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Lanyon is the freaking master at creating tension and angst and good old fashioned attraction that feels so super genuine, and she does it here with just 93 pages?! It confounds me, I tell you, but it was there, and it was delicious.

Jen Huff for Boys in Our Books
Connor loves teaching. He loves working with kids, he loves feeling like he’s making a difference. And the kids — and parents — seem to love him. Until the afternoon he makes a small error in judgment, and an angry father’s thoughtless comments start the kind of rumor that destroys careers. And lives.
Now everything Connor thought he knew about himself and his world is in doubt. But sometimes help comes from the most unexpected direction.

Con was talking to Dr. Li when Wes Callahan arrived.

Con did not know Lizzy’s father well. Every morning and every afternoon they exchanged a few polite words as Callahan dropped off and picked up his daughter. It had been no different that morning. The exception had been on Back to School Night when they had spoken for nearly five minutes. Con had told Lizzy’s dad what a great kid Lizzy was–and he’d meant every word. She was funny, smart, a little precocious, and a total charmer. Lizzy’s dad had told Con how much Elizabeth adored Mr. Connor. Men like Callahan did not use the word “adore,” but that had been the gruff gist of it.

Basically that was Con’s entire experience and understanding of Wes Callahan. A courteous and concerned parent who looked better in his usual jeans and T-shirts than most of the dads did in their suits and ties. That, and Wes Callahan was the biggest VIP of all Sunshine Cottage’s VIPs. Callahan was Sunshine Cottage’s only millionaire dad. In other words, handle with care.

And it was very obvious from Con’s first glimpse of Callahan striding through the sliding glass door of Pediatrics, that kid gloves would be required. Lizzy was an only child, and both her parents doted on her–their natural protectiveness heightened by the fact that Lizzy had been a frail and sickly baby.

Through the glass of the reception area, Con watched Callahan pause at the front desk. Callahan’s face was white, his brown eyes seemed to blaze with emotion. Instead of his usual jeans and T-shirt, he wore a dark suit–a very nice dark suit–which probably explained why he had been unreachable by cell. Some kind of conference, maybe a power meeting with prospective clients.

“Here’s Dad,” Dr. Li said, smiling as Callahan barged through the communicating door that separated the waiting room from the examining rooms.

“Mr. Callahan.” Con took a step forward.

Callahan yelled, “Who the hell do you think you are, dragging my kid around town without my permission?”

Con stopped in his tracks. “I’m sorry?”

“You will be. I’ll make damn sure of that.”

“I was trying to get Lizzy medical attention as quickly as possible. I do have your written permission on fi–“

“If you wanted to help, you’d have done your job and made sure she wasn’t hurt in the first place.” He jabbed his finger at Con’s chest for emphasis. “I’m holding you personally responsible for this, Myers.”

Con was speechless.

“OH-kay.” Dr. Li opened the door to the examining room. “Mr. Callahan, if I could have you step inside here.”

“Daddy! Daddy!” Lizzy squeaked from inside, and relief flooded Callahan’s colorless face.

“Is she okay?” he got out.

“She’s going to be just fine,” Dr. Li said, throwing an apologetic look at Con.

Con couldn’t have responded to save his life. He had anticipated Callahan being upset, worried, alarmed. He hadn’t expected fury. Let alone fury directed at himself. It felt like he was watching this play out from a distance. Not far enough of a distance, unfortunately.

Everyone, from the girl at the front desk, to the toddler and his teenaged mother playing with blocks on the floor of the waiting room, were staring open-mouthed at him.

It wasn’t like that. That’s what he wanted to say. It wasn’t like he hadn’t been watching, hadn’t been paying attention, hadn’t been doing his job. Accidents happened. Sometimes they happened out of arm’s reach. But how did you explain that to someone who didn’t have firsthand experience of supervising over twenty active children on a small playground? Anything he said was going to sound like an excuse. But that was the excuse–or explanation, at least.

“Mr. Callahan,” he finally managed to croak, as Dr. Li ushered Callahan into the examining room.

Callahan rounded on him, his expression so contemptuous that Con broke off.

“I don’t want to hear it. What kind of normal grown man makes a career out of hanging around little kids?” Callahan’s voice was scathing. He turned his back on Con and went into the examining room.