Tomorrow we release Book 7, Timeless Hero, and I've just completed my second contribution to the series, Timeless Bond, which comes out on April 30th!
The series is currently only available on Amazon, but once each book's 90-day exclusive obligation is over, it is my understanding that each author will publish their books wide. (Barnes&Noble, iBooks, etc) That means the first book should be rolling out at other retailers around the middle of May.
Today, I've got the first chapter to Timeless Bond for you. Enjoy!
"She gave up on herself, but he’s not going to give up on her."
“I’m going to do this, and no one is going to stop me or talk me out of it.”
Amber Milligan paced the slick faux-wood floor in the living room of her tiny apartment, holding her cell phone to her head. She could almost glide across the floor in her fuzzy socks. Her other hand trembled as she stuck the end of a cigarette in her mouth and took a long drag.
“Have you completely lost your mind, Amber?”
Her cousin, Ashley, screeched in a raised voice through the speaker of the phone.
“I’ve had enough. There’s nothing anyone can do for me. I’m not exactly sure yet when and how, but I thought you should know, since you’re family. I was hoping I could count on you to help me figure it out.”
Amber exhaled, then took another quick drag before squashing the cigarette butt next to the half-eaten sandwich on the plate that sat on the coffee table.
“Are you smoking something? Don’t lie to me that you’re not. I can hear it in the way you’re breathing. I’ve warned you before, those things will kill you.”
Amber laughed. “Like it’s going to make a difference in the end.”
On the other end of the line, Ashley huffed. “You’re right about one thing, Amber. I’m family, not to mention your best friend, and that is exactly why you are out of your mind if you think I’m going to support you in this cockamamy idea. I understand things are rough, but there’s got to be a different solution.”
Amber stared up at the ceiling, her eyes stinging from the second-hand smoke that hovered in the air. She blinked away the burning feeling and sniffled. Why couldn’t anyone understand?
Maybe it had been a stupid idea to confide in her cousin what she’d planned to do. It was probably better if no one knew. Truth be told, though, she was scared, and she’d wanted to tell someone. Clearly, telling Ashley had been a mistake.
“Amber, don’t do anything impulsive. Do you want me to come to Texas? We can talk and have girls’ night, like we used to.” A slight laugh came from the phone. “If you want, I’ll invite my friend, Morgan, too. I know you and she got along really well before.”
Amber nodded. She hugged her arm around her waist and continued pacing the room.
“Sorry. Yeah, I heard you.”
She reached for her pack of cigarettes on the table, glanced at it, then tossed it aside. Maybe later she’d smoke the entire pack. Right now, she’d only get another scolding from Ashley about the dangers of smoking. She squeezed her eyes shut and laughed silently.
“What happened with that guy you were seeing, Chris?”
Amber opened her eyes at the unexpected question. She clenched the phone in her hand, pressing it against her ear.
“It didn’t work out.” No need to go into detail.
“You said you really liked him.” Clearly, Ashley was trying to change the subject and divert her away from the reason for the phone call.
Amber ran her hand under her nose. “Yeah, well, some things just aren’t meant to be. Especially not for me. I certainly can’t have a long-term relationship with a guy, now can I?”
“Did you tell him?” Obviously, Ashley was ignoring the last remark.
Amber paused. “No, I never told anyone, other than you.”
After a slight pause, Ashley continued in her enthusiastic voice, “Well, if you really like this guy, maybe you should tell him. Maybe you two could get back together.”
Amber shook her head. She held her free hand up in front of her face, rotating it to study her trembling fingers without really seeing them.
“It’s really not fair to him, is it? Even if he does know. Either way, it’s too late for that. He’s moved on.”
“How do you know?”
Amber shook her head. Ashley was always so optimistic.
“The last time I saw him was a few weeks ago. He showed up out of the blue to tell me he’d moved on, that he’d met someone and he was going to a better place.” She laughed, a dry, sarcastic laugh. “Sounds like what I want to do, too.”
Despite all her efforts, the tears began to fall. She squeezed her trembling lips together, as well as her eyes. “I wish I had been honest with him, of all people. He really was a good guy.”
“Amber, you need someone like that in your life. It can make a world of difference.”
Amber scoffed. “Not in my case. Besides, I messed up too many times. It’s too late for me.”
“Stop talking like that.” Ashley’s voice rose. She was getting agitated. Good thing she was hundreds of miles away in California. “It’s never too late. What exactly happened between you two?”
Amber shrugged. It really wasn’t important. Her only regret was that she hadn’t been honest with Chris.
“I didn’t talk to him at all after we broke up.” She laughed softly. “Actually, I’m the one who broke it off. To this day, I’m surprised he didn’t break up with me first. I was horrible to him.”
She cleared her throat, which had developed a painful lump, making talking difficult. She swallowed before she continued. “When I told him I didn’t want to be together anymore, I asked him to come and pick me up from a party later that day. On the way there, he was in an accident. His friend, who was driving, got killed.”
A soft gasp came from the speaker. Amber didn’t wait for a comment from Ashley.
“Chris pretty much fell off everyone’s radar after that. He was in the hospital for a while, then in rehab, and he refused to see anyone, especially me. Then he showed up out of the blue a couple of weeks ago, saying he forgave me for everything, and to have a good life. He disappeared after that.”
“And now you’re trying to find him? Why would you do that unless you think you want to get back together with him?” The hopeful tone in Ashley’s voice was unmistakable.
Amber laughed. “No. You’re the one who brought him up, remember?” She ran her hand through her hair, pushing the strands out of her face. She’d recently gone from having black hair to dying it a coppery color, and she’d cut half the length off. No use having all that hair, anyway.
“I want to disappear, like Chris. He sounded weird, like he knew he’d never be coming back. He was happy and upbeat, not like the angry guy he was weeks after the accident.”
Amber heaved a sigh, then stared up at the ceiling again.
“How’s your friend, Morgan? She had a baby a few years ago, didn’t she?”
There was a silent pause on the other end. Amber held her breath. Would Ashley go along with her and change the subject, or would she insist on talking her out of her plans?
“Morgan is doing great. Her son, Logan, is almost three years old now. She’s happily married and living on a horse ranch in Montana. Can you believe it?”
Amber sighed. “Chris is originally from Montana, too.”
Ashley giggled, which sounded more like a cover-up for thinking she’d said the wrong thing. Ashley was clearly under the impression that she hadn’t gotten over the break-up. While Chris had been a great guy, and she’d messed up big-time, it was better that they’d gone their separate ways.
It wouldn’t have been fair to him if they had stayed together. She should have never gotten involved with him in the first place. There was only one thing she regretted where he was concerned.
“Those Montana cowboys sure are the best.” Ashley’s cheerful voice blared through the phone. “One of these days, I’m going to find myself one like that.” She laughed. “Although, Gabe was a bit strange at first. He kept joking with Morgan that he was from the nineteenth century.” She giggled. “More than likely his brain cooked a little too long in the desert heat.”
Amber’s eyes opened. Her forehead scrunched. “The nineteenth century? Sure does sound crazy. Does he think he time traveled?”
She frowned. Chris had said something rather odd to her the day he’d told her he’d forgiven her.
“Chris said something weird to me, too, that he was going to a different time and place. It must be a Montana thing to say when they want to be left alone.”
Ashley sighed dramatically. “Gabe was the real deal. A genuine cowboy in every way… well, except that he was nuts and talked about time travel.”
“And Morgan trusted him?” Maybe he’d seemed safer than her previous relationships. Ashley had told her years ago that Morgan had been in an abusive relationship with her son’s father.
“She trusted him enough to marry him. She really likes that he’s old-fashioned in the way he acts and thinks. Truthfully, it’s really very appealing. Not like some of the guys I’ve gone out with over the years. It turned out that he owns a huge ranch in Montana. They’re both madly in love with each other.”
“Well, I guess fairy tales are real, then,” Amber mumbled. “As long as he doesn’t decide to time travel again and go back to where he came from.”
Ashley laughed, obviously recognizing the sarcasm. “If he does, I’ve already told him and Morgan that he needs to send one of his friends my way.”
There was a long pause, then she said, “Amber, I’m going to book a flight out to Texas. We need to talk face-to-face. I don’t like talking on the phone like this. You’re really scaring me with what you said earlier. Promise me you won’t do anything impulsive.”
Amber scrunched her face. Why had she even opened her big mouth at all? She should have simply carried out her plans quietly, without dragging anyone with her.
“I’d like to see you, too, Ashley. Then I can explain everything better, and I hope you’ll be my friend and support me. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can find out where Chris went. I think it’s important for him to know the truth.”
“Okay.” Ashley sounded hesitant. “I’m running late for work, but I will call you later when my shift ends, all right?”
“All right?” Ashley repeated, a bit more forcefully.
“Yes, all right.”
“Hang in there. It’s going to all work out, you’ll see.”
Amber ended the call. She fell back against the couch and raised her eyes to the ceiling, staring into nothing. She ran her hand under her eyes and blinked away the new threat of tears. She couldn’t go on like this. Each day was worse than the one before.
“I just came from a little town in the middle of nowhere called Heartsbridge. I need to get back there, but first, I wanted to tell you I’ve moved on. No hard feelings. We all make mistakes, but it’s time to forget about the past and move forward. I’ve made a choice for a positive change in my life, and I hope you will, too.”
Chris’s words echoed in her mind.
“If only you knew, Chris. I can’t move forward. I’m glad you did, though, and found happiness.”
Amber clutched her phone in her hand, then raised it to look at the screen. She wasn’t going to wait for Ashley. It would be several days at the earliest before her cousin would even get here. Besides, she’d only try to talk her out of her plans. She’d already made up her mind, and no one and nothing was going to change it.
It was time to carry out her plans, no matter how scary it sounded. She wasn’t going to waste away in this college town with nothing to do while she waited. In the end, it really wouldn’t matter, but there was some unfinished business to take care of first.
Amber tapped the button on her GPS app, and typed in the word Heartsbridge.
© Peggy L Henderson 2017
This text may not be copied or shared without permission
If you missed my first book in the series, Timeless Healing, you can get it on AMAZON