What would bring you happiness in a world that was suddenly empty?
For Lucy Crane, the answer is simple: her daughter. When her husband is killed in a tragic accident, Lucy loses her desire to live, but only one thing keeps her going – her unborn daughter. Focusing on being a mother helps Lucy cope with her loss, but kids grow up and they leave home, eventually. Eighteen years after losing her first and only love, Lucy is faced with the opportunity to find the happiness for which she’s always longed. Her own fears become her worst enemies as she learns how to embrace love once again.
Evan Donovan is also facing his own struggles. Forced to retire from the FDNY because of lung damage caused by 9/11, Evan moves to upstate New York where he hopes to find a little peace and quiet. Old habits die hard, and Evan’s hero complex and survivor’s guilt constantly remind him of how difficult it is to be vulnerable. But for the first time in his life, he’s tired of being alone.
Drawing strength from one another, Lucy and Evan discover how beautiful it is to let love be a part of their lives.
The I-beam swings haphazardly in the clouds. Teetering and tottering in the crystal-blue sky, it’s the perfect juxtaposition of artificial and natural – steel illuminated by the sun. Over a ton of metal effortlessly cascades through the air on the whim of a crane. It almost looks like a graceful ballet dancer as it swirls and twists, dips and dives. It’s mesmerizing, actually.
And then disaster strikes.
A deafening crack of a snapped chain sounds through the once peaceful air. The lively chatter of construction workers and architects instantly morphs into chaotic screams. Everyone runs, seeking cover from the impending doom.
As the massive beam plummets to the ground, people scramble, frantically grabbing others along the way to pull them to safety. It all happens so quickly. In the blink of an eye, it seems as if everyone will escape unscathed.
Until they don’t.
The beam changes direction, up ending itself. Head architect, Jimmy Crane, exits the shell of the building. Hardhat on and earplugs in, he’s always one to follow procedure to make sure that his work site is safe. His eyes are pulled away from the clipboard of today’s itinerary as the shadow of a passing figure flashes before him.
His eyes are drawn skyward. The sun blinds him; his sunglasses are tucked into his front pocket rather than perched across his nose. He doesn’t have a second to process anything.
Crushed beneath the massive weight of the steel beam, the last thought that passes through the mind of Jimmy Crane, is of his wife, Lucy and his unborn daughter.
Lucy Crane is consumed with decorating the freshly painted nursery. If ever there was a woman more excited to meet her first child, well, Lucy’s jubilance would put her to shame. Purple frills and pink lace don every surface of the room. It’s a princess’ heaven and a mom-to-be’s dream come true.
Lucy sits on the floor, sorting through baby gifts from her shower last weekend. Holding a glittery onesie with an attached pink tutu up against her eight-and-a-half-month pregnant belly, she whispers quietly to her unborn daughter, “Maybe one day you’ll be a ballerina…Melody.” She tucks a piece of hair behind her ear and taps a finger against her lip as she contemplates one of her husband, Jimmy’s, top name choices. “Hmm, no that just doesn’t sound right.” Still going through baby names, Lucy and Jimmy haven’t been able to find one upon which they both agree.
Last night, as they lay in bed, they settled on a short list of names they each liked. Lucy was leaning toward more trendy names – Jessica, Ashley or Emily. Jimmy, on the other hand, wanted his daughter to have a less popular name; she was one of a kind, after all. Well, how could Lucy argue with that? From the moment she’d told her husband of less than a year that she was pregnant, he had absolutely radiated with love and joy. Conceding on his name preference was a small way that she could repay him for how he’s taken care of her through the entire pregnancy.
They’d been high school sweethearts, and in the seven years that they’d been together, they’d shared a lifetime’s worth of love. When Jimmy would place his lips up against Lucy’s swollen belly, and talk to their child, she could swear that her heart would burst at the overly full feeling of love.
On a mission to finish her sorting all of the baby clothes, Lucy snaps out of her happy musings of her husband and their baby. But when she comes across a purple sequined outfit, she can’t help put place it across her belly and talk to her daughter once more. “This is going to look absolutely perfect on you…Melanie.”
The name rolls off her tongue and sings to her heart. It was one of Jimmy’s first suggestions, liking “M” names more than any other. Lucy had originally dismissed it, but now, sitting quietly in her soon-to-be-born daughter’s room, the name seems to fit perfectly. Smiling broadly, she says the name once more, “Melanie.” Rubbing her belly, Lucy talks to the kicking baby who is rolling around inside of her. “Do you like that name, little Miss Melanie.” Another kick and roll. “Well then, we’ll just have to ask Daddy what he thinks when he gets home.” Another kick widens Lucy’s bright smile. “Okay now, Melly Belly.” Lucy chuckles softly at the ridiculous nickname she’s just given her daughter. A smile spreads across her face because she knows Jimmy will be pleased with her sudden turn around on his top name choice.
With numb and wobbly legs, Lucy stands to put the piles of clothes away when she hears a knock at the door. Checking her watch, she realizes that it’s past four in the afternoon. She’s been so lost in her baby daydreams she didn’t realize she hadn’t heard from Jimmy all day. Knowing that he is extremely busy trying to manage this massive project, she immediately dismisses her concerns. No phone calls during the day means that he is guaranteed to chew her ear off at dinner. The man loves his building, that’s for sure.
Brushing her hands over her trendy and modern dark-blue maternity shirt, Lucy flattens out the wrinkles that set in as she was draping onesie after onesie across her belly.
As she peeks through the curtain that hangs across the top window of the door, she smiles cheerfully at her husband’s best friend and co-owner of Crane Building Associates, Ray Richards.
“Hey, Ray. What’s going on?” Lucy steps to the side allowing Ray to enter into the small foyer. Closing the door behind him, she continues talking. “Jimmy isn’t home from work yet, but come on in. Can I get you a beer?” Lucy’s bright voice does nothing to lighten the darkness that is cast over Ray’s face.
Ray shakes his head, declining the beer. He looks into Lucy’s bright blue eyes, and says, “We need to talk, Lucy.” His voice is even and curt. Ignoring her stunned reaction to his cold demeanor, Ray walks past Lucy into the sunken den of his best friend’s new home - a home to which he’ll never return.
Ray sinks into the old, beat-up couch and memories flood his head and heart. This is the couch that they had in their first apartment. It was a rat-hole of a place, but somehow Ray and Jimmy managed to make it work. The couch is a hand-me-down from Jimmy’s parents and has survived remarkably well through their college years.
Burying his head into his hands, Ray can no longer contain the sobs that have been threatening to swallow him whole since he pulled in the freshly-paved driveway.
Lucy waddles over to the couch and, not-so-gracefully, lowers herself onto the cushions. Tenderly wrapping her arm around his broad shoulders, she says, “What’s wrong, Ray? I’m getting a little worried here.”
It’s not unusual for Ray to stop over, but usually Jimmy is there getting ready for a golf outing or a ball game. There’s something about this particular visit that just feels…wrong.
Her concern only makes him cry more. He’s crying for the loss of his best friend. He’s crying for Lucy, who he’s come to love as his own best friend through the years. He’s crying for the baby that Jimmy will never get to meet – for the baby that Lucy will now have to raise on her own.
Twisting in his seat, he faces Lucy and wipes the tears from his eyes. Lucy’s face pales as all of the blood rushes from it. She can tell that this is not a routine visit on Ray’s part.
“Lucy…” Ray’s words catch in his throat, stuck behind the ball of emotion that’s been lodged there since he witnessed his best friend being crushed by tons of steel.
Lucy covers her mouth with her hands, but her gasp is still audible. “No, no, no, no….” It’s the only syllable her brain can manage. She’s shaking her head wildly as if it will keep away the horrific news that is so clearly etched across Ray’s tanned and youthful face.
Ray wraps his arm around her slumped shoulders and pulls Lucy into a tight squeeze. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. There was an accident and…it’s Jimmy. He’s gone, Lucy.”
With those words, her world changes instantly. No longer able to contain her anguish, her chest heaves in sobs as tears pour from her eyes.
How? Why? What? All of these questions swarm her brain, but the bottom line is none of it matters. Bits of Ray’s strained explanation filter into her consciousness, but she can’t make any sense of it. Something about a beam, about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, about wanting to come here to tell her himself, about not wanting her to have to drive to the coroner’s office alone, it’s all a garbled mess, because none of it is important. The only meaningful piece of information is that Jimmy, her Jimmy, the love of her life, is gone.
Visions that she will never be able to erase start filling her mind. In a vain attempt to escape them, Lucy shoots up from the couch and begins frantically pacing the room. But she’s too weak to stand for long. As pain, anguish and loss eat her alive, she crumples to the floor and wraps her arms around her round belly. Again, the only words she can form are, “No, no, no…”
Unable to let her suffer alone, Ray moves next to her on the floor and pulls her into his arms. Cooing softly to her, he tries to calm her. It’s a vain attempt at peace that will never come.
It’s always been Jimmy. He was her first friend, her first love, and now he’s her first true loss.
Calling on an inner strength that she doesn’t truly feel, Lucy tries to stand, but her body rejects the attempt. All she can do is let the sadness swallow her whole, and hope that when it spits her back out, she’ll be alive and whole enough to take care of Melanie.
This was a very emotional read for me. Lucy has not been able to move on from her dead husband for the last 18 years. Evan is dedicated to his work and has refused to let anyone get close to him. They've both been alone for a long time, but when they meet, there is an instant connection. As they both learn to let another person into their lives, they struggle with letting go of the guilt they carry. Evan is such a sweet and thoughtful man! I totally understand how Lucy was able to fall in love with him.
This is the fourth book in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys an emotional and mature love story.
Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.