Cry Love

Cry Love

Eve Gaddy

August 2014 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-543-0

They loved each other in two past lives and died for that love each time.

 
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Forbidden and fatal. 

They loved each other in two past lives and died for that love each time. Now they meet again in Fort Worth, Texas. This time, it’s safe. This time, they’ll be happy . . . unless the evil that stalked them isn’t finished. Unless, this time, their fate has little to do with the contrast in their skin colors. 

Claire Rose. She’s a trauma surgeon with a failing marriage. 

Jonas Clark. He’s a top notch neurosurgeon, single with no plans to change. 

At first neither is willing to believe the dreams and portents that filter into their memories as they fall in love. Reincarnation? A joke. But soon they can’t deny their vivid connections to two tragic times—their lives together in pre-Civil War Texas and again in the 60s. 

What happened to them in 1968? Are their past lives the key to their future? Can they catch the murderer who still threatens them and change their fate once and for all?

Eve Gaddy is the award-winning author of more than seventeen novels. She lives in east Texas with her husband of many years and her incredibly spoiled Golden Retriever, who is convinced he's her third child.

 

 


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Chapter One

THEY LYNCHED HIM at dawn.

He struggled, kicking out, then digging his worn boots into the ground as they dragged him toward the tree, the huge live oak standing sentinel on the front lawn. But he could do nothing against five men.

Oh, God, no. No, please, she pled silently, knowing it was a futile prayer. They had tied his hands, beaten him until she could see the blood dripping from his face and body in the eerie fog of the emerging dawn. Despairing, she put her hand to the window, choked out a cry as they threw him up on the horse and placed the noose around his neck.

My love. My only love.

CLAIRE GASPED, choked, and sat up in bed, struggling awake through a thick fog of sorrow. She raised a hand to her cheek, felt the moisture of tears.

"What the hell is going on?”

Claire Westbrook had never been a fanciful woman, not even when young and naive. Certainly not since she’d become a physician. As a trauma surgeon she dealt in gritty reality. Too damn much of it.

Yet she’d awakened in tears from a dream so real she could have sworn she still heard the screams.

Hers.

His.

Unsettling, and frankly, annoying. She didn’t have the luxury of a sleepless night. She needed her rest, not to awaken breathless, heart hammering after some bizarre dream.

Her sleep had been growing progressively more restless, but it wasn’t until waking up this morning that she actually remembered one of the dreams. And thank God she couldn’t if they’d all been like that dream. The only good thing that had come from her restless nights was they had given her a good excuse to move out of the bedroom she shared with her husband. Glenn hadn’t seemed upset to have her move, either. She wondered what was keeping them together. Not sex and not companionship, that was for sure.

Determined to get a grip, she swore not to think about the dream again. She got out of bed and lurched into the shower, turning the water on as hot as she could stand it.

It was that damned journal. The one she’d found yesterday morning, when she was cleaning out her mother’s house for her upcoming move. With her father gone now for two years, Claire had finally convinced her mother she had to move to a smaller house. And Lord, was it a production downsizing her. The woman had kept stuff going back to the seventeen hundreds. Every time a family house had been cleaned out—and her mother had a lot of family—the junk had all migrated to Evangeline’s. Some of it was interesting, letters from World War I, guns from the late eighteenth century, a postcard collection dating from the late eighteen hundreds. But a lot of it was junk, plain and simple.

Then yesterday morning, Claire had found a journal, obviously antique and stuffed in among a bunch of ancient receipts, though not of the same time period. Her mother thought it had belonged to Claire’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, Rachel Adams, who had lived during the Civil War.

The journal was certainly old. Claire had glanced at it long enough to read a sentence or two, and sure enough, it was dated 1859, just prior to the Civil War. Claire had never been a Civil War buff. In fact, she’d avoided the whole era, other than what she’d been forced to read in school. In the past, she’d found reading about it painful, so whenever possible, she didn’t.

Despite her embargo of the Civil War era, the journal piqued her curiosity. If she were an imaginative person, she’d say it called to her. Since she was a pragmatist at heart, she merely acknowledged it was interesting. Still, she hadn’t read enough of it to warrant a dream like the one she’d had. Good God, that was crazy.

Damn it, she was doing it again. Obsessing over that stupid dream was getting her nowhere. And if she didn’t get her ass in gear she’d have to skip her skinny white chocolate mocha from Java Joe’s. She stopped there religiously every morning before work, and some days when she was off.

Yet on the way to the coffee shop she found bits of the dream replaying itself in her head. Out of the confusing fog-like wisps, one certainty emerged.

She had no idea who he was. And he had died because of her.

THANK GOD FOR coffee, Jonas Clark thought on his way to work. And thank God there was a decent coffee shop across from the hospital. His coffee pot had broken during the move a week ago, and he’d yet to replace it.

He’d never imagined living in Texas again. Certainly not in Fort Worth, his hometown. He’d left Texas behind a long time ago and hadn’t missed it a bit. But his mother had developed health problems, and she needed help. Jonas was an only child so he didn’t have a choice. He couldn’t do her much good from fifteen hundred miles away in Boston. Moving his mother to him was not an option, either. First of all, she hadn’t completely given up hope of going back to work, though Jonas thought there was a slim chance of that happening. Still, she was settled in Fort Worth, with many friends as well as her church. She’d always said she’d been born a Texan and intended to die one.

So Jonas had started looking for jobs in the Metroplex. He’d thought he could tolerate Dallas, but instead he’d ended up in Fort Worth. An old buddy of his from medical school was a partner in a neurosurgery group looking to expand. They worked out of Shady Grove Memorial Hospital, a fairly new level-one trauma center that had opened a few years ago. The hospital, and consequently, their practice, had been steadily growing, and they were desperately in need of more neurosurgeons. Having a new one as well-trained as Jonas was a definite plus.

Jonas stood in line behind a woman who seemed vaguely familiar. Blonde, pretty, dressed in scrubs, she could easily be someone else who worked at the hospital. Probably was.

God, he needed the caffeine. His sleep had been restless since coming to town, which was unusual for him. He put it down to the move, and maybe the stress of a new job. Except the job was fine and not particularly stressful to someone accustomed to a busy pace. But some­thing was waking him in the night. Normally, he slept like a log when he wasn’t working.

"What can I get you?” the clerk asked, pulling him out of his reverie.

He ordered a skim latte with a double shot, then followed the blonde to the take-out counter. He stepped up to get his latte just as the blonde turned around and crashed into him, sending scalding coffee cascading over his arm. "Shit,” he said, and stepped back.

"Oh, God, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were there.” She looked at him a moment with the oddest expression, then put her cup down on a nearby table and ran to the counter, bringing napkins with her.

He fended her off, saying, "Just let me get my coffee.”

She ignored him, dabbing at him ineffectually as he determinedly made his way back to the counter and picked up his latte. "Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.”

"Don’t be ridiculous, you’re burned. And pretty badly too.” She looked up from his injured arm to stare at him a moment, clearly taking in his attire, which was the same as hers. She had the oddest eyes. One green, one half-green and half-blue. He’d seen those eyes before, but he couldn’t remember when or where.

"You’re new at the hospital, aren’t you?” she asked. "Didn’t I see you earlier this week? From a distance, anyway. I’m Claire Westbrook, one of the trauma surgeons at Shady Grove.”

Because it was there, he started to shake her hand, but found himself strangely reluctant to touch her. Why, he couldn’t have said. She seemed like a perfectly nice woman, if clumsy. Still, he almost had to force himself to take her hand. Their palms met, and he felt a subtle pop. The sounds around them faded, and he was mired in quicksand. Sorrow, grief, pain flashed in his mind, and then they were gone, and he was left staring at the woman who had paled to sheet white. They dropped hands, she with as much alacrity as he did.

"Jonas Clark. Neurosurgery.” Jesus, he needed more sleep. He took a big gulp of coffee and burned his tongue. What was with the Twilight Zone moment?

"I’d heard we were getting a new neurosurgeon. I guess that would be you.”

"Guilty. I started a week ago.”

"You came from Massachusetts General, right?”

He sipped, more cautiously this time. "That’s right.”

"How are you adjusting to Texas? It’s a lot different from Boston.” She laughed when she said it.

"I’m originally from the area.”

"Really?” She looked surprised. "I wouldn’t have guessed that. You’ve lost your accent.”

He made a noncommittal sound. He’d worked hard to lose his Texas accent, but somehow he didn’t think that appropriate to say to a woman whose Southern Comfort drawl reminded him of hot summer nights and fast women.

She started to touch his arm, then seemed to think better of it. Maybe she’d felt that weird little tug too.

"Look, I’m really sorry about the coffee. Maybe I can buy you a latte sometime.”

"Forget it.” He knew it had been an accident, but something warned him this woman was trouble with a capital T.

"OKAY, WHO IS Dr. Awesome?” Lanie Avery asked Claire while they were scanning charts.

"Dr. Awesome?”

"Tall, black, and awesome gorgeous.” Lanie was an orthopedist Claire worked with often, as well as a friend.

Claire laughed, glancing up from the chart she was perusing to look in the direction Lanie indicated. Seeing who it was, she frowned. "Oh, that’s Jonas Clark. He’s the new neurosurgeon. You know, the one from Mass Gen.”

"Mass Gen? Wow. He’s a long way from Boston. I wonder what made him move to Texas?”

"I asked him that. He said he was from the area originally.” Claire went back to the chart.

"So you’ve met him already. Some people have all the luck.”

Claire had to laugh at that. "I bet he didn’t think so.”

"Why, did you have a run-in with him?”

"I don’t have a run-in with every man I meet.”

"Just most of them,” Lanie said with a smirk. "What happened?”

Claire closed the chart and waved a hand. "It’s nothing. I spilled my coffee on him this morning at Java Joe’s, and he seemed a bit... annoyed. Not that I blame him,” she added hastily. "I’m sure it hurt like hell.”

"Aha, do I detect some interest?” Lanie asked.

"Hardly. I’m married, remember?”

"Married women have eyes too. Besides, Glenn’s such a jerk.”

"Don’t start, Lanie,” Claire said wearily. Her friend had no use for her husband, just as he had no use for Lanie. Part of it was Claire’s fault for talking about her troubled marriage, but she had to talk to someone, and Lanie was totally loyal to her. Of course, her friend hadn’t liked Glenn to begin with, and now she detested him. Claire wondered if something had happened between them, something they didn’t want to tell her. If so, neither would admit to it. "And don’t make something out of nothing.”

Jonas Clark was gorgeous. But no doubt he knew that. He looked more like an athlete than a doctor. Broad shoulders, trim waist, perfect white teeth in a darkly handsome face. And what in the hell was she doing salivating over the man? That was so not like her. She hadn’t done that even when she was single.

"Dr. Westbrook,” one of the ER nurses called from across the room, "EMS wants to talk to you.”

She crossed the room to the big central desk, where among other things was the telephone EMS used. Picking up, she said, "This is Dr. Westbrook.”

"We have a victim involved in a head-on collision. Two cars, one driver is dead and the other severely injured. Also a passenger with possible broken leg and ribs. The worst is the driver, though, a middle- aged male with head injuries and blunt injuries to the chest and abdomen.”

"Is he coming by helicopter or ambulance?”

"Passenger by ambulance. Driver by helicopter. We’re en route now as is the ambulance. After we got him out of the car, we stabilized his spine, intubated him, and started IVs. He’s unconscious, possibly due to the head injuries. Estimate arrival time in five minutes.”

"We’ll be ready.” Claire relayed the information to the ER staff and let neurosurgery and orthopedics know they would likely be needed.

Twenty-five minutes later, after ordering a trauma panel CAT scan, Claire talked to the radiologist. "What have we got, Turner?”

"Hey, Westbrook, your trauma, Peter Moore, has got a left temporal skull fracture with an acute epidural hematoma causing mass effect and midline shift.”

She frowned at the scan on the computer. "Okay, neurosurgery is on the way.”

"That’s great, but your other big problem is that he’s got a con­tained rupture of his aortic arch.”

"Wonderful. That’s two immediately life-threatening injuries I’ve got to deal with. Thanks, Turner.” To her mind, of the two, the aorta was the first injury to take care of.

She turned and found Jonas Clark at her elbow. "What can I do for you, Doctor?”

"Other way around. You called neurosurgery. Is this for me?” He was looking at the head scan as he spoke.

Sure she had, but she hadn’t expected him to show up until she confirmed he’d be needed. Most of the neurosurgeons didn’t. He was new, though. No doubt he’d change once he’d been there a while. "My patient has a hematoma you need to drain as soon as I’ve repaired his ruptured aorta.”

He glanced at her briefly before turning back to the scan. "Bullshit.”

She stared at him a moment. "Excuse me?”

He smiled and repeated pleasantly, "Bullshit. You need to fix your aorta after I’ve drained his hematoma.” He motioned to the scan as if that settled it.

She clamped down on her temper. "If his aorta goes, he’ll bleed out.”

"Or he could be brain dead if I don’t operate now. If the aorta is contained it can wait.”

They glared at each other, and Claire opened her mouth to argue some more.

"Doctor! Doctor Westbrook! We need you in exam one.” One of the ER nurses rushed up to them. "Mr. Moore’s blood pressure is steadily dropping and his heart rate is going up.”

Claire gave Clark a prim smile. "It looks like that aortic rupture is no longer contained. Let’s get him to the OR,” she told the nurse and left, well satisfied with her parting shot.


 

 

Chapter Two

A BIT MORE THAN an hour and a half later, Claire finished up her part of the patient’s surgery. Jonas Clark had come in several minutes before and observed. He didn’t make her nervous. She wasn’t a novice, after all. But she was very aware of his presence. Fortunately, the repair of the aortic arch had gone well. As soon as she closed, Clark’s surgical team started prepping and repositioning the patient for his craniotomy.

Claire didn’t leave immediately, but stayed to watch Clark work. It wasn’t every day she was able to see a world-class neurosurgeon perform an operation. She hoped it went well, especially since it had been unclear as to who should operate first, not that she had admitted to any indecision at the time. The patient’s condition had decided for them.

"Worried about your patient, Doctor?” Clark asked her as he began.

"No, just interested. Do you mind?”

"Not at all.”

He was accustomed to people observing him, she knew, since he’d come to Shady Grove from Massachusetts General, a huge teaching hospital. She watched for some time, impressed with the man’s abilities. Reluctantly, she left before he finished, knowing she had her own duties to attend to.

She went to her locker, picked up her cell phone to find her husband had called five times, not leaving a message until the last one, just a few minutes before. Glenn didn’t call that many times for no reason. Usually he didn’t call her at all when she was at work.

She listened with a sinking heart. "Goddamn it, where are you? Call me immediately,” was the extent of his message. If that wasn’t typical Glenn. Just then she was paged to the ER. She would deal with her husband later.

To her surprise, Glenn was in the ER when she got there. "About damn time you showed up,” he said. His blond hair was disordered, and he’d taken off the suit jacket he habitually wore. He looked rumpled, stressed, and angry. Very unusual for him. Well, the rumpled part anyway. Stressed and angry were quite common nowadays.

"You had me paged? Why?”

"To ask you what the hell you mean by not alerting me about my father.”

"Your father? Did something happen to Lawrence?”

"He was in a car accident. He’s here in your ER. I didn’t get a call from you. No sign at all that you even know or care. This is my father, damn it, you should have been the one to call me.”

She didn’t blame him for being upset about his father, but that still didn’t justify his yelling at her. "I just got out of surgery,” she said, guiltily aware that she could have been there sooner if she hadn’t stayed to watch Jonas Clark perform his wonders. "My patient was the driver in a bad car wreck. His passenger was injured as well. I wonder if your father was that passenger? The other driver was killed.”

"I neither know nor care about the other people. I’m concerned with the treatment, or lack of it, that my father is getting. Why the hell aren’t you at least overseeing things? He has a head injury, a concussion the doctor said.”

Knowing there was no way to stop Glenn’s tirade, Claire let him rant.

"My father’s arm might be broken. Goddamn Lanie Avery is the orthopedist taking care of him, over my protests. I want her gone. I won’t have that incompetent bitch putting her hands on my father.”

"Oh, for God’s sake, Lanie’s a very fine doctor,” she said impatiently. "She wouldn’t be here otherwise.” Claire refused to be drawn into an argument about Lanie. They’d never agree. "Never mind. I’ll go check on him. Where is he?”

Glenn said no more, just turned and led the way to one of the cubicles. Glenn’s father, Lawrence Westbrook, was awake and obviously in pain.

"Where the hell have you been? Why haven’t I been given pain medication? Does the goddamn doctor think I’m an addict? What’s taking so long?”

And as big of a jerk as ever, she thought, unsurprised. She told herself to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was clearly in pain and possibly scared, though she had a hard time believing that. "Let me look at your chart. I’m sorry I missed you, but I was in surgery. It sounds like my patient might have been the driver of your car.” Almost certainly was since her father-in-law and her patient were the only auto traumas currently in the hospital.

"Peter Moore?” he asked. Claire nodded. "Damn fool. I told him to let me drive, but no.”

"He’s in critical condition. He’s still in surgery.”

Lawrence grunted. "Get me something for the pain, right now,” he demanded.

So much for being concerned about his friend, she thought. Reading through his chart quickly she said, "You have a concussion, Lawrence. They have to be very careful about giving you pain medication with a head injury.”

Just then Lanie came in and shot Claire a meaningful look. "I’ve looked at your X-rays, Mr. Westbrook. You almost certainly have broken ribs, and you fractured your radius. Ordinarily I’d put you in a soft cast and send you home until the swelling goes down, but since you’ll be in the hospital for a few days because of your concussion, we can probably do it while you’re here. You won’t need surgery, at least.”

"I don’t want to stay in the hospital. Why can’t I go home?”

"I’ll let the ER doctor talk to you about that,” Lanie said diplomatically.

Ignoring Glenn, Lanie said, "Claire, if I could have a word with you?”

Claire followed her out, conscious of a feeling of relief at leaving the room. "Do you think he has internal injuries?” she asked her friend.

"Not according to preliminary findings. It’s possible further tests will turn up something, as you know. Although he fractured his radius, it’s not an open fracture, so that’s good news. The concussion is a bit of a worry, but you can talk to the ER doc when he comes back. I haven’t seen films on that. How about the driver?”

"The aortic repair was successful. Now it’s up to the neuro­surgeon.”

"Jonas Clark was breathing fire after you went to the OR. I don’t think he liked having his patient whisked away.”

"I wouldn’t have either. But he got over that once the patient’s status was clear. He should be finishing up soon.”

"Did you watch any of the operation?” Lanie asked.

"I did. The man lives up to his reputation. He’s good. Damn good from what I saw.”

"He came from Massachusetts General. He should be good.”

"I hope Glenn hasn’t been too hard to deal with,” Claire said, knowing he had likely been a pain in the ass at the least.

"Oh, he’s been a peach,” Lanie said sarcastically. "Seriously, other than yelling about how he didn’t want me touching his father, he’s been okay. Once he realized it was me or no one, he shut up.” She glanced at the cubicle. "I see where Glenn gets his winning personality.”

"Lawrence is a piece of work.”

"Flaming asshole is how I’d describe him.”

Claire laughed. "Yes, that works too. But he is in a lot of pain.”

Lanie leveled a look at her. "And he’s normally sweet as pie, right?”

"No, he’s normally a jerk. Just not so blatant about it. Thanks, Lanie.”

"All in a day’s work. Unfortunately.” Before Claire left, Lanie put a hand on her arm. "I still can’t understand why you stay married to Glenn when you’re clearly unhappy.”

"It’s complicated,” Claire said, and left her.

Glenn knew how to be charming. She’d never have married him if he’d treated her then like he did now. But that didn’t explain why she put up with it. Was she just chasing a hopeless cause? Or did she hate to admit failure so much that she continued to stay in a dying marriage?

HOURS LATER, CLAIRE let herself into her house and collapsed on the sofa, tossing the sandwich she’d picked up onto the coffee table. It had been a long day. Glenn was still at the hospital with his father, which suited her just fine. She’d felt a little guilty leaving, but she had to work tomorrow, and if she didn’t get some sleep she’d be useless. And Glenn knew he could call if he needed her. But she didn’t think he would. Given the severity of the car accident, Lawrence’s tests had turned out well. A couple of broken ribs and a broken arm, while painful, were nothing compared to the trauma the driver had suffered.

Even if she could have tolerated it, Claire wouldn’t be of any use at Lawrence’s bedside. Lawrence didn’t like her any more than she liked him. He’d had a different kind of wife in mind for his only child. A woman with more beauty than brains and who would stay home and manage their social life. Which was about as far from Claire as you could get.

Glenn hadn’t exactly gotten what he’d expected when he’d married her, either. He’d known she was studying medicine, of course, but he’d been a lot more interested in her social pedigree than she had realized at the time. Claire came from a socially prominent, wealthy family, but she’d always been driven to succeed in her chosen profession. She hadn’t scorned the social scene her parents had enjoyed, so much as she simply didn’t have time for it.

After eating she took a quick shower, then crawled into bed and closed her eyes. Fifteen minutes later, she acknowledged she couldn’t turn off her brain long enough for sleep to take over. The journal she’d brought home from her mother’s house sat on the bedside table. Had it really been the cause of that dream? Surely something like that was a fluke and wouldn’t happen again. She’d only glanced at the journal the first time, after all.

She reached for it, picked a page at random, and started reading. Fortunately, Rachel’s handwriting was beautiful and not difficult to read except where it had faded. For the most part it hadn’t faded too badly, which surprised Claire. After all it was nearly 150 years old.

Rachel’s Journal—January 2, 1859

I am a wretched, wretched person. Victor Lawrence came to my father and asked for one of his daughters in marriage. At first, he cared not which one. He made it clear he wanted a good breeder. My father, naturally, denied him. But when Mr. Lawrence saw the two of us, he insisted he wanted Sarah. Sarah is by far the prettier, and suffers no squint, as I do. Father denied him again, saying he would force neither daughter into marriage against her will.

But Mr. Lawrence said he would ruin Father and force him to leave the area. And when he found that Ben and I were to marry, he threatened Ben’s livelihood as well. He says he can destroy the store, and I believe him. Whereas if Father agrees, Mr. Lawrence said he would gift Father with enough money to not only keep up the farm but to expand it. And that he would give him money for Ben and I as well. While Ben and I do not need his money, I am afraid of what he will do if he does not get his way. Sarah has agreed. And I, wretch that I am, allowed it. I said nothing in protest but allowed my darling sister to sacrifice herself for the rest of us.

To what misery have I sentenced my poor sister? But how can we fight so powerful a man? Perhaps he will not be as terrible as I fear. Are the rumors true? They say he is a brutal master. His slaves do not talk. They dare not. None of our servants talk to his slaves. They say he threatens to whip them to death if he hears his business bandied about. I fear a man so cruel to his slaves will be no better to his wife. Others say I am naive and that is how many use their slaves. But I cannot condone such cruelty.

CLAIRE CLOSED THE book and set it aside. She wanted to read more but knew she’d regret losing sleep, especially since her workdays were normally busy. She closed her eyes and drifted off, thinking of two sisters on the eve of the Civil War.

January 1859

SARAH KNEW WHAT she had to do. Her duty, regardless of what she wanted. Victor Lawrence desired her. He had made it clear he could help her father keep his farm, or he could ruin him. As well as ruin Ben, her sister’s betrothed. Her father wouldn’t force her to marry the wealthy plantation owner. A kinder, gentler man than her father she’d never known. That was part of the problem, that and his abolitionist leanings. He refused to own slaves, relying instead on freedmen, those of his own he had freed as well as the few others he found, to work his fields. Around these parts such actions were viewed as eccentric at best, seditious at worst.

Sarah could not let her father sacrifice everything for her. Her sister Rachel loved being betrothed and couldn’t wait to be a married lady. She was to marry Ben Adams, the man she loved, though. Soon, God willing, they would be married and have children to brighten their days.

But Rachel’s betrothed owned the general store, and he depended on the goodwill and business of the plantation owners from the surrounding areas. Everyone was well aware that a man like Victor Lawrence could ruin anyone he chose. She knew Victor had threatened her father with ruin if she didn’t choose to marry him. And she believed he had threatened Ben, as well. Her father wouldn’t speak of it, but she could tell by his ceaseless poring over his accounts that he was worried.

Perhaps once she married Victor Lawrence, her life wouldn’t be so bad. He was wealthy and could offer her whatever she wanted.

Everything but love.

If she married Victor Lawrence, her loved ones would be safe. If she resisted, ruin.

Duty won.

 


 

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