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I'm Loving You - Book 7 in The Water's Edge Christian Romance Series

I'm Loving You - Book 7 in The Water's Edge Christian Romance Series

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I'm Loving You is Book 7 in the Water’s Edge Christian Romance Series, a contemporary Christian Romance series set in the coastal fictional town of Water's Edge, south of Sydney.
Widowed Bronte McAllister, protective of her ADHD son Archie, turns to a church support group after facing educational challenges. There, she meets Daniel Taylor, the new pastor with a hidden past, who's moved by their encounter. Despite previous hurts and reservations about each other's baggage, they contemplate a future together, wondering if their meeting is God's intervention meant to heal and offer them love anew.

A young widow with an ADHD son. A new pastor with a troubled family background…

Widowed Bronte McAllister fiercely protects her ADHD son Archie after her husband's tragic death. Faced with educational challenges, she reluctantly decides to homeschool him, seeking support from a church group recommended by her friend Francesca. Skeptical due to past hurts from Christians, Bronte is nonetheless drawn to the community's warmth.

Daniel Taylor, stepping in as pastor for the retiring beloved Pastor Noah at Water’s Edge Community Church, carries the weight of a secret past. Despite his own loss and vow of solitude, meeting Bronte ignites an unexpected spark in him, leading him to question whether a new path lies ahead.

As Bronte navigates her son's needs and Daniel confronts his hidden burdens, their lives intertwine, offering glimpses of hope and healing. Both face the dilemma of embracing a future together, despite the complexities of their pasts and Daniel's undisclosed secret. Amidst these challenges, they explore whether their encounter was orchestrated by God to bring them together for a chance at redemption and love.

Chapter One - Look Inside

With a sense of urgency, Bronte burst into Archie’s classroom, her gaze darting across the room in search of her son.
For a moment, he eluded her. The chairs stood empty, and apart from Mrs. Broomfield, his middle-aged teacher, who stood by her desk, the room seemed deserted.
But then, there he was. Curled up in a corner, his tiny form huddled with his hands pressed over his ears and his eyes clenched shut as if trying to shut out the world.
And in that moment, her heart melted.
Bronte lowered herself to his level, crouching in front of him, her voice gentle and steady despite her tumultuous emotions. “Sweetheart, it’s Mummy. Can you tell me what happened?”
Although he shook his head, his eyes flickered open, revealing the vulnerability hidden behind their innocent gaze. When she reached out her arms, he lunged into them, and the powerful force nearly sent her reeling backwards.
Collecting herself, she fixed a firm gaze on the teacher. The woman had never warmed to Archie, but then again, few people did. Still, his teacher should show him the kindness and consideration he deserved, shouldn’t she? The headmistress had assured Bronte the school was well equipped to deal with special needs children. The thought of dealing with an ill-prepared institution sent shivers down Bronte’s spine.
“How did he get into this state?” She winced at her accusatory tone, but this was the third time in a month Archie had had a meltdown in class, even though she’d repeatedly given advice on how the teacher could make the class experience easier for him.
The woman spread her hands. “We had a music session on steel pans, and the children got excited. There was a lot of noise.”
With Archie’s face buried in her stomach, Bronte straightened and rubbed his back. She could only imagine how much noise steel pans and a class of rowdy seven-year-olds had created. It would have been deafening.
“You didn’t offer Archie his headphones? Or let him sit it out?”
The woman waved a hand. “There was no teaching assistant to take him out of the class, I’m afraid.”
Bronte pursed her lips. She wouldn’t lose her temper. She. Would. Not. One McAllister meltdown was enough for this classroom today. “What about his headphones? Like I’ve explained, a lot of this could be avoided if a few environmental changes were made for him.”
The teacher’s eyes narrowed. “If we let Archie wear headphones, the other children would want to wear them, too. They’d want to know why Archie was being treated differently.”
Because he is different! Bronte gritted her teeth, holding the retort in, her brow lifting as she glared. Despite what the headmistress had said, neither the school nor the teacher was equipped for a neurodivergent child, and that was that.
Bronte knew what she had to do. She took his hand. “Come on, sweetheart. Let’s go.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow, Archie.” The woman’s voice was bright, as if the whole episode was forgotten.
Bronte squared her shoulders. “No, you won’t. He’s not coming back.”
The woman gaped. “You can’t remove him!”
“I can, and I will.” Bronte spun on her heel and left the room with Archie clinging to her hand.
They strode across the car park in silence. By the time they reached the car, her breathing had calmed, and her heart had returned to its normal rhythm. She didn’t normally get so worked up, but that woman! Grr.
Archie frowned as she strapped him into his seat. “Did you mean that? I don’t have to go back to school?”
She kissed his forehead. “That’s right. I’m going to homeschool you from now on.”
“Yay!” The delight accompanying his fist pump confirmed her split-second decision.
She started the engine and adjusted the rear-view mirror, her gaze settling on her son before she reversed out. She was all he had. Sometimes, the weight of that responsibility was almost too heavy to bear.
As she drove homeward, her mind spun. Could she take on the responsibility of homeschooling him? While he had his sensory needs and experienced upheaval when his routine was disrupted, he also seemed to be her polar opposite academically. Art and drama, her favourite subjects, held no appeal for him, while his advanced prowess in mathematics and science far surpassed his tender age of seven. He effortlessly delved into computer tasks she didn’t even know existed.
The daunting question loomed… Where would she even find the resources to educate him? So much was left to unravel. As a graphic designer, she could conduct a considerable portion of her work from home. Perhaps it was time to consider freelancing if her boss proved unsupportive. The notion had been simmering in her mind for some time.
A weary sigh escaped her lips. Somehow, she’d figure it out. She’d navigated all the challenges thrown her way since Scott’s death. She’d cope, just as she’d coped before.
Becoming a widow and a single mother shortly after turning thirty hadn’t been on her radar. Not at all. But with no family other than her elderly parents, she’d learned to cope.
No—not totally on her own. Her faith and best friend had kept her sane.
Without them, where would she be?
“Does that mean I can do maths all day?” Archie looked at her hopefully in the mirror.
She chuckled. “You’ll have to do all the other subjects as well, but I’m sure you can do as much maths as you want.”
“Cool.” He kicked his legs against the back of the seat. She didn’t say anything.
His face brightened further. “Percy’ll be happy.”
Catching his eye in the mirror, she winked. “He will, indeed.”
As she turned into their picturesque street lined with charming seaside cottages, she drew a deep, fortifying breath. She harboured no illusions. Embarking on the journey of homeschooling Archie would present challenges. But the way he’d been returning home miserable, to the extent that she contemplated uprooting their lives and seeking a fresh start elsewhere, had weighed on her heart.
Where could they go? Her one close friend lived in Water’s Edge. They’d already started over once, and she was reluctant to consider starting over yet again. In her experience, making friends wasn’t easy when one had a special needs child. People smiled and were polite, but they didn’t understand.
No. Somehow, someway, she’d make it work.
She pulled into the driveway and climbed out. Archie was old enough to unclip himself, and he beat her to the door.
“Mum, hurry up.” Standing in front of her, he jiggled from one foot to the other as she fumbled with her keys while Percy yapped on the other side.
Once the door opened, Archie launched himself at the dog.
Thank goodness he was a robust creature.
A little later, as the pair played in the backyard, Bronte settled at the kitchen table with her laptop and a steaming cup of coffee. To gather information on the essential requirements of homeschooling, she researched the available resources. Hmm, homeschooling wasn’t as uncommon as she’d presumed. However, she’d need a customised approach as the conventional curriculum alone wouldn’t cater to Archie’s unique needs.
No surprise there. The school system had proven ill-equipped in meeting his requirements as well.
She slumped back in her seat and folded her arms. Had she bitten off more than she could chew? And what if her income dropped because she couldn’t work as much? Could Scott’s pension cover the extra expenses?
She bowed her head as her gut churned. “Lord, please lead and guide me. I believe this is the right path, but I feel anxious and inadequate. Give me peace and help me find people to support us on this journey and to have the funds to afford the help I’ll need. Help me to be the best mother I can be. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.”
She closed her laptop, her hands resting atop the case as dappled sunlight filtered through the blinds and landed on the photos in the family room. Although Archie’s memory of his father had faded, he enjoyed looking at the photos, and every night, he stood before them and said goodnight to his dad.
It was still hard to accept Scott was gone. Powerless to do anything to help him other than ask God to intervene, she’d watched him self-destruct, and it’d been heart-wrenching. Until he suffered PTSD, their marriage had been good. They loved each other. She still struggled to understand how it’d gone so wrong. It had tested her faith and her understanding of prayer. How many well-meaning Christians had told her she just needed to pray harder, placing guilt on her? Was God not listening to her prayers because she wasn’t a good enough Christian?
Francesca told her that was nonsense. Bronte slowly accepted that God was sovereign and—although He could step in and heal Scott—if He didn’t, it didn’t mean He didn’t care. Scott was responsible for his own decisions, and even though he was troubled, he was capable of seeking help for both his PTSD and his alcoholism, if he chose.
While that reduced the pressure on her, it left her questioning Scott’s love for her. Surely, if he loved her and Archie enough, he’d do everything possible to heal.
If he’d lived, perhaps he might have.
She huffed out pent-up tension. Indulging in self-pity served no purpose. Perhaps venturing into homeschooling would be a transformative experience. However, she couldn’t disregard the crucial social aspect. Archie must remain connected with other children lest he become isolated in his own world.
Francesca had assured her he’d be welcome at the church youth club, but Bronte wasn’t so sure. Few places like that were equipped to deal with kids like Archie.
Everything was fine until it wasn’t.
Like at school today.
But she had to do something.
Shortly after Scott’s passing, her old school buddy proposed the idea of relocating to Water’s Edge, encouraging her to embark on a fresh start. However, it’d taken Bronte considerable time to work through her grief before mustering the courage to bid farewell to everything familiar and embrace the unknown.
Although Water’s Edge lay a mere hour’s drive from her former home and her parents, its coastal allure and laid-back atmosphere made it feel a world apart.
Yet, despite Francesca’s constant encouragement to get involved, plagued by apprehension regarding how people would respond to Archie, Bronte’d chosen to keep to herself, isolating herself from the community.
However, some nights she found herself lying in bed, eyes fixated on the shadowy ceiling, as overwhelming loneliness hollowed places deep within her.
Shaking off her melancholy, she turned her attention to Archie. As he and Percy continued their play, she reached for her phone and dialled Francesca’s number.
Her friend answered after a single ring. “Bronte, how funny! I was just thinking about you.”
“Great minds indeed.” Bronte’s laughter lightened the weight of her emotions. Then she recounted the day to Francesca.
“You’ve made the right decision. Archie deserves better,” Francesca affirmed, her support unwavering.
Still, Bronte furrowed her brow. “But I also want him to interact with other kids.” She swallowed hard. “I–I thought of trying him at the youth club.”
“Wonderful! He’ll enjoy it. The leaders are compassionate and will take care of him.”
Hmm. If only it were so easy. “I hope so. I guess time will tell.”
“I know you’re sceptical, and I understand why. But you can’t shield him forever.”
If anyone other than Francesca had made such a remark, Bronte would have defended her parenting approach. Instead, as her friend’s words struck a chord, she softened her voice. “I just want to protect him, you know?”
“I know, and I admire your dedication.” Francesca’s empathy soothed. “But he needs friends, and so do you. An entire community is waiting to welcome you both. You should give them a chance.”
Every few weeks they’d had this conversation, and so far, Bronte’s answer had been the same. She wasn’t ready. After feeling judged by members at her old church because of Archie’s unpredictable behaviour, she hadn’t attended a service in over a year.
She fingered the silver cross around her neck.
“I don’t need to attend church to be a Christian.”
“True, and you have a strong faith. But church is about community and fellowship. You’d be welcome… and so would Archie. No one will judge you if he has a meltdown. I promise.”
Bronte’s hand stilled on her cross. Could she try again? Could she handle the looks? The whispers? The embarrassment? She released a breath. “Okay. You win. I’ll come on Sunday.”
Imagining her dark-haired friend beaming, Bronte smiled. She did miss being part of a Christian community, and the way Francesca gushed about her church made it sound like the perfect place.
But she was biased. She worked there.
She’d also suggested Bronte may have been using Archie’s behaviour as an excuse to avoid situations and places she found uncomfortable.
Although it rankled, it was probably true.
Looking at Archie throwing sticks for Percy, she prayed she wasn’t making a mistake.

Main Tropes

  • Christian Romance
  • Heartwarming
  • Inspiring
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What Readers Say....

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    "This writer NEVER disappoints!' The fragility of life, the depth of hurt and trauma that most people go through, is described in a way that you experience it with the character.The newness and joy, also the questions on the faith journey are all handled with so much insight, that it even answers or explains it with much clarity!" MT

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    "One thing I have always loved about these books are that the author is not afraid to take on real life problems. The characters lives are not perfect. I can empathize with them and find myself thinking I’d like to be their friend." CRT reader

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    "This is another great series from this author. She likes to write about "real" life. She is not one to shy away from hard subjects. And, one thing I really like about this author, is the faith that runs throughout the story. I highly recommend these books." Mary S