Author: Why is a lovely young woman like you living by herself out here in the woods?
Jenny: Why shouldn’t I? Would you question a man’s decision to live by himself in the woods?
Author: No, but —
Jenny: I love it here, the colorful leaves of the aspen trees in the fall, the winter snows. It’s so quiet I can hear a leaf fall and at dusk I like to wave to the family of deer as they amble down to the creek. And when I do get lonesome, I have my sheepdog, my horse and my goat to talk to. They are lots of company.
Author: That does sound nice, but aren’t you ever frightened by strange noises?
Jenny: Not as frightened as I often was when I didn’t live alone.
Author: Hmmm, sounds like there’s a story in there somewhere.
Jenny: Yes, but not one I’m willing to tell.
Author: Oh… What do you do for entertainment? What’s your favorite TV show?
Jenny: I live so close to nature, I don’t have time to go to the movies, or watch TV. If I expect to eat tonight I have to start my bread dough rising early in the morning and of course, milk the goat.
Author: Don’t you ever take time out to relax?
Jenny: Sure. When all my chores are done I go fishing or sit at my loom and weave. When you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to visit with friends who drop in uninvited, you’d be surprised how much weaving you can get done.
Author: Like me. Sorry. You have a lovely home. Can you tell me a little about it?
Jenny: Thank you. I designed this cabin myself, and am delighted with the way it turned out. The fireplace in the main room heats the entire cabin, and I have an unequaled view of the creek and those snow capped mountains beyond.
Author: Living close to nature must have its rewards, but truthfully, don’t you ever feel lonely?
Jenny: I never had, until I sent Tom away.
Author: Who is Tom?
Jenny: He’s the near-drowned engineer I pulled out of the creek and nursed back to health.
Author: So he’s all right now? Why did you send him away?
Jenny: His injuries were all healed the last time I saw him, and I was still in shock from the attempted rape Tom prevented.
Author: Did he go willingly? You obviously have feelings for Tom… Why send him packing?
Jenny: No, he didn’t want to leave. We were just getting to be friends, but after all I’d been through, I decided I didn’t want another man in my life. Now I’m beginning to think I made a huge mistake.
Reclusive widow Jenny Hamilton lives close to nature, far from the nearest town, raising cattle, writing and weaving until she pulls a near-drowned man from the creek and cares for him while he heals. Engineer Tom Driscoll hopes to bring Jenny out of her shell, but the victim of an abusive marriage refuses to trust any man.
Someone from the past is sending anonymous threats to Jenny and she thinks they have to do with her late husband. Should she expect the worst, tell Tom or the sheriff, or ignore the threats? The man shows up looking for money she doesn’t have and tries to rape Jenny. Tom knocks the burly man out with an iron skillet. The local sheriff takes the man away. Tom, too, at Jenny’s orders. All her early fears have come flooding back convincing her she shouldn’t trust him.
Jenny has changed in the short time she’s known Tom, who taught her to feel again, and she no longer reaps pleasure from her self-imposed solitude. Only Tom can end her loneliness and she invites him back into her life.
Toni Noel’s love of books started in childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni’s fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout there may soon be fulfilled. Desert Breeze Publishing will release in print form in November the author’s first published novel Law Breakers and Love Makers.
Toni Noel’s Novels… Safe havens for the heart.
"What are you making?"
The words caught in Tom’s dry, throat and growled across the distance with such harshness those dainty fingers he’d enjoyed watching so much froze in midair. The attractive young woman pivoted her golden head and peered in his direction, her doe-like eyes widening. Wetting her lips, she blinked at him, making him regret he’d interrupted her weaving.
"You’re awake." Her whispered words fell from trembling lips.
Dummy. You scared her with your sudden outburst. A smile might ease her fright.
He tried to lift the corners of his mouth, but his dry, cracked lips stretched across his teeth. He winced, flicking out his tongue to circle his mouth, raking his parched lips with needed moisture.
He cleared his throat and tried again. "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you."
Her hands settled in her lap. She clasped her fingers. Puzzled, he watched her knuckles turn white. She moistened her lips again, then chewed on the bottom one, her somber gaze never leaving his face. Those expressive eyes held a disturbing wariness he couldn’t comprehend.
"You hurt your head," she whispered.
He tried to touch the spot that ached. Both his hands came up, connected by rope.
"What in blazes?"
The fairy rose, her golden head moving from his line of vision. He lifted his head to follow her movements. Rockets exploded behind his eyes.
He shut them again.
Her footsteps faltered, then moved toward him. He opened his eyes.
A pair of trim leather boots stopped beside him. The knees above the boots bent as she knelt in his line of vision and leaned back on her heels, considering him with a wary look.
"Your fever made you delirious, so I tied your hands."
Her words brought a bright flush to her cheeks. With the sun no longer shining on her head, her hair took on a darker shade, encircling her shoulders in a cape of chestnut satin.
"Did I hurt you?"
She nodded. "Last night. A little. Here, I’ll untie you."