Hallie, an unmarried, successful businesswoman, is 29. On January 1st she gets out her year planner and realizes that she would like to have a family. Her father is recently deceased; her mother is taking art classes and learning to be a widow. Her younger sister, Julie, is happily married and has a new baby. Holding her niece, it becomes clear that Hallie would like to have a family of her own.
Hallie watches a new neighbor's affects arrive, unloaded by a crew of able-bodied men, while she struggles through the last minute of her exercise routine on her treadmill. The truck beside the moving van has a license plate that reads "Big Truck, Big Tools;" nothing could be farther from her ideal of the perfect man. Her friend, Donnalee, tries to persuade Hallie to join a dating service, but Hallie resists. After two blind dates -- after each of which she has to borrow cab fare from her handsome new neighbor -- she enrolls in the service. In spite of careful screening, she still has bad luck with her efforts -- including one jealous man the new neighbor helps her throw out.
The new neighbor, Steve Marris, is newly divorced; he is still very much in love with his ex-wife. He and Hallie meet because his two children, who visit him on the weekend, adopt Hallie. They slowly become friends, as he asks her to stand in for a bowling partner who can't make a game and invites her our for pizza to keep from sitting alone while the children play video games. He creates an impromptu birthday celebration when he realizes she is alone for her 30th birthday; she tries to comfort him when his ex-wife remarries.
Donnalee hasn't had any better luck, in spite of the dating service, with her romantic involvements. In an effort to help both her friends, Hallie sets up a double date with Donnalee, Steve and Steve's friend, Todd. Within minutes of meeting for the date, Donnalee and Todd realize that they had just missed dating in high school, and before the evening is out they are so deeply involved that Steve gives Todd the keys to the truck. He and Hallie are left with each other; beginning on that night, they begin to notice each other as something more than just friends and neighbors.
Clouds on the Horizon
Hallie cooks a special dinner for Steve and creates a romantic atmosphere for the two of them. They've just decided to skip coffee when Steve's daughter calls; something is wrong with Mary Lynn, Steve's ex-wife. Reluctantly, Steve drives to Mary Lynn's house to diagnose the problem. He holds Mary Lynn while she sobs out her woes, and exhausted, falls asleep beside her. Hallie, furious, declares they are finished and puts her house up for sale. Steve is devastated. His children miss Hallie. Will he be able to patch this up, or will Hallie disappear from his life forever?
- "This Matter of Marriage";Debbie Macomber;1997
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