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Around the Square

Signs of the Times, Holly Jacobs

Signs of the Times

By Holly Jacobs

Golden Quill WINNER!!!!

You don't have to hear what's being said to recognize love...you just need to listen with your heart.

Libby's daughter is hearing impaired, but it's Josh Gardner who can't seem to hear her when she says stay away. They've been thrown together planning a Christmas party, which she could make work if they stuck to business. Which they don't. Josh doesn't wait for the mistletoe before he starts kissing her. What does Libby have to do to make him hear her? Can a man who's given up on love teach a woman who doesn't believe in happily-ever-afters that what they have is more than just a passing fancy? That if they listen to their hearts what they'll hear is the sound of love.

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"...a charming tale." ~Kelley Hartsell @ Love Romances

Libby McGuiness's matchmaking neighbors set out to give her a make-over, but what Libby doesn't know is that Josh Gardner, the hunky ophthalmologist who moves his office next door to her beauty shop, is part of the deal. A delightful story filled with laughs, small town warmth and delicious kisses is what happens when she tries to avoid the set up. Holly Jacob's amusing, yet tender story will please readers with its fast pace and offbeat humor." ~ Cheryl St.John

"...a sweet story with two determined adults and one beautiful spirited little girl.. Holly Jacobs reveals a truth in her short story: A person can never really run from their problems; they follow wherever you go. Ms. Jacobs will touch your heart as her words flow across the pages, and she will leave you with a warm, comfy feeling even when they stop."
~Romance Reviews Today

"Ms. Jacobs injects humor into a touching sory that shows the true meaning of what love can do for a person..."
~Interludes Magazine

"Holly Jacobs creates lovable, realistic characters--including the unforgettable Pearly Gates--who will win your heart in this sweet tale of second chances!"
~The Buzz

Book, Reviews, Excerpt

EXCERPTSigns of the Times

copyright 2022

"Have you met him?"

"Him who?" Libby McGuiness asked as she measured a section of Mabel's grey hair on the right side against it's counterpart on the left side.

"Your new neighbor," Mabel said, her exasperation evident in her tone.

"No, I haven't met him yet, though I met his receptionist and she seemed nice enough."

"Well, nice isn't the word I'd use to describe Dr. Gardner. Hunk -- now that's a good description."
Libby chuckled. Mabel might be pushing her seventies, but she had the vitality of someone in their twenties. An acupuncturist who vowed never to retire, Mabel was a vital part of the downtown Erie small business community, more than that, she was a friend -- a friend whose main goal in life was finding Libby a man.

"You could use a hunk," Mabel added.

"A hunk of money, that's for sure." Owning her own salon, Snips and Snaps, might be satisfying, but it wasn’t always overly lucrative.

Libby turned the chair a full three hundred and sixty degrees. Satisfied that everything was even and in place, she turned Mabel to the mirror. "What do you think?"

"It's perfect," the older woman said, fluffy her new cut. "But then, it always is when you cut my hair. Maybe you should take a look at your new neighbor. He might be perfect as well."

"I'm glad you think your hair is perfect, and thanks for the suggestion about the doctor, but I'll pass. There may be such a thing as a perfect haircut, but there's no such thing as a perfect man."

Libby whipped off the cape that covered Mabel, and led her to the register. "Do you want to make your next appointment now?"

"You're sure about the doctor? I could introduce you."

Libby chuckled. "I'm absolutely positive."

Mabel sighed. "Do you have any openings for a wash and style before Thanksgiving?"

Libby checked her appointment book. "I can squeeze you in Wednesday at four-thirty. You'll be it for the week."

"You're a dear. All the kids are coming home for the holiday, and Stacy is bringing her new boyfriend, so I want to look my best." She handed Libby and twenty. "And speaking of best, maybe you should do something new with your hair before you meet Dr. Hunk."

"I'm sure I'll meet our new neighbor, but I don't plan on meeting him, if you know what I mean. And I know you know what I mean. I like my hair just the way it is,” she said, fingering her long braid. “And I like my life just the way it is as well. But thanks for the advice."

Libby pulled Mabel's change out of the drawer, but the older woman just waved it away. "You keep it dear. You did a lovely job."

Mabel's matchmaking might be blatant, but it was hard to stay annoyed with such a generous, sweet spirit. "Thanks, Mabel. I'll see you for that wash and style."

"See you then. And think about what I said."

Libby tucked the bills in her pocket. The only thinking she planned on thinking about was Meg's new computer. She'd been saving tips since the beginning of the year for this one special Christmas present. Not just any computer, but something big and fast -- something that would put the world at
her daughter's finger tips.

Meg. Yes, that’s all she was going to think about. Meg and Libby were a team, and they didn’t need any man messing up their lives. So Mabel could just keep her hunk.

Libby glanced at her watch. Just another hour until she was home and with Meg. As much as she loved Snips and Snaps, she loved going home to her daughter even more.

Home? Just how was she supposed to get there, Libby thought an hour later as she eyed the green truck with Ohio plates that was butted up against the bumper of her Neon.

How was she supposed to get out of the parallel parking space with no room to maneuver? The idiot who had parked that truck was clearly encroaching on her parking space. It wasn't her fault that he drove a truck the size of a small tank and had to take up more than his fair share of the parking space.
And look at that -- he had about two feet of free space behind him. Couldn't he at least have given some of it to her?

Libby realized she was mentally referring to her bumper-pusher as a male. Maybe it was sexist, but she'd bet a week's pay it was a guy. A big-truck-driving, thinks-he's-macho, parking-space-hogging man.

Libby glanced nervously at her watch. She was going to be late picking Meg up from the Henderson's. Where was a cop when she needed one? The police station was just across the square. There should be one of Erie's finest somewhere about. This green-truck jerk deserved a ticket.
Better yet, forget the cop, where was a tow truck?

No one was going to ride to her rescue. She'd just have to call the Henderson's and explain she was trapped until the red Jeep in front of her, or the idiot green-truck's driver came out. She hoped it was the truck's driver. She really wanted to give him a piece of her mind, not that she had much to spare, Meg would have added.

Thinking of her daughter's occasional wise-cracks made Libby smile, despite her annoyance. Then a cold gust of wind made her remember why she was annoyed in the first place.

Well, she might have to wait, but she wasn't waiting outside. November's Canadian wind blew off Lake Erie and made things far too cold to do much more than hurry from one warm place to another. She crawled into her Neon and started it, cranking the heat up to the highest setting. She might as well be comfortable while she waited. Hopefully this wouldn't take too long. At five o'clock the city pretty much shut down, so one of the cars would probably be leaving soon.

Just as she reached for her cell phone, she spotted a man coming out of Gardner's Opthomology and headed for the green truck. She jumped from her car. "Hey, you."

The man looked up. He was gorgeous. Drop-dead-drag-your-tongue-on-the-street gorgeous.

"Yes?" he asked with a smile -- a smile that made him even better looking, though it shouldn't be possible.

Good looking or not, Libby’s anger didn’t fade.

"I don't know how you park in Ohio, but here in Pennsylvania we at least give the other person a foot or so to maneuver."

"Really?" he asked blandly.


"I'll keep that in mind." He opened the door and started to climb in.

"That's all? No, I'm sorry. No, I won't let it happen again?"

He sighed and stood beside his open door. "Listen, I've had a very long day and don't need to have some shrew --"


"-- yappying at me because she doesn't know how to parellel park."

"My car was here first. You're the one crawling up my bumper, and yet you have the nerve to say I don't know how to park?"

"Well, I don't know how you do it here in Pennsylvania, but in Ohio we try to come within a foot of the curb."

"I'm within a foot of the curb, heck, I'm practically on the curb. And how close I am to the curb doesn't affect how others park and, more importantly, get out of their parking spaces."

He climbed in the truck. "So maybe next time you should park on the ramp." The door slammed in her face.

Libby knocked on the window, and reluctantly the parking idiot rolled the glass down. "Or, maybe," she said, "next time you should park there when you visit the doctor's."

"That's a heck of a hike to walk to the office every day."

"You need to see the opthomologist every day?" Right. The man didn't have glasses, she'd wager not even contacts. No, Mr. Perfect's eyes were probably twenty-twenty. Who did he think he was fooling?"

"I am the opthomologist."

"Dr. Gardner?" This was Mabel's Dr. Hunk? Well, he might be eye candy, but he certainly left a bitter after-taste.

He nodded. "And you are?"

"Your new neighbor, Libby McGuiness."

"You have an apartment here?" He nodded toward the apartments that topped a number of the square's businesses.

"No, I own Snips and Snaps, the beauty salon right next door to you. And since it appears we'll both be parking here frequently, maybe you should invest in some parking lessons."

"Only if you join me," he said pleasantly.

Libby resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at the man and attempted to sound mature. "Listen, sparring with you hasn't been much of an exercise in wits, since you've only got half yours, but I have to go. If you wouldn't mind moving your truck?"

"And I have to confess, this is the nicest welcome to the neighborhood I've had to date."

A small shot of guilt coursed through her. After all, she might not want to go after Dr. Gardner in a romantic way, but she also didn't want to alienate a neighbor.

Libby's guilt totally evaporated when the parking-failure-doctor shot her a snotty grin. "With manners like yours I'm sure you're in store for even better ones," Libby said before she stormed to her car.
Mabel wanted her to change her hair for hunky Dr. Gardner? Libby slammed the car door shut. The only thing she'd change was her parking space. She had a daughter to pick up and couldn't wait for him to move his truck on a daily basis.

The green truck slip smoothly into the reverse then, with the two feet of free space behind it, angled out of the parking space. Finally able to backup, Libby followed suit. It was time to go home.

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