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Authors: Trish Marie Dawson

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Lost and Found

BOOK: Lost and Found
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LOST and FOUND
FIND ME SERIES - BOOK 2
By Trish Marie Dawson

Lost and Found

 

Copyright © Trish Marie Dawson 2013

 

eBook Edition

 

All rights reserved. No part of this ebook may be copied, or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher:
Trish Marie Dawson.
The story contained within this book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are
the product of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living
or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

For Shane.

IHYFM was my baby.

You've helped make my baby's baby possible. Love you.

PROLOGUE
 

The warm wind whipped around my face, tugging strands of hair out of my pony-tail
and carrying the dry scent of summer with it. I sat cross-legged in the dirt, twisting
a single yellow rose bud in between my fingers. Inhaling deeply, I leaned into the
grassy mound with my right hand, and stretched my left arm back and forth. It wasn't
completely healed yet, neither was the pain in my shin. Winchester had done a meticulous
job of sewing the eight inch long gash up. It had healed nicely on the outside, but
the slashed muscle was taking much longer to recover. I worried the limp in my gait
would never go away, but considering how badly banged up the accident had left me,
it could’ve been much worse.

The wind changed direction and pushed at my back, causing the pale blue gauzy top
I wore to flutter around my waist and a familiar male smell came with it.
Connor
. I smiled over my shoulder at him and he sat down in the grass beside me. His jeans
brushed against my thin, cotton shorts and he playfully banged our knees together.

“Hey baby, thought you might be here.” He said after tenderly kissing my cheek.

“It's a good spot, isn't it?” I rested my head on his shoulder and looked down at
the yellow rose. Even though it hadn't fully opened, its fragrant essence fanned out
around it, gracing nature with its aroma as only a rose can. Most of the potted roses
had burned with the lodge but a few were salvageable. It took several weeks longer
than usual for one particular rose bush to bloom and I held the first bud in my hand.

“It's perfect. You know he would love it here, right?” Connor said quietly.

I nodded.

The lake opened up in front of us, contrasting perfectly with the dark pine trees
in the background and the tips of the mountains even further away. He put an arm around
my shoulder and hugged me tightly. “Kris made an early dinner for everyone but come
back whenever you're ready, okay?” I nodded again and smiled at him as he stood and
walked away. I watched the breeze push against his shirt, flattening it to his upper
body. He had let his hair grow out and the long, wispy dark waves reached just below
his ears. At first he complained about the growing length of his hair, but with my
assurance that it only made him sexier, he vowed not to cut it. I sighed heavily as
he headed back toward the cabins where the others would be waiting. Skip and Winchester.
Jacks and Ana...with the small bulge that was showing in her lower abdomen. Kris and
Connor. My friends. My family.

A small, fuzzy rabbit hopped out from behind a tree but quickly dashed back under
cover when it saw me. I smiled, happy that life had started anew...in the forest,
at least. It had taken a while, but even our deer returned to the lake, sometimes
coming as close as the cabin steps to say hello. She had filled out, losing her juvenile
markings and was spotted most regularly by Kris, who spent at least two hours of each
day hiking the trails around the lodge with the dog.  In a way, I suppose the deer
was a part of the family too.

I carefully dug my painted toes into the soft dirt and wild grass, trying not to badly
mess up the pedicure that Kris had given me the day before, while the earth cooled
my warm feet and I noticed movement in the sky. A sleek white bird flew in low over
the water and dragged an elegant foot along the surface. Zoey raised her head and
quietly huffed at the aviary display that rippled the lake water from the center out.
Before the water's edge, the bird lifted with the breeze and floated into a nearby
tree, timing its landing with rehearsed perfection.

“Fin.” I sighed. “We miss you.”

I looked at the mound of dirt encircled with dozens of smooth, round stones to my
right and laid the flower delicately on top.


I hope you find me again in the next life
.” I whispered, as I rested my hand on his grave. “
The first yellow rose is for you.

 

LOST and FOUND
CHAPTER
one

 

There was barely a chance to gasp before I was pitched violently off the side of the
bike and gravity had its way with me; swiftly pulling me down to the street with a
sickening thud. After my body rolled to a stop, I was aware that I was face-down with
my cheek resting on the hot pavement, my arm twisted underneath me, my legs spread
out wide and motionless. The motorcycle helmet had come off and made wobbly turns
on the ground as it wildly spun on its top away from me. When my mouth opened to exhale
what little air remained in my lungs, jagged pieces of loose gravel scraped against
my lower jaw.
I literally kissed the pavement.
For some reason the thought was funny - as well as the empty helmet spinning off
toward the edge of the highway. I had to giggle despite the pain radiating slowly
through my body.
This is going to hurt later.

"Riley!" Connor slid along the ground coming to a stop at my side, landing hard on
his knees as he gently placed one of his gloved hands on my back. "Don't move…just
stay still," he said softly.

Oh, don't worry. I'm not going anywhere.
I giggled harder until I had to suck air in to breathe and then it wasn't so funny
anymore. My right side took the brunt of the fall and everything from my shoulder
to my ankle screamed in painful protest. As Connor fumbled with his helmet and tossed
it to the ground hard enough to make it bounce twice, I managed to pull my pinned
arm out from under me, which helped alleviate some of the pressure on my right shoulder.
Even though he put his hands on my back to keep me still, I shifted my legs until
I could bend both knees and raise my feet up off the ground. I must have looked like
I was trying to swim on the side of the highway. Yeah, it hurt…a lot, but my legs
worked and I didn't think my back was broken so I attempted to roll over onto my side.
Once I got there, all I could think about was how blue the sky was.

Lying flat on my back, I was finally able to fill my lungs with air again. After exhaling
noisily, I happened to look to my right just in time to see my black
Scorpion
helmet slowly roll off the side of the highway and down the steep rocky slope.
Damn, I liked that one
.

"Can you sit up?" Even though his voice was low and calm, Connor's bright blue eyes
revealed his fear.

"I think…I'm okay. Just got the wind knocked out of me. Give me a second." I gave
him a reassuring smile but inwardly loathed the idea of standing up.

"Okay. Okay, take your time." Connor's voice dipped lower, as if he was talking to
an injured animal.

"Connor, I'm fine. We were only going what - less than thirty miles per hour?" I tried
not to wince while bending my knees.

"It was still a bad fall, Riley." His furrowed brows were almost completely lost beneath
dark waves of long hair. A thin layer of sweat coated his upper lip and his cheeks
were flushed a bright pink color. He was gorgeous.

"Okay, help me up."

I reached out and let him grip my arm with one hand while he gently pushed against
my lower back, helping me into a sitting position. Every single muscle in my body
groaned.

"You alright?" Connor looked me up and down as he ran a hand over my body, softly
probing my bones and joints until he rested it on my thigh. I nodded at him while
concentrating on the effort it took to breathe deeply.

"Damn. Look at the bike."

I grimaced at the shiny machine as it lay on its side, a good twenty feet from me.
A small puddle of liquid had formed beneath it and even though I knew nothing about
bikes, I knew
that
was not a good sign.

Connor seemed to relax slightly and chuckled, "Yeah, you scraped the hell out of it."
He looked down at me with a smile, leaning forward close enough to gently brush his
lips against mine. "Know what happened?"

"Huh?" I asked.

He laughed softly. "Do you know what happened, why you tipped?"

"Oh, I have no idea. One minute I was on it, the next…well, I wasn't."

As I smiled up at him, a familiar stab of pain shot through my left shoulder blade.
I was beyond thankful that I fell to the right, and not the left. My shoulder was
still healing from the car accident earlier in the year; it couldn't take more damage
so soon.

"We might have to leave this here. It's a good thing you wiped out close to the shoulder."
Connor stood and walked over to the bike, nudging at it with his foot. It didn't move.

"Is it bad?" I grimaced as he knelt and dipped one of his fingers into the puddle
that had spread to the front tire then rubbed them slowly together.

"Um, how about you ride back with me?"

I lowered my head back onto the pavement with a sigh. I was not gifted with the ability
to ride a motorcycle, though I loved the thrill of it. This was the second one I had
seemingly totaled in less than a week. My plan was shot if I couldn't figure this
out.

"Maybe you could just help me lift it, and-"

Connor cut my suggestion off by swiping his hand through the air quickly. "No. You're
riding with me and that's final. Here, put this on."

He swooped down to pick his helmet up off the ground and pulled it over my head without
saying another word. I glared at him through the face shield while he tugged the chinstrap
tight. After moving my head up and down and to the side, he rapped his knuckles on
the top of the helmet with a grin.

"Think you're all secure, babe."

Inside the helmet, my voice was mumbled slightly when I responded, "Yeah, that's what
I thought last time. Look how that turned out."

 

***

 

We turned down the lodge driveway twenty minutes later, just as the sun began touching
the tips of the trees off the western horizon. I hugged Connor tightly as the tires
crunched over the dirt road. We passed the burnt remains of the main building and
followed the small pathway around the back lawn. Giant pine trees loomed all around
us, blocking out most of the direct sunlight.

The sprinkler system was one of the amenities we had lost during Matt's arson attempt
of late spring. The lawn was the first thing to brown and fill with weeds, but I didn't
mind. There was something unnatural about perfectly cut grass in the mountains, anyway.
As we neared the cabin trail, I noticed all the dandelions growing freely in the lawn
and smiled. I preferred them to the previously intricate green carpet any day.

Connor pulled his bike to a stop at the head of the trail and helped me hop off the
back. He noticed my limp was more pronounced than usual but let me walk the trail
down to the cabins on my own, holding my hand in his as we stepped quietly.

Zoey was the first to greet us. She bounded off the front steps of cabin number six
and ran toward us at full speed with her long, pink tongue hanging out the side of
her mouth and her busy tail wagging furiously from side to side.

"Whoa, girl... No jumping." I tried to bend over to rub her head but my body quickly
protested by sending a painful spasm up my right side.

"Zoey, come here." Connor patted his leg and the dog moved to him for some behind-the-ear
scratching.

"You head up to the cabin, I'll meet you there. I'm going to get Winchester, okay?"
Connor said over his shoulder as he walked toward the two-story structure that Winchester
shared with Skip, our lodge patriarch.

I groaned with half-hearted irritation. "I don't need Win, I told you - I'm
fine
."

"You are
not
fine. And stop complaining - go inside and lay down. We'll be right there, okay?"

And with that, Connor turned his back to me and walked up the small dirt pathway that
would take him to the middle cabin. I cursed at his backside, no matter how enticing
his behind looked in his tight jeans, and limped the short distance alone to the last
cabin on the trail; lucky number seven. Without Connor standing at my side, I let
myself wince with each step until I made it to the porch. My body was aching all over,
more than I wanted to admit to Connor. What was the point of getting him worried?
There wasn't much to do about it anyway.

My head had barely settled onto the couch cushion when I heard the scrape of the dog's
nails on the wooden porch and the two men talking out front, as they hurried through
the doorway. Winchester took one look at me and his eyes widened slightly before his
eyes narrowed into a disparaging squint.

"Now, look. Before you get all pissed at me…it was
totally
an accident and I'm not that hurt - not really." I raised myself up onto my elbows
as if to prove my point, but my breath hitched with the pain in my side and I gave
up, flopping back down into the cushions with a hiss.

"Riley. You have to stop trying to kill yourself."

Winchester's crisp white tee creased across his abdomen as he sat down on the coffee
table next to me and opened up the large first aid kit he brought with him. He had
become our resident nurse. From mending simple things, cleaning and bandaging cuts
to the more serious chores that included attempting to stitch up gashes and holes.
This would be the third time he had worked on me in as many months. He called me his
most popular patient.

"Connor said you crashed. Landed hard and rolled on the pavement," he said with a
pause as he took my jaw carefully in one of his smooth hands so he could tilt my face
to the side. I was sure I had a glorious case of road rash on my right cheek based
on the intense burn that radiated off my skin. He narrowed his eyes more before he
continued talking, "…and he said your helmet came off as you went down." He let go
of my chin and leaned closely to stare into both of my pupils.

"Oh, stop it, Win. You're no doctor. Just clean me up and be on your way."

It came out sounding a bit harsher than I meant it. A muscle in Winchester's jaw twitched
before he quickly backed away from me.

"Right." He glared at me long enough to make me feel bad. And I already felt like
crap.

"Sorry, I know you are the closest thing we have to a doctor. I didn't mean it that
way. I'm just irritated; you know…that I wiped out…
again
." I sighed and leaned deeper into the pillow, flexing my left shoulder a few times.

The delicate features of his face softened and he patted my hand before reaching into
his bag. He poured over several medical books all summer. Without his help, I'm sure
I would never have survived the car crash that killed half of our group just a few
months before. I watched him pull out small bottles of liquid, lots of gauze and packets
of antibiotic ointments. He soaked some of the cotton pads and began cleaning my face;
rubbing the dirt and gravel out of my skin as gently as he could. It took all of my
self-control not to thrash below his touch. The cleaning process was more painful
than the actual crash.

After removing my heavy denim jacket and jeans, leaving me wearing only my tank top
and white cotton boy shorts, he thoroughly examined my back, neck, shoulders and arms,
finding only one other scrape that ran along the inside of my right wrist. My legs
were badly bruised but otherwise unscathed.

After nearly a half hour of bandaging, my skin smelled of antiseptic as I was helped
upstairs to rest but with strict orders to not fall asleep right away. Winchester
was worried about me having a concussion, though I doubted seriously that I did. I
vaguely remember flipping over an embankment in Matt's truck and the issues I had
for weeks from the concussion.

I lay beneath the thin sheet listening to the wind rustle the curtains while Connor
showered. He left the bathroom door open, so the strong ocean fragrance of his body
wash quickly filled the room. I would never tire of his smell. The anticipation of
him cuddling up next to me in bed, smelling so delicious almost made me forget I had
pillows completely surrounding my body, serving as props for my sore limbs.

He came out of the small and steamy room wrapped only in a towel. The tease.

"You suck." It was a simple statement, but he stopped and gaped at me as if I had
just finished screaming a long string of curse words at him.

"What did you say?"

He was still staring at me, his eyes wide, his hair plastered to his head, water dripping
from his ears onto his shoulders. The towel was low enough for me to see his hipbones
and that oh, so pleasant happy trail of soft, dark hair that led down south.

"I said
you suck
. You come out of the shower practically naked, smelling all delicious and I'm expected
to just lie here, ignoring you?
You suck
." I stuck my lower lip out in a pout.

Connor blinked and laughed before glancing at the open bedroom door. "I'm sure I could
think of a few ways to keep you awake. But, Winchester is bringing the others by any
minute. That could be awkward." He winked at me and pulled his towel off in a swift
move, flipping it at the foot of the bed.

I gawked at the perfect curves of his naked backside while he fumbled around in the
dresser, pulling out various pieces of clothing. By the time he was dressed, wearing
clean jeans, and a tight black t-shirt, I was absolutely seething at the fact that
I couldn't launch myself across the room at him and drag him beneath the sheets.

BOOK: Lost and Found
3.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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