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A Father's Name

A Father's Name

4.2 7
by Holly Jacobs

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A love to be proud of

Tucker—as Angelina Tucker is known to her friends—is in the midst of big change. The pressures of juggling single parenthood and the family business keep her busy 24/7. And now something else is throwing her world into flux—Tyler Martinez.

Oh, right. That Tyler. The successful—and


A love to be proud of

Tucker—as Angelina Tucker is known to her friends—is in the midst of big change. The pressures of juggling single parenthood and the family business keep her busy 24/7. And now something else is throwing her world into flux—Tyler Martinez.

Oh, right. That Tyler. The successful—and sexy—business guy who asked her out. The same guy she turned down.

But Tyler needs a job. He also needs her help with the toddler he's guardian to. So what are she and Tyler, exactly? Helpmates? Friends with benefits? She needs some definitions, because she's already in love with his little boy and—heaven help her—she's falling for Tyler, too…

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Publication date:
Suddenly a Parent , #1733
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Read an Excerpt

Gary Johnson's phone number flashed as a missed call on Angelina Tucker's cellphone and she tried to tamp down her annoyance.

Tucker didn't date often, but when she did, she practiced a catch-and-release program. Unfortunately, Gary Johnson didn't want to be released and had been calling for days asking for another date.

She'd tried being polite, then tried to joke and pretend she was one of the guys with her let's-be-buddies pitch. Neither worked. Gary obviously wasn't getting her not-so subtle hints. She'd have to try something more direct.

The man was so dense it was going to have to be something big. Something like a swift kick or else a restraining order.

Gary's number on her caller ID had left a sour taste to what was normally her happy Monday mood. She stomped into the garage, not wanting to think about returning that phone call.

"Hey, Lou," she called by way of a greeting as she made a beeline for the coffee machine.

"What's on the schedule today?" Lou asked.

"I've got to come up with some brilliant idea for the Paradisi bike." Tucker was building a name for her custom paint jobs on motorcycles and an occasional car or truck. Thanks to the popularity of shows like American Chopper and Pimp My Ride, her air-brushed murals, pictures and plain old pinstriping had taken more and more of her time away from the basic mechanic work.

She took a long sip of her coffee, knowing she needed caffeine in her system before she could come anywhere close to inspired.

She thought about the black custom bike that sat in her paint room as she appreciated a second sip. "Lou, you and the other guys start in on the appointments, okay? I'm going to head back to my office for an hour or so. I have some invoices to get out."

The only good thing about paperwork was that she hated it so much her mind frequently wandered and got creative to avoid doing it.

"Is your dad coming in today?" Lou asked.

"I'm sure he'll show up eventually." She offered what she hoped was a reassuring smile to Lou, but she couldn't be sure. She wasn't good at faking it— never had been. She needed to tell the guys the truth soon.

Soon, but not today.

"'Kay, Tuck," the older man said.

"Way to go, Tuck," she muttered to herself as she stomped to her office. She had to tell the guys sometime, but not until her dad was ready. And to date, George Tucker wasn't ready and she wasn't going to rush him. Lou knew the score without explanation and had pretty much taken over running the floor of the garage without being asked. And she'd taken over most of the hated paperwork. If her dad really did retire, she'd be doing it forever.

That was not the thought she wanted to start her day with, much less a week with.

She needed to speak to her dad about giving Lou a raise. Just one more thing on her to-do list. A list that no matter how hard she worked never seemed to get any shorter.

She slammed open her office door, her Monday mood really shot now, between Gary Johnson and Lou's innocent question about her father.

"Well, it's a hell of a thing when a man can't rely on his daughter's totally deluded happy Monday mood." Her father was sitting in a chair, his own cup of coffee in hand.

"What are you doing here, Pops?"

Her father looked so much better than he had a few months ago. Thanks to her very vigilant eye on his diet, he'd lost a few pounds, which the doctors said would help with his heart problems.

"Enjoying the view." He pointed at the bird feeder she'd mounted in the overgrown mulberry tree outside the window. "I never noticed the feeder before."

"I put it up years ago."

"I figured. It's got a weathered sort of look to it. Guess there are a lot of things I haven't noticed before. Sorry for that, kiddo."

"You noticed plenty, Pops."

"No. I missed some very big things, and even things I did notice—well, some I plain old ignored. Like the fact you were a girl. It was you, me and the guys at the shop. I treated you like one of them. I never pushed you to do girly things. If you'd had a mom, she'd have made sure you didn't spend all your time around men and car repairs."

Since her father had been sick, he'd had days of uncharacteristic nostalgia and occasionally, bouts of regret. Tucker wasn't sure what to do when he expressed such emotion, other than try to reassure him. "Pops, if I really wanted to do girly things, don't you think I would have done them? I mean, honestly, in my whole life, has anyone ever forced me to do something I didn't want to do, or managed to talk me out of something I did?"

"No. But the point is, I never gave you a chance to explore what you wanted. I kept you close and here you are in your thirties and still working at the garage. Still living in the same house."

Her father had bought a nice double-wide trailer and set it up next to the garage, leaving the house across the street, where she'd grown up, for her and her son, Bart. "You could have stayed there and I could have gotten my own place."

"Not my point and you know it," he scolded. "I didn't want to stay there—but maybe you shouldn't have wanted to stay there either."

"Are you saying you want me to move?"

"Are you being deliberately obtuse, Angelina?" her normally affable father lashed out. "I don't want you to move and you know that I always wanted you to work at the shop with me. But I'm wondering now if I was selfish. Maybe all men reach an age where all they can do is look back and second guess their past decisions."

"Pops, is something wrong? Are you feeling short of breath, or having chest pains?" It was so hard to think of her once unstoppable father as ill and she hated it. She wanted him well again and back to his old self.

"No. I'm fine now, but I guess being sick leaves a man with a lot of time to think. I'm pushing seventy, and I won't be here forever. I'm worried about you."

Last Christmas the doctors had found blockage in her father's arteries and put a stent in. He'd come back to work, but not full-time. He'd wanted to, but she'd put her foot down. The doctor had told her that her father needed a lighter schedule, less stress and a better diet. She'd made it a point on trying to see he had all three, but she obviously hadn't done a good enough job if he was worried about her. "I'm fine, Pops. You have to know that I love my life."

"Yeah, but your life has always centered around the job, me and Bart. I'm here to tell you that I'm stepping back from the day-to-day operations of Tucker's Garage. Actually, that's a cop-out. I'm not only stepping back, I've decided that I'm retiring. Officially. I'm going to leave the business, along with the worries, in your capable hands. And Bart is going away to college in the fall. I guess, I'm concerned about where that's going to leave you."

Tucker looked at her father. Finding out her father was mortal shouldn't have come as a shock, but he'd always been so healthy, so much larger than life. His illness had scared her. He looked better now, but she couldn't help but worry. Having him retire from the business and take it easy would ease those worries a bit.

"I think it's a great idea, Pops. Me and the boys can handle things at the shop."

"We both know that you've been handling things for the last five months with no problem, other than there's been too much work for four people."

"And we're not complaining," she pointed out. "Given the economy, it's great that our business hasn't ebbed, but instead has exploded. The guys don't mind overtime, and I help in the garage as much as my schedule allows."

"A lot of that increased business has come from your end of things. You need to concentrate on the painting, not the repairs. And now that I'm officially retiring, you'll really have the business side of things to focus on, too."

"I can do it all." To be honest, she had a lot of time to work. Even though Bart was still here, he was wrapped up in his own life and enjoying the end of his senior year of high school, and she encouraged that. She'd been in her teens when she had him, and she wanted to give him all the moments she'd missed out on.

"Now that I've decided to retire, rather than just cut back, I think, more than ever, we should find someone to buy into the business," her father said.

"No." Since he'd been ill, he'd mentioned selling his half of the business to someone who could help them out. Someone who would have a vested interest in things. Tucker just shook her head. They'd had this conversation—well, fight actually—before. She didn't want some stranger having a say in the business she'd invested her blood, sweat and paint in, but she didn't want to upset her father by fighting about it again.

"We could let someone else buy in and do all those things you hate. The things I used to do," he tossed out, obviously hoping it would make the idea more appealing to her.

"No," she repeated, hoping her monosyllabic response would get her point across without another out-and-out argument that would send his blood pressure skyrocketing.

"I'd say we could hire someone, but I don't trust someone who doesn't have a vested interest. A partner would—"

"Pops, I'll find a way to make it all work out. It won't work with another partner." Hoping to soften her refusal, she added, "Once you've worked with the best, it's hard to settle for anyone else."

Her father sighed. "I'm not ruling the idea out, but we'll table it for now. That being said, I am making one last executive decision." Her father had that look.

Tucker would be hard pressed to define the look to an outsider, but as his daughter, she had no trouble recognizing it. There was a slight compression of his lips. The smallest flaring of his nostrils. He was squinting and reached up to pat his normally rumpled grey hair.

"What decision is that?" She was pretty sure that his look indicated that he thought it was a decision she wouldn't like. "Pops?"

"I hired someone."

"Pops, we've always done the hiring together." Even before she'd officially worked for her father, then with him as a partner, he'd had her sit in on interviews. He said he didn't want her forced to be around someone she didn't like.

"This one is special. I've known the guy for years and he really needed the work. And in the interest of honesty, he's got a record. White collar, six months in county, still on probation."

Tucker groaned. "Pops…" She didn't add anything to it because she knew it was pointless. When her father made his mind up, he was immovable. That's what his look said. I'm a stone and you can't budgeSo, she admitted defeat with grace. "When's he start?"

"Today. Told him to be in by eight-thirty. Wanted to talk to you and smooth things over before he showed up."

"Yeah, Pops, that's you, all smooth operatory."

Her father either didn't notice her sarcasm, or chose to ignore it as someone knocked on the door and he glanced at his watch. "Punctual. Gotta like that in a new employee," he said with a grin.

"Come on in," Tucker called. She expected to see some trouble-hardened man at the door, not… "Mr. Martinez?"

Tyler Martinez was one of the garage's best customers. He indulged in new vehicles like other people indulged in ice cream. High-end vehicles that fit well with his high-end designer suits, his dark good looks and his power job. But today, there was no designer suit, but rather a well worn pair of jeans and a white T-shirt that emphasized the fact the man worked out.

If the lines beneath his shirts were any indication, he'd been working out more than usual.

Not that she usually noticed.

Okay, so she noticed. A woman would have to be dead in order to ignore Tyler Martinez's sensual dark features. An image of a panther flashed through her mind and she almost laughed at how cliche that felt.

She pasted on her best business smile. Considering how much money and time Tyler spent at the shop it wouldn't do to be rude. "Mr. Martinez, I'm in a meeting. If you wouldn't mind waiting for a few minutes, I'll come get you and we can go over whatever your current vehicle requires."

"My current vehicle is a 2002 Ford F-150 that has seen better days, but I'm working on it myself, so it doesn't require any of the shop's services." Tyler frowned at her father. "You didn't tell her?"

"Doesn't pay to rush my Angelina," her father said with a trace of pride in his voice. "She comes around to things in her own time. I did tell her, only I hadn't told her who."

Tucker looked at Martinez, then at her father. Her mom-senses were tingling, something that normally only happened with Bart. "Told me?"

"Angel, meet Tucker's Garage's newest employee, Tyler Martinez."

"What the hell, Pops?" She turned to Tyler. "You don't work in a garage. You work for some fancy investment firm and wouldn't know a driveshaft from a piston."

Martinez frowned, his voice had a touch of gravel breaking in its normal whiskey smoothness. "Don't make assumptions about me, Angel." He dragged her name out, slow and intimate.

Meet the Author

Holly Jacobs' books have made Walden’s Bestseller List and won numerous awards such as the National Readers' Choice Award, the Holt Medallion Award and the Bookseller’s Best. In 2004 Holly won Romantic Times’s prestigious Career Achievement Award for Series Love and Laughter.  Holly is currently writing for Harlequin Superromance.  Find more infor at www.HollyJacobs.com

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A Father's Name 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Whedon, Pennsylvania her beloved Pops informs his daughter single mom of teenage Bart, Angelina Tucker that he is retiring after his recent health scare. She wants to run the family business, but Pops stuns Rucker when he introduces their garage's newest employee Tyler Martinez. The former banker was sent to County for six months and remains on probation. He had been a big customer taking his cars to Tucker Garage for years but is back to his youth making his own repairs on a clinker. Pops explains that Tyler is a top rate mechanic who can also be the prime voice with customers. Tyler becomes guardian of an infant, who ties back to his nolo contendere conviction. Meanwhile the new mechanic and his boss emit sparks between them, but she refuses to consider a fling with an employee as Bart comes first. As they fall in love, he has to prove to his beloved he is in for the long term. Nobody does Pennsylvania contemporary romance better than Holly Jacobs consistently writes. Tucker who has appeared in support roles in other tales like Unexpected Gifts proves she handle the lead. Her relationships with her son, pops and the mechanics seem real. Tyler's fall from grace hits home as genuine also. Together they grease their way to love at the garage. Harriet Klausner
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