The perfect match, p.56
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       The Perfect Match, p.56

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
Page 56

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  Which he did. She was good at that sort of thing.

  And when Mitchell left, Tom held her tight and said that he loved her more than he knew it was possible to love anyone, and thank God they were married, because he’d be lost without her.

  So it was that five years almost to the day after his mother met Tom Barlow, Charlie came to live in the New House. He was quiet and horribly sloppy, his grades were mediocre, his taste in music hadn’t improved. And clearly, he loved Tom. And her, even if he never said the actual words.

  And now, a baby. She couldn’t wait to see her child’s face. Couldn’t wait to see Tom’s when he held their little one for the first time, couldn’t wait to see Charlie as a big brother.

  “They’re starting,” Tom said, sitting down next to her. She took his hand, which was damp with sweat.

  “He’ll be great,” she said.

  Tom gave her a rueful smile, then rubbed the back of his neck. “I might be having a heart attack,” he said.

  “Me, too. ”

  “Which one is Charlie?” Goggy asked, squinting.

  “Why won’t you get glasses?” Pops asked.

  “I don’t need them. You’re the one who’s blind as a bat. ”

  Dad leaned forward and gave Tom’s shoulder a squeeze. “Good luck,” he said.

  The bell rang. “Go, Charlie!” Abby bellowed. “You can do it, buddy!”

  The rules of the Western New York Regional Junior Golden Gloves Competition stated that Charlie would have to go three rounds, each lasting ninety seconds. He’d won the first two fights—this was the championship match. Unfortunately, his opponent looked like Oscar de la Hoya and the Incredible Hulk rolled into one, seeming to outweigh Charlie by fifty pounds. Tom said that wasn’t possible, but it sure looked that way to Honor.

  The longest two hundred and seventy seconds of her life, Honor bet, gnawing on her thumbnail. She almost couldn’t watch.

  But, of course, she did, flinching every time the other kid landed a hit. Tom was on his feet yelling encouragement, “Come on, Charlie, that’s it, mate, get out of there, move away, almost there, bring it home, lad!”

  Honor, too, jolted to her feet. “Hands up,” she yelled. “Get in there, Charlie!”

  The entire Holland clan was screaming by the end, and when the referee held up Charlie’s arm, proclaiming him the winner, they just went wild.

  Then Charlie, who was staggering with fatigue, went to the ropes and waved for Tom to join him.

  Tom froze for a second, then turned to Honor. “I love you,” he said. It was something he told her at least five times a day, something that still made her heart squeeze. It always would, she knew. He bent down and kissed her stomach. “And I love you, baby,” he said.

  Then he was off, into the ring to join their son.

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