Corinne Ritter's life changes drastically after she loses her husband twice in the same night. Several months later, the Texas native is en route to a family gathering early on Christmas Eve when an emergency shopping trip lands her in the middle of a robbery turned hostage situation. As circumstances deteriorate, she receives a shred of hope in the faceless presence of the 911 dispatcher she only “knows” by the soothing sound of his voice.
Luke Oliver is counting down to the end of his dispatch shift, anxious to begin his chillaxing tropical vacation. When a frantic caller asks for him, he has no idea it’s the faceless Cori he’s assisted on two prior occasions. He remains with her throughout the crisis, becoming her calming influence throughout the storm.
But will Luke be able to walk away when the time comes, or will this single 911 call change his life forever?
Page Count: 304
Word Count: 76965
Luke approached the bed once they were alone. “Do you need anything? A glass of water or something?”
“I’m fine.” She yawned and lowered the head of her bed. “You know. You could have stayed home. I’ve never had a problem staying in the hospital alone.”
“Had many stays, have you?”
“More than a few. I’ve had surgeries to correct some problems, conditions that kept me from conceiving.”
“And they obviously worked.”
“Not until I’d given up all hope. But, none of it matters now, does it?”
“Nope. You’ve got a good looking baby boy as proof.” He returned to his spot on the sofa and stretched as much as he could in the space allowed.
Cori released a long sigh and adjusted her position to gaze at him.
He started to fidget under her intense stare. “What?”
“Why are you here, Luke?”
He pursed his mouth, struggling to find an answer that wouldn’t scare the hell out of her. How could he explain the tightness he felt in his chest every time he watched the news story about the hostage situation and shooting of the deputy? How could he justify his uneasiness when Shawn Jackson’s image appeared on the television screen?
How did he clarify the feeling he had that it wasn’t over yet?
He couldn’t. He wouldn’t lay that kind of worry on her.
“Nobody should be alone on Christmas Eve,” he said.
She picked up the phone a sheriff’s deputy had returned to her earlier. “Technically, it’s Christmas already.”
“You shouldn’t be alone on Christmas, either.”
“But dad would have stayed with me.”
“I’ve got a better chance of walking away from this couch without a hitch in my giddy-up than your dad. He should be with the rest of his family.”
“I could say the same for you.”
Well, hell, it didn’t look like she planned to let this go anytime soon. Maybe he needed to explain his situation. “I wasn’t supposed to be home anyway. I was supposed to be in Cozumel this week. I postponed my trip.”
“You did? All that white sand, wind and surf, tanned beach babes in bikinis, and all the Mexican beer you can drink? Why the hell are you here?”
He shrugged. “It’s no big deal for me. Hell, compared to spending Christmas with a bunch of Jarheads in Afghanistan, this is a walk in the park.”
“I suppose it is.” Cori settled into her bed. She sighed and turned her head.
He waited until her breathing evened out before readjusting the pillow under his head. Only when he knew for sure she was sound asleep, did he closed his eyes. A few short minutes later, he’d joined her.
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