Catherine Killean is a woman on a mission. When her new husband disappears, leaving a suicide note, she is determined to find out why. She follows his tracks first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to Maine. Along the way, she meets the tall, dark, gruff Holden Taggart, a Maine guide.
In her doubt and loneliness she is drawn to Holden, leaving her confused and adrift. What will happen when her questions about Jonathan are finally answered? Will old loyalty or new love triumph?
I Heart Book Publishing, June 6, 2016
Ebook: words; Print: 227 p.
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Excerpt (PG): Fireworks Above and Below
The sky was still that queerish gray of autumn in the high north, but they could see clouds racing across it, forming castles or pretending to be mountains, alternately obscuring and liberating the moon. At the pier they piled into a van and headed toward the noise.
Franz called from the front of the bus, “Rockwood is actually quite small. The population waxes and wanes with the seasons, but there are never more than a thousand people in residence now that the timber industry has bypassed us.”
Sarah craned her neck out the window. “It looks as though the entire village is outside tonight.”
Holden pointed at the British, Canadian, and American flags flying from every lamp post. “Guy Fawkes Day is Rockwood’s favorite holiday.”
Franz laughed. “Probably because three-quarters of its citizens hail from across the border.”
Ivy pointed at a fat man dressed as Uncle Sam. “They don’t seem too picky about historical consistency.”
Leo nodded. “At any rate, they sure go all out.”
As Franz let them off and went to park the van, a band marched past, playing Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. The crowd cheered. Al hacked and spat tobacco juice. “Do they all have to be so…patriotic?” He managed to make it sound pornographic. No one answered him.
Nathan and Bunny began to dance to the music. “It must be wonderful to be so in love,” sighed Sarah.
Catherine didn’t think so. Of course, she’d only been in love once, and the romance hadn’t lasted much past their wedding day. A month or so after the honeymoon, Jonathan began to withdraw from her. Catherine had no idea why. Over time he became more and more aloof. His behavior made Catherine so nervous she found herself blurting out inappropriate comments just to get a reaction from him. To her distress, his responses fell just short of hostile. Catherine’s sister Jane speculated that he was insecure about his new job. Her father thought he must be preoccupied with his research. Her best friend Evangeline averred he was gay and wouldn’t admit it. Whatever the reason, as the months went by, Jonathan turned increasingly inward, shutting her out. Catherine was distraught, then angry, then sad. Then he disappeared.
The music stopped, and the fireworks began with a vengeance.
Franz appeared. “Sorry folks, we forgot to pack the folding chairs. You’ll have to stand.”
“That’s okay!” Sarah spread her legs and tilted her head back.
Leo and Ivy crossed the street. “We can lean against that wall.”
Nathan and Bunny sat down on the curb. Catherine joined them. Rocket after rocket boomed, battering them with sound and light. At last the grand finale began—shower after shower of red, purple, and silver tendrils. She stood up and craned her neck. As the brilliant fountains shot higher, she leaned a little farther back. All of a sudden she began to fall backward, but before she could hit the ground, two strong hands gripped her shoulders, steadying her. She turned and found herself in Holden’s arms. He gazed at her, the gold sparkles of the cascading fireworks reflected in his eyes. Quickly, he bent down and brushed her lips with his, and just as quickly released her.
Catherine stood gaping at him, her mouth tingling. What was that all about? At that instant, the sky went dark. With a collective sigh the crowd began to disperse. She stood alone as people pushed past her.
Holden’s deep voice cut through the hubbub. “Mount Kineo Resort, over here.” She roused herself into motion and followed him to the van. On the return trip, the only sounds were those of Nathan and Bunny surreptitiously spooning in the rear seat, and stifled yawns from everyone else. As they limped off to bed, Catherine heard the professor ask Holden about Seboomook. She strained to hear his reply, but missed it. Please God, let’s go tomorrow. She needed to refocus on what she was here for, not on two gold-flecked brown eyes and a pair of full, sensitive lips.
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