Woman's World

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Josh didn’t think he would ever love again . . . but his daughter’s lucky charm changed all that!

- —Elizabeth Palmer

It was supposed to be a haircut. Quick and uncomplica­ted. But Allison was out sick, and Serena-with-the-beautifuls­mile was filling in for her, massaging his scalp with greenpolis­hed fingertips, and it felt so good. Too good. Perhaps sensing his discomfort, she picked up her scissors and started snipping.

At his last visit, Allison, noticing his frequent glances at her co-worker, had whispered in his ear that Serena Daniels was single. He just smiled and shook his head. He wasn’t ready to date. Their gaze met in the mirror. Serena’s blue eyes made his heart rate accelerate, either from excitement or from fear.

“So, Josh Mcglynn,” she said, emphasizin­g his Irish surname, “are you going to the St. Paddy’s Day parade tomorrow?”

Serena’s blue eyes made his heart rate accelerate

If he were ready to date, this would be the perfect opportunit­y to ask her out. Everyone said Jennifer would want him to move on, but he wasn’t so sure. She’d only told him she’d be looking out for him—and for Erin.

“I’m taking my daughter,” he told Serena. “She loves parades.” That wasn’t strictly true, but he hoped she would again someday. He showed her Erin’s kindergart­en picture on his phone.

“She’s a cutie,” Serena said. “I’ll be there with friends. Maybe I’ll run in to the two of you.”

The blast of the blowdryer ended the conversati­on, but Josh wondered if one of those “friends” was a potential boyfriend. Someone like Serena wouldn’t stay single for long.

As Josh expected, Erin remembered the crowds the previous year and was nervous the next morning. “What if I get lost, Daddy?”

“If you’d like, you can wear Mommy’s lucky charm.”

Her expression brightened. She ran to her bedroom to fetch Jennifer’s jewelry box. “I know it’s lucky because Mommy told me she was wearing it the day she met you.”

Josh smiled as he fastened the shamrock pendant, making a mental note to replace the flimsy chain before she wore it again. “Now it’s Erin’s lucky charm.” Even with the charm to protect her, Erin clutched Josh’s hand— until the firemen tossed candy into the crowd, and she needed both hands free to scoop it up. Which is what she was doing when his old pal Chuck greeted him, reaching out to shake hands and introduce his wife and baby.

“This is my daughter, Erin,” he said, looking down to his right. But she wasn’t there. He yelled her name. Looked around franticall­y. He knew she wouldn’t hear him with the marching band passing by, but he kept calling, not sure what else to do. After the band passed, he heard an answer to his call, but it wasn’t the one he was expecting. “Josh!” called a female voice. “Josh, we’re over here!”

The crowd parted enough for him to see Erin down the street, holding the hand of a beautiful woman with a green streak in her dark red hair— Serena Daniels. He dashed over to them.

“My necklace broke, Daddy,” Erin said, as she jumped into Josh’s arms. “I bent down to get it, but someone’s foot kicked it away. The nice lady picked it up, but then we couldn’t find you.”

Although he was still shaken, Josh beamed at Serena over Erin’s head as she held out the necklace, and he slipped it into his pocket.

“I know this nice lady.” He set Erin back on her feet but held tightly to her hand. “Serena’s my . . . friend.” Her smile told him she approved of his descriptio­n.

With her free hand, Erin reached for Serena’s, which pulled the three of them close together. “Look, Daddy, she has a necklace just like mine.”

A green shamrock on a gold chain nestled in the hollow at the base of Serena’s neck, which was turning, like the rest of her, a pretty shade of pink.

She laughed. “I happened to look down, and when I saw Erin’s necklace, I thought it was mine. I’m just glad I was able to help.”

“Maybe Serena can watch the rest of the parade with us.” Erin tugged on Serena’s hand, bringing her down to her level. “And would you like to have lunch with us? We’re going out for green pancakes!”

Serena looked at Josh, a question in her eyes.

“She’s here with friends, honey. I’m sure she already has plans.”

“My friends went in search of green beer, but green pancakes sound like a better plan to me.”

“My charm brought us good luck today, didn’t it, Daddy?”

Josh picked Erin back up into his arms. “It certainly did,” he said, giving Serena a smile. “Now let’s go get those green pancakes so we can all get better acquainted!”

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