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The Balm of Love ~ Only 99 Ct!

New Balm of Love 3There was maybe an hour of daylight left when Eleanor finally turned onto a stone and dirt road was like a car path through uncut forest.  Finally she pulled up to a guardhouse made of logs with ‘Welcome to Lewis Wilderness Park’ carved in a wooden plank that hung so that it greeted any arrival.

She hoped for her first meeting they didn’t ask her much about Lewis & Clark. She didn’t recall much history from her high school history class.  A tall light brown complected man with a short afro approached her car door.

She lowered her window.  “Hi, I’m Eleanor Lewis. I’m the new employee. I’m to meet with Mr. Murray in about thirty minutes.”

“Welcome to the Wilderness family. I’m Glen,” he said extending his hand through her window.

“Nice to meet you Glen.”

“So, you’re going to continue down this road and take a left where the road forks up ahead. Oh and no need to be nervous, Sean…well Mr. Murray is a cool guy. He will immediately put you at ease. See you later Eleanor.”

Eleanor now smiled a little easier. “Thanks Glen. I appreciate that.”

As he stepped back he smiled and waved her through and she smiled thinking of the friendly sparkle in his brown eyes. She eased the car forward and tried to follow his advice as she took deliberate slow breaths to attempt to calm her heart.

They’d done all the interviews by Skype, so this would be the first time they’d meet in person. They’d been desperate to fill the position and she’d been desperate to start a new life. Hiding out in some wilderness park seemed as different a life she could shoot for. Here, she was certain none of her old crowd would show up  forcing her to suffer sneers from those she’d alienated or looks of pity from those that once considered her a friend.

Soon she drove toward a group of buildings with log paneling on the outside sharing an extended porch embellished with tall rough rafters.  She grabbed only her purse, deciding to retrieve her luggage later.  As she walked up the steps of the porch she could see the first building was a restaurant and bakery with the next being an Outfitter store.

Moments later, she stood before the main lodge building.  She took a deep breath and pushed the door forward stepping into the main lobby, hearing a chirpy greeting which she searched out as her eyes adjusted to the cozy incandescent lighting.

The scent of fresh cut wood hung in the air and she was aware of the whirring sound of an electrical saw accompanied with hammering. Her gaze scanned the lobby which was beautifully decorated in leathers and faux fur textures.

Whatever construction was behind the scenes from where she stood, which was at the front desk before a bubbly, blond woman with a brass pin that read, Belinda who peered at her with clear blue eyes and a contagious smile looking to be no more than nineteen or twenty.

“Welcome to the Lewis Wilderness Park and Camping Lodge. Do you have reservations?” she repeated with no hint of it being the second time she’d asked.

“Hi Belinda. I’m Eleanor Lewis and I have an appointment with Mr. Murray.”

“Oh yes, I was expecting you. He should be ready to meet with you in about ten more minutes. Can I get you a beverage or cup of coffee in the meanwhile?”

“Some water would be great.”

“I’ll get that right away. Feel free to have a seat.”

Eleanor turned and after scanning the spacious lobby filled with various casual seating groups, decided to walk toward the chocolate colored leather club chairs beside one of the lit fireplaces. She was glad the lobby was empty. She didn’t want the added pressure of making small talk with a stranger.

Soon, she was sipping from a bottle of water trying to calm her frenzied mind and shrug off some of the traveling weariness. There was distraction in the quaint beauty of the room made cozy by warm colors and textile carpets that scattered across the stone tile floors and hung on some of the log paneled walls complimented by two huge stone fireplaces at opposite sides of the lobby.

“Mr. Murray will see you now,” Belinda said suddenly  beside her, startling her from her wandering thoughts.

Elaine stood up and took a deep breath as she followed the petite woman across the tiled floors to a discreet stairway tucked beneath a curved wall. Plush carpet met her foot fall and soon she was in a lavishly decorated office, reflecting a constrained passion for the Safari lifestyle.

She immediately recognized the aged Scottish man with shining dark eyes and plump cheeks that she’d been corresponding with over the past few weeks and smiled as she thrust her hand into his extended one. It felt like she was meeting an old friend.

“I’m so glad to finally meet you in person, Eleanor! Did you have a hard time traveling through the snow storm last night or were you already in town?”

Sean Murray had a slight trilling of his Rs despite the nearly thirty years of living in the States.  Eleanor had come to love hearing him speak.  “No, I was still a few hours away, but safely ensconced for the night.”

“Wonderful, wonderful well please have a seat. We are so happy you were available this weekend. There is a small investor group that will be arriving on Friday. They are interested in seeing some of the package tours that this lodge offers and as you can see there is a race to finish up the last of the construction projects on the main floor—only two days away mind you.”

“Well, as I’ve already expressed Mr. Murray, I am eager to jump in and get us completed by deadline if not before. I’ve been reassured even since arriving how kind you are, so I am thrilled to be working for you.”

She watched the once jovial expression on the man suddenly falter, his mouth now twisting to the side as his wiry eyebrows slash in lines pointing toward his nose.

“Did I say something wrong?” Eleanor inquired quickly.

“No, I think that somewhere along the line I have mis-communicated to you. I am not your boss. I merely handle the HR business. No my dear, your boss, well our boss… well here he is now.”

Eleanor watched as Sean Murray gestured with his hand even as he lifted his gaze beyond her.

She on the other hand was caught off guard by a subtle and yet familiar cologne that she’d only known one person to wear.  No! It couldn’t be. Could it?

“Mr. Lewis, I’m so glad that you will finally meet our new employee, Eleanor Lewis.  I thought it funny that you two shared the same last name. Don’t you?”

Eleanor turned so quick she thought her neck would suffer whiplash. “Oh no!”

“You.” He managed between gritted teeth.

Eleanor stood from the wing chair she’d been seated, even as she continued to grasp tightly to it for fear her jelly legs would collapse beneath her.

She stared into the clear brown eyes of the man who’d stolen her heart when she had only been a girl and dropped her gaze in haste.  She was too afraid to decipher what she might read there—most likely the truth about her, about the person she’d been but from whom she was trying to evolve. But he didn’t know that, nor would he believe it.

Still too afraid to meet his gaze, she instead took in his navy cashmere sweater and button-down striped shirt collar that revealed sparse hairs peeping from the top. His wide shoulders reminded her of how she once felt incredibly safe tucked within his strong arms.

Even standing still, his swagger was as she remembered, except somehow more charismatic.

Intensity bounced off him in waves and she knew she was the lightning rod for much of it.

He appeared calm, his hand casually tucked in the pant pocket of a pair of khaki pants, yet the tic in his jaw something only those who knew him well enough to look for, told the story.

Finally, her gaze lifted and she was slammed with his gaze, the ferocity of too many emotions, all focused directly at her. Sweat beaded on her forehead even as her heart did a frenzied canter within her chest.

“I can’t believe it,” she whispered. “It’s really you. This wasn’t the way I wanted us to meet again.”

The tension was thick as the HR manager’s eyes pivoted between the two of them. “Do you …know each other?”

“Actually Sean, you have managed to successfully hire my soon to be ex-wife, that is if the judge could ever sign and discharge the papers,” Terry said while he moved quickly, his long legs crossing the room in only a few strides.

In seconds he was a breath away from her. “Do you never do anything on the up and up? What are you doing here?”

______________

Can two people who’ve hurt one another manage to fall in love again? Check out my latest in the Serenity Inn Series. Tap into the joy, heartbreak and healing love of Lindsay, Chad, Eleanor and Terrance for only 99 ct for a short time!

The Balm of Love ~ Serenity Inn Series ~Book 3

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The Balm of Love Among USA Today Must-read Romances

I’m a little late in sharing this… I’m so happy to say that I was featured among the USA Today Recommended Must-read Romances once again!

The Balm of Love Cover c

Michelle Monkou says:

“Why you should read it: The dramatic saga of these friends and family around the Serenity Inn series continues with The Balm of Love. This time, Eleanor and Terry are face-to-face in an expected situation that provides the perfect opportunity for reflection on the verge of their divorce.

Nikki Walker turns the spotlight on each couple as they continue to face trials that test their faith and commitment. And when the trials rain down, the storm seems never-ending. Faith and persistence carry them through the darkness, and vulnerabilities are laid bare for judgment but also for forgiveness. Walker ensures there are lessons to be learned and valued in The Balm of Love.”

I’m so appreciative to be mentioned among these other wonderful writers.

 

Excerpt:

Pangs of the Heart

Terrance sat on the side of his bed and held his head in his hands. He didn’t know how he’d made it through the rest of the work day, but he had somehow. Leaning against his headboard of bed pillows, he closed his weary eyes. Maybe a drink would stop his heart from feeling like little hammers rapping on his ribs.

The downside was that it could be a drink that wouldn’t stop. For nearly three months after he’d split with Eleanor, he had hidden in a bottle.  It had gotten worse after his brother had moved to Virginia. The idea of building a wilderness lodge was borne of him taking a trip with his brother, sleeping out under the stars as they had once as children with their father.

That was when Chad had proposed that he do something similar. He’d initially balked at the idea. But after a few days of being in nature he felt reborn. It was as if his mind and heart began to focus again and he felt himself feel like he could breathe and possibly start a life again—without Eleanor.

He didn’t know what kind of set up he’d wanted as he and his brother bashed ideas around but he was sure it wouldn’t have the bed and breakfast feel that Lindsay and Chad were doing. No, it would be challenging like the week they’d spent, but with packages made according to camping skills. Some could have cabins and cottages while others could hike and use tents. Some packages could appeal to families while others would be made to appeal to companies who wanted to do group bonding.

With his brother and father as  backers he took steps to make it happen and two years later the park had exceeded his expectations. It turned out that the project had been just what he needed to distract him from the heartache that had begun tearing at him from the moment he’d walked in on Eleanor trying to seduce his brother.

Even though he’d known Chad had done nothing to encourage the attraction it had taken everything in him not to beat on his brother that night. Instead, he placed the blame where it belonged, squarely on his wife. That night he’d thrown her out of Chad’s house where they’d been living at the time.

It had been bad enough to go through something like that among family, but Lindsay, Chad’s then fiancé had visited along with the family friend Cook. All had become a witness to the most horrific moment in Terry’s life. Sad to say, he knew none of them were any more surprised at the outcome of the evening than he was.

Trying to figure out where he’d gone wrong in their marriage had nearly killed him. His mind would replay pivotal moments in time between him and Eleanor all leading up to when their marriage hit the wall.

After some therapy and self-reasoning he realized he had to simply let it go or he would self-destruct and destroy his relationship with his brother as well. Trust was a precious thing.

Despite his jealousy, he decided to take the gamble on his brother. He hadn’t regretted it. Chad wouldn’t let him because he could see in his brother’s eyes the regret he had being part of the most painful thing to happen to him. That pain that glanced from his eyes at first sight, each time they reunited made him want to hate Eleanor afresh.

She’d put something between them that he wondered would ever go away, and for what? So it was strange to discover earlier that of all the complicated feelings which whirled within him for her—that none of them were hate.

Still, now that she was here working for him, he would make her pay for all the pain she’d caused if it was the last thing that he did.

___________

If  you haven’t, please pick up the latest in the Serenity Series which reads as a complete story stand-alone as well.  But if you’d like to get caught up, check out the following links:

 

Her Guy-Friday New Cover Her Guy-Friday~Serenity Inn Series ~ Book 1 (June 2014)

Lindsay Morgan, the B & B Innkeeper has many secrets–starting with the domestic abuse that she endured in her marriage, which ends when her husband Warren is killed. But how does he die? Is it the result of her gunshots in self-defense, in the line of duty or is it the incompetent surgeon?

When Dr. Chad Lewis ends up at the B&B seeking peace and forgiveness, will the Serenity Inn live up to its name and offer two wounded souls the serenity that they desperately desire?  What will the future hold for these two, when Lindsay and Chad realize that their past is intertwined?  1-Click to Check into the Serenity Inn~ Her Guy-Friday!

Love Embraced New Cover

Love Embraced~Serenity Inn Series ~Book 2  (Sept.2014)

 When Lindsay and Chad met at Serenity Inn, there was immediate chemistry, but the timing for love was all wrong in the face of what they’d both just gone through. They decide to go their separate ways, but they keep in touch. Now the two have agreed to meet, this time on Dr. Chad’s luxurious home turf, with the feisty Cook along for the ride. The couple find that they not only still have feelings for each other, but those feelings have grown as though they’d never spent time apart. Their elation is short-lived; however, as they realize that with their burgeoning love comes a new challenge: Chad’s sister-in-law, Eleanor, who makes it abundantly clear that Lindsay is beneath Chad’s station in life. Is Eleanor’s assessment valid or does she have an ulterior motive for tearing Lindsay down?

While Chad deals with Lindsay’s unstable feelings, Walter, who has stepped into Chad’s shoes back at Serenity Inn has had his eye on Elaine for a while. She’s distrustful and secretive, but he still feels drawn to her. She pulls on the protector in him. When she finally begins to open up to him, her past comes crashing into her present and is laid bare right at Walter’s feet.  Will Walter continue to pursue Elaine, even in the face of her ugly past, which could put them all in danger and disturb their serenity? 1-Click to Check In!        

Excerpt from New Release, The Balm of Love!

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?”

“Yeah but—“

“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.”   eleanor 2 good serenity 3b promo 2

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!

An Excerpt from The Balm of Love…

 

Serenity Inn 3 New Cover Promo

 

An hour later, Lindsay was smiling as Chad pushed her wheelchair out into the hallway. She’d been set free from one prison, getting home would determine what her privileges would be.  She sighed, one battle at a time.

He placed his hands beneath her legs to lift her into the Serenity Inn van that they used to transport guests.  As he leaned in, she cradled his face between her hands and brushed her lips against his.

His gaze met hers and he began to probe deeper. His heartbeat sped up and in that moment he knew it just wasn’t possible to love someone more than he loved her.

Everything about Lindsey made him want to be a better man brewing within him a strong belief that what they felt now was only the beginning of what it would be. These were the emotions he sought to convey to her with caress of his lips against hers.  They finally pulled apart and smiled at each other as they rested their foreheads against the others.

“It’s almost like old times, isn’t it?” she whispered thinking of life before pregnancy… when they would sneak into the van for intense but restrained make-out sessions.  Life before she learned pregnancy wasn’t going to be the romantic notion she’d always envisioned.

His eyes gentled.  “Linds, it will always be that way between us babe. But for now, I just want to make sure that you and our baby will be safe.”

“I know sweetheart, but if I stay one more day in that hospital, I’ll go crazy.  I have to be around my family home—at Serenity.  I need to know what is going on.”

“Listen, you have a crew at the house that you’ve trained very well. They love you and know how important their jobs are.  They want what’s best for you and our baby, too–”

Lindsey placed her finger against his lips.  “I don’t care. I need to be there. You of all people should understand that.” Dropping her finger she looked away from him as frustration began to build within her.

Chad gently grasped her chin. “If I didn’t understand that, I wouldn’t have allowed them to release you two days early. Where do you think we’re going? Huh?” he asked as he began to tickle her. As she pulled away from him giggling, he swatted her hip.

“Always gotta be so dramatic!” he fussed, humor playing in his eyes just before he carefully closed her door.

Tears lined his bottom lids. He whisked them away with a finger and shook his head.  He never thought he could feel like this about anyone, but Lindsay renewed his loved from day to day. Even when they didn’t agree, one look into her chocolate-brown eyes had him melting before long.

“And when we get home,” he continued as he slid beneath the steering wheel, “don’t think you’re off bedrest. In fact, I want some alone time with you. I need to hold you and put in some serious tummy talk time. My baby boy probably has forgotten my voice by now.”

“Oh please as if you would be quiet enough for that to happen,” she teased.

Chad chuckled, nodding.  He spared her a look and thought how hard it would be not to make love to his beautiful wife. He started the engine and then reached out to touch an escaped tendril of hair.

Their eyes met and for just a second nothing else existed. He missed her. Missed connecting with her, being one with her. Walking and talking with her on their days off—all the things that the sickness seemed to have curtailed.  He would never be able to get enough of his wife and there wasn’t a night he didn’t say a thankful prayer for her.

His eyes took in the shadows beneath her eyes and the gaunt, narrowing of her face.  She looked so fragile.  The pregnancy was really taking its toll. Whereas at first it opened up a freedom they hadn’t realized they’d not yet explored, the sickness began to tamper the activity they’d once enjoyed with passion and frequency. He ran his finger gently down her cheek before he turned from her and pulled out into traffic.

He felt her hand on his knee and he smiled at her as they got the green light.  His heartbeat quickened at her touch and he decided at the very next red light he was gonna steal a kiss from her succulent cherry lips, particularly the one she was worrying with her teeth.

He turned onto the next road and then heard Lindsay scream just before he felt the impact of something that sent them into a spin.  Chad tried to fight against the centrifugal force that held him in place away from where he sought, which was to protect Lindsay and their baby.

Her eyes were closed and a thin gash oozed blood on her forehead which the crack on the windshield explained.   His heart clutched as he saw them nearing the opposite side of the mountain road and he prayed they would stop hurtling before over the side.

Suddenly everything stilled. Chad was afraid to move. Where were they in respect to the edge? He unsnapped his seat belt and eased toward Lindsay. He touched her neck seeking the rhythm of her heartbeat along her carotid artery.  Slowly he let out the breath he hadn’t been aware that he’d been holding. There was a steady beat.

He was afraid to slide out of the truck away from her, even for the moment it would take to run around to the other side to free her. He felt for his cellphone and was grateful it had remained in his shirt pocket, removing it he made the 9-1-1 call. Just as he ended it the pungent odor of gas wafted toward him and now his heart began to bang against his ribs. What should he do?  The dispatch had assured him help was on the way and based on Lindsay’s condition advised them to wait, but now with new circumstances he had to make a decision.

Slowly, he opened his door and sighed with relief to see solid earth beneath them on his side. But as he moved, he could feel and hear dirt dislodging and falling down the mountain. He froze in place, even as his heart tap danced against his ribcage and he fought to control his breathing so he could think as he realized the front of the truck on her side must be over the edge.

Chad leaned more over to his side, hoping his weight could counter the weight of hers.  The van steadied but he knew it might only be a brief reprieve. A sooty scent and veil of smoke, permeating the air grabbed his attention.

Recognizing it was probably the result of the friction-burned tires and that it wouldn’t take much for the SUV to catch fire forced his hand. Deftly he unclasped her seat-belt before his hand grasped her arm and waist with all the power he could muster.

He snatched her across the seat, cradled her in his arms and ran, only just managing to slide in the ditch across the road as fire completely engulfed the SUV before it exploded causing the ground to rock all around them as it plunged over the side.

Just for a moment his eyes closed sending up a prayer of thanks as he continued to hold her against him. Suddenly, he went into doctor mode, barely conscious of the stinging scrapes on his arms and face as he lifted her out of the ditch and laid her flat before he checked her vitals.

 

Taking his jacket off, he covered the asphalt beneath her upper body. Her eyes were still closed but her pulse was good. He scanned the mountain road listening for the sirens of the ambulance that was supposed to be on the way.  But wait a minute. Where was the other vehicle? Had it driven away or—

Leaving, Chad went to the edge where their vehicle had gone over and peered down. Sure enough a sixteen wheeler had begun its descent down the side of the mountain before thick brush stopped it. He could see a man lying a few yards down on a ledge. Chad wondered if he’d managed to jump or if he’d been flung from the vehicle on its way down.

Looking around him, his heart sank in dismay. There was no way he could help the man, not with Lindsay laying on the road. He turned back toward Lindsay and helplessly again down as he searched to see if he was moving.

The sounds he’d been waiting for filled the air and finally he could see the ambulance crest the hill and then move toward them. He looked down the mountain just in time to see the truck restart its descent downward.  Before he could move, he was knocked flat.

 

 

The faces of the EMT’s were swimming in and out of his vision before him, one shining a flash light while he felt the soft fingers of another checking his vitals. He watched a sandy blond man’s mouth move, but he couldn’t make out what he was saying.  Chad wasn’t really interested. Did they get to Lindsay? Do they know about the man on the ledge? He wondered why he couldn’t stand up. Though that didn’t keep him from trying. The image of the truck rolling replayed in his mind. The truck must have blown up.

He felt hands gently attempt to restrain him from moving as a gurney was set beside him. Still, his eyes searched. Where was she? He should have never left her side. What kind of husband leaves his wife on the side of the road? What if they hadn’t seen her and drove over her? Panic filled his chest, his breath started to come in short pants.

As if reading his mind, he was now face to face with Soft Hands which belonged to a brunette woman who was smiling at him, her violet eyes gentle with compassion. “Sir, we have her. You can relax. Take deep breaths, you’re in danger of hyperventilating.”

The sandy haired Tech looked beyond him, “Give him a shot, Josie before he hurts himself or us trying to get up from here.” He then rested his hand on Chad’s shoulder and looked him in the eye, “Is it your wife?” Without waiting for confirmation he continued, “You’re about to see her in just a moment.  You both are being airlifted to the nearest hospital, okay? Blink twice if you understand me.”

Chad tried to lift and lower his lids in quick succession but found his lids didn’t want to lift again. They found Lindsay. That was his last thought. He exhaled, before darkness embraced him.

 

If you haven’t checked in to the Serenity Inn Series, catch up with

Her Guy-Friday Book 1 &  Love Embraced Book 2

 

Great Multi-Cultural Read for only $1!

She felt stupid as a warm tear slid down her face. Darn!  She reached for a paper towel as she tried to stifle a sob.

“Are you okay?” The accented voice came from behind her.

She jumped, startled by the sound.  She had forgotten she wasn’t alone in the house.  She rushed to recover enough to respond, but it wasn’t easy to stifle the pain from her memories.  She felt strong arms envelope her.

“Shhh, what’s wrong, London?”

It was the first time that she’d heard him actually say her name and the thrill that danced along her spine was purely involuntary.  She couldn’t explain why she turned into his shoulder.  She only knew in that moment it was where she needed to be.  The tears came easily and the ache from her heart, though surprising, lamented things she hadn’t thought of in years.  And there was no doubt the house, Edwina and Gianni’s aunt’s house had led to it.

Suddenly, she pushed against his chest.  It was only then that she realized it was bare.  Her hands had come in contact with the fine hair that sprinkled across it.  She felt heat begin to creep up her face.

“I uh, I’m so sorry that you, um had to see me like this.  I was just remembering something.  But I’m better now.  Thanks,” she gushed.

“I’m so sorry that you are feeling such heartache.  Is it a man?”

“A…man?  Um, no.  Definitely not.  No, it was a childhood memory.  And anyway, it doesn’t matter now.”  She turned away from him and went to flip on the kitchen light.  She was immediately regretful.  He stood before her in navy pajamas pants and nothing else.  Bare chested and bare foot, he was the epitome of sexiness.  She slowly let her eyes travel up his body until they connected with his brooding ones.  Her heart skipped a beat and she swallowed.  Did he notice that?  She wondered before she concluded Stevie Wonder could probably have seen and heard that swallow.

“Well I guess I’d better turn in,” she said finally.

“Really?” He tilted his head while he smoothed his fingers over his chin.

Really what?”

“I guess I never figured you to be so skittish a woman.

She looked down at the floor, the corners of her mouth lifting against her wishes.  “Wow! I’ve never been called skittish before.”

“Maybe you’ve never met a man like me before?”  He walked slowly toward her and it took everything in her not to step back.

She jutted her chin forward and glared. “Maybe I’m not running.  Maybe I just choose to walk away.  It could be you’re not my type. Has that not occurred to you?”

“Nope.”

“Nope.  You’re awfully good at throwing out these one word replies.”

“There are a few things in this life that…I am, let’s say, a connoisseur of—women is one of those.  I am very familiar with women.  I notice everything about them.  The way the eyes soften with attraction.  The way the pulse leaps on the side of the neck.  The soft …feminine scent that is un-de-ni-able.”

She wondered if he meant to drag that last word out like that or if it was his accent playing against the vowels.  In any event, she couldn’t deny it was having an effect on her and the last thing she was going to do was concede in this moment to him.

“I think someone is having delusions of grandeur.  However, I am exhausted and don’t have time to stand here and continue to debate this with you.  Be sure to get the lights on the way out.”  She retorted as she slid past him and forced her gait into a slow and deliberate one.  She restrained the impulse turn to look over her shoulder.  But she didn’t have to.  She could feel his gaze on her like the caress of an old lover.

1-Click Loving Gianni! 😀