Publication date: December 11th 2018 (audio)
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Teri Campbell is on the run, on a bus ride to nowhere. An unscheduled stop on the wind-blown plains of Wyoming leaves her at M&J’s Truck Stop… and in the arms of Mike Gallagher, the young trucker who appoints himself her protector, who understands her as no one else could. But will her new life and her new-found love be enough when events take an unexpected turn? …and can even Mike keep her safe from the past that threatens to reclaim her?
Mike cast a glance at the slim figure of the girl beside him, noting the slight droop of her shoulders that indicated fatigue. He hesitated, choosing his words with care. He drew out a card from his jacket and held it out to her.
“I’ll be on my way in the morning, headed for Houston. This is my pager, and my broker’s number. If anything comes up…. if you need a ride or you just need a friend…. you can call anytime.”
Even in the half light he could see the flush creeping up her cheeks, but she took the card. She stood abruptly, awkwardly, worrying it in her fingers.
“Thanks,” she stammered. “Good night.”
Mike watched her cross the parking lot. When she was halfway to the house he rose to his feet.
She halted, turning to face him. The moon shone full on her face, and he could see clearly the wariness in her big eyes, the soft vulnerability in the trembling of her lips. He took a pace forward, then stopped, knowing she needed the distance. The clear, quiet air carried his deep voice across the asphalt.
“It doesn’t always turn out bad…. being a runaway. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, for survival. But it’s only a life sentence if you want it to be, if you can’t get beyond that.”
His eyes held hers, steady. “I was a runaway too. I was on the streets by the time I was eleven. While it may seem like the end of the world… it may be the start of a whole new one. So keep your chin up, kid.”
With a wink, showing a lightheartedness he didn’t feel, he turned from her, striding past the silent pumps to where his rig was parked. So much to say to her, so many things he could tell her. He had to bite the words back. She didn’t know him, didn’t trust him. Maybe it would be a long time before she trusted anyone at all. Sometimes less was more, he reminded himself. If only she could have faith in Marsha and Joe enough to let them be there for her. If only whomever she was running from didn’t track her down to this little corner of the country.
Teri stared at the tall, broad-shouldered figure as he walked away from her, crossing the tarmac to his truck. He seemed so sure, so confident. It was hard to envision him as a runaway; hard to think of those kinds of things having happened to Mike. It hurt, too, to think of it.
She turned towards the house, her steps lagging as his image floated before her, the beautiful, strong lines of his face, the thick shining gold of his hair, his green eyes smiling down at her as he had sat beside her at the counter. Her heart twisted in her chest, and an odd pain she had never experienced before shot through her. He had just been kind to her; probably he felt sorry for her. To him she was just a kid in trouble, and that’s all he saw her as. Well, she’d left trouble behind her. Maybe she was just a kid…. but she had grown up a long, long time ago.
She reached the front door of the house, and stepped across the threshold with a sigh. If only….
A career medical transcriptionist, Allie McCormack is now writing from home full-time. Allie has traveled quite a bit and lived many places all over the U.S., and also a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student, and a year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia under contract to a hospital there, plus a short stint with NATO while she was in the Army. As a single mom, she raised a wonderful daughter who’s recently married and there are plans afoot for grandchildren. A disabled veteran, Allie now lives in the beautiful Sorona Desert in southern Arizona with her two rescue cats and writes full-time.
Allie says: “A writer is who and what I am… a romance writer. I write what I know, and what I know is romance. Dozens of story lines and literally hundreds of characters live and breathe within the not-so-narrow confines of my imagination, and it is my joy and privilege to bring them to life, to share them with others by writing their stories.”
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