Rescued By a Stranger By: Lizbeth Selvig Avon Romance Releasing Oct 1st, 2013
She’s a woman full of dreams
When a stranger arrives in town on a vintage motorcycle, Jill Carpenter has no idea her life is about to change forever. She never expected her own personal knight in shining armor would be an incredibly charming and handsome southern man-but one with a deep secret.
He’s a man hoping to outrun a tragedy
When Chase Preston jumped on his motorcycle to escape his wounded life, he didn’t expect the perfect woman to fall into his arms... literally! But though he can’t deny his feelings for the sweet and beautiful Jill, he doesn’t see any way he and his mistake-filled past will fit into her bright future.
Falling in love may require more than either can give
The longer Chase stays in Kennison Falls, the more deeply Jill and the people of her home town pull him in. The more Jill discovers heroic qualities in Chase, the more she wants to find a home in his arms-if only he would trust her with the truth. But will truth tear them apart when Jill’s dreams start coming true and Chase’s past finally returns to haunt him? Or, can they get beyond dreams to find the love that will rescue their two hearts?
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LIZBETH SELVIG lives in Minnesota with her best friend (aka her husband) and a hyperactive border collie. After working as a newspaper journalist and magazine editor, and raising an equine veterinarian daughter and a talented musician son, Lizbeth entered Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® contest in 2010 and won the Single Title Contemporary category. That book, The Rancher and the Rock Star, became her debut novel with Avon Impulse. In her spare time, she loves to hike, quilt, read, horseback ride, and play with her four-legged grandchildren, of which there are nearly twenty, including a wallaby, an alpaca, a donkey, a pig, two sugar gliders, and many dogs, cats and horses. She loves connecting with readers! Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at www.lizbethselvig.com
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“You must be awful tired,” Chase said. “You haven’t stopped moving all day. Want something to drink? There’s a water pitcher in the refrigerator, or I saw hot cocoa mix and some tea.”
“Are you going to have something?”
“I’m not a tea man, but I’ll heat some water for the cocoa if you like.”
He eased from the couch, and Jill closed her eyes. Angel shifted and Jill stroked her head rhythmically. Nothing hurt. Nothing pressed on her body or her mind. Chase didn’t ask her what she’d done today, what she was doing tomorrow or next week or next fall. He shuffled pots in the kitchen and it sounded safe and comfortable .
She opened her eyes to a dim room. Warmth from a thick quilt cocooned her. Gentle snoring from the end of the sofa filled the room, and she lifted her head to see Angel curled like a little husky at her feet. Chase was nowhere to be seen. Struggling to her seat, she winced slightly at the stiffness in her shoulder and squinted at a mug on the coffee table in the middle of the floor. That’s when she heard it again. The voice that had awoken her.
“No.” Chase spoke softly, urgently, a note of despair in his voice. “She can’t be gone. You’re the…Brody…have to save her.” His voice trailed off into unintelligible syllables.
Jill stood, curious but confused. Who was he talking to? Someone in his sleep? What time was it? She pressed the glow button on her watch and read 2:15 a.m.
“This isn’t our place anymore.” Chase mumbled again. “Didn’t want. My fault. Brody…failed.”
He was curled into a loose ball on his side, fully clothed, on top of the bed quilt. Nothing moved, he didn’t thrash like a victim of nightmares supposedly did, and the only indication he was dreaming was a slight tic around his closed eyes. A deep frown.
Carefully she touched his shoulder. “Chase?”
“Huh?” Like a trap snapping shut, his hand shot out and clamped around her wrist. She screeched. “What the —” he began, and bolted upright. “Jill? What’s wrong?”
“Oh, lord, I was about to ask you the same thing. You scared the crap out of me.” She looked down at her wrist and he followed her eyes. When he realized how tightly he held her, his fingers sprang open.
“Sorry! Sorry.” He released a huge sigh and raked his hand through his hair. “You can’t sneak up on a guy from the hood.”
“Memphis. Where I lived, it wasn’t cool to startle someone.”
“I’m really sorry too. You were —mumbling in your sleep. I was making sure you’re okay.”
He rubbed his eyes. “Was I saying anything interesting?”
“You were trying to save someone.”
He went still. She stroked the side of his arm. “Is everything okay?”
“Heck, what good is having a big, strong, Southern biker around if he can’t protect you from boogie men?” Her eyes began to focus in the dim light. “Where’s the dog?”
“She was right here.”
“Angel?” Jill called. “C’mon, girl. Let’s go get you something to eat.” She’d responded to her new name all evening. Jill frowned.
Chase gave a soft, staccato, dog-calling whistle. Angel stuck her head out from a stall a third of the way down the aisle. “There she is. C’mon, girl.”
Angel disappeared into the stall.
“Weird,” Jill said, and headed down the aisle.
At the door to a freshly bedded, empty stall they found Angel curled beside a mound of sweet, fragrant hay, staring up as if expecting them.
“Silly girl,” Jill said. “You don’t have to stay here. We’re taking you home. Come.”
Angel didn’t budge. She rested her head between her paws and gazed through raised doggy brows. Chase led the way into the stall. “Everything all right, pup?” He stroked her head.
Jill reached for the dog, too, and her hand landed on Chase’s. They both froze. Slowly he rotated his palm and wove his fingers through hers. The few minor fireworks she’d felt in the car earlier were nothing compared to the explosion now detonating up her arm and down her back.
“I’ve been trying to avoid this since I got off that dang horse.” His voice cracked into a low whisper.
He stood and pulled her to her feet. “Because I am not a guy someone as young and good as you are should let do this.”
“You’ve saved my life and rescued a dog. Are you trying to tell me I should be worried about you?"
She touched his face, bold enough in the dark to do what light had made her too shy to try.
The hard, smooth fingertips of his free hand slid inexorably up her forearm and covered the hand on his cheek. Drawing it down to his side, he pulled her whole body close, and the little twister of excitement in her stomach burst into a thousand quicksilver thrills. Her eyelids slipped closed, and his next question touched them in warm puffs of breath.
"If I were to kiss you right now, would it be too soon?"
Her eyes flew open, and she searched his shadowy gaze, incredulous. “You’re asking permission? Who does that?”
“Seemed like the right thing.”
“Well permission granted, now hush.”
She freed her hands, placed them on his cheeks, roughened with beard stubble, and rose on tip-toe to meet his mouth while he gripped the back of her head.
The soft kiss nearly knocked her breathless with unleashed power. Chase dropped more hot kisses on each corner of her mouth and down her chin, feathered her nose and her cheeks, and finally returned wondrously to her mouth. Again and again he plied her bottom lip with his teeth, stunning her with his insistent exploration. The pressure of his lips and the clean, masculine scent of his skin, took away her equilibrium. She could only follow the motions of his head and revel in the heat stoking the fire in her belly.
The dog in the middle of the road was all legs and mottled black patches. It stood still beside the yellow centerline, a good fifty feet away but too close to ignore, and Jill Carpenter eased off the accelerator of her Chevy Suburban.
“Get out of the way, sweetie,” she murmured, switching her foot to the brake.
Because she’d worked at the only vet clinic in the Kennison Falls area since junior high school, she knew most of the dogs in the area. This one , however, was shabbily unfamiliar. And stubbornly unmoving. It stared at her with a mutt-in-the-headlights look that didn’t bode well.
Finally, twenty feet from the unblinking animal, Jill blared her horn and stomped her brakes until the anti-lock system grabbed, and loose pebbles pinged the chassis like buckshot. At the very last moment the dog leapt—directly in front of her.
Accidents supposedly happened in slow motion, but no leisurely parade of her life played before her eyes. The jerk of her steering wheel, her shriek, a blur of darting, raggedy fur, and the boulder of dread dropping into the pit of her stomach all happened in something under five nanoseconds.
Then her stomach dropped again as it followed the nose of her truck across the narrow county road and down a six-foot ditch. The Suburban gave a carnival-ride fishtail, its rear axle grinding in protest. Something warm spurted into her face, and she came to rest parallel to the road on the steep ditch bank, wedged in precarious place against a slender maple sapling.
For a moment, all she noticed was her own wheezing breath—her lungs forcing twice as much carbon dioxide out as they sucked oxygen in.
Had she missed the dog? She was sure she had. Please let her have missed the dog. Her heart pounded in concern until she peered out her windshield, shifted to see better, and the Suburban rocked. The dog’s fate was forgotten in a gasp.
The world was sideways.
Something sticky ran down one cheek, and an old Counting Crows song filled the truck interior. The turn signal ploink-ploinked to the music like a metronome. Through the windshield and up to her right she could see the edge of the road. To her left through her driver’s window lay the bottom of the ditch three feet below. All she’d have to do was shift the wrong way, and she’d be roof down, hanging from her seatbelt.
A flurry of sailor-approved words charged through her mind, but her frantic heartbeat choked them off before they turned into sound—almost certainly a good thing, since the air stream caused by swearing would probably be enough to roll her. She pressed her lips together and tried to slow her respiration. Her shoulder, jammed against the door, ached slightly, her seatbelt effectively throttled her, but as far as she could tell, she hadn’t hit her head.
The Creature, her un-pet name for the vehicle she’d detested since buying it, growled as if angry its spinning back tire wasn’t getting anywhere. “Crap!” Jill shot her arm forward, ignoring the pinch of her seatbelt, and turned the key.
The truck rocked again, the Crows quit Counting, and the turn signal halted its irritating pinging. At last time stopped whizzing past like an old Super 8 movie, and her thoughts careened into each other with a little less force.
This was definitely going to wreck an already no-good, very bad day.
Sudden pounding startled her, rocking the SUV again. She swiveled her head to the passenger window and let loose a terrified scream. Pressed to the glass was a smoosh-nosed, flattened-featured face. Jill squeezed her eyes shut.
“Ma’am? Ma’am? Can you hear me?” The window pane muffled the gargoyle’s voice.
Slowly Jill forced her eyes open, and the face pulled back. Her panic dissipated as the nose un-flattened, lengthening into straightness with perfect oval flares at its tip, and divided a strong, masculine face into two flawless halves. Inky, disheveled bangs fell across deep furrows in his forehead. For an instant Jill forgot her straits and her mouth went dry. A brilliant sculptor somewhere was missing his masterwork.
“Can you get the window down?” He shouted, refocusing her attention on the phone in his hand. “I’m calling 911. Can you tell me where you’re hurt?”
Intense navy-blue eyes pierced her for answers, her pulse accelerated, and embarrassed heat infused her face. “No!” she called back. Shaking off her adrenaline-fueled hormones and forcing her brain to function, Jill turned her key once more to activate the accessory system and twisted to punch the window button, jostling The Creature. “No!” she gasped again, as the glass whirred into the door frame. “No calls. I’m fine.”
“You are not fine, honey. Stay still now.” His drawl was comforting and sing-songy—born of the South.
Truly confused, Jill watched him swipe the face of his phone. He might be the best-looking Samaritan between her predicament and the Iowa border, but although though she was balanced pretty precariously, his intensity was a tick past over-reactive.
“Honestly. All I need is to get out of this murderous truck without rolling it on top of me.”
His eyes switched from worry to the kind of sympathy a person used when about to impart bad news. “I’m afraid your face and the front of your shirt tell a different story. You’re in shock.”
She peered down at herself. At first she gasped at the bright red splotches staining her white tank top. She touched her cheek and brought a red fingertip away. Strangled laughter replaced her shock. He reached for her and made the Suburban wobble
“Don’t lean!” She choked. “Seriously, don’t! I’m not bleeding to death, I swear.”
His eyes narrowed. “Are you bleeding not to death?”
“No.” She stuck her red-coated finger into her mouth and, with the other hand, scooped up a half-dozen French fries caught between her hip and the door. She’d picked them up not ten minutes ago from the Loon Feather Café in town, and Effie had put three little paper cups of ketchup in the take-out tray. Eating fries while driving—another of her vices, along with owning too many horses, flightiness in all things, and swerving to avoid dumb dogs in the road. Gingerly she held up the flat, empty, red-checkered box.