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by Karen Lewis
Description: While strolling on the Lion's Gate Bridge on a foggy evening, Vicky Allen meets a handsome Naval Officer named Anderson Ford. They have an instant connection. This results in a sensual affair, cut short by Anderson's strange disappearance. Vicky tries desperately to find him, but hits one dead-end after another in her search. No one has any knowledge of Anderson. Even the waiter in a bar they frequented together has no recollection of him. Vicky is distraught and devastated. It looks as if Anderson was just a figment of her own overactive imagination. Is she losing her mind?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: October 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [112 KB]
Reading time: 61-85 min.
Rating: 3.5 "Karen Lewis's novella The Bridge gives us a mystery surrounding a fog-covered and reputedly haunted bridge, a disappearing lover, and a woman whose search for answers causes her to question her grip on reality. Mixing elements of sensual romance with a constant sense of suspense, this story kept me guessing. The Bridge begins with a prologue that pulls us into the middle of the story, offering a teasing promise of danger even before the mystery is introduced. While I am not a fan of prologues in general, Ms. Lewis has used this literary device to its best advantage, hooking her readers on the story before it even begins. Overall, I found the mystery involved in The Bridge to be intriguing even though the sensual romance portion did not particularly appeal to me. I enjoyed the tension and the sense of uncertainty and found this to be a quick and suspenseful read." Reviewed by: Bobby D Whitney, Bookwenches.com
"This is the story of a woman whose search for love leads her onto a foggy night walk on a bridge where she meets a man who seems destined to fill the emptiness in her life. Then he disappears. Try as she might. Vicky Allen can find no trace of him and, unhappily, accepts that life must go on. The emptiness returns as she tries to move forward. When she is attacked on the bridge, the police become involved in her life and she meets another man who might fill her lost love's shoes. When a phone call is much later returned by a friend of the missing man, Vicky is drawn back into the search for her first love. While this reader would have preferred that the people get to know each other before having sex, this is a good tale for the romantic who likes sex blended into the mystery. Enjoy."
~ Anne K. Edwards, mysteryfiction.net
4 Stars! "Vickie Allen has a fascination with the Lions Gate Bridge. Even her apartment faces the bridge to provide her a beautiful view. While walking over the bridge one foggy evening out of the midst appears a naval officer. From this one meeting they end up in quite an erotic affair and then like the mist he disappears. She questions whether he was real or a figment of her imagination. No one seems to know anything about him except one man. This suspenseful story packs a mighty punch in a few short pages along with being highly sensual. I eagerly turned the pages to see if Anderson was real. This book will keep you guessing."
The bridge reared up out of the mist, its massive steel towers sinister in the darkness. Vicky Allen kept close to the railing, the urgent beat of her footsteps obliterated by the clamor of foghorns. Traffic was thinning out as the midnight hour approached. Acutely aware of the isolation and her vulnerability, she broke into a half-run.
Up ahead the fog grew denser. Rain mizzled down from a dismal sky. Oh my God, why did I come out here? she lamented. Yet she knew the answer. On a night much like this she'd first met Anderson. He'd been standing just about where she was now, mysterious and darkly handsome in his Merchant Navy officer's uniform.
A ship's horn blasted out close by. She jumped and her bag fell out of trembling hands.
She stooped to pick it up--and then she saw the figure. Swathed in mist, it blocked her path. She gasped with fright. Fear hammered through her heart like a demon's quintet. Suffocating. She tried to move, to escape, but legs frail as an insect's refused to obey.
Seconds felt like an eternity as the man walked slowly towards her. His hands reached out and grasped her. A grip like steel held her fast. He lifted her up.
"Hey! What are you doing?" she cried in terror, fighting for her life as he hoisted her onto the top of the railing.
But he proved too strong for her. It was useless. She felt like a rag doll tossed around by a bear. Who is this maniac? Why is he trying to kill me? It was like a nightmare, it couldn't be happening? Yet it is! It is! What a way to end one's days. It had all happened so fast too.
She knew she was just moments away from almost certain death. Very few people had survived such a plunge. As the last ounce of strength drained from her body, she wondered with curious detachment what it would feel like to plummet down to the dark ocean hundreds of feet below? Would her life and the events that brought her here flash before her eyes? She screamed as she lost her grip on the railing and began to fall...
* * * *
"You're obsessed by that bridge." Pam Drummond drained her coffee cup, then continued. "You stare at it for hours on end."
Vicky laughed, and moved away from the window. "I wouldn't go quite that far." Yet she admitted to herself the bridge drew her like a magnet, especially at night when it lit up the darkness with a necklace of lights. My fairy bridge, she'd think then, relaxing on her balcony and watching ships pass beneath it.
"I swear you bought this place just to be close to it."
"Well, it does make a lovely view. The Vancouver skyline, Burrard Inlet--"
"And the bridge!" Pam interjected with a chuckle.
"Of course, it's a scene stealer." Vicky topped up their cups from a glass carafe. There was just something so hypnotic about this massive man-made structure, known as the Lion's Gate, straddling the inlet in defiance of the elements.
Fond memories of crossing it as a child on her way to Stanley park picnics remained with her. As a teenager, cycling on its narrow path with the wind whipping round her ears had been both scary and exhilarating. In adulthood, there were the evening trips to restaurants, theatres and cinemas, sometimes with horny dates, sometimes alone. Either way, its sturdy steel arms had protected her through every phase of her life.
"Are you sure you're going to be all right while I'm away?" Pam's expression grew serious. She looked like a brooding hen with her oversized spectacles and cropped ginger hair.
"Of course I will. Besides, if the shop gets really busy, I can always call in one of the part-timers."
Pam looked far from convinced. "It's just that you've been a little...peaked lately."
"Peaked?" Vicky scoffed. "I don't think so. A little tired maybe."
"You look pale."
"I'm always pale." Vicky scanned her appearance in the hall mirror. Skin like alabaster, green eyes, and ash-blonde hair swirled back in a knot.
Pam stood up, grabbed her purse from the table and draped a summer raincoat round her shoulders. "Got to run. I've a mountain of packing to do."
After she left, Vicky took her coffee out to the balcony. Dusk fell swiftly, leaving the panoramic scene smoky with mist. She mulled over what Pam had said. It was true she hadn't felt herself lately. An annoying restlessness and discontent had elbowed their way into her well-ordered life. The midlife crisis one heard so much about, she supposed. She shifted uncomfortably in the wicker chair.
There certainly wasn't any valid reason for her ennui. Her health was good, the business sound...in fact, the Fashion Font was doing so well, Pam wanted to expand.
"It's time to move on," she would insist. While Vicky, ever cautious, felt less sure.
It wasn't that she didn't buy into Pam's argument, after fifteen years in the same location, in a store that had been too small even from the start. Still, she liked the little boutique, and its location in the Lonsdale Quay Market.
So she couldn't blame her present frame of mind on business woes. Personal then. Too long alone, after too many failed marriages. Yet Pam seemed to cope very nicely with the single state. She'd sworn off men completely, except for an annual trip to Cuba where she hired a male escort. "Why don't you try it, Vicky?" she'd coaxed.
"Nope, it doesn't turn my crank at all. I'll just stick to my battery-operated boyfriend."
A foghorn whined from the harbor and was answered by another far out on the open sea. I need a walk. She stood up so quickly she nearly upended her chair. She had to get moving and stop brooding.
The bridge beckoned.
Fog lay in smudgy patches and furled around rooftops. It leant an air of mystery to the familiar. She approached the Lion's Gate Bridge with an odd feeling of inevitability. It was as if her footsteps had a mind of their own. Was she fulfilling a destiny that couldn't be denied?
Sheesh, I'm getting fanciful as well as morbid. Must be menopause. Stop thinking, keep walking.
The bridge was unusually quiet for an evening in late summer--a bus rumbled by and then nothing else for several minutes. The Vancouver skyline peeked determinedly through the fog like a ghostly city from some futuristic tale.
A couple on the other side of the bridge walked their dog, their laughter quickly disappearing into the ether.
Vicky felt as bleak and isolated as the landscape. She stopped for a minute to catch her breath. Black clouds scuttered over the Lions' Peak Mountains from which the bridge got its name.
It was her habit to walk all the way to the entrance of the bridge, on the edge of Stanley Park, where the crouching stone lions stood guard. Tonight she decided to cut it short. The fog grew ever thicker and now obscured the tops of the bridge's towers, giving it a spooky skeletal look, like the bones of some weird prehistoric creature, eroded and in ruins.
Stop it, time to go home. Vicky turned abruptly and returned the way she'd come. She searched for the lights from the Park Royal Shopping Center, which lay underneath the bridge and straight ahead, but could scarcely see them. It was here that Pam suggested they open another store.
She quickened her pace, wrapping her coat closer around her, more for comfort than to keep out the chill. For it was still humid and airless, though damp.
Then on the narrow path ahead, she saw the figure. Her heart leapt with fear. Stop it; you're being foolish! It had just been so unexpected. Traffic had thinned out to just the occasional vehicle and she felt so alone and vulnerable.
There were so many crazies around, one never knew. She thought of the women who'd been attacked, raped and murdered around this very same area. How many have been tossed over the bridge and never found?
Why would someone just stand on the bridge on a night like this? Whoever it was seemed to be gazing out over the water, which was now impossible to see.
As she drew closer, the fog lifted slightly, drifting away from the figure which so alarmed her. She saw a tall man wearing the uniform of an officer in the Merchant Navy. Good God! She was reminded immediately of her father. Tears sprang to her eyes. She still missed him.
Seeming to sense her presence, the man inclined his head towards her. He had refined features and a pleasant smile. "Not the best night to be out of doors," he said.
His accent was slightly British, the voice from home, always good to hear. Then he added jokingly, the old tired line: "Do you come here often?"
Vicky laughed. She liked him immediately. Felt at ease. She'd been worrying unnecessarily and allowing all sorts of wild thoughts to drive her nuts. "Well, actually I do," she replied. "I walk here most days."
"I'm Anderson Ford." He extended a hand. "As you may have gathered I work on a ship."
His handshake was firm and brief, too brief. She'd have liked to linger and savor his touch. Good God, what's happening to me? Am I so lonely, desperate and sexually frustrated, that I'm getting the hots for a total stranger?
"My father was a sailor," she said, suddenly feeling awkward, uncomfortably gauche. "The Royal Navy."
"So you know all the drawbacks about the profession. Long periods away from home. Difficulty settling down and so on."
"I suppose." She shrugged. "Although I always envied him his trips around the world."
She continued her walk. He fell in step beside her. "Are you stopping over in Vancouver for long?" she asked.
"Just until tomorrow. I'm on an Alaskan cruise ship."
After they cleared the bridge, the fog lifted as if by magic. Traffic moved as usual on Marine Drive and pedestrians padded around on the sidewalks. Some of them headed towards the Raven Pub.
"Would you like to go in?" he asked.
Vicky didn't hesitate. In fact, she'd been wracking her brains for a way, with dignity, to keep him with her longer. The thought of him just drifting away into the fog, never to be seen again, was utterly unbearable. You've only known him for five minutes, a nasty little inner voice piped up to torment her. She ignored it.
In the intimate atmosphere, her instant attraction for him grew. He took off his cap and ran his hand over cropped black hair, slightly tinged with gray. She noticed at once how incredibly blue his eyes were, like the noon sky on a perfect June day. She felt weak at the knees. Her pulse fluttered like a flock of butterflies.
They ordered a bottle of Liebfraumilch, dry white wine from the Rhine Valley. "Here's to you." He raised his glass and smiled.
She returned the toast. "And to you," she said.
By the third glass, she'd dispensed with formalities and boldly declared, "To us."
"I'll second that." He moved closer and touched her hand.
Thank heavens for booths, she thought lustfully. At a table, this most welcome maneuver wouldn't have been possible.
He spoke a lot about Alaska, the glaciers, and pristine wilderness. "I've never seen so many eagles flying free, and their nests----they're really quite enormous----high up in the trees."
Vicky nodded. "I haven't been further than the panhandle, but I loved it too." She recalled passing the time of day with a woman in Juneau, who lived on a street so steep it had steps. It was always the people one recalled from far-off places, long after memories of buildings and landscapes were gone.
"We're only going as far as Juneau this season. Next year it'll be all the way to Anchorage."
He drained his glass, and asked her if she wanted another bottle.
Vicky laughed. "God no, I'm way too tipsy as it is." Her head swam and her speech grew slurred. Outrageously horny as well, she added silently. She stifled a giggle. "Look, I don't live far from here." The alcohol had emboldened her, lowered her defenses. "Come on, I'll make us some coffee."
The cool air revived her somewhat and a light rain pattering down like fairy feet felt surprisingly refreshing. She left the hood of her raincoat down, knowing it would make her hair curly.
They held hands. It seemed so natural. The sheer maleness of him was intoxicating. Her hormones were in overdrive. She'd been too long without a man.
"You must have a fabulous view from your apartment," he said, when he saw where she lived.
Vicky smiled, remembering her conversation earlier that day with Pam. "It's the main reason I moved here."
In the elevator he pulled her close, brushed her lips with his. She gasped and ground herself against him. Felt him grow instantly erect. So great was her need that she considered going for it right there and then, but sanity won out. Imagine having to face the neighbors after that one?
"Wait," she murmured, and they moved as one towards her suite.
As soon as they were inside, all propriety and pretense were abandoned. She couldn't get him inside her fast enough. Had to feel his hands on her breasts, his mouth all over her skin.
He tugged down her pants and pushed her against the wall. She squatted down to accommodate him, devouring him with her mouth and tearing at him with her hands. I'm like a savage, she thought, but didn't give a damn.
He looked surprised by the sheer overt nature of her need, and her abandonment of all finesse and niceties.
"It's been so long," she gasped.
He responded by lifting her up and then easing her down on his raging erection.
She wound her legs around his waist and rocked in sheer ecstasy. "Oh yes, yes, yes," she cried like one demented. It was just so good to feel a hard penis thrusting inside her after so bloody long. End excerpt