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Corrine is near exhaustion on the downward trail. Pausing for breath on an open ridge, she hears a strange, whistling sound. At first, she is unable to identify it. Anxiety rising, she whirls about and raises her eyes to the sky to see the she-eagle plummeting toward her. She doesn’t know whether to expect a greeting or an attack. She only knows she mustn’t run.
The wind from the eagle’s strong beating wings whips her hair wildly about her face. The bird, its talons raised, its ear-splitting scream terrifying her, Corrine nearly faints before the spirit of her native American husband raises protective arms above her to return the bird’s salutation.
After tomorrow, Corrine realized, she might never see Walter again. She became aware just how much she had come to enjoy his companionship. She enjoyed his delighted exclamations as he studied her photographs. She looked forward to his jesting and the little things he did to please her.
How could I have grown so accustomed to including him in my thoughts? It just won’t be the same without him. She swallowed the lump that rose in her throat. I’ll miss him, she realized, sitting up straighter. I’m really going to miss him.
She contemplated her discovery, marveling that she had not recognized it before. Well, I’ll be damned! I think I’ve fallen in love. Why now? Why Walter? It can be nothing but a dead-end experience. He’s wanted by the police, and I still don’t know why. And what about Paul? What about my feelings for Paul? She sat, contemplating the new dilemma.
Well, it’s for sure no one has reached through my defenses since Paul’s death like Walter has. Not that a few good men haven’t tried. What makes him different? She couldn’t put her finger on it now that she thought about it.
Since her desire to touch, and to be touched had been rekindled, she didn’t know for sure whether she wanted to deny herself or not. What would Paul think? How would he feel about it? What would he do if I had been killed and he lived on?
Her rational mind chided her for her weakness; her romantic self accepted the growing relationship. Why do I have to live with just romance from books? Why with just memories?
No matter how dear, it’s so lonely. Can’t I cherish my memories and have someone to love, too? Why not? Well, why not? she questioned herself. Wouldn’t Paul want me to be free to love again? I’m sure he’d want me to be happy.
I’d want him to be happy if the situation were reversed. Corrine twined the rawhide thong about her fingers, holding the talisman in her palm.
I don’t want to lose Walter’s companionship, his touch, his quick wit, his laugh, his sparkling eyes. He makes me feel like a woman again. Like the legend of the eagle, my spirit has been lifted above the mountain to soar on the currents. Thank you, Paul. I am alive. I will be happy again, I promise.
Knowing that Sara wasn’t Walter’s wife altered her whole perspective, changed her dreams for the future. Corrine opened her hand, gazing at the tiny claw, its symbolism poignant within her mind. It represented freedom, strength, and the mystical power to overcome adversity. She snapped the box closed resolutely, returning it to the shelf.
Returning to the main room, she realized she must somehow express her newly discovered feelings to this man, this stranger, who had bewitched her heart. She stood on the hearth, warming herself, watching Walter, waiting, unsure how to proceed. She clutched the talisman tightly in her hand.
When Walter looked up and saw Corrine standing idly on the hearth, he rose without a word to pour her a cup of fresh coffee, carrying it to her. Corrine smiled her thanks, sipping reflectively, her eyes trailing Walter back toward the bed as he stiffly eased himself into it.
It was quite clear that no matter how unlikely it seemed, she had fallen in love with this stranger, this warm and tender man, who had been sharing her life these last few days. She already ached thinking about the days ahead, when he would no longer be there--longing for his touch, his smile, his warmth--and as yet, he hadn’t even left her.
Corrine continued to stand watching him, sipping absently at her steaming cup. She was reminded again that their remaining time together might well be measured in hours.
BIO: JoEllen Conger is not one writer, but two—a pair of twins who have shared their special mind-linking abilities since children. What one doesn’t think to add to a manuscript or story, the other does. They make quite a team. And as they matured and went their separate ways, writing was the one link that always kept them together. Each twin has her own area of expertise, but enjoying their collaboration efforts, they continue to write fiction in several genres and non-fiction articles and books in various topics.
BIO (1): Joan Ellen Powell lives in Santa Cruz, California with her younger daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. She also writes under her married name, Joan C. Powell. Being a long-term member of her community, Joan Ellen is actively involved in many local organizations. She has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1989, and has served as an officer of her local chapter many times. Over the years she has been called upon to judge RWA writing contests, critique or advise other writers, mentor and review pre-published galleys and published works. She finds it a fulfilling way to make new friends.
BIO (2) Joyce Ann Kennedy lives with her husband, and a yard full of wild birds, two small dogs, and a number of cats in the dessert heat of Bakersfield, California. She not only critiques manuscripts by mail, and served as a writing contest judge for RWA, she’s accepted a more recent job as submissions editor for a local cyber-magazine, while continuing to co-write romance, fantasy, and adventure tales with her twin sister. Although the twins live miles apart, thanks to e-mail, they are in constant communications.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 320
Paper Weight (lb): 13.4
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