Friday, 2 February 2018

Up in Smoke

Hannah R. Conway is a military wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, and speaker. Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists and turns sure to thrill, and encourage. Hannah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My book Therapy. She and her family live near Nashville, Tennessee.

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"Life heats up for Leanna Wilson when an accident claims her parent’s lives. Her dreams of a high profile law career are reduced to rubble when she returns home to assume custody of her sister, Brie. Without the financial means to take legal custody of her sister—or a binding will to place her safely in her arms—Leanna’s future becomes more uncertain than ever. Already prepared for a blazing custody battle, with less than capable relatives, Leanna’s world is set ablaze when her ex-fiancĂ© complicates matters in an attempt to destroy her future and her faith. US Army, SSG Garrison Burke has spent the last few years alone—balancing flag and fatherhood since the tragic death of his wife. Facing deployment, Garrison is desperate to find a safe caretaker for his son, Ezra—preferably anywhere but the abusive home he grew up in. So, when Leanna Wilson walks unexpectedly back into his life, he’s not sure if she’s a blessing or a curse. More importantly, Garrison cannot seem to forget how he betrayed Leanna many years ago. Yet, as Leanna and Garrison begin to run out of time, they start to see that the solution to their problems might lie within each other, but will they forget the past and allow their broken hearts to mend? As sparks begin to fly and their love is rekindled, a marriage of convenience will either make their wildest dreams come true or cause their best-laid plans to go up in smoke."

~ AmazonAmazon UK


Dust particles filled the shed. An angry hum buzzed overhead. Wasps hung out in their nests. Leanna hunkered down. Still afraid of them. Couldn’t blame her though. Garrison hid his grin.
“Your pole’s right over there.” Lee pointed to the corner.
“I remember this one.” He picked up the old fishing rod from the corner and bounced it in his hand. Memories.
Lee held the old rod and reel, and smiled.
Garrison grabbed the sturdy tackle-box from beneath the workbench. “Still remember how to do this?”
She huffed and smirked.
“Guess that’s a yes.” He nodded toward the door. “Ready?”
They walked in silence.
Garrison cast his line into the water and tightened the slack. The water rippled around the bobber.
They sat, riverbank beneath them.
Ezra and Brie swung on the tire swing at the top of the hill. One on top of the tire, one inside it.
He laughed and shook his head. “Brie looks like she’s having a good time.”
“I’m glad Ezra is here to help.”
“She’ll be okay, Lee.”
Lee nodded and pulled a blade of grass from the ground.
The sun continued to sink.
She toyed with a strand of her hair. She needed to tighten the slack in her line, but he figured she didn’t care. Nothing seemed to be biting anyway.
He stole a glance, then another. This was real. She was real. And they were here, back home, together. Sitting like old friends, not fighting--yet. Garrison swallowed and stole another glance. Lord, she was beautiful.
Where others saw plain, he’d always seen unique and spirited. Her hair had begun to fall from a loose braid, and the sun had tinged her high cheekbones. He cleared his throat and focused on the water, but the fading sunlight cast a glow and Lee’s skin shone. She crossed her legs at the ankles and Garrison followed the length of the glow to the tips of her toes. He pried his eyes away and reeled in his line a bit.
He tugged at his ball cap. “I’m ready to listen if you’re ready to talk.” Who said she wanted to talk? Maybe she didn’t. 
Her lip quivered. A quiet sob escaped her mouth. “I don’t think I’m gonna make it.” Her voice was numb. He remembered that plaguing sense after Tiff passed. The normal part of grief.
“Hey Lee, you’re gonna be okay. It just takes time.” Not that it stopped hurting, though he figured best to leave the obvious unspoken.
She shook her head, dark eyes piercing. “I’ve lost Mom and Dad, and now I’m going to lose Brie, and our home.” Her shoulders slumped.
Garrison drew back. Losing Brie? Their home? “What are you talking about?” He propped his pole against a tree stump and turned to her.
A few tears escaped as she explained the whole tumultuous situation-- a challenge to believe. All of it but William’s extortion. He’d always been a jerk.
She hung her head and picked at another blade of grass with her free hand. “So, I’m working at The Scoop.” That explained the roughness of her hands. Wow. “Figure that’s a good place to start until I can find a way to fix this and keep Brie.”
Short of running back to William.
Garrison’s throat tightened. No one would take Brie from her family if he had any say in the matter.
Leanna gazed over her shoulder at Brie and Ezra on the hillside, then back at the blade of grass between her fingers. She sighed and wiped away a tear. “How do I say goodbye to our home?”
Funny. She spent years running from her home and her life here, but now? Garrison tugged at the bill of his ball cap. He peered at the three-bedroom, two-level home in the distance. A mini Cape Cod perched on a slight hill. Nothing specular in appearance, but overflowing with the best of memories.
He held his breath. Moments passed, but the lapse in time produced no solution or consoling thought. Lee would lose it all.
He balled a fist hard against his knee. “We’ll fight this.”
Leanna loosened her grip on the fishing pole. It bounced around on top of her knees. “I’m sorry, Garrison. These are my problems, and I know you’ve got your own--”
“No way.”
“Yeah, we’ve got a lot of junk in our past.” That was one way of putting it. “But I care, Lee. I’ve always cared.”
She kept her eyes downcast.
Garrison glanced in Ezra’s direction for a split second. Nowhere near the water. Good.
“I’m scared, Garrison. For the first time in my life...I’m scared.” And rightfully so. So much weighing on her. Leanna turned to face him with a crushing look of despair. “I went from working in a prominent law firm, to barely making ends meet stuck back in the place I wanted to get away from.” She huffed. “Ironic.”
Garrison fumbled through a few responses in his mind but decided silence was best for this moment. He rubbed the knuckle of his thumb over his bottom lip. If only he could make her worries go away--fix her, fix this. 
No clue.
Instead he settled on what he could solve--listening to her. And so he did, until the wee hours of the morning.

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