#WritingChallenge: Single Dads!

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by Deirdre

The single dad hero is a romance trope we love! Strong, caring, and self-reliant, single dads are heroes. So heroic in fact, it might be hard to motivate your heroine to not fall in love right away. Maybe your heroine’s just out of a relationship and is relishing the freedom of single life. Maybe she always had a thing for bad boy alpha males or ultra-sophisticated billionaires. But then this happened:

Or this:

Or maybe this:

And she melted.

Your challenge this week: Tell us about the moment your heroine realizes she’s in love with the single dad. Funny or serious, dramatic or everyday, it’s the turning point for your heroine, when she sees something about the hero (or herself) that she hadn’t seen before.

Post your short scene in the comments by Sunday, June 18, and we’ll check in with you on Monday! And Happy Father’s Day!

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  1. Kimber Li

    Since my single dad story is told from the dad’s point-of-view only, we’re dependent on him figuring her out. The reader will presumably know before he does, but this is the moment he’s sure:
    ***
    “One of the benefits of patience is the thrill of discovery.” He kissed her fingers and scooped up his baby. “You be a good girl and take good care of Robin. Make sure she misses me a lot. Okay?” And he sailed her into her nanny’s arms.
    “I’ll be fine.” Robin’s brow cinched a bit.
    “Mm-hmm, sure you will.” Jack grinned for her and kissed the back of her head as he walked for the hall. He’d just laid hand to doorknob.
    “Jack?”
    “Yes, my goddess?”
    She stood there, pink mouth hanging open, eyes big and dewy brown. “Don’t forget your multivitamin…and take it with orange juice.”
    “I love you too.”
    The ‘Holy S&*%!’ look on her face was to die for.
    Jack stepped out into the cool air and pulled the door closed. He filled his lungs and blew it out. “Oh, yeah, got her that time.”
    ***

    • Deirdre

      I’d need a bit more context to understand the emotion that leads up to the a-ha moment for the hero, and I was confused by some of the pronouns in this short excerpt – whose fingers did he kiss? Is Robin the nanny? But I’m intrigued by your scene and your POV choice! Love the idea of a narrative from the point of view of our single dad. Thanks for writing!

  2. Dizzy Girl

    My single dad story is told from the point of view of Karen, a 40 year old recently divorced teacher. It is set in Cambridge in the UK.
    Karen was heart broken when her marriage broke down after she and her husband struggled to conceive. Due to a mix up at the restaurant, she ends up sharing the birthday meal, which was dragged to reluctantly, with Elliot, who turns 40 on the same day. They fall in love but their life experiences are so radically different that they have a lot of barriers to overcome. Elliot had parenthood thrust on him unexpectedly and has coped well. Karen is desperate to be a mum. Together they have a variety of adventures including wayward teenagers, romantic holidays interrupted by inconveniently timed illnesses and an ex-husband who has already got his new girlfriend pregnant. They know they love each other, but is this enough to overcome the hurdles. Can Karen give up her dream of being a mum, or is Elliot ready to become a dad again with her?

  3. Dizzy Girl

    Excerpt:
    We finished our whisky and Elliot lifted the decanter. It tasted pretty good when drunk with company, so I held out my glass for a refill. “Pub size measure or home size measure?” he asked.
    “Home” I told him. “I found my first grey hair this morning. Make it a large one.”
    He glanced at the twist of light auburn curls held up with a clip at the back of my head. “I can’t see any. Maybe it was just you feeling morbid. I had a headache last week. Took me ages to realise that it was time I got reading glasses and that it wasn’t the first sign of a brain tumour.”
    “Nope, it was real. I couldn’t decide whether to pluck it out or keep it as a sign of my increasing age and hopefully wisdom.”
    Elliot leaned over and took the clip from my hair. I shook my curls out until they rested on my shoulders. He took a strand and tucked it behind my ear, letting his finger graze my cheek. “It looks perfect to me” he said, his blue eyes looking into my hazel ones. “No signs of grey here.”
    “I never said that it was on my head.”

    • Deirdre

      Your closing line made me lol, Dizzy Girl! Not sure it’s the moment your heroine falls in love, but perhaps the moment your hero falls for her sense of humor! There’s a naturalness to your scene that is very appealing. My only suggestion would be to reexamine your conflict: “Elliot had parenthood thrust on him unexpectedly and has coped well. Karen is desperate to be a mum.” The fact that Karen wants to be a parent makes Elliot a perfect match – despite illnesses, teenagers, exes and so on. What if Elliot’s being a dad was a problem for Karen? A strong internal conflict raises the stakes and adds depth and emotion to the circumstantial (external) conflict. Good luck with your writing!

  4. Essie came tapping down the hallway in her heels. They were running late again. What was his problem?
    She came around the corner, and pulled up short.
    There he was, about as far from ready as he could be. He was sitting on a tiny chair behind a tiny table, knees up to his ears. He had a small and frilly pink hat balanced on the top of his head, similar to the ones worn by the bear and dolls who were sharing the carefully set table. He had a tiny teacup in his hand, pinky high, and he was holding it out delicately while his daughter, smothered in a feathery pink boa poured out imaginary tea.
    Her mouth, opened to release a shrill warning about the time and people waiting, slowly closed. She watched as imaginary milk and sugar were added in precise quantities, and the bear admonished for impatience. Suddenly, he looked up and saw her in the doorway.
    She couldn’t have moved if her life depended on it. Couldn’t have spoken a coherent word. His gaze had captured hers, and something inside her was shattering into tiny little pieces.

  5. Jocelyn

    He looked like a miniature version of her teammate. Kate fought a smile at the sight of muscular, intense Captain Brett Winslow minion-sized.
    “Who’re you?” Apparently he’d inherited his father’s directness. And, as his diminutive figure still blocked the door, the protective nature hadn’t fallen far from the tree either.
    “Jonah? Hi. I’m Kate. I work with your dad.”
    Apparently one of those worked as a password. The dark head swiveled. “Dad! It’s the SWAT lady!” the boy hollered into the house before racing off.
    Kate took the still wide-open door as an invitation to come in. Entering cautiously, she closed it behind her. Although he’d been Dan’s best friend before they were married, she’d never been in Brett’s home before. She followed voices to the kitchen and the house’s inhabitants.
    Captain Winslow was packing an Avenger’s lunch box. Kate braced herself before the dark eyes swung in her direction.
    “Hi. Thanks again for the ride. The mechanic swears that the part will be in today so I should have wheels tonight.” Hearing the home version of the baritone with just a swig of south raised a few goose bumps on her arms. Kate hastily swept her hand over the renegades. They could do that all they wanted to, but it wasn’t going to get them anywhere.
    “No problem.”
    The problem, she hastily reminded herself, was that, no matter how attractive he was, she would never again mix work with pleasure. Especially their kind of work. Which was why she was dating an accountant. Intentionally. Purposefully. Maybe not so much enjoyably, but that would come in time. She would make it so.
    Brett turned back to the counter. His stellar backside faced her. Kate swallowed. Debit. Credit. She strove for other terms to occupy her mind, instead of the sight of broad shoulders tapering to the lean waist and the well-muscled…assets, liabilities, bottom line.
    Regardless of his many – okay, assets seemed the best word – he was her teammate. Well, technically, her team leader. Her superior. There. Put that in the balance sheet. No profit in pursuing that direction regardless of what he did to her hair follicles. Kate intentionally turned to the boy she could see in her peripheral vision. The boy whose eyes hopefully weren’t as astute as his father’s. Jonah hopped from one stocking foot to the other, a pair of black Nikes in his hands.
    “Dad, it’s PE day! Shoes have to be tied really tight. A lot tighter on PE day than music day. You tie today because I need to run really fast at PE.”
    Captain Winslow squatted next to his son. “I don’t know, bud. It’s a big responsibility tying shoes on PE day. I think you better tie ‘em.”
    The miniature brown eyes were concerned. “Only three other guys can tie so far in kindergarten, Dad. And I need to run faster than them.”
    “Oh, I think you can do it.” The hand that Kate had seen effectively handle several different types of tactical weapons reached out and ruffled his son’s dark hair. “Show me how you’d start.”
    Jonah’s small chest rose and fell in a deep breath before the boy knelt and slipped on his shoes. There was a pause and another deep exhalation before he put his fingers on the laces. Kate caught his murmured words of rabbit and tree as he worked laboriously with the black ties of the Nikes.
    But her eyes weren’t on the rabbit running around a tree. They were on the face of her captain as he watched his son with a look of tenderness in his eyes that made her breath catch. Brett’s dark head dipped to press a gentle kiss on the crown of the pint-sized down bent one.
    Before the rabbit hopped through the hole, it was Kate’s heart that was caught.

    • Deirdre

      Jocelyn, you’ve created a strong conflict for the heroine as well as shown us the point at which she considers rethinking her rules. And the details of your scene are nicely observed. Well done!
      May I suggest a way to make your solid writing even stronger? Watch out for “floating body parts” or “FBPs” as editors sometimes call them. Examples: “the dark eyes swung in her direction,” her goosebumps “could do that all they wanted to,” “the miniature brown eyes were concerned,” and “The hand . . . reached out and ruffled his son’s dark hair.” FPBs can be used sometimes – your goosebump metaphor is clever and fun – but if used too often, they drain emotion from the scene by making the character seem disconnected from her own body – which in turn creates a barrier between the reader and the action.

  6. Jan Van Engen

    Excerpt from The Falcon prince, where she finds out he has children.

    “Papa!” Kamal and Amber both turned, and he crouched down to scoop up the little girl into his arms, kissing her cheeks in greeting.
    “Hello precious. What are you doing here? We were meeting at the house.”
    “And who is this little princess?” She asked.
    “This is my daughter, Janan, the heart and soul of my life. Janan, Miss Amber, who works for Grandfather, oh, here he comes now,” he placed down his daughter, who raced off towards His highness. Amber kept her smile in place, even if her heart was breaking. Married with kids. She should have known that, being a prince and all. Probably for years.
    “You have a beautiful daughter. How old may I ask.”
    “Five, and trying to grow up too fast,” he sighed, running a hand through his hair. “She is a handful.”
    “Must take after her father,” popped out before she could stop herself. He glanced sideways at her, brow arched. She turned back to Sapphire and stroked her back. (sapphire is a falcon)
    “No, after her mother,” he corrected.
    “Oh, she must be very beautiful, your wife.”
    “That she was.”
    Startled, she spun back, placing a hand on his arm. “I am so sorry I had no idea.”
    “There is no need; it was a long time ago.”
    She looked across to the daughter. “Not that long ago. Do you have any more children?”
    “Yes a boy, same age.”
    “Twins.” He nodded. She just keeps putting her foot in her mouth big time. She watched how his daughter was swamped with love, lots of love. “They are lucky to be so loved.”
    “Children are our most precious jewels.” Her heart just melted there and then. Not only had he saved her hours waiting for a plane, even if sitting with 80 falcons’s, found her a new high paying job, he was a wonderful, loving, SINGLE dad. Oh, be still my beating heart!

    • Jan Van Engen

      I should add that Amber is a natural falcon whisperer as the prince found out as she sat with the birds on the plane. 🙂 Hired to talk to the birds before they compete in falcon games.

    • Deirdre

      This is a very sweet and charming scene, Jan. Tip: Kamal’s words and actions reveal his feelings very clearly, so the reader doesn’t need sentences like, “She watched how his daughter was swamped with love, lots of love.” As senior editor Victoria Curran often writes: RUE – Resist the Urge to Explain. Well done!

  7. Kimmie Ferrell

    Aaliyah waited, listening for a sign of life behind the massive double doors of Shane’s Potomac, Maryland home. After waiting for several minutes, and growing impatient, she located the key hidden beneath the welcome mat on the front porch and let herself in.
    Shane had asked her to meet him after work to assist him with screening applications for a live-in nanny. But knowing Shane—more intimately than she wanted to acknowledge—he was probably still seated behind his walnut-finished desk, in his spacious downtown D.C. office overlooking the Potomac River head first in a pile of work.
    Not even finding a permanent caretaker for his infant daughter, the daughter who he didn’t know existed until a week ago, seemed critical to the work-a-holic.
    Why would the sudden appearance of a kid change the thought pattern, behavior, and lifestyle of a man who missed his ex-fiancé’s surprise birthday party because he was on a conference call with business associates from China, Sydney, Dubai, and Japan?
    The very same man who showed up three hours late for our wedding.
    She expelled a sigh, pushing the feelings of anger, resentment, and melancholy back to their rightful place in the darkest crevices of her mind. Aaliyah carefully maneuvered from the two-story entryway into the formal living area, enveloped in darkness despite the full moon peaking through the shades, towards his home office near the back of the house.
    A yellow light at the end of the hall beckoned Aaliyah forward. Calling to her like a moth to an open flame. The hardwood floors creaked under her sneakered-cladded feet.
    Seeing Shane rush through the emergency room doors, after two years, had left her staring with her mouth opened wide. But what really arrested the breath in her lungs was seeing him clutching a screaming child swaddled in a pink blanket. His mahogany skin ashen like he’d seen a ghost. The fabric of his starched white dress shirt covered in vomit.
    I should’ve ran, she thought, but she hadn’t. It was difficult to ignore a sexy man in a suit and her maternal instincts couldn’t ignore a crying child. But in the end, it had been the oath she’d taken that made her run across the scarcely crowded E.R.
    She was a pediatric nurse. There was no way Aaliyah could neglect a tiny patient, even if its father had broken her heart. It was the main reason she was wandering Shane’s home after a grueling 24-hour shift.
    The sound of music fluttered to her ears, pulling her from her wayward thoughts. Its melody becoming clearer and clearer with each step she took; Beauty and the Beast from the music box he’d gifted her years ago. A smile inched the corners of her lips, but died the moment she reached the open doorway of the den. A surprised gasp fell from her lips.
    Her pulse spiked. Her heart pounded wildly against her chest at the sight of Shane rocking back and forth with baby Shannon against the hard plains of his chest. Tears threatened to fall, clouding her vision.
    The taut muscles in his arms flexing beneath the slow perusal of her eyes. His bulging biceps looked as though they could crush the infant. Although Shane held her tightly, stroking her back with his free hand, the choreographed movements were as delicate as a ballet.
    Aaliyah couldn’t remember the last time she had seen him so relaxed. His focus solely on his daughter and not on making someone–or himself–another million dollars. This was a tiny glimpse of the Shane Erickson who she once loved.
    A reminder of the man who once dressed up as the Beast from the movie, purchased an adult Belle costume and danced with her to the same song until her feet ached.
    She stepped into the room just as Belle and the Beast, concluded their dance. Shane shifted in the chair, stealing a peak at the sleeping baby in his arms, then placed a feather light kiss on her forehead.
    Finally, he glanced over to where she stood and smiled that sexy smile that always melted her like ice cream on an August day. Aaliyah swallowed the lump of emotion at the base of her throat and straightened from against the door jam, plastering what she hoped looked like a genuine smile on her face.
    But inside, the battle between her head and her heart had taken an unsuspecting twist. It seemed her head was ready to surrender to what her heart knew all along; she was still in love with Shane.

    • Deirdre

      I agree! I’ll admit I had a bit of trouble following the events – was that a flashback to the hospital? You might try rereading your scene to make sure the transitions are clear. But your description of Shane with his daughter is beautiful and vivid. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kimmie Ferrell

      Thanks so much for the feedback. Deirdre, it was a sort of flashback to the night Aaliyah saw Shane at the hospital. Thanks again.

  8. Fiona Marsden

    There is something delicious about a big man with a tiny baby. When that man is the one she’d been so attracted to when they met at yesterday’s wedding, the resulting taste is a kind of sugary mush permeated with a tart bite of disappointment. Lacey sighed. Out loud. It might not be his, but he seemed so comfortable with the sling holding the swaddled infant against his broad chest, it was unlikely to be just babysitting.
    The way his large hand steadied the child as he strode along spoke of tenderness. Like the way he’d cradled her head when he’d kissed her goodnight on her parent’s doorstep. She’d wondered at the time why he’d ignored her silent invitation. After all, her parents were away and the house empty. He hadn’t mentioned a wife and child waiting at his motel. At least she didn’t think so. Lately, she wasn’t sure about anything. Not that she planned on telling anyone about her accident. Certainly not Drew. No need, now she knew he was off the market.
    “Lacey?” The wariness in his tone proved her point. He hadn’t expected to run into her.
    She could play it cool. “Hi, Drew. Who’s the little lady.” The baby was wrapped in pink so hopefully she got that part right.
    “Madeleine. But we call her Maddy.”
    “I had a sister called Madeleine. A lovely name. Is she all yours?”
    “Sure is.” He smiled down at the sleeping child.
    Her heart melted a little more. Such a pity. He was every woman’s wet dream and now fantasy husband and father to boot.
    “Would you like to hold her?”
    Lacey jerked her gaze up from contemplating the tiny fist escaping from the wrap. “I wouldn’t like to disturb her.”
    “Maddy sleeps through anything. She’s only a month old.”
    Taking the baby, Lacey settled her into the crook of her arm. It felt so right. Avoiding Drew’s intense stare, she made a show of looking along the street. “Is your…is the baby’s mother doing shopping?” She couldn’t say wife. No ring on his finger so they may just be a couple.
    He stepped closer. Too close. The odd mix of masculine soap, a hint of sweat and faint touch of sour milk sent tingles to her breasts. His warm breath whispered over her cheek. “She left.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Walked out. Left us.”
    Lacey met his gaze wide-eyed. “Why would a mother abandon her baby?” Or him. Especially him.
    With a role of his shoulders, Drew turned slightly, a curious expression on his face. “I don’t know. Or maybe I do…”
    He frowned down at her and Lacey was conscious of the scar on her temple, imperfectly hidden with her hair tied back in a braid. At the wedding, she’d had it curled forward to hide the mark and the residual bruises. With baby Maddy in her arms, she couldn’t adjust her hair. Couldn’t look away.
    The sudden smile caught her by surprise. “It’s a good look for you, Lace. The baby, I mean.”
    He took her elbow, oddly possessive. “Let’s have some morning tea. We need to talk.”
    “About what?”
    “Us, of course.”
    Warmth flowed from his touch and Lacey followed him into the café. She noticed the decorations and swallowed. Of all the awkward moments.
    He looked at her, as she slowed, a question in his eyes.
    Braving a smile, she met his gaze. “Happy Father’s Day.”

    • Deirdre

      There’s a lot of information in this scene. I’m not sure I sorted all the details correctly – was the cafe decorated for Father’s Day? But it’s another lovely father/baby tableau! Thanks for writing!

  9. Jacqueline Burrows

    ‘April, would you come into my office please, and bring a notebook with you?’
    ‘Yes, Mr Benedetti, straight away.’ She put the phone down and stood up, searching around her desk as she did so for her notepad and biro.
    As soon as she had heard his bass voice with its hint of an Italian accent, April’s pulse had started jumping. She loved being alone with her boss, and took every opportunity to watch him when he was unaware. He was the epitome of the dark, smouldering Latin male, and April was desperate to get to know him on a more personal level. But Rocco Benedetti was strictly professional. He hardly ever smiled and, apart from a raised eyebrow at her attempts at being humorous, rarely expressed any emotion.
    She knocked lightly and opened the door cautiously. He was on the phone and didn’t look up as she entered his office.
    ‘Of course, we have complete faith in your company, Mr Brown, which is why we are prepared to invest so much money in it. But as well as financial help, we also offer technical assistance…’
    ‘Papa, keep still.’
    April stared in amazement at the scene in front of her. Her boss sat at his desk, wearing an immaculate pin-striped suit and white shirt, with a tie that looked as if it was made of silk, one hand holding the phone to his ear as he conducted a perfectly normal business conversation and the other arm wrapped tightly around his four-year-old daughter who sat on his desk adorning him with face powder. The enormous powder puff scattered beige powder, not only all over Rocco Benedetti but all down his suit and even managed to coat half his desk.
    April, not sure what to do, just stood and stared. Amazingly, Rocco Benedetti’s expression never changed.
    ‘I’d like to arrange a meeting next week if that suits? Would Wednesday be any good for you?’
    ‘Clara? Why aren’t you at your child-minders?’ April asked.
    The little girl turned to her with a frown, as if she didn’t want to be disturbed at her work. ‘Cos she’s sick. Papa had to come and get me.’
    So that was why he took a long lunch. She must have been at lunch herself when they got back. She assumed he was in his office alone as usual. But instead…
    Clara selected a blusher from a make-up bag that sat open on the desk. Then, with studied concentration, she proceeded to paint huge circles of thick red blusher on both her father’s cheeks. He looked just like a clown, but Clara gazed at her handiwork as if she was very pleased with the result.
    ‘Two o’clock is fine, Mr Brown. I’ll get my secretary to email you the details to confirm.’ Rocco glanced at April to make sure she understood what she had to do. She nodded automatically, and scribbled the date and time in her notebook, wondering at the man’s ability to keep a straight face under his little daughter’s administrations. He didn’t appear to even notice the transformation that she was effecting on his features.
    ‘April,’ Clara said, holding out two lipsticks, ‘which one do you think I should use?’ She took them and studied them carefully. One was bright red and was called, appropriately, Scarlet Woman. The other was a pleasant coral pink and was called Pink Dream. She was tempted to tell Clara to use the first for devilment but then decided to take pity on the poor man.
    ‘I like this one,’ she said handing the pink one back.
    Clara grinned. ‘Me too,’ she said in a loud whisper.
    She took the top off the lipstick and turned to her father. ‘Now, Papa, you need to stop talking or I can’t do this bit.’
    April cringed; no-one but his daughter would dare tell the great man to stop talking. But, miraculously, he obeyed.
    ‘Okay, look forward to seeing you next Wednesday, Mr Brown. Now, I’m afraid I have to go, as I have an important client here with me.’
    When he had hung up, he sat still while Clara applied the lipstick to his mouth. She didn’t do a bad job – for a four-year-old. By this time, April was dying to laugh. She could feel it bubbling up inside her, but both the Benedetti’s had serious expressions and so she held it in.
    ‘There, Papa, I’ve finished. Do you want to see?’
    ‘There’s nothing I want more, my darling.’
    Clara held a toy hand mirror up to her father’s face and he stared into it, turning this way and that to admire his daughter’s handiwork. Even at the sight, he barely cracked a smile.
    It was too much for April who started chuckling.
    ‘What?’ he asked seriously, ‘is it the pink you don’t like? Should she have gone for the Scarlet Woman?’
    At that April howled with laughter, so much so that she had to sit down. Then Clara started giggling and soon all three of them were laughing together. She had never seen her boss smile much but now he was giving out deep, rolling belly laughs. April wished the moment could last forever.
    Then Rocco leant over and kissed Clara on the nose. ‘You’re a monkey,’ he said tenderly before standing up and lifting her gently off the desk.
    He walked over to where April was now standing, near the door. ‘I’m glad you had the foresight to leave your mobile on your desk. I really wouldn’t want this on Instagram.’
    ‘I would never do that to you,’ she assured him.
    ‘You probably think your boss is pazzo.’
    ‘No, I don’t think he’s crazy. I think my boss is a lovely man, and a brilliant father and I’m very lucky to work for him.’
    Then, she kissed him on the nose, in the same way he had kissed his daughter, and quickly left his office, before she was tempted to hug him as well.

  10. Sophia W

    Jack Cox had to be the most annoying colleague she’d ever had, Miranda thought, as she approached his office. Okay, he was a brilliant surgeon and researcher, AND amazing with patients, AND, actually, great with junior colleagues, but to her he was confrontational, arrogant and just plain rude. Thank GOODNESS she would soon be taking up her new position in Paris and would be separated from Jack by the English Channel.
    She lifted her shoulders as high as she could before relaxing them, and pasted a polite smile onto her lips as she tapped on his door and opened it in response to his deep voice saying, ‘Yes.’
    She lost her fake smile as her lips rounded into a silent, ‘Oh,’ and she came to an abrupt stop just inside the doorway.
    Jack was sitting on an upright chair halfway across the room, side-on to her, with a very little girl, maybe two years old, straddling one of his thighs. His very solid, very muscular-looking thighs, Miranda noted. NOT what she should be thinking.
    This must be the daughter that some of her colleagues had mentioned. Apparently, Jack’s ex-wife had walked out within six weeks of giving birth, leaving him a single father.
    The little girl was feeding blueberries and chopped mango to herself and Jack with a pink-handled fork decorated with fairies, alternating mouthfuls between them. A couple of the berries had squished against the dark stubble on Jack’s jaw. Jack was entirely focused on his daughter, smiling at her with the most intensely tender expression on his face that Miranda had ever witnessed, any time, anywhere, she thought.
    ‘Messy Mr Daddy,’ the little girl said. ‘I love you.’
    ‘Right back at you,’ Jack said. ‘Your face is purple and orange and you’re BEAUTIFUL.’
    Miranda felt something inside her lurch. And she didn’t need any of her many years of medical training to know that it was her heart.

    • Patience Bloom

      Dear Sophia,
      Short and very sweet. I love this. I see lots of potential with this story and the adorable father/daughter relationship is just the beginning. I like the heroine’s POV and how she sort of crumbles over the sight of the hero with his daughter. And you have nice external conflict with her having a job transfer. This reader wants to know what happens next!

    • Sophia W

      Dear Patience,
      Thank you for your feedback! This was a great writing challenge – am now tempted to write a whole story based on this.

  11. Ruby Mae O'Dell

    The cheery chimes of the doorbell played through the house. Cheri looked at her watch, ten til twelve, he was right on time. Not that she was surprised, he was never late to spend time with his daughter. He truly loved his little girl that much was sure.
    She smoothed her chestnut hair before opening the door. There he was, standing there with a huge grin on his tanned face as if this was a long anticipated moment in his life. Even though he’d been here everyday at noon for the past few weeks. At first she thought it was just a phase, but Nathan was different somehow and she had a feeling it came from the God he always spoke of now. “Hello, Cheri. Is she awake?”
    “Not yet. She should be any minute now. I can go on and arouse her for you though,” she answered. His smile broadened as he removed his stetson. “That would be great, thanks.”
    She stepped to the side allowing him to enter. “You can go on into the living-room. I’ll go get Grace for you.”
    He nodded as he walked away in that direction while she went down the hall to the nursery. A smile formed on her lips when she reached the crib. “Hey there, Grace,” she cooed to the bright-eyed baby. “Your daddy’s here to see you.” She scooped the little girl into her arms and stared down into Grace’s beautiful green eyes which were so much like her daddy’s. Her heart melted when Grace smiled and snuggled against her chest.
    Tears pricked her eyes. Garret would’ve loved Grace, she was meant to be the child they couldn’t have. Then he’d died in combat two months before Grace’s mother had given birth.
    She forced her emotions into check and carried Grace into the living-room. Nathan stood as she approached his smile in place as he reached out for her. She placed Grace gently into his arms and stepped back.
    “Hey Gracie, daddy’s here. How’s my girl? You keep growing more and more beautiful every time I see you,” He cooed as he sat down on the sofa. He cradled her close like she was his most prized possession. Love rung true in every word and facial expression.
    She found herself wondering what it would be like to hear him speak and look at her with such love. Those thoughts came as a surprise to her. She’d been a widow for only three months now. She shouldn’t be entertaining such thoughts.
    She excused herself to give father and daughter some privacy as she always did. She went to her bedroom and collapsed on her bed. What was she going to do? Nathan couldn’t keep coming over like this and she couldn’t in good conscience separate Grace from her father. But it simply wasn’t appropriate for him to be in her home so much.
    She couldn’t get the image of Nathan bursting into that hospital room begging for his little girl. She and Garret had signed the adoption papers months before hand. Since he wasn’t married to Grace’s mom, Nathan had no right to his daughter. Grace was her daughter and though she hadn’t given birth to her herself, she loved her as her own just the same.
    She looked at her bedside clock surprised to find his hour was already finished. She walked back to the living-room but stopped short of crossing the threshold when his words reached her ears.
    “Lord, I thank You for Your many blessings You’ve given me. I especially praise You for my little girl. And as much as I want Gracie to live with me, I thank You that she has a good, loving home. I thank You for placing her in Cheri’s care and placing it on her heart to allow me to visit Gracie everyday. I ask You to bless Cheri and lay a hand of protection on her and Gracie. Keep them in Your care and take care of Gracie until I return. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
    Tears pooled in her eyes. Her heart melted completely toward Nathan. He clearly wasn’t the same man he used to be and she found herself drawn more to him than ever. Her heart longed to know this god he spoke of so often Who he said changed his life. There wasn’t anymore doubts about it now, she loved Nathan and his daughter. But she couldn’t have him. She didn’t share his faith and she didn’t think anyone could take Garret’s place in her heart.
    She swiped away the tears as he planted a kiss on Grace’s head before standing. His smile faded he looked at her. “Cheri? What’s wrong?” Her tears began to flow again as she watched Grace snuggled against Nathan’s chest and drift to sleep. She couldn’t have either one of them, she realized. As much as she loved Grace, she’d have to let her go, she needed her daddy.
    She couldn’t believe she was about to do this. “She’s all yours Nathan. I’ll sign the adoption papers over to you. You can take her home.” Her heart was breaking in more ways than one. She was in love with a man she couldn’t have and she was giving up the only child she ever had.
    “What are you talking about? What wrong, Cheri? What’s going on?” confusion colored each word. “Let me put Gracie to bed and then we can talk,” he said before she could respond. He disappeared down the hall and into the nursery. He was back within minutes. “Okay, what’s going on, Cheri? Tell me what’s on your mind.”
    “She needs you and you need her. I see that now. You’re a changed man, Nathan and I admire the man you’ve become. You even have me wanting to the God you’re always talking about. But I don’t know how to do that. But I do know how I can answer one of your prayers and do what’s best for you and Grace. So I’ve decided to sign all parental rights to you,” she explained. She swiped uselessly at her tears which continued to flow.
    A smile formed on his lips as he approached her. Before she knew what was happening, she was in his arms. The feeling of being loved and cherished engulfed her. He whispered in her ear, his soft breath on her ear sent tingles of awareness through her body. “You can know God. All you have to do is seek His forgiveness, repent, and invite Him into your heart.” “Will you pray with me?”
    A smile of love shaped his lips. “I’d be honored.”
    They knelt down at her sofa together. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. “Lord,” she started. “I ask Your forgiveness for all the wrong I’ve ever done. I want to know You like Nathan does. Please come into my heart. Amen.”
    Nathan smiled brightly at her as he followed her “Amen” with one of his own. An overflowing sense of peace and joy bubbled up within her. She never felt this way before in her life and she found herself smiling right along with him.
    His eye’s glimmered with unshed tears as he leaned in close. “Another thing, as for what’s best for me and Gracie, I can’t imagine a better mom for her…” his voice trailed a moment. “Or a better wife for me. If you’ll have me that is. Will you marry me Cheri?”

    • Patience Bloom

      What an emotional and touching scene, Ruby Mae. I love how you bring faith in so powerfully. I wanted to know a little more why Nathan couldn’t officially have custodial rights over his daughter. But also, you bring in the instant-family trope, which readers will love. You do a great job of showing us the heroine’s point of view, as well. A sweet scene!

    • Ruby Mae O'Dell

      Thanks for the feedback, Patience! This is an excerpt from one of my novels which is still in its first draft. Nathan used to be a bad boy but he got saved before the baby came. He didn’t find out about his ex-girlfriend carrying his child until after she’d decided to give the child up for adoption. Since he was never married to his ex, he legally had no say in what the mother did with the child. I kinda spoiled the ending of the story though, lol, but that’s when she had her big discovery. Glad you enjoyed it! But it’s God who deserves the credit. I have no idea what I’m going to write until He gives it to me. More often than not, He uses the characters to teach me an important life lesson and bring me closer to Him. I only pray it touches my readers as it did me.
      God Bless you, Patience!

  12. Kathryn

    The little bunny that the child clutched fell beneath the seat in front of Marie.
    She picked it up, but the bus was crowded with people standing. The next stop was the mall and the bus would empty, she could give it back then.
    Marie looked at the toy. The bunny had long ears and a fluffy tail, but the muddy floor spoiled it. Marie reached into her bag and pulled out a scrap of knitting that she had started. A couple of stitches and she could make a blue jacket that would make it as good as new.
    A wail would come soon, but for now the child leaned against her dad and watched rain run down the window. Marie had seen them on the bus before, father and daughter, the resemblance like a mirror image, but altered. The girl had blue eyes and dark curls and the father was blond and strong. The bond between them drew people’s eyes to them, even her own. A child was a painful memory, her miscarriage only further proof of her worthlessness for Brett. Despite the pain, or maybe because of it, she looked for them every time she took the bus. A dad who wanted to be a dad and didn’t run away.
    They were there a couple of times a month, often enough to be regulars. She had seen women touch his arm and ask questions about the child. Most of the people left on the bus would get off at the hospital now. Except he got off after her stop and they might be heading anywhere. He never answered questions and the child played quietly. She would never know.
    There would be time to return the bunny before the stop at Hornby Street. Suddenly, Marie felt afraid of being one of those women, here was a man raising a child by himself and he had the right to sit quietly. If only the bunny was not wearing a blue jacket, she could drop it in the child’s hand and move on but now she would have to explain what she had done.
    Marie moved to the seat opposite him and pantomimed the bunny’s fall to the floor and rescue.
    “Bunny got wet,” she signed. “I gave him a jacket to keep warm.”
    The wail that started to rise ended in a sigh and the child sat back and untied and tied the little jacket, and held the bunny close to her heart.
    “Damien,” the man said, “and this is Rachel”.
    “Marie.” she answered.
    “Most people don’t realize Rachel has hearing loss.”
    His eyes looked into hers for a moment longer than necessary to make the polite exchange.
    “That was perfect,” he said. “Where did you learn to sign?”
    She shrugged, “I work in the ER, more people come in who need sign than you might expect.”
    “Will Rachel learn sign?” he asked.
    Marie smiled. “I don’t know, but I think she already knows some.”
    The little girl was putting the bunny to sleep, her fingers wiggled before she planted a kiss.
    Marie felt her heart open in a way that it had not for a long time.

    • Patience Bloom

      Okay, Kathryn, this one got me choked up. A very powerful story already just from one scene. I love the heroine’s POV, how she watched the father and daughter and how she communicates with them. Darling and a stirring romance in the making. Beautifully done!

  13. Lakisha friday

    Tiffani Miller looks at the clock shaped like a cat on the wall. Once again her client’s father was running late to pick his child up. It had been a long day and all she wanted to do was clean up. Put everything back in its place and get butt naked while eating a bowl of turtle tracks ice cream. Things she couldn’t do until little Mya’s father came to pick her up. Its time to shut down Heaven’s Angels daycare and Mr. Benson was wasting her time by being late. She was ready to start her two week staycation.
    Sorry I’m late!
    Everett Benson burst through the door and his daughter Mya jumped into his arms and gave him a big ol’ bear hug. Tiffani saw the love he has for his daughter which started to tug at her heart but she was glad she didn’t have any children of her own. Running a private daycare was enough for her.
    “I’m really sorry. Everette said. I had a meeting that ran later than it should.
    ” Daddy! Did you bring me something? I been extra good today! Mya is excited to see her father and she checked his pockets to see if he had something special hidden in them.
    “I didn’t bring anything. Everette said. But if things go well, you might have a very special gift.
    Not wanting to get all caught up in the fatherhood moment Tiffani sent Mya outside with her assistant Deena to play. She’s got a few choice words for this slow poke. The phone rings interrupting her thoughts so she excused herself to answer the phone. Tiffani had turned her back to Everett. Her mother is on the other end of the phone annoying as usual. When the conversation ended Tiffani breathed deeply and said, “I understand having to work late some times but its been everyday this week and you know I have told you in advance that you needed to pick up Mya up at 2.
    ” I know and I apologize for that. Everett said. Charge me a late fee if you want. There was something I had to do and it just didn’t seem appropriate if I hadn’t. ”
    Everett swallowed the lump in his throat. He needed to explain his reason for being late. He didn’t care if he was charged a late fee. He was good for it. Something’s were more important at the time and he needed to be at peace with his decision.
    “I stopped at Teresa’s grave. Everett explained. Talked with her.
    Tiffani felt her stomach drop. He went to visit his deceased wife’s plot. That’s why he was late she figured. Teresa was quite a woman. Hard working. Loved her husband. Loved her daughter and battled with cancer until she just couldn’t do it anymore. Mya’s birthday will be a sad but treasured date cause it was the day that her mother passed when she was just five years old and her father has been doing his best to raise her.
    ” Its been a bit of a struggle and I tried to make the most of it. Mya hadn’t had a woman in her life other than her Me-Me and my sisters. Cousins. A few nieces. We hadn’t even celebrated her birthday. I know her mother would have but I couldn’t just yet and I been selfish. Still not facing him Tiffani clears her throat.
    ” You have been an excellent father. You do try and that’s all that matters. She has great influences I’m sure and she’ll grow into the woman she needs to be.
    “Listen, Tiffani turns around to see Everett on one knee holding a ring in his hand. Her breath caught in her throat. Everett took her left hand and places the ring on her ring finger.
    ” I want Mya to have a mother again and you know her. I don’t want some woman in her life. I want you. I need you. I hadn’t dated. Couldn’t bring myself to do it and my wife had told me before she passed that she rather I date a woman who knows our child. Someone I’m familiar with and that is you Tiffani. You have been with me through it all and I love you. Mya loves you.
    Tiffani couldn’t speak. Her heart wouldn’t let her and this was too much too soon.
    “Marry me. I need you. Mya needs you.
    Everett kissed her. A soft, passionate, yet needy kiss. She couldn’t help but respond back and prayed she was doing it right.
    What am I doing? Tiffani came back to her senses just as Mya ran into the room.
    ” Did you ask her daddy? Did you ask Miss Miller to be my new mommy?
    Mya turns to Tiffani.
    “I don’t have a mommy anymore. Will you please be my mommy? Please?
    Talk about pressure. Everett needed her and wanted her. She’s the only woman he been talking to and she just seemed right for him and Mya. He knew it was too much but he couldn’t help himself. He needed to know if she’ll except him into her life not only as a mother to his daughter but as a wife and loving partner he so desperately needed.

    • Patience Bloom

      Dear Lakisha, What a scene! I can definitely see the desperate widower wanting to have a family again and how the little girl would need a mother figure in her life. You raise the stakes and really introduce a heartwarming story. One suggestion would be to add some romantic attraction between them before the scene starts. That way, the kiss might not seem forced. Well done overall!

  14. Chrissie

    Marci squared her shoulders and sucked in a deep breath. If she was in love, truly in love with Mark, and he was truly in love with her, then there should be absolutely no secrets between them. Right?

    She reached for the brass knob to his high-rise office door and paused as she heard his resonate voice speaking loud enough to be in the same room.

    “Of course you can’t. Don’t argue with me or I’m cutting you off, Sherry. I refuse to spend one more dime on your thirst for clothes. You can’t even close the closet door. The last time I was in your bedroom, there were clothes and who-knows-what-else all over the place.”

    Marci couldn’t hear his next response to the woman on the other end of the phone. At least she assumed it was the phone. The secretary said he was tied up and would only be a minute. But a minute was too long to wait for what she had to say to him. She had to be honest and sincere right now, before she lost her nerve. But now this. So it was true. He had another love interest. Her eyes filled with moisture that she refused to let wet her cheeks. She was so done with him. The low-down, sneak-behind-her-back traitor. Even his dark good looks couldn’t save what they’d shared now. Not his sexy sideways smile or the deep dimple in his cheek. Nope. And definitely not his eyes that reminded her of a stormy sea when they made love.

    Marci turned to leave. The door behind her flew open and banged hard against the wall. She was shoved to the side by a petite brunette, hell-bent to ruin her day.

    “Marci?” He stepped up behind her. “I apologize. I know I should have told you before now. This is an awful way to find out about my daughter.”

    “Your–?”

    “Daughter. Yes. She’s a handful. I wanted to let you know sooner, but her sixteenth birthday was two days ago and I’ve been arguing with her non-stop since then.”

    Marci giggled and swiped at her eyes. “She’s your daughter.”

    “Isn’t that what I just said? Marci have you been listening to me at all?” He tugged her into his arms and she sighed. God, she loved this man. And her heart was ten times lighter knowing it was okay. She could love this man. He wasn’t having an affair, he was taming his daughter.

    “What are you giggling about? Did I say something funny?”

    “No. Not at all.”

    “Let’s start over. What brings you here to brighten my day?”

    “I just popped in to say hi.”

    He bent to kiss her cheek and whispered, “Step into my office and I’ll greet you properly.”

    What more could a woman want? His kisses were magical, and she wanted to experience so much more with him. Now she would have the chance. As for the daughter? Growing up with five sisters made her a pro at female affairs, and she looked forward to a new challenge.

  15. Chrissie

    I know you are all busy as can be, but is anyone going to finish critiquing these? There are five of us who were missed this time. The challenges are fun and stimulating, but not if we don’t receive feedback. Just wondering’…

    • Deirdre

      Hi Chrissie,

      We are indeed very busy this week! Sorry for the late response.

      Very dramatic! Having a teenage daughter is certainly a big secret to keep from the woman you love! This is an example of a situation where character motivation is the key to connecting with your reader. You’ll want to make sure Mark’s motivation for not telling Marci about his daughter earlier is relatable and sympathetic, and Marci’s acceptance of Sherry doesn’t seem like a sacrifice she’s making in order to be with Mark, but rather a willingness to connect with this very important person in his life. Thanks for writing!

    • Chrissie

      Thanks so much Deidre! I love these challenges. they make me think and try things out of my comfort zone. I will definitely plot out the story before I begin, and I’ll keep your comments in mind. :).