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A Sailor?s Romance
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-385-9
Genre: Romance/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 223 Pages
Published: September 2006

Total Readers: 3

From inside the flap

Have you ever wanted to walk away from your life and start fresh? A widow changes her lifestyle by living aboard and learning to sail a boat on Lake Michigan. While she builds self-reliance and confidence, an irresistible sailor falls in love with her, and together they learn to trust each other.

Twilight (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Fall 2000

The day that shattered Jodi Platenís life started out with a short trip for groceries. With bags of groceries nestled in her arms, she kicked the townhouse door closed behind her and managed to drop them on the kitchen counter before the heaviest broke. The sun shining through the patio doors and bouncing off the yellow kitchen walls was as bright as her spirits. She took a deep satisfying breath and inhaled the sweet smell of the chocolate chip cookies she had baked an hour ago. The chirping of birds calling to each other drew her eyes to the feeder. Just outside the glass doors she could see them splashing in the bird bath. All was right in the world and her smile was as dazzling as the first golden rays of morning light.

While she hung her light jacket in the closet, she listened to the kids in the park behind the house having a great time practicing peewee football. For a moment she felt a pang of longing wishing one of them was hers, but she shrugged it off. While Jodi put the food away, she sang Puff the Magic Dragon and her green eyes sparkled.

At first glance, she looked like a beauty that had just come from the hills of County Cork, but she was a true American with a melting pot of nationalities. Jodi could even claim some Native American blood on her grandmotherís side, and that pleased her. Her dad said she got her stubbornness from him and her high cheek bones and facial structure from her motherís side. Jodi carelessly tossed her long auburn braid over her petite shoulder and bounded up the stairs, two at a time.

She was eager to work on her book for a few hours before starting dinner. As she sat down at the desk, she smiled at the picture that sat on top of her computer monitor. It was taken the day Justin, her brother in law, graduated from high school, and it was her favorite. Jodi was in the middle, and both Justin and her husband Larry had their arms around her. Justin couldn?t resist clowning, and with his fingers he had made horns above her head. All three were grinning outrageously at the camera.

Police officer Larry Platen made a u turn with the black and white squad car to answer the call on a routine family disturbance. He glanced at his partner.

"Itís Mary and Bill going at it again."

Joe shifted, trying to find a more comfortable spot on the worn springs of the passenger seat. "Yeah, itís their address all right."

"How many calls does this make?" Larry asked.

"More than I care to count."

"I hear you. You think she?ll ever leave him?"

"Doubt it," Joe said.

While he drove, Larry admired the huge oak trees lining the street and displaying their full autumn color. Small children in bright colored sweaters were playing in the piles of leaves set out by the curb, and the distant aroma of burning foliage lingered in the air. This was the time of year he loved the best.

The two officers were comfortable with each other and always had been. Their personalities and even their size complemented each other. Joe was large boned, tall and steady as a rock. Although his size was intimidating, he was as gentle and patient as a newly ordained minister. Larry was quicker, and his medium sized, compact body was constantly wired with energy. He was always in control and was the natural leader of the two. Where Joe was dark and quiet, Larry was fair and talkative. Joe turned and frowned at Larry.

"You know you?re going to miss all this."

"Yeah, right."

Larry watched as some kids crossed the street in front of them and then quickly checked the rearview and side mirrors. He had a lump in his throat. This was his last week with Joe, who was like a brother. Next week he?d join Narcotics. For years he had wanted the shield, but leaving Joe was like losing the use of his right arm.

"Hey, you promised to help me with the boat. You?re still coming to the lake on Saturday, aren?t you?" Larry glanced at Joe.

"I wouldn?t miss it for anything. I can?t wait to see the expression on Jodiís face when she sees that old wreck."

"Thatís why I want you to pick up Justin and me early. Between the three of us, we should be able to clean it up before she gets there. I thought the women could come later with your kids, and we?ll all go out for dinner. I?m buying."

Joe grinned at his partner. "Itís going to take a hell of a lot more than spit and polish. I know it was cheap, but why did you buy it? You don?t even know how to sail."

Larry shrugged. "Jodi said I need to learn to relax. I?ve always loved water, and sailing is supposed to be soothing. With the extra money I?ll be making..." Larry wanted to bite his tongue. Why in the hell did I have to say that? "Itís not like we won?t see each other..." His voice trailed off, and he stared through the windshield as if his life depended upon it.

Joe sighed. "Yeah, but we both know itís never going to be the same."

Larry tried to swallow around the lump and than rolled his shoulders. He knew Joe was right. It would never be the same. For once he was quiet and even though he knew the house, he pretended to check the address. As they pulled into the driveway of a cute bungalow on the quiet middle class street, the two officers looked at each other.

Larry pocketed his mirror sunglasses. "You ready?"

Joe opened his door and sighed. "Letís do it."

Larry got out, slammed the car door, and adjusted his belt. Joe calmly waited for him and they walked up to the front door together. They could hear loud voices inside. Larry nodded and Joe moved, so neither of them was directly in front of the door. He rang the bell and then knocked loudly for good measure.

Someone snarled, "Yeah, what?d you want?"

Larryís voice was deep, professional, and calm. "Police officers. We?re answering a call about a domestic disturbance. Open the door."

"Damn you, Mary. Itís the cops again."

Joe sighed, and they both waited. A moment later the door swung open and a small man with gray hair and stooped shoulders stood aside. As they walked in they could see an older woman with a swollen face, half lying face down on the couch. She was quietly sobbing.

Larry looked at Joe. "You want to take Bill into the kitchen while I talk to Mary?"

"Sure. Come on, Bill. You can tell me your side of the story."

The man was strangely subdued as Joe guided him with a hand on his arm toward the door that led to the kitchen. Larry looked around the living room. Empty beer cans and glasses littered everywhere; a lamp was knocked off the end table, and a full ashtray had been thrown against the wall. When he took a deep breath, he could smell the sour odor of spilled beer and bourbon. Bits of glass were scattered on the carpet, and a partly shattered bottle had rolled in front of the couch. He walked over to Mary, and placed his hand gently on her shoulder, as she continued to sob.

"Would you like me to call an ambulance?"

She didn?t answer. He silently waited. Finally, her head moved back and forth, as she tried to control her breathing.

"Bill drinking again?"

She nodded and wiped her eyes with her hand.

"You want to tell me what happened?"

"Came home drunk."

In a small notebook, he started writing for his report. "Were you drinking?" He could smell her breath from where he stood.

Her voice was barely audible. "Not much."

"Who started it this time?"

Although he waited several moments, she didn?t answer. From the kitchen, Larry could hear Bill mouthing off to Joe while he cuffed him.

"Mary, why don?t you pack some things and I?ll take you down to the shelter?" Larry said.

"No. I ain?t leaving."

"We can run him in, but you know he?ll just do it again." Larryís voice was understanding, but stern. "You have to press charges and get some help."

"I can?t; he?ll kill me."

Larry looked at her and shook his head. "Not if heís in jail."

Tears were running down her face when she sat up, but her eyes were glued to the floor. She moved her head in slow denial. "He?ll get out and then come looking for me. I know it."

They had had this same conversation several times before, and he?d never persuaded her to press charges. They would arrest her husband, and a few hours later she?d bail him out.

Larry sighed and then yelled to Joe in the kitchen.

"Okay, Joe, letís book him."

As Joe returned to the room with the small man handcuffed beside him, Larry turned toward them. In the split second his back was turned, the woman pulled out a gun that was jammed between the cushions of the couch. Without even aiming she squeezed the trigger.

The sound of the shot seemed to bounce off the walls of the small room and freeze the moment. Joe shouted, but the warning came too late. Everything after that seemed to happen in slow motion. Larry jerked, and by the startled look on his face, Joe knew he?d been hit. Before he could react, Larry let out a hiss like air escaping from a balloon, and crumpled to the floor. Blood was pooling around him. Mary was screaming; the gun dangled from her hand. Without thinking, Joe pushed her terrified husband to the floor and grabbed the gun.

"I didn?t mean to do it!" Mary wailed, as the shot rang in their ears.

Joe reached his partner and gently eased him onto his back. His chest was covered with blood. "Oh, my God! Larry, can you hear me? Stay with me!" Without thinking he called it in."10 52, Code 99, 1224 Stern Drive! Officer Down! Repeat! Officer Down!"

Even as he started CPR, he knew it was too late. The spark of life in Larryís eyes was already gone. The bullet had shattered his heart.

An hour later, Jodi was deep in thought, staring out the window at the street below. Her mind was playing with the dialogue for the characters in the childrenís book she was writing. When the squad car pulled into the drive it almost didn?t register. She watched distractedly while the police chaplain and Joe got out of the car. Thatís funny, she thought. What are they doing here without Larry? Joe looked up at the window as he slammed the car door, and she saw his face. Her heart seemed to stop and she couldn?t move.

The bell rang and jarred her nerves. She flinched. She saw herself trying to put one foot in front of the other, her hand trailing on the banister as she went down the stairs. When she finally managed to open the front door it seemed like a year since she first saw the car. For a second the men stood staring at her. Jodi didn?t want them to come inside. It was irrational, but she felt that as long as they didn?t cross the threshold, nothing would be wrong.

The chaplainís eyes were full of pity. "Mrs. Platen? Can we come in, please?"

Jodi reluctantly stepped aside. The chaplain came in first with Joe right behind him. She was mesmerized by the sight of the chaplainís Adamís apple bobbing, as he swallowed twice.

"Mrs. Platen. Maybe you?d like to sit down?"

Silently, she shook her head. She wasn?t sure if it was in denial of what he was about to say, or refusal to take a seat. Her mouth was so dry that she couldn?t form any words. Her head felt heavy and it hurt to hold it up. The blood was pounding in her ears, and she couldn?t catch her breath. Even his words were distorted and sounded as if she was underwater.

"I?m so sorry. Your husband was killed today in the line of duty."

What is he saying? She tried to concentrate, but the words didn?t make any sense. Killed in the line of duty? Larryís not dead.

"Don?t lie to me. Thatís not possible. Larryís alive. Joe, tell him. Heís not dead!"

A hysterical woman was screaming, and than Jodi realized it was her. Joe stepped forward and trying to calm her wrapped his arms around her.. He was shaking and she could hear his heart pounding. When she looked up at his face and saw the torment and the tears, a pain hit her in the chest that was so sharp she couldn?t breathe. Joe caught her as her legs collapsed and she folded like a rag doll.


But she knew it was true.