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Kendall is falling for Cameron, but she is sidetracked by several issues. Chief among them is the Fox, a nuisance who strikes after midnight to bring public attention to abuses of the environment. As the sheriff of the county, she is expected to apprehend this phantom of the night, but who is he?
High school teacher, Cameron is in love with Kendall, but he resents her preoccupation with the Fox. Also, he is frustrated by her reluctance to commit because of a marriage that ended in a painful breakup. Why can't she trust him to be there forever?
Can Kendall overcome their conflicts and win the man she loves? Will Cameron get her to bury the subject of the Fox so he can propose?
Page Count: 212
Word Count: 54295
There was a long moment of silence, each busy with their own dark thoughts, and then Cam, gazing up at the ceiling, broke the stillness with a low, “Kendall?”
He hesitated, then went on in a husky tone deep with emotion, “This is rotten timing. Or maybe it’s perfect timing. I don’t know. I only know I have to say it.”
“Say what?” She pretended ignorance, but her heart, beating fast, knew otherwise.
“You know what. And I’m not going to hold back any more. I am going to say it.”
“Cam, don’t! I don’t want to hear it!” She felt the old panic rising, and she willed him not to speak.
He swung his legs to the floor and sat up, facing her. “You can’t stop me this time. You can’t stop me from saying it because, as goofy as it sounds, I’ve got a kind of freedom in here I didn’t have out there. I love you, Kendall Johnson. You hear me? I love you, and nothing that’s happened or will happen is going to change that.”
She shut her eyes, her senses in a turmoil. When she looked again he was standing at the bars of his cell, reaching toward her with his voice because he couldn’t reach her with his arms. “I need to love you, Kendall. It’s something I never knew before with a woman. Not real love. I think I must have been waiting for it all my life, and everything before now was a sort of fill-in time until I could belong to someone, and she could belong to me. You, Kendall.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” she whispered.
“Oh, yes, I do. I know what I’m feeling and what you’re feeling, too. Only, I need you to say it back.”
She shook her head, wretched. “I can’t! I won’t!”
He pressed his face against the bars. “It’s all right for you to tell me you love me, Kendall. It’s all right…”
“Cam, don’t do this to me. Don’t force me to admit what isn’t there, what I’m not capable of giving.”
His hands now were clamped to the bars. “It is there, and you can say it. Say it, Kendall. Don’t be afraid. Say the words.”
He wasn’t giving up, was he? He wouldn’t let her alone. Body rigid, without realizing what she was stung into doing, she half rose out of the chair, “All right, I love you! I wish I could help myself, but I can’t! Because I’m only half alive when I’m not with you! In fact, I’m no good at all without you! You make me want to be a part of you! I am a part of you! Yes, I do love you. There…are you satisfied now? Are you?”
His hands relaxed on the bars. His gaze clung to her, warm and proud. “Yes. Yes, I’m satisfied. With these bars between us I have to be, don’t I? For now.”
Kendall, lightheaded, wondrous over her wild outburst, settled back into the chair, trying to determine what at this instant she was feeling. And then she knew. Relief, a tremendous relief. My God, what had she been afraid of all these weeks? Why had she been so worried, withheld what all along had been screaming to get out and which she had so tightly contained for no worthwhile reason whatever? Stupid, groundless fears really when the most natural, wonderful thing in the world was to love this man and to confess that love to him. The rest was unimportant, counting for nothing.
She didn’t know she was crying until she tasted her tears, and then she couldn’t stop. The tough lady sheriff was weeping, the tears pouring down her cheeks. But they were good tears, tears of a welcome, joyous release.
Cam, squeezed against the bars, didn’t understand. “Kendall, don’t cry! Oh God, Kendall, I can’t come out there and hold you, and if you cry you’ll drive me wild because I can’t put my arms around you, so don’t cry.”
She should have gotten out of the chair and gone to him, touched him through the bars, tried to put her face against his. But she couldn’t seem to help herself. All she could do was sit there and sob, draining herself.
Later, curled tightly in the chair, she slept in mindless exhaustion. Cam, watching over her from his cell, unable to see the small smile on her turned face, muttered an unhappy, “Oh, love, what have I done to you? What have I gone and done to us?”
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