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Spark by Nicole Blanchard

Read Online Spark by Nicole Blanchard Romance Book

Overview: One night with him changed my life forever and I didn’t even know his last name.
I’m a small town girl who’s never ventured even close to crossing state lines. He’s a Wildland Firefighter working across the country most of the year. The only thing we have in common is that for one night, we don’t want to be alone.
It can never last. He has to leave to go be a hero and I have obligations I can’t abandon.
I thought that would be the end…
Until a twist of fate brings us back together and he learns the spark we had may not be the only thing left between us.

 

Read Online Spark by Nicole Blanchard Book Chapter One Free. Find Hear Best Romance Books And Novel For Reading And Download.
Spark by Nicole Blanchard

Read Online Spark by Nicole Blanchard Book Chapter One

 

Wednesday—October 10, 2018 8:00 p.m.
A boom shakes the house and a whiplash of pure, primal fear invades the tiny spaces in my body. Sensing my unease, the little life in my arms lets out a disgruntled squeal as hot tears leak from her reddened, tired eyes—eyes a blue-gray, the same color of the stormy evening sky outside the window. Neither of us has gotten much sleep today. I expect we won’t get any tonight either. As if to confirm my thoughts, lightning flashes, turning the living room from night to day in one quick instant.

“Shh, shh, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. I promise. It’s only a storm.” I wasn’t sure if she could hear me over the roaring wind and lashing of rain against the tin roof. “A really, really loud storm. We get them all the time.”

This isn’t any storm, but I can’t tell her that. At a couple months old, my words are to soothe myself more than her. All she knows is her mom is terrified. No doubt she can sense the sour tang of my fear coming off me in waves.

“That baby needs a bottle. Sounds like she’s starvin’.”

I close my eyes for a moment, then turn to my grandmother. She sits in her customary rocking chair, a green so worn it’s nearly gray. “She’s not hungry. She’s just scared, is all.”

Her and me both.

Grandma Rosie purses her lips and rocks more vigorously in her chair. I hold my baby closer and ignore her. Nearly eighty and suffering from dementia, Grandma Rosie has a habit of repeating herself and calling me by my mother’s name. She also has a tendency for bluntness—which most people would classify as straight meanness—but I know that’s the disease talking. Grandma Rosie raised me and before her brain started failing her, she’d been the sweetest woman alive.

That’s why I bite my tongue and turn away from the living room, moving deeper into the house. The baby wails so loud it almost drowns out the wind and rain. Almost.

Readjusting her little body against my shoulder, I cradle her head and pat her back as I rock her back to a sense of calm. Soothing her helps me, albeit only slightly. Once she settles a little, I reach for my phone in my back pocket to check the weather again. I’m praying for a miracle with every atom of my being, though the only miracle I’ve ever witnessed is finally sleeping in my arms.

Please, please shift. Shift away from here.

I close my eyes as the weather radar loads and my heart thuds like a hammer in my chest. The last thing I want is to condemn someone else to the horror of what’s to come, but at the selfish, human center of me, I’d rather it’d go somewhere else, anywhere else.

Please.

If I’d been stronger, I would have convinced Grandma Rosie to evacuate this morning. Dammit, I should have carried her out kicking and screaming if I had to, but she wouldn’t budge.

“I’ve lived here for fifty years and I’ll die here,” had been her litany all day despite my pleading. I couldn’t leave her to die all alone and confused. She didn’t have anyone else but me.

So I’d spent the entire day battening down the hatches. I’d boarded up the windows, done last-minute runs for emergency supplies. Grandpa Jim had kept an old weather radio that still worked if only by the grace of God alone, so I’d have something in case the power and cell service went out.

Most people thought the hurricane would weaken as it came closer to the gulf. Most hurricanes that hit our area of Northern Florida did—in fact it’s a running joke that most Floridians have hurricane parties to celebrate their landfall. But according to the radar and the Facebook Live from our local weatherman, Hurricane Michael hasn’t weakened. It’s grown stronger. It’s predicted to make landfall as a Category 5. One of the strongest to ever hit our area.

And it’s supposed to be heading right for us.

My phone wobbles in my hands as the weatherman’s words ring in my ears. A Category 5. You hear about them, sure, and we’ve gotten some bad storms throughout the years, but

nothing like this. A storm like this could obliterate everything. We are far inland, thankfully, so we won’t get the brunt of the storm surge or the worst of the winds. I try to take a seed of hope from that thought and immediately feel guilty. So many people on the coast like me haven’t evacuated.

The baby lets out a mewl of protest and I realize I’m squeezing her too close. I let out a shuddering breath and move from the kitchen to the room we share. Carefully so as not to wake her, I tuck her into her bassinet while I finish last-minute preparations. Really, I’m not sure what else I can do to save us, but I have to try.

With every hour that passes, the storm moves inexorably closer. Despite my fervent prayers, or perhaps because God knows I’ve never prayed with any intention before, it doesn’t shift away. All of the models predict it’ll make landfall and move right over us.

“What the devil?” I hear Grandma Rosie shout sometime later. “My pictures done turned off.”

Moving from the hall bathroom where I’ve been filling the tub with extra water and organizing our first aid supplies, go-bags of food and clothes for each of us, and Grandma Rosie’s medical supplies, I join her in the living room. The ancient television she insists on keeping to watch local channels is filled with snow. The sight of the gray static sends a spear of fear straight into my gut.

I check my phone and note I still have service. “C’mon, I can put your shows on for you on my tablet, but we have to watch in the bathroom.”

“In the bathroom?” she repeats, aghast. “What in the world for?”

“It’s the only place it’ll work in the storm,” I improvise. “I’ll call the cable company and see if I can get your regular shows fixed, but for now this will have to do.”

She blusters and dillydallies, but I manage to get her to sit on the toilet while I roll the baby’s bassinet inside with us. Luckily, she’s still sound asleep, so at least I don’t have to worry about her still being afraid. Grandma Rosie is oblivious, so she won’t be scared either. As I close the door behind us, I thank my lucky stars for that blessing because I’m scared enough for all three of us.

 
* * *

It lasts forever.

It’s over in an instant.

I’m not certain which is true, maybe both.

Grandma Rosie isn’t even hollering anymore. She sits on the toilet, rocking herself back and forth and carries on a conversation with Grandpa Jim like he’s sitting right next to her. The baby woke up a while ago and after nursing, she contented herself with a pacifier and went back to sleep. I keep her in a sling wrap, close to my chest, because it’s the safest place I can think to have her. I can’t bear to let her out of my sight.

Unwelcome and unhelpful tears trail down my cheeks no matter how much I try to swipe them away. They’re part fear, but mostly frustration. Everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve over the past two years could be ripped from my grasp—literally. This house is old. Grandma Rosie and Grandpa Jim bought it new when they were first married, but it’s fallen into disrepair since his death. I don’t even know if it’ll withstand the 100-mile-an-hour winds. All of my possessions, all of the baby’s things I’d painstakingly collected, and everything Grandma Rosie holds dear, could be sucked away in a moment. The thought fills me with a black, sucking despair.

The roaring sound intensifies. My hands are shaking too hard to manage my phone, so I don’t try. My last radar check told me the eye of the storm was about to pass overhead, so another look would be pointless. The weather radio works in fits and spurts. Artificial light from the electric lantern washes everything in an eerie orange glow.

“Oh, Jim,” I hear Grandma Rosie wail. The sound cuts me deep.

If I’m scared, I can’t imagine what it must be like for her to be here, not really knowing where or even when she is with the madness going on around her.

“It’s all right, Grandma Rosie,” I say, even though I’m not certain she can hear me over the noise. “It’s Avery. I’m right here with you. It’s going to be okay.”

“Where’s Jim? I want Jim.”

I dry my tears. Rosie and the baby need me to be strong for both of them. There’s no use in crying. “We’ll find him when the storm is over, Grandma, I promise. I’ll be here with you until it’s over. It can’t be much longer now.”

If the eye of the storm is close, that means we’ll hit the other wall and then it’ll go on to terrorize someone else. I cling to these thoughts as the winds beat at the walls, as some of the tin roof over our heads begins to peel away and slap against the slats underneath. SLAP SLAP SLAP. The sound is so loud I feel it in the backs of my teeth. The baby jumps against my chest and then settles again, snuggling closer. Thank goodness for small mercies. I kiss her head and murmur, “I love you,” against her sweet-smelling skin.

Because I do, more than I ever thought I could, more than I’ve ever loved anything in this world. I’d make it through this for her, for them. I have to.

There’s a boom and a large, shuddering crash from outside. I jolt and hug the baby tighter to me, rocking when she frets a little. I’m afraid to imagine what the sound could have been. A branch falling. A car being thrown by a gust of wind. The last news reports I’d watched had been of two storm chasers nearly drowned in the storm surge in Mexico Beach. We’re landlocked here, but with a storm this bad a car being thrown about wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibilities.

You’ve seen too many movies, Avery-girl.

Great. Now I’m not the only one hearing Grandpa Jim.

All at once, the roaring sound stops and the quiet is almost as deafening for its absence. The runaway hammering of my heartbeat replaces the wind, and it takes me a moment to realize we must be in the eye. I’m equal parts relieved and terrified because it means we have the other wall to go through before this nightmare is over.

The only thought that keeps me from going completely insane is the thought that it’ll be over. There will be an end. It may not seem like it now, but it can’t last forever. No matter how much it seems like it.

Water drip, drip, dripping reaches my ears through the stillness. I have enough presence of mind to give a passing thought to the damage it could cause. Then I have to laugh at myself. We’ll be lucky if we still have a roof over our heads when this is over, let alone a little water damage.

Soon, there’s no time to think. The roaring wind returns, and it begins again. A hand reaches out for me and I look up to find Grandma Rosie solemn and lucid—which is so rare it distracts me for a moment from the horrors outside.

“Grandma Rosie?” I croak out.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be okay. Just a little rain.” Her smile is tremulous, but warm and so like the woman who raised me that I manage to smile back, despite everything.

Her words are nearly identical to the ones I said only a few hours before—a sentiment I’ll have to revisit when I have a spare moment to think on it more.

The baby in my hands lets out a little sound in her sleep and Grandma Rosie says, “What a sweet baby. What’s her name?”

“Rosalynn Grace. I named her after you.” I don’t know why it seems so important to tell her this now, of all times, but I force the words out in a rush over the din.

“A mouthful for a little girl.” Grandma Rosie’s eyes begin to cloud over. “You should call her Gracie.”

“I will,” I say, but she’s already gone, her eyes glued to the tablet where I’ve downloaded her favorite shows for her. It hasn’t gone dead yet, but it must be on its last legs. I don’t have a generator, so Lord only knows what I’ll do when the last dregs of juice drain away. I doubt there will be power anywhere if we make it out of this.

I doubt there will be much of anything for a long, long time.

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