Carried Away: A Small Town Second Chance Sweet Romance (E-Book)
Carried Away: A Small Town Second Chance Sweet Romance (E-Book)
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It took me years to get Ryan Stirling out of my heart and my mind.
Now he's back, reminding me why he was so hard to forget.
- Second Chance Romance
- Small Town
- Time Limit
- Sweet Romance (Just kissing!)
- Single Dad
Ryan has one week to fix Carrie's car and her heart before she drives back out of his life forever. Does he have what it takes to finally get his happily ever after?
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Chapter 1: When a Coffin Closes A Tire Goes Flat
I stand, watching over the grave as the backhoe places the final piles of dirt on top of the coffin. This is the last step to ensure my father's remains are in their final resting place.
Aside from me and the backhoe driver, I am alone. Everyone has already left and is on their way home. Including my brother, Freddie, and my father’s wife, Hilloria. They’ll probably be back on their airplanes home before I leave the cemetery. But that was always the case with them.
Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes, let one final tear drip from my eyes, and say, “Goodbye, Dad.” I square my shoulders, adjust my dark sunglasses, and turn to walk to my car. The black lace of my dress rubs against my knee as I walk along the path, careful not to let my heels snag on any of the rocks or thick, wet grass of the cemetery grounds.
The last time I wore this dress, my ex and I were at the company Christmas party. He'd picked it out, stating he loved the lines of the pencil skirt and the way the top hugged my curves. It was one of the last good nights we'd had.
That was before Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer, and my life completely fell apart.
The nasty kind. The stuff that's brutal, aggressive, and unrelenting in its goal of ravaging one's body. There was no ‘if you get better’. It was only a ‘when you die’ scenario.
Despite his fighting spirit, Dad’s decline was slow and painful, ravaging his organs and body. Dad’s transformation shocked me, going from vibrant and energetic, to yellow-tinged and listless. By the end, we were all praying for him to die so he'd no longer be in pain.
Shortly after Dad’s diagnosis, my last relationship fell apart, and I went to live with Dad and his wife to be Dad’s caretaker. My Brother Freddie was MIA during it all. Dad’s wife counted down the days until she’d get all of his money and optimized the evil stepmother personae.
A new wave of tears falls, and I shake my head, forcing myself to keep it together. I’ve cried for months now. I’m tired of being emotional. I’m tired of having headaches from crying all the time. Yes, Dad is gone. But he’s in a better place. And after years of putting my life on hold for him, I can finally begin living again.
I climb into my car, check my face in the rearview mirror for mascara stains and raccoon eyes, then pat any flyaway hairs back into place around the tight bun on top of my head.
I glance up at the sky, noting the charcoal blackness of the clouds. A perfect complement to this day.
As I turn the key in the ignition, there’s nothing but clicking.
Can this day get any worse?
Soon, the pitter-patter of raindrops interrupts my thoughts and I give God the finger. He has one sick sense of humor.
I pull out my AAA card and dial the number, requesting a tow truck. By now, the pitter-patter has intensified into a torrent of water pounding on the roof of my car until it sounds like thunder. Lightening flashes across the horizon. Fan-freakin'-tastic.
As the minutes tick away, I sit in a daze, so emotionally exhausted that thought escapes me. I stare at the streams of water descending the window in front of me.
I'm jolted back to alertness by the beeping of the tow truck and the fuzzy red lights of the vehicle backing up to the front of my three-year-old Toyota Carolla.
A large, hazy figure jumps out of the truck and runs to me, tapping on my window. My windows are electric, of course. I have to open the door, causing a deluge of water to stream off the door frame and onto the side of my thigh.
I curse, then look up at the man who now looks like he's swum five miles in a river. My stomach drops, my heart lurches, and my eyes bulge. “Ryan?”
He blinks several times before breaking out into a massive wet grin. His hair is plastered to his head underneath the baseball cap with the towing company’s name on it, and his shirt clings to his chest. Ryan’s face shines from the water running down his high cheeks in rivulets and dripping off his jaw. He barely seems to notice the water, though. Judging by the shocked look on his face, Ryan is just as surprised as I am.
"H-Hey, Ryan. How're you doing?"
“Carrie Babson. It really is you.” Ryan surveys the cemetery until his slate-blue eyes return to mine. “I'm not sure who is worse off. Me or you.”
Lightning flashes in the sky and he glances upward before he shakes his head like a dog trying to dry off. "Let's get you taken care of, then we can catch up," he says, flashing a crooked smile.
I bite my lip, unsure of what I should do. "Do you want to sit in the car until the water dies down first?"
Ryan shakes his head.. “It's just a little water.” He holds out his hand to me. “Let’s get you into my truck while I hook your car up.” Ryan yanks back his hand before I can grab it, and holds up a finger. "Hold on a sec."
He jogs to his truck through the rain, pulls out an umbrella, and opens it before returning to me and offering me his hand again. He lifts the umbrella over my head and covers the opening to my door. "Don't want to ruin your dress."
I grab my purse and take his hand, feeling the same twinge I used to feel when we were together in high school. His hand is still strong and warm, despite the cool water from the torrential downpour. And he's gentle when he lifts me out of my seat. Resting his hand on the base of my back, he nudges me toward his tow truck. Despite the layers of clothing between his hand and my back, I'm still uncomfortably aware of him. How warm he is despite the cold water pelting at us from the side.
I glance up at him to thank him for his help, but my words freeze in my throat. Wow. It has been a long time. The boyish features of my high school crush are gone, replaced by strong arms, broad shoulders, and weary eyes.
We hurry to the tow truck, and he opens the passenger door for me, helping to boost me up into the seat before closing the door with a nod and getting back to the work of attaching my sedan to his truck.
I glance around the cab of the truck. It's not what I'd expected the inside of a tow truck to look like. I've always imagined one to be greasy, grimy, and filled with fast-food wrappers, or something. This is clean, recently vacuumed, and smells of vanilla. I glance up at his rearview mirror and smile at the yellow tree-shaped air freshener dangling from the neck of the mirror. The same stupid air freshener he used to have in his Mustang when we were in high school.
I gaze out the side-view mirror at Ryan. He's quick and efficient, virtually ignoring the rain as he hooks my car up to his truck. A couple of times he's forced to lie on the ground to hook the cables to the axle of my car. When he stands, he seems unphased. In a few short minutes, he returns to the tow truck and opens the driver’s side door.
His wet, muddy clothes are stuck to his body. Being a tow truck driver has obviously been good to him, despite looking like he just climbed out of a mud puddle.
I glance down and smooth the lace of my skirt. Unlike me. Being a caretaker to my dying father, made me softer, more haggard, and as fragile as a potato chip.
Ryan grabs a towel from behind the driver's seat and wipes the worst of the mess off his clothes before hopping into the cab of the truck. I wince, realizing he’s wet, cold, and muddy because of me and my stupid car.
He hasn't changed much from the boy I'd known in high school nearly fifteen years ago. He still has those slate-blue eyes, one of them a little lazy, which adds to his boyish charm. His hair is cut short, and he still has the body of a high school football star. Wow. Isn't a guy supposed to go a little soft when he gets older? Because I think this one has gotten better with time.
We lock eyes, and he smiles. “Been a long time, hasn't it?”
“Yeah, it has,” I say with a chuckle.
His grin fades and rubs his neck before turning the ignition and letting his truck rumble to life. He clears his throat and motions to my car. “Where to?”
I furrow my brows and any warmth I feel from seeing a familiar face is doused like he threw me back into the storm. “Um, I'm not sure. Do you know any good mechanics?”
He smiles again, flashing the dimple on his cheek I'd forgotten he had. “I think I might know of someone who can take a look.”