Forever's Promises (Forever In Luck Series Book 1)

BOOK: Forever's Promises (Forever In Luck Series Book 1)
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FOREVER’S PROMISES

 

J.
Darling

FOREVER
IN LUCK SERIES

 

Book 1: Forever’s Promises

Book 2: Forever’s Embrace

Book 3: Forever’s Affection

Book 4: (Late 2014)
FOREVER’S PROMISES

FOREVER’S PROMISES

Copyright © J. Darling, 2014

Fourth Edition

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination, or were
used fictitiously and are to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental. All rights reserved. The republication or utilization of this
work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic or mechanical or other
means, not known of hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and
recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden
without the written permission of the publisher. The scanning, uploading, and
distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without
permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law.

STORY
DESCRIPTION
:
High school sweethearts torn apart by chance and circumstance, when Nate
Sanders is accused of fathering a child with another and then disappears
without a word.
 Forced
to go on without him, Linnie Albrecht struggles to build a new life as a nurse
in Chicago. Now, five years later, they're on a collision course with destiny
when Nate, an Army Ranger newly discharged from the Armed Services, and Linnie,
on the heels of a failed relationship, return to their hometown of Luck,
Wisconsin, to begin anew. Can the promises of forever heal the brokenhearted
or counter the effects of war? Find out when you read the epic love story in,
Forever's
Promises,
book one in the Forever In Luck series.

 
 

This book is dedicated to those who

make
sacrifices to
help others in need.

CHAPTER 1

“Don’t
go. You can work through things here,” Jules argued, while helping Linnie pack
the last remnants of bags in her car. “I mean, I don’t understand why you have
to go.”
 

Linnie
knew her friend hated to see her leave, but if she didn’t do it now, she might
never return home. Stopping and staring at the first friend she’d made after
moving to Chicago, she answered her, “Because I need a break, and I feel ready
to go home, for a little while at least.”

“Am
I going to see you again? You’re not coming back, I just know it.” Jules said,
shaking her head.

“I
will. I just need to figure out what I want to do next, and going home feels
like the place to start. Besides, you can come visit me anytime,” Linnie said,
smiling at her frowning friend.

“See,
I knew it,” Jules replied, as she crossed her arms over her chest. “You’re
talking about me visiting you like you’re going to be gone for a long time,
which means you have no plans of coming back anytime soon.” Letting out a
frustrated sigh, she continued, “I’m going to miss you, and as far as visiting
you, that would mean living life dangerously, and I’m not sure I’m ready for
that.”

Linnie
laughed at her friend’s exaggeration. “I’m going to miss you too, but I need to
do this, and visiting me wouldn’t be dangerous, it’d be fun. I’ll be back, I
promise. I have stuff at your house remember?” Linnie tugged on the bill of her
friends baseball cap as she moved to give her a hug.
 

“Okay,
fine,” Jules replied in earnest, as she stepped into her friends embrace. “I’m going
to hold you to that promise, but I want you to make me another before you
go.”
 

“What’s
that?” Linnie asked, leaning back to look at her friend.

“Promise
me that once you admit you’re not coming back, you will
not
send your brothers here to retrieve your stuff.” Jules
shivered at the prospect.

“You
know,” Linnie said, smiling widely as she walked around to the driver’s side of
her car, “that’ll be an easy promise to make.” With her car in gear, she rolled
down the passenger window, and leaned over to see the one person in the city
she would truly miss. Looking up, she teased, “I mean really, Jules, why send
all my brothers, when it would only take one.” With a wink and a laugh, at
Jules mortified look, she held up her cell phone and shook it as a reminder to
stay in touch, then took off for home.

Pulling
onto the freeway, Linnie sighed in relief as she began her trip back to Luck,
Wisconsin. Once made, the decision to go home was a huge burden lifted from her
shoulders. It hadn’t been easy, but it felt right. It was past time, and she
needed to make amends.

Five
years ago, she’d left amid rumors that her high school sweetheart, Nate
Sanders, had fathered a child with Naomi Jenkins, a girl from their small
community. The two of them had just graduated from high school, and were planning
their future together, when they’d had an argument and decided to “take a break.”
Except no one believed them when they said they’d broken up, and Linnie
couldn’t blame them, because she hadn’t thought it serious either. She’d felt
certain they’d get back together, but then the scandal broke, and Nate up and
disappeared, spreading doubt of his innocence in the mind of many, including
hers.

Her
heart tried to convince her that he loved her, and would’ve never slept with
another, but then her mind would cast doubts, leaving her feeling weak and insecure.
She’d worried about him, day and night, the two of them having been so
committed to one another, she couldn’t fathom he’d just walk away. She’d waited
weeks to hear something, anything, but there’d been nothing. He hadn’t even
tried to contact her brother, Jake, and they’d been best friends since
childhood. It was so unlike him to do something like this, that she couldn’t
help but think that something serious had to of happened to him. It was a
confusing time in her life, and she remembered feeling so alone. As summer came
to an end with no word from him, she began to accept that it was over, truly
over.

Just
as she was planning to move on with her life, her mother was killed in an
accident,
and what had been left of her world simply
disintegrated. She’d always loved her small town, and had never seen the
negative until then. Hell, the thought of it now almost had her turning around
and heading back to Chicago. It was just that at the time, all the gossip and
whispering chaffed at her tender emotions, while the pitiful, sorrowful looks,
laced with curiosity, made her cringe and want to disappear.

Then
there’d been the questions, constant questions, from all concerned, looking for
details on how her family was holding up, that grated on her already chapped
nerves. She couldn’t take it. Rubbed raw, she’d felt like screaming at the top
of her lungs, but she couldn’t, because at the opposite end of the spectrum,
she felt like she was drowning. The inability to breathe, the need to escape,
to survive, was strong in her. Stunned and gasping for breath, numb from the
venom of chance and circumstance, she ran from being swallowed whole by the
serpent of life.

She
knew it was wrong, tried to convince herself people genuinely cared, but it
hadn’t worked. She’d felt on display, with her pain, and their family’s sorrow,
a form of entertainment for an otherwise bored little town. Her mother was
gone. Nate was gone. And she was left. Angry, bitter, and in pain, she’d felt
like she was dying. Unable to bear it, she left. And now, how ironic was it that
she was returning home in the same state she’d left in, alone and hurting.
 

Three
hours into her trip, she pulled over at a road side truck stop to stretch her legs
and get something to drink. The closer she was to home, the more anxious she became,
so
she had to resist the urge to linger. Rattled by
nerves, and back in her car, she decided to call home to let them know she was
on her way. She hadn’t been back, not once, and her phone calls had been few
and far between. Feeling a certain apprehension, she took a deep breath in
hopes of soothing her frayed nerves. With clammy palms, and trembling fingers,
she picked up her phone and dialed the number. On the third ring, she heard her
father’s voice.

“Albrecht’s
Creamery and Dairy, how can I help you?”

Oh
God, did she ever miss him.
“Daddy.”

“Baby girl, that you?”

Linnie’s
weary heart warmed. She hadn’t realized how much she missed being the beloved
daughter. Teasing, she said, “Now Daddy, just how many girls do you have going
around calling you Daddy?”

“Yep,
that’s my girl, sassy as ever. What’s up, sunshine?”

Linnie’s
breath caught at his second endearment. Her battered heart, and bruised ego,
clamored for more. “Um, Daddy, I—” Her words were cut off by a loud beeping
noise. She knew that sound. It was one of the milk trucks backing in, and for
reasons she could not explain
,
she found the sound
comforting.

“Hold
up, baby girl,” her father said quickly, “I’m going to my office.” Then he put
her on hold, giving Linnie time to ponder the starving ache in her broken heart.

Moments
later, and slightly out of breath, her father was back on the line.
“Sweetheart, you there?”
 

Endearment number
three. Linnie’s
head fell back against the headrest, and upon closing her eyes, a tear slid
down her cheek. “Yes, I’m....” Her voice cracked. Damn it. She never cried. He’d
heard it, she knew it. “I’m here.”

Voice
lowering with great concern, he said, “Linnie, sweetie, talk to me. What’s
wrong?”

Linnie
paused to give herself time, then trying to smile in an effort to convince
herself
of the falsehood, she said in a wobbly voice,
“Nothing’s wrong, everything’s right. I’m coming home.” She was a horrible
liar.

Silence.
 

Then
her father cleared his throat. “Is that so?
When?”
Now
it was his voice all warbled and thin.

“I’m
at a truck stop in Madison now, so about five hours.”

“Bringing
a guest?” he inquired.

Another
pause as she glanced off in the blurry distance, “No...
ahhh
...Purdy
and I have parted ways, he…umm…he…” She sucked in a quick breath, trying hard
to hold back her tears. Voice reed thin, and on the light side, she finished, “I’m
no longer getting married, Daddy.”
  

Never
one to tolerate his daughter being hurt, her father grunted in response, and
spat, “Who the hell names their son Purdy anyways? Sounds like a sissy to me.
Damn fool. Wasn’t good enough for my girl, and knew it! You deserve the best,
Linnie. The best! Don’t ever settle for less.”

Letting
out a small laugh, and smiling through her tears, Linnie took comfort in being
cossetted. Her father was ever protective of her. She responded, “It was a
family name, and you never met him, so you can’t say that with any certainty, but
I love you for it anyways. And Daddy, you’re
right,
he
wasn’t good enough for me.”

With
a deep sigh, her father said, “You’ll be a sight for sore eyes, baby girl. Everything
will be all right, you’ll see. Everything happens for a reason. Drive safely,
and we’ll see you when you get here.”

Feeling
lighter having gotten this first out of the way, Linnie answered, “I will.” Then
she ended the call.

 

**********

 

Nate
Sanders, formerly Sergeant Sanders of Company C, Second Battalion,
Seventy-fifth Ranger Regiment, was officially separated from the Army. With an
honorable discharge, and DD-214 in hand, Nate stepped outside the airport
terminal looking for Linnie’s older brother, Jake. It’d been almost six years
since he’d walked away from his family and friends, without so much as a word to
explain his disappearance.

Looking
around, he noticed several lanes of cars weaving in and out, as they approached
their destinations. A large gust of swirling debris came toward him, causing
his heart to beat in apprehension. Reflexively looking away, he saw a push of
people spilling out of the terminal in a rush, going all different directions,
while making their way to the curb and crosswalk. The near distant whine and
scream of jet engines, bounced off the complex walls, overwhelming his senses,
as the ground rumbled beneath him. Nate looked around, grasping to remain
grounded in reality, his apprehension rooted in recent experiences.

For
him, this represented chaos, and danger, and he was on high alert. No army
checkpoints to slow things down, no squad to cover his back. His attention
caught and held on signage welcoming him to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, a
testimony to his being stateside. He stood reading it, over and over.

“Hey,
stars and stripes, haul ass. I want to beat rush hour.”
 

Pulled
from his panic, Nate smiled in relief. He’d recognize that voice anywhere, and
he’d really needed to hear it right then. As he walked up to the pickup, he
couldn’t help but notice the Albrecht’s Creamery and Dairy logo on the door. Throwing
his duffel in the back, he leapt into the cab, and Jake took off.

Always
one to get right to the point, Jake said, “Well, seeing you like that about
sums it. Now I know where you’ve been. How far’d you go?”

Looking
straight ahead, he answered, “Iraq, Afghanistan.”

Jake
whistled through his teeth, then asked, “Rank, specialty?”

“Sergeant,
Army Ranger, war.”

“Married,
girlfriend, kids?” Jake tested.

Nate
slowly turned his head and gave Jake a chilly look. Then responded in a
determined tone, “No, no, and no, and despite the rumors, I didn’t sleep with
Naomi.”

“Okay,
okay, calm down. Just checking,” Jake said backing away from the subject.
“So, Army food good?”

“Not
particularly,” Nate responded, feeling confused. “Why?”
 

“Because
you’re big, man. Shit, have you looked in the mirror? You were always a decent
size, but you make the old you look scrawny. Hell, you could give Mr. America a
run for his money.”

“No
thanks, not interested,” he answered flatly.
 

Jake
continued peppering him with questions, “You on leave or home for good?”

“For good."
 

“Great!”
Jake exclaimed,
then
continued, “I’m thinking you
haven’t talked with your folks though, since you called me, or maybe you have,
and things didn’t go so well. Do they know where you’ve been, or that you’re
coming home?”

Nate
shook his head.
“Haven’t talked with anyone since I left.
Didn’t want to do it over the phone.”
He could feel
his tension rising.

“Hmmmmm,”
Jake said, as he thumped his thumbs on the wheel, then continued the quiz. “You
jump out of planes, and shit?”

BOOK: Forever's Promises (Forever In Luck Series Book 1)
4.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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