Young Matthew Whitney is causing a great deal of trouble, even for a five year old boy. His late parents willed full custody to his grandmother Amaranth Whitney, owner of a respected Albuquerque art gallery. When investment banker Oliver Powell, estranged father of Matthew’s mother, decides that he should have custody so he can take the boy back to Cincinnati and put him in an elite private school, the battle lines are drawn and sparks fly. Before long another kind of sparks fly as grandmother and grandfather each try to fight their attraction to each other in spite of their radically different ideas for the boy’s future. Then Matthew himself decides to take things into his own small hands...
Indian Summer Excerpt
“You don’t like me very much, do you?” he asked.
“No. How can I, when you’re trying to take Matthew? I doubt if you’re enamored of me, either.”
“Did you tell Matthew to dislike me?”
Amaranth’s mouth fell open in surprise before a flush of anger glowed from her very pores. “Of course not! How dare you suggest something like that? That would be… that would be dishonorable! I told him nothing about you, not even when I wrote you about Millie’s death. And I wish I hadn’t done that!”
It had been years since Oliver had heard someone react so at being called dishonorable. Both the realization and the sensation were startling. Amaranth Whitney was a remarkable woman indeed.
“He’s just a scared little boy,” Amaranth was saying with passion, waving around her fork. The red salsa clinging to the tines looked like blood in the thin morning light. “He’s barely of an age to understand death, and he’s just lost both his parents. Then you come along, someone whom he’s never seen before, someone more than a little intimidating, and you start talking about taking him away from everything he’s ever known and sending him to a place where he would have to live without his family. Of course he’s frightened and hateful.”
“I didn’t think,” Oliver admitted after a minute. Saying the words was almost like pulling teeth. A Powell was not accustomed to admitting being in the wrong. “I do need to get to know him better. And let him – and you – get to know me better.”
What you need to do, Amaranth thought bitterly, is drop off the face of the earth. Or go back to Cincinnati. I don’t care which. Just vanish and leave us alone.
Any other time, any other man, she would have been interested in getting to know someone like Oliver Powell better. Not this time. Not this man.
Oliver ignored her question and went on, even though he already knew the answer. “Are you going to change your mind about fighting me for Matthew’s custody if you know me better?”
“Neither am I. However,” Oliver said, leaning back with an air of accomplishment that made Amaranth grit her teeth in anger, “as your friend Micah said, we should be thinking about what is best for Matthew. Whatever you think of me, I am his grandfather and we should get to know each other. I’ll take a room in one of the hotels and we can work out a schedule for Matthew. I need to get to know him and he needs to get to know me – as any judge should agree.”
So you can steal him at your leisure? Amaranth thought, then stopped herself. The only slightly veiled threat of judicial action was a very real danger. If she were going to fight this man she needed to learn everything there was about him. “No. Why don’t you stay here? Matthew might react better if we stay on his familiar home territory. Also, it wouldn’t interrupt his schedule so much.”
Oliver sat forward, startled. That was what he had been wanting in the back of his mind, but had never really regarded as a possibility. “I won’t be in the way?”
“No. We live very simply, Mr. Powell. You won’t be in the way at all.” And I can keep an eye on you, Amaranth added silently.
“Very well. Thank you. And since we’re going to be on such a familial footing, don’t you think we should use our Christian names, Amaranth?” He said it hesitantly, surprised at how natural it felt in his mouth.
“As you wish, Oliver,” she replied. Both would have been very startled to learn that their thoughts were almost identical. “But I will never let you take Matthew away from me.”
The crystalline quiet of the morning was shattered as Matthew shrieked in terror.