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Forever Starts Tonight

Forever Starts Tonight

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"I absolutely loved Forever Starts Tonight; it is an incredible love at first sight love story. Barbara Freethy has once again shown that she is an amazing storyteller." Patti - Goodreads

Jessica Blake hadn't come all the way to Northern California with her young son to end up in the doghouse--literally! Still, being rescued by sinfully sexy firefighter Reed McAllister had its moments. She may have owed the handsome hero her gratitude, but she wasn't about to pay the debt with her heart.

Reed McAllister was used to risking his life to save people, but he vowed never to put his heart on the line. Yet one call to help a trapped damsel in distress was all it took for the confirmed bachelor to pull Jessica and her child under his protective wing. But who was going to rescue him from the woman who set his soul on fire?

What the readers are saying...

"With an abundance of humor, Ms. Freethy keeps things nice and light, managing to rapidly capture the heart with this wonderful delight." Isha - Goodreads

"Forever Starts Tonight is another beautiful story about two people searching for their happiness. Jessica is a single mom of young Brandon who has a fun loving dog by the name of a Wiley. Wiley's antics put Jessica in a very unusual situation which Reid the fireman has come to the rescue. Would love to see this book as a movie because of the first chapter- laughing out loud while I was reading." Kathy - Goodreads

"This is truly an inspiring book about life after divorce. How you can find your happy ever after even if you do have children and it seems very fitting to find it when you have stopped looking as well. Barbara Freethy is one of my favorite authors!" Natasha

"I found this such an emotional book. It made me laugh out load, cry and sigh. 5 STARS!" Becky - Goodreads


"Come back here, you coward." Jessica Blake scrambled through the house in hot pursuit, her high heels slipping and sliding on the newly waxed hardwood floors. By the time she reached the kitchen, the only evidence of escape was a swinging screen door and a guilty look on her seven-year-old son's face. She skidded to a stop. "Brandon, you didn't."

"He didn't mean it, Mom. You scared him."

She shook her head at the pointed accusation. "He has my wallet. Where did he go?"

"I don't know."


"In the backyard." Brandon followed her through the kitchen door. "You're not going to make him go away, are you? He was just teasing you."

"Teasing?" she echoed. No, taking her wallet went beyond teasing. It was definitely malicious behavior, probably brought on by their new surroundings. None of them had quite adjusted to their move from Southern to Northern California two months earlier. New city, new house, new school, new job…which was also why she wasn't in the mood to play games. 

With a sigh, she strode over to the far end of the yard and planted her fists on her waist. "Okay, Wiley. I want my wallet. Now."

The only retort was an excited bark. Jessica squatted down and peered into the doghouse. "I've got some juicy meat bones for you, just the kind you like."

Brandon peered over her shoulder. "He's not going to believe you, Mom. You never give him bones."

She threw him a disgusted look. "Do you have any better ideas?"

"Maybe if you talk to him real nice."

"Why don't you talk to him?"

"Okay." Brandon clicked his fingers together enticingly. "Come on, boy. Let's go to school."

Wiley barked in response and bolted out of the doghouse pushing Jessica over on her rear end, covering the back of her navy-blue skirt in dirt. Wiley paused for a split second, sensing another disaster, and then tore off in a different direction as Jessica got up and sent him a scathing look.

"That's great. Only he didn't bring out my wallet."

"Do you want me to get it?" Brandon asked.

Jessica looked at his troubled face and shook her head. From here on out, she was fighting her own battles, even if this one was only between her and the dog. "I'll do it. Get your backpack. We're already late for school. I never should have brought this doghouse with us. It cost a fortune to ship it up here."

"But Daddy made it for me and Wiley."

Jessica's lips tightened at the mention of her ex-husband. Kevin Blake would not have been caught dead pounding nails into boards. And he'd only sent the doghouse because every few years he remembered he had a son, and tried to make up for his absence with some big gesture that usually only complicated her life. But she wasn't going to take away Brandon's love for his father with her own sour thoughts. 

"Get your things, Brandon. We'll talk about it later."

With a quick look down at her skirt, Jessica shook her head in disgust. Getting down on all fours, she poked her head into the doghouse and squinted her eyes in the dark light. She reached her hand into the interior and groped around for her wallet. She came up with nothing.

Pushing herself farther into the doghouse until both her shoulders were inside the door, she stretched out her arm, her fingers reaching the tip of the leather billfold, but it wasn't quite enough. The wood around the door to the doghouse jabbed into her side, but she took in a deep breath and pushed forward. Her hand came around the wallet and she grabbed it triumphantly, but when she tried to back out, nothing gave. She pushed again, but the wood squeezed her body even tighter. A touch of panic went off in her mind as the darkness enveloped her, and it suddenly didn't seem that easy to breathe.

"Brandon," she yelled. "Help me get out of here." 

Her son didn't answer, and she screamed louder, thinking he was probably in the house. "Brandon," she yelled again. "I need help." 

"What's the matter?" Brandon asked breathlessly. "Did you find the wallet?"

"Yes, I found the wallet. Now I'm stuck. I need you to pull on my legs. Can you do that for me, please?"

"Okay," he said, eager to help. 

He grabbed her legs as she tried to push backward, but the wood refused to give. He gamely tried again, but it was no use. "I can't do it, Mommy. How did you get stuck?"

"I don't know." She rested her head on her hands as she considered the problem. Their next-door neighbor was a cranky old man, who didn't like to answer his door. The couple on the other side always left early for work, and she didn't want to send her seven-year-old across the street by himself. 

"It's okay, Mom. I know what to do," Brandon said. "They told us in school yesterday."

She heard his feet scramble around the doghouse. A sudden uneasiness hit her as his words sank in. 

"Wait a minute. Where are you going?" she yelled.

No answer. 

"Brandon, go next door and get Mr. Gustavson." 

No answer. 

She drew in a deep breath, trying to suck in her body as much as possible. Using her palms for leverage, she pushed back against the wood as hard as she could. Her only reward was a stinging graze in her midriff where her blouse parted from her skirt. Slivers of wood stuck into her skin, and she bit back a cry of pain.

This was just what she needed. Two months in Half Moon Bay, and so far she'd dealt with the burst of a water pipe, lost her new couch in the move when it accidentally fell off the truck, and had discovered that every problem child in her new school had been put into her classroom. 

Now this! What else could possibly go wrong?

Then she heard the sirens.

Loud and shrill, they blared through the still air of the suburban neighborhood, and for a split second she tried to tell herself there was a fire somewhere down the street. But the noise got louder until it finally stopped, followed by a rush of feet that made the ground tremble beneath her palms.

She heard a voice, low and husky and very masculine, with just enough laughter in the tone to make her blood boil.

"Mother stuck in a doghouse, just like the dispatcher said. This must be our day, Bill."

"Who's there?" Jessica called.

"Your local fire department," a man said. 

"Can you get me out of here?"

"I sure hope so," he said with a chuckle deep in his throat. "Is that your mom in there, son?"

"Yes, and she's stuck," Brandon said importantly. "I called 911, just like they said in school."

Jessica groaned as she heard their conversation. She tried to wiggle out, but there was no escaping, and her cheeks began to burn as she thought of the picture she must be making with her rear end hanging out of the doghouse and her skirt hitched up around her thighs. A flush of heat swept through her body and for a second, she wished she could stay in the doghouse forever, but the touch of a hand on her thigh brought her quickly back to reality.

"What are you doing?" she demanded.

"Just checking things out," he said. "Mind if I ask why you're in there?"

"I was looking for my wallet."

"In the doghouse?"

"Wiley brought it in here."

"Who's Wiley?"

"Our dog," Brandon interrupted. "Can you get her out?"

"Is the dog in there too?"

"No, he's not," Jessica retorted. "The coward took off when he saw me coming.''

"He was scared," Brandon explained. "He was just playing. Is my mom going to be okay?"

"I think so. We haven't lost a mom to a doghouse yet."

Jessica sighed, her body tensing at the sudden sound of a power saw.

"You're not going to cut her in half, are you?" Brandon asked, awe in his voice. "I saw them do it once on TV."

"Now, that's an idea. What do you think, Bill?"

"A little messy, but you're the boss, Reid. Whatever you think."

"Nah, the chief probably wouldn't like it."

"Would you just get me out of here?" Jessica snapped, her discomfort rising when the firefighter's hand pushed against her side. The rough calluses of his palm felt cool against her hot skin. "What are you doing now?"

"Relax. I'm just trying to see if we have any room. There's no opening, so we'll cut the wood from the top down in a semicircle, and see if we can't rip the piece off around you. Just try to be still, okay?"

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Keep your head down. We'll have you out in no time."

Jessica squeezed her eyes shut and offered a silent prayer as the saw cut into the wood well above her body but close enough to send a few doubts through her mind. 

As the pieces of wood were pulled off, she drew in clean, fresh breaths of air, suddenly realizing how little oxygen there had been in the doghouse. Finally, she felt a hand on her back, pulling at the wood until it gave, and she slithered out with relief.

Sitting back on her heels, she stared into a pair of smiling blue eyes that sparkled against tanned skin and sun-streaked brown hair. The man in front of her was well built with strong, muscular arms and a broad chest. Self-consciously, her hand crept up to her dark-brown hair, as she tried to calm her tangled waves into some semblance of order.

He smiled approvingly. "Good, you're still in one piece. Are you hurt anywhere? Do you want me to check you out?"

He leaned over and put his hands on her shoulders, and she immediately tensed. There was mischief in his eyes, along with something else—something that she hadn't seen in any man's eyes in a very long time. 


She shivered at the thought. 

His fingers ran down her arms to her elbows and then lightly clasped her wrists.

"Feels good to me," he muttered.

She drew in a deep breath as an echoing response rushed to her lips. 

Stopping those words from coming out, she pulled her hands away from his and jumped to her feet. It was then that she noticed the stricken expression on Brandon's face. 

His mouth was shaking as he tried to stop himself from crying. Lifting a finger, he pointed an accusatory hand at the firefighter.

"You broke my doghouse," he said, sobbing the words out.

The man stared at the little boy somberly. "I did, didn't I? I'm sorry. It was the only way I could get your mother out."

"My dad made it for me, and now it's broke."

"Maybe he can fix it," the firefighter suggested.

"He's not here. He's in Boston."

"It's okay," Jessica interrupted, putting her arm around Brandon's shoulders. "We'll get a new doghouse. Although, we don't really need one. Wiley likes to sleep with you."

"But Daddy gave this to me. It's special. It can't be broken."

"Why don't we talk about this later, Brandon?" Looking at the firefighters, who were taking in the scene with interest, she smoothed down the line of her skirt, trying to regain her sense of dignity. "Thank you for helping me. I really appreciate it. I don't know how else I would have gotten out of there. I hope I didn't take you away from something more important—like a fire. Please, don't let me keep you. I'm fine now." She hugged Brandon as he started to cry. "It will be all right. We'll get the house fixed, don't worry."

As the firefighters left, Jessica let out a sigh, feeling completely drained, and her day hadn't even started yet. She squatted down in front of Brandon. "I'm sorry, sweetie."

"I don't like it here," Brandon said. "I want to go home."

"This is our home now."

"No, it's not."

"It's going to be fine, you'll see." 

For a moment she thought she had convinced him. His shoulders stopped trembling, and his body seemed to relax in her arms. Then he lifted his head and stared at her with watery eyes.

"Maybe Daddy will come here to fix the doghouse for me," he said hopefully. "He could fly out on the airplane and then it wouldn't take so long to get here."

Jessica felt a stab of pain at the plea in his voice. Kevin wouldn't be coming to Half Moon Bay, and he certainly wouldn't be interested in fixing a doghouse he had only bought to annoy her.

"He's working, Brandon."

"He could take a vacation. This is a good place to come. We could go to the beach together and build sand castles."

His innocent words filled her with emotion. There would be no more building of sand castles with Kevin—not for her, not for Brandon. Kevin had taken all of their dreams and smashed them like a tidal wave hitting the beach. One day Brandon would know the truth about his dad, but that day would not be today.

"Come on, sweetie. We need to get to school." She paused, looking around the yard. "Now, where is that dog? I want to make sure he stays out of trouble while we're gone."

"He's probably hiding under your bed," Brandon said, a reluctant smile hovering on his lips. "He likes your fuzzy slippers."

Her eyes rounded at the thought. "He better not touch my slippers. Not if he knows what's good for him."

"He's just playing, Mom. He's my buddy."

Jessica shook her head, knowing she was beaten. Her slippers were probably in a dozen pieces by now, but at least Brandon had a friend. She would figure out the rest later.

The Bachelors and Bridesmaids Series features seven female friends who met in college and made a vow to be in each others' weddings no matter when they occurred. But along the way the women who start out as bridesmaids end up as brides!

This series is all about fun, flirty romance featuring women in their mid-twenties. The sweet, charming irresistible stories will touch your heart and make you

smile. Popular tropes include sweet billionaire romance, enemies to lovers, opposites attract, workplace rivalry and falling in love with a bad boy!

Don't miss any of the bridesmaids!

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  • Steal My Heart (#2)
  • All Your Loving (#3)
  • Before I Do (#4)
  • Falling Into You (#5)
  • Forever Starts Tonight (#6)
  • Dreaming of You (#7)
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