“Upset?” he repeated. “That doesn’t even begin to cover what I’m feeling. You don’t have a clue about me.”

“A clue…?” She shook her head. “Don’t bother. It doesn’t really matter.”

“What matters is my baby,” Jon insisted.

“Would you stop pacing? You’re making me dizzy.”

“That’s too bad, because if I stop I might do something I regret.”

“Is that a threat, Jon?” She hadn’t thought of him as violent, but she’d never seen him this out of control.

“A threat?” He stared at her as though he’d taken as many shocks from her as he could stand. “No, Maryellen, that isn’t a threat.” Then, as if he’d exhausted every ounce of energy he possessed, he collapsed into a chair.

“I apologize for this. I guess you have a right to know.”

“Damn straight I do.”

She was prepared to deal with his anger. It was what she’d expected and frankly what she deserved. If he’d give her a moment, she’d reassure him, tell him she didn’t need his support, and then they could both continue with their lives.

“I don’t want you to worry about anything,” Maryellen told him. “This is my baby.”

He frowned. “Your baby? Yeah—and mine.”

“Jon, I don’t require a thing from you. As far as I’m concerned, you’re not part of this child’s life. I intend to raise the baby on my own.”

“Oh, no, you don’t!”

“Now what?” she cried. She thought this was what he’d come to hear. She was relieving him of all obligations.

“I want to be part of my child’s life.”

“That’s impossible!”

“The hell it is.” He was back on his feet, fists clenched.

Maryellen got to her feet, too. “I think you should go.”

“We’ll see about that,” he said and stormed out the door, leaving Maryellen shaken and unsure.

Why, oh, why did everything have to be so complicated? It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Yes, learning about the pregnancy must have been distressing to Jon, but once he knew, she assumed he’d feel grateful to be released from any responsibility.

Instead he was making demands—demands she wasn’t prepared to consider.

This had to be one of the proudest moments of Jack Griffin’s life. He stood with his son and Shelly at ColchesterPark, which overlooked Puget Sound. The panoramic view of the Seattle skyline was breathing. The promise of summer was in the air; tulips lined the flowerbeds and fifty-foot-tall fir trees stood like sentries, keeping watch over all who entered the park.

Standing close to the water with her back to Puget Sound, Olivia faced the young couple, while Jack held Tedd and Todd in his arms, as proud as any grandfather had a right to be. Fortunately, the babies were fast asleep. At three months, they’d both filled out nicely and although they were identical, Jack could detect differences between them. Tedd was more active than his brother and always fell asleep last. Todd seemed content with his thumb, while Tedd preferred his pacifier. Both boys strongly reminded him of Eric as an infant, and Jack saw his son over and over again in his two grandchildren.

Jack’s ex-wife hadn’t been able to make the wedding. He assumed Vicki had stayed away to avoid seeing him. Bob Beldon, his AA sponsor, suggested Jack held too high an opinion of his importance to Vicki, but Jack was fairly confident he’d read his ex correctly. They hadn’t parted on the best of terms, and what little relationship they’d had at the time of the divorce quickly disintegrated when he continued drinking. Alcohol had consumed his life for the next several years.

Closing his eyes, he forced himself to concentrate on the marriage vows as Eric repeated them. Love and honor. Jack’s heart swelled with love for his son, his grandsons, his daughter-in-law—and for Judge Olivia Lockhart. Getting to know her, spending time with her, had changed his life and all for the better.

Shelly repeated her vows and then Eric’s best man, a friend from work named Bill Jamison, handed him the diamond ring, which Eric slipped on Shelly’s hand.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife,” Olivia said and her voice echoed through the park.

In the next moment Eric and Shelly were kissing while Olivia and the friends who’d stood up with them looked on, applauding. Several people, including Shelly’s maid of honor, Karen Morrison, took photographs.

With his arm around Shelly, Eric turned to Jack. “I’ll bet you wondered if you’d ever see this day.”

“You mean you and Shelly married, or holding my grandchildren in my arms?” It seemed to Jack he was about as blessed as any man could be, despite his faults and his past.

“Both,” his son answered. Eric took Tedd out of Jack’s arms and Shelly reached for Todd. Soon both infants were strapped into their carriers, and everyone was ready to depart.

“Thank you, Olivia,” Eric said.

“Yes, thank you so much.” Shelly impulsively hugged her and then added, “For everything. You too, Jack.”

“We’d better head for the airport if you’re going to make your flight,” Bill said. He was the most responsible of the group, Jack noted, the one who kept them all on schedule.

“I hate to get married and rush away like this,” Eric said.

Jack and Olivia walked them to the parking lot. “Go,” Jack told his son and they hugged one last time. “But call me tomorrow, you hear?”

“I will, I promise.” Eric strapped the two boys into the back seat of his friend’s car.

Before Jack could think of a reason to detain them, the young people were off, and he was left alone with Olivia. His gaze followed Bill’s car as it pulled out of the ColchesterPark lot.

“I hope they’ll be all right,” he murmured, more to himself than Olivia.

“They will be,” she assured him.

Jack brought her close, placing his arm around her shoulders. These last two weeks hadn’t been good ones for them. James had come home for a visit and Olivia’s time—rightly so—had been taken up with her son and his family. That was fine and good, but Jack thought her ex-husband was at her house far too often. Still, he couldn’t really blame Stan for that, even if he didn’t like it. James was his son, too.

“Seeing Eric and Shelly with the twins brings back a lot of memories,” she told him with a wistful look.

Jack hadn’t once considered that this might be difficult for Olivia. “I’m sorry,” he whispered in a stricken voice. “I wasn’t thinking.”

“Oh, Jack, there’s nothing to apologize for. I see twins all the time—right now, it’s just, oh, I don’t know…difficult, I guess. Having James home, and then seeing so much of Stan these last two weeks. Watching you hold the babies reminded me.” She wrapped her arm around his waist, and Jack took reassurance from her closeness.

Arms still around each other, they walked back toward the waterfront. Jack wasn’t ready to leave. The day was glorious and his heart was full. His son’s life was on the right path now. He valued the months they’d had together, despite the irritations, which in retrospect seemed very minor.

“I feel like I haven’t talked to you in ages,” Olivia complained.

“And whose fault is that?” Jack enjoyed teasing her. With the mood between them so good, now might be the time to declare his feelings, but again he hesitated. He’d put it off for so long that whenever he thought about it, he experienced a feeling of panic.

“As much as I loved having James and everyone at the house,” she was saying, “I’m grateful to have my own life back.”

“I’m grateful to have you back,” he said. “I don’t want to sound selfish, but I missed you.”

“I missed you, too.” She turned her head and her lips grazed his cheek.

Jack’s heart accelerated. “You mean that?”

Olivia laughed, the sound light and sweet. “Of course.” They continued to stroll arm in arm, oblivious to others around them. He loved having Olivia all to himself, and despite what he’d said, he didn’t feel the least bit selfish.

“Stan’s confided something in me,” she suddenly told him.

Jack frowned; the last person he wanted to discuss was her ex-husband. “Oh?” he said, doing his best to appear interested.

“Apparently he and Marge are having problems.”

Jack could understand that. The man was cagy. Okay, so Jack was prejudiced but he disliked Stan Lockhart, and with good reason. “He’s not getting a divorce, is he?”

“I hope not.”

“Me, too.” Alarm bells rang in Jack’s head. Bob had suggested Jack was making more of this ex-husband situation than warranted. His gut told him otherwise.

“I’m worried about him,” Olivia went on to say.

“Worried about Stan?” Jack made that sound like a waste of time. “He’s a big boy—he can take care of himself.”

“Yes, I know he can, but this has really thrown him.”

“Marital problems are never easy.” Jack strove to seem wise and mature, generous too, in his assessment of the other man’s troubles. He didn’t wish Stan ill, but he wanted one thing made clear: Olivia was off-limits.

“Poor Stan,” she murmured, shaking her head.

Jack turned her into his arms. “If you want to feel sympathy for anyone, let it be me.”

“You need my sympathy?”

“Yes.” He grinned. “I twisted my ankle this morning and the pain is so bad.” He started to walk with an exaggerated limp.

“Jack!” She broke away and slugged his shoulder. “You’re a fake if ever I saw one.”

“Ouch.” He rubbed his upper arm. “That hurt.”

“Good. It’s what you deserve.”

“If you give Stan sympathy, then you have to give me some, too.”

Olivia laughed. “It’s not a competition.”

“Listen, I’m serious. It wouldn’t surprise me if Stan wanted you to help him through this.”

“Jack, you’re being ridiculous.”

“I don’t think so.” The playfulness left him and he shoved his hands deep inside his pockets. “What would you say if I confessed that I’ve fallen in love with you?” he asked.

Olivia didn’t answer for a long while. Jack stopped walking and turned to study her. She looked at him steadily. “I’d say you sound like an insecure little boy and that you’re trying to score points in some imaginary contest with my ex-husband.”

Jack clenched his jaw. “That’s what I thought.” Then, because he didn’t feel it would do any good to continue this conversation, he asked, “Are you ready to leave now?”

“If you are.”

“I am,” he said. In fact, he was more than ready.

Grace dug the pitchfork into the soft earth and turned the sod. She hadn’t planted a garden in years. Where she’d once tended zucchini and tomatoes had long since been transformed into lawn. Cliff had offered to rototill the patch, and now she was digging up the turf so he could prepare the soil.