|Your cart is currently empty|
Jake Forrester is a small town cop, who is beyond charming, and hunky enough to have every female in a hundred mile radius panting after him. Basically everything she is trying to avoid. Too bad he's been determined to chase after her from the second he's laid eyes on her oversized floral granny panties.
She may run, but can she hide from love?
Warning; Contains one no-good, cheating ex- husband, a heroine with a propensity to make a run for it, and a hero that has a new found love for spanking a certain sassy woman who runs from him.
Delia Myers Schmidt's world as she knew it crashed in around her. She stood numbly, a bleak bitter taste filling her mouth.
Why can't the Earth just swallow me? she sardonically thought to herself. Yeah Del, that would be just great not to have to deal with this. She hadn't been dealing with this for the past how many years? How many more women were there? What a despicable thought but, why not? She looked lamely back down at the letter.
I'm sorry to be telling you this through a letter but I don't think I could do this in person. I want a divorce. I met someone a few years ago while I was in Korea. I fell in love with her. We have a son together. He looks just like me. He's going to be two years old.
I know I should have told you sooner, but I couldn't bear letting you out of my life. You're always going to have a place in my heart Del. Things have changed though, and I think this is for the best. I'm not coming back to the states this year. I'm sorry again, but it's not like it was completely unexpected. I left instructions with the divorce papers of what I want sent to me from the house. Of course you can stay there as long as you need. You understand.
Take good care of yourself,
She crumpled the letter with all the spite and betrayal she felt. The heartless bastard had another family. How stupid could she be? All the times she had prayed that she would get pregnant. Precious military leave when for a month at a time Connar would come home and “play” loving husband. What a good soldier's wife she was. Being a good wife wasn't what counted though. Giving a little Schmidt soldier to take his daddy's place in line was.
She should have known. Why couldn't she have suspected something? Connar had become so withdrawn, both at home and when he was away. Now the realization came in full force: it wasn't him, it was her. The walls he had built all this time, they weren't anything more than a spoiled brat's obligation to spend time with the ugly aunt.
She wasted years loving and trusting, for what? Everything was a lie.
She marched out of the living room determined to put as much space between herself and that damn letter, and those damn divorce papers. Failure papers more like it. That's what they felt like.
What could she have done? If only he were there so she could ask him�� ask him what? she wondered. Why he's a weak, pathetic, cheating�
Angry tears stung the back of her eyes. Her husband for the past eleven years was a fake, a phony. She grabbed her keys from the side table and wrenched open the door. The cold rain and wind that slapped at her face was what she needed. The weather was the perfect reflection of her inner turmoil. She stood like a stone statue in the front yard, letting the rain buffet against her as she watched the trees crane their spines, their leaves whipping off the branches in a furious swirl.
She wasn't sure how long she stood out there. When she finally came back to herself her clothes were soaked through, and her body was cold and numb. Moving toward her vehicle her chilled fingers fumbled with the keys. She didn't know where she was going to go, but she knew she had to get as far away as quickly possible.
Dripping wet she climbed behind the wheel of her pick-up truck. So far the past twenty-nine years of her life had had more downs than ups. She was in foster homes or living with her drunken mother in her 'oh so lovely' not-so-mobile-home.
Junior year of high school she met Connar. He wasn't just the all American boy, he was her slice of everything she never had. Connar's parents were the perfect proud parents. They came to all of his games and immediately welcomed her in as one of the family, even though she usually felt like the lonely orphan girl watching from the outside. When they were in their senior year it was already decided that Connar was going to join the Marines.
Connar's dad, Mitchell Schmidt had been a Lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, and while other guys were thinking about becoming the opposites of their old man, Connar wanted nothing more than to please his dad. Connar’s plan was to get himself a cute little wife, and start having lots of babies so he could be a retired old coot full of piss and vinegar by the time his last child was graduating high school. Just like his dad.
She loved that about him and thought she could be a part of that dream. Now she realized how naive she was. Happily ever after my ass, she thought. What a clich� she had become. In less than a year she would be thirty, and what wondrous things did she have to show for it? No child, and her high school sweetheart, the love of her life, had a two year old child with another woman.
At least three years, Delia thought, he'd been cheating for three years. Not only was her marriage over but some Korean tramp has been proclaimed the victor. All the while she had been an idiot with her head buried in the sand.
A fresh wave of tears hit her as she pulled passed Susan and Mitch’s driveway. Her mother and father in-law had been a real support the first few years they were married. Susan taught Delia to cook and present a table just like a good wife should. Susan would rattle on about “when you have children,” and “this is just how Connar likes it,” and “Delia, you are going to be such a good mother if you know how to do this.”
After a few years of trying to get pregnant the old fashion way, without result, Mitch stepped in and gave Connar some advice. That was a day that was engraved in Delia’s mind forever. As she walked through her in-law’s house, that had become like a second home, she heard Mitch and Connar's voices from the den. As she walked down the hall their voices got clearer. More like the voice. Mitch was doing most of the talking.
“Son, it just ain’t right. You should have this done by now. I would have had your mother pregnant with a litter by now. There’s something not right with that girl. Is she taking birth control behind your back? Doesn’t she want children? A man has many things in life to live for, children are one of the most important. Children are the line that supersedes you and me son. You need to take that girl to the doctor and find out what the problem is.”
“What if the problem isn’t her Dad?”
“Of course it’s her. Do you think you have such a weak blood line? The weakness lies on that girl's shoulders. Delia’s parents, or one parent that stuck around, are worthless nobodies. Her mother probably drank so much when she was pregnant that it’s a wonder Delia isn’t one-eyed and toothless.
I should have never let you marry that homeless girl.”
“She might as well have been, always hanging out here when you kids were in high school. She had no place to go. If it weren’t for your mother that girl wouldn’t know how to cook or clean. You’re lucky your mother felt pity for Delia and took her under her wing.”
After that she didn’t care what else Mitch had to say. He had said quite enough. Connar's parents didn’t love her. They felt pity for her, and according to his father, she was just a charity case that was ruining their son's life. She didn’t go back to Mitch and Susan’s for a while. She always had an excuse at the ready anytime Connar suggested a dinner at his folks’ house. She didn’t want to look into Susan and Mitch’s smiling faces and see what was really there.
Like Mitch had wanted, Connar suggested that same night they see a specialist and find out why she couldn’t have children. That was the moment she broke. She decided then and there that she would do whatever it took to have Connar’s baby. That would make Mitch take back all the horrible things he said. He would be the proud grandfather. Then when Mitch and Susan smiled at her it would be real.
Delia’s wish never came true and as the wedge between her and her in-laws grew so did the wedge between her and Connar. They never actually saw a specialist. She visited her gynecologist on her own. Her doctor assured her she was fine, but Delia knew in her heart the doctor had to be wrong. She had told Connar what the doctor had said, but she didn't think he believed her either.
He stopped coming home as much and got sent overseas for twelve to sixteen months at a time. Letters and phone calls became more sporadic, each more terse and less personal than the last. They had become no better than strangers the last few years.
Connar's letter indicated that she shouldn't be surprised. Maybe she shouldn't be, she reflected. Did it really have to take her hollow existence splintering apart to realize how empty it had become?
Now, driving down the road to nowhere she looked past Mitch and Susan’s house. She would never have to wonder what to say to them ever again. Should she feel relieved? Delia didn’t know, she just kept driving toward the coast.
Maybe she would take a trip to Maine. She'd never been. She'd never been to Korea either. Maybe she should go to Korea and kill Connar. Maine was more appealing, but she doubted she'd make it further than Virginia. The last person she ever wanted to see again was that lying cheating bastard.
Even though she was a military wife she never really traveled or spent much time out of the Carolinas. Connar always had said it was better to hold down the home front. He really just didn’t want her around to ruin his fun and dampen his love life. Bastard!
For the first time, Delia realized she could go anywhere and do anything she wanted to do. But what could she really do? She had taken some courses at the community center, but that was more to have something to do when Connar was gone. Did she have any friends or family that hadn’t been Connar’s friends and family first? Her whole life was based around a man that didn’t even want her. ���������� Who was she?
Not Delia Schmidt. Not Connar’s wife. Complete utter despair clutched around Delia’s chest like huge cold constricting arms, squeezing the breath from her. She really did feel as if the ground was opening. How would she go on? Start her life over and be. . . Who? What would happen when she got to Maine?
She couldn't drive forever. She'd have to refuel and that cost money. She had a few hundred in savings, but how long would that last? Eventually she'd have to go home and then she'd be looking to support herself on a minimum wage job, hoping not to run into anyone that knew her and Connar, because then they'd know about him leaving her. Who could blame him? She wasn't good for anything.�� Delia knew at that moment she was a nobody born from two nobodies, one of which she hadn’t ever even met. She was pretty certain that she could drop off the face of the earth and no one would notice.
That’s why at three o’clock in the morning, face covered with tears, she didn’t notice the truck in the oncoming lane. Or how heavy her foot was on the accelerator. She also didn’t notice how that truck was swerving into her lane, not right away. She saw a haze of lights directly in front of her and instinctively jerked the wheel, but it was too late.
The two trucks crunched in a furious, loud collision of grinding metal, smashing together in slow motion on accordion like impact that sprang them apart at full speed. Her head snapped forward smacking her forehead on the steering wheel. There was an explosion of color behind her eyelids before blackness claimed her.
Jake Forrester was a normal man’s man. He had been on the force for a little over eleven years. He had never seen an accident unfold before his eyes until now. As he watched the truck pass him, he turned his head in time to see another truck not only swerve into the oncoming traffic lane, but stay there like a challenging bull charging toward its opponent.
In an instant, the trucks collided. The sound was like an explosion. One truck flipped end over end landing on its wheels facing the opposite direction. The other truck whipped around twice before it crashed through the railing, down into a deep gully. He was already out of his car, calling for backup.
He raced to the truck still on the road. Reaching through the broken out driver side window he took inventory of the unconscious driver's vitals. The man looked to be late fifties. He reeked of bourbon and stale smoke. He had been scraped up and knocked around but probably was going to be okay, thanks to his seat belt or just dumb luck.
Noticing the driver's pulse was strong Jake then ran to where the other truck had gone through the railing. Carefully sliding down the incline, Jake reached the driver’s side of the truck. The front was mangled but he was still able to pull open the door. When the door swung out he had only a second before he found himself clutching an unconscious petite woman as her body fell sideways out of the truck.
Shifting the woman slumped in his arms carefully to the ground, he ran his hands down her body, hoping nothing was badly broken. The paramedics were going to have to carry her up the slope back to the road. The ground was much too cold to leave her there for too long. Her body was probably already going into shock. He stripped out of his coat, gently covering her form before heading back the way he came. He could hear the sirens of the ambulance and knew the medics were on their way.
Fortunately the earth was ripped up from where the truck tore down the slope, enabling him to get some good footholds. He made his way to the road to flag down the medics. Once they had her placed on a backboard and cervical collar, they wrapped her in a thermal blanket and secured the straps. Thankfully they managed to pull her unconscious form up the incline without mishap. There were more paramedics and officers waiting when they made their way back up to the road.
“Captain Forrester, you okay?”asked a medic.
“I’m all right, just take care of her.”
“I’m sorry Captain but you’re pretty scraped up. Why don’t you come get checked out while we load up the lady?” Peg, an old medic, was already pushing up his right sleeve where he had a long gash from catching his arm on a branch.
“You could have killed yourself going after that girl, like ya’ did. What would make you do such a crazy stunt?”
What could he say? Maybe he should have waited for rescue workers to get there. He had just felt compelled to save whoever was in that truck. Even before that little woman slumped into his arms.
“Just instinct I guess,” he said.
“Those are pretty brave instincts you have. I would throw myself down the gully anytime if it meant getting saved by you,” Peg said.
He was used to comments like these from forward women. By all accounts he was a looker. For that he was usually grateful, but at the moment he wasn’t in the flirting mood. Luckily the statement had come from Old Peg, as they called her at the station. With hardened eyes, steely gray hair, leathery jowls of wrinkles, and a gravelly voice, he was sure Peg wasn’t just old, but had served as a nurse during the civil war.
“Well Peg, I think I’ve had all the adventure I can take for one night. What do you say you give me a day or so break before you go get yourself in a tangle?”
“If I were forty years younger you’d be singing a different tune. I was quite the looker, if I do say so myself.” So saying she walked away but not before giving his tush a little pinch. She threw a laughing wink at him over her shoulder as she caught his surprised look.
“Peg, don’t make me write up harassment charges.”
Chuckling, Peg didn’t even turn around. As she loaded herself up into her ambulance he heard her say, “I may be old, but I’m not dead.”
He pulled himself into the back of the ambulance and looked down at the woman that had spun off the road. She looked more like a child, she was so small. Again he wondered why she didn't see the other truck coming at her. Who was this little woman? Despite the gash on her forehead and the dark circles under her eyes, he thought she was quite pretty.
Curly, soft, blonde hair and a little pixie face. Everything about her was small and delicate. Seeing her with an oxygen mask on and an IV sticking out of her tiny arm caused a tightening in his chest. Her skin was almost translucent. His concern must have shown on his face because when he looked up Peg was next to him patting his knee in reassurance. “This little gal is going to be all right. Don’t you worry. Now get your handsome butt out of my ambulance so I can get going.”
Patched up at the hospital and feeling warm again, Jake went up to see if the “little gal” as, Peg put it, had woke yet. Pushing through the door he was confronted with two officers and what looked like an irate nurse.
“She just woke up and the doctor hasn’t even seen her yet,” the nurse said. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to step out and come back later.” She had her hand on her hips in firm resolve.
“We only have a few questions for her,” the beefy officer persisted. “Then we can get out of your way Tami.”
The nurse swatted at the officers with familiarity. Her patient look that said, I deal with fools, before actually saying, “You both know better than that boys.”
Jake looked around them to see the patient. The little woman was looking dazed and confused lying back on the hospital pillows. Her squinting eyes searched the room. He thought she looked like a newborn fawn opening its weak eye lids for the first time. He took another step into the room and announced himself with a cough.
“Excuse me gentlemen,” he said. “I think you could step outside a minute and let this nice lady do her job.” His gentle command was quickly heeded as the two younger officers coughed and grumbled their “Yes sir”, “Of course, sir.”
Delia’s head was pounding. The overhead light made her eyes feel as if they were going to throb out of their sockets. Her mouth felt like cotton and paste. Getting her bearings she scanned the hospital room, noticing the three men standing by the door and a nurse next to the bed checking the IV.
The doctor, a round little man with too much aftershave and beady eyes behind his glasses, poked and prodded with sweaty hands. Shining his pin light in her sensitive eyes he ordered precautionary scans done, but assured her that he didn’t suspect internal damage and she should be fine.
Not dead, I’m not dead. The mantra played over and over again in her head.
This came from a tall, overly good looking man, that now stood alone in the room. She searched his face trying to place him. He looked like he could be an underwear model. Did this man know her? How long had she been out? These and about a million other questioned popped into her head. However, before she could even open her mouth the man was talking again in gentle tones.
He inched closer to the bed as he spoke as if not to scare her away. Not that she could go anywhere as weak and disoriented as she felt.
“How ya feel’n? You’ve got a pretty good gash on your head. I’m sure your head is throbbing. I’m surprised you’re even awake. I’m Captain Jake Forrester. I pulled you from your truck. Do you remember anything? Do you know where you are?”
Feeling even more disoriented than she did before she said the only thing that she could think of. “I’m not dead.”
“No, no you're not.”
“I’m in Virginia still?”
“Yes, you’re at Virginia Baptist the nearest hospital to Hope Springs. That’s where the accident happened. If you’re up to it, I would like to ask you some questions.”
The police officer, Captain Forrester, turned around and found a chair that he grabbed and pulled close the bed.
“What’s your name?”he asked.
“Delia.” Taking a steadying breath she added, “Delia Myers, just Delia Myers.”
If he thought that answer odd he didn’t show it. He just continued with his questioning. “Did you not see the truck coming at you? Why didn’t you swerve?” He looked momentarily surprised, like he hadn't meant to ask that. Still his gaze bore into her as if they could determine all the answers he sought.
Her face contorted as she turned her head away from his view. All the turmoil of the past day rolled over her in that one moment. A heavy weight crushing down on her chest. She breathed heavily trying to get her emotions under control.
“Do you recall where you were headed?” he asked.
“I don’t know, Maine I guess,” she responded, trying to hold back tears. “I was going away, starting over. Only the more I drove the more I felt like Maine wasn’t far enough, and starting over wasn’t good enough. I just wanted to go away. Cease to exist. I don’t even know how I got on that road. I wasn’t even registered into the fact that I was still driving. I was just angry and hurt, and I just...I just wanted it to be over.”
By the end of her speech her voice was flat. She continued as if no longer a part of herself. “There I was flying down the road and I couldn’t stop. I had to get as far away as I could go. I didn’t want to stop.” Looking up at his face she whispered, “I didn’t want to stop.” Coming back into herself she finally noticed the strong warm hand holding hers. She wasn’t sure when this man had taken her hand in his, but it was oddly comforting.
Jake felt huge and imposing looking down on such a fragile thing. She looked so deflated and lost. His heart constricted a little. He had dealt with a lot of perps and victims over the years. He always had a cool head and knew when to leave emotions out of it. Rational and controlled were the traits that had gotten him captain. Never had he felt less rational than he did looking at this woman with tears tracking down her cheeks. Not even realizing that he covered her hand with his, he gave it a squeeze.
“I don’t need you to comfort me,” she said.
“Odd, you seem to look like a person who needs comforting.” She chose to ignore this instead asking about the driver of the oncoming truck.
“Drunken fool will be fine,” he answered. “Even though you were speeding you’re not at fault for the accident. He will be going to jail for drunk and reckless driving. You have a pretty bad concussion, but you should be checked out of here in the morning. There anyone I can call, friends, family?”
“I have a drunken mother I haven’t talked to in seven years. If she’s not dead, and you find her, you could call her.”
“Doesn’t anyone know you were leaving, where you were going?”
With a derisive laugh she shook her head. “My travel plans were spur of the moment. You know carpe diem and all that. Look you seem to be a nice guy, but your job is done. I’d like to be alone now.” So saying she pulled her hand back turning onto her side, into herself. Just like that Jake had been dismissed.
“That’s a pretty big chip on your shoulder,” he said. She didn’t even flinch at this statement and Jake had decided that she had been through enough for one day. There was no reason to push her. He came to see for himself if she was all right and she was just fine�physically. Seemed she had been emotionally broken long before she was hit by a truck.
“All right,” he said. “You win, for now. I’ll be back in the morning.”
The decision was made in an instant. He wasn’t sure why he felt pulled to this Delia Myers, but one thing was certain, this little broken woman was a puzzle that he needed all the pieces in order to be put back together. Whether she wanted to be put back together or not.