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Authors: Parris Afton Bonds

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Made For Each Other

BOOK: Made For Each Other
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Parris Afton
Bonds

 

Made For Each
Other

 

 

 

Published by Parris Afton,
Inc.

Copyright 2012 by Parris
Afton, Inc.

All Rights
Reserved

 

Cover artwork by
DigitalDonna.com

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away.

 

 

 

For Janice Knight

You sparkle like diamonds snd bubble
like champagne

 

Chapter One

 

T
he last thing Julie recalled before her Volvo station wagon
careened off New Mexico’s Roswell-Ruidoso highway and somersaulted
across the snow-blanketed field was her friend Pam McKinney’s
riotous laughter over one of the silly, inane remarks the two of
them had been trading off during the course of their
trip.

Then there came the blinding
headlights from the distant oncoming car, the first car they had
passed on the long, desolate stretch over the high plains in almost
an hour, and the station wagon began to slip-slide across a patch
of ice. Eternal seconds of frantic weightlessness followed, and
finally the sharp crack of pain. Fingers of vapor reached into the
recesses of Julie’s stunned mind, and she slowly shook her head,
trying to clear it.

Gasoline! Quickly she scrambled to her
knees. The jarring pain in her shoulder warned her something was
broken. The car was a cave of blackness, and for a moment she was
not certain which direction was up or in what direction the car
doors and escape lay.

“Pam?” she mumbled. “Are you all
right?” A silence permeated the darkness, along with the cloying,
bitter odor of the gasoline. They had to get out! Where was Pam?
Panicky now, Julie felt along the dash panel and, locating the
keys, switched off the motor. From the position of the steering
wheel she realized the car lay tilted on its passenger side. She
began to crawl through the debris of luggage, loose clothing, and
packed food, groping in the darkness for Pam.

Silent pleas that her friend was alive
blended with the urgency to escape and the stabbing pain in her
shoulder. “Pam!” she cried out. “Where are you?”

Somewhere toward the rear of the car a
soft moan answered her, and Julie felt relief mixed with
helplessness at their plight. Apparently Pam was not fully
conscious. And for Julie to even move her left arm sent waves of
agony through her. Yet she had to pull Pam from the gas-soaked car.
Immediately!

Waves of dizziness generated by the
gasoline fumes washed over Julie. Suddenly there came a bright
flash of light and the icy blast of air from above as the driver’s
door swung open. A low, husky voice etched with concern demanded,
“Are you okay? Can you move?”

Julie’s dazed eyes squinted against
the glare of the flashlight. Somewhere beyond the glare a pair of
eyes glittered startling blue against the night’s darkness. She
nodded her head, then wished she had not as the slight movement
produced another onslaught of pain. “I think so,” she managed. “My
left shoulder—but my friend . . . can you get to her? I think she’s
unconscious.”

The flashlight’s beam left Julie’s
small, pale face to sweep over the car’s interior, halting on the
inert figure crumpled like a rag doll against the bottom door of
the back seat. The light skittered away, and the man’s tall, lean
figure was silhouetted in the frame of the door as he lowered
himself inside the car.

As he bent near her, she was aware of
his strong scent of woodsmoke and tobacco, overpowering even that
of the gasoline fumes, then the frightening touch of warm fingers
sliding inside the V neck of her velour sweater. For a breathless
moment she lay there, helpless against whatever he might choose to
do; yet there was something reassuring about the gentle way his
fingers searched along the area above her breast. . . and something
tantalizingly unfamiliar.

“You’ve a broken collarbone,” he said,
the long, hard line of his mouth grim.

“The gasoline ...” she murmured. Fear
of an explosion stirred in her again.

“Your tank’s full,” the man said, his
flash¬light indicating the gas gauge. “There’s little risk of an
explosion since the vapors haven’t had a chance to build
up.”

He withdrew his hand, and she was
surprised to find she missed its comforting warmth as she watched
him maneuver around the front seat and out of her sight. The
hissing of the November wind rushing down off the Sacramento
Mountains was the only sound in the long silence until Pam groaned.
“My head,” the girl whimpered.

“Your friend seems to have nothing
broken,” the man told Julie. “Possibly a concussion,
though.”

Julie closed her eyes against the
tears of relief, only to feel something warm draped over her. Her
lids fluttered open to see the man kneeling above her again. His
fleece-lined leather coat covered her upper torso. “Brace
yourself,” he said. A roughness steeled his voice as his arms
enfolded her against the width of his chest.

A streak of pain engulfed her, so that
the transfer to the warm shelter of the four-wheel Blazer was a
haze of movement. It seemed only seconds before the man was back,
letting in another gust of arctic wind as he deposited Pam on the
rear seat.

She bit her lower lip with worry as
she glanced back at her friend’s motionless body. Was it only
moments before that they had been laughing at something silly,
Pam’s remark about Julie’s eyes? “They’re not tilted at the corners
like Sophia Loren’s or gorgeously wide like Audrey Hepburn’s, but
there is something definitely sexy about them—not your ordinary cow
eyes, you understand.”

Upon reflection the remark did not
seem that funny to Julie, but after driving all day and half the
night every word that came out of their mouths had seemed
outrageously hilarious at the moment—even Pam’s quip about Julie’s
five-foot Thumbelina frame.

The man slid into the driver’s seat,
and only then could Julie make out the phantom face of her rescuer.
The dashboard lights illuminated high-planed cheeks and a hard cut
of jaw and sharply squared chin covered with a dark, shaggy growth
that was more than an unshaven stubble but not quite long enough
for a beard. Beneath the aquiline nose the uncompromising curve of
the generous lips stretched in a forbidding line.

The heavy-lidded eyes flicked her a
measured look, and she realized how awful she must appear. With an
unconsciously feminine gesture her good hand came up to brush
through the swath of cinnamon-colored hair that tumbled over her
right temple. Another section of hair had slipped out of one of the
pig tails she had fashioned, to tangle about one
shoulder.

“I’ve lost my ribbon,” she murmured.
Her voice seemed to come from the end of a long tunnel. She tried
to still the trembling that began to shake her, wondering if she
was suffering the aftereffects of shock.

“You’re lucky you didn’t lose your
life,” the man snapped. “What in the world were you doing driving
on the roads? Didn’t you know there were travelers’ advisories
out?”

If the stranger meant to shake her out
of the shock, he succeeded. She had to acknowledge that her car’s
radio had warned them of the hazardous conditions as they left the
last lights of Hobbs, New Mexico, but snowplows had already cleared
the high-desert highway and the winter winds seemed to have dried
the pavement by the time they passed through the small, isolated
town of Roswell and began the steady climb that would turn into a
tortuously twisting road once it reached the foothills of Ruidoso’s
Sacramento Mountains.

“What were you doing out on the road?”
she shot back defensively.

The man nodded to the gearshift
protruding from the center of the car’s floor. “I have four-wheel
drive,” he said impatiently. “And I don’t drive fast in this kind
of weather—as, from the looks of the accident, you
were.”

She bristled under his accusing gaze.
“If you hadn’t had your headlights on bright, I’d have seen that
patch of ice. It’s your fault!”

His mouth quirked in a sardonic smile.
“At a distance of five miles you were blinded by my light
beams?”

Rendered defenseless by his logic, she
dropped the argument. But the realization that she and Pam were
isolated in a car with a strange man and virtually helpless swept
over her like a Texas blue norther, causing her to shiver again.
Her gaze went to the .30/.30 rifle mounted on a rack over one of
the rear side windows. “Who are you?” she asked
suspiciously.

The man’s narrowed eyes never left the
road. “Nick,” he said and volunteered no further information, which
made her that much more apprehensive.

“Where are you taking us?”

“Back to the Roswell hospital. Though
it’s small, it’s the only hospital around for fifty miles or
more.”

Her lips clamped shut. She did not
know how anything could look blacker. She had agreed to Pam’s
suggestion of making a week-end vacation at Carlsbad Caverns near
Hobbs out of a free-lance story she hoped to do on the proposed
nuclear-waste site outside the city. But a burst radiator hose
curtailed their two-day vacation and their money so that they had
to plan a straight-through return drive to Santa Fe Saturday
evening instead of an all-day leisurely trip on Sunday.

She could just imagine her parents’
I-told- you-so expression, though they might never actually utter
the words. Five years ago they had gently cautioned her that twenty
was too young to strike out from Little Elm, Texas, on her own as a
free-lance reporter—that she’d be better off going to the nearby
women’s university at Denton and studying journalism.

Now she and Pam would be detained in a
small hospital in the middle of nowhere with no hope of having the
station wagon repaired before Monday or Tuesday at the earliest.
Thank goodness she had car insurance. She could only hope that Pam,
like herself, had hospitalization.

She gave that information, along with
Pam’s address and her own data, to the middle-aged nurse on duty.
All the while she was uncomfortably aware of the stranger’s
hawklike scrutiny of her. For the first time, beneath the harsh
bright glare of the emer-gency-room lights, her gaze met his
intense blue eyes. There was something about them, about his
rough-cast face with the dark brown hair that was long enough to
curl about the open collar of his flannel shirt, that was vaguely
familiar.

A still dazed Pam was wheeled away on
a bed to another room, while she suffered through the agony of
having her shoulder maneuvered into different positions for X rays.
After the technician finished with her, she was helped out of the
room and passed Pam, who was now coming in. “Are you all right?”
she asked her friend.

Pam smiled wanly, her freckles pale in
her round face. “This is just what I needed—an enforced
rest.”

She touched her shoulder reassuringly.
“I’ll call Jim and tell him that his best secretary will be on an
extended vacation.”

Pam’s hazel eyes went to the shoulder
that Julie was holding in an awkward position. “And tell him also
that his favorite girl will be out of commission for a while,” she
said with a hint of her old mischievousness

Julie made a face at her. Jim Miller,
her boss and the editor of the Santa Fe Sun, had for the first time
asked her out the week before, and she felt Pam was making more out
of the casual friendship than really existed.

When Julie was helped back into the
emergency room her gaze immediately flew to her rescuer. As
barbarous and unsociable as he was, he still seemed to her a
lifeline, her protector in the midst of the impersonal hospital
treatment. He knew what had happened to her. He had seen the
terrible accident. Surely it was as real for him as the pain was
for her now.

The doctor on duty reiterated the
stranger’s assessment of the injuries as he and the nurse strapped
Julie into a harnesslike apparatus that rigidified her upper torso.
She obediently swallowed the pain pill the nurse gave her, only
half listening to the bushy-haired doctor.

BOOK: Made For Each Other
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