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Authors: Samantha James

Belonging

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BELONGING
by Samantha James

 

Published by
Sandra
Kleinschmit at Smashwords

 

Copyright 2012 by Sandra Kleinschmit

 

All rights reserved. No part of this text may be
used

or reproduced, downloaded, or any other means

without written permission by the author,

except in the case of brief quotations embodied in
critical articles

and reviews. The scanning, uploading and distribution
of this book

is illegal. The author requests that you purchase
only authorized electronic

editions, and that you do not participate in or
encourage the electronic

piracy of copyrighted material. Thank you for your
support of

authors' rights.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents

are products of the author's imagination or are
used

fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance

to actual events, or persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

Matt Richardson
had not been Mayor Angie Hall's first choice for chief of polite.
After all, a small city like Westridge was hardly the place of a
rough city copy from Chicago.

 

But Angie had been wrong. Matt fit in perfectly—a
little too perfectly for Angie's liking.

Soon Matt had wed the hearts of everyone, from his
taciturn secretary from Angie's two little girls. But the heart he
really wanted was Angie's.

 

How could Angie tell him that it wasn't hers to give,
that it held a secret she could never reveal?

 

Dear
Readers,

 

It is with very great joy that I present to
you, in e-book format, one of my contemporary books
Belonging.
It has a beautiful new cover, and I'm
tremendously excited to share this story with you. I had a great
time rediscovering my lead characters, Matt and Angie, and leading
them into their journey together in love. I'm thrilled to be able
to share them with you.

As a writer, my goal is to entertain you. To
make you laugh and cry and feel every emotion that comes with the
magic of falling in love. They came alive in my heart . . . as I
hope they will in yours.

 

All my best,

Samantha J.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Title

Synopsis

Copyright

Letter to My Readers

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

More from Samantha James

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

A blinding flash of light accompanied the
click of the camera. A lone woman stood poised on the small
platform. In stark contrast with the sterile gray walls of the
pocket-sized auditorium, she was tall and feminine, her features
finely sculpted. Her upswept flaxen hair caught the sharp glare of
overhead lights and, oddly enough, was transformed into a halo of
molten gold.

Despite the businesslike hairstyle and the
conservatively cut white linen suit, there was no denying that
this was a woman in full bloom, a woman who would turn heads
whenever she walked into a room. And her beauty was only enhanced
by the aura of dignity, efficiency and control she projected.

It was an image the woman was aware of,
though not one that she intentionally cultivated, at least on a
conscious level. Although neither came as readily or as often as
they once had, laughter and gaiety were not unknown to her.

But this cramped auditorium was really no
place for either. Angela Hall had a meeting to preside over. During
her six months as mayor of Westridge, Washington, she had
initiated a practice of holding a monthly press conference to
discuss recent events, goals and concerns. The media loved it,
though Angie was the first to admit she was sometimes put on the
spot.

But the meetings bolstered her reputation for
frankness and openness with both the press and the community.

As she readied herself to speak, cameras
whirred once more, lights blazed and recorders were hurriedly
checked to see that they were still in motion. Angie's slender
hands rested on the edge of the podium as she scanned the
assemblage before her.

"As some of you may know," she said,
enunciating her words clearly, "a citizens' committee was formed
several months ago to study the feasibility of constructing a new
city hall."

"Have a sudden windfall, Mayor?" someone
called out.

Angie smiled slightly, not surprised at the
scrutiny. Already the issue had proved to be a sensitive one. There
were several council members who believed the prospect had merit
while others expressed the opinion that it was a frivolous venture.
Consequently, Angie suspected she would have a fight on her hands.
John Curtis in particular had been rather vehement, as usual, in
his support of a new building.

"No windfall," she replied, "but the city's
revenue projections are certainly more optimistic than they've been
the last few years. And at least we're not looking at another site,
so purchase of property wouldn't be a factor."

"How do you feel about this plan, Mayor? Is
it one you endorse?"

The question came from Blair Andrews, a
reporter for the West ridge Bulletin. Her beat ran the gamut from
city politics to a weekly social column. She and Blair weren't the
best of friends; in fact, they weren't friends at all. Angie had
opposed Blair's uncle in the mayoral election, and even before
incumbent Bob Andrews's sound defeat, Blair had put Angie in the
line of fire as often as she possibly could.

Angie took a deep breath. In her opinion,
building a new city hall was an ambitious project and an
unnecessary expense. But she also felt it wouldn't be right to
undermine the committee's work by voicing her opposition before
their report was wrapped up.

"First of all," she told her audience, "the
committee's recommendations won't be known until next Monday's
council meeting. Second, I'd like to clarify that there is no
formal plan yet to construct a new building. The committee has also
been looking into the cost of renovating the existing building
since there can be no question about the building's historic
value."

She let the words sink in before she
continued. "Cost savings would be substantial, and the possibility
exists for expanding some of the city's services with the excess
funds." In addition to expanding the transit system and replacing
a number of city buses, the creation of a women's fshelter was also
being bandied about. But since nothing was really clear-cut, she
thought it was best not to go into too many details.

There was a hushed murmur among the group,
and sensing another barrage of questions, she decided to wrap up
the meeting quickly. "But the fact remains," she stated firmly,
"that as far as city hall is concerned, freezing in the winter,
boiling in the summer and contending with a leaky roof year-round
hardly make for the best of working conditions." Her tone indicated
that there was little more to be said.

But before Angie had a chance to make her
closing remarks, Blair Andrews's voice rang out once more. It was
smooth and silky, with an air of smugness that put Angie's teeth on
edge. "Rumor has it our new police chief, Matthew Richardson,
wasn't your first choice to replace Sam Nelson. Would you care to
comment, Mayor Hall?"

Angie resisted the impulse to glare at the
woman. Though she firmly believed in her open-door policy, she was
wise enough to recognize that not everything that went on in city
hall was for public consumption. But one thing was certain. With
Blair Andrews always out and about, Angie had to watch where she
stepped—as well as how, with whom and why.

It was, she reaffirmed on a sour note, a
typical beginning of the month, thanks to Blair. Even the name
Matthew Richardson dredged up an odd feeling in the pit of her
stomach. An image of dark hair, surprisingly light gray eyes and
tanned skin flashed into her mind. She wasn't sure how her newly
hired chief would take the news that he was second choice,
especially when hearing it from a secondhand source. Now it
appeared Blair had left her no alternative. She was going to have
to tell him herself that he hadn't been first pick.

She pursed her lips for a fraction of a
second, choosing her words carefully. "Naturally, the
possibilities were narrowed down to several candidates, all of
whom were certainly qualified for the job. While it's true the
first choice declined our offer, I'm sure Chief Richardson will do
a perfectly adequate job of seeing to our police protection."

With that Angie lifted slender tawny brows
and scanned the room to see if there were any more questions. When
there were none, she smiled graciously and thanked the
participants, but not before her eyes locked with those of Blair
Andrews. The woman's generous red lips were set in the
self-satisfied smirk of the proverbial cat who has swallowed the
canary. Angie couldn't help but wonder about that look as she
turned and walked from the auditorium.

She didn't see the man standing at the rear
of the room, nor was she aware of the narrowed gray gaze that
followed her graceful exit.

 

***

 

Matt Richardson's jaw thrust forward as he
strode across the carpeted floor of the small reception area that
led to his office. He briefly noted the woman sitting at the
desk—what the hell was her name? Maggie? Yes, that was it, Maggie.
His mind again registered her appearance, almost without his being
conscious of it. He put her age at somewhere near fifty. Rather
dour-looking, she was thin to the point of being downright
skinny.

Yet he couldn't help but be distracted at the
speed with which her long, thin fingers traveled across the
keyboard of her computer. He looked on for a moment in utter
amazement.

Realizing he didn't want to make a bad
impression his first day on the job, he gave his secretary a
cursory nod. She spared him the briefest of acknowledgments before
turning back to her typing. His secretary, it seemed, wasn't any
more talkative than he was—at least at the moment. But then again,
she hadn't been loquacious this morning when they'd first been
introduced.

His mood had softened a little by the time he
entered his office and seated himself in the comfortable leather
chair behind the massive mahogany desk. The chair creaked as he
turned and looked through the narrow glass window behind him. From
his fifth-story vantage point, Matt had a splendid view of the city
and surrounding countryside.

Westridge was nestled in a rich pocket of
wilderness a hundred miles south of Seattle. It spread out against
the base of the foothills that led to the Cascade Mountains. Dense
forests covered the gently sloping hills and sharply jutting
mountains beyond, an endless carpet of lush green woodland that
blended with the bright blue of the sky.

His gaze drifted to the city that was now his
home. With ninety thousand inhabitants, Westridge was a bustling
center for nearby timber and dairy communities, a city that was
home to ranchers, farmers and businessmen alike. In fact, he'd
thought more than once since he'd settled in last week that he
might have been standing in the middle of a Chicago suburb if it
wasn't for the profusion of cowboy hats, boots and pickup trucks
that continually caught his eye.

Yes, he'd left the slums, the tenements, the
countless art galleries and awe-inspiring museums—all that was
Chicago—behind him. He couldn't really say when the nagging
restlessness that had plagued him had started. A year ago. Perhaps
more. He'd been to hell and back and quite a few places in between,
and maybe it had finally taken its toll.

Or was he getting old? Edging too near the
demon known as the ripe old age of forty? Maybe. He'd been tired.
Bored. Burned-out was how cops and everyone else referred to the
feeling.

Life had lost its challenge, and so had his
job. He'd felt he was competing with a never-ending stream of
corruption and dead ends without even the smallest scrap of hope.
He was a man used to fighting for what he wanted and fighting hard;
it was the only way to survive on Chicago's South Side. But he'd
known it was time for a change when he'd stopped looking forward to
the next day ahead.

BOOK: Belonging
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