Whispers of Love ~ Book 3 of the Golden Girl Series
Life is what happens while you’re making other plans…
Connor Anderson leads a charmed life and knows exactly where he’s going. Men want to be him, women want to be with him, and Hollywood simply wants him. When he crashes his car in the backwaters of New Zealand on his way to the location of his newest film, it’s just an inconvenience. Right?
Claudia is rebuilding her life with her new daughter, her beloved farm in the stunning New Zealand countryside, her treasured animals, and now without a husband. Her recipe for happiness is to stop chasing pipe dreams. She lacks nothing. Should she see something she wants, she knows how to get it. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
But best-laid plans aren’t always working out when Hollywood stardom collides with down to earth Kiwi sensibility.
Excerpt of Whispers of Love ~ Chapter One
Connor flinched as lightning cut through the angry, black sky followed by waves of thunder rolling through the night. He checked the rear-view mirror and swore under his breath. Damn leeches are still following him. His maneuver to shake them off a few intersections back didn’t work. How did they do it? Did they stick a tracking device to his car?
Everything went crazy today, starting with the two-hour delay in Tokyo and arriving late in Auckland in pouring rain and thunderstorm. He should have taken the taxi the producers booked for him instead of driving himself, in a foreign country, at night, and on the wrong side of the road for crying out loud. What was he thinking?
He checked the mirror again. Blinded by the headlights of the following car he swore. They’ll win and get their shots of him, but not tonight if he can help it. Tonight he’s an ordinary bloke driving through the sticks of New Zealand. Stunning sticks, they told him. He’ll be the judge of that. Right now he could only make out trees and fences that appeared in the beam of his headlights.
At the signpost to Dargaville, he slammed on the brakes and flung the car to the right into a small side road. Had he outfoxed his followers? He checked the rearview mirror again and, his foot hard on the gas pedal, raced around the corner up the hill. Too late he noticed the street change from asphalt to gravel. His Jeep skidded.
Illuminated by another lightning beam, he stared at two cows standing at a fence, staring at him with their big cow eyes. He threw the steering wheel around but his Jeep slid and swerved out of control across the road. The animals bolted in panic and the car crashed into the wooden fence.
Under the impact of the collision, his body propelled forward and his head slammed into the windshield. Dizzy and disoriented he moaned as blood ran down his right eye. The headlights cast an eerie light onto the scene, the silence only disturbed by the drum roll of the rain on the roof, the squeaking of the wipers, and the hissing steam escaping from the bonnet.
He should get out of the car but his legs didn’t move. Maybe he was already dead? Like Patrick Swayze in Ghost before he realised he was dead? So this is how dying felt. Interesting. He expected more… His vision faded.
I don’t know what I’m doing!
Claudia snorted. The course facilitator was a real wiseguy. Two hundred fifty dollars spent on a weekend course that told her what she already knew. So much hope and money to find new answers wasted. Any answer would’ve done. She was open like a hay barn for good suggestions at this particular juncture of her life. That’s how desperate she was. If someone could just point out to her what she did wrong. Where did she veer off the right path?
Started by the bright lightning cutting through the dark night followed by sharp, loud cracks of thunder she grabbed the steering wheel with both hands. She should slow down, but the headlights of the idiot racing ahead in front of her gave her decent enough vision. She shrugged. How many times had she driven on this road in the last thirty years? She could drive here with her eyes closed and her hands tied behind her back.
Howard should have gone with her but Advanced Relationship Communication was, quote Unnecessary. Nothing wrong with our communication. Life is not a romance novel, darling unquote. What did he take her for? A moron? …Is the female form of moron moroness…? After thirty years of marriage, she didn’t expect fireworks each day. But some passion, some signs of desire ever now and then wasn’t too much to ask, was it? She was sick and tired of feeling like a comfortable pair of felt slippers he put on to get from A to B.
She snorted and shifted down into second gear to take the right turn-off. Almost home. She will force Howard to talk about their relationship tonight, even if she had to nail him to the floorboards. As she saw it, they were standing up to their chins in a pool filled with manure, praying nobody would be stupid enough to jump in and make waves. It was time to get real, especially with Isabella living with them now. She deserved a happy home.
Her eyes snapped open as the car in front of her swerved like a leaf in the wind and slammed into the fence. Her fence. Bloody idiot. Who drives at breakneck speed on a gravel road during a thunderstorm? She pumped her breaks until her pick-up truck stopped right behind the Jeep. There was no movement in the car in front of her. Without a second thought, she jumped out of her truck and ran into the pouring rain to help.
Cows in heaven? Really?
He stared at the cows standing near the passenger’s window. They came back. He wasn’t dead because everybody knew cows don’t go to heaven. Dogs do. All Dogs go to Heaven. Never has there been a movie of cows in heaven. They were whirled through the air in the Wizard of Oz… or was that Twister?… But can cows rip a car door open with their hooves? Because someone just did and it felt like a sledgehammer hit his head.
Soft hands pried his fingers from the steering wheel and flitted over his face. Pain shot through him and he flinched as they probed his forehead. He lifted his head and looked straight into eyes the colour of Scandinavian amber found at the beaches of the Baltic Sea. He remembered shooting a war movie in the Baltic Sea… that was ages ago. The eyes belonged to hands that scanned his torso and his legs. Keep going there are countless bits you haven’t checked yet.
He beamed at her… at least that’s what he aimed for. There was no better time for his tried and trusted Casablanca line.
“Sweetheart, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
His croaking voice surprised him. Did he lose the power of speech? One of his best assets? Why would she send him angry, poisonous darts with her eyes? He yelped as she bent over him and unbuckled his seatbelt.
“That hurt!” He closed his eyes in pain.
“It appears you’re lucky. Nothing seems broken but you’re bleeding from your head wound. Your car is a wreck. We need to get you out of here” She slid her hands under his armpits. “Can you help with your legs? You are mighty heavy.”
He winced when he pushed with his legs. Every part of his body hurt. He tried not to put too much weight on her as she helped him out of the Jeep and slung his arm over her shoulder. Pushed about by unforgiving storm gusts and drenched to the bone they reached her car. She folded his legs under the dashboard and buckled him up. His teeth chattered and he shivered from the cold seeping into him.
“I’ll be back in a second, just closing up your car and getting your bags.” He watched her stomping through the rain to his Jeep. Rivulets of water ran off her knee-length oilskin coat as she switched off the lights and closed the door of his damaged car. With a last look at the broken fence to make certain it would keep the cows penned, she lifted his large bags into the backseat of her pickup truck, swung behind the wheel, and started the truck.
“Thank you.” He grunted. “You came just in time before a stampede of cows trampled me to death.”
“You’re talking nonsense. Molly and Daisy are harmless. They are part of the family. You almost ran over my only two cows.” She concentrated on the winding road. “I’m glad you didn’t.”
“You haven’t seen the murderous looks they sent me! They were out for revenge.”
She snorted and handed him a stack of tissues. “Of course they were. They do that all the time. Here, hold this against your cut. You look terrible. I’ll take you to my home where I can check your injuries and you can change into dry clothes.” She set the slider to heat and the truck filled with hot air in no time.
“You live nearby?”
She pointed into the vast darkness. “This is our farm.”
He glanced at her as the occasional lightning lit up the inside of the car. Fine lines spread out from the corner of her eyes. Were they from squinting in sunlight or from laughing lots? He couldn’t tell the shape of her lips because she worried them as she navigated around the many curves and potholes. Her nose made a slight upside swing at the tip giving her a cheeky, mischievous flair.
She was in no ways remarkable. Pick-up truck, riding boots, oilskin coat, and no make-up told a simple story. Farmer’s wife. He couldn’t even tell her age. It wouldn’t surprise him if she stopped the truck, jumped out wielding a wrench, and fixed a fence wire loosened by the storm.
A groan escaped him and he held his hurting chest as a sharp left-turn pushed him into the corner. No doubt, by tomorrow he would show bruises all over his body. He might even have one in the shape of the steering wheel because the bloody airbag didn’t inflate. Thank God he didn’t have any work requiring him to undress in the next two weeks.
Her head swung around to him and she examined him with concern in her eyes.
“I am sorry I should drive slower. We’re home.”
Two large outside lamps cast pale pools of light on a deserted farmyard and a dark towering barn at the back. She drove up to the front steps of a grand wooden weatherboard house. Painted in warm shades of ochre, its porch stretched out in front of him marked by skilfully turned railings. Two old trees framed the entrance, their branches blowing about by the storm, hitting the roof that pitched over the porch, giving the entrance protection from the weather.
He’d lost all orientation where he was in relationship to Auckland Airport and the Kaipara Harbour, his destination. He might have landed on Mars for all he knew. They were miles away from any civilised settlement. What was he doing here in the middle of No-where? Did he have to follow a total stranger in the middle of the night? Like Stephen King and the movie Misery? Was he caught in the fangs of a deranged fan?
She looked a little bit like it, rushing around the car with no regard for the deluge of rain, her dark hair blowing about her head. He’d seen scarecrows looking more appealing than her. She opened the door on his side.
“Take my arm and let’s see if you can get out by yourself.”
A moan escaped him as he stepped out of the car. Every muscle in his body complained. Helped by her he limped into the house. They crossed a large hall and she opened the door to what appeared a living room. The couple on the couch flew apart and jumped up, their frantic hands busy to remedy their state of undress.
“Howard?” The woman’s voice died.
Mood board for WHISPERS OF LOVE –