Falling Like A Rock by Bonnie McCune
Unloved and unemployed. That’s Elaine Svoboda, after she’s sacked, then flees across country to her boyfriend who drops her flat. Teetering on the abyss of disaster, she calls an old friend who invites her to a tiny mountain town with fresh prospects. There she meets rugged, hunky Joe Richter-Leon, mayor of Falling Rock. Maybe he can help her find a job. Maybe they can become friends, even share romance. Sparks fly immediately, but major obstacles make a new life on the ashes of the old appear impossible. Joe’s consumed with challenges like the dismal local economy and an impetuous sister. Elaine butts heads with him at every turn in the rocky road. Is the problem her bungling attempts to help? Or does she remind him of a greedy, selfish ex-wife? Before they can build a new life on the ashes of the old, she must overcome a few obstacles like a broken ankle, an eating disturbance, his stubbornness, and her own fears. She’s smothering her hopes when a battle with a forest inferno illuminates their true feelings and desire. Funny and frank, poignant and perceptive, when two people are “Falling Like a Rock,” they learn surrender sometimes means victory.
Copyright 2014 © Bonnie McCune
The movement now wasn’t rocking but more like a grind. A slowness. A shiver. She knew she had to leave the main road and find help. She swerved onto a pull-off that appeared as if by a miracle, turned off the motor, and sank into the seat. In all directions she saw flat monotone prairie. If spring was about to arrive, no sign of it blossomed here. An occasional bush of greenish sagebrush nodded, but most of the landscape consisted of earth-toned dirt and dirt-toned pebbles scoured by a constant wind, which threw a thin top layer of particles hither and yon.
What she knew about auto mechanics fit on a matchbook cover. She’d been shown where to fill up on gas and wiper fluid, and that was the extent of it. She flicked the ignition off and on several times, peered at the dashboard, even popped the hood. Nothing looked out of place or broken.
She returned to the driver’s seat to think and worry her tooth with her tongue. It wasn’t safe to sit out here alone, and dismal warnings from her parents to never trust a casual passerby in a situation like this darted in her mind. So she hauled out her cell phone. No service. She slumped in her seat.
The plains spread horizon to horizon around her, and an appreciation rose in her for the courage and hard work of the pioneers who had traveled one slow step at a time over an endless landscape to reach their new homes. At least nowadays an asphalt ribbon transversed the plateau. On the road an occasional semi whooshed past, rattling her vehicle as it traveled. One trucker slowed to a crawl and honked, but by the time she decided he was offering help, he’d disappeared.
She twisted her brain in knots to find some way to save herself. Surely if she were careful, stayed in her car and blinked her lights and beeped, someone should rescue her. Perhaps she should wait until a woman stopped, but another female would be as afraid to pull over as she to chance an encounter.
Clouds began to build in gray billows, flowed from west en route the east, and the sun plunged toward twilight. If anything terrified her more than an appeal to a stranger for assistance, it was spending the night out here in the open. In her rearview mirror, a battered Land Rover appeared, and almost on impulse, Elaine switched on her hazard lights and leaned on the horn.
The vehicle slowed but didn’t stop. Not until it was some yards down the road. Next a tall, lean figure climbed out, the engine still in operation. A man dressed in jeans, ski jacket, and a black Stetson. Elaine would have laughed if she hadn’t been worried about the security of the car door locks. She was in the West now. It made sense for a cowboy to show up.
He approached with careful deliberation, halting a few feet from her, and she rolled her window down several inches and studied him in case she had to describe him later to the authorities. Not particularly suave or polished, but certainly with the rugged strength typically associated with cowboy types. Dark, as if he spent time outside or had some Mediterranean or Latino ancestors. A prominent nose, off-centered, perhaps from being bashed once too often.
“Need help, ma’am?”
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