by Kathleen Stone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
2021 Indies Today Award finalist
Jude Hastings is one bad decision away from being forced into rehab until she meets four-year-old Shea Sullivan, a deaf child who saves her with a spiritual connection she cannot explain.
“Nice to meet you…?”
“Like Judas?” he teased.
“Like hey,” I finally said.
In 1985 eighteen-year-old Jude Hastings loses her deaf twin sister to a brain aneurysm. A year later her longtime boyfriend dumps her for taking too long to grieve. Jude’s relationship with her parents is more volatile than ever because she’s the child who lived. The next four years see Jude on a path of destruction, leaving a trail of alcohol-induced nights and a laundry list of nameless men in her wake. Love simply doesn’t exist in her world.
Until she meets Shea Sullivan, an unreachable four-year-old deaf boy who steals her heart when she is hired to be his full-time nanny, based solely on her sign language skills. Things on the surface are not as they seem, as Jude quickly learns that Shea is a very troubled little boy with a history of violent behavior, uncontrollable outbursts and a cold, overbearing and curmudgeonly father. There’s no denying the connection Jude shares with Shea, but is it enough to keep her working in his unbearable father’s home?
Jude” is the story of a young woman and a child who desperately need each
other, with outside circumstances fighting against them at every turn. It’s a
story that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you question everything
you know about connections of the spirit.
Celeste opened the door and we walked into the massive room filled with
every toy a child could ever dream of. As we entered I looked across the room
to see a woman I assumed was Amanda reaching for a small child who was climbing
a floor-to-ceiling bookcase. As soon as he was secure in her hands and she
pulled him off of the shelf above her head he began struggling against her, his
arms and legs flailing, fighting her at every step. The sounds that came from
him were alarming; grunting and groaning like… a gremlin.
Wide-eyed in fear I
took a step back and fell into a wingback chair that was patterned in all
colors of the rainbow. I watched in horror as the child fought so hard she
dropped him to the ground where he landed in a heap and didn’t move. I gasped, my hand flying to my mouth, and that’s when she
noticed me and seemed to wilt before my eyes.
“Don’t take this job,” Amanda warned me, wild-eyed. “It’s like working
for Satan himself.”
I was speechless as
she stormed out of the room in tears. I watched as the little boy rolled over
and got to his feet, then glared at me. I’d seen all those
demonic child horror movies and here was one in the flesh, headed right toward
Shea stood in front of
me, staring up innocently enough with his big hazel eyes, button nose, chubby
cheeks and a mouth fit for an angel. I held my breath as he got closer, then
climbed onto my lap. He curled up in my arms and lay silently watching me, wiping
his bangs out of his eyes. A tiny smile crossed his lips as a single tear fell
from his eye and disappeared down his cheek and out of sight. And then he
closed his eyes and fell fast asleep. I stared down at the little boy curled up
in my arms, then glanced up at Celeste, who was gawking with her mouth open.
“Jude, I don’t know what to say. This… this is not typical behavior for
I opened my mouth to speak, but I could find no words. Tears burned my eyes as I looked up at Celeste, and I knew in that instant this child needed me as much as I needed him.
In order to break
myself from the emotions I was beginning to exhibit, I walked into the room and
as soon as Shea saw me he jumped back into bed, hiding under the covers
completely. I walked over to the bed and pulled the covers off of him, finding
it hard not to laugh at his curled up body giggling out of control. I poked his
belly and he rolled over, then got to his feet and started jumping up and down
on the bed. I managed to grab hold of his hands to stop him from jumping and he
grinned at me like he was the keeper of the greatest secret in the entire
“What are you smiling at?” I asked.
He held his little
fingers to his lips and scrunched up his face in giggles.
Every part of me was
warm with a feeling I couldn’t begin to describe. How could he possibly know it was my birthday?
“Who told you that?”
“JoJo?” I was a bit lightheaded trying to figure out where all of this
was coming from, and where it was going.
My hands trembled as I sat down on the bed, then fell onto my back.
Shea crawled onto my stomach and wanted to play patty cake, but my brain was
numb as my hands mindlessly followed through with the motions. I stopped his
hands and looked up at his cherub-like face.
He pointed directly at
“How do you know her?”
“Is that who you were talking to when I came in here?”
He nodded, smiling
happily and nibbling on his fingers.
“Did you talk to P?”
“What did she tell you?”
This was hitting me hard in itself, but what really pushed me over the
edge was he didn’t sign to me in our regular language. He signed to me in the
secret language that Prude and I used since we were old enough to communicate
with our hands. A memory of the handbook flashed in my head of the nannies
complaining they didn’t always understand what Shea was signing, implying that
he didn’t always know what he was doing. How was it possible that he knew our
secret sign language? And how did he know brownies were our favorite birthday
I was numb, trying to understand what was happening. Who the hell was JoJo and how did Shea know about Prude?
International Day of Sign Languages on 9/23 & World Day of the Deaf on 9/24!!**
Kathleen has been a freelance writer since 1999 and now writes full time. Her work has appeared in Doll World Magazine, Apolloslyre.com, The Lake County Journals, Trails.com; USA Today (travel), Livestrong.com (lifestyle), Essortment, eHow, Answerbag, Examiner.com, Suite101 and YahooVoices. She is the author of Heatherstone, the award-winning novels Hey Jude, Tell Me You Love Me and Whispers On A String, and the Head Case Rock Novel Series (Head Case, Whiplash and Haven). She also has short stories published in the Secrets: Fact or Fiction I & II anthologies.
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