• It seems that everyone is looking for love. The road to finding it, however, can be long and hard.
• In the short story “Starting Over,” Karen Haggerty had much experience with people leaving her, starting with her father. She concluded that there were worse things than loneliness and that she was happy with her life—until, one day, she met a new doctor at the hospital where she was working.
• Matt Benton was a single father trying to start a new life and raise the son he loved more than anything. Following his wife’s death, he moved cross-country in an effort to banish painful memories. Unfortunately, those memories had traveled with him.
• Matt had no interest in beginning a new relationship. His son Randy had become attached to the few women he had dated, and Randy had always been devastated when those relationships ended. Matt realized that Randy had suffered enough loss in his life and refused to subject him to any more pain. When he met Karen in the hospital cafeteria, all he was looking for was a place to eat his lunch, and her table happened to have an available seat. Karen was attractive and smart, and he found himself asking to meet her for lunch again, this time for a picnic in the park.
• Karen was unsure of what to make of Matt Benton. Was he merely a lunch buddy, or was he looking for more? While Matt was handsome and interesting, and she admired his devotion to his little boy, she had been disappointed before. Was Matt really different from other men in her past?
• Matt wanted to get to know Karen but did not want to upset Randy. When Randy was away with a friend on a weekend, Matt asked Karen to come with him to the house he had bought. He just needed some decorating ideas—that was all.
• They spent some time at Matt’s new house. When Karen casually remarked that she had been looking forward to meeting Randy, she was surprised at Matt’s reaction. He admitted that he would like Randy to see her, but that he would not involve his son in their relationship. The only time they could be together was when Randy was not around.
• This was not what Karen had expected. Angry at being disappointed again, she managed to avoid Matt during lunch for quite a while. Then Karen received a frantic call from Randy’s sitter, who had remembered her name from a conversation she had had with Matt. Randy was missing, and the sitter could not reach Matt.
• Karen immediately rushed across town to search for Randy. She eventually saw him, distracted by a kitten he had found. Karen brought him back to the sitter. By then, Matt had arrived and was out of his mind with worry. He left Randy to the sitter and asked Karen for coffee.
• Over coffee, Matt admitted that he had been doing some thinking since Karen had disappeared from his life. He blamed his reluctance to commit to a relationship on his concern for his son. The truth was Randy was doing fine, and Matt was just using him as an excuse not to open up his heart again. He was the one terrified of another loss.
• Karen saw that Matt was not the type of man to disappoint a woman, after all. They agreed to give their relationship a chance, starting with an outing that included Randy.
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