Authors: B. L. Blair
By B. L. Blair
Copyright © 2013 Brenda Blair
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and events either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, establishment, events,
or locales is entirely coincidental.
The headlights flashed briefly
across the green road sign breaking through the dense fog. Anna West
slowed her small car and peered through the windshield before breathing a sigh
of relief. The sign was the one she had been searching for since turning
onto the narrow country road. She glanced at the directions on the sheet
of paper lying on the seat next to her. She knew she was close. She
turned the car to the left and followed the arrow that pointed to the small
town of Holton, Texas.
"Only three more miles,"
she said in her soft, quiet voice. Her only answer was the soft meow of a
cat. Anna smiled down at the animal carrier on the floorboard of the
passenger's seat. She reached down and stuck a finger through the wire
door of the carrier and scratched the cat's head. "We're almost
The cat, a large gray tabby, curled
herself back into a small ball and promptly went to sleep. Anna smiled
again and felt some of the tension drain from her body. She had left Mayville,
a town just south of Houston, the day before anxious to begin her new life and
she was now almost at her destination.
When her mother had died from
cancer seven months earlier, Anna knew this was the perfect time to put the
past behind her and begin again. She also knew that in order to do this
she would have to leave Mayville.
The phone call from one of her old
college professors had provided an opportunity she could not refuse. Did
she want to take over a small accounting business in a small north Texas town?
To Anna, this had sounded ideal. She had been saving for such an
opportunity ever since she had left college. Far from the town where she
had been raised, Holton would give her the chance to build a new life where no
one would know about her past. There would be no more whispers about her
family. She would not have to hear the stories about the uppity black
woman who had married a rich white man. She would no longer have to
listen to people saying her mother had gotten what she deserved.
In spite of the fact that she had
never understood her mother's devotion to her father, Anna had loved her
mother. The past year had been a difficult one. When her mother had first
been diagnosed with cancer, Anna had moved back home to be with her. Her death
was still hard to accept so Anna had decided on a new start far from home.
Mr. Brockman, the accountant from
Holton, had retired at the end of the year. He had been more interested
in getting someone reliable than in turning a huge profit so Anna had been able
to cut a deal. He had told her he always closed his office from the week
before Christmas to the week after New Year's so Anna had carefully made her
arrangements and left Mayville on New Year's Day. The drive had been full
of delays and problems turning the five-hour trip into a full day event.
Anna had been forced to stop in Dallas the night before and rent a hotel room
although she was less than an hour away from Holton. The fog had moved in
last night and with nightfall travel had been almost impossible.
Unable to sleep, Anna had risen
early this morning. She had taken her time hoping the fog would burn off
with the early morning sunrise but even now at nine a.m. the fog was still
thick and she could only see a few feet in front of her. This is probably
why she wasn't prepared for what happened next.
Driving cautiously, she slowed the
car and rounded the curve moving the car closer to the center stripe as she
couldn't see the right hand edge. The car coming from the opposite
direction had done the same and suddenly, Anna was faced with two bright headlights
bearing down on her.
For a moment, she did not know what
to do then reacting instinctively, she jerked the car to the right and her
bumper narrowly missed hitting the other vehicle. The slick road made it difficult
to control the car but she had been driving slowly enough that she managed to
slide into the side ditch unharmed.
Anna sat in her car stunned and
unbelieving. She had never been in a car accident before and wasn't sure
what to do which was an unusual situation. Anna had learned at an early
age to be calm and efficient. It was the only way to survive. Her
abusive father had hated inefficiency and commotion so she had learned to be
controlled and competent. Anna hated not being in control.
For this reason, she loved
accounting. Numbers could be controlled. It may take her a little
time but she could always find an answer, which was more than she could do with
Anna shook her head and then leaned
forward to check on Sophie. The cat appeared unharmed but began
protesting the rough treatment. Anna tried to reassure her and soon the
cat settled. Anna took a deep breath then reached for the insurance
manual in her glove compartment. The manual would tell her what she needed
to do. She felt better already. She had a plan.
All thoughts of a plan immediately
flew out of her head when the door of her car swung open and a deep, soft voice
asked, "Are you alright?"
Anna turned and looked up into the
most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. Eyes that were the color of a
cloudless sky on an early spring day. They were framed with dark thick
lashes that lighten on the tips. The lean, clean face went well with the
eyes. It was a pleasant face, not too hard or too soft, but a man's face
none the less. It was lean and powerful. He had strong cheekbones
and a straight nose. Light blond hair fell across his forehead. She
stared at him unable to move. Her heart began to pound and her body
reacted to his nearness. She had never reacted so strongly to any man
before and she forced herself to take a deep breath.
He leaned into the car and asked
again, "Miss, are you alright?"
This time his voice propelled her
into action. She shook off the fog that had come over her and nodded once
before saying, "Yes, I am fine. Just a little shaken. Was
She glanced again at the man
staring at her with a concerned look on his face. Their gazes locked and
he watched her silently with his calm blue eyes. He seemed very close and
Anna leaned back against the seat to get farther away. His broad
shoulders filled the doorway and she felt a small jolt of fear. She hated
feeling physically intimidated. But the fear quickly faded as he looked
at her a moment longer then a slow, gentle smile crossed his face. Anna felt
her heart stop. She willed it to begin beating again.
"There is only you and
me," he said softly. It took Anna a moment to realize he was talking
about the accident. They were the only two people involved but briefly she had
thought he was talking about something else, something she could not quite
"Let's make sure you are
okay," the man was saying, "then I'll look at your car. Can you
He was just trying to be helpful,
his eyes were kind and gentle but Anna was used to taking care of herself and
had decided long ago never to allow a man to take care of her. His
helpful attitude was beginning to irritate her. She knew she was fine but
answered him anyway. "Yes, I can stand."
She slowly got out of the car and
stood beside him. She now knew why she had felt so crowded in the
car. He was a tall man, standing almost six feet and his chest was broad
although his build was thin. He had long muscular legs and a flat
stomach. He was dressed conservatively in a dark blue business suit with
a multi-colored tie. Over his suit, he wore a light navy over coat.
To Anna, the tie seemed out of place. It was bright and colorful and
didn't fit his image.
Anna was only five feet, three
inches and had to bend her head back to look up into his face. It was not
a comfortable feeling. Her father had also been tall and Anna avoided men
who towered above her as much as possible. She gave him a quick smile and
stepped a few feet away.
"See," she said quickly,
"I'm just fine."
He stared at her again and then
gave her another slow smile. He walked around to the front of the car and
then continued around to the back. After making a complete circle,
looking at her car from all angles, he returned to her side.
"There doesn't appear to be
any damage. I'm sure I can get it out of the ditch and you should be able
to drive it but I suggest you have it checked over as soon as possible, just in
case. Where are you heading?"
She only debated telling him for a
moment. He seemed trustworthy and she had no reason to believe otherwise
at the moment. Anna knew looks could be deceiving but there was something
about this man, something that told her she could trust him.
"Holton," she said
A brief look of surprise crossed
his face. "Well, at least you haven't far to go. Are you
"No," she answered.
"I am moving there. I am taking over the Brockman accounting firm."
He smiled again. It was
then that Anna decided that his smile should be illegal. She watched, cautiously,
as he offered a hand to her.
"Old Mr. Brockman told us he
had arranged for a new accountant to take over for him. He just didn't
mention she was so pretty."
Anna tried to stop it but she felt
the blush warm her face anyway. It was a habit she had never been able to
break. She was grateful the fog was still around and prayed he couldn't
see it. The look in his eyes told her that her prayer hadn't been
answered but the man didn't say a word. He just waited patiently with his
hand still stretched out toward her. She put her hand in his and felt his
fingers close around it. For a moment, time stood still. Anna felt
an intense attraction unlike any she had ever felt before and it frightened
her. She shook his hand and then quickly removed her own. She was
angry with herself that she noticed he was not wearing a wedding ring.
"My name is Steven
Carson," he said as he released her hand. "I am one of two
lawyers in a law firm located in downtown Holton and I have lived here all my
life so let me be the first to welcome you to town."
"Thank you," she
replied. She had read all the literature that had been mailed to her from
the Holton Chamber of Commerce. It had listed the law firm of Carson and
Moore. "My name is Anna West."
"Pleased to meet you,"
Steven said. They exchanged insurance information although Anna was
fairly certain she wouldn't need it. Steven took the blame for the
accident although Anna knew they were both at fault. She couldn't help
but be impressed at his polite, caring manner.
"Let me see if I can get this
car out of the ditch," Steven said and before she could protest he had
pulled her a little to the side. Anna watched helplessly as he climbed in
her small Honda and adjusted the seat. He should have looked totally
ridiculous in the small car but for some reason he didn't. Quickly and
effortlessly, he put the car in reverse and backed it out of the ditch.
Steven climbed back out of the car
and gave her a quick grin. "That is quite a cat you have. Is
it always that vocal?"
Anna could hear Sophie from where
she was standing. The cat was making a great deal of noise. She did
not like traveling in a car and she did not like strangers. If you put
the two together, she was bound to protest.
"I think the accident frightened
her," Anna said. She was grateful for Steven's help but anxious to
continue her journey. "Well, thanks for your help."
Steven nodded and then held the
door open for her. Anna took her place in the driver's seat and gave him
a quick smile. "Thanks again. You have been very nice."
"You're welcome. When
you get into town, take you car to Charlie's garage on Main. Tell him I
sent you and he will make sure you car is all right. Be careful driving
into town. I am sure I will see you soon." He gave her one
more slow, charming smile and then shut her car door.