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Authors: Ava Armstrong

Fallen for Her

BOOK: Fallen for Her
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FALLEN FOR HER

 

Written by Ava Armstrong

 

 

Dark Horse Romance

Novella Series

 

~ Book One ~

 

 

All rights reserved including the right to

reproduce this book or portions there in any

form whatsoever.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

© Copyright

 

 

~ Ray ~

Opening his eyes, he recognized the hospital recovery room. At the moment, only his eyelids moved. The fluorescent glare above him was bright and he squinted. The male nurse blocked the light as he leaned over to examine him.

“How are you feeling, Ray?” he asked with that professional concern in his voice.

“Like a damn truck ran over me.” Ray said in a hoarse whisper.

“You’re a tough guy. It was a long surgery, but we think you’ll recover. Let’s take it slowly.” The nurse was patronizing, but Ray felt he couldn’t respond. Not just yet. The nurse told him Dr. Moskowitz would be in soon while removing a few pieces of tubing from his battered body.

Ray was no stranger to the hospital recovery room. He’d broken his ankle, his nose and had a ruptured appendix before, so it was no big deal to him. As the blood pressure cuff automatically inflated once again, his thoughts were racing.

The last thing he remembered was the puck being shot toward him and he was in front of the goal. Then he was down on the ice in a flash. He liked the smell of the ice in the arena. The crowd was screaming as he lost consciousness. The last thing he remembered was a horrific pain in his neck and back. He woke once while in the ambulance and had no idea what was taking place. Attendants scrambled with somber faces, moving around him as if they were trying to save his life or something.

He only remembered one sentence,
“You’ve got a broken back and we’re prepping you for surgery.”
Then he went out. He didn’t remember who said those words. The blood pressure cuff deflated. He moved his arm slightly and the pain from the IV stung him.
Good, he thought. If I can feel pain that’s a good sign.
He tried to wiggle his toes, but they wouldn’t respond.

Dr. Moskowitz breezed into the room, “Fresh out of surgery, how do you feel, Ray?”

“Like shit.” Ray whispered.

The nurse was back in the room holding a cup of water with a straw. Ray never felt so parched in his life. Unable to lift or turn his head he sucked water, rinsed his mouth and swallowed. His throat was sore from the tube.

“You had a bad hockey game, young man. Really bad. How many guys hit you?” Moskowitz asked.

“Two, I think. I don’t remember.” Ray responded. “What’s going on doc, talk to me…”

“You will need another surgery, Ray. This one was done to stabilize your spine. We installed some hardware in there.”  Moskowitz put an MRI up on the light box and switched it on. Ray could see the damage before the surgeon began his technical explanation.

“C5 is destroyed, C6, C7 are badly damaged. And, that’s just the cervical spine.” Moskowitz put up another view, “Your lumbar is pretty messed up, too.”

Ray closed his eyes for a moment realizing this meant the end of his hockey career, and quite possibly the end of a lot of things.

That was nine years ago. Since then, he’d had a second surgery, and switched his major in college to law and accelerated his classes. He was grateful the feeling returned in the lower half of his body.  It was a miracle, really.  His girlfriend, Sarah, left him after the injury, so he had a lot of time on his hands. Physical therapy and college took up most of his life, and working part-time as a bartender at Tony’s. Ray Adriano had become a lonely man living in one of the world’s most populated cities.

New York City was his hometown but ironically he had few friends left. Most of his hockey buddies moved on to bigger and better, one even played in the NHL. After college he hung with a few guys in law school, but he never played hockey again. Even watching it on television made him lonely for the way things used to be.

At one time he was the enforcer, the quick scrambling defensive guy who could take a center off his feet in two, maybe three seconds without warning. He broke the noses of a few too many right and left wings, too, and maybe an orbital eye socket.  That was bad.  Although he spent more time in the penalty box than on the ice, he loved the camaraderie with the team. They were a family, sort of.  A tad dysfunctional, but he fit right in.

He was a different sort of enforcer now. A law man, an attorney, and he enjoyed the cases although sometimes they could be as boring as watching paint dry. Today another lackluster case was tossed on his desk.  He opened the folder and sifted through the contents.  Another estate case, although this one looked fairly straightforward.  It was a trust set up in the deceased client’s daughter’s name, Ella Wakefield, daughter of John Wakefield.

For a moment, he thought he recognized the name. Pawing through the contents of the folder he remembered. John Wakefield was a financial magnate, of sorts.  A common man who came from humble beginnings but made his mark on Wall Street in a big way. There were some notes about his daughter, Ella, but they were brief.  Ray pictured her to be a fat spoiled rich chick with a bad attitude. Then chastised himself for prejudging. He hated it when people did that, especially when it came to him. It was one of the reasons he kept his hockey injuries to himself. The minute anyone knew about his accident, they’d shower him with sympathy. Exactly what he
didn’t
want.

What did he want?
He had asked himself that question more than once lately.  He was now thirty-two and still unmarried, living in a one-room apartment in New York.  Hell, he wasn’t even with a steady girl.  His part-time job as a bartender served to educate him in the art of psychology and sometimes he thought he was studying
abnormal
human behavior.

The depravity that went on in the bar scene kept him laughing but wasn’t something he really wanted to participate in, although he did. Tossing an unknown chick on his bed wasn’t his idea of a relationship, but it alleviated his loneliness even if for an hour. Whenever it happened, however, he felt embarrassed afterward and couldn’t get the woman out of his apartment fast enough. Vanessa was a regular in his bedroom. She was a waitress at the bar and he spent a lot of time watching her shapely ass walk by.  Without being obvious, he’d observed her walking out many a night with some handsome pretty-boy type. Her bleached blonde hair in a ponytail and gum chewing habit didn’t always appeal to him. But she flirted with him relentlessly and occasionally he’d give in.  Lately, Ray feared she was becoming too attached to him. He didn’t love her but he loved some of the things she did to him in his apartment.

He was beginning to think that something inside of him had withered and died with his hockey aspirations. His life had become a ground-hog day existence without him being conscious of it. He walked past thousands of people every day walking to and from work or riding the subway.  No one made eye contact. There were no
good mornings
or
have a nice day
greetings…people just kept their heads down and walked straight ahead, or stepped over homeless people on the sidewalk.  Panhandlers constantly tried to pick your pocket and the faster you moved the better your day would be.  Anything he carried had to be slung across his chest and although illegal, he carried a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver on his person. It was his opinion that the police in New York City had become a little too politically correct.  With flash mob beatings taking place in plain sight, he wasn’t going to leave his life in
their
hands - that was for sure.

“Adriano, hey, I’m talking to you.” His boss stuck his head inside his tiny office.

“Yeah, what can I do for you,” Ray responded.

“You are going up to Maine this weekend, here’s your train ticket.” Attorney Stephens informed him. “Enjoy the trip. It’ll do you some good to get out of this hell hole. We made a reservation for you at a bed and breakfast – yes, they have those up in Maine. The information is all there…”

He left the envelope in front of Ray. “Great, I’m going to Maine.” Ray was now talking to himself, as Stephens had already left the room.

 

~ Ella ~

She woke from a night of fitful sleep. Ever since the news of her father’s death and funeral service a week ago, Ella couldn’t sleep or eat. Her own mother wouldn’t speak with her. She had no one to turn to except her best friend, Cassie. She always seemed to know what to do. Right now Ella felt like a boat floating in the ocean without a paddle. It was the worst timing for Bob to be out of town. She missed her father more than she ever thought possible.  Why couldn’t Bob be there when she needed him most?  It seemed this was the theme of their relationship.

John Wakefield had been a strong and steady presence in Ella’s life since birth. Being an only child, she was very close to her father. The divorce of her parents five years ago shocked her. She thought they had a loving relationship, but later learned that her father had a girlfriend in New York. She wasn’t just a girlfriend but a mistress. Ella’s mother left the house and moved into a condo in Southern Maine on the beach. She never spoke to Ella about her father’s affair, as if it didn’t happen.

The phone rang and she saw Cassie’s number, “Yes…” she murmured.

“Hey, Ella, what’s up?” Cassie seemed wide awake.

“I’m just getting out of bed. Did you want to meet for breakfast?” Ella yawned.

“Sure,” Cassie said, “Let’s meet at Gillespie’s diner.”

“Okay, I’ll pick you up in an hour, and I’m buying. I need to take a shower.” Ella replied.

Just as Ella dropped her robe to get into the shower, her phone rang again. This time she did not recognize the number.

“Hello.” She answered, wondering who’d call her on a so early in the morning. Then realized it could be Bob.  He was on the road this week.

“Miss Wakefield?  Is this Ella Wakefield?  I’m Ray Adriano, an attorney representing your father’s estate.”

Ella froze for a moment, then slipped her bathrobe back on. “Yes, what can I do for you?”

“I’d like to meet with you to go over your father’s trust; would you be available this weekend?” the attorney asked. “I’m taking the train to Portland.”

“Sure.” Ella murmured, “Where do you want to meet?”

“That’s up to you, ma’am.” The attorney replied.

“How about breakfast?  There’s a place here on Main Street called Gillespie’s.” Ella offered.

“Great. I’ll see you at 9:00 AM on Saturday.  Would that suit your schedule?” the attorney asked.

“Yes, I’ll see you then.” And she ended the call.

As Ella stepped into the hot pulsing shower, she washed her shoulder-length brunette hair and soaped her body from head to toe, taking time to shave her legs. All the while she was thinking of the attorney’s voice on the phone. He sounded old, maybe in his forties or fifties. Possibly old enough to be her father.  Every lawyer she had ever met had been excruciatingly boring.

She wondered why the firm was sending a man to Maine instead of having her fly down to New York City. But then surmised it was possible that the attorney would want to go over her father’s properties, maybe to obtain appraisals.  She wasn’t sure what the protocol would be. Ella was still trying to cope with the idea that her father was gone forever.  John Wakefield was only 63 years old and full of life.  A car accident changed everything in a heartbeat.

After Ella dried her thick dark hair she carefully traced a soft rose lipstick over full lips. She tried to smile in the mirror but it didn’t look genuine. Since her father died, she felt she had lost the ability to smile, along with the ability to eat, drink, or sleep. Breakfast with Cassie would be helpful.  At least Cassie made her laugh at the everyday absurdities in life and she needed that more than ever.  It seemed the slightest thing made her cry lately, even commercials on television.

Tall and shapely, Ella chose black slacks and a deep purple top. Slipping into black suede boots, she tossed on a short black trench coat and stashed her phone and wallet into her bag; then made the short drive to Cassie’s apartment.  Cassie was waiting for her on the front steps and hopped into the passenger seat of the Honda, full of energy.

“Hey, you!” Cassie punched Ella’s arm. “Let’s go get some breakfast!”

Ella smiled for a moment, “You’re
always
starving.”

Cassie pushed to the front of the line and handed a five dollar bill to the waitress.  A table in the corner was cleared and the two sat in the crowded diner, while those waiting in line glared at them.

“I don’t know
how
you do that!” Ella chuckled. “You always seem to get your way, with
everyone
.”

“You have to ask for what you want.” Cassie’s eyes met hers with a reckless look.

“I’ll have to remember that.” Ella smiled back, wishing she had Cassie’s self-confidence.

After they ordered, Cassie began, “So, what’s new with you?”

“An attorney is coming to see me on Saturday. We’re meeting here at the diner for breakfast.” Ella said.

“No shit, the attorney is coming all the way from New York City to Maine to see you?” Cassie’s eyes got big.

“Yes. That’s what he said.” Ella replied flatly.

“What’s the guy’s name? I’ll Google him.” Cassie asked.

“He had a beautiful Italian name, Ray Adriano.” Ella recalled. “He sounded like an old guy.”

Cassie was busy Googling Ray Adriano. “Bingo. Found him. Hey, he’s kinda cute. He’s not old.” Cassie held her phone up and tapped the photo of Ray Adriano.

BOOK: Fallen for Her
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