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Feel-Good Fiction Books

Book 4: The Day He Said Hello (Hawthorne Harbor Romance)

Book 4: The Day He Said Hello (Hawthorne Harbor Romance)

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Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town...

This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!


About THE DAY HE SAID HELLO: A firefighter and his high school sweetheart who's returned to their beachside hometown...and doesn't want to be there. Can the day he said hello start a new relationship that will last this time?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

Listen to a sample here!

“Hey, Uno.” Bennett Patterson took a moment to bend down and pat the Dalmatian that greeted all the firefighters when they came into work. The dog had been a gift from Fire House Two to Fire House One when their previous dog had passed away.

Bennett had spent a fair bit of time training Uno how to jump into the fire truck, where to ride, and what to do on the job.

Not that they had many of those in Hawthorne Harbor. But hey, Bennett and all the other firefighters were prepared, right down to their canine mascot.

He sighed as he straightened, not quite sure if he was ready for his overnight shift. He did like sleeping at the station, because at least then he wasn’t home alone.

Not alone, he thought as he went to put his food in the fridge. Charles was on tonight too, so he’d cook dinner, and Bennett’s mouth was already watering.

And he wasn’t really alone at home. He had Gemma, the big, black Labrador retriever to keep him company. He’d gotten the dog when she was a puppy, right after his marriage had dissolved.

Bennett pushed away the thoughts and took a deep breath. This, right here. Fire House One. This was where he belonged, and where he wanted to be, even if the possibility of getting a job more interesting than saving a cat from a hot tin roof was slim to none.

Heck, he probably wouldn’t even get to save the cat.

Normally, he didn’t mind. He’d work out, and read a little to Uno. The Dalmatian didn’t care that Bennett took a little longer on some words as he tried to get his dyslexia to cooperate with his brain. He’d maybe call Jason, his best friend, over at the police station and see if they could go out on a patrol. Back when Tony Herrin worked here, there never seemed to be a dull moment, and he and Bennett would talk for hours about anything and everything.

Tony had been gone for a couple of years now, but Bennett still missed him. Perhaps he’d text Tony tonight as a way to pass time.

Somehow, Bennett would find a way to fill the hours.

“There you are.” Charles Hiatt appeared in the kitchen too. “You ready for tonight? I brought ribs and brisket.”

Bennett grinned at his fellow firefighter. “Totally ready. Did Melinda make any of that potato salad?”

“As a matter of fact.” Charles lifted a blue bowl the size of a watermelon, and Bennett grinned.

Charles opened the fridge and started moving things around inside it to make room of the vat of potato salad. “Did you see the note from the Chief?”

“Nope, I just got here.” Bennett wasn’t going to let Charles know about his internal pep talk, or the fact that he was bored out of his mind in this job.

It was a job, and one Bennett wanted, despite certain drawbacks. 

“Inspection by Monday.” Charles shoved the bowl inside and closed the fridge in a hurry, grinning like he’d just solved the problem of childhood hunger.

Bennett groaned. “Inspection?” That meant hours of cleaning the station. Not so much as a single dog hair should be found, and wow, Uno lost a lot of hair.

“Oh, come on.” Charles grinned and clapped one giant hand on Bennett’s shoulder. “It’ll give us something to do, at least.”

Bennett nodded, already mourning the loss of a lazy afternoon ride in the police cruiser, maybe with enough time to stop down at the beach for a snack. 

“You didn’t bring Gemma?” Charles looked around as if the dog was simply playing hide and seek.

“I let Nelly have her this time.” Bennett turned away from Charles and opened the cupboard where the cleaning supplies were kept.

“That kid.” Charles chuckled as he took the broom from its spot in the corner. “You’re going to spoil her, and then you’ll be sorry.”

Bennett shrugged, not really caring if he spoiled the cute five-year-old who lived next door. Her parents loved Gemma too, and this way, everyone got to enjoy the dog and only Bennett had to take care of her. Sort of. The Yardley’s would certainly care for Gemma for the next two days until Bennett returned home. It was like they’d come to a joint custody arrangement for the black lab. So what if it had all come about because Nelly-the-five-year-old had the biggest blue eyes on the planet? Blue eyes Bennett hadn’t been able to say no to. Her parents either, apparently.

As he wiped and scrubbed, dusted and swept, he listened to Charles hum and then sing. Uno followed them everywhere they went, and Bennett’s bad mood quickly moved into something more positive. 

“Hey, are you still handy with a hammer?” Charles asked after they’d sat down to lunch.

“Sometimes,” Bennett said, looking at his friend. Charles seemed made of shades of brown. His eyes were the darkest, just a step or two below his hair. His skin sat a shade above that.

“Melinda wants to expand our back deck. I told her you might be able to do it.”

The prospect of another carpentry project brought a tingle of excitement to Bennett’s fingertips. He tried to ignore how a deck had lifted his blood pressure.

“I can come look,” he said casually. “When we get off tomorrow.” He really wanted to go right now. If a call came in—he wasn’t holding his breath—it would forward to their cell phones.

“Great.”

Chief Harvey walked in, sniffing like he was part bloodhound. “Place smells great, guys. You must’ve gotten my note.”

“Yes, sir,” Charles said, practically saluting with his barking voice.

Bennett rolled his eyes and took another bite of potato salad, reasoning that he had a job, friends, a dog, and this delicious salad. He didn’t need anything else.

But the void he’d felt in his life these past few months simply wouldn’t budge, even when he stuffed himself full of potato salad and then, later, ribs.

* * *

The white light woke him a split second before the shrill ring of the telephone. Bennett sat up, all his senses on high alert as that blinding light continued to flash and the phone got covered with the sound of an alarm.

“Finally,” he said, pulling on his pants, then his fire suit and boots. He grabbed his hat and made it into the truck bay four steps ahead of Charles.

“What’s the call?” he asked. “Come on, Uno. Load up.”

The Dalmatian jumped into the truck and Bennett followed.

Charles read a meaningless address to Bennett, who though he now lived in Hawthorne Harbor had grown up in Bell Hill. Besides, he didn’t know every residential address.

“Neighbor reported flames,” Charles said, starting the truck, which roared to life and sent vibrations down Bennett’s spine.

The alarm sounded one more time, and then quieted. Charles put the siren on, and they picked up speed as they moved down Main Street toward the north end of town.

Hawthorne Harbor wasn’t that big, but it took several turns to get to the address. Bennett’s hopes fell when they pulled up and found several people standing on the lawn.

There were no flames to be seen.

No fire.

Bennett got out of the truck anyway, his suit suddenly heavy and ridiculous. Charles went first, as he was the lead on duty that night, and Bennett waited with Uno.

“I saw smoke,” a woman said. “And then the bright flash of flames. I didn’t know if anyone was home. She just moved in.”

“Who lives here?” Charles asked.

“I can’t remember her name.” The woman’s hands clawed at themselves. “I don’t see her car, and she hasn’t come out.”

Just then, the front door to the quaint little cottage opened, and a female figure appeared in the rectangle of light.

Charles said, “Thank you,” and moved toward the woman, Bennett in tow.

“Ma’am,” he called. “Are you okay?”

“I got the fire out,” she said, her voice not quite as appreciative as Bennett would’ve liked.

He also recognized the voice, from somewhere in his far distant past. He couldn’t quite place it immediately, and it seemed like she had a spotlight framing her, because he couldn’t see her either.

“Well, we need to check it out,” Charles said in his best fatherly tone. Not too condescending. Not too demanding. Just like, Oh, it’s no big deal, but we’re here so we’ll take a look.

Bennett needed to work on his tone, as most of what he said ended up sounding like a bark.

“Fine.” The woman turned, her long hair swishing in the light, and went back in the house without inviting them in.

Another memory stirred inside Bennett’s mind. He’d seen hair like that. Touched it….

“Can’t be,” he muttered to himself. Jennie Zimmerman had left Hawthorne Harbor two decades ago, vowing never to come back.

He followed Charles into the house, which admittedly, didn’t seem like it was even remotely on fire.

“Something just sparked in my kiln,” she said irritably. “It was nothing. A few flames for a few seconds. I honestly don’t know how anyone saw it.”

She folded her arms and stood outside of a doorway. “You can’t touch anything.”

Charles walked right past her, and she turned her face toward Bennett’s.

His breath stuck somewhere behind his lungs, making a choking sound gargle from his throat.

It was Jennie Zimmerman, and she was just as blonde, just as blue-eyed, and just as beautiful as she’d been in high school. 

She glared at him as if they hadn’t gone out several times, as if he hadn’t taken her to his senior prom, as if he hadn’t been her first kiss.

“Hello, Jennie,” he managed to say. He wanted to shout, Do you remember me? Why are you looking at me like that?

“Bennett?” Her expression didn’t soften. If anything, she cinched her arms tighter around herself.

“Bennett,” Charles called, and Bennett held her gaze for one more moment before stepping into the art studio.

It looked less like a place someone could create beautiful work and more like a paint bomb had gone off.

Or a plaster bomb. Probably both. Multiple times.

He couldn’t glance from surface to surface fast enough, couldn’t absorb all the different mediums in the room—or place the smell that hit him like a sucker punch.

“I mean it,” Jennie said, squeezing in behind him. “I’m in the middle of four commissioned pieces, and you can’t touch anything.”

Charles had bent over a huge contraption in the corner, and Bennett stepped through the chaos of brushes, wire, boxes of clay, paint, and dozens of other supplies to get to him.

His suit was so bulky, he couldn’t help touching the tiniest corner of some things, and Jennie sighed heavily behind him.

He wanted to round on her and let her have it. This place was a fire waiting to happen. One spark from the kiln…she was lucky it hadn’t ignited some cleaning fluid or any of the dozens of parchments she had stacked on a table.

“This outlet,” Charles indicated it, and Bennett immediately saw the black singe marks. 

“Shorted,” he said.

“Sparked,” Charles confirmed. “Ma’am, you’ll have to replace this outlet.”

Jennie crammed herself into the tight space with Charles and Bennett, her weight pressing against Bennett’s side. He told himself not to take a deep breath of her, not to try to find that underlying scent of flowers and fruit she always had. But he did it anyway.

And beneath the scorching smell, and the industrial powder smell of art supplies, he found it.

A sigh passed through his body, and Bennett wondered if maybe he had room for one more thing in his life. 

Then Jennie said, “Still bald, I see,” and backed up.

Bennett gave Charles a bit more room too, retreating and blinking at Jennie as he tried to make his brain work.

“I don’t know how one goes about becoming un-bald,” he said. At least it wasn’t a bark. He stroked one gloved hand down his very full beard, which he took great pride in as he couldn’t seem to get the top of his head to grow hair.

“Still unhappy to be in Hawthorne Harbor, I see.” Bennett saw the punch his words carried as Jennie flinched, her face contorting for a moment before she smoothed it back to normal.

She opened her mouth to say something—another insult, no doubt—and burst into tears instead.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I like this author and this book did not disappoint, Jennie and Benet are a GREAT pair wrought with issues that need resolved. This is a good clean read, and i enjoyed it immensely!! High school sweethearts back together again. This is part of a series but can be read alone, if you read the series, Jennie's aunt is a REAL treat through out all the books!! LOVE it!!” ~Shelley

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This was a story about second chances. The characters of Bennett and Jennie were well developed and Bennett’s kindness and patience contributed to a happy ending for them. I enjoy all of this author’s books.” ~Donna

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Fall in love with hometown heroes in small-beach-town Hawthorne Harbor!

Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town... This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

  • Book 1: The Day He Left Town

    He’s waiting for a promotion to come through. She’s back in her hometown after a humiliating break-up. Can Tony and Cat make their second chance stick this time?

  • Book 2: The Day He Drove By

    A widowed florist, her ten-year-old daughter, and the paramedic who delivered the girl a decade earlier... Can Drew and Gretchen find their way toward true love?

  • Book 3: The Day He Stopped In

    A widowed park ranger, her twelve-year-old son, and the Chief of Police who's secretly kept an eye on both of them... Do Adam and Janey have the courage to take their relationship out of the friend zone?

  • Book 4: The Day He Said Hello

    A firefighter and his high school sweetheart who's returned to their beachside hometown...and doesn't want to be there. Can the day he said hello start a new relationship that will last this time?

  • Book 5: The Day He Let Go

    A K9 cop, the woman he hires to build him a deck, and the magic of Christmas that could bring Trent and Lauren together this holiday season... Can Trent learn to let go of the past so he and Lauren can find love and build a family?

  • Book 6: The Day He Came Home

    A wounded Marine returns to Hawthorne Harbor years after the woman he was married to for exactly one week before she got an annulment...and then a baby nine months later. Can Hunter and Alice make a family out of past heartache?

  • Book 7: The Day He Asked Again

    A Coast Guard captain would rather spend his time on the sea...unless he's with the woman he's been crushing on for months. If Dave asks just one more time, will Brooklynn give their second chance at romance another shot?

Meet your new best friends on Hilton Head Island!

Escape to the beaches of South Carolina with this Supper Club of ladies, each of whom is starting over in some way in their 40s. New loves, new lives, new businesses - and they're waiting for YOU, their new best friend!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Later in life romance

✔ Pristine beach setting

✔ Island life

✔ He falls for her first!

✔ Walks on the beach

✔ Beach bonfire kisses

✔ Enemies to lovers

✔ Friends to lovers

✔ Single parent romance

✔ Women's friendship fiction

✔ Supper Clubs!