Part Five: Absentminded Angel Out-takes (Finale)

Out-takes Part Five

Winter trees in mountains covered with fresh snow


Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 🙂 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.

This scene was cut from the midst of the scene where she purchases the sewing machine in San Antonio. You may remember that at Kendry and Jared’s urging, she took Jared’s phone with her for the trip, since hers wasn’t functioning. In the original version, she’d lost the phone while working in Marvin’s cluttered office. This is also her first conversation with their cousin Felicia, who was a trip. Writing her dialogue was like a day in my life when I had toddlers at home. Herding cats would’ve been easier. 🙂 


Presley Ann and Whit returned to the front of the shop and she was sitting in the waiting area looking at a magazine when the melody from “Crazy” starting playing in her purse. She wouldn’t have taken Jared for a Patsy Cline fan but to each his own. Concerned that the call might be from Kendry, she answered it.


“Who is this?” a female voice asked with a sharp tone.

“You’ve reached Jared McCulloch’s phone.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Tell me who this is.” Maybe the ringtone had been an indicator of something else.

Debating the wisdom of answering Jared’s phone after all, and peeved at the woman’s snippy tone, she replied, “This is Presley Ann Woodworth. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“Are you that pregnant chippie? You’d better not be taking my boys for a ride,” the woman said challengingly.

“Excuse me? I—”

The woman started fussing in the background and Presley Ann grew more confused as she listened. “Stop hitting your brother! If you don’t quit that crying I’m going to give you something to cry about. No, do not put Spaghetti-Os in your sister’s hair. I’m about to go Crazy Mama on the bunch of you if you don’t stop your whining and finish your lunch. Ashley, go wash your hands, please. Now, where was I?” she said, speaking directly into the phone with what sounded like a multitude of little voices in the background. “Jared and Kendry are my honeys and you’d better not be taking them for a ride.”

Presley Ann shook her head, trying to not get riled up by the challenging tone. “Last time I checked, Jared and Kendry were grown men. I already know their mom is deceased so you can save the protective mommy routine. Not that it’s any of your business, but I am friends with them, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to take anyone for a ride. Now who in the hell is this?” Her ears throbbed a little as she waited through the long pause on the phone.

A female chuckle finally came on the line over the hubbub in the background. “They told me I’d like you but they forgot to mention how prissy you sound when you get riled. My name is Felicia and I’m married to their cousin, Marty.”

Felicia! Oh crap! “I’m so sorry—” She remembered Kendry referring to Felicia as Dommy Mommy.

Felicia cut her off as she laughed out loud. “Ah, no backtracking now, missy. Are either of them around?”

“I—uh—I—” The mother to twelve children. Presley Ann had hoped if she ever met this iconic woman that she’d make a better impression and all she could do was stutter.

“Now you sound like one of my kids when they are in trouble. I must’ve laid the bitchy on a little too thick. Let me guess, you thought I was an ex-girlfriend and you were regretting answering the phone.”

Presley Ann giggled and took a deep breath. “Yeah, pretty much. They’ve told me a little bit about you.”

“Unfortunately, it’s probably all true. Hang on. Garth, you either eat what I put in front of you or you go hungry until suppertime. Your choice, mister. Sorry. So, is Jared around?”

“No, but they are both on duty right now so if you call Kendry’s phone you should be able to reach him. I lost my phone right before a road trip and Jared insisted I take his phone with me.”

“Okay. He showed me a picture of you with your little cutie pie.”


“Yeah, you’re very pretty and your boy is gorgeous. If you look in his pictures on his phone, you’ll find pics of me and Marty with the brats. Listen, Presley Ann…”

Presley Ann waited, sensing that Felicia was choosing her words even though she didn’t strike her as the type to pull any punches, ever.

“He likes you. Actually, I think they both do. I don’t know what’s up with that. They told me Divine is a different kind of place to live and I guess I’m just hoping it’s not different, like, making the Nightly World News kind of different. Please don’t hurt him or Kendry. If you’re not really interested in them don’t string them along. I don’t know if you’re the reason they moved or not but I just want you to know they are good guys and they don’t deserve to get their hearts broken. Kendry just got back on his feet after being so sick, and Jared…Let’s just say he’s had enough bad luck with women.”

“Felicia, I don’t know what to say.”

Felicia hushed a crying baby and then said, “It’s not me you need to say anything to, Presley Ann. It’s them. I’m just a protective family member who wants to see them happy, whether it’s there in Divine, or back here in Abilene. It was great talking to you but I’ve got to get three little ones down for a nap so I can start prepping for supper.”

Presley Ann looked at the phone after the call ended, her head filled with all kinds of thoughts. She had a hard time getting one little baby down for a nap and this woman handled them three at a time? Supper prep started after lunch when feeding fourteen people? Parents still said “if you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about”? And Felicia was concerned enough about her husband’s cousins to call and check on them and quiz her. Her mind was like a pea in a whistle and she got curious when she remembered Felicia saying there were pictures of her and her family on his phone. Curiosity consumed her and she tapped the screen on his phone and pulled up his pictures.

“Aw,” she murmured softly while stroking Whit’s sleeping head. The picture on screen was one she remembered him taking just a couple of days before, of her and Whit at the firehouse, when she’d joined them for lunch at the picnic table located in the shady lawn area behind the firehouse. There were several other pictures of the two of them and then she came across a picture of a couple with children chaotically massed all around them, one baby crying, a couple of younger kids in mid-argument, and the rest in various stages of ready-to-stop-smiling-for-the-camera. The mom and dad looked harried but happy, and it was cool to be able to put a face with the name.

“Ms. Woodworth, here we go,” the owner of the embroidery shop said as a male employee followed her out into the waiting area with the machine packed away in its box and loaded on a dolly.


This section is from the same chapter, just a little later on, picking up at the moment where Presley Ann is accidentally run off of the increasingly icy road by a ranch truck hauling a trailer. It’s raining, she is off in the muddy ditch, the temperature is dropping, and she has a squalling infant on her hands. Oh, and it’s dark. What else could possibly go wrong?



The driver never stopped and Presley Ann’s pulse was like a drum in her ears as she watched the taillights fade into the growing dark. The next thing she was aware of was Whit crying. She unbuckled and turned to kneel over the driver’s seat so she could see him. He quieted when her face came into view and she patted and soothed him until the tears and wailing stopped. “Poor baby. Did that big ranch truck scare you? He scared me, too.” He pooched out his lip and let loose a final wail and then started sucking his fist, a sure sign he’d want to nurse soon.

Turning to sit back in her seat, she looked out the window at the rain, wondering how badly her car was damaged. Bundling up, she pulled out her umbrella and climbed out to inspect the damage and her flats slid a little under her as she walked in the slushy mud. The bumper had a dent in it but that was all she could see. The temperature definitely felt like it’d dropped since she’d left San Antonio and she shivered as the cold mist blew in her face.

A vehicle was approaching and realized she hadn’t turned on her hazard lights. As she opened the door, the older minivan hit a puddle on the road, spraying her with icy water and mud as it flew past her without slowing.

Now she was not only cold, she was also wet, and filthy. Barely holding back a juicy curse, she looked down at her clothes and the interior of her car, which were both a mud-spattered mess.

“Son of a biscuit-eater! It’s even in my mouth!”

She spit a few times and her stomach churned at the grit and taste of mud in her mouth. Whit whimpered as she reached in the car and stroked his cheek and then grabbed a handful of tissues from the front seat and wiped her face and the front of her ruined coat and then quickly wiped the mud spatters from the cloth upholstery.

The rain fell a little harder as she surveyed the vehicle and the mud her tires had sunk into made her stomach fall. Her car was still running but the door was open, letting out all the heat.

Chilling wetness soaked between her toes as the mud seeped inside her flats. On her budget she hadn’t been able to afford boots and she hadn’t dressed to be outdoors in weather like this.

Climbing back inside, she adjusted the heat, buckled up and put the car in gear. Offering up a prayer she slowly accelerated, heard the wheels turning, but the car didn’t move.


Shifting into reverse, she tried backing out of the mess and had similar results. Not wanting to dig herself in any deeper, she groaned as she took out Jared’s phone.


That’s it for out-takes from Presley Ann’s story, Absentminded Angel. I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes process. A book can go through multiple changes prior to being released, and almost none of the out-takes ever see the light of day. I knew I’d never recycle these into another story, because they were written for very specific characters, but I hated to just leave them to languish in a folder.

For information about the series, and to find out what I’m currently working on, please visit the Works in Progress page on my website. I also make frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand


Part Four: Absentminded Angel Out-takes, Chapter Four


me-hr-dcr-absentmindedangel-fullOut-takes Part Four

Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 🙂 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.


This scene picks up about three weeks after Presley Ann had given birth to Whit. Kendry is helping out at Marvin’s Computer shop, where all the old-timers like to congregate in the morning, solving the world’s problems while they drink coffee. This was another one of those scenes I hated to cut. It features check-ins with familiar old-timers in town. Readers also get a little glimpse of Uncle Marvin’s sweet little crush, Miss Petunia Dawson.

This installment also includes the original migraine confrontation scene between Kendry and Presley Ann. Some of it may seem familiar, although the released version takes place in her apartment instead of Marvin’s office, but read through to get to the following scene, which got cut from the released version but explains how Kendry wound up over at the fire station while she was at her doctor’s appointment and Violet’s Emporium. I liked that scene because of the mention of their cousin Felicia (mother of twelve children). She was quite a character, as readers will see in the next installment, but it didn’t justify a whole scene.


Kendry sat on the barstool behind the customer service counter at Marvin’s Computer Repair, tinkering with an old computer. Woody Porter came over to the pot and poured the last cup of coffee in his chipped mug before pulling out the ground coffee and a fresh filter from the supplies beside the old Mr. Coffee. Marvin’s friends didn’t seem to be fazed by Marvin’s absence that morning as they shot the shit while sitting in the chairs around his waiting area out front.

“We’ll have more going in just a minute, gentlemen,” the venerable Justice of the Peace said as he lowered himself back into his chair by the window.

Having something else to focus on set his mind at ease, as he tested the computer’s power supply with Marvin’s multi-meter. Listening to the men talking helped, at least that’s what he kept telling himself, but he kept catching the hint of sound from upstairs. Being in the building with her made him feel a little better but it also put temptation so close he could almost feel her silky skin against his lips.

There it was again. That sound.

The coffee pot gurgled as it did its thing, filling the carafe with coffee so stout one cup had hit him like a shot of espresso, not that he was given to drinking that much of the stuff. The men’s conversation hummed in the background as they set about solving the world’s problems while he killed time.

They’d been in town for three weeks and he hadn’t seen Presley Ann even once. He and Jared had agreed to not press her too much because she had her hands full with Whit. Kendry grinned, just thinking about the baby’s name, which suited the infant perfectly. Maybe it was the impending holidays that made him sentimental but he missed her. Whit wasn’t his biological son, he even missed the baby. The memory of the fire in her eyes that day in the hospital made him smile.

He’d just dropped off groceries at the station earlier that morning, a favor for one of the firefighters who was trying to put together a Thanksgiving meal for the firefighters who would be on duty during Thanksgiving, when he’d seen Marvin across the street. He’d been leaning up against his truck, coughing.

Concerned about the old-timer that had become his and Jared’s friend, Kendry crossed the street to check on him. It didn’t take much for a cough like that to turn into pneumonia and Kendry knew him well enough to know that he’d ignore the symptoms until it was serious.

“Marvin, you need help with anything?” he’d called out so that he didn’t startle him.

Marvin grinned and shook his head. “Nah, just allergies and a little congestion this morning. When the temps swing back and forth like they do this time of year, this is what happens.” Kendry had seen the way he labored a little to catch his breath and had made a decision. He was off that day and he’d offered to watch the shop for him. Marvin had needed a little convincing but he’d finally said, “You know, I was coming in today mainly just because the other fellas will be by for coffee. It’s likely you wouldn’t see anyone besides them. I could do with a little nap and a hot toddy. You sure you don’t mind?”

“No. I’ll come check on you later today. I don’t like that cough.”

Marvin had nodded and handed him the keys to the shop and told him to make himself at home. Now here Kendry sat. Jared had grinned when he’d gone back across the street to let him know where he’d be during the day. Jared was supposed to be bringing him lunch from the firehouse kitchen before long.

There was that sound again. He strained his ears, trying to catch it again. A couple of times he’d thought he’d heard Whit crying but the spells had been brief. Sometimes he heard her soft steps overhead. His senses were on alert and his worry increased. It had sounded like she was crying.


He blinked and looked up to find Woody standing there with the coffee pot in his hand. “I’m sorry, I was distracted. What?”

“Want more coffee?” Woody asked with a grin and twinkling eyes which he shifted up to the ceiling before looking at him again. “You’re distracted, boy, aren’t you?”

Kendry chuckled. “Maybe a little.”

From the corner, Joe Warner said, “Bet he’s got his mind on a pretty little blonde. He’s awful distracted and keeps alternatin’ between looking at the ceiling and starin’ off into space.” The gray-haired man, who he’d discovered was Jack Warner’s dad, chuckled and lifted his old coffee mug as if in toast to Kendry.

Kendry laughed with them good-naturedly and quietly said, “Just wonder how she’s doing, that’s all. New babies can be demanding.”

George Owen pulled a paper towel from the roll by the coffee maker and wiped out his mug before setting it upside down on the nearby towel and said, “That is the truth. I remember when out youngest girl was an infant and had colic. Maizy could scream so loud I swear it rattled the neighbors windows. Nearly drove poor Amelia and me to drinking.”

Joe scoffed and said, “Couldn’t have been as loud as Jack. To this day I’m a little deaf in my right ear from walking that kid for hours on end with colic.”

The old timers all nodded wisely but Kendry’s worry ratcheted a notch tighter. Was it possible Whit was keeping Presley Ann up all night with colic?” His resolve to not bother her weakened a tiny bit more.

George turned to the group and said, “Well, gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure. Got to get to the house and see what the missus is up to.”

Joe slapped his friend’s back as he came over and wiped out his mug. “Probably planning another trip for the two of you.”

George grinned and nodded. “Maybe so. She was talking about going to Atlantic City this time.”

The men teased him about being a jetsetter since retiring and he took it goodnaturedly as the rest of them rose from their chairs. During a lull, Kendry heard the sound from upstairs again. Kendry decided that he’d check on her the second they were all gone. He’d hear the front door bell if anyone came in the shop while he was upstairs. He couldn’t stand it anymore.

Joe patted the counter and said, “Kendry, thanks for covering for Marvin. Let him know we we’re thinking about him.”

“Will do. I’m sure he’ll be back tomorrow.”

He breathed a sigh of relief and then groaned miserably as Joe held the door for a little elderly woman who walked up as the last of them exited. In her frail arms she carried a venerable old Smith Corona electric typewriter.

Her eyes widened as she looked at Kendry and then cast her gaze around the room and the space behind the customer service counter. “Is Marvin around?”

“No ma’am. He’s a little under the weather today.”

Her shoulders drooped a little as she said, “Oh. I was hoping he’d be in. I’m having trouble with this, and…”

“I could take a look at it for you,” he said as he came around the counter and carefully took the weighty machine from her and put it on the counter.

“I hope I’m not taking you away from your work, young man,” she said, pointing at the disassembled computer on the counter. “All of these newfangled machines are a mystery to me.”

Kendry grinned as he lifted the cover on the 70s-era typewriter. The computer he had been working on was probably brand new in 1980. “You’re not taking me away from anything, ma’am. Can you tell me what’s happening with your typewriter?”

His heart lurched as he heard the sound again from upstairs and he prayed the solution was a simple one as she pointed at one of the keys and demonstrated the problem to him.

“Is Marvin going to be all right?” the little lady, who had to be close to Marvin in age, asked as Kendry went back around the counter and pulled a couple of tools from the organizer under the desk top.

“I think so. Just needed a little rest.”

“When I talked to him on the phone about this old machine he told me I could come anytime I wanted and he’d be more than happy to take a look at it. Figures I’d miss him. Maybe I’ll have to make him some homemade chicken soup.”

The look on her face was sweet and hopeful and he smiled at her and said, “He might like that, ma’am.”

“I’ll just call him at home and check to make sure. Are you related to him? He’d never mentioned children or grandchildren to me before.”

“No ma’am. I’m just a friend. I work across the street.”

Her eyes rounded and her eyebrows rose. “Oh, are you a fire fighter?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, thank you for doing that. Can you see what’s wrong with it?”

He couldn’t help but smile as he pointed with the tiny screw driver at the problem. She asked him his name and where he’d come from. She was cute and if he wasn’t mistaken, she had a crush on Marvin. He had to wonder if maybe the feeling wasn’t mutual. Marvin had told him he’d been a bachelor all his life but had indicated he knew a little lady whose company he enjoyed very much. Maybe this was her.

He heard the downward thump of footsteps on the staircase as the woman asked him questions. Moments later he heard the sound of footsteps ascending again, and then coming back down. Her car was parked around out back and his heart fell as the sweet old lady kept talking. The door between the front of the shop and the hallway that led to the back was closed and Presley Ann would probably leave before he could even say hello.

“Can you fix it, Kendry?” she asked as she leaned in to look at the broken part.

He heard the final thump of the back door and his heart fell. “Yes ma’am. It won’t take but just a few minutes.” He waited for the sound of her car pulling around the gravel on the side of the building. Damn.

“Oh, then I can wait?”

Might as well. “Sure. I saw a model just like this one in his office when I was in there earlier. I’ll just take it apart and swap out the broken piece. Help yourself to coffee if you’d like. Mr. Porter just made it, but I’ll warn you, it’s strong.”

Petunia Dawson smiled at him and reached for a cup as she said, “I don’t mind if I do. My now deceased husband, Harold, made his coffee strong, too.”

Kendry disassembled the necessary components of the typewriter, lamenting that they didn’t make devices that were that easy to service anymore. “I’ll be in the back for a minute, Mrs. Dawson.”

“Take your time, sweetheart,” she as she browsed through Marvin’s collection of magazines on the coffee table.

Relief hit him as he heard the sound of the baby crying through the door as he approached it, and the full volume hit him as he opened it. Whit wasn’t just crying, he was screaming.

“Honey,” she whispered soothingly and he followed the sweet cooing sounds to the office, where she was bent over a portable bassinet. She was dressed in a gauzy red flowing skirt and a soft V-neck top and standing in profile, he got a glimpse of her full bust and curvy bottom and hips.

What a goddess. 

His cock stirred and the sweet sounds she made to Whit only made it worse. “Honey, Mommy has to get some work done or Uncle Marvin is going to think I’ve forgotten him. I wonder where he is today—” She turned and let out a scream and Whit began to wail again. The sound was so loud that it created reverb inside his ears.

“I’m sorry—” she began to say as she held out a hand to him and then looked back at the baby and cringed. She looked around at the mess as she reached for Whit and lifted him from the bassinet. Kendry went to her and got a close look at the desperation in her eyes as she cast her gaze around the office.

Reaching out to her, he flipped on the overhead lights so that the room was illuminated by more than just the desk lamp. She shielded her eyes and winced. Whit screamed even louder, his face beet red and big tears rolling down his cheeks as he looked up at Kendry. She jostled him and bobbed, trying to soothe him but the crying only grew worse. She looked up at him and he could see that her eyelids were red and swollen as if she’d been crying for a while. There were dark shadows under her eyes. She cringed and tears leaked from her eyes and his heart thumped hard as the need to fix the situation for her overtook him.

She’d told them she could do this all on her own but she looked as though she was nearing the breaking point. He caressed her soft shoulder and squeezed gently to get her attention because neither of them could hear each other over all the noise.

He held out his hands to Whit and looked at her for approval and said, “Let me?”

More tears leaked from Presley Ann’s eyes and her brows furrowed as she handed Whit off to him. The baby felt warm and a little sweaty in the sleeper he was dressed in and he reached for the receiving blanket she had draped over her shoulder. With pure defeat written on her features, she placed the receiving blanket over his shoulder and watched as he spoke.

“Little man, you have got a set of lungs on you. Where did you get those from?”

Whit sucked in a breath and stared wide-eyed at Kendry, his mouth hanging open as if he’d forgotten what he was doing in mid-wail. In the short space of silence, he heard Presley Ann draw in a ragged, shaky breath.

He turned his gaze to her and said, “Are you okay?”

Her shoulders slumped in defeat and she shook her head. As if on cue, Whit began wailing again and Presley Ann started crying, too.

“Oh, kitten,” he murmured as he wrapped an arm around her back and pulled her close so that he had his arms full of both of them and just let them cry themselves out. “Poor, poor babies.”


Presley Ann wanted to kick the crap out of her inner angel, the self-sacrificing maternal one that had told her she could handle an infant on her own. The only thing worse was her inner devil, that remnant of the spoiled brat she’d been rearing her ugly head, who told her that perhaps her aunt had been right.

The pain in the left side of her head was so intense that she was actually seeing stars, and crying only increased the pressure and the pain. She could barely function, so all the desire in the world to succeed as a mother was wasted, and the inner negativity only increased the feeling of failure. The knot in her throat grew as she looked up at Kendry, defeat settling uncomfortably on her shoulders as he made a sympathetic sound deep in his throat.

Whit let loose with another bloodcurdling scream and the nausea roiled in her stomach. Kendry watched Whit and when he lost steam and finally drew a long, stuttering breath he turned his gaze to her and asked, “Have you slept?”

She shook her head but couldn’t speak as another pain-wracked sob rose up as she estimated the distance to the nearest bathroom. If she got sick in front of him it was going to be epically embarrassing. Whit’s subsequent wail made the knot of muscles at the base of her skull tighten another degree.

With the baby’s next inhalation, Kendry asked, “Are you in pain?”

Helpless to do anything but nod, she put her hands to her temples and leaned against him.

Whit’s next shaky breath was less intense than the last one. Either that or she was finally going deaf. Kendry asked, “Got a headache?”

She nodded and managed a weak smile. “Migraine.”

She held her hands open expecting him to hand the baby right back to her. Lots of moms dealt with migraines while caring for an infant and she needed to suck it up.

“I have an appointment with Doctor Emma later this afternoon.”

“Have you had them before?” he asked as he caressed her brow, which sent a wave of shivers down her spine, leaving her feeling a little weak in the knees.

“Rarely. The normal over the counter meds aren’t helping and obviously I can’t go lay down in a quiet room with a washcloth over my eyes. I thought a distraction might help.” She gestured around the office. “I’m helping Marvin get this place organized, or at least I planned to. Right now, not much is getting done.”

“What time is your appointment?”

Whit began wailing again and he patted the baby on the back. His deep voice drew Whit’s attention and he gave a piteous cry, and then sucked in a few stuttering breaths. His face was red as he gazed up at him and then rubbed his eyes. He was just as exhausted as she was.

Kendry turned the baby in the crook of his arm so he faced Presley Ann and said, “Could you unzip his sleeper all the way down? Let’s get this off of him for a few minutes.”

“But he’ll get chilled,” she said, thinking a sick baby was the last thing she could deal with right now, but did as he asked.

“We’ll cover him with the blanket. There.” Whit bleated as she gently tugged the sleeves free from his arms and then eased the thick blanket sleeper down his back and off of his legs. Whit flopped his head on Kendry’s shoulder and went back to sucking his fist. “What happened?” she asked as she looked at the sleeper and then at her son.

“Maybe he was hot.” Kendry brushed his lips against Whit’s head as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do and flipped the light switch back off, easing the pain behind her eyes slightly. “Let’s see if cooling him off doesn’t help the little man. You couldn’t hear me before when I asked but what time is your appointment with your doctor?”

“Not until this afternoon at three. They couldn’t fit me in before then and I didn’t want to sit with Whit in the waiting room since it’s flu season now.”

Kendry bobbed Whit in a gentle motion and said, “When was the last time you had a break? A few minutes to yourself?”

She hated answering because she didn’t want to sound like a whiner. Being a single mom meant she played the hand that was dealt her and breaks were a luxury she just couldn’t afford to think about, let alone indulge in.

“He conked out last night and I had enough time to take a quick shower.” Yeah, at four o’clock in the morning. She’d had to take the opportunity while it was allowed and the hot water had felt sooo good she’d nearly cried. He’d been awake and crying again before her hair was even fully dry. “I’m glad you didn’t see me yesterday,” she said as she fingered the straight ends of her hair. She hadn’t been anywhere in days, much less had the time or energy for the basics. She’d been a mess.

Whit made a snorting sound and began rooting and Presley Ann giggled as Kendry shifted the baby in his arms. “Can’t help you there, buddy.” He didn’t seem at all embarrassed.

Grabbing the receiving blanket from Kendry’s shoulder, she flipped it over her shoulder, and hissed softly at the pain the simple movement sent through her wrist. Kendry handed Whit to her and she sat in Marvin’s chair with her back to him, parted the overlapping neckline on her top, got Whit latched on, and then draped the blanket so she had a little privacy before turning back to Kendry.

Frowning, Kendry knelt down and lifted the hand she was using to stroke Whit as he began suckling in earnest. She smiled, because this part she could deal with. At least until Kendry manipulated her wrist and her thumb. She hissed at the sharp pain that had been nagging her for two weeks.

“That hurts?” He glanced at her and moved it in a different direction and she flinched when pain shot up her forearm. “I’m sorry, kitten. Looks like tendonitis and tennis elbow, too. A brace will help. You’ve been holding Whit a lot, haven’t you?”

A lot. A lot. A looooooot.

She nodded. “He hasn’t been sleeping or napping well since the end of the first week.”

She’d loaded him up when he was four days old, to take a little ride and go visiting. Get a little fresh air. How smug she’d been, thinking she had this mommy stuff down. Whit was so good and nursed so well that she’d disregarded when Emma had cautioned her to take her time getting back up to speed, and Leah had offered to keep the baby for a few hours every now and then so she could take a nap or go relax. That night, Whit had introduced her to colic. She’d thought he was dying and almost called 911. She’d called Emma instead and the doctor had assured her it was just colic. Just colic. She hadn’t left the apartment since then. Nights were a misery and days weren’t much better. And the baby blues had struck, along with exhaustion. Tears made her irritated eyes sting.

Kendry stroked her knee and she could feel the heat of his hands through the gauze of her skirt. A disconcerting warmth spread through her and further embarrassment heated her cheeks when the sensation set off another letdown reflex. Whit was audibly having difficulty keeping up as he glug-glug-glugged. She tipped his head up a little bit to keep him from choking but didn’t move for fear of breaking the moment as Kendry looked into her eyes. His cheeks took on a slightly ruddy hue and she blushed even harder, thinking he might’ve caught on to what he’d done with his simple touch.

She inhaled a stuttering breath and licked her lower lip, slowly leaning toward him as if drawn by a magnet. Their breaths mingled as he moved closer and their lips brushed against each other, their warm flesh meshing together like silk on silk, barely making contact. Suddenly Whit thrashed out an arm, interrupting the moment. Kendry looked down and his expression went blank as a cool draft wafted over the upper curve of her breast and the cool air tightened her damp nipple.

Oh. My. God.

But like the eager little piglet that he was, Whit rooted around until he found the source of his nourishment. He patted her breast and squirmed closer, now perfectly content, as though he hadn’t been screaming at the top of his lungs for the last five hours. And half the night. And most of the previous day. And all of the previous night. And…

Her head bobbed and then she blinked as she looked into Kendry’s concerned gray-blue eyes.

“Whoa, kitten. You just zoned out on me for a few seconds there. I don’t think you’re going anywhere until after you’ve had a nap.”

“Hello?” a soft voice called from the front of the building. “Is everything okay back here?”

“I’ll be right back,” he said as he rose to his full height and left the office. Judging by the voices, he was conversing with someone who’d come in for some sort of computer service. It sounded like Petunia Dawson, the little old lady that had been coming in to see Marvin every so often. While he was out of the office she shook her head and stretched out her shoulders, trying to revive herself a little. Just having a little company bolstered her mood.

As a testament to her sleep-deprived state, she gasped as she realized they’d just kissed and she’d flashed her rather large boob at him. It struck her as funny for some odd reason and she started to giggle. He returned from the front and smiled at her, she got tickled all over again, and before long her laughter involved her entire body. Whit stopped nursing and when she peeked behind the drape he was staring up at her as if she’d grown another head. That struck her as hysterically funny and she laughed some more until tears were streaming down her cheeks and then held a hand to her head as the pounding increased. “Oh. Ow.”

She tried to dial it back and took some deep breaths as Kendry grinned and asked, “What’s so funny?”

“I am seriously loopy, that’s all. I just fell asleep sitting up, after sharing a very sweet kiss with you and then flashing my mommy boobs at you.”

Kendry chuckled. “Actually, it was only one mommy boob, and it was rather nice, if you want my opinion. Kitten, you need a little break. Finish nursing him, we’ll change him, and then I want you to go back upstairs and lay down for a while.”


“Do you trust me?”

No hesitation was needed. “Yeah, I do.”

“Finish with him while I take care of a customer for Marvin, who’s also at home in bed, only he’s sick.”

“Oh, no.” Whit finished and she quickly did up the cup on her nursing bra and adjusted her top before switching the baby and the cover to the other side. Kendry had been right, she thought. Whit had been overheated because now his skin was warm and dry to the touch, not sweaty and flushed like it had been. And he wasn’t fussing. She looked up at Kendry and blinked. “I’m sorry. I was zoning again. Is Marvin okay?”

“I think so. I’ll go up front and finish with this customer and then you can leave Whit with me down here for a couple of hours so you can nap in peace and quiet. It might even help your head if you use an ice pack on it.”

It was on the tip of her tongue to thank him and refuse the offer. Whit was her responsibility. But then she thought about driving somewhere with him in the car. No. She needed to be responsible by not getting behind the wheel in a seriously sleep deprived state.

“Okay. If you’re sure you don’t mind. I’ll be just a few more minutes and I’ll change him and get his diaper bag and a bottle for you. Oh, and tell Mrs. Dawson that I said hello.”

“I will.”

Kendry grabbed a typewriter from one of the shelves and hustled back out front, the sound of their voices mingling before the door cut off the sound. Belatedly, she wondered how long he’d been down there and if Kendry had heard her crying upstairs. She hoped not. She hated looking pathetic.

After Whit was full and burped, she took him back upstairs, changed his diaper, dressed him in a onesie, prepared a backup bottle from her precious store of pumped breast milk, and grabbed a thicker blanket and his diaper bag. Just this once, she’d accept help.

She stood in the bedroom holding Whit and paused, hoping she hadn’t forgotten anything he might need. Closing her eyes, she remembered the warmth of Kendry’s lips on hers, the way her heart had pounded, and the rush of pleasure that had coursed through her body. Her mind went fuzzy for a few seconds and then she gasped as she shook her head.

“Falling asleep while standing up holding the baby. Not good.” She rushed to the kitchen sink, got a glass of water and took a long drink, before carefully going down the steep stairs. Her wrists ached as she held Whit securely in her arms and she noticed he looked like he felt better, too. “Sorry for overdressing you, sugar. I don’t like that either and don’t know why I thought you would.”

He blinked those baby blue eyes at her and stuck his fist in his mouth.

Kendry had already moved the portable bassinet to the front of the building and reassured her about his ability to take care of Whit before hustling her back up the stairs. “Don’t forget to eat lunch while you’re up there.”

“Can I make you something?” she called from the stairs.

He waved his hand at her and smiled. “Jared is bringing me lunch. Go. Sleep, Mama.”

Heat filled her again and she bit her lower lip as she smiled on the way up the stairs. Looking around the apartment, it was tempting to do the flight of the bumble bee and clean house while she had the chance. Her body felt like she’d been carrying the baby nonstop for days. She nipped the cleaning impulse and went to the kitchen and got herself a bowl of cereal, after realizing she hadn’t eaten anything that morning. “That’s good for a headache, too.” She drank more water and then flopped on her bed with a cool washcloth over her eyes.

Her mind wanted to race but she knew the next two hours would be fleeting so she regulated her breathing and closed her eyes.


Carrying a couple of plastic food storage containers and a travel cup full of sweet tea, Jared crossed Main Street in front of the firehouse at lunch time. The sight that greeted him when he knocked on the back door of Marvin’s shop wasn’t the one he’d expected.

“Hey, Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Kendry chuckled as he cuddled Whit in his arms. “Tater-tot here got droopy-eyed during our staring match and I decided to occupy the baby with my extensive repertoire of funny noises and faces before putting him down for his nap.” Besides looking exhausted, Whit looked about as fit as a three week old baby could be.

“Dang, he’s a pudgy little thing, isn’t he? How’s our girl doing?”

“She puts on a brave face but she’s having a hard time. I sent her upstairs to lay down for a bit. She has a nasty migraine and she’s dog-tired. Whit’s had colic for the last two weeks straight and she was at her wit’s end, no pun intended.”

Jared cringed. “You remember when little Ashley had that?”

Kendry grimaced as he bobbed Whit gently and he crossed the space to the portable cradle-thingy and eased Whit down into it on his tummy. Whit curled up with his cheek to the fuzzy sheet and didn’t make a sound. “If you think Ash was bad, you should hear Whit when he gets going. It’s enough to make your eyeballs bleed. No wonder Presley Ann has a migraine, on top of everything else.”

“Everything else?”

“Yeah, looks like he startles easily so she’s been holding him a lot, hoping that would help him get some rest. It’s been a downhill spiral for them both. She’s got a bad case of tennis elbow and tendonitis in her wrists from holding him so much. I think she’s got the blues, too. I know I would. This is one of those times when hanging out with Marty, Felicia and the kids really came in handy.”

Marty had always been like a brother to them and they’d spent a lot of time at his house, even babysitting on occasion so the two adults could have some time alone, which it seemed they’d used to make more babies.

Jared smiled at the memory of their cousin and his extensive family. “Felicia would like Presley Ann. She’d probably take her right under her wing. I can hear her now. ‘Darlin’, you let that baby cry it out a little. It won’t hurt him.’”

Kendry chuckled. “‘Put him on his belly. He’ll sleep better and he won’t have a flat head.’”

Both men chuckled softly, remembering Felicia’s loving but often politically incorrect way of expressing herself.

“Anyway,” Kendry said, “She’s seeing her doctor this afternoon and I didn’t want her driving in a sleep-deprived state.”

“Good call. She gonna leave him with you while she goes?”

“That’s up to her when she comes down but I was actually thinking the same thing, if she’s willing. She has him on a feeding schedule, although she packed a bottle for him that I can warm up if I need to.”

Jared peered into the cradle and grinned when the baby’s jaw bobbed as if he was nursing in his sleep. “Bring him for a visit at the station if you get bored after he wakes up. There’s spaghetti in one container and some fancy Italian salad with dressing in the other. I grabbed you the last piece of garlic bread and stuck it in with the spaghetti.”

Jared lifted his gaze to the ceiling where it sounded like everything was quiet upstairs. “Sounds like she took your advice. How long has she been up there?”

“Only a half hour or so. I’m hoping she’ll sleep until at least two-thirty. Though what she really needs is a solid twenty-four hours of it.”

“That bad?” Jared asked, worry for her edging into his heart. He hated that she was in pain and that worn out. The need to provide a solution was strong.

Kendry nodded. “She wants to do all of this on her own and I think it’s shaken her confidence to find out she needs help. I’m glad I decided to check on her.”

“You aren’t worried she’ll see that as swooping in and saving her?”

Kendry leveled a gaze on him and said, “As tired as she is right now, she may not like it but that’s what she needs. I’m even thinking about calling her sister. If Leah knew, she’d be over here in a heartbeat.”

Jared nodded. “I don’t want her upset with us. You’re the better judge right now. Come visit later if you want to. The fresh air would probably do him some good, too.”

“I’ll talk to her.”

Jared left a few minutes later, trying to reconcile the urge to fix the situation with understanding her need to succeed on her own. If she viewed herself as a “bad” person in the past, then she might equate being self-sacrificing with being “good.” He didn’t care if she’d been a spoiled daddy’s girl. He only knew her as the beautiful, caring woman both he and his brother were attracted to.


Be watching for the fifth and final part of the Absentminded Angel out-takes, coming tomorrow!

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

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