Winter's Journey [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
eBook Category: Romance/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Was the man she loved an enigmatic hitchhiker or a murderer? To keep the bank from repossessing her eighteen-wheeler, Baby Blue, and putting her and her daughter, Tessa, on the street, Loretta Brennan takes a dangerous job driving it into Wyoming with a winter storm approaching. All alone she worries if she can make the deadline and navigate the roads since her driving partner husband died the year before in an accident. On her way, she feels sorry for and picks up a hitchhiker. Sam Emerson. Charismatically handsome, his moodiness hides a dark past that includes a dead girlfriend and a murder charge. Snow, a series of trucker murders and a sinister truck begin to haunt them on their route. She suspects Sam's aligned with the killer even as she experiences feelings for him. Is Sam a good man down on his luck or is she falling in love with a murderer? In the end it'll take a heroic show of love to prove to her that he is who he claims to be. Excerpt: "What I need," she said, waving a hand at the raised hood and the engine after she'd picked up the flashlight she'd dropped from the ground, "is a doctor for my truck. It's sick." The man took the flashlight from her hand, walked over and peered into the engine. His fingers traced along the metal parts, jiggling something here, something there. He seemed to know what he was doing. "Yep, looks like you need a fuel filter." "You're pretty knowledgeable for just a hitchhiker." She forced herself to stop looking at him and his long legs and shifted her gaze to the buildings at the end of the lot. She'd been having strange thoughts about the man. When he'd come back from dragging off her drunken admirer she'd had the urge to throw her arms around him and kiss him. Which was crazy. Even now she kept sneaking peeks at him because she wanted to see his smile again. The feelings were so unexpected they took her off guard. She never reacted to a man this way. Ah, she sighed inwardly, what the heck was she thinking? He was nothing but a stranger. The man she was daydreaming about ambled over. There was a grease smudge on his left cheek. "I used to drive a big rig," the man was saying. "Five years for J.B. Hunt out of Illinois as well as a couple other companies. And I've worked on these babies since I was a kid." He patted the side of Baby Blue fondly. "My dad was an over-the-road trucker all his life. He'd take me on the road with him in the summers and taught me everything I know. About trucking, that is." His voice was gentle when he mentioned his father. "Your father's not driving anymore?" "No. He's not living anymore. He died a couple of years ago of cancer." His eyes were taking her in and there was a curve to his lips. "I'm sorry." Her mother and father were both alive, in another state, but she saw them when she could and they were still close. Her mom called every week. They visited Tessa and her every Christmas. "Don't be sorry. Everyone has to die sometime. It was his time."
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, Published: 2011, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2011
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The ringing phone jolted her awake. Reaching for the receiver in the dark, she glanced at the alarm clock and inched up in the bed until she was sitting. Who'd be calling her at 6:30 in the morning?
"Is this Loretta Brennan?" a genial, female, and businesslike voice asked.
"Yes," she answered, still half asleep.
"This is National Carriers. The trucking company?"
"Yes, I know who you are."
"We were given your name by one of our regular drivers, Chad Amory, as someone dependable we could call on at the last minute. He said you owned your own truck. That you were an excellent driver. Chad was supposed to take a load of oranges to Cheyenne, Wyoming, today for us but something personal came up and he can't do it. Would you be interested?"
"Oranges to Cheyenne...today?" She woke up in a hurry. National Carriers was a large company with an exceptional reputation for paying their drivers good money as well as picking up the tabs for permit fees, insurance, tolls, and best of all, cutting their people per diem expense checks on the road. All of which was pretty rare these days.
This could be her big break. She'd been praying to get on with a company like National Carriers for months, but they had plenty of owner-operators and could pick and choose their drivers. And until now they hadn't chosen her.
Then she remembered the weather forecast from the night before. "Isn't there supposed to be a snowstorm up that way in the next few days?" The news had said it was going to be bad. Rain. Ice. Lots of snow. Smart drivers wouldn't risk their lives on icy roads, but those drivers probably didn't have a huge balloon payment due on their trucks in two weeks like she did, or a mortgage payment coming up soon. Her local routes wouldn't pay enough to keep her from losing her truck and the house.
"So they say. But, being oranges, the load has a tight deadline, and it has to go today."
"What's the deadline?"
"They need to be there by Friday," the woman said.
Loretta whistled under her breath. Wyoming was three states away. Getting there by Friday with the approaching storm was close to impossible. Just accepting the job would make her wonder if she were in her right mind.
"It's top pay, though, and there's a big bonus if you get it there on time." The woman rattled off a couple of amazing dollar amounts and Loretta's heart raced. The pay and the bonus would not only pay off her bank loan and her mortgage but give her living expenses for the next month. After the run she could even afford to take a week off to be with her daughter, Tessa. It was almost worth the risk.
Besides, there was no other way she could get the kind of money she desperately needed in the next fourteen days.
No, it's too dangerous. Inwardly she gasped, realizing the route was also the same one her husband, Jed, had taken that last time.
She took a deep breath. There was no way she could drive through a blizzard on the same roads--the same time of year--that her husband had died on. Yet, she really had to have that money or she'd lose everything she and Jed had worked so long and hard for. She needed this chance with National Carriers. Getting on with that company could change her life. It meant security and a good future.
Loretta paused for so long, fighting a silent battle of what she should do, that the woman on the other end of the line finally interrupted. "Mrs. Brennan? I need an answer now. Do you want the job or not?"