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If you enjoy the the wind on your face and open sky before you, you have come to a good place to find the romance and flavor of the West.

A J Hawke ~ Caught Between Two Worlds ~ Book Giveaway


Caught Between Two Worlds by A J Hawke is an Inspirational Contemporary Romance. It is available on Amazon.com as a paperback and on Amazon/Kindle as an ebook.

Book Description: He comes from a ranch in Colorado; she comes from Upper Manhattan. He’s struggling to provide the medical care his daughter needs; she has more money than she can spend in a lifetime. He has a strong faith to see him through; she is alone without a belief. They are caught between their two worlds.

Widower Flint Tucker doesn't have the resources to get the medical treatment his three-year-old daughter needs. Stephanie Wellbourne has a chance encounter with Flint and she offers him a job that will enable him to earn the money. The only problem is the job takes him away from his life in Colorado and brings him to New York City. Drawn to the tall rugged Westerner, Stephanie can’t understand his clinging to a belief that God will provide a way to help him with his problems. How can a man from a ranch in Colorado and an Upper Manhattan career woman find love as they are caught between their two worlds.

Here is an except:

Chapter One
August 2008
Colorado Rockies
Stephanie Wellbourne felt her ankle twist and tried to catch herself before she hit the gravel and dirt of the mountain trail, but landed hard. Pain slammed her right ankle and up her leg. She moaned as she brushed the dark hair out of her eyes. No way to tell how many bruises the impact had created. The stabbing pain intensified and gritting her teeth, Stephanie wrapped both hands around her ankle and glanced in both directions, hoping to see someone who could help. Nothing but thick forest swallowed the trail in both directions. How long had she been walking on the path by the Retreat Center before she twisted her ankle? Why hadn’t she turned back at the end of the paved walk instead of continuing through the forest?

Whipping her head around at an unexpected sound, she stared into the forest of trees that bordered the path. Was that a bird? Now she was hearing all sorts of noises. With the help of a small pine tree next to the trail, Stephanie pulled herself upright and put weight on her right foot. Ouch! No way there’d be any walking on this ankle. Was it broken?

Queasiness rolled over her in waves and she bit her lower lip. How could she make it back to the Retreat Center? Her corporate staff had the afternoon off, and she was stuck out here. Stephanie shoved her hand into her pocket searching for her cell phone. It wasn’t there. Stupid! She should have accepted Sam Edwards’ offer to walk with her. However, she had no desire to talk to the head of her corporate law division, and she’d been so angry with him. Angry at all of them! The entire management team refusing her
solutions—how dare they? After all, it was her company.

Stephanie hopped and made it about fifteen feet before stumbling to her knees. Pain surged through her lower right leg. She sat in the middle of the gravel trail, hugged her right knee close to her chest, and tried not to cry. This could not be happening. She fingered the tear in the knee of her black microfiber slacks. The red sleeveless sweater had been warm enough during the hike, but now she shivered in the stretching shadows of late afternoon. Looking around she felt the forest closing in on her. Where was her staff when she needed them?


The sun sank closer to the tree line. She struggled against the rising panic. The slight breeze brought a smell of pine and earth, and the effects of the wind had a different sound on the tops of the pine and fir trees. It didn’t
resemble her estate in the Hamptons in any way. 

A sound that had been at the edge of her mind for several moments became a loud thump, thump of boots hitting the gravel. She turned toward the trail leading up the mountain. A tall man strode her way. Loaded down with a large black backpack, he pounded downhill with the water bottle strapped to his belt keeping rhythm with his steps.


His sudden stop sent a spray of small gravel fanning out in front of his heavy hiking boots. “Are you all right?” He seemed bewildered to find her sitting on the trail. 


His short light brown hair looked like it might be curly if allowed to grow. Why was she noticing his curly locks at a time like this? She shook off the thought. “No, I’m not. I may have twisted my ankle and I don’t have my cell phone. You wouldn’t have one, would you?”

“Sorry, my battery’s down.” His voice was deep and mellow.


Nice voice. It wouldn’t be hard to listen to, and he wasn’t bad to look at either with his dark green T-shirt taut across the width of his chest and shoulders, snug-fitting khaki hiking shorts, and sporting sunglasses in the dimming light of day, although he seemed a little distant. Would he be like most men she met who gave her too much attention, especially when they discovered who she was? She would find out. 

“Can you help me back to the Cedar Ridge Retreat Center? It’s just down the trail.”

Working his arms out of the straps of his backpack, he dropped it on the side of the trail. “Let’s take a look at your ankle."


His square-jaw framed the lower part of his strong handsome face. If only he’d take his sunglasses off so she could see the color of his eyes. She shook herself to focus on what he’d said as she lifted her ankle for his
inspection. “I don’t know what looking at it will do. I can tell it’s sprained. I just need help getting back to my hotel room.”

The man held out his hand. “Would it help if I introduced myself? I’m Flint Tucker.” His large hand swallowed hers in its warmth.


“Hi, I’m Stephanie Wellbourne of New York City.” He towered over her from where she sat on the ground.

He squatted next to her, and more tenderly than she would have expected he palpated her ankle. “It’s already swelling and it’s going to bruise.” He slipped off her sandal.

“Ouch!”

“Sorry, but it’ll feel better without the weight of the shoe.” He glanced at her, and then down the trail. “It’ll be dark in another hour and a half. I’ll leave my pack here and carry you.”

She felt control of the situation slipping away. “No, please. Just go get help.”

“There’s no time to get help and come back before the sun sets. I won’t leave you alone on the trail after dark.” Not waiting for her to respond, he turned to his pack and dug out a sweater. “Here, let’s get you into this. The temperature is dropping fast.”

A chill seeped into her bones. She shivered. When did it get so cold? She allowed him to pull the sweater over her head and upper body. “Thank you. I am cold.” She smoothed the lightweight blue v-neck sweater down her body. At once the fine micro fleece warmed her.

Flint continued pulling various items out of his pack, which he shoved into his pockets. When he turned to her, he held an ace bandage. “I’ll wrap the ankle for now. That should help with the pain.”

“You seem to be prepared for anything.” While he expertly wrapped her ankle tears squeezed out the corner of her eyes from the pain.

When he finished, he eased her foot to the ground, then sat back on his heels. “I’ve had a lot of practice. When out in the mountains it pays to think ahead.”

Was he rebuking her for not thinking ahead—like not having her cell phone or even a sweater? If he would only take off the sunglasses, she could see his eyes. 

Before she realized what he intended to do, he slipped his left arm around her waist and his right under her knees. Without so much as a grunt, he lifted her as he would a small child. She wrapped her arms around his
neck to steady herself. 


Without another word, he trudged down the trail. With each step the bouncing pounded excruciating pain in her ankle. Passing out would be a welcome relief. After what seemed an intolerable time, he stepped off the
trail a few steps, then lowered her onto a stump.

“Why are we stopping?” She didn’t try to keep the impatience from her voice. “It’s getting dark. Let’s get to the retreat center.”

Flint removed his sunglasses and slid them into a pocket of his hiking shorts. “Would you like a drink?” He was even more handsome now that she could see his eyes.

 “What?” She drew herself back from the depths of his amazing blue eyes.

“I’m thirsty and about to drink most of the water in my water bottle. I wondered if you would like a drink before I finish it off.” He waited holding his water bottle.

“No, thank you. I just want to get to the Retreat Center.” Yes, she wanted to get back to the center, but he was intriguing.

His muscles rippled under the veins and tendons that stood out on his arms as he drank the water and then hooked the bottle back on his belt. Even with the chill in the air and the darkening of the trail, a fine mist of sweat covered his face and arms.

“Ready?” he asked.

Forcing her wayward thoughts back to her need to get back to the lodge, Stephanie lifted her arms. “Yes.”

Flint lifted her into his arms again, only this time he gave a slight grunt.

Stephanie glanced at his face and saw that the strain of carrying her one hundred ten pounds was more of an effort than he’d shown at first. “Are you getting tired?”

Keeping his eyes on his boots hitting the trail, Flint said, “Yes, you’re getting a bit heavy but nothing I can’t handle. It’s just that I’ve already been hiking about eight hours today.”

Wow! Eight hours. None of the men she knew could do anything like eight hours of walking, much less on a mountain. Stephanie could not imagine hiking that far in one day. “Why?”

Flint laughed and glanced down at her. “Why not? It’s the only way I know to come down the mountain.”

Talking helped keep her mind off the pain of her ankle. “You hiked to the top of this mountain and back in one day?” She tightened her hold on his neck to ease her weight on his arms. How thankful she was that he had come along the trail even though she also felt a little guilty at his effort.

Flint tightened his arm around her waist and lifted her higher. “I hiked up yesterday and spent the night on top. I took my time coming down and hiked off the trail some. Couldn’t waste such a beautiful day.”

As he hiked down the trail, she felt him lurch. His hold on her tightened and he righted himself without dropping her. The stumble jerked her ankle and an involuntary cry escaped.

###
Flint tried to place his boots with care. A fall would be disastrous. His arms, back, and legs burned from carrying Stephanie. Her weight hadn’t seemed much at first. In the growing darkness, he searched for the small side trail that led to the Retreat Center. He had never been there but had seen the sign pointing the way from the main trail. He knew the jostling hurt her ankle. Nothing to do but get her help.

Stephanie pointed toward the signpost. “There, that’s the path.”

He turned onto the side trail, glad that he would soon have her where she could get medical care. The warmth of her body felt good. Her petite figure, long dark brown hair, violet eyes, and lovely face all made for a vision of loveliness. He breathed the scent of her hair, a faint hint of flowers. It had been a long time since he had had a beautiful woman in his arms.

Ahead, lights from the retreat center glowed in the descending darkness. Relieved to be off the trail, he slowed his steps to ease his trembling legs. 

Why had she been on the trail alone and without proper hiking gear? Her lightweight sandals were probably the reason she’d fallen. And not even having water with her, what had she been thinking? He chuckled to himself. Yes, she was a city girl with no idea of the danger of being hurt or lost on the mountain.

Flint stopped when the buildings came in sight. He hadn’t realized that the retreat center was so large. A two-story main lodge dominated the space with several smaller buildings beyond each end. They looked rustic while at the same time having modern picture windows. “Where should I take you?”
Stephanie pointed a slender finger in the direction of the large lodge. “The main lobby. Some of my staff should be there.”

“Your staff? You work at the lodge?” Flint’s words came out in gasps. His muscles cried out with fatigue and his eyelids wanted to close and stay that way.

“Work there?” A soft chuckle escaped. She drew herself up straighter in his arms. “I’m the CEO of the Wellbourne Group of New York.”

“New York, huh? What are you doing here in Colorado?”

She heaved a heavy sigh. “I’m beginning to wonder myself. My CFO talked me into bringing my management group for a three-day business retreat. And it’s been fine except for the fall on the trail.” She shifted her arms, which felt to him as if she massaged the back of his neck. Even though his shoulders and back hurt from the effort of carrying her, he liked the feel of her arms.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

“About thirty miles southwest of here.” And he had hoped to be home tonight. Not much chance of that now with the delay of acting as a Good Samaritan. The gravel path became a paved sidewalk. Darkness descended and he welcomed the foot-high lamps lighting the way. Ahead he saw people mingling about inside the brightly lit lodge.

A pretty woman with a blond ponytail ran up to them from the door of the lodge. Several people followed her. “Stephanie, are you all right?”

“I’m all right now. Just a sprained ankle. Brigitte Brower, this is Flint Tucker, who graciously rescued me.”

Brigitte acknowledged Flint with a quick glance. “We’ve been so worried. You didn’t answer your cell phone.”

Stephanie shrugged. “I forgot my cell. And Mr. Tucker’s cell didn’t have a charge.”

A man in his fifties dressed in shorts and a polo pullover opened the lodge door for Flint and his bundle. 


“Stephanie, do we need to get an ambulance?”

“No, Dan, I simply twisted my ankle. Get me to my room and I’ll be fine in the morning.”

Brigitte motioned for Flint to follow her. “Stephanie’s suite is on the second floor. Can you carry her that far?”

“Lead the way.” He hoped they had an elevator—his leg muscles were ready to give up.

They did and soon Flint laid Stephanie down on a king-sized bed in a large bedroom.

Stephanie relaxed with the pillow against the headboard of the bed. “Thank you so much for your help, Flint.” She motioned to Brigitte. “Please, hand me my purse.”

Flint wasn’t about to accept pay. “I need to go. I’m late getting home. It was nice to meet you all. Hope the rest of your stay goes well.” He edged toward the door.

“No, wait. I need to thank you.” Stephanie sat up straight with her leg resting on a pillow.

He nodded. “You already have.” Flint escaped out the door and took the stairs to the lobby two at a time.
He lumbered over to the reception desk. “Do you have a flashlight I can borrow?”

The young man reached under the counter and brought up an industrial sized flashlight. “Certainly, sir. Is there a problem with the lights in your room?

“No, I left something on the trail.” Flint took the flashlight from the clerk. “Okay if I return this in a couple of hours?” Why had he left his in the pack? Maybe the sight of a beautiful woman in distress had something to do with it.

“Sure, that’ll be fine.”

Flint stopped by the men’s room and then filled his water bottle at the water cooler. He looked at the Couches in the lobby. Just to sit down and relax for a few minutes ... No, if he did that he wouldn’t get up until morning. With a sigh, he ambled out and up the path toward the mountain trail with the glow from the flashlight lighting the way.

Three hours later, he made it down the trail to his truck. When he left yesterday morning, the parking lot at the end of the trail had been full. Now, his red Ford F-150 was the only vehicle there. After throwing his backpack into the back seat, and the flashlight onto the passenger seat, he pulled himself up behind the steering wheel. His hand shook as he put the key in the ignition and turned it to start the big engine. He drove slowly onto the state highway.

A couple of miles down the road, he turned under the arched entrance onto the tree-lined lane to the lodge, intending to return the flashlight. But fatigue took over. He’d never make it home like this. It wasn’t safe. Flint
parked in the far corner of the lot and then laid his head on the steering wheel. Maybe he could grab a few winks. His folks wouldn’t worry since he’d told them he might not be back until tomorrow. But would Allie be okay?

His little three-year-old asked about him when he wasn’t home. He didn’t like that she would worry, but he couldn’t keep his eyes open.

Throwing his sleeping bag open onto the backseat, Flint pulled off his dusty hiking boots and climbed in. The few inches of the truck’s extra width allowed him to stretch out with only his knees bent. He barely positioned his backpack under his head before he fell into a deep sleep. <>

To read more about Flint and Stephanie leave a comment with your email (name at domain name dot com) for the opportunity to receive a copy of the book. Giveaway closes September 11, 2011 at midnight (CST). Only US postal codes. If you're reading this on Feedburner, Facebook, or Amazon please come to www.ajhawke.blogspot.com to leave your comments.


6 comments:

Jo said...

Good for you taking time off and enjoying your vacation. We all need to do that from time to time.

This book sounds quite interesting and I want to read it. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

livinglifenc said...

What a great beginning! You have caught my interest and now I want to read more.

livinglifenc@gmail.com

Anne Payne said...

I need to finish the story :) Enter me!

homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

karenk said...

would love to read more of your novel...thanks for the chance

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

by Pegg Thomas said...

Love the premise of this one, sounds like a great dangle to work through.
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

A J Hawke said...

Thanks, Jo, I did need to get off the merry-go-round for just a bit. I was getting dizzy. But with fall coming, I'm ready to jump back on.

LivingLife, great identity for a web presence. I have determined to leave the past taking only the good memories, let the future arrive with anticipation, and savor the present with contentment and joy.

Anne and Karenk, Great! You want to read more. I have achieved my goal. Shouldn't surprise me as that was my purpose, but good things often seem to surprise me. I often have the thought, "Would you look at that!", when what I should be saying is, "Thank you, Lord."

Pegg, stories come from all sorts of places. This one evolved from an exercise that DiAnn Mills gave in a writing class at a conference in Denver. It was only a ten-minute interval where she asked us to conjure up a story idea of two of the most unlikely characters who in normal life would never have an encounter and imagine a way for them to meet in the first page of the novel. This story idea came to me clear and complete and I returned home from the conference and had the book written with a few months. So in my Acknowledgment I reference Ann even though I doubt she even is aware of the effect those few minutes had on me.

 

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I love the wind in my face, the open sky before me, the romance and flavor of the West, but, most of all, our loving and living God, who created it all. I love how He works out His plans in the realm of human events, which is His Story. I have been blessed with a gift: a compulsion to write Historical and present-day novels set in the American West that demonstrate His power to transform ordinary people into true heroes and heroines. I am just a scribe really. I find the joy of participating in the creation of inspirational fiction indescribable. May our Lord Jesus Christ receive all of the credit and be glorified.

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