In the magical town of Silver Falls, things are never what they seem.
When Hadley lost her beautiful twin daughters to a drunk driver, she thought her life was over. Though she’s still haunted by their loss, Lucas has always been there for her. She’s been able to lean on him as a friend, but now she wants more.
When her hunky neighbor finally asks her out, she knows saying yes is the right thing to do. His kisses make her knees weak, but he’s more than just a big teddy bear. Is it safe to trust her heart to a grizzly?
Copyright ©2012 Jessica Coulter Smith
Hadley knelt in the snow in front of the two tiny graves. After placing a red rose on top of each one, she brushed the tears from her cheeks. It had been nearly a year, but it still felt like it was only yesterday. A day didn’t go by that she didn’t blame herself for their deaths. What if she had reacted just one second sooner? What if she had been paying more attention, would she have seen the other driver in time? But no amount of what ifs or wishes would change the fact that her two babies were gone. She knew in her heart that the blame lay with the drunk driver who had plowed into their vehicle, but she had a hard time blaming someone who was dead. She was the sole survivor of the crash, and there were many days she wished she hadn’t survived.
Standing, she brushed the snow from her jeans. The cold and damp was starting to soak through her clothes straight to her bones. Even if she did want to stay longer, she knew it was best for her to leave and come again another day.
Hadley wasn’t sure she was moving on exactly, but it was a step in the right direction. She often wondered if it would be easier to shoulder the grief if she had someone to share it, but her children’s father hadn’t been in the picture from the moment he’d learned of their existence. It had been shortly after his rejection that she’d moved to Silver Falls, leaving behind the big city for the comforts of a small town. Of course, she hadn’t realized at the time that she was moving to a town where humans were the minority. But even in a town of supernatural beings, no one had been able to save her babies.
Huddling inside her coat to keep warm, she turned and walked down the path toward her car. It had taken her nearly a year, but she was finally driving again. She’d felt guilty, asking her friends to drive her everywhere, but at the same time driving a car had terrified her. She’d finally worked through the issue in therapy and started driving two months ago. The new Ford Explorer gleamed in the sunlight. After the accident, she’d sworn to never own a small car again.
She’d spent plenty of time at the cemetery for the day, and now it was time to head home and get to work. There was always something she needed to do.
Work had been difficult for her, but she’d managed — somewhat. Writing children’s books had been easier before the accident. She’d turned in a few projects to her editor, but only one had been accepted. She had a lot of work ahead of her to make the others presentable. But days like this one made writing nearly impossible. It made her wonder if she would ever get over the pain of losing her children.
As she pulled into her driveway, she noticed a large box on her front porch. She didn’t remember ordering anything and most of her friends lived in town. Who could have left something so large on her porch?
She got out of the Explorer and went to investigate. There wasn’t a return address, but she could see where one had been. It had smeared during transit and could no longer be read. She tried lifting it, but it wouldn’t budge. The thing weighed a ton.
With a sigh, Hadley realized she’d have to bother her neighbor for assistance. Lucas Bowman had been her neighbor for years and had always been kind to her. She didn’t agree with his lifestyle, but he seemed to be a genuinely good person, not to mention he was the hottest guy she’d ever seen. The man was mouthwatering to be sure. She’d be lying if she said he hadn’t starred in at least one or two of her fantasies over the years. She was surprised he wasn’t at work, but his truck sat in the driveway.
She knocked on his door. A moment later Lucas opened the door. He smiled when he saw her, making her knees feel weak. Her heart was beating so hard she was sure he could see it pounding in her chest.
“Hadley, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“The postman delivered a package today while I was gone and it’s too heavy for me to lift. Would you mind carrying it into the house for me?”
He nodded. “Just let me grab a coat. I’ll be right there.”
“Sorry for disturbing you.”
He grinned. “No problem.”
She waited patiently while he got ready and then led the way to her small house next door. Lucas hefted the box without any trouble and carried it inside, depositing it on her living room floor.
“Do you need anything else?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I’m sorry I bothered you.”
“It’s okay, Hadley. I was just going over some paperwork. I needed a break.”
“Are things going well at the store?”
He nodded. “Yeah, sales have been good. It’s been a good month so far. I’m actually surprised. This is usually our slow time of year. What about you? How are you doing?”
“I have good days and bad days. I went to see the girls today so it’s not one of my better ones. They say it gets easier, but…”
“I can only imagine what you went through, Hadley. There isn’t a time limit on grief. You take as much time as you need.”
She gave him a small smile. “Thank you, Lucas.”
“Well, I better get back home. If I don’t finish my reports, my employees won’t receive their checks on time.”
After closing the door behind him, she turned to face the mystery box. Peeling the tape off, she managed to open the top. All she could see were thousands of white packing peanuts. She reached inside and dug around until she felt something. Pulling as hard as she could, she managed to budge it a tiny bit, but it wasn’t coming out of the box. Whatever it was, it was large and heavy. No matter how much she dug, she couldn’t see anything but peanuts.
It seemed she would have to bother Lucas again if she wanted to know what it was.