Authors: Allison Smith
Tags: #Fiction / Romance
Materializing at his California beach home, Lucien checked his surroundings for unexpected visitors. Relieved that Marissa hadn’t followed him, Lucien settled down at his large desk and began to read through his growing pile of correspondence. Thoughts of Lara kept intruding until he was forced to set aside the paperwork.
Concentrating on the guest bedroom in his home on Maui, Lucien found himself standing over Lara’s sleeping form. The light of the full moon shone through a window, highlighting her serene features. Desire surged through Lucien’s body until he thought it would bring him to his knees.
Moving away from the bed, he stood at the window looking out over the ocean as he fought for control of his baser instincts. Having fed his unnatural hunger earlier, Lucien didn’t fear for Lara’s safety around him. That, he definitely had under control.
A rustling of the bed covers had Lucien glancing back over his shoulder.
Lara bolted upright with a startled gasp and clutched the bunched up sheet tightly to her chest. “Who are you? What are you doing in my room?”
Admiring her spunk, Lucien strolled back to the bed and gave an abbreviated bow. “I am Lucien Saint. I had hoped we would meet under slightly better circumstances.” With a sweep of his hand, he indicated her in bed and gave her a rather wry smile.
Still clutching her sheet, she repeated. “What are you doing in my room?”
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
The Wishing Stone
2009 by Pamela A. Smith
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Black Rose Edition, 2009
Published in the United States of America
My husband Randy for encouraging me.
My loving mother and sisters:
Gerry, Patty and Nancy.
To all the beautiful ladies from work who will always “light up my life.”
Finally to Devon Matthews and her wonderful book “Angel in the Rain” for leading me to
The Wild Rose Press.
Thank You Very Much
Los Angeles, California
Staring up at the shining stars, Lara Miller brushed away the tears streaking down her face. She sternly reprimanded herself as she pushed open one of the glass hospital doors. “Stop behaving like a ninny. You’ll only upset Edna if she notices that you’ve been crying again.”
Ignoring the people scattered about in various groups in the brightly lit lobby who turned to stare at her, Lara swept through the entryway and past the information desk, where an older woman looked up questioningly at her. Only then did Lara actually realize she had been thinking out loud. Straight ahead was the row of elevators that lined the entire wall of the room. Blushing in embarrassment, she resolutely moved onward, firmly fixing her gaze on the closed metal elevator doors, willing them to open and swallow her up.
When the portal finally swished open, she stepped inside. Not wanting to encounter any more curious stares, she directed her gaze to the floor until the doors slowly closed.
“Which floor did you want?” The low, deep masculine voice inquired, startling her by its nearness.
Raising her downcast eyes, Lara met the dark steady gaze of the most desirable man she had ever seen. There stood the type of man nearly every woman had fantasies about. Coal black hair, looking as if his fingers had carelessly combed through it, skimmed the collar of his shirt. A few light streaks of gray at the temples framed a ruggedly chiseled face, softened only by the inviting lips below a straight classic nose. His jaw had an arrogant tilt to it, which would surely have given anyone second thoughts about approaching him. A tailored black shirt hugged his body, stretching across his wide chest before tapering down to a slim waist.
Almost hungrily, her eyes worked their way down his body. The way his black jeans molded to his lean narrow hips, outlining his muscular thighs, had Lara’s insides curling in a combination of want and desire.
“Fourth floor, please.”
“You have a beautiful smile. I am pleased to see that something has your spirits lifting.” He chuckled softly.
His dark eyes locked on hers as he stepped closer.
Eased by an unwarranted sense of familiarity, Lara silently observed the various emotions of need, love and want that crossed his face, while her heartbeat quickened with a sudden longing to ease those same feelings.
Lifting his hand, he lightly cupped her chin and caressed her cheek with his thumb.
“So beautiful,” he breathed, his mouth descending.
The lone light in the ceiling of the elevator blinked briefly, then abruptly lost power and died, leaving the pair in total darkness.
With the jarring halt of the car, Lara threw her hands out for balance and blindly found contact with a decidedly solid and manly surface.
His large hands caught her shoulders as her body careened into his from another jolt of the car.
Realizing her stabilizer was this stranger’s hard muscled chest, Lara swiftly lowered her hands to her sides.
“It’s all right. I’m sure they’ll have the power back on shortly,” his deep voice soothed.
The closeness of his body, along with the unexpected rightness his presence exuded, kept Lara from feeling any fear. Instead, she let the lips that settled on her forehead remain. And contact with his strong body had her nestling further into him, wanting to feel that same belonging his arms had already promised.
An unseen magnetism pulled her to him. All rational thought fled as she flowed with the unknown force. Lara’s inner wants and needs overpowered her inhibitions as she tilted her face up, her lips unerringly meeting his.
Their mouths melded as his arms pulled her body flush to him. His tongue probed for entrance, and her lips obeyed, welcoming him as his tongue swirled around hers in a provocative dance, leaving her senses tingling. Slowly, his tongue glided over hers.
Lara clutched at his back, attempting to steady herself while her world dipped and spiraled.
His responding erection pressed against her belly, leaving her breathless with desire.
Strong hands gripped her rounded bottom, pressing her against his hardened, throbbing length while the kiss deepened. Abandoning her lips, his mouth trailed down her neck, stopping at a point where her pulse raced madly.
The jolt of the elevator, along with the bright light, broke them apart.
Embarrassed and appalled at her too-eager responses to a total stranger, Lara adjusted her clothing and was out the doors as soon as they began to open. Reluctant to look back and face the consequences of her long-buried needs, she quickened her pace, her face downcast.
Her hurried footsteps echoed as she walked down the sterile white corridor, trying to make some sense out of her behavior. She had never before acted in such a manner.
You would think I’d never seen a handsome man before.
Unfortunately, it had been a long time since any man had attracted her, much less any she would allow to touch her so intimately.
Not since her ex-husband, Steven.
The last time she had held Steven’s hand had been here three years ago, in this same hospital, on this same floor that housed the cancer ward. Since he had no close friends and his parents had long passed away, compassion for his plight had driven Lara to spend every waking moment at his side.
But today she visited Edna. They had become fast friends since neither had any close family living. Both of Lara’s parents were dead, and Edna had been like a mother to her while Steven battled the ravages of cancer.
But even when Steven was healthy, back when they were first married and she lived in blissful ignorance of his philandering ways, not once had he ever made her feel the heat of passion she’d just experienced with the darkly handsome stranger in the elevator.
She stopped at the nurses’ station, where her friend Emily and the other nurses awaited her. Emily pressed a hand to Lara’s forehead. “Are you feeling all right? You look a little flushed.”
“You won’t believe this.” Lara smiled, her mind now on the ride in the elevator. “I just saw the most perfect man.”
That statement alone brought the group of women closer.
“Where is he and when do we get to meet him?” One single nurse piped up, smoothing her hair back in anticipation.
“Didn’t you see him?” Lara glanced back toward the elevator she had just ridden up. “He was on the elevator with me.”
Concern shadowed Emily’s face as she calmly gestured toward the gleaming metal doors. “Are you sure someone was on that same elevator with you?”
At Lara’s nod, Emily said, “Honey, you were all alone when those doors opened up. Maybe he got off on the third floor.”
Flustered, Lara became aware of the nurses anxiously hovering on each side of her, concern evident on their faces. “He was there, I swear. Maybe he got off after me and went in the opposite direction.” At the skeptical expressions on the surrounding faces, Lara fumbled for any plausible excuse. “I’ve been up far too long.”
At the murmured agreements, she left them and made her way to Edna’s room, aware that Emily kept a worried eye on her.
Edna was sleeping soundly, which Lara was grateful for. The days were pure torture for her friend. Pain medication, given when she wanted it, was the only thing making the hours tolerable.
Collapsing into the chair next to the hospital bed, Lara thought again about the man in the elevator.
I know he was there! Why didn’t the others see him?
Perhaps she’d conjured him up and he was just a figment of wishful thinking.
Snorting with derision, she couldn’t imagine that type of man taking a second look at her, let alone kissing her. What hunk in his right mind would look twice at a forty-three year old divorcee? When this hospital was full of pretty, young nurses and nursing assistants?
Rising from the cushioned chair, Lara crossed into the small bathroom that opened onto Edna’s private room. Leaning over the basin, she critically stared back at her reflection. Ordinary brown hair with threads of gray sparsely sprinkled in it had Lara groaning in disgust, appalled at herself for letting her appearance suffer. When was the last time she had gone to the beauty shop? The length of those silvery strands said it had been quite a while since they had seen any bottle of hair coloring.
The laugh lines around her equally ordinary brown eyes and mouth appeared more pronounced in the harsh glare of the light above the mirror. Ruefully, she admitted that those same lines hadn’t been used in quite a while. The sorrow in her life had kept away any light, happy moments until she fell into an exhausted slumber at the end of each day, leaving her an empty shell of her former self.
Pushing away from the sink, she straightened her pale peach sun dress, thrust out her chin, and silently vowed to change the way she was living her life.
Entering the dimly lit room again, Lara walked to the hospital bed that held the small, frail body of her friend. Keeping her tears at bay, Lara gently caught up Edna’s thin hand, careful of the IV needle that protruded from it.
As eyelids fluttered open to reveal light blue eyes, Edna’s mouth formed a wobbly smile. “Thank you for always keeping me company, child. What I would have given for a daughter like you.” The effort to speak wore heavily on the elderly woman, urging Lara to call for a nurse.
When the nurse entered, Lara pleaded with the pain-riddled woman. “Edna, please let them give you something to ease the pain.”
Waving the nurse away, Edna shook her head. “No, I want to be awake when he comes for me.”
Panic snaked up Lara’s back as she thought the woman was hallucinating, until Edna’s hold tightened on her hand. Staring into her eyes, she finally understood what she was talking about.
“I’m sure you’ll be awake when God comes for you,” Lara softly assured her, trying to hold back the moisture in her eyes.
“The hurting tries to drag me down, but I just won’t let it,” Edna confided with a grimace.
Leaning down, Lara brushed a kiss on Edna’s soft sunken cheek, bringing tears to the elder woman’s eyes. The nurse, who’d come to bathe Edna and change her sheets, urged Lara to leave and offer her friend some privacy.
Stopping on her way out the door, Lara turned back toward the slight figure reclining in the bed. “I’ll just be down in the cafeteria. Then I’ll be right back.”
Lucien parted from the dark corner of Edna’s room, after watching as first Lara and then the nurse left the room.
“Who’s there?” the old woman called out, softly.
“A friend,” Lucien replied as he approached the side of Edna’s bed.
“Are you here for me?” Edna asked, hope and fear evident in her trembling voice.
“Yes, Edna. I’m here to help you. Are you ready to leave?”
“I’m tired of fighting the pain, and I don’t want Lara to worry about me anymore. She has enough to deal with, without the added burden of me.”
At the mention of the younger woman’s name, Lucien’s hands closed around the guard rail of the hospital bed, gripping it tightly.
“Let me have your hand, Edna.” He held out his palm for her aged hand.
Edna raised her arm and rested her smooth, warm hand in his, making his skin feel even colder than usual.
Gently removing the IV needle from her flesh, he turned her hand palm-side up. Leaning down, his mouth descended on the exposed thin wrist, his sharp, pointed teeth capturing the vein that pumped the blood from her heart. Slowly, her eyes drifted closed. Still, he stayed until every last bit of the precious red liquid was drained from her veins, depleting her life while sustaining his own.
Straightening up, he gently laid her hand across her chest, briefly noting the beautiful smile that graced her motionless face.
Thinking back on the Edna’s words, Lara’s footsteps quickened as she made her way up the hospital corridor. She didn’t want her friend to be alone while her spirits were so low. Edna needed a friend, and Lara was determined to be that friend.
Approaching the brightly lit room, Lara came to a sudden halt inside the threshold. Emily and another nurse busily stripped the linens from the bed, and orderlies cleaned out the dresser drawers, packing up any personal effects in a plain brown cardboard box. A sheet-covered body lay on a hospital gurney just inside the door.
Emily rounded the bed and came quickly to her side, edging Lara away from the gurney as the orderlies straightened the sheet over the body. She urged Lara into the white corridor. “I’m sorry you had to find out this way. I was going to come down to the cafeteria to tell you.”
Tears began to seep from Lara’s tightly closed eyes. “If I hadn’t left her—”
“You couldn’t have helped her, so stop blaming yourself. If you could have seen her face, you would know she’s happy now. It really was strange, though. She had the most contented smile on her face.”
Turning her back on the nurse, Lara walked in a daze toward the elevators. The corridor’s stark white walls gave her no comfort. They were just a reminder of the sanitary building where death lay in wait for the occupants of this ward.