?” Garrett signed back.
“Your voice. You talk like Janey does,” the man answered. Garrett had no idea who Janey was, but he breathed with relief, and if he ever met this lady, he’d be sure to thank her. He’d spent so much of his life cut off from others that seeing this man sign was like manna from heaven.