Saturday, 3 June 2017

Chapter one

     The alarm buzzed loudly in Andi’s ears, closing her eyes tighter she wished for one more hour in bed. A drink with friends, turned from a late night into an early morning, and little sleep was not her best friend. In fact, it made her down right tetchy. Her fingers felt for the button to stop the infernal noise, until she prised her eyes open, dragged the covers back and headed for the shower.

     Warm water washed away the remnants of sleep, but all too soon, she was back in her bedroom getting ready for work. Pulling back the curtains, she couldn’t help staring at the view. It was something she could never tire of. The bay window of her rented, two storey wooden home in Sausalito, took in the Golden Gate Bridge. At this time in the morning, fog rolled over the magnificent structure of engineering, but it wouldn’t stay long once the sun had made an appearance. Glancing at her watch, a word or two slipped out as she grabbed her suit jacket, and headed for the door.

     It might have been a great view of the city, but it did have its disadvantages. Picking up the pace, her heels clicked on the concrete surface. She knew her feet would remind her later that running in those shoes was a bad idea. But right now, she had no choice; she couldn’t be late for work... again. Making it with seconds to spare she smiled at the man who closed the gate behind her. After years, she was no longer self conscious, but knew her smile would crease the jagged scar that ran down her cheek.

     Stood on the deck, she did her best to make something from the mass of dark curls flowing over her shoulders. Swearing under her breath, she gave it up as a lost cause, and pulled out a hair band. As she prepared herself for the day ahead, her thoughts turned the night. She hadn’t seen Dan in almost a week; his shifts at the hospital making it impossible. Tonight he’d promised to be all hers. There was a possibility that this would mean curling up next to her and falling asleep. His residency was taking its toll on their relationship. No, there was more than just that, there were other factors at play. Maybe getting passed the next two years, would make it a little easier. Sometimes, she thought they were still together, because he was too exhausted to go looking elsewhere. It wasn’t as though they had much in common. She had started college, but when her mum became ill and died, she had no choice but to find work, anything to pay the bills. Dan on the other hand had family money. She had to admire his conviction to be a doctor when he so easily could have become a spoilt rich kid. The loud speaker announced that they were arriving in San Francisco Bay. “Damn it.” She was going to be late.

     Head down, avoiding eye contact, Andi tried to make her way to her desk unnoticed. Waiting for her was the supervisor, a wicked grin on her face. “That’s three times in two weeks.”

     “I’ll make the five minutes up at lunch,” she retorted, holding her tongue, wanting to say what she could do with her job. Time keeping may not have been her best quality, but she knew she was good at her job. Everything they asked of her she did, maybe it was time to look for something else. Without any further delay, the computer flicked to life, she logged on, and took the first call.

     Two hours in, and her cell vibrated on the desk. In need of some intelligent conversation, and with no one around that would notice, or care, she answered the call. The voice on the other end stopped her heart, if only for a moment. It was a voice from a lifetime ago, someone that would never contact her unless something was seriously wrong. “What’s wrong? Is dad okay?” A cold chill ran down her spine, sweat gathered in her palms, as she began to shove her things into her bag.

     “Nothing he’s fine.” The smooth voice of Jake Corrigan responded.

     “Then why the call, just tell me what you want?” Her tone was harsher than intended, worry turning to anger. Whether he admitted it or not, he would never call unless something was wrong. If he didn’t speak soon, she’d cut him off.

     To allay her fears, he quickly told her about a car accident. “The car turned over with a few of the men travelling up to the East boundary.”

     “What? You just said dad was fine.”

     “He is a lot better than some.”

     Already turning off the computer, and getting to my feet, I added. “Tell me what’s going on.”

     “Seth has a few cuts and bruises and a broken leg.”


     As she waited for the plane to take her to Cheyenne, she ran through the last twenty four hours. It merged a little, from the initial phone call to packing a few things, but she couldn’t forget the voice on the other end. How long had she tried to forget him, and that place? One little call and her thoughts betrayed her. It tried to drag her back to another time, one that she was too scared to revisit.

     Her father had worked at the Lazy Lakes ranch for most of his life. It had been her whole world, until seven years ago. She hadn’t been back since. Jake gave her some more details. Four men were in the truck, all of them were out of action for a while, and one was in critical condition. With everything going on, there was no one to keep an eye on her dad, so she threw a few things in her holdall and caught a flight early the next morning.

     “Miss, would you like a soda or juice?” The attendant had sneaked up on her while she was lost in thought.

     “Orange juice please,” she responded.

     It wasn’t a long flight; still, it gave her too much time to think. When she lived there, she thought nothing would top the rolling hills and open plains of Wyoming. The ranch providing a fantastic place to grow up, but all that changed when she hit fifteen.

     Shaking her head, she put the image out of her mind. It had taken a long time to put it away, though never forgotten, she had got on with her life. Something else crept forward, or rather someone, Jake, and as she closed her eyes his smoky green ones came into view. His long lashes brushing his skin, as he looked down at her. A smile eased its way onto her lips, remembering how she followed him around like a puppy, accepting any attention he would throw her way.

     She’d grown, changed into a woman. How much would he have changed? Would he acknowledge her existence, or was it simply a courtesy call? After all he would be busy taking on the extra work. Nevertheless, an ache started behind her temple. She had to remember that she was there for her dad. If she was lucky, she could avoid Jake, and the whole Corrigan family drama that seem to settle around them like a dark cloud. Plugging in her headphones, she turned up the volume, drowning out any more thoughts.