This story opens with a more humbled Eleanor. She has lost much since the last the last Serenity Inn installment and this loss has humbled her quite a bit. In fact, her humility brings her to the door step of Serenity Inn to see Lindsay who has since married Chad and is expecting their first child.
What happens next sets the stage for some twists and turns in the lives of not only Eleanor and Terrance but Lindsay& Chad as well.
Put your seat-belts on and get ready to check into more drama as it unfolds in The Balm of Love~ Serenity Inn 3.
“Tell me, do you think the hike was too strenuous?” His whiskey colored eyes pinned hers and Eleanor found swallowing her food difficult.
“I don’t think I’m the best person to ask. I haven’t hiked in years, so for me it was challenging. Could it have caused Barrett’s heart attack, probably not. These things are usually by-products of a lifestyle. I’m sure it could have happened at any time.”
“Why didn’t you say something when you needed to stop?”
Eleanor continued quietly as she moved food around her plate. Why didn’t she say something? Is he kidding? Sighing she lowered her shoulders. “ I didn’t want to show weakness. I couldn’t appear as if I wasn’t up to it. I mean wasn’t this a test for me?” She shook her head from side to side. “No I had to prove to you that I could do it. If I had complained—well I might as well have been prepared to resign.”
“Are you serious?”
“I’m dead serious,” she said leveling her gaze back at him. “You should just admit it. You clearly said as much just after the helicopter left that I needed to finish this. Remember?”
“But what? You said I had to decide here and now what I wanted. I mean Barrett had just been taken away. I was devastated with worry. But you were dead set on finishing this hike.” She shrugged. “So that’s what we did.”
Terry looked away. He had said that. Had he been so bent on seeing what Eleanor was made of that he missed early signals of distress in Barrett?
“Do you think I might have missed something? Maybe I could have helped him sooner.” Terry continued his voice low and flat.
Eleanor took a moment to study him. It was evident he was suffering. His eyes were on his plate. But it didn’t take long for her to respond.
“No. He seemed fine right up to the time you asked him to sit down. In fact they’d been laughing and talking just before.”
Terry seemed to mull her words over. “It’s just that I’d hate to think—“
“Look you have to stop second guessing yourself. You know you’re always careful in everything you do. You’ve been careful your whole life. It’s why this Wildlife Park is so perfect.” Her hand reached across the table impulsively grasping his. “Trust me, you did everything right.”
Their eyes fused. He searched hers wanting to believe the truth that shined back at him. He could almost trust what he was seeing. Slowly he pulled his hand away just as he dropped his eyes. “Thanks Eleanor.”
He slid his chair back and gathered the dishes. “You can leave your dishes. I’ll get them. We have to get an early start in the morning so you probably should go ahead and turn in.”
He turned away from her and headed into the kitchen.
“No, I can help,” she insisted picking up the remaining dishes from the table.
Terry took a deep breath and faced her. “The truth is I really would just like to do this alone. I need to think things over.”
Eleanor frowned as she opened the dishwasher and began to load it. “Terry why did you hire me when you’re going to insist on pushing me away. I mean it’s not exactly something you can do with someone in the position you hired me in.”
Terry turned away from her eyes that were full of questions. Questions she had no right to ask him. Questions he didn’t feel the need to answer—wasn’t ready to answer. Yet he could feel her still staring into his back. Waiting. It wasn’t like he could say he hired her to punish her. Besides it was so much more complicated than that.
“Let’s just drop it, Eleanor. Go to bed.” He took a dishcloth and began to wipe down the counters and the stove listening for her departure.
“Listen, I’ve waited to say this for a long time, and I can’t wait any longer. I’m sorry Terry. I’m so sorry for everythingthat happened.”
Terry gripped the counter and closed his eyes. Why didn’t she just leave?
“There probably won’t be another opportunity for us to get this out in the open, Terry.”
Eleanor rushed around to stand in front of him and grasped his arms. “Please Terry open your eyes and look at me. Can’t you see that I’ve changed? I’m striving everyday to be a better person.”
Terry clenched his jaw and moved away from her. As he walked toward the kitchen entry he slammed his hand into the wall. “Why couldn’t you just for once do as I asked? Why did you insist on pulling the scab off the wound I spent the last couple of two years trying to heal? You should have just let it be Eleanor.”
Eleanor dropped her head as tears gathered in her eyes. Her lashes tried to hold them at bay but failed.
“I guess I just needed you to hear my apology outloud. I…I needed to say it Terry because the idea of you not knowing how much I regret betraying you—“
“I don’t want to hear it! Can’t you get that through your head?” He turned and stared at her with eyes she could only describe as haunted. Fear clutched at her heart as she watched the contorted face of grief and something else she couldn’t quite grasp. What had she done? She backed up for every stalking step that he took toward her until the sink hindered her retreat.
“I don’t care how sorry you feel,” he growled. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve changed. You broke everything in me and there are no words you can say that can change that. You took everything inside me that was good and trusting. You destroyed it on a childish whim— just to see if you could! I can barely stand to look at you. Do you understand that?”
Get caught up in the rest of this second chance drama, The Balm of Love, the 3rd installment of the Serenity Inn Series!