Second Chance with the Single Mom

By: Annie Claydon

To Joan, with love.





Praise for Annie Claydon


“This is such a beautiful story filled with lots of emotion as two people get a second chance at love and one that is so well deserved.”

—Goodreads on Rescued by Dr. Rafe





CHAPTER ONE


THE BENCH WAS shaded by trees, making it a pleasant place to sit on this hot summer’s day. Raina Eliott was feeling anything but comfortable.

She could see the doorway of The Watchlight Trust’s headquarters from her vantage point in the small leafy square, surrounded by three-storey Georgian houses, most of which had been converted to offices. She’d been watching it for the last hour, trying to pluck up the courage to go inside.

Asking a charity for help wasn’t so difficult, was it? Nice people worked for charities. People who understood. But when one of those nice people who understood happened to be your ex-husband, everything became so much more complicated.

If she’d been asking for herself then it would have been simple. Raina would have hesitated at the door, and then walked away. But she’d promised to do her best for Anya, and at the moment, The Watchlight Trust wasn’t just the best option, it was about the only option.

‘Call yourself a mother?’ She muttered the words to herself. Calling herself a mother was about the only good thing that had happened in the last few years, and was usually accompanied by a tingle of pleasure and the temptation to gather Anya up in her arms and hug her tight. And if she did call herself a mother then she had to do anything for her child, however difficult it was. She’d completed the charity’s application form, and added all the supporting documents. Delivering them was just a matter of dropping them off at the reception desk.

She pulled the large manila envelope from her bag, staring at the address she’d written.

Alistair Duvall, Director

The Watchlight Trust

That was the stumbling block. Should she ask to speak to Alistair, to explain? And what exactly was there to explain? That she wouldn’t have got back in touch with him after five years if it hadn’t been for Anya? That she hoped he’d put their shared history out of his mind?

‘Do it. Just deliver the envelope.’ It wouldn’t make any difference whether she spoke to Alistair or not, he’d know who she was as soon as he read the application. If he had a problem with working with his ex-wife then he’d just reject it.

Raina got to her feet, catching her breath as the door of The Watchlight Trust’s offices opened. Two women appeared, stopping on the steps to talk to the man behind them. Alistair.

Still as handsome. Dark blond hair, cut a little shorter now and it suited him. He was smiling, and Raina imagined that the quiet warmth in his golden eyes was still there. His shirt was open at the neck, the sleeves rolled up, and just the sight of him made her feel as if her heart had stopped.

Alistair had followed the women down the steps, still talking, and they’d parted on the pavement. He looked at his watch and then made his way in the opposite direction. Maybe her heart had stopped, because Raina stumbled, zombie-like and unthinking, across the road towards him.

‘Alistair...’ His name caught in her throat and he kept walking. One more try...

She caught up with him, brushing his arm with her fingers. Alistair turned and she saw shock contort his face.

‘Raina?’ The idea that he would feel nothing at seeing her again was now impossible. He was staring at her, as if he’d just seen a ghost.

Raina swallowed hard. ‘Alistair... I’m on my way to deliver something to you...’

Raina didn’t blame him for looking at the envelope with mistrust. The last envelope she’d sent him had been their divorce papers. There was nothing for it but to grasp the nettle, however much it stung.

‘I... It’s an application form. I have a daughter, Anya, and I want to apply to have her included on the prosthetics project that you’re running with The Watchlight Trust. If you can forgive me enough to look at it, that is...’ Suddenly it seemed more than she had any right to ask.

‘I should be the one asking for your forgiveness.’ He was looking at her thoughtfully.

‘I don’t think that’s true.’ She shivered in the heat of the sun. Alistair might not want to talk about it, but neither of them could deny that she was the one who’d walked out on him.

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