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Heartfelt by Carol Owen

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  • Shay is recovering from breast cancer and months of chemo. The last thing she’s expecting is a good looking, charming man to come into her world and turn it upside down.

    Drew Bennett, an artist getting ready for a big show, needs a place to live and work while his townhouse in Boston is being renovated. He rents an apartment in Shay Morgan’s cliff side house in Maine.

    Shay and Drew are instantly attracted to each other, but both of them recognize the timing is wrong. Drew is dealing with a teen-age daughter who was seriously injured in a car accident. Shay is emotionally fragile from her illness and filled with worry her cancer will return.

    Can they overcome bad timing to find their way to each other?


    The storm hit just before seven p.m. with heavy wind and driving rain that pounded on the windows. The surf roared and clashed below as the lights went out.

    Drew was working on a painting, had been at it all day. He cursed briefly and rummaged around in the kitchen drawer for a flashlight. He found one. But it’s not going to be much help, he thought. I can’t paint by flashlight.

    He heard a knock on his door and opened it to find Shay, also holding a flashlight. “I’m afraid this may last a while. Power’s out this whole part of the coast. Do you want to come upstairs? I’ve got a gas stove. At least I can offer you dinner.”

    He grabbed a bottle from the kitchen cabinet and followed her upstairs where she had several candles lit, and a fire going in the living room fireplace. “It may be June,” she said, “but it can be cold, especially in a nor’easter.”

    He held up a bottle of Jack Daniels. “It’s not flowers, but my mom taught me a gentleman always comes with something.”

    She smiled. “In the circumstances, I think this is more helpful than flowers. Let’s use the ice while we still have some.”

    They settled in the living room where the fire cast a protective glow, warding off the storm outside.

    “This is perfect,” she said. “You can help me celebrate good news from my doctor. I had my first checkup since the chemo ended, and all indications are I’m cancer free.” They leaned toward each other and touched glasses.

    “What was it?” He kept his voice neutral.

    “Breast cancer. They caught it with a routine mammogram. I had no idea. After that nothing was routine. It turns your life inside out. Two surgeries, and months of chemo. Luke came home at first to be with me, but then he had to go back to work. My friends have been great. Now I’m in remission.”

    She fixed a salad for dinner, and while she was working at the counter, he came up behind her. “Shay,” he said in a low voice. He put his hands on her shoulders, and when she said nothing, he wrapped his arms around her waist and held her close against him. He lowered his face to her neck, where it curved into her shoulder, and began to kiss her there. He inhaled her scent, soap and something citrusy, maybe oranges? He felt her lean against him, and all his senses came alive.

    Did he turn her, or did she turn to face him? He murmured her name again, lowered his forehead to hers and kissed her gently, softly. For one glorious moment, he sank into the feelings she’d brought to life. He knew the exact moment when she pulled back.

    “Drew,” she said, and then more insistently, “Drew, no.”

    He drew back instantly, mortified and ashamed. “Oh, my God,” he said thickly. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I know it’s too soon. I thought…”

    “I know what you thought.” She took a deep breath. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I wanted it too.”

    “But then, why not?” He looked at her, baffled.

    “I can’t. I just can’t. I’m sorry.”

    “Me too,” he said, and headed for the door.


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