CAROL MCPHEE'S LOVE, LAUGHTER AND ADVENTURE NOVELS

Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

NONE SO BLIND

Rescued, ravished and repelled by a less than heaven ‘scent’ hero, Kate McTavish rallies to her afflictions with strength and courage.

Excerpt #1 Beginning of story

The approach to the two-towered suspension bridge, slick and shining from fallen sleet, threatened Kate McTavish’s escape. Dread of what lay behind goaded her to put distance between herself and home. Her nerves tightened with the possibility she might not make it up the incline or cross the span without careening into the heavy steel rails. The oppressive atmosphere weighed on Kate’s psyche, but determination spurred her onward.

 She accelerated.

 She had to chance it.

 With a brief spin of its wheels, the red Mustang growled, then fishtailed up the rise to Halifax’s Angus L. Macdonald Bridge. Once on the crest, Kate looked in her rearview mirror for the hundredth time. To her great relief she saw no one. No movement anywhere.

 She traveled alone in her private escape capsule.

 Kate eased her car along the massive center span, blinking hard to rid her eyes of remnant tears and focus on the course. The Mustang slid sideways, but she regained control. To her consternation, the bridge trembled with periodic gusts of wind--just like she trembled inside.

 Keeping her speed to a steady crawl through mounds of slush, Kate took a quick glance around her. Although it was late afternoon, a dull murky pallor had settled low, concealing almost everything in the harbor. She could barely see the Canadian Navy ships at anchor below her. Forced to brake when a snowplow approached, her car shuddered from the big truck’s passing, then meekly followed the smooth sweep down to the Dartmouth side.

 She had made it across safely.

 Kate tossed her bridge token into the tollbooth’s chute, the last obstacle to her flight. Glad to be off the link, she expelled a sigh. A monstrous load left her shoulders when she noticed the bare Dartmouth streets held little of the usual suppertime traffic. Piles of slush heaved aside by snowplow blades mantled the curbs and would guide her out of the business district.

She was on her way to freedom.

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 Excerpt #2 Kate at a restaurant where she stopped for directions.

 "Do you think a salt truck might come along soon?" Kate asked.

 "I think they'll concentrate on the main highway," Millie replied. "It could be some time before they come through here. We don't count for much attention. We didn't vote right."

 An undisciplined groan escaped Kate's lips. "Then I don't have a choice. I have to get to the inn."

 "You aren't apt to meet much traffic so that's in your favor," the trucker said. "Try and stay in my wheel tracks. They'll give you added traction."

 "I'll do that." Kate sipped her drink quickly, taking time to enjoy the heat seeping through her body. She kept her eye on the restaurant sign swaying belligerently in the tempest. She felt heartened when the man and woman didn't seem in a hurry to leave, but then she learned from their conversation, they lived next door.

 The hail pounding the windowpanes convinced her she was wasting precious time. Hunched against the bombarding blasts, she trudged to her car and revved up the engine. When she got out and scraped the windshield, her body chilled to the bone.

 The accumulation of crystalline snow made for a slippery surface on everything it touched. The car's tires had trouble getting up the incline. Kate hooted in triumph when the Mustang crested onto the road. As she continued on, using low beams to see through the precipitation, she noticed how easily the vehicle slid if she touched her brakes. She made a mental note to carry bags of sand in her trunk the next time she ventured out. Maybe I should have bought a heavier car, she mused. Since he didn't like my choice, wouldn't Grant love to hear me say that?

 The blinding hail obscured the roadway. With the centerline no longer visible, she had only the slight indentation of the truck's tire tracks to follow, but they quickly disappeared. Without house lights for a guide, she felt like she'd been cast adrift from humanity. The warmth from the heater helped fight off panic. Kate vaguely remembered the road in this area swung away from the water and like the trucker said, would be easier to navigate.

I should be there by now, even at this slow pace. I must be on top of the inn. The waitress could have been wrong in the mileage. Her nerves taut to the limit, Kate picked up her speed, anxious to get to her refuge. The Mustang rebelled, skidding at each turn of the wheel. The road narrowed. A sharp curve ahead loomed at the tip of her headlights. Kate instinctively jammed the brake pedal to the floor.

The car shuddered as it had on the bridge, then swerved across the road where it hit a depression on the road's shoulder. Kate turned the wheel sharply and gunned the engine to avoid being pulled into the ditch. Overcompensated, the car skidded toward the opposite side of the road. As if a giant animal clawed at the vehicle, the car slewed sideways, going airborne. Into the darkness.

Above the volley of ice pellets Kate heard a piercing scream, smashing glass, and crunching metal. Then she heard no more.

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Excerpt #3 Kate has discovered something more happened the night of the accident. She faces Dayton with her accusation.

“Maybe you should wait for me,” Kate bent down and whispered to the cabbie through the open door.

“That isn’t necessary,” Dayton interjected. “I’ll take you home when you want to leave. Wait a minute while I pay him.”

Kate tightened her lips. Wanting to orientate herself, she turned toward the stiff breeze and breathed in the sea-perfumed air, hoping it would stimulate her brain, not relax it as it had earlier. She needed her inner resources for the confrontation to come.

Duke’s paws scratched on the walkway as he ran toward her, and moments later those big feet of his landed on her shoulders. She teetered precariously from the dog’s exuberant greeting. Dayton’s hands steadied her. “Down, Duke.”

Duke barked twice, waited a few seconds, then lowered to the ground. When she felt his nose around her ankles, Kate bent to ruffle his neck. Duke leaned into her hand. At least one male in residence seemed happy to see her.

As the taxi drove off, Dayton placed her hand on his arm and led her to the front porch. “Careful. There are three steps, in case you don’t remember.”

“How could I remember? You carried me to the front door.” She listened for seagulls that had squawked in the morning but heard none.

Kate stepped inside, unprepared for the memories that invaded her cool resolve. This century old house had a special charm--an almost physical presence. She had the impression that the spirits of all who had ever lived here still inhabited the place. What’s more, they were holding their arms out in welcome.

“Let me take your coat.” Dayton’s matter-of-fact tone wasn’t comforting, but it didn’t surprise her. He’d had time to think since the phone call. And remember their last contact.

She shook her coat off, but it awkwardly tangled with her cane, forcing him to help. “Just sling it over the chair,” she muttered, “I won’t be staying long.” In truth, she’d feel better with the coat on in case she decided to run. Run where? Damn. There was no place she could go on her own to get away from him. It was a mistake coming here, a big mistake! She swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked to avoid a watershed forming in her eyes.

Even without sight to remind her, she had a sense of being transported back in time, transposed as if she’d never left. The crackling flames and the rhythmic tick of the grandfather clock heightened her memory. This time, things were different: she wasn’t shaking from nerves gone awry and she wasn’t chilled. If anything, her body had heated from her neck to her toes.

“You could use a drink, right?” Dayton asked.

Dayton’s voice sounded almost wary. He must be expecting the worse. Little did he know he couldn’t begin to imagine the wallop she would deliver. She straightened her spine and deliberately jutted her chin. “The drinks you gave me before had repercussions. Ginger Ale, if you have it, please.”

“My God, you’re pale!” He sounded genuinely dismayed. “You look like you’ve been sentenced to the gallows. Was it so hard to come here?”

“Difficult, but necessary.”

He led her to the sofa, but once there, using her cane as a guide, she walked toward the heat. Tapping the walking stick’s tip lightly against the hearth, she stopped. Everything about this room carried her back to that night. She didn’t need sight, but she dearly wished she had it. How many times had she pictured the place? Her mind’s eyes functioned well enough. Too well. Dayton’s living room had embedded so deep in her thoughts her mind had a permanent engraving of everything she had observed. The tinkle of liquid into a glass helped distract her from dwelling on regrets.

“You don’t mind if I have brandy?” Dayton asked.

“Do you usually drink liquor this early in the day?”

“No.”

“Then I suggest you make do with something milder. “You’ll need a clear head for what I’ve come to tell you.”

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 Carol McPhee

Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.


 

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