Free Falling [Damaged Heroes Book 2]
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by Sandy James
Description: Workaholic Ross Kennedy never learned to enjoy life until he meets the woman of his dreams. If only Laurie Miller can convince him that's exactly who she is. A psychologist with empathic abilities, Laurie rescues Ross, who has been stranded in the middle of a Montana blizzard. The two strangers are completely snowed in and out of contact. In just a few days, their attraction to each other is overwhelming, but Laurie is troubled. Her empathic gift seems to have vanished. Fascinated by his pretty rescuer, Ross struggles to open up his heart enough to let this woman in. When the two return home to Chicago, they try to solve a mystery revolving around a Prohibition Era journal they discovered in Montana. Will they find the missing treasure the journal points to? And as a former boyfriend begins to stalk Laurie, how will Ross be able to protect her?
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./BookStrand Mainstream Romance, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [505 KB]
Reading time: 312-436 min.
"5 HEARTS: Ms. James has penned another fantastic story within these pages. This was the second book in the Damaged Heroes series and it was just as entertaining as the first book. I loved how the author weaved her twist and turns throughout the storyline and she had me completely engrossed right until the very last page. I highly recommend this story and I urge you to pick up the series because you won't be disappointed with this author's writing style. She's very talented and will definitely keep you entertained for a few hours while reading her work. I'm happy to tell you that the third book in this series, All the Right Reasons, has just been released also. Each book is a stand-alone story, but they're well worth reading in order."--Diana Coyle, Night Owl Romance
"5 BOOKS: The gripping plot of Free Falling fully captured my attention from the beginning and certainly made this book a page turner. I enjoyed the mysterious scenes which included Laurie having feelings around certain people and not really knowing what to do about them. The one element that set this book apart from a lot of others I have read lately is this book contained a dual romantic story line. Clues are left throughout the book which gave this book a very climactic ending. Although Free Falling is the second book in the series, it can certainly stand on it's own. You don't have to read Murphy's Law first but it does give some hints as to Ross' character. If you would like to read all the books in this series, they are as follows: Murphy's Law (book 1), Free Falling (book 2) and All the Right Reasons (book 3). This has become a series that I will continue to read several times over. This is the third book that I have read by Sandy James and I must say that she is a favorite author of mine. Her writing and research is always well thought out and reaches out to the reader. She is certainly an author who has the reader and their interests in mind and I expect to see more exceptional work from Ms. James in the future."--Violet, Long and Short Reviews
"5 KISSES: Sandy James has the second installment to her Damaged Heroes Series with Free Falling. Ross is over worked and missing Katie. He really is happy she is married and off on her own but he misses having someone special in his life. Laurie is over worked and just plain burnt out. She really needs a vacation from everyone and everything. Together Ross and Laurie are what the other needs. She needs to have a stable man who is willing to let her be herself in her life. Ross needs stability of a relationship and a purpose to his life that Laurie brings. Since this is the second to the Damaged Heroes Series I feel you'd have a better understanding of Ross if you read Murphy's Law first. Though this book can stand alone and be enjoyed too. When you want your romance sweet, emotionally charged, and one to remember you want Free Falling."--Tina, Two Lips Reviews
"5 HEARTS: This book was an amazing sequel to Murphy's Law. This second book in the Damaged Heroes series was fast-paced and almost impossible to put down. The action was varied and followed a different format than other Sandy James' books. I enjoyed following the main characters as they became involved with each other. Their relationship met with a myriad of problems. The book absolutely grabbed me from the first and intrigued me throughout the entire manuscript. The supporting characters were diverse and so essential to the story. The non-stop action fascinated me. I'm not a big fan of mysteries, but the conflict was so intertwined it was thrilling to read. The romance was subtle at times, but beautifully written. The parts of the storyline which linked the varied parts of the book were amazing. There was never a dull moment--some tense ones, but never boring. The ending was such a surprise. This is definitely another winner. I highly recommend this book for a place on your keeper list."--Brenda Talley, The Romance Studio
"4.75 RATING: Heads up romance lovers, because I've got a good one for you. This novel combines romance, suspense, and just a dash of paranormal into a very readable and enjoyable package, and I think it will please the most discerning of readers. I certainly enjoyed it. One of the most outstanding attributes about Free Falling is its characters. Ms. James has developed a wonderful cast and has breathed enough life into them to make them almost jump off the page. They are well-rounded and developed fully enough to make them distinct and memorable, and they give the plot additional depth. I found Free Falling to be a very pleasant surprise."--B.D. Whitney, BookWenches
"4 CUPS: This story combines two love stories. The author weaves a plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat while enjoying a really good pair of love stories."--Maura, Coffee Time Romance & More
"You Gotta Read!: This is the second book that Ms. James has written in this series and I have fallen in love with her writing style and ability to combine suspense with a breathtaking plot. I highly encourage you to read the entire series. Although Free Falling is book 2 in the series, it can definitely be read as a stand alone book, but I guarantee you that once you read one, you will want to read them all."--Val, You Gotta Read Romance
* * * *
The term "burned out" didn't come close to describing how Laurie Miller felt. She paced the waiting room in nervous circles, scolding herself over and over for not anticipating her patient would try to end his life not more than an hour after he left her office. When her friend, Dr. Deepika Sen, called from the Emergency Room to inform her of the attempted suicide, Laurie had been devastated.
Being a psychologist, she was realistic enough to know she should expect to face the tragedy of a patient's suicide. But Laurie's gift had never failed her. At least not until now.
When the man left her office and headed into the January cold, Laurie couldn't read any emotion from him. She'd been so surprised and frustrated with the loss of her empathic gift, she hadn't been paying enough attention to her other five senses. She'd been selfishly concerned with her own problem rather than focusing on her patient, and she hated herself for that.
Deepika appeared in the waiting room, dressed in teal scrubs and holding a chart. She made several notations before she finally shoved her pen in her front pocket and looked up. "He's going to make it."
Laurie almost collapsed in relief.
"I think it was a half-hearted attempt," Deepika said in her pleasant British accent. "The cuts weren't very deep. We stitched him up and admitted him to Psych for a hold. Are you all right?"
"He's really going to make it?" Laurie asked, not daring to hope. She'd let this patient down. What kind of therapist could she be now that her gift had vanished? How could she still help people?
"He's really going to make it."
Laurie took the doctor's hand into her own and stared into Deepika's dark brown eyes, hoping her gift would magically reappear. Just like with her patient, the ability eluded her. "Nothing! I'm getting nothing!" Laurie threw her hands up in despair. Her friend was a blank slate. Evidently, all people were now tabula rasa. Laurie plopped down on one of the waiting room chairs and propped her elbows on her knees as she buried her face in her hands. It's gone. A wave of despair and guilt washed over her.
Deepika crossed the room to take the seat next to her. She rubbed small circles between Laurie's shoulder blades. "It's all right. It's not gone. I know it's not. You're just exhausted. You've worn yourself too thin. How long's it been since you went on a holiday?"
Laurie sighed but didn't bother looking up. Deepika would never understand. Best friend or not, she'd never know just how helpless Laurie felt at that moment. Like a limb had been removed. Like her eyes had been blinded. Like she was just like everyone else now.
"Take a break. You know what? You should go to the ranch for a while. Montana always makes you happy. Clear your head. That's all that's wrong."
Laurie shook her head. "That won't help."
"Sure it will. You work seventy hours a week, you eat nothing but fast food, and you see people in pain all day long. Good God, you're only human." Deepika chuckled, clearly trying to lighten the mood. "That and that hot-tempered French blood your mother gave you is probably wearing you out, Laurence." Deepika patted Laurie's back. "Go to Montana. Recharge your batteries. You'll be able to read people again in no time."
Looking up, Laurie gave a quick, resigned nod. Deepika was right. Too many patients. Constantly delving into the minds of people with psychological problems had taken its toll. Laurie felt ancient, so much older than her twenty-nine years should have made her feel. "You really think it's still around? I haven't lost it?"
"Yes, I think it's still around. It's kind of like a clogged artery. You just need to clear away the blockage. I know you only read their emotions, not their thoughts, but that's got to take a toll. I know there are days when I'm here I want to run and hide in a closet to get away from the pain and suffering. I can only imagine how bad it is to feel another person's mental anguish." Deepika stood up and tucked her chart under her arm. "Your patient will be fine. Why don't you call Andrew and get him to cover your appointments and calls for a couple of weeks? Go on. Go to the ranch."
Laurie nodded and stood up. Deepika gave her a quick hug and another pat on the back before she turned to stride away. She disappeared through the big double doors leading to the treatment area.
While Deepika was Laurie's best friend, the woman's exotic Indian beauty always made Laurie feel a bit envious. Her own hair and eyes seemed too pale in comparison. Deepika's black hair reached the middle of her back while Laurie's barely brushed her shoulders. And Deepika represented the embodiment of petite while Laurie stood five-ten in her stocking feet. She felt like a gangly, albino giant next to someone as delicate as her friend. A size fourteen in a size four world.
Laurie should have recognized the signs in herself--they were easy enough to read in others. Psychologist, heal thyself. She was just burned out. Time to get some space between me and the rest of the world. She needed to shut people out for awhile so she could recover the ability to let them back in.
Walking out of the hospital with newfound purpose, Laurie flipped open her cell phone and punched the speed dial. Surely her partner would understand. "Andrew? Yeah, it's me. Look, I'm losing it. Do you think you could cover for me for a couple of weeks? I've got to get out of here."
* * * *
Ross Kennedy looked down at his bleeding knuckles, and then he glanced at the hole he'd just punched through the wall.
His secretary, Sheila Crabtree, stood in the doorway and stared at him with her big brown eyes for a moment. With a quick swallow, she asked, "Bad day?"
Ross scowled and pulled his handkerchief from his coat's breast pocket. He wrapped it around his sore knuckles. "You could say that."
Sheila dropped the thick file he'd asked for on the center of his desk. Although the petite, raven-haired secretary stood more than a foot shorter than his six-foot-four, she bravely pulled him toward the huge swivel chair. "Sit," she said, smiling as he offered no resistance.
Retrieving ice from his small refrigerator, she grabbed his handkerchief, bundled the ice inside, and pushed the icepack onto his swelling knuckles. Then she clucked her tongue at him. "You really need to get a grip on that temper."
With a grunt, Ross held the cloth to his hand and turned his chair away to look out of his twentieth story window. Some days being an attorney made him feel dirty. Downright stereotypical. His latest scumbag client had done everything he could to conceal assets from his soon to be ex-wife of almost thirty years, and it pained Ross to have to be a party to something that blatantly cruel. The straw that broke his back was finding out that most of the liquid assets had been switched into the name of the man's twenty-something girlfriend.
He'd grown weary of representing sleazy clients. He was tired of logging hour after billable hour for O'Connor, LaGrange, Rowland and Associates in hopes of adding the name Kennedy to the moniker.
And he hated being all alone in the world.
Sheila left the office the second Arthur LaGrange entered. The oldest remaining partner in the firm, the gray-haired man often acted like a father figure to his staff. Ross wasn't much in the mood.
And the verdict is...
"Did you know that you logged a hundred hours last week?" Arthur asked in that admonishing voice that always made Ross wince. Fatherly advice wasn't something he welcomed. Ever.
Arthur pointed at the hole in the wall. "So."
Ross scowled and shifted the ice on his knuckles. "It's nothing, Arthur."
"You're on sabbatical. Starting now."
I sentence you to two weeks in solitary confinement.
Ross whirled around in his chair. "The hell I am! I've got too many clients--"
"You're on sabbatical, or you're fired."
No chance of appeal.
Clenching his jaw, Ross tried again. "There are court dates--"
"You're not the only good attorney in this firm. Go home, Ross. You're killing yourself. How can you do your job well when you're this stressed?"
Home? Yeah, that would help. Four empty walls and some left over Moo Goo Gai Pan growing penicillin in the refrigerator.
Arthur leaned against the desk, crossing his arms over his chest. "Ross, I understand. I used to be a hungry young lawyer once upon a time. You'll give yourself a heart attack at forty if you keep this up." He looked toward the wall, shook his head, and frowned. "Maybe thirty-five at the rate you're going. Trust me on this one. I had the same problem. I had to learn to balance things in my life."
How was he supposed to tell Arthur that work was all he had left? Katie was gone. Married. And soon to be a mother. While she had still been a part of his life, Ross felt like he could breathe. He had believed that there was something to life other than courtrooms and legal briefs. But she wasn't in love with him--she just considered him a good friend. Just a damn friend. No one could ever understand the loss of a love like he felt for Katie Murphy. Correction. Katie Murphy Remington.
He wasn't going to allow them to take his job away too.
"Arthur, I'll cut back. I'll get down to sixty hours."
Arthur shook his head. "You're taking a vacation, Ross. No argument. In fact, I've got a great idea."
Ross sighed as he splayed his uninjured hand through his hair and waited for the rest of his punishment.
"There are some documents that need to be signed, and the John Hancock we need is in Montana. At least that's what we've heard. These are new clients, so I don't know much else. The man supposedly lives somewhere near Joliet, but I guess he decided to take a vacation. The papers can't wait. I could overnight them, but this guy's as slippery as an eel. Missed four appointments already. You need to get the hell out of here anyway. Just take them and get the signature."
"Montana? What am I supposed to do in Montana?"
"Relax, Ross. You're supposed to relax. The client's name is Laurence Miller. We can't seem to get him on the phone, but you can find him when you take the papers out to his ranch. Then you could do some skiing, or ice fishing, or... whatever the hell they do in Montana. God only knows. Just get away from here." Arthur pushed away from the desk, stared down at Ross for a moment with an odd mixture of admiration and compassion in his eyes then quickly made his retreat. The argument was lost.
"Sheila! Need you!" Ross yelled.
His thirty-something secretary poked her head through the door a few seconds later. "Yeah?"
"I've got to go to Montana. Can you book a flight?"
"Montana? Are you sure planes actually go there? Something as technologically advanced as an airplane might frighten the locals," she replied with a smirk.
Though he normally appreciated her sense of humor, Ross scowled. "I'll need a rental car, too. And get the address and whatever papers Arthur needs signed."
She wrinkled her brow. "You're really leaving? Who gave you parole?"
"You're a riot, Sheila. Just get it done."