Book Title: Beached Author:Ros Baxter Genre: Paranormal Romance Release Date:April 1, 2014 Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Lecanora peered through the little glass window, standing slightly to the side and trying not to be seen. Larry was holding the man’s palm, looking at his watch. Rania was pacing up and down beside the bed. Larry kept shaking his head, repeating the gesture with the palm and the watch. As he turned to reach for his stethoscope out of his bag, Lecanora could see he was smiling, the biggest smile she’d seen on the man since she had met him.
As he turned to his bag, she finally got a full view of the man lying on the bed.
As she did, the floor seemed to slide giddily under her. She wondered if her blood sugar was low again, and unwrapped another of the food products Rania had pressed into her hand before she had gone into the hospital room. A Twinkie, Rania had called it. A lovely name, Lecanora decided. She stuffed the tiny cake into her mouth, zeroing in again for a look at the man on the bed. This time the giddy slide was less, but still there.
It was him, she decided. He was having this effect on her.
She stood back carefully and took a mental inventory. He was shockingly dark. His face was hard and angular, and even from this distance and with his face rested in sleep she could see two scars on it, and a strange shape to his long nose that indicated a break in his youth. One scar was pale and white, the other fresher and darker. But as well as being hard and bleak, the face was also lush. Full lips were half open as he muttered something in his sleep, rolling slightly and showing off a long throat and a dark beard.
As though he sensed her watching, he turned in her direction in his sleep. Lecanora quickly ducked behind a tall trolley to her right, but she could still see him. Her superb eyesight allowed her a complete view of his face, which was a study of vulnerability in sleep. He was so open to her it momentarily robbed her of the capacity to Land-breathe, and she coughed quickly and commanded her brain to engage. A deep cleft in his chin lent him a childish air.
As she watched, a young woman approached her. She was quite beautiful by Land standards, and she seemed to favour bold colours. A dark red stained her nails, not unlike the blood-tattoos favoured by the rebel Leigons, and an even bolder crimson outlined her lips around the edges, although the inside part was lighter, like maybe the colour had worn off. Brilliant blue sparkly dust outlined her eyes. Lecanora was quite transfixed by the whole effect.
‘Can I help you?’ the young woman asked, and Lecanora shuddered. Her voice was high and screechy. Lecanora closed her eyes briefly to try to stop her face from reacting with surprise, and her fingers from snaking into her ears.
Lecanora took in the woman’s attire — all white, with a small badge and an official-looking pin adorning her breast. She appeared to be an employee of the hospital. ‘I am with the people in that room,’ she said.
The woman pressed her lips together, like that made sense. Then she sighed. ‘Well,’ she said. ‘Don’t you think you better go in then, honey?’
‘No,’ Lecanora said. ‘But thank you.’
The woman pressed her lips together again, and Lecanora could almost smell her determination. ‘Well, you can’t hang around out here I’m afraid.’
‘So I must enter that room?’
‘Please.’ The woman nodded. She inclined her head towards the man lying on the bed. ‘He’s made a remarkable recovery in the last few hours. He’ll be coming around soon.’
The woman looked at Lecanora carefully, and began to speak more slowly, like she thought maybe Lecanora had difficulties with comprehension. ‘Here,’ she said. ‘Let me help you in.’ She hooked her arm through Lecanora’s and guided her to the door.
Lecanora stood still in the doorway as the official left. Rania looked up from the discussion she had been having with Larry.
‘Babe,’ she said. ‘There you are. Come in. Doug’s almost all better. That shit of Rick’s is out of this freakin’ world. We’re just waiting for him to wake up. I want to make sure I’m here when he does. He’s going to be so freaked out.’
Lecanora could not find the right words to answer her sister coherently. She was still reeling from the impact the sleeping Land man had on her. She backed up against the bed, muttering something about needing to get a drink, but before she could escape, a strong hand grabbed her wrist and spun her towards the bed. She found herself face to face with eyes of the deepest brown, a colour she could not have imagined even existed at the bottom of the ocean. But it was more than their colour. They were so expressive. She wondered if it was because they had just woken from a coma. They were eyes in which she felt she could read all the pain and courage and fears of a life.
She cleared her throat to try to make the right sounds, in the correct order.
But nothing came.
Because the man of the deep brown eyes and scars, the Land man of the dimpled chin and vulnerable eyes, was looking right at her.
Like he was as surprised as she was by what he saw.
His warm, strong fingers rubbed gently at the underside of her wrist, shooting hot shivers into the coldest parts of her.
He looked well. Very well. Not the broken thing Rania and Larry had described.
‘Doug,’ Rania growled, poking him in the ribs. ‘Say hi, for fuck’s sake, you’ll scare her.’
‘Hi,’ the long brown man said, raising a hand feebly. ‘We’ve met,’ he said. ‘In my dreams.’ He looked over at Rania. ‘Sheriff — you’ve got some explaining to do.’
The man pulled himself up from the bed and pulled out a tube that had been attached to his arm. He yanked Lecanora towards him by her wrist. As strong as he was, Lecanora knew she was stronger than him. She could feel it. She could have resisted easily, without even breaking a sweat. Instead, she let herself be dragged in towards him like a shark to the slaughter. Closer, closer, until her chest was resting almost parallel to his.
She sat there, feeling his warm breath on her face and her cold blood turn red-hot.
‘Very pleased to meet you, Dream Girl,’ he said. ‘Very pleased indeed.’ Ros has been writing stories since she was eight years old, but she likes her new stuff better than her old stuff. She writes fresh, funny, genre-busting fiction. She digs feisty heroines, quirky families, heroes to make you sigh and tingle. And a dash of fantasy from time to time. In real life, Ros works in policy for the Australian Government and in her non-existent spare time she coordinates tomorrowgirl, a short story competition for remote Indigenous girls. Ros lives in Brisbane’s North with her husband Blair, four small but very opinionated children, a neurotic dog and nine billion germs.a Rafflecopter giveaway