When Danger Calls releases today

Today's the 'official' release day for WHEN DANGER CALLS, my Action-Adventure Romance from Five Star Expressions. In this scene, Frankie Castor runs into Ryan, whom she's just met while moonlighting as a cocktail waitress. Neither used their own name when they met at the bar. They're both in the ER, although for different reasons.
(If you'd like to start with Chapter 1, you can find it on my website).

"Do you want me to call the doctor back for you?" Frankie asked.

Still gazing at the floor, he shook his head. "No," he croaked. "I'm fine."

"I'm no doctor, but it's obvious that you're not. Can I get you some water, Jack?"

This time he looked up, and she knew those eyes, bloodshot and full of anguish, recognized her. In the harsh emergency room lighting, she saw they were the color of the whiskey he drank.


"Frances, actually. Frankie. Gladys is my bar name. What happened?"

"Car crash. My father."

He shuddered, and beneath the soot stains, his face faded to the color of parchment. Before she could call out, he clutched her forearm. Despite his condition, his grip was strong. She pried his fingers loose, but held on to his hand. It was frigid, and she cradled it, rubbing gently to transfer some of her warmth. He seemed oblivious to her touch.

"Well, then can I call someone for you? Your mother—does she know about the accident?"

With an uneven breath, he sat up straight. "She's dead."

"Oh, my. In the crash? I'm so sorry. I didn't think."

Shaking his head, he said, "No, she died years ago." He stared into space with hollow eyes.

"Let me get someone to help."

"No. No doctor. Need to catch my breath is all."

Still holding his hand, which she noted was warming slightly, she talked to him as if he were one of the stray pets she used to rescue. The words didn't matter, it was all in the tone. "My dad died when I was a kid, too. Somehow, we think they'll live forever, and then something happens and you realize you'll be alone some day. But you still refuse to believe it, don't you? My mom was admitted tonight, but I know she's going to be fine. Same with your father. No way would they both leave us, right?"

Color returned to his face. He gave her a wry grin.

"Yeah. Pop's too stubborn to die. Not like this, anyway."

From the counter, the receptionist called Jack's name. He jumped to his feet, letting the blanket fall to the chair. Without giving Frankie a glance, he strode to the desk. Back straight, shoulders squared, probably unaware he wasn't wearing a shirt. Braced for the worst, Frankie thought.

Moments later, a woman in a white coat approached. She smiled, said something, and Jack lifted his head toward the ceiling. For several minutes they spoke in quiet murmurs Frankie couldn't understand. He shook the woman's hand, and she raised an index finger before pivoting and leaving the counter. Jack glanced downward, then leaned against the counter, and Frankie saw the deep breaths he was taking. The woman returned with a green scrub shirt and handed it to Jack. He shrugged into it and shook her hand once again.

When he turned toward Frankie, there was no disguising the relief in his eyes.

She smiled. "I told you he'd be all right."

"The doctor said it didn't look too bad, but they're going to keep him a day or two to make sure. Nothing I can do, and I need to get out of this place." He swayed and grabbed the back of the chair.

Frankie took his elbow. "You're still shaky. I think you should stick around here, where someone can keep an eye on you."

His mouth narrowed. "No, I need to get away. It's complicated, but I don't want anyone to know I'm here." He stared over he shoulder for a moment, as if it took a long time for the words to line up before he spoke. "Can I impose on you for a lift to a motel? I'd like to be nearby." He lifted his arms shoulder height, palms upward, then did a slow pivot. "I'm not armed. And I don't bite. Promise. In a few minutes I'll be out of your hair."

Logic said to give him cab fare. She checked her wallet, and didn't think three dollars would get him anywhere. She remembered his gentle touch on the dance floor. At the moment, he was in no condition to do anything to hurt her, and she'd have him at a motel in a few minutes. Instinct trumped logic. "My car's outside. Can you walk?"

For buy links, go to my website.

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Estella said...

Great excerpt!