The Perfectly Imperfect Match (Suttonville Sentinels)(78)

By: Kendra C. Highley

“Both.” He checked the message. “I hate to cut this hike short, but I have a surprise for you.”

“That doesn’t sound like a line at all.” She stood and held out a hand. “‘I have a surprise for you.’”

When she found out, she was going to laugh a really long time, but he wasn’t about to ruin the surprise. “It’s totally legit. I promise.”

They hiked back out to his car and drove into town to the little diner her family loved so much. They had homemade pecan and chocolate pies and the best fried chicken in town; plus, they bought more of Serena’s eggs than anybody in town.

Lucy glanced at him. “Why are we at the Wooden Spoon?”

“I thought we might meet friends for dinner?”

“That was the mystery text?” She ran a hand up his arm to his neck as he parked, then leaned over to nip his ear. “Are you sure we shouldn’t just blow them off?”

Dylan’s will was severely tested by that, but he had time to be with her. They had all the time in the world now that she was coming to Lubbock with him. Besides, she wouldn’t want to miss this. “Much as I’d like to say yes, not this time.”

She sighed dramatically. “Okay, but you’re buying me my very own piece of pie. No sharing.”

“Deal. Let’s go in. They’re waiting.”

She followed him to the front door. “Who’s waiting? This is starting to sound like a spy thriller.”

“Take a look.”

Dylan opened the door for her, and a tall man in an Army Class B uniform stood. He had gray hair and Lucy’s eyes. “Hey there, Punkin’.”

Lucy’s knees went weak, and Dylan caught her before she slid to the ground. “Dad?”

He held out his arms. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

Then she was laughing and crying as she ran straight into his arms. Colonel Foster kissed her hair, hugging her tight, while Lucy’s mom held onto Otis, tears running down her face.

As Dylan backed out of the restaurant to give them time to themselves, Colonel Foster looked over his daughter’s head. “Why don’t you join us, son?”

It sounded a little like a command, which made sense. The man was an officer, and Dylan wanted to impress him. “Yes, sir. I’d like that, sir, if I’m not intruding.”

Lucy hiccupped, smiling through her tears. “Oh, I think the two of you are going to get along really well.”

Her dad gave Dylan a long stare, then surprised him by smiling, too. “You know what, Punkin’? I think you’re right.”

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I’m so thankful for the opportunity to tell stories. When I first started down this path, I wasn’t sure a single manuscript I wrote would ever see the light of day, let alone be published. Some of those early works were pretty terrible. So, first, I need to thank the countless critique partners who taught me—with kindness—how to fix broken stories.

Now, I’m so lucky to have an amazing team to help and nurture my work. To the Entangled team, especially my editor Heather Howland, thanks for your continuous support and counsel. Working with y’all is always a joy.

Mr. Querry, your personal writing class, back when I was the tender age of nineteen, taught me that just because one or two people didn’t see the value in the pages I read in class didn’t mean it wasn’t valuable. Even then, I was writing YA, and that was just fine by you.

To my readers—every time one of you writes “swoon!” in a review, a unicorn gets her wings. Or, so my imagination tells me. Y’all are the best!

Finally, I must thank my family. My son, who runs errands when I’m on deadline. My daughter, who does chores without being asked so I don’t have an excuse to leave my desk when I should be working. And my husband, who tells me I can do it, even when I say I can’t. Without you, I never would’ve been able to tackle this journey. You’re awesome people, Highley Family!

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