Authors: Abbie St. Claire
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
Abbie St. Claire
Copyright © 2014 Abbie St. Claire
Editor: Andrea Grimm Dickinson
Cover Artist: DeLaine Roberts, www.drgraphicexpressions.com
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a produce of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
This story is dedicated to my husband.
His strength amazes me and without his support,
I would not be able to tell this story.
A story never comes to life by itself.
I want to thank Kimmie, Vatonia, and Geri for listening to the synopsis while spending a creepy night with me at Plum Lake.
A weekend I shall never forget. Good times!
To Kelly, you are a rock of support for me and I adore you. I’m grateful for our friendship and I appreciate all the extra tips
To my editor, Andrea, you are a gem and I will never leave home without you. You take my stories to the next level and
are simply not replaceable.
To my family, thank you for eating take-out so many times without complaints. I’m not sure if that means I’ve lost my touch in the kitchen and you’ve found new loves in delivery and frozen foods or if your undying support has a willingness to sacrifice, but whatever, I love each of you to pieces.
To the Tramps of St. Claire Street Team, you gals rock it. Every day you are posting and pimping and I want to say a special thank you to: Nicole, Debbie, Adalinda, Ebony, Monica, Mariela, Angela, Becca, Samaris, Elizabeth, Betty and Susan.
To you, the one reading this story, I say thank you and bless you for reading and supporting my work. I hope you enjoy this story, but even if you don’t, I love to hear from readers and
welcome you reaching out to me.
Secrets and lies of the creek…
When escaping is not enough…
Whip, crack, smack.
You are an embarrassment to our family, Wrenn Cunningham…
I stood at the corner of rock and wood overlooking the first hundred acres of our property. Even in the bitter cold of the early morning, there was something mysterious about our home in the thickets, as the sun began to rise above the trees to the east. I listened as the birds spoke with one another and could only imagine the words of their song. If only they could tell what they saw and repeat the secrets they knew.
Our retreat, our hiding spot, but even in secret, a place we were unable to escape the reality of my father’s sins.
Even in its state of detriment, Forgiveness Creek, as my mom had nicknamed it years ago, was the only home I’d ever known. I thought I would be away from this place long before this moment, and yet, I’m still trapped by the guilt I feel.
Forty years ago, it was a bustling ranch with over a thousand acres, but as time and failed economies passed, things changed. Add to that secrets and lies slowly revealing themselves, and the life my mom and I knew before my father’s death would never be the same. Strange how the past could hold someone hostage.
To me, everything about this place was just broken. Sure, the land, equipment, and ranching possibilities were all broken, but in my mind at the moment, those things were far removed—I was referring to trust. Once trust has been broken, it was difficult to get it back.
We had a private drive if you wanted to call it that. It was a half-mile rock road composed of rough and ragged stones that could blow even a good tire on a bad day. I’d driven the length of that road many times and declared it to be my last. Praying I was leaving for good only to be sucked back in to the web woven long before me and certain to hold me hostage until I’d taken my last breath.
The entrance to the property required passage of a wooden bridge in dire need of repair, welcoming you with rumbled sounds of a distant hello. It was the first sign of something personal, long before the winding dirt road would take you to where life existed.
Where shame was present.
The breathtaking view provided promise, sneaking up on you when you least expected it the moment you came to the wooden post fence outlining the front pasture, now barren.
With the heater roaring at high speed, I crept along the rocks to the main highway and continued my daily drive into work. The same routine, five and sometimes six days a week.
Oh, how I wished I could leave, make like a bird and fly far, far away.
“Good morning, Wrenn. Did you have a good weekend?” Sara Beth asked, while finishing her usual banana for breakfast.
“If you call cleaning out an old fish tank with twenty years of corrosion, fun. Then yes, I did,” I uttered, while tucking my purse in the bottom drawer of my desk.
“Who’s getting fish?” Dr. Palmer asked as he walked into the office I shared with his wife and nurse, Sara Beth.
I swear that man never missed a bit of dialogue in the office because he had radar ears that were surely registered with the government.
“Mom. She found the tank in the barn and thought we should revive it and get fish next week once the water settles.”
“Hmm, maybe we should put one in here. They’re very calming for the patients,” Dr. Palmer said. He poured himself a cup of coffee and went to his own office, but I was certain his hearing would keep him as privileged peeper of the conversation.
I looked at my desk and noticed a stack of charts had been neatly placed on the corner.
“Looks like Dr. P came in to the office again this weekend, huh?” I asked as I picked up the forty or so patient charts and began to file them away.
“When does he not? I think he was here about five o’clock Saturday morning until around noon when he met me for lunch at the diner. That’s when we saw your mom.”
“Hmm. She didn’t mention it, but she rarely talks about who she sees, unless it’s a celebrity or something.”
“A celebrity sighting in
I stopped filing and looked at her, nodding my head. “A couple of times. One was filming a movie; another was coming through visiting with Patrick Swayze when he lived up north of here.”
“Star sightings are always fun. Stewart and I sat beside Michael Douglas at a restaurant in Los Angeles several years ago. He’s a handsome man.”
“I’m trying to recall who he is.”
“You’re too young, girl, and you need to get out more.”
We both laughed.
I loved Dr. Palmer, and he had become a father figure to me, since I didn’t have one, but sometimes it was difficult to define the line between employer and family, especially for him. He liked to get into my personal space, especially where Stephan was concerned.
We broke for lunch, and the three of us piled into our very small break room. Dr. Palmer’s large physical presence along with his oversized persona could be overbearing at times, and lunch was usually his favorite time to lecture me.
“Wrenn, you’ve worked for me since community college, and we’ve had the nursing school conversation multiple times.” Dr. Palmer’s face happened to be conveniently hidden behind the newspaper.
I paused for a moment, hoping the conversation would steer to something else, or Sara Beth would bail me out.