From Amazon: 5 star rating
This second in Clifford’s Affair Series is another winner! (Black Ribbon Affair won a Virginia Romance Writers’ HOLT Medallion Award honoring outstanding literary talent.) We meet up with Caitlin and Mike on a corporate retreat/fishing trip to Alaska that ends up ANYTHING but relaxing. The scenery is breathtaking and the is action non-stop–even explosive. It was fun seeing how this couple’s relationship progressed with their marriage, and I sincerely hope there are more adventures planned for these two. They make a great team!
From the tingling prickles nipping at her calves, Caitlin figured she had been jogging far beyond her usual six miles. During her early run, she encountered no problems. Not from the terrain. Not from any carnivorous animals. Her body was a different story. Succumbing to a severe muscle spasm, she slowed her pace, glanced at her watch, and promised herself a fifteen minute rest when she reached that far clump of willows and cottonwoods. As a small reward, she might even nosh on a power bar. She wasn’t hungry, but an energy boost would only help her next miles. She glanced around her and behind her.
By her calculations, she had to be well past the half-way point.
Still no sign of Matt or Gus. Or anything else except the vast expanse of the lake, the brooding mountains encircling her and the lake, the chirps of shore birds, the squee of hunting eagles. The air contained no distinctive odors. Was this really what fresh air smelled like?
Her aloneness awed her. Humbled her. She could disappear in this land and probably never be found. Like Justin?
That wouldn’t happen. Something deep inside her affirmed her trust in this land. It would give back Justin. It would somehow recognize the good man he had been. He deserved to be returned to his loved ones. This land and the spirits that roamed it would make that happen.
As tiny and powerless as she felt now in this huge land engulfing her, she didn’t fear it. It understood the rightness of her mission, the love in her heart. She would succeed and bring help for those back at the lodge.
Five minutes later she reached the sheltering willows. She pulled a red bandana from her fanny pack and dipped it in the cold water of the stream running through the willows and emptying into the lake. The sound of silence encompassed her as she buried her face in the dripping rag and hummed off key Simon and Garfunkel’s anthem.
Draping the moist bandana around her neck, she sat on a fallen log and slowly massaged her calves. First one aching muscle. Then the other. While she kneaded and rubbed, she watched a busy threesome of black and white magpies make a fluttering, two-footed landing not far from her. Their birdy chattiness shattered the stillness and eased her sense of aloneness.
She munched on her power bar; its calories would energize her for this last lap. Based on her pace and the time, she estimated she had completed a good two thirds of the distance to the cabin. She looked at the opaque blue sky above her. Daylight seemed duller.
She chewed on the last bit of her bar. What was Mike doing now? Were he and the others safe? Was he worried about her? And Beth? What was happening with her and Brian?
Mike was such a dear worrywart. Almost as bad as she was. She laughed out loud, sending the magpies flapping off toward the trees.
She glanced at her watch. Five more restful minutes, then back to pounding the trail. Oh, the stories she and Mike would tell her their families about their adventures on this trip. Unlike Justin who might not return at all–ever.
Then a vision of Beth floated behind her eyelids. The young teen, so destitute of mothering. Could Caitlin provide the structure and guidance Beth might need? From all Caitlin knew about teenage girls, they could be a handful with raging hormones, heightened emotions and changing their personalities faster than an Oscar hostess changed costumes. Could they mesh their needs, make this new family circle work, especially with her new responsibilities at BioSynergy?
But first things first. She needed to get help.