Cinderella . . . in work boots?
When landscape architect Rachel Jennings-Porter
lost a nearly-new boot escaping the stranger at Quarry Lake, she
counted herself lucky to get away. Once Riverdale's favorite swimming
hole, it was Wellman land now—private property—destined to become
an exclusive resort. Like it or not, Rachel was part of the team
that would make it all happen.
The place was deserted, or should have been. Only nature had kept
her company as she'd inventoried the site—rare and delicate orchids,
soaring osprey, a sleepy brown turtle, sunning himself on the beach—until
the mysterious and all-too-human stranger appeared in the water.
Miles from town, Rachel had no intention of confronting the man
alone. The Wellmans could chase their own trespassers.
When that same stranger showed up at her office, wearing a winsome
smile and carrying her lost boot, Rachel faced an uneasy decision.
Save Quarry Lake, or save her job? Her 'trespasser' was none other
than Street Wellman himself—millionaire CEO of Wellman Enterprises
and the firm's most important client. But he was no Prince Charming.
And when that boot hit the table, her plans to make a good first
impression flew right out the window.
Solid © by
Cheryl Cooke Harrington & Anne Norman
from Chapter One
gentle summer breeze suddenly vanished, leaving the air still and
heavy with humidity. Puffing slightly from the exertion of the
last few hours, Rachel leaned wearily against an old beech tree.
It was hard work, trudging through the woods, painstakingly chronicling
every interesting little plant, every group of trees, every animal.
But she was finally finished, hot and sweaty, and ready for her
don't sweat, she remembered her mother telling her. Horses
sweat. Gentlemen perspire. Ladies get all aglow. "Huh,
I'm certainly glowing today, Mom," she muttered, and imagining
she could hear the blue waters of Quarry Lake calling, Rachel made
her way down the hill.
lake's azure blue water never failed to surprise her, even though
she knew the simple cause. Such a brilliant colour, Caribbean swimming
pool blue, and all because of the fine limestone dust, left behind
by the quarrying so long ago. It hung suspended in the water, bending
the light, fooling the eye. She felt better already, itchy to take
off her shoes, to cool her feet in the refreshingly cold waters.
Funny how she could almost hear splashing and childish laughter,
an echo of happy times long past.
at Quarry Lake
motion and a gentle splash drew her eye, and she followed the line
of ripples a little farther along the shore. A big old turtle, his chestnut
shell at least ten inches across, stared back at her from the shallows. She'd
probably disturbed his siesta, she thought, delighted to discover he'd led
her right to the orchids she'd hoped to find.
Dropping to her knees, she touched a fragile bloom with one finger. She'd
heard they grew here but had never seen one until today. And Wellman wanted
it all. This was the very spot he'd proposed for the new marina. Hard steel
and concrete to obliterate nature's gentle wonders. On the height of land
overlooking the quarry, where the osprey now made its home, the lavish
main house of Wellman's
Riverdale Resort would stand and, ringing the lake, luxury condos, bringing
the rich and famous to little Riverdale. But at what cost? So much would
be lost, forever. She would have to make them listen. Somehow.
Rachel reached for her camera. Old man turtle and the lady's-slippers.
It was the perfect shot to finish her roll of film. He seemed indifferent,
sleepy eyes in her direction, flashing his bright yellow neck patch just
the shutter snapped. Perfect.
How long had he lived in this peaceful place? she wondered, watching
the turtle haul himself onto a sandy hummock. Probably longer than
swim, and that was a very long time. "I won't let you down, old man," she
said, as he sleepily closed his eyes. "I promise."
Backing slowly away, she left him to finish his afternoon nap. It was
her turn for a bit of relaxation now, and she dropped to the ground,
off her shirt with a sigh of relief that the day's chores were done
at last. The blue tank top clung to her flesh like a second skin
was almost tempted to pull it off as well, but good sense prevailed.
the stubborn boot laces, she freed her feet, peeled off her sweaty
socks (sorry, Mom, but that's sweat!), and plunged her burning feet
of the sparkling blue water.
She stretched, arching her back to release all her pent-up tension,
and dreamily closing her eyes. Reaching a lazy hand to adjust the
her cap, Rachel
let it linger there for a moment, tracing the words 'Riverdale Raiders'
with her finger. Peter's team. Peter's cap, now her trusty companion
field trip, protecting her from sun and rain, and reminding her of
him. Not that
she needed any reminders.
She smiled to recall the carefree summer days they'd spent here together,
and wondered what he'd think of the part she'd been asked to play
in its destruction.
She wished she could ask his advice, talk it all over with him.
If only...sometimes it was so hard to be alone.
Rachel sighed, rolled her head again to loosen the tightness in
her neck, tried to think of nothing but the cool, blue lake.
Suddenly something flashed across
the water, a burst of light that warned she was not alone. She
her shirt, shoved her arms into the sleeves. It was inside-out,
noticed, mesmerized as she was by the flawless physical specimen
emerging from the depths.
from ROCK SOLID
© Cheryl Cooke Harrington & Anne Norman
Originally published in hardcover by Avalon Books
Now in hardcover and on Kindle from Montlake Publishing
Get it now!
Autographed hardcover copies available from the authors.
Write to inquire: cheryl.cch at gmail.com
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