Patrick's Promise (Cloverleaf #3)

BOOK: Patrick's Promise (Cloverleaf #3)
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Patrick’s Promise

 

Book Three in the Cloverleaf Series

Tales from Birch Valley

 

 

By Gloria Herrmann

 

 

Patrick’s Promise

 

Copyright © 2016 by Gloria Herrmann.

All rights reserved.

First Print Edition: April 2016

 

 

Limitless Publishing, LLC

Kailua, HI 96734

www.limitlesspublishing.com

 

Formatting: Limitless Publishing

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-68058-564-3

ISBN-10: 1-68058-564-9

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.

 

Dedications

 

This book was written during the time when two terrible, senseless acts of violence occurred: one was in my old hometown, the other in one of the most romantic cities in the world. My heart hurt deeply for those whose lives were cut short, and for the people left behind to deal with their grief, their lives forever changed.

This is for all those who have loved and lost, and found the strength to love again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Patrick

 

“Patrick…promise me. Just please promise.”

 

His eyes shot open. Sticky perspiration covered his body. Another nightmare. God, it felt so real. Why was he dreaming about her again?

 

He’d seen her there in that hospital bed, the constant beeping sounds of machines echoing off the sterile walls. Her blonde hair was matted and stained a bitter rust color from the dried blood. Her beautiful face was bruised, covered in lacerations. Beth, his wife, his best friend and soul mate. The mother of their twin boys, who were neatly tucked away in the NICU fighting for their own lives, was beyond broken.

Their car had been a twisted and crumpled mess, completely destroyed. It’d already been hauled away. Beth had been heading home when a drunk driver swerved hard into her. They were not prepared for something like this to happen; this hadn’t been part of the plan.

As he sat next to his wife, holding her hand and weeping, his brain was unable to comprehend that this wasn’t a nightmare; it was an awful reality. The doctors had already explained the extent of her injuries, and that they had been lucky to deliver their babies, but Beth would not likely survive the night.

The rest of the family had been in the waiting room, pacing the halls, sipping on lukewarm coffee, completely devastated and shocked. Mary sat and prayed, her tears caught up in a wrinkled, damp tissue that she had clutched tightly in her palm. His brothers, Liam and Daniel, were the ones pacing, angry at the driver who had done this. His sister, Maggie, was over in Seattle but kept calling to check for any updates. Patrick’s father and grandfather had their heads hung and were silently asking God for his mercy. It had become a waiting game—waiting for Beth to die.

 

Patrick rubbed his face, silently begging for the images in his mind to disappear. It had been almost four years. His twins, Finn and Connor, were turning four next week. Each year they grew older was another year that Beth had been gone. He tried readjusting his pillow. After he flipped it over to the cool side, he closed his eyes, but he could hear her voice. There was no point in struggling; he knew that he wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep. When the nightmares came, they lingered, holding onto him, tormenting every possible crevice of his brain. It took him years to get the smell of the hospital out of his nose, and the images of Beth in that room would always be permanently scarred into his memory. Even if he could get past the horror of her being gone, and thoughts of the pain she must have experienced, whenever he saw his curly, blonde-haired boys, with her crystal blue eyes, he was pulled right back into remembering.

Patrick’s body grew agitated as he tried to lay there, silently begging for sleep to find him. His ears picked up on the distinctive sound of the ceiling fan above his bed. The comforter partially twisted around his legs was far too heavy for this time of the year. With summer quickly invading Birch Valley, he needed to start using a lighter blanket. He swung his legs over the side of the bed. Patrick knew very well there would be no going back to sleep. No point in begging anymore.
Coffee, now that should help,
he thought as he removed himself from his bedroom and trudged toward his kitchen. The house was still dark, and the only illumination came from a singular hallway nightlight, and the digital clock on the microwave lit his path. He flipped the switch of the bright overhead kitchen light on, which was harsh and blinding. Moving slowly, Patrick prepared a pot of coffee, and it wasn’t long before the rich aroma filled the air. He inhaled sharply. Yes, coffee would definitely help.

Patrick grabbed his mug, went over to a small stack of unsorted mail on the granite counter that had piled up from the week, and picked it up. He headed to the table in his dining room, which was a large square of lightly stained wood surrounded by four comfortable chairs. The room itself neighbored the kitchen; it was fairly large, and sand-colored tile covered the floors. The walls were a glossy, stark white, and decorated with various photographs that Beth had taken, which were mainly images of barns in open fields or the surrounding hills and mountains, drenched in trees and wildflowers. The prints were incredible. Though it had only been a hobby, she had had an eye for capturing Birch Valley’s raw, untouched beauty. Patrick hadn’t changed anything in the house after Beth had died. It was too painful, and he felt like he would lose her forever if he did.

He savored the quiet and the warmth of his drink as he perused through the assortment of bills and junk mail. The anxiety from his earlier nightmare had dissipated, and he was grateful for that. There had been many days where he wasn’t quite so lucky.

Patrick heard the boys’ scampering little feet before he even saw them; they were closing in fast. Patrick could see one springy mop of blonde curls bounce into view as Finn outraced his brother, Connor, into the dining room. The energy the almost four-year-old twins contained simply astounded Patrick, who took another swallow of his coffee to ready himself for dealing with his sons.

“Daddy, Finn cheated.” Connor’s blue eyes were already forming tears as his bottom lip jutted out. He wrapped his tiny arms around Patrick’s waist.

“No, I didn’t cheated, Connor.” Finn stomped his chubby bare foot against the beige tile floor.

Patrick eyed his boys—they looked identical, but their personalities couldn’t be any more opposite. Finn, who was the firstborn, was the fighter, the leader. Connor was more sensitive, sweet, and undeniably most like Beth.

“Hey, boys, it’s early, no tattling until Daddy has finished his coffee. What do you guys want for breakfast?” Patrick asked as he patted Connor’s crown of wiry curls.

“Can we have pancakes?” Finn pleaded as he moved to the opposite side of his brother. Patrick wrapped his arms around them both.

“I think pancakes sound great.” Patrick pulled himself up and out of their embrace. “You guys want to help?”

Both boys happily nodded in agreement.

“Well, let’s go make some pancakes.” Patrick led them to the open kitchen. He fished around in an oak cupboard until he found a skillet. He retrieved all the fixings for making pancakes. Finn situated himself on one of the barstools by the breakfast bar, which fanned out, away from the electric range that sat on the light-colored granite countertop. Connor tried to pull himself up and whined as he struggled. Patrick went over and lifted him up and then placed a large mixing bowl in front of the boys.

“You guys can start stirring,” Patrick instructed after he poured the mix.

“I want to stir it,” Connor cried as he tried to pry the large wooden spoon from Finn’s chubby little hand.

“No, I had it first.”

Patrick rolled his eyes as he flicked a pad of butter to melt in the warm skillet. Lately, his sons had been fighting more and were always in a constant state of competition. “Finn and Connor, you guys, come on.”

“But, Daddy, I want my turn.” Connor pouted.

Finn released his grasp on the spoon and hopped down from the barstool. He skipped over to the drawer and pulled out another large spoon. He climbed up the stool quickly and handed it to his brother. “Here, you can use this one.”

Patrick watched as Connor’s blue eyes grew bright. He wasn’t shocked by what Finn had just done; he was a take-charge and all-about-action type of kid. Patrick could almost describe himself the same way. He was the oldest of his siblings, and he had taken over the O’Brien family construction business. He knew what it meant to lead and to make sure things got handled.

“Okay, Daddy, we got it all mixed up,” Finn announced proudly, with little pieces of batter on his face and arm. Patrick grabbed a dishtowel that was near him and gingerly wiped it away.

“Thanks, kiddos.” Patrick maneuvered back in front of the range and poured a small amount of the batter onto the warm pan, which made a sizzling sound, and the instant aroma made his stomach growl.

Connor and Finn scurried down from their stools and ran down the hall to the living room. He assumed they were going to watch one of their favorite cartoons while they waited for breakfast to be made. He watched the batter bubble and then carefully flipped it over, revealing a perfect shade of golden brown. He had mastered the fine art of making pancakes. Patrick wasn’t all that terrible in the kitchen, but he had had to learn. Luckily, his mother was there to coach him along the way, though he did try and sneak over to her house for dinner in order to avoid cooking. Who could blame him? Mary O’Brien was well known in town for being a fabulous cook and baker. Besides, she was constantly offering for him to stay for dinner. How could he refuse his mother?

After piling a large plate high with fluffy pancakes, Patrick brought it and a bottle of maple syrup to the table. He went back to the kitchen and found the twins’ favorite plates, which were in the dish strainer—one was covered in dinosaurs, and the other had colorful trains. He wasn’t quite sure why the boys always wanted their meals on these particular plates, but today he wasn’t up for any kind of battle. Without question, he put pancakes on each plastic, obnoxiously colored plate.

“Okay, boys, breakfast is ready,” Patrick called out as he finished pouring milk in a small cup for each child.

Finn pulled himself into his seat without a problem, but Connor wrestled with gravity as he tried to pull his body up. Patrick lifted him up and then placed a kiss on top of his blonde head.

“I didn’t want ‘nanas, Daddy,” Finn complained as he poked at the fruit.

Patrick let out a huff. “Oh, Finn, just eat them. They’re good for you.”

Finn pushed the bananas around the plastic plate defiantly. Patrick had to swallow back his irritation. It was going to be a long day, and he could tell it was time for another cup of coffee.

 

***

 

After getting Finn and Connor cleaned up and dressed after breakfast, Patrick decided the best course of action would be to get them all out of the house. The weather was nice enough with summer settling in. It was actually a little too warm, almost on the brink of hot. He sat on his porch swing, watching the boys play on their swing set in the backyard, when his phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Patrick.” It was his brother, Liam.

“How’s it going?” Patrick asked, moving off his seat. He fumbled with his phone and positioned it in the crook of his neck as he went to help Connor get on one of the swings.

“Rachel and I were wondering if you wanted to bring the boys by. Going to barbeque and thought we could get the kids together. The weather’s perfect for it.”

Liam was right, the weather couldn’t be better, and he had a beautiful lake on his property that might be fun to splash around in. Liam then mentioned that their sister, Maggie, might also be headed over there. Patrick was tempted to make up an excuse so he didn’t have to accept the invitation. A couple of weeks ago, Maggie had decided to stick her nose where it didn’t belong and had signed him up for online dating. She hadn’t asked his permission, but the hard part was he knew, deep down, her heart had been in the right place; he just had no intention of telling her that. After that, they hadn’t spoken much at work, since he’d given her the silent treatment. She hadn’t been one bit happy with him.

“Look, Patrick, it’ll be fine. Maggie and Rachel are planning on working on some wedding stuff. So I figure we can grill and just let the kids play,” Liam assured him.

“I just don’t know. We aren’t really talking right now, so it might be a little awkward.”

“Don’t make it like that. Eventually, you two need to sort this out,” Liam said firmly.

Patrick rolled his eyes. He wasn’t the one who had started this battle; it was all his sister’s doing. Why should he be the one to have to play nice?

“Come on, Patrick,” Liam pestered.

“Fine. What can we bring?”

“Um, you know, how about some of that root beer?” Liam suggested. The thought of the sweet beer made Patrick’s mouth water.

“Sounds good. I guess we’ll be by in the next hour or so.”

“Great. And, man, just be cool with Mags, okay?” Liam pleaded.

“I can’t guarantee anything, but I won’t start any trouble.”

Liam laughed. “Well, that’s all I ask.”

Patrick huffed as they hung up and then called out, “Finn, Connor! Hey, guys, we’re going to Uncle Liam’s.”

The boys cheered in unison as they bounded toward the house.

 

***

 

Patrick leaned back in the canvas chair as he relished the taste of the sugary beer in his mouth and savored the enjoyment of being outside. His brothers and brother in-law were seated next to him, all of their long legs stretched out, absorbing the sun’s warmth. They all had a fantastic view of the lake’s shimmering water and the tall grasses along the shore, which protected the croaking frogs. The angry sounds of quacking ducks echoed off the small, surrounding hills. The water fowl were clearly irritated at the several children splashing loudly in the water.

BOOK: Patrick's Promise (Cloverleaf #3)
12.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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