Elizabeth Owen-Author

Author of fine romance


 


EXCERPT

Without a word he opened the door and pulled her from the car.  He ignored her gasp and dragged her along a sandy dune.  When he stopped her startled breath rasped as he maneuvered her around to sit on a fallen tree, its house-size tangled roots exposed to the sky.

Nancy. 

She refused to look at him directly. 

Damn it, look at me!

He crouched down, his hands gripping gnarled trunk, trapping her.  Whats going on?  Can you tell me that? 

She had no will to challenge him, no answer. 

Talk to me.  This is about more than a few stitches.  More than a boat ride. 

His voice calmed, held more patience when he said, You were hysterical, Nancy.   Then you phoned me to apologize and I phoned back to tell you it was all right but, hell, maybe I should have kept calling until we talked but I thought by today wed be back to where we were before this happened.

He pushed away, distancing himself until she dared a glance, one laced with old fear.  His gaze changed and she knew, instantly, hed seen what was in her heart.  Oh my God!  Nancy!  Are you afraid of me?  Still? 

Her eyes flickered away, stared into the distance. 

You think Im angry about what happened at the hospital?  That I wouldnt understand why you were upset? 

Mildly defiant, she looked back to him but had to clear her throat.  Im not afraid of you.  She wanted that to be true, wanted not to be afraid, ever again.  So much had always scared her, and she was tired of that too, of being afraid.  It isnt you, her voice shook, its me. 

She realized, suddenly, she was staring at the tan flesh of his chest, just where a few dark curls peeked over the ridge of his shirt.  His skin was golden from hours spent working outside, a rich caramel color her fingers longed to touch.  That longing swept through her like thunder but, fighting it, she again raised her eyes. 

The solemn blue of his almost took away her breath.  It wasnt your fault.  I know that.

Tears jammed in her chest and she shook her head, wanting to run, as far as she could, from everything, especially from this mans inconceivable kindness.

Dropping to his knees, J.T. stared at her in disbelief.  Nancy, its not that big a deal.  He popped the button on his back pocket and grabbed a clean tissue, thrusting it into her hand.  Im not angry.

She washed the tissue across her cheeks, jumped up, trying to regain a measure of control.

You dont understand.  Its all piled up again!  I feel as if Im shattering from the inside out.

J.T. stood, reached out, but she avoided his fingers and stepped around him, running to the waters edge.

He came to stand next to her.  Whats piled up, Nancy?

The weighty lump in her chest settled until she was able to speak, but weariness robbed her words of inflection.  All of it.  These past years. 

Nancy closed her eyes, her words unexpectedly released in a steady flow.  Before the accident I thought we were happy.  Hes the center of my life.  Everything is because of Jeff, everything.   I wanted to give him a normal life.  But in one day, one moment, our life crumbled into nothing. 

She sunk to the sand, wrapping her arms across her middle, leaning into the pain as water licked at her knees.  I tried to hold on but it got harder and harder to find my way back.  All those years Jeff was growing up I thought, she looked at J.T. through washed eyes as he knelt beside her, I knew Jeff needed a man in his life, to guide him, teach him things.  Her breath hitched, but it steadied her voice with new air.  I made sure he was in scouting and things where hed be around men who could show him, teach him how to be a man.  Her gaze questioned his, wanting him to understand everything about her life up until theyd met. 

Tears almost choked her, but she pushed on.  Id lie awake at night, praying I was doing the right things for him, praying hed be okay, even without a father.

Her hand reached out to grasp J.T.s and she searched his face, her eyes filling with tears of sorrow at her part in all of this.  Im sorry I doubted your motives with Jeff, but, oh God J.T., mostly Im sorry about Kelly!  For what happened to her, to you.

An anguished sob rocked her and she crumpled into a ball, shaking, hands covering her face.  J.T. he didnt mean it!  You know he didnt mean it!

 

Available now at:  The Wild Rose Press.

 

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