Any Time. Any Place. Any Day. Getaway.

The Road to Escape
by Patricia Kiyono

Product Information

Genre: Sweet Romance

Length: 102 pages

Heat Level: 1

eBook Price: $.99

Print Book: $6.99

Print Book: $9.99


 

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Tom Cooper left his high-pressure law practice in Indianapolis for life on an alpaca farm in the tiny northwest Indiana town of Escape. Though he continued to practice law, the farm provided a good life for him, his wife, and their four children. But when his wife died, grief consumed him. His withdrawal into himself damaged his relationship with his children, and they’ve all left. He’s resigned to taking care of the farm alone, but a disturbing medical diagnosis could change things.

Laurie Matthews left her nursing job in shame. The town of Escape has welcomed her, and she now owns the local diner. She’s attracted to the handsome widower who comes in for coffee and a hot meal but keeps her distance. Everyone she’s ever loved has died —  her grandparents, her parents, her husband, and one other — one she still can’t bear to think about.

A romantic relationship isn’t on the agenda for either of them, but when the diner falls on hard times, Tom steps in to help, paving the way for them both to escape the loneliness in their lives.

Chapter One

Tom Cooper glared at his longtime friend and doctor. “What makes you so sure those tests are accurate? Lab technicians can make mistakes.”
John Brannen shook his head. “There’s no mistake. I had the lab rerun the tests to make sure. You have multiple sclerosis. MS. You’ve probably had it for years, but you’re too stubborn to acknowledge the symptoms.”
“I’m fine. Just getting a little older. Creaky joints are common in people my age. All I need is something to get rid of the aches and pains.”
“It’s more than creaky joints. Your balance is off. You fell last summer at the Fourth of July parade. And again at the Thanksgiving Day church service. I had to find out why.”
“So you had to choose a disease that comes and goes? One that’s going to leave me in worse shape each time it returns?”
“I didn’t choose it. It’s what was left after all the other possibilities were eliminated.”
“I couldn’t believe all the tests you put me through. All that time I spent getting jabbed and hooked up to tubes when I could have been getting work done—”
“And you would have continued to have problems, not knowing what was wrong. Listen, multiple sclerosis is not a death sentence. It just means you have to ease up on the work you’re doing. You can’t run that alpaca farm all by yourself anymore. I’ve been telling you that for years, but now your body is telling you. It’s time you listened.”
“I don’t have a choice. If one of my sons had stayed here in Escape, I wouldn’t have to do it all. But they both decided to leave, so I’m stuck.”
“What about your daughters?”
“Kennedy’s out in Hollywood or New York looking for her big break in show business. And Jani—”
“They could learn. Like you did.”
“Nah. They don’t care about anything but looking good and having fun.”
“Do any of the kids know about the problems you’ve been having?”
“I haven’t had any problems worth telling them about.”
John rolled his eyes. “You’ll run yourself into the ground.”
“I’ll just have to move a little slower. Maybe cut down on my herd. Hire a few more hands. The work will get done.” He stood and headed toward the door.
“We’ll need to talk about your treatment plan.”
“I’ll figure it out later. I need to wrap my head around this.” He stalked out of the doctor’s office and through the waiting room, ignoring the greetings from the half dozen neighbors sitting there.
Once in his truck, he started the ignition, but as the idea of his diagnosis set in, he froze. He hadn’t bothered to brush the snow off the windows, and the inside of the cab was a white cocoon. He was alone with his thoughts.
Multiple sclerosis. How in the heck did he get that? Had he done something wrong? Eaten stuff he shouldn’t have? Or had he inherited some weird gene from his parents? He didn’t remember any of his relatives having it. But then, he’d never really paid attention, either.
It was times like this he really missed his sweet Amy. She’d been his rock, the voice of reason. But she was gone. There’d been no warning — a massive heart attack had taken her away. He’d kissed her in the morning before he’d gone out to take care of the animals, and when he’d come back for lunch, she’d been lying on the kitchen floor, dead. He hadn’t been able to say goodbye. She’d died all alone.
He’d blamed himself. If he’d worked harder to make the farm more profitable, she wouldn’t have had to work so hard at everything else. She could’ve eaten healthier meals rather than looking for bargains. He would have taken her to specialists as soon as she’d complained about not feeling well. He could have hired help so that she wouldn’t have had the stress of raising those four kids. Maybe they shouldn’t have had four kids. Maybe…
His door was wrenched open from the outside. John reached across Tom’s lap and shut off the engine.
“You know, Cooper, if you’re trying to kill yourself, running your truck in an open parking lot isn’t going to do it. You’re just wasting gas.”
“What are you talking about? I was waiting for the cab to warm up.”
“You’ve been sitting out here for almost an hour.”
“No way.”
“If you don’t believe me, look at your watch.”
Tom glanced at his wrist, staring at the expensive timepiece his law firm partners had given him when he’d resigned to take over his grandfather’s farm in Escape. He blinked, hoping the hands would move backward. “It can’t be almost two o’clock.”
“It is. Everyone else has left.” He waved his hand around, indicating the empty parking lot. Since it was Saturday, the office was open only in the morning. “Why don’t we head over to Hal’s and have a bite to eat before you head home? We’ve got an hour or so before the diner closes.”
Hal’s Diner was one of two places in Escape to get a reasonably priced meal. Hal was gone, but Laurie Matthews, the new owner, had chosen to keep the name as a tribute to the one of the town’s more colorful characters. She’d done a lot to improve the business, bringing in more customers, but retaining the original name had been a smart choice to keep the regulars coming.
The familiar scents of good home cooking greeted Tom as he and John entered the diner. Laurie worked with local farmers to include their fresh produce, eggs, and meat on her menu rather than the canned and frozen fare Hal had preferred. Since most of the booths were full, the pair made their way to the counter.
Tom’s gaze zeroed in on Laurie, bent down and taking something out of the oven. She made a mighty fine sight, and Tom took a moment to appreciate it. Whatever she pulled out made him forget about eating something healthy. It smelled decadent. Along with her nutritious meals, Laurie had made a name for herself with her breakfast breads and desserts.
His appreciation was immediately cut short by a stab of guilt. The pain always hit whenever he thought about another woman. He’d been a widower for ten years, but not a day went by when he didn’t think of his Amy. The girl who stole his heart at age twenty and never let go. There would never be another woman like her.
As he did whenever he noticed an attractive woman, he pushed away his feelings. No use acting on his interest if he wasn’t able to let go of his feelings for Amy. Besides, after the news John gave him that morning, what woman would want to have anything to do with him?

 

 

In a previous life, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary school students by day and changed diapers at night. Now she teaches college students part time and changes diapers only when she’s taking care of grandkids. She loves to do anything that doesn’t involve exercise. Right now her favorite activities, in addition to writing, include scrapbooking, sewing, and making music. She and her husband live in southwest Michigan, near their five children and nine grandchildren.

You can contact Patricia at her WEBSITE, BLOG, FACEBOOK, and TWITTER.