Authors: Sarah Purcell
Love Is a Breeze
Published in the United States of America
Red Pen Warriors Publishing
Copyright 2015 Sarah Purcell
Cover design by Mike Grunsten and Kathryn Greiner
All rights reserved
ISBN – 13: 978-1480091139
ISBN – 10: 1480091138
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing, from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents, either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarities to any persons, living or dead, places or evens are purely coincidental.
I dedicate my first book to my family and friends who kept believing it was possible especially when I had my doubts. Thank you all for believing in me.
To my parents and grandparents who taught me I could do anything I put my mind to and to my brother, Tom, for instilling in me a love of words and reading. To my best friend, Shirley. I wish you could have read it. I miss you. May you all rest in peace.
When I first started writing romance, my aunt told me I should write something I know about, like a cookbook. Sorry, Aunt Frankie – what I know about cooking wouldn’t fill a teaspoon!
A special thanks to my husband, Jim, my daughters, Kathy, Jane and Lyndi, my friends, Margaret and Jan for all their encouragement and pushing. Thanks to my friend, Cookie for her editing skills.
I also want to thank my friends at LERA for their support and encouragement. And, last but certainly not least my Red Pen Warriors – Jan, Helen, Shirley, Lee, Nancy, Robyn, Julia, Mike and Tina. I could never have done it without you.
Brianna Ryan had punched the down button for the elevator a third time when she heard her name called.
She turned around to see her best friend, Carly, running to catch up.
“What’s your big hurry?” Carly asked.
Brianna heard the elevator door slide open and backed into it as she said, “I want to get home. I’ve made up my mind to break up with Eric. I want to get it over with.”
“About time–” Carly froze, open-mouthed, her eyes wide.
Brianna knew of only one thing that caused that reaction in her usually animated friend. But it was too late. She collided with something–someone– solid. Strong hands steadied her as she stumbled over his feet. The doors closed with Carly still motionless on the other side.
“Perhaps you should try looking in the same direction as you are walking, Miss Ryan.” The deep voice vibrated through her. She stepped to the side and turned to face him.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Sharp. I was talking to my friend when the door opened.”
“So I heard.”
“Yes, well, I’m kind of in a hurry to get home. You see, I’m going to–”
“It’s really none of my business, Miss Ryan.”
Brianna felt the heat rise from her neck and settle on her cheeks. Facing forward, she clasped her hands in front of her and rocked back on her heels.
Awkward silence. Say something
She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. He stood with his arms crossed.
Looking anywhere but at the tall figure beside her, she took a deep breath and said, “Lovely weather we’re having, isn’t it?”
“Usually is at the end of April.”
When the elevator stopped and the doors opened, he reached down and picked up his briefcase, moving closer to make room for two more passengers. Brianna chewed her thumbnail and released a nervous sigh.
“Relax, Miss Ryan.” He looked down at her. “You’ll be home soon enough.”
She flicked her eyes his direction. “I know. It’s just that–”
“Breaking up is hard to do?” He quirked an eyebrow. A smile played at the corner of his mouth.
Her mouth quivered when she attempted to smile. She licked her lips. “It truly isn’t easy.”
The elevator bumped to a stop on the ground floor. Mr. Sharp stood aside allowing the other passengers to exit. He followed Brianna into the lobby.
“I’m sure everything will work out. Good luck.” He walked toward the parking garage entrance.
“Thank you.” She said to his departing back.
He raised a hand in a parting salute before disappearing into the garage.
Brianna turned when she heard the second elevator door open. Carly rushed toward her.
“What happened?” She grabbed Brianna’s arm.
“Nothing happened but it would have been a lot less awkward if you’d gotten on with me.”
“I’m sorry, Bree, but you know the effect he has on me.”
“Yeah, I do but he’s just a man, Carly.”
“That’s like saying Everest is just a mountain or the Pacific is just some water, or the Mona Lisa is–”
“Just a painting.” Brianna shook her head. “I get it.”
“Don’t tell me he doesn’t have any effect on you. I know better.”
“He’s our boss. He makes me a little nervous but I don’t turn into a statue every time he walks by.” She opened the door and stepped into Chicago’s pedestrian rush hour.
Carly followed. “I know he’s our boss but he’s also a gorgeous hunk of manhood.”
“You’re married.” Brianna reminded her.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the view.” She nudged Brianna’s shoulder. “You’re not married and you’ll soon be available.”
“I’ve sworn off men, especially bossy ones, no matter how yummy they seem. It would be like jumping from the stove to the fireplace.”
“You mean from the frying pan to the fire?” Carly laughed. “But fireplaces are romantic.”
Brianna shook her head. “You’re so full of blarney. You know that, right?”
“I just want you to be as happy as I am.”
“I’ll be very happy, ecstatic even, after tonight.”
Looking up at the tall, athletic, blonde, Brianna cursed her shortness. If she had Carly’s long legs she’d be home sooner. She could see over the throng of people and would feel the warmth of spring instead of the heat of bodies pressing all around her. She longed to burst free, see the new green leaves on the trees evenly spaced along the curb and smell the flowers at the corner cart. She released a nervous sigh.
“I don’t know what to say. Words keep running through my head but I can’t seem to get them in the right order.”
“How about, ‘It’s over, jerk. Get out?’ Short and simple. Works for me.”
Brianna laughed. “I love you, Carly. You always say exactly what you think. But, I can’t be mean, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
“Okay. He’s leaving on that field trip thing tomorrow, right? Move out while he’s gone and leave him a note. You’ll have a month to find another place and get settled. He’ll get the message and you won’t have to hurt his feelings– if he even has any– not to his face, anyway.”
“That’s a coward’s way out. I’m going to tell him tonight.” She declared, then frowned. “Maybe I should wait until he gets back.”
Carly punched Brianna’s arm, hard. “Now that’s the coward’s way. Get it over with, Bree. You’ve put it off too long as it is.”
Rubbing her shoulder, Brianna glared at Carly. “That hurt.”
“Good. Now you’re angry, and that’s better than nice to deal with Eric.”
“You’re right, I know.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you? I don’t trust that guy.”
“Thanks but I’ll be fine, really. I’ll call you later.”
They exchanged a brief hug before Carly turned to walk up her street.
Brianna watched her for a few seconds before continuing to her apartment. The pedestrian crowd thinned and she walked a little faster, her brightly colored skirt swished about her calves. The temperature dropped with the sun as it moved lower behind the tall buildings. She wrapped her bulky sweater snuggly around her.
“Eric, this may not be the right time, but…No, too wishy-washy,” she mouthed the words. “Eric, we both know things haven’t been right for awhile– That’s an understatement. Eric, we need to talk. To which he’ll answer, ‘Not now, Babe. I’m busy.’”
She hitched her oversized purse higher on her shoulder and raised her chin. Ascending the steps to her apartment building, she pressed the button and waited for Eric to buzz her in.
Where is he?
He’s always home before me, she thought. She fished the key from the bottom of her bag and let herself in. Up one flight of stairs and down the hall she inserted the key into the lock of their apartment. She flipped the light switch on the wall and dropped her purse and keys onto the chest by the door.
She quickly scanned the room. Something was wrong.
“We’ve been robbed!” She clutched her throat and leaned against the door. The TV was gone, along with the DVD player and stereo
She willed her heart to be still and return to its place. The apartment was unusually quiet.
The DVR box and cable were still attached to the wall outlet. Another quick glance revealed some personal photos and books missing.
She ran to the bedroom. The TV, DVD player and clock radio in there were also missing. Returning to the living room, intent on calling the police, she glimpsed a note on the bathroom mirror. She walked toward the large yellow Post-it and pulled it from the glass.
This may come as a shock to you, but I’ve decided this relationship is not working for me anymore. When I get back from my dig in Colombia, I’ll be moving on. I hope you understand and will do the same. It’s been fun, but it’s over. I gave notice that I would not be renewing the lease so you’ll have to be out by the end of the month.
She reread the note before crumpling it into a tight ball and throwing it at the mirror.
“‘The end of the month.’ He decided! Who the bloody hell does he think he is? The jerk! Not working for him!” She kicked the toilet. The seat and lid dropped. She sat and rubbed her toe as Irish and English profanity swirled in her brain and exploded from her mouth.
She stood, stalked through the living room, grabbed her keys and headed for the superintendent’s office on the ground floor. She danced from one foot to the other while she waited.
Finally, footsteps approached and she composed herself before the middle-aged woman opened the door. She was taller than Brianna, but who over the age of twelve wasn’t. Brianna looked up to meet the super’s questioning gaze.
“Hello, Mrs. Bergstrom. Did Eric pay the rent for May?” she asked.
“No, he didn’t, Miss Ryan.”
“Okay. I’ll give you a check in the morning.”
“I’m afraid that won’t work. He gave notice last month and said he’d be out by the end of April.
weekend! I thought he meant the end of next month. Could I extend it another month?”
“I’m afraid not. The apartment has been rented.”
“I do have a studio on the fourth floor that is available,” Mrs. Bergstrom continued.
Brianna’s eyes brightened.
“Perfect. I’ll take it. Thank you.” It’s only a month earlier than she had planned to look for a place of her own. “I’ll get a check.”
“Tomorrow will be fine, Miss Ryan. Pity things didn’t work out. Eric’s such a charming man and those baby blue eyes.” She waved a hand in front of her face as if she were experiencing a sudden hot flash.
Brianna’s smile tightened.
Charming? Yeah, if you like snakes.
She turned and marched back upstairs. Crossing the room to the corner desk, she opened the top drawer. The checkbook wasn’t there. Each drawer she opened she closed a little harder. They were all empty. She stormed into the bedroom, jerking and slamming each dresser drawer. Thankfully, her stuff was still there. Her third of the closet was untouched – she spread her wardrobe across the length of the rod. That’s better, she thought with a slight smile.
In the bathroom her anger returned. Her make-up was there and her toothbrush, no toothpaste. How nice, he left her strawberry shampoo and conditioner. There was a damp towel slung on the shower rod. She opened the cabinet under the sink. Yep, he left the cleaning supplies and a couple of rolls of toilet paper. He took the hair dryer.
A search of the kitchen yielded one pan, dented and scratched. The coffee maker was gone but that was okay, she preferred tea. She opened another cabinet and breathed a sigh of relief. Her treasured teapot and Irish tea were there. No dishes, glasses or silverware. In the pantry she found a few paper plates, two plastic cups and half a box of plastic forks. He also had left all the food.
She reached for the cordless phone on the breakfast bar that divided the kitchen from the living room. Gone. She stomped to the plugged-in phone on the desk. Picking up the receiver, she listened for the dial tone.
Thank goodness he didn’t have it shut off.
She wished she’d listened to Carly and gotten a cell phone but she saved everything she could for a place of her own and to continue art school.
Carrying the phone to the sofa, she was grateful for the furnished apartment, otherwise she’d be sitting and sleeping on the floor tonight.
As soon as Carly answered Brianna launched into a tirade. She had to hold the phone away from her ear while Carly strung together several colorful names.
“You can say whatever you like about Eric, just don’t say, ‘I told you so,” Brianna said.
“I won’t but you know I did.”
Brianna leaned back on the couch, staring at the ceiling. “I know but it was nice being taken care of for a change.”
“You allowed him way too much control. At least it’s over and you didn’t have to say anything.” Carly concluded.
“You’re right. All that worrying for nothing. There’s a studio in this building I can have. I’m going to the bank first thing in the morning. I’ll start moving after that. Not much to move, thanks to Eric.
* * * *
Early the next morning, Brianna showered and ate breakfast, anxious to get to the bank. Fresh start, day one.
She walked briskly, aided by a slight tailwind. She noticed the new green leaves and inhaled the scent of the flowers. The warmth of the sun washed over her. By the time she reached the bank she was practically singing
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
. She flashed the security guard a brilliant smile and wished him a good morning. She crossed to the teller’s window.