Due to early mistakes (he was in Moon Dust), Judd has had a special feeling for second chances and found his life work giving it to animals. He supports his center by being a trucker. He's become the kind of man a woman could fall in love with not only for what he looks like but his ethics-- unless that woman isn't fond of the idea that he takes on everybody else's problems.
Lifting the boxes, stowing one after another into his truck, Judd tried not to think about the week he'd endured. TGFF had never had so much meaning. After the beauty of Barrett, her home, her soft body, he'd gone back to Second Chance to find Barry running a fever, a fever that rose to dangerous levels despite the antibiotics the doctor had immediately prescribed.
Judd had taken care of his friend as best he could, but the animals were demanding of his time, another hawk had come in, this one too disabled to save, and he'd been offered two shipping jobs that conflicted, causing one of his regular clients to become irate enough to threaten finding another trucker. When he'd thought the week couldn't get worse, his sister had shown up, reading him the riot act about his ignorance in not filing charges against his father.
At this point, he couldn't have done so if he'd wanted, he'd destroyed any possible evidence as soon as it had come to him. He tried to explain that to Teresa, but it only caused her to break out in tears, something that always leveled him.
Judd had taken off his shirt as he worked; the sweat rolled down his torso as he thought about his father. Teresa was probably right. He should have gone to the police with the letters. His lingering distrust of the police, pride, and that constant need to do what he could to fix things had kept him from it. Now he would have to face the consequences.
There were a lot of consequences waiting in the dark for their chance to get payback, but he usually prevented himself from thinking of those. In the past. He’d made amends. It never seemed to totally wash the dark feelings away.
He wondered, as he had more than once throughout the week, about Barrett. Was he on her mind the way she was on his? It didn't seem likely. She had so much going for her--beauty, brains, money, position. What would she need with a guy barely making ends meet, with more mouths to feed than made sense, with a past like his, and a future potentially filled with problems? Maybe in a few years.
That was stupid talk. Nothing would have changed in a few years. He was smart enough about women to know she was attracted to him. He also knew for a woman like her, raising a daughter, that wouldn't be enough. Even if he'd let himself think he had a chance with her, her ex-husband would make the whole thing too risky.
Stowing the last box in his truck, he handed the shipping list to the clerk and got it signed. "You get that there before six," the little guy repeated for the seventh time. Judd shouldn't have been counting, but he had been.
"That's only an hour off," he said irritatedly. "You should have had this load ready for me when I got here, if you wanted it there today."
"It's gotta be there before six," the man repeated. Judd looked at his watch, debating the traffic he knew he'd have to fight, recognizing his own desire to see his truck unloaded, and said, "I can't guarantee it, but I'll try."
"There's a penalty clause."
"Yeah, and it should've been invoked when you didn't have everything ready for me," Judd retorted. The little man shook his head. "All right. Do the best you can."