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Cornbread

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A wounded soldier with a dark past. A young woman in need of protection. Can they find their way out of danger to a happily ever after?
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Author: Amy McCorkle
Description

Cornbread

by Amy McCorkle

Genre Dark Romantic Suspense

Tags Romance, Suspense, Crime

Imprint MuseItUp

Release September 23, 2014

Content Editor Tanja Cilia

Cover Designer Celairen

Words 45328

Pages 168

ISBN 978-1-77127-589-7

Price $5.50


Back Cover

Jacob Dalton was a broken man. Home from a war he’d lost himself in to forget the pain of betrayal at home he is confronted by the past in the form of an innocent stranger whom he quickly realizes is his ex-wife’s sister.

Elizabeth Jaxon’s life is a study in tragedy. But when her life crosses paths with Jacob for a second time she finds his brute force protects her from others as her music heals him.

But as they find out the past has a way of closing in on you and no matter how far you run from it sometimes ugly things have to be done to protect the ones you love from the monsters of their pasts.


Excerpt

Thinking back, he realized he probably had a death wish. The marines generally engaged youngsters too stupid and headstrong to realize they were unlikely to return home from a battle abroad the same way they left. He simply didn’t care. And as he walked back into his house for the first time, his duffle-bag carrying all of his worldly possessions slung over his shoulder, he heard beautiful piano music coming from out back. He dropped his sack, and as if drawn by the melody, he walked through the empty house until he was on the back porch.

Through the screen door, he saw a woman on the porch across the river bed, on the other side of the bridge. She was playing an old, warped piano, lost in her music. A long red braid hung down her back. She had fair skin, rosy on the cheeks from the sun. Her eyes were closed, and she was oblivious to the whole world. There was pain in her expression. He knew what it was to have those moments, to be lost in your thoughts. He wondered if she had the ability to sing and whether her voice was as angelic-sounding as her finger strokes on the keys were.

A part of him wanted to call out to her. She wasn’t the beauty his ex-wife had been. This woman was younger, maybe late twenties, thirty at the most. And she was built bigger. But there was an aura of peace she had to her as she played. Something that soothed the beast that raged within his heart. Jacob felt like he was spying.

He looked closer. Her shoulders were shaking, and her hands seemed to falter. She raised her hand to her cheek and wiped away tears. He had taken a step out of his screened-in porch when the back door to the woman’s home opened. He froze and stepped backward.

It was an older woman, in her sixties. She was saying something to the pianist. Her hair was coarse-looking. It, too, had once been red, but it was now turning white. She tried to console the young woman by sitting with her. She put her arm around her. The young woman didn’t respond. It almost seemed like she was simply apathetic. After a few moments, the older woman kissed the young woman’s cheeks and wiped away the tears. The young woman smiled weakly and the older woman went inside.

The young woman, immobile, stared down at her hands for a very long time. There was a rumble of thunder. Jacob looked at the sky. Dark clouds were rolling in. He looked back at the young woman. She was staring in his direction, but she didn’t see him. She looked straight through him.

She pulled the tie from her braid and shook her hair loose. She stood up from the piano bench and walked slowly to the bridge. She had a lost expression on her face. One that said she was free-falling and needed someone to pull her back from the brink. Why was God doing this to him when he was at the brink himself?

She was at the bridge, teetering on the edge. She was contemplating the thirty-foot drop. Instantaneous death. She stepped over the railing. He found himself running toward her. She leaned forward, her fingers curling behind her around the railing. He called out to her.

“Please, stop! There’s a better way! Don’t!”

She didn’t flinch, she didn’t blink, she let go of the railing. But he was too fast for her. His arm snaked around her waist and pulled her to safety. He lifted her over the railing and they collapsed on the bridge.

He expected anger. Rage. A slap. What he got surprised him. She looked at him with the greenest eyes he had ever seen and began to sob. She went limp in his arms, and for the first time in ages, he pulled an innocent person close and held her tight. They lay on the bridge, and he attempted to comfort her. Not with ineffectual words, but with the kindness of his touch.

 

* * * *

 

She sat on the couch inside his screened-in porch. She’d been there an hour and still had said nothing. The rain had been falling for some time now. They had gotten wet in the storm. He’d handed her a towel, and she’d rubbed her long hair with it, as if in a trance. He’d made her a hot cup of tea.

At long last, she spoke.

“Thanks.”

Her voice was so soft and broken he’d almost missed it. “No problem.” He remained standing, looking out onto his backyard. He couldn’t help but notice how the piano she was making sing only an hour before was probably ruined. After more silence, he said, “I know you may not want to tell me, but it might be nice if I knew what your name was.”

“Elizabeth Jaxon.”

“Jacob Dalton.”

She looked up at him. “You wanna know why I was going to jump, don’t you?”

He faced her. “It’s not my place to demand an answer to that. But things didn’t look perfect between you and who I’m guessing is your mother.”

“I’m no angel.”

“Maybe not, Elizabeth, but I know suffering when I see it. Or hear it. You don’t have to tell me anything. But know if you stay here, your mother will come looking for you. And if I don’t know what’s troubling you, then I can’t help.”

“Jacob, my problems go further than a towel and a cup of tea. I’m twenty-six and trapped in a situation I can’t get out of. I thought I’d found an answer to my problem. Turns out you decided otherwise.”

“Are you ungrateful?”

Her eyes widened and she set aside her cup. “Don’t get me wrong. No one’s ever cared that much about me. It’s just…”

Jacob thought of the painful months at Walter Reed, and how often his only support was that of the other soldiers and the nurses. His ex-wife never showed up once. No matter how much he wished it otherwise.

“It’s okay,” he said, sitting down on the couch, near her, but not too close.

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