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Angel Falls Series Book 5
BY TESS THOMPSON
She’s a widow mourning the loss of her husband, and he’s a driven ATF agent looking for a killer. What will happen when these two hearts collide?
The suspense continues in the next heart-pounding story in the Angel Falls series.
Sunshine Davis refuses to accept the findings of the official police investigation into her husband’s death in a warehouse fire. Left alone with two young children to raise, she is forced to ask for help from a man she detests, ATF agent Matt Bentley.
Matt, torn by feelings he can’t explain for this stubborn, independent, determined young widow, reluctantly agrees to take another look at the warehouse fire against his better judgment. What he finds on his journey to the truth is a glimpse into a life he never knew he wanted and a love he never expected.
But someone doesn’t want the truth to be revealed and is willing to kill again to keep his secrets. Will Sunshine and Matt become the next victims of this cunning serial arsonist?
Orange and yellow tongues of fire licked their way up the dry, brittle walls of the old warehouse sending plumes of blackish gray smoke into the dark sky. The summer night’s warm air gave new life to the inferno and set the sagging roof ablaze as it crackled and popped.
The lone firefighter, wearing a helmet, turnout pants, and a jacket with bright yellow stripes down the middle and sides, effortlessly dodged the debris scattered across the floor. His eyes scanned the room and then stared straight ahead through the acrid haze.
Sunshine Davis couldn’t look away when she realized the man was her husband, and he was surrounded by the fires of hell with no way out. She saw the panic overtake his features as he quickened his pace and began to run. Suddenly, the charred and blazing lumber and roof tiles came crashing down and brought him to his knees before pinning him beneath the deadly ruins as he was overtaken by destructive flames.
Sunshine began to whimper, and then she screamed, “Ben!” Tears flooded her eyes, and she sobbed as her body trembled in fear.
“Shh, baby,” she heard his voice. “It’s all right. You’re okay. You were having a bad dream.”
She opened her eyes and began to cry again, this time from joy, as she clung to Ben’s shoulders. He enfolded her in his arms and crooned words of comfort. “It’s over now.”
“I … I dreamed that you were killed in a fire. It was horrible, Ben. I watched you die.”
“Hey,” he said moving his finger under her chin and tipping up her head, “I’m right here. See?” His gaze was protective and loving as he moved in and kissed her softly on the lips. “I didn’t go anywhere. I’ll never leave you. You are my Sunshine.”
She placed her cheek against his chest taking in his familiar manly scent as he moved closer to wrap her in a warm cocoon. “Go back to sleep now and remember I’ve got you, and I’ll love you always,” he said.
~ ~ ~
Sunshine woke with a start. The soft glow of the nightlight from the hall was the only illumination. She turned over, spread her arm across the bed, and rested her hand on the empty pillow. She felt around the bed just to be sure Ben wasn’t there and then curled into the fetal position as agonizing sobs wracked her body.
It always surprised her when the tears came again because she was sure she had used up her lifetime allotment by now. This dream had been especially cruel because it took Ben away, then gave him back, only to snatch him away once again.
Four months had passed since Ed Baker, the fire chief, had knocked on her door at two in the morning to tell her that her husband Ben was dead, and he wouldn’t ever be coming home. He had died in a fire at a deserted warehouse on the edge of town.
Sunshine’s world had come crashing down around her. Ben was her life. They’d been high school sweethearts who got married and had two children. Their plan was to grow old together while sitting in their rockers on the front porch and looking at the beautiful mountains. She wondered how to go on with her life since her partner was gone.
Sunshine slipped her feet into her sloppy house shoes and shuffled toward the bathroom. She looked in the mirror at her bedhead and sunken cheekbones. Her vanishing appetite had caused her to lose the twenty pounds she’d put on after having the kids. Now, most of her clothes hung on her slender frame. She needed to buy a new wardrobe, but honestly, she couldn’t work up the energy to care. Besides, where would she get the money? The wolf wasn’t at the door yet, but she could hear him howling in the distance.
After taking a shower and blow-drying her hair, she brushed her teeth. Hoping to hide the bags that had now become suitcases, she patted a dab of concealer under her eyes and added blush to her pale cheeks. Hopefully, it didn’t make her look like a clown.
So far, she hadn’t made a great impression on the new doctor in the clinic where she worked. Ever since Doctor Harper King had introduced Doctor Wade Nez to her, he’d acted like he had a stick poked up his butt. In her experience, it was usually the surgeons who had the God-complexes, not the GPs.
At first Sunshine had been willing to overlook his attitude, since the office had been in constant flux all summer with temporary doctors filling in, and finally finding someone who was qualified to take the full-time position was a Godsend.
Sunshine had seen her share of doctors come and go in the small town of Angel Falls. She had liked some better than others. Her favorite, by far, was Harper King who’d come to Angel Falls to start over after a devastating loss. It felt good to know her boss understood what she was going through, and Harper was someone she could always talk to.
It wasn’t that she disliked Doctor Nez, but she didn’t know him, and with his attitude, he wasn’t making it easy to change that. Now that Harper was driving into Santa Fe to do surgeries at the hospital, she would be out of the clinic in Angel Falls on three days of the week. That meant that Doctor Nez was officially going to be the new doctor in town whether Sunshine liked it or not.
Sunshine’s nine-year-old daughter Abby was already out of bed and in the kitchen. Since Ben’s death, Abby seemed to have shed her youthful exuberance and become quiet and distant.
“Hey, kiddo,” Sunshine said giving Abby an affectionate hug and a kiss on the top of her head. She was already up to Sunshine’s chin, but that wasn’t saying much, since Sunshine was barely five feet tall.
“Hi, Mom,” Abby said looking up.
It hurt to see Abby’s cornflower blue eyes that reminded her so much of Ben. The girl was going to be tall like her father and was a constant reminder to Sunshine of what she had lost and the wonder of what she still had —the two beautiful children she and Ben had made.
“Did you wake up your brother?”
“Yeah, he’s up and complaining about the TV.”
“What’s wrong with the TV?” Sunshine’s immediate thought was what now? I can’t afford to buy a new TV.
“We don’t have any of our streaming services anymore, and he always watches that superhero show.”
“I’m sorry, sweetie, I know you used to like to watch your horse show on Netflix, but I had to cut back on a few things. That was one of them.”
“It’s okay, Mom. I understand.” Abby shrugged and poured cereal into a bowl.
Sunshine knew neither Abby nor her brother really understood. One day they had a father they adored, and they were a happy middle-class family. Today, Sunshine was trying to hold things together by herself with no solution in sight. Without Ben’s pension and his life insurance, things looked pretty bleak, and from the look on her son Tony’s face when he walked into the room, they were going to get a lot bleaker.
“Why can’t I watch my program anymore? There’s nothing on that stupid TV but baby cartoons,” Tony said. His hazel eyes were wide and questioning.
Sunshine wanted to cry, but now was not the time. There would be time for crying when she was alone in her bed tonight. How did you explain that sometimes life sucks to a seven-year-old. “We can spend more time together instead of in front of the tube. We can play Sorry or Old Maid or read books.”
“Old Maid is for girls.” Tony’s eyes welled up. “And Dad used to pitch the ball to me. Who’s gonna do that now? How will I be any good if I can’t practice?”
“I’ll pitch it to you. I played softball in school. I’m not such a girly girl. It can’t be much different.”
“Of course, it’s different,” he said grabbing the cereal box off the counter. “Girls throw underhand. That’s not how guys do it.” Instead of getting a bowl he used his skinny arm to throw the box back toward the counter, and to Sunshine’s surprise, it managed to stay upright without spilling Frosted Flakes all over the floor.
“I hate that stupid fire, and I hate Dad for being there. Why does everything have to be so awful? I want him back.” He settled his small head against Sunshine’s stomach and wiped at the tears falling down his face.
“I want him back too, Tony.” She swallowed hard and bit back her own tears. “I want that too.”
Charlene Tess and Judi Thompson are sisters who live over 1400 miles apart. They combined their two last names into the pen name Tess Thompson and write novels as a team.
Judi Thompson has been writing since her early teens. She lives with her husband Roger in Texas. She is a retired supervisor for special education in a local school district.
Charlene Tess is a retired writing teacher and writes educational materials for TeachersPayTeachers.com. She lives with her husband Jerry in Colorado.
Links to Tess’ website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
Thanks, Tess, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!