Shannon here: Laurie Wood shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Romantic Suspense, Northern Protector. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for an e-book copy. Deadline: March 27th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Laurie:
Excerpt from Northern Protector (Heroes of the Tundra Book 2) by Laurie Wood:
CONSTABLE BEN KOPER PULLED HIS POLICE truck over to the side of the road across from Ruby’s Café & Emporium. His first day back at work in nine months, and already he was running late. He slammed the truck into park and stared up and down Kelsey Boulevard, on high alert for any movement between the buildings.
Last November, a polar bear had attacked him in this exact spot. He hadn’t been back to Churchill since then. Goosebumps skittered along his arms. Rationally, he knew that bears had been spotted along the coast and probably hadn’t made it into town yet. But his anxiety and the acid in his stomach told his brain a polar bear could be anywhere, now that the sea ice had melted.
Ben grabbed his mobile phone with the coffee orders on it and stepped out of his truck, pulling his baseball cap down to his sunglasses. He slammed the truck door and strode to the pavement of Kelsey Boulevard. The rest of the street sat quiet, while Ruby’s 6:00 a.m. crowd was hopping with its early morning breakfast specials. He could see people eating at tables through the huge front plate-glass window.
When he hit the middle of the street, his heart sped up, jackhammering in his chest. His feet refused to move past the centre of the road, like he’d struck an invisible wall. Adrenaline shot through his limbs. His vision tunneled into black holes. Sweat poured down his back and gathered on his forehead. He put his right hand on the grip of his service weapon, trying to get some equilibrium. His throat closed, and he leaned over with his hands on his knees. Deep breaths.
Deep, deep breaths Trying, trying…
Dan Sherman, his therapist, sounded in his head. “Look for five things around you to centre yourself. Repeat them to yourself. Then count them down one by one.”
Panting, beads of sweat rolled down the right side of his face over his scarred eyebrow and ear. All he could see was the concrete road and small rocks littered about.
There’s nothing but the road. Concrete, rocks, concrete, rocks…
He needed five things. His boots wouldn’t move. He stood hunched over in the middle of the street, trying not to throw up his meagre breakfast. No other objects around; nothing else to see. His feet… he couldn’t move his feet.
Running shoes, white and pink running shoes… Where did they come from?
“Ben? Ben,” a lilting, female voice broke through his fog. “Are you okay?”
A hand touched his shoulder, his sore right shoulder, and he flinched. Finally. He could move. He reared his head up and collided with the face belonging to the voice.
“Ow.” The woman let go of his shoulder and grabbed her nose while he staggered sideways.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he stammered. He reached forward to steady himself with his right hand but dropped his phone on the ground with his other hand. The woman dove for the phone and swiveled around to give it to him.
“Ben, look at me,” she ordered. That voice had a familiar ring to it. Bossy but comforting at the same time. He’d heard it before. “Let me see you without the sunglasses.”
He removed them without question, his heart slowing while sweat made his uniform shirt cling to his back. At nearly 6:30 a.m, no less. Or, what time was it now? He was inexcusably late. Not a great impression to make on the new Corporal.
The woman stood in front of him, her dark brown eyes concerned as she held him by his upper arms. He blinked twice and tried to get his tongue to work. Mortification brought a dull red flush to his cheeks. I should know her… Gah, why won’t my stupid brain work?
She wore purple nursing scrubs with sprigs of pink flowers on them. Her dark brown hair was pulled back into a braided ponytail, but her eyes—they were the deepest brown he’d ever seen. Several gold earrings pierced her right ear, and one gold stud pierced her left. A delicate scrolled flower tattoo peeked out along her left collarbone. And she smelled of fresh citrus. Like a pitcher of lemonade.
All right, he hadn’t totally lost his powers of perception. A gorgeous woman had just pulled him out of a full-blown panic attack in the middle of main street. Wonderful. He might as well turn in his badge and gun, drive straight to the airport, and fly home.
“Ben, it’s me.” She put her hands on her hips. “It’s Joy.” She looked like she would snap her fingers in his face any second.
He shook his head. Cleared his throat. Wished the pavement would open and swallow him whole. “I remember.”
Joy. When the nightmares came rushing in the night from the bear attack, it was her voice and the touch of her hands on him as she bound up his shoulder that he remembered. And her scent—that was a great memory—citrusy and fruity after the horror of the bear’s mouth and its rancid smell. She had bent over him, bandaging his head with gauze as they tried to save his right ear for the plastic surgeon.
Yes, it was all coming back to him now.
“I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” Lord, just beam me a hundred miles away from here, right now. This is not how I wanted to meet her again.
“No, of course not. How are you?” She touched his forearm lightly. “I mean really, how are you? You—didn’t text me what flight you were coming in on.”
“Sorry. I got it last minute.” There. At least his voice wasn’t shaking like his knees were. Shaking like a trembling foal.
“Great.” She took a step back as if realizing she was in his personal space. “I’m so glad… you’re back. Most people would never have come up here again after what you went through.”
©Laurie Wood 2020
About Laurie: Laurie Wood lives in Central Canada and writes inspirational romantic suspense with an edge of danger. She’s also a military wife who’s raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. They’ve lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When she’s not writing she can be found at her spinning wheel, knitting, or hanging out with her dogs in the garden. She loves to hear from readers and always replies so feel free to get in touch with her. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Northern Protector: Constable Ben Koper is still healing from the polar bear attack that almost killed him. Nine months after it happened, he returns to Churchill, Manitoba, a changed man—scarred more than just physically. PTSD is his new shadow, haunting his every step, and he can’t seem to kick the pain meds he shouldn’t need anymore. He’s determined to prove, to himself and his colleagues, that he’s still up to his job. Failure isn’t an option.
ER nurse Joy Gallagher spent the entire last winter texting with a healing Constable Koper. What started as friendly concern from this single mother has grown into full-fledged romantic feelings, and she’s eager to level up their friendship and introduce him to the idyllic comfort of small-town life. Until a teenager is murdered at a summer party. The crime is strikingly similar to the cold case murder of Joy’s foster sister, stirring old trauma Joy has never fully dealt with.
When another victim is snatched in town, Ben and Joy must confront their own demons, and join forces to track down an elusive killer. The race to rescue the next victim before it’s too late will test Ben and Joy to their limits. Can they survive their encounter with this heinous killer, or will the past destroy them?
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Question for Readers: Ben and Joy meet under dire life-and-death medical circumstances. I met my spouse in church which was pretty tame considering I was a police officer at the time! How did you meet your spouse? Or, if you’re single, how did your parents meet?
Come back March 23rd for Linda Glaz!