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Waiting For Love by Mari Carr


Waiting For Love

by Mari Carr

Self-Published

Book 5 in the Sparks in Texas Series


Can a man find two loves of a lifetime?


Macie Sparks’ number-one talent is talking. She’s a huge fan of her own voice. Always has been. But lately the resident Queen of Gossip has been feeling blue. While she’s helped several of her cousins find their happily ever afters, she can’t help but think she missed the boat somewhere. Lucky for her, widower Hank Cooper is pretty fond of her stories and her off-color jokes and basically everything else Macie has to offer. After the death of his beloved wife, Hank found his way to Sparks Barbeque, where Macie caught his eye. The more time he spends with her, the more Hank starts to think that maybe lightning can strike twice. That a man can find two loves of a lifetime. And while all Macie knows is dating and keeping it casual and staying single, Hank isn’t willing to dance to her tune. Because he wants Macie in his bed…and his life…forever.



Genre


Triggers

Widower


 

I've been waiting for Macie's story. It was teased a couple of books back, and I thought she would have been next, but I didn't mind the wait.

It was good. It was fast paced, and intensely sexy.

I mean, it doesn't take long in these books for the steamy stuff to happen, after all. Doesn't change the intensity.

I liked the overall story. I enjoy romances where one of them is a widower, because I like that the surviving partner gets a second chance at happiness. Especially when it's done respectfully, which it is here.

It clear that Coop - sorry, Hank - loved his wife, and was devoted. He mourned her, and in a way, still does. He doesn't make a secret that he will always love his first wife. He doesn't shy away from talking about her. He waits until he is ready.

Macie is a perfect fit for the more serious, quieter Hank. I connected with her. Not because she talks a lot and is a social butterfly. I only talk a lot to a select few and I tend to stay quite in social situations.

But I connected with her rambling. And her distractions. That is me to a T.

I just liked them together.

Is it my favorite of the series? No. I didn't feel like there was enough complications to make a story truly interesting. It seemed to be headed in a certain direction, but it was quickly fixed with a simple chat, and it felt very ... anti-climatic.

But I still enjoyed the story as a whole.


So far, I am really liking the series. It's short. It's sexy. It's a light read to fill in between my bigger reads.




 



 



Hank: “You want that?”

She looked him dead in the eye, somewhat surprised he would ask. Why wouldn’t she want that?

Macie: “Of course I do.”

Hank: “Good.”

Macie: “Good?”

Macie asked, thinking that was a very strange answer.

Hank: “Yeah. Good.”

She blew her bangs up with a hard breath and crossed her arms. So much for getting any sympathy or helpful advice from Coop.

Macie: “You wanna know something, Hank Cooper?”

He shook his head.

Hank: “Not really, but I’m sure you’ll tell me anyway.”

Macie: “You’re weird.”

Coop laughed off her description—and then did something that very few people were capable of when he said,

Hank: “And you’re beautiful.”

He rendered Macie Sparks speechless. 


Macie: “But even so, I need a shower with plain old water and soap. And clean clothes.”

Hank: “You smell fine.”

Macie: “Okay. Again, you’re missing the point. All I’m saying is you’re lowering your chances of getting lucky with this technique. No woman’s going to put out when she hasn’t had time to prepare.”

He didn’t respond immediately, but Macie wasn’t exactly surprised by that. Coop was a man of too few words.

Hank: “You planning to put out?”

She rolled her eyes.

Macie: “You misinterpreted that whole conversation.”


Hank: “Hank.”

She frowned.

Macie: "What?”

Hank: “Call me Hank.”

Macie leaned back in her chair and studied his face for a moment.

Macie: “Nobody calls you Hank.”

He held her gaze intently.

Hank: “Not what I said. I want you to.”

Macie: “Why?”

Hank: “You ask more questions than a three-year-old.”

She shrugged.

Macie: “Only way to get answers is to ask questions.”


Hank: “It’s those pretty brown eyes of yours. Remind me of a smooth bourbon whiskey. Man could fall into them as easy as a bottle of the stuff. And believe me, he wouldn’t mind spending a good long time getting drunk on them.”


Macie: "Why aren’t you losing any clothes?”

He gave her a quick kiss.

Hank: “Because I like the idea of you prancing around here naked while I’m completely dressed.”

Macie: “Lord of the manor fantasy?”

Hank: “Something like that,”


Hank: “Stop it. I’m not looking for a Sharon clone. I loved my wife, Macie. I always will. But people don’t go through life loving just one person. I was thinking about her, and I’m sorry about that. But I promise you, I wasn’t comparing and I wasn’t feeling guilty. If anything, I’m excited—for the first time in a damn long time—about what my future holds.”

Macie: “And what’s that?”

Hank: “You.”


TJ: “You haven’t done much dating since Sharon passed.”

Hank: “Haven’t dated anybody since then,”

Hank corrected. Her father knew that too. Everyone in town did.

TJ: “Yeah. And you thought you’d jump back in with Macie? Gotta admit, I admire your gumption.”

Macie crossed her arms.

Macie: “Seriously, Dad? Just once in a while could you try not to embarrass me?”

TJ: “Not a drop of fun in that."


TJ: “You’re a bit older than her,”

Dad pointed out. Hank nodded.

Hank: “Eleven years by my count. Does that matter?”

Dad shook his head.

TJ: “Nope. Not at all.”

Several people nearby chuckled, enlightening her to the fact they’d drawn quite an audience.

Macie: “This is ridiculous,”

she said, leaning closer and trying to clue them in with her hushed whispers that every idiot in the place was listening.

Macie: “What’s next? A barter? Discussion of dowries? You gonna give him two chickens and a cow to make me his wife, Dad?”

Her father laughed loudly.

TJ: “Would you be alright with just the two chickens?”


Macie: “What’s going on? Some sort of telepathy. Are you speaking to each other in Morse code by blinking your eyes or something? Is this what they teach the boys when they separate them from the girls in middle school gym class? Because all I got out of that was a lecture on what happens when you get your period.”


Hank: "What time you get off?”

She glanced at her watch.

Macie: “Forty-five minutes.”

He nodded.

Hank: “I’ll wait.”

Macie considered playing coy and asking him what he was waiting for, just for shits and giggles, but he’d just laid a hell of a lot of stuff on the line.

They needed to talk. And fuck. They really needed to fuck.

Macie: “Okay.”

He seemed surprised by her easy acquiescence.

Hank: “No questions? No comments or complaints?”

She shook her head.

Macie: “Nope.”

For a moment, she thought he actually appeared disappointed.

Macie: “You want me to ask you a bunch of questions?”

He shrugged.

Hank: “Might make the time pass quicker.”

She laughed.

Macie: “Drink your damn beer.”


Macie: “Another date?”

Hank: “You gonna start going on about how you need to shave your legs again?”

She shook her head.

Macie: “No. I’m a quick study. Took care of everything I needed to this morning.”

Hank: “Good girl.”


Hank: “It’s just a different way to have sex, Macie. And we won’t do it all the time. A lot of nights, we’re going to crawl into this bed and I’m going to make love to you, missionary style.”

She considered that.

Macie: “That sounds kind of boring now that you’ve offered up the kinky stuff.”

He chuckled and kissed the back of her head.

Hank: “Macie?”

Macie: “Yeah?”

Hank: “I’m done talking now.”


Hank: “So I feel like I might have stepped on your toes or something. I mean, Macie’s a hell of a catch.”

Porter rolled his eyes.

Porter: “Jesus, Coop. You’ve got it bad. Macie is a handful on a good day and most men in town know that. You’re the only one who doesn’t seem to get worn out by all that talking of hers. So believe me when I say, I’m fine letting you take that whirlwind on.”


Hank: “This way is better. Means the difference between me taking you on a flat surface in the privacy of my house or up against a wall in the storage closet of the restaurant with half your family outside the door.”

Macie snorted.

Macie: “God. What does it say about me that I think both those options sound hot as hell?”

Hank: “It says you’re perfect for me.”


Macie: “Would you laugh if I broke into the chorus of ‘Afternoon Delight’?”

Macie asked.

Hank: “Jesus. That’s an old one.”

Macie: “My mom loves that song. Which is now a very disturbing fact, so maybe we’ll just skip the song after all.”


Macie: “In case you failed to notice, Hank, I’ve spent this long finding just one guy who could tolerate me with my constant chatter, off-color humor and never-ending opinions. By the way, I’m not sure what that says about you. You might want to consider talking to a therapist.”


Macie: “You realize it’s our anniversary. One month to the day since you dragged me and my hairy legs out of the restaurant and fed me spaghetti.”

Hank: “Damn. Wish you’d mentioned that earlier. I would have taken you and your hairy legs out to dinner to celebrate.”


Hank: “So you proposed?”

Macie: “I loved him.”

She blinked away tears and Hank could see she truly had.

Macie: “So a couple years ago, I told him we should get hitched. He laughed at first, and then he figured out I was serious. Honestly, until I said the words, I hadn’t realized how serious I was. Once I said it, I wanted it. Badly.”

Hank: “But he said no.”

Macie: “He was really kind about it. He made the joke about being too much man for me, but when I kept pressing him, he told me he loved me too much to…”

She sniffled and swallowed heavily. Hank grasped her hand and squeezed it consolingly.

Hank: “Too much to…?”

Macie: “To condemn me to a lifetime as caregiver. We kind of got into a fight after that. No matter what I said, I couldn’t sway him. He left and didn’t come back the next week, or the week after that. Then, three weeks after the argument, he rolled back into the restaurant and we picked up like nothing had ever happened. And I let him because I’d missed him so much it hurt. I didn’t want to say anything that would make him stay away again. He died not quite a year later. Part of me has wondered since then if he knew his days were numbered. If somehow he had a sense that he wouldn’t live much longer.”


Porter: “Whoa. What happened in here?”

Porter asked as he stepped into the kitchen.

Hank: “That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

When Porter looked around and mumbled a curse, Hank looked his way for an answer.

Porter: “You figured it out?”

Porter nodded.

Porter: “It’s your birthday.”

Hank: “I know.”

And the light went on.

Hank: “Macie tried to make me dinner.”

Porter: “And a cake, I think,”

Porter said, pointing to the pancake and blue milk in a bowl.

Porter: “I might’ve mentioned how Sharon always went all out for your birthday. Home-cooked dinner, cake, presents.”

Hank closed his eyes and sighed.

Hank: “I wish you hadn’t done that.”

Porter: “I didn’t realize her skills were quite this…I mean…shit, man, she works in a restaurant.”

Hank: “As the bartender. And she’s sort of sensitive about Sharon comparisons. She feels like she needs to compete or measure up or something.”

Hank thought he’d talked her off that ledge last week after delivering the cow, but given her efforts tonight, he feared there was still some convincing to do.

Porter: “She what? Why does she think she needs to compete with Sharon? Macie’s awesome the way she is.”

Hank grinned. His best friend was definitely starting to come around after his initial assessment of Macie.

Hank: “I know. And I’ve told her that. More than once.”

Porter: “Guess I can’t blame her really,”

Porter said after a moment’s contemplation.

Hank: “What do you mean?”

Porter: “You and Sharon were the perfect couple, happy, in love, devoted. It’s kind of a tough act to follow.”

Hank: “It’s not like I’m holding up a measuring stick or keeping notes about who did what better. I love Macie for who she is. I’m not worried about who she isn’t.”

Porter looked around the kitchen.

Porter: “I’m thinking that’s a good thing. Because damn, man, you can’t ever let her loose in here again.”


Macie: "Just feels like I’m not really cut out for this.”

Hank: “For what?”

Macie: “Ranch life. I mean, what do I contribute around here? I can’t cook for the hands or you. There are more wrinkles in a shirt after I iron it than before. And I typically get my apartment cleaned through blackmail.”

Hank: “Blackmail?”

Macie: “Adele’s no angel.”


Macie: "We’re still working out the relationship bumps.”

Hank: “What bumps?”

Macie’s nose crinkled adorably as she clearly tried to come up with something.

Macie: “Well.”

She paused, and then, because she obviously couldn’t think of anything, she raised her hands as if she’d proven some point.

Macie: “And there you have it. The fact that there haven’t been any proves that this is still the honeymoon phase. You can’t make life-altering decisions in the midst of all this amazing sex. You gotta let it get old, have a few fights.”

Hank: “So we can’t discuss having kids until we’re sick of sex and pissed off at each other?”

She lifted one shoulder. She appeared to realize how silly that sounded, but Macie never backed down easy.

Macie: “Uhhhh…yeah. Exactly.”


Janice: “You’d really help me? Even after,”

Janice jerked her head toward Hank,

Janice: “I threw myself at your boyfriend.”

Macie: “Oh, it’s fine. Honest. This only would have been a problem if he’d tried to catch the pass you were throwing. Then I would have had to kill both of you.”

She and Macie laughed while Hank tried to decide exactly how serious Macie was.


Hank covered up their empty dishes and picked up the New York cheesecake, nodding toward the bed.

Hank: “Come on. You promised me food and naked body parts. We might be in Vegas, but I like the idea of licking New York off you.”


Hank: “I look at you and I’m not seeing minutes or hours. I’m seeing years. I’m seeing a lifetime. I’m seeing everything I’ve always wanted, but didn’t dare admit. I want it all. Kids and dogs and burned chicken and growing old and the sweet smell of bourbon. I want to dream about forever with you every single day, and I believe it exists. Believe that it’s ours for the taking.”


 



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