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Storms of the Heart

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Blurb

The Discovery of Destiny 

Laura Michaelson knows the expected course of her life. The right education. The right guy. The bright future. 

None of it fits quite as well as it used to. 

Connor Griffith’s path detoured for work he loves. Now pressure to get back on track builds to uncomfortable levels. 

Resisting the proper choices grows tougher every day. 

The instant Laura and Connor meet, their lives and plans dissolve into chaos. 

Will they find their true joy, and their true way forward, together? 

An excerpt from Storms of the Heart:

One glance, and everything changed. 

Connor turned away to check out the big red brick high school and stopped. He was surprised and a little embarrassed to realize his jaw had actually dropped, but that didn’t change the effect. 

An absolutely gorgeous woman walked toward them, with a smile brighter than the leaves on all those autumn trees. 

She was around his age, and moved with all the strength and confidence he’d ever seen from women in the city and more. 

The early evening sun seemed to start a fire all its own in her curly blonde hair, caught back in a bouncy ponytail that struck Connor as a real shame. 

He wanted to see her hair loose and falling around her shoulders, shifting with every move of her body. 

Every breath. 

He shook his head, not sure where on earth such thoughts could be coming from inside his normally calm and pretty much orderly mind. 

But no one had ever struck him so deep and hard on first sight.

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Chapter 1
Chapter 1 The big rectangular football field behind the sprawling brick high school had been freshly mown, with bright white lines painted every ten yards just that afternoon. All the trees on the mountains rising up behind it on three sides were bursting with autumn color after a few cool nights. Red, yellow, and orange set off the dark, healthy green of the grass perfectly, and the crisp rustling of the leaves in the cool breeze sounded fantastic. Laura Michaelson leaned against the rough red brick of the school she’d graduated from four years ago, staring up at the perfect deep blue October sky. She would have known it was her favorite time of year from the smells alone back there. Besides the fresh-cut grass, she caught traces of a wood fire from somewhere close by. The one-story brick building across the wide parking lot between the school and the field added another distinctive aroma. The long, low building with a distinctive peaked metal roof had the words Wolf Branch Cannery painted in fading purple along the front. Someone inside was cooking apples, maybe for applesauce. Laura couldn’t see through the big windows in front from this angle, but the smell was more than enough to get her attention. She hated the way the cannery had gotten run down over the last ten years or so. Her father talked about how the vast steel pots used for boiling jars or the ranges along the back wall or some other bit of equipment stopped working, and never got repaired. Neither she nor anyone in her family had the skills or time to do anything about it, though, and most people in Wolf Branch, Virginia, didn’t seem to care. Too easy to run down to one of the grocery stores or order whatever anyone could want online. A handful of cars were parked more or less within the spaces drawn on the faded black asphalt, most of them old enough to still run on gasoline. Laura’s little white hatchback was a 2024 model, already three years old itself. But at least it was electric rather than spewing pollution into the mountain air. The hand-me-down cars probably meant mostly students parked back here this late on a Thursday, just like when Laura was driving her own junker and going to classes. A bunch were still at school for some kind of band practice she could hear off in the distance with staccato snare drums and brassy trumpets. Or they were scattered around inside for debate team practice or a play rehearsal or something equally dramatic and important to life in high school. No football practice on this field, not with the grass all dressed up and fancy for the big game in a couple of nights. That at least would have been something to watch out here while she waited. With the much-despised rivals from Laurel Gap playing the strongest they had in years, the Wolf Branch team was certainly practicing hard on their secondary field a couple of blocks away. Laura shook her head, amazed that she knew all of that when she didn’t go to school here any more and only rarely attended a game. The awareness floated in the very air of these small mountain towns, a vital part of the social fabric. She was already good and bored with the three groups of middle-aged men and women walking slowly around the springy brown track around the edge of the field. Walking very, very slowly, so they were probably as old as her parents. Maybe in their forties. Maybe even older. Laura sighed, pulling her curly blonde ponytail forward over her shoulder. She wasn’t exactly old by most people’s standards at twenty-two. But compared to those kids inside, playing scales or mock-arguing or rehearsing lines, sometimes she felt absolutely ancient. Her clothes were close enough to acceptable around here today, or at least they would have been if they were a bit more stylish or maybe more beat up. And anyway, she wasn’t here to fit in with a bunch of high schoolers. A pair of new blue jeans and a red button-up shirt would do for the people she was supposed to meet. People who were later than they’d said they’d be and then some. She resisted the urge to check her watch, but she knew six o’clock had already come and gone. Sure, they’d only arrived from Chicago last night after what had to be a long, unpleasant drive, bringing all their belongings with them. She’d heard they had family back here or something like that, but Laura still couldn’t quite imagine why anyone would move from such a big exciting city to a sleepy little town in Appalachia. Peace and quiet? Oh yeah, this town had that to spare. Not much else as far as she was concerned, though she was doing her best to make sure what they did have got better. So here she still was. A car slowing on the sloping road that passed by the school and the cannery caught her attention. Sure enough, the blue gas-powered sedan turned in and parked in an empty spot in front of the cannery. Whoever was driving at least got it perfectly between the lines. Laura squinted to make sure, but she couldn’t read the license plate on the back well enough to tell whether it was from Illinois. When a man and a woman with hair shot through with silver got out, she walked toward them. She’d never seen them before, but she did know Anne and Evan Griffith were somewhere in their mid-fifties. And what the hell, she was here on behalf of the town council and the high school anyway. Might as well greet whoever had arrived, even if it wasn’t her tardy newcomers. Laura missed a step and nearly stumbled when a guy her own age got out of the back of the sedan and stretched with his arms over his head. He wasn’t as tall as the man who had to be his father, but had the same shape to his face. But the young guy had the same brown hair as the woman. And even from several paces away, Laura could see how green his eyes were. No one had mentioned a son her age making the trip. And a very handsome son at that. Even better, an exotic son who she assumed had grown up in Chicago. Jim Blevins, the guy Laura had been dating for the last couple of years, popped up in her mind for a brief second. In their case—and Laura was certain it was true for both of them—familiarity had done nothing at all to keep things lively between them over the last few months. At least for her part, they were still as together as they were because he was so familiar. Safe. Predictable. And maybe because nothing better had come along. Maybe not until now. The dull prospect of this little meet and greet brightened considerably, along with Laura’s mood. And her smile.

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