Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where, every Wednesday, readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
FOREWARNING by KATE WYLAND
Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.
Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.
FOREWARNING by KATE WYLAND
Kasey Martin jerked awake, her heart galloping like a horse running from a cougar. Wide-eyed, she lay frozen and listened to the night. Wind howled through the eaves, thunder rumbled in the distance, rain pounded the roof. A typical storm in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades.
She sat up and stared into the deep black of a night with no city glow to lighten the dark. No help came from the night light in the hall, either. The tempest had knocked out the power again. All she could see was unrelieved black. All she heard was the downpour and Goliath, her Border Collie, snoring on the floor.
Kasey frowned and tilted her head. What the heck had startled her awake and sent her pulse racing? She focused her thoughts and reached out with her mind, briefly touching the energy fields of the animals in her care. The horses in both pastures were dozing in their lean-tos, ignoring the storm. In the barn, her stallion Sundancer was awake but unconcerned. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She lay back, pulled the quilt up around her shoulders, and willed herself to relax. At least tonight it hadn’t been the nightmare about Brian that disturbed her sleep.
Her breathing had almost returned to normal when a flash of lightning lit up the room and a blast of thunder shook the house. With a yelp of terror, Goliath leaped on the bed and clawed at the blankets, trying to burrow under her arm. Kasey cuddled him close and let him stay. She knew how much he hated loud noises, particularly thunder and gunshots.
Eventually her pulse calmed and she drifted off. But images of fire and pain wracked her dreams, disturbing her sleep. Her legs began a restless twitching, pulling her awake once again. The earlier heart-pounding anxiety returned, too. Her apprehension increased when she swung out of bed. Then she felt it. Something was wrong with the horses.
She grabbed a flashlight from her nightstand and rushed across the chilly room to the window. Rain blotted out everything beyond the porch. Foreboding tightened her chest and restricted her breathing. Whatever was going on was serious.
She concentrated on the agitated feelings surging toward her and recognized Star’s distinctive energy. Kasey sensed no pain, so the mare wasn’t hurt. However, she was frantic about something. Kasey focused her thoughts on the other horses in the pasture. Paris and Dina were awake and distressed too. The rest of the horses appeared to be on the far side of the field away from whatever was upsetting the trio.
A sudden wave of pain hit her, sending needles through her hand and stomach and setting her head throbbing. She gasped and braced herself against the windowsill. Someone—a man and a stranger by the unfamiliar feel—was badly hurt. That was why Star woke her. The mare sensed his pain.
Kasey picked up the phone to call 911 and heard only silence. The storm had taken out the telephone line, too. Fear coiled in her gut at the realization and her hands shook as she replaced the receiver. She would have to deal with the man on her own. For her to feel a stranger’s pain so strongly meant he had to be seriously hurt—more injured than her first aid skills could handle.
She slipped on jeans and a sweatshirt and gathered her shoulder-length hair into a low ponytail. An anxious Goliath shadowed her every move, nearly tripping her as she hurried through the dark. At the back door, she pulled on her boots and grabbed her slicker.
Kasey gathered the hood of the bright yellow coat close around her face and slogged through the downpour to her truck. The wind ripped at the door, almost tearing it from her rain-slick hands. The pickup rumbled to life and its high beams lit a narrow path through the torrent. Her insides bounced in rhythm with the truck and her breathing accelerated as she fought a rising panic. Who was in her pasture and how did he get there? More important, how badly was he hurt?
The dark forms of three horses in front of a covered feeding shed flashed in the headlights. A smaller shape slumped on the ground beneath its shelter. The man moved when the lights hit him and waves of pain threatened to overwhelm her. She hit the brakes, stunned that his suffering penetrated to her so easily—stunned at how badly hurt he was.
Gasping for air, she fought the panic that took her breath away. I can’t do this. She stared at the man for a long moment and with shaking hands put the truck in reverse. I have to get someone else.
The pickup surged backward then jerked to a stop. Kasey dropped her forehead to the steering wheel. He can’t wait for anyone else. She lifted her head and took a deep shuddering breath. Then she visualized a golden ball of energy surrounding her, creating a protective barrier against the stranger’s agony, while a shaft of white light filled her with calm and strength.
Shaken and unsure, she grabbed the first aid kit and a waterproof horse blanket from the backseat. The ground sucked at her boots as she hurried to the injured man, knelt and spread the blanket over him.
The three-sided shed gave partial protection from the storm, but the rain had turned the saturated ground to muck. The man rolled toward her with a groan. Definitely a stranger—in his thirties, with dark hair and a muscular build. He was soaked to the skin, clad in a light jacket and slacks that provided no protection from the downpour. Blood from a head wound covered his face. He looked much too pale and his dark eyes were glazing. The beginnings of shock.
“What happened to you?” she asked.
Lightning streaked though the sky before he could answer and a cannon shot of thunder scattered the three horses. The acrid smell of ozone permeated the air. That was too close.
“I’m going to help you. Can you tell me your name?”
The man just moaned and rocked, trying to escape his torment. He was curled into a ball, one hand pressed to his midsection. The level of his pain told her he required medical care. However, before moving him she had to know what she was dealing with. She would have to scan his body to determine his injuries. Could she do it anymore? Just as important, could she trust her diagnosis?
A feeling of anger and betrayal swept over her, tightening her fists and jaw. In the year since her husband’s suicide, she hadn’t even attempted to use her training, her abilities suppressed by fear and guilt.
Kasey closed her eyes and swallowed uneasily. The man moaned again. She had no choice. She had to use her skills—or, at least, try to.
Reading stories and riding horses have been life-long passions for Kate Wyland. Now she is combining the two by writing romantic suspense stories, usually in a horsey setting and often with a touch of paranormal.
She started riding at three years old but as an adult was side-tracked by marriage, children and career. When her youngest turned out to be horse crazy too, she returned to her first love. Throughout the years she’s taken part in a wide variety of equestrian activities. She owns two horses now in their late 20′s and semi-retired. She can’t imagine a life without her equine buddies.
Links to KATE’s website, blog, books, etc.
IMAGES – A LOVE STORY (Short story)
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Kate will give away a FREE ebook (Smashwords coupon) of her release, WYOMING ESCAPE, to one of her lucky readers who comments on either her Monday Interview or Wednesday Book Bench blogs!! Winner will be randomly selected and announced Monday, July 8, 2013. Thanks, Kate, for sharing your stories with us!