Fourth book in the Wasteland Trilogy
December 3rd, 2021
He’ll do anything to keep her safe…
Patty Reynolds left behind a ho-hum life, including her abusive ex-husband. On her own, she keeps her little bakery going. Fueled by visits from a tall, gorgeous ex-special forces general, she longs to understand more about the quiet, mysterious man who keeps secrets and teases her with hot glances.
He keeps his team of ex-military security experts working to protect their town as the world comes to terms with the natural disaster that rocked their lives.
Alexander “The General” Graham never thought he’d fall hard for the Plain Jane woman who runs a bakery, but the coziness she creates draws him in, makes him long for an honesty he’s never experienced with any woman. She makes him want to be a better man and seek the redemption he longs for.
With danger lurking around the corner, Alexander and Patty will need their strength to keep them both alive.
Thirteen months after Long Valley Super Volcano erupted.
I wonder if something’s happened to him.
Patty Reynolds stared at the door of Patty’s Bakery and chewed at her bottom lip. She hadn’t seen Alexander Graham, head of Sentry Security, for a week. Maybe it was the blizzard making life miserable outside. Alexander wouldn’t be out in this mess, would he? Before the snow arrived, the gathering clouds to the west had turned a blazing red and orange. The horizon frequently had this crazy hue. Weather had turned worse this winter, even for Maine. They’d already had more blizzards this year than all of last.
When she’d arrived at the bakery at six this morning, the weather report called for twenty percent chance of snow. Looked like the weatherman had screwed the pooch on that one. For hours the snow had driven away customers and no one had come in during that time. Big, fat flakes had started blowing sideways under a brisk wind.
Disappointment filled her. Okay, get a grip. So Alexander is busy. He has a life. Maybe I should get one. But her life was this bakery, and running a small business took most of her time.
For the last several months, since her establishment had recovered from being ransacked during the riots, she’d savored seeing Alexander. He’d come in after part of his security team had taken down men intent on robbing the bakery. She and her customers had been tied up when one of Alexander’s female security team members walked in on the robbery in progress and, along with two other security team men, saved the day.
Since that day, Alexander frequented the bakery three times a week, buying pastries and donuts for his crew. Sometimes he bought coffee and stuck around for a chat. They’d engaged in hour-long discussions filled with basic everyday information on the world outside her bakery and how much life had changed since Long Valley had taken all sense of normalcy from the country. She’d enjoyed her time with him far more than she’d realized until he hadn’t shown his face this week. What she honestly knew about Alexander Graham would fill the proverbial thimble. He’d explained he was a retired Army officer, a three-star General with a background in Special Ops. She hadn’t clued him in on her life, and he’d asked almost no questions. It was a superficial relationship. Still, she looked forward seeing him.
She jerked herself out of her thoughts. Time to stop fantasizing. Really she shouldn’t be interested in him any way, shape, or form. He was too much like her ex-husband Dominic, wasn’t he? Tall, strong, brusque, and probably egotistical. Although she hadn’t seen evidence of a fat ego when Alexander had talked with her. He also hadn’t said or done anything bossy.
No, she’d forget him right now and pay attention to the weather. Her workday would come to an end in less than an hour anyway. Curfew was six o’clock since the official “state of emergency” was still in effect, and she locked up at five thirty so she’d have time to get home. She glanced at the clock and decided to close at five just for this Friday. No one would want cupcakes in this blizzard anyway. She busied herself cleaning the small bakery, pleased with the way the place had transformed in the last several months. With the hordes of soldiers and other security personal coming in here, she could usually rely on selling out of her baked goods every day.
She went into the kitchen and back rooms to empty the trash. When she reached the back door she saw it stood slightly open. The doorknob lock was pushed in but somehow the door hadn’t latched. She frowned. She disengaged the lock and headed out the back door with the huge garbage bag in hand. Snow and wind blasted down the alleyway, howling as it went.
A shadow loomed up out of shadows and she gasped. Her heart jumped into her throat until she recognized what it was. A tarp flapped from the side of the dumpster. Smiling at herself for being so jumpy, she threw the garbage in the dumpster and headed inside. She secured the back door and this time made sure it wouldn’t accidentally come open. She returned to the front, ready to put the closed sign on the door.
A thump at the front door startled her again. The door swung open and Alexander entered, and her heart started racing. He was bundled in a parka that looked like it belonged in the arctic with the hood up, big gloves, jeans, and boots.
“Alexander.” She heard the pleasure in her own voice and then cleared her throat. Yeah, if he didn’t already know she liked having him here, he did now.
“Hey,” he said, that gruff and deep voice rumbling over her ears. “I was in town for a meeting and saw your open sign. I figured you’d be closed by now with this blizzard.”
She wasn’t about to admit she’d stayed open like an idiot just hoping he’d show up. “I was about to close.”
He flipped back the hood of his parka, revealing his military short steel-gray hair. His brown eyes were intense, always a little intimidating. Sometimes she thought he could see straight into her soul. Over Christmas he’d started growing a short mustache and beard, and the salt and pepper look somewhat softened his face.
He unzipped the parka, and she saw a thick green sweater over his broad chest. He propped his hands at his trim waist. Alexander might be middle-aged--she knew that much about him--but he kept in amazing shape. Her mouth went a little dry. The man is hot. Okay, so that was a problem. He’d offered simple friendship and now, as younger people would say, she was crushing on Alexander Graham. Damn.