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Sounds and Spirits
SERIES: Hemlock Creek, Book 2
GENRE: Second Chance/Divorced/Widows, Small Town
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: 35,000 to 44,999 (large novella)
HERO’S AGE: 40-49
HEROINE’S AGE: 40-49
HEAT LEVEL: Steamy (Talk Dirty To Me)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Some (The occasional “F” bomb, lots of smack talk, some explicit sex)
Forty-eight-year-old Liddie Hopewell doesn’t quite know what to do with herself after her husband passes away after a long illness. When one of her beloved uncles encourages her to come back to Hemlock Creek, she heads home with her daughter and granddaughter in tow.
Tobias Harper moved back to north Georgia after three decades in Nashville, hoping to recharge and regroup. A successful musician and songwriter, Tobias is searching for inspiration but a vindictive ex-wife and the ghost of his overbearing father seem to be all he’s finding.
High school sweethearts more than three decades before, Liddie and Tobias have a chance meeting at the local tavern. A second unexpected encounter leads to answers of long-unresolved questions. Will Liddie and Tobias be able to rebuild the relationship they once had, or will the burden of the past prove to be too much for their newly-rekindled love affair to bear?
READ AN EXCERPT
Liddie had been driving around, marveling at how much her little hometown had changed in the eighteen years that had passed since she’d last been here. What was formerly farmland or forest now bristled with subdivisions and gated communities, and the little red clay country roads were few and far between.
The landscape had changed so much that her mind really didn’t register how close she was to Fightingtown Creek until she saw the street sign alerting her that she was on Nowhere Road. Her breath caught in her throat and she turned down the now-paved two-lane road and headed instinctively toward the river.
There had always been a few houses on the road that ran alongside the river, but they had been long abandoned even when she was younger, which was why this area was favored for parties and other activities that required a bit of privacy. She hadn’t been to any of the parties, mostly because she was never invited, but she and Tobias spent many hours sitting on the dock talking and swimming, and then later, kissing and planning. Now all the run-down shacks were gone, and one new house sat to the side of what Tobias and Liddie referred to as their dock. She idled in front for a few seconds, then inched forward, holding her breath. The path leading to the dock was still there and accessible. Liddie looked back at the big house and decided she’d rather ask for forgiveness than for permission, and she turned down the dirt road.
It was just as she remembered—at least, if you ignored the fact that there was a fire pit and a gazebo and giant house where the hemlock grove once was. Liddie turned back toward the river, then went and sat on the edge of the dock and took off her shoes and socks. It was really too cold to be dangling her feet in the water, but she couldn’t resist. She only meant to stay a few moments, but despite the nip in the air, the weather was nice and the sound of the river soothed her, so she stayed.
Liddie shook her head, blinking at the reflection of the moon in the water. She must have fallen asleep and been dreaming of Tobias, because she could have sworn she’d heard Tobias say her name.
She turned this time, craning her head around to see Tobias picking his way gingerly toward the dock.
“Toby? How’d you know I was here?”
He stopped where the packed dirt met the wood planks that began the slip. She couldn’t see his face, only the outline of his hard, muscular body. He was shirtless, and she could just make out the lines of ink that covered his torso and arms.
He chuckled, a melancholy sound. “For some reason, I was drawn to the river tonight. I guess something told me you were here.”
Liddie looked past him to the huge, dark house that loomed behind his silhouette. “You live there.”
“This is our dock.”
“Yes. That’s why I bought the house.”
Liddie turned back to the river. “This is our dock,” she repeated. She felt his presence behind her, now closer.
“May I come and sit by you?”
Liddie laughed. “It’s your dock, apparently. You can do whatever you want.”
He stood beside her now but didn’t sit down. His feet were bare, which accounted for his careful steps earlier, and he wore only a pair of thin track pants. “It’s our dock, Liddie.”
She looked up at him. He was looking at the moon’s reflection in the water, his hands in his pockets. “I didn’t come back here for a long time after . . . you know. When I did come back, this was my first stop. That house”—he gestured with his head, without turning around—“that house was sitting there, half-finished, with an auction notice on it. The auction was the next day. I was the only person who bid on it.” He chuckled again, this time the tone incredulous. “What were the odds, right? I knew it was a sign.” He looked down at her and smiled. “It’s our dock. I couldn’t let someone else have our dock.” She saw his Adam’s apple bob in his throat as he swallowed.
“Sit with me. We have a lot to talk about.”
He eased down to sit, resting his elbows on his knees, his feet flat on the boards of the dock. He blew out a breath and then finally looked at her.
“My old man bailed me out after the weekend, but only because we had a show. I called you, and your father hung up on me. Candy said she didn’t know where you’d gone.”
“She didn’t. No one knew except my father.” Liddie swallowed hard, the story catching in her throat. “You’re still driving that truck.”
She could see his teeth flash in the dark, a brief smile before he grew serious again. “Yeah. Guess I can’t let go of things.”
“You let go of me.”
He turned to her and leaned into her space. She could see the heat in his gaze, even in the low light of the moon. “No, Liddie. I never, ever let you go, not really, not here.” He tapped his bare chest. “I never, ever let you go.”
“You married my best friend.”
He closed his eyes. “Yeah, I did. Second-biggest mistake of my life.”
“What was the first?” Liddie held her breath, hoping and dreading the answer.
“Not fighting for you.”
Liddie shook her head. “God, Toby, there’s just so much you don’t know.”
“Then let’s go inside, Liddie, and you can tell me. Please.”
Meet Josie Kerr
Josie Kerr is a transplanted West Texan living on the edge of semi-profoundly rural Georgia, a.k.a. the southernmost edge of the northernmost county in Metro Atlanta.
She has an M.Ed. in Secondary English Education, but discovered that she hated high school more the second time than she did the first, so she decided to meld her love of technology with her education background and became an Instructional Designer. When not writing articles about how to fire someone without getting sued or why you should really not apply for jobs using your SexxyStud99@aol.com email address, she writes steamy romance novels that feature grown-up Heroes and Heroines.