Today I am so pleased to welcome J.P. Barnaby to Joyfully Jay. J.P. has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Sophie (which I reviewed here). Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Aaron and Sophie
“Grandma’s at the store. It’s okay. She’ll be back soon,” he assured her—or himself, one of the two.
She went back to playing with the doll until another clap of thunder sent her scurrying to the edge of the couch where he sat. Her pained whimper hurt his ears.
“Sophie, it’s just a little noise. It can’t hurt you.”
It can’t hurt me either. They can’t hurt me. They’re gone.
With the next clap of thunder, she tried to scale his leg. He picked her up and she trembled against him.
“Sophie, honey, it’s just a storm. It can’t hurt you. I’m right here.” Something in him loosened a bit as she snuggled into him. Her head rested on his chest and he held her gently.
He focused on her panic instead of his own.
Her head shot up at the next sound, but she didn’t cry out. Instead she gazed up at Aaron with wonder. He watched her, not understanding her sudden change. She reached up and put a tiny hand on his cheek—the cheek with the angry scar. It took everything in him not to pull away.
“Boo-boo,” she said quietly, tracing the harsh line with her fingers.
He swallowed, unable to speak for a second.
“Yeah, Sophie, boo-boo.”
Then she crawled a little higher on his chest and kissed his cheek. A tiny little imagination of a touch.
“All better,” she whispered and laid her head on his shoulder, grasping the front of his shirt in her fist as the rain beat against the windows.
That scene took my breath away—I know that’s cliché, but it’s really the only way to put it. The simplicity of a child, and the pain of a man who lost his childhood. Through the previous books in the series, Aaron felt like a kid. It didn’t matter that he was already an adult when the story began—his emotional state stopped at sixteen. That’s a common result of violent trauma during childhood. So, when you look at Aaron throughout the books, at least to me, he looks like a teenager. But, in this book, he can no longer be a kid because now, he’s been thrown into the responsibility for an actual child.
He reaches a crossroads where he either needs to either put up or shut up. Spencer can’t take care of Aaron as he’d been doing for years, and take care of Sophie who needs him. Spencer understands what losing your mother can do to a child because he lost his mother. He lost his mother and his aunt Nell got him through. He owes it to her to get her little girl through. It doesn’t matter that he can’t hear her cry, or that he doesn’t know how to care for a child. He will make it happen.
But will Aaron be there to support him, or will his fear get the better of him?
A Survivor Story
It’s amazing how a single word from a tiny girl can change your life.
Spencer Thomas’s world turns upside down when his beloved Nell dies and leaves custody of her three-year-old daughter to him. Her “Spenna” comes when Sophie needs him most, but his boyfriend, Aaron, can’t be a parent. He just can’t. Neither of them expected a baby to fall into the lives they’d finally just settled.
When Nell’s ex comes to claim Sophie, Aaron needs to make a decision: man up or walk away as Spencer faces the fight of his life.
Award winning gay romance novelist, is the author of over two dozen books, including Aaron and the Little Boy Lost Series. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance, but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not hanging out with hot guys in leather, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix. A physics geek, she likes the science side of Sci-Fi, and wants to grow up to be Reed Richards.