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A Balancing Act by Ilona Fridl

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  • Lenora LaRue, Bareback Rider Extraordinaire, is the star of her family’s circus—until a cyclone hits. A main tent pole falls on her during the storm, and when her injuries require the loss of her leg, her family abandons her, believing she is of no further use to them.

    John Mallory, the young surgeon who does the necessary operation, decides to help her readjust to the real world, against his father's advice. John takes her to his aunt’s sanitarium in the resort city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, where the two of them undertake to teach Lenora how to live outside the harsh circus culture that has been her whole life. He sets up a practice in the town to be near her, positive that rehabilitation is possible.
    As a woman doubly cursed by society as both a cripple and a former circus performer, Lenora is not so sure. She struggles to learn social skills…but can she learn what love is, too?

    Rating: Sensual  
    Page Count: 268
    Word Count: 68291
    978-1-5092-2013-7 Paperback
    978-1-5092-2014-4 Digital

    Excerpt

    “What happened?”

    Just as Nora said that, a woman in a white starched uniform and nurse’s hat came into view behind her mother. A young man in a white coat was right beside the nurse.

    The young man nodded to her, but his eyes were sad. “Miss La Rue, I’m Dr. Mallory, your surgeon. I need to talk to you.”

    The nurse set a tray of bandages and tools on a stand by Nora’s bed. She, too, looked sad. She slipped her hand around Nora’s and squeezed it slightly.

    Mallory absently ran his fingers through his hair. “You asked what happened.” He paused. “Miss La Rue, from what I was told, you were found under the tent with your leg trapped under a horse and a tent post. Apparently, in it's death struggles, the horse ground your leg into the wooden blocks of the ring.”

    Nora’s throat constricted and tears filled her eyes. “King is dead?” She gripped the nurse’s hand.

    He nodded. “That’s what I was told.” He took a deep breath. “Your leg was severely shattered. We had to remove it above the knee.”

    What he told her went through her ears, but her mind rejected it. What seemed like an eternity passed before she realized what he said. Shaking, she sat partway up, lifted the sheet and looked down at the bandaged stump that was once her right leg. “No! Oh, please, no! It can’t be gone! Put it back! Put it back!” A wail came from her throat like it had been sent from the bowels of hell.

    The nurse sat on the edge of the bed and put her arm around her, trying to soothe her distress. “We have to change the dressing now.” She eased Nora back to a lying position and held her down gently. “Go ahead, Doctor.”

    He started working on her leg, but the nurse blocked her view. Nora didn’t think she was ready for the sight of her ruined body anyway. What was she going to do now? She had never known anything else but performing in the circus. Her short life was ended at the age of twenty-two.

    Through all of this, her mother sat back, observing dispassionately. Not a warm glance or word came to comfort her stricken daughter. What else should I expect from a woman who never wanted children? She pours all her effort onto my brother, because he will inherit the circus. Me, I’m just the result of a drunken night in bed. Her hatred bubbled forth in a small sob.

    Mallory glanced up. “I hope I didn’t hurt you.”

    Nora shook her head. “Not too much.” She looked at her mother. “Did Rico come to see me?”

    Her mother regarded her coldly. “Why would he want to marry you now? I haven’t seen him.”

    Nora’s fingers clutched into claws. “Get out of here! I don’t want to look at your face anymore!” Hot tears ran down her cheeks.

    Mallory gestured at the nurse. “Finish up for me. I’ll escort Mrs. La Rue out.” He firmly took her arm and led her out of the ward.

    The nurse finished with the bandage and patted Nora’s shoulder. “You poor girl.”

    Nora angrily shook her hand off. “Leave me alone.” She buried her face in her hands and cried. The nurse came back with some medicine.

    “Take this. It will calm you down.”

    Nora took the pills, then threw the glass of water on the floor, and it shattered.

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A Balancing Act

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