Although attorney Jeff Galloway’s career is in high gear, his personal life is a mess. Just before his father returns home from a 27-year stretch in prison, his girlfriend dumps him. When a chance encounter begins to blossom into new romance, soft-hearted Melanie Clark encourages Jeff to find a way to forgive his father’s long absence.
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“This is the last of the Christmas decorations,” Jeffrey Galloway announced as he stacked boxes on the floor of his mother’s living room. “Let me fold up the attic stairs and put your car in the garage. Then I’ll put the tree together.”
“Thank you.” Rosemary opened a carton and began to unpack strings of lights. She turned each tangled strand over several times before setting it aside. Biting her lip, she shook her head and sighed. “Imagine. Next year, your father will be here to trim the tree with us. I believe nineteen eighty is going to be a great year for the Galloway family.” Her hands caressed the lights as she gathered them into a jumbled pile. “They could have released him years ago. But he never got a break. They wouldn’t even let him go a few weeks early, to be home in time for Christmas this year.”
Jeff put an arm around his mother and gave her shoulder a squeeze. “It won’t be much longer now.”
“Every year I’ve prayed for compassion from the parole board, but it’s never happened.” Rosemary stared out the front window of her living room. “But, on January twenty-fifth his sentence is up, every last day of it finished. Over with at last.”
“Perhaps Aunt Ruby will quit campaigning for you to divorce him.” Keys rattled as Jeff took them from a wall hook.
“Yes,” Rosemary answered. “Everyone who said Keith was never coming home can go chew on a sour pickle. Your Aunt Ruby included.”
“Do you ever think maybe she’s on to something?”
“Of course not!” Rosemary’s eyes swung to her son’s face. “How could you say such a thing?”
Jeff rubbed the back of his neck. “That was an attempt at humor, Mom. Apparently ineffective. Truth is, I hardly know my father.”
“That’s not his fault. I hope you realize that.”
Jeff nodded. “I’m not placing blame, simply stating a fact. He’s been gone a long time.”
“That’s for sure,” Rosemary said. “They parole thugs and murderers and put them back on the streets, but they’ve made Keith serve his entire sentence.” She sighed. “Maybe I should have moved closer to the prison farm when you were a child, where we could have visited him more often. If you knew him better, you would understand what a good man he is. I thought about doing that so many times.”
“What stopped you?”