Schoolteacher Lisa Kittridge had sworn off men for a while, but when she met Ian Malone, her gorgeous, if exasperating, new volunteer, that promise went out the window! She'd vowed never to get involved with another man, yet she couldn't control her urges to crack the mystery he was hiding behind. Who was the real Ian Malone?
Ian knew that working as a volunteer for a lovely teacher at a homeless shelter wasn't exactly a prison sentence. But he had an identity he was loathe to reveal and secrets to keep--and the beautiful Lisa was too dangerous to be around. Loose lips, and all that...
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April 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Romancing the Teacher by Marie Ferrarella
When he realized that the darkness was of his own making because his eyes were shut, Ian Malone struggled to pry them open.
The world was a blur.
Inch by inch, he became aware that the darkness that he now saw was the natural kind. It was the warm, cocooning darkness of night, not the hazy dark world of unconsciousness he had tumbled into what seemed like only a moment ago.
Not the netherworld either.
His surroundings came into focus in almost comic slow motion. Snippets gradually telegraphed themselves through his brain. His fingers were no longer wrapped around the steering wheel of his car. In fact, he wasn't in his car at all.
Somewhere in the distance was the ever-annoying sound of crickets looking for one another. Looking to mate. Looking for a family.
Good luck with that, he thought sarcastically. Ian groaned as he tried to raise his head. He felt as if an anvil weighed it down, like what you saw in Saturday morning cartoons.
Did they still have Saturday morning cartoons? he'd stopped watching when he was ten. When he stopped being a kid.
His head was too heavy. He let it drop back down. It made contact with something damp. He was too out of it to care.
He became aware that someone was standing over him. Someone wide enough to block out what light was coming from the moon, breathing as if the smog was battling for possession of his windpipe--and winning. Whoever it was sounded a little like Darth Vader.
Or was that the grim reaper hovering over him, checking for signs of life? Finally there to collect his debt.
God, he hoped so. "I'm not dead yet, am I?" Ian's mouth felt like baked cotton as he formed the question. The traces of regret in his voice were punctuated with another groan.
The face glaring down at him was craggy and appeared worn. And annoyed. The man wore a uniform of some sort.
No, dark blue.
Of course, the police. It was a police uniform. Sooner or later, the police always came to the scene of an accident or a disaster, didn't they? Sometimes they came too late, he thought. Like the other time.
The anvil shifted from his head to his chest, pressing down. But nothing was there.
The policeman leaning over him frowned in disgust as he shook his head. "No, you're not dead yet. Better luck next time, buddy ."
"I'll hold you to that," Ian said, biting back another groan. He continued to lay there. His head felt as if it would split in two. For all he knew, his body already had.
The officer straightened up, one hand braced against his spine as he examined the wreckage. His car was a mangled scrap of machinery intimately locked in an eternal waltz with the bark of a coral tree.
The officer took off his hat and scratched his balding head.
"you'd think a man who could afford a fine machine like that would have more sense than to go driving around with Johnnie Walker as a companion ."
But bottles of Johnnie Walker were far in Ian's past. That had been his grandfather's poison of choice, not his.
"It was vodka, not whiskey," Ian corrected hoarsely. "And definitely not enough to get me in this state." That had been the fault of his medication, he thought. Maybe he'd been a little careless, taking too much because of what day it was. These days, they had a medicine for everything. Everything but the guilt that came with each breath he took.
Because he could take a breath. And they couldn't. Not for a very long time.
With effort, Ian pulled his elbows in against his body and propped himself into a semi-upright position on the lawn.
It wasn't easy. The world around him alternated between pitch black and a fragmented cacophony of colors that swirled around his aching head. He didn't know which he disliked more, the colors or the darkness. All he knew was that both made him incredibly dizzy.
Gingerly, he touched his fingers to his forehead and felt something thick and sticky.