Los Angeles, California
After she catches her fiance in bed with another woman, Colleen Duncan accepts a job that takes her across the country where chance finds her with two boyfriends, police officer Nick O’Brien and paramedic, Paul Luis. She likes them both, but before she can decide, her ex arrives in town and begins stalking her. As other factors ramp up her stress, she goes looking for ways to relax and finds drugs. When a confrontation between Nick and her ex causes the ex to commit suicide, Colleen plunges into her addiction.
Then she finds out how difficult recovery can be.
As Colleen pulled into a parking place at her apartment building she could see Paul walking in the front door. He dressed as though some thought had gone into this date. Pressed blue shirt, tan chinos. And he was carrying flowers.
The memory of Nick’s hand on hers while he talked to her in that deep, rich voice that tugged at her insides. Colleen sat in her car watching in the rearview mirror until her blush faded. When he listened it was less like listening and more like he heard everything she didn’t say. All through lunch and coffee afterward, his eyes had been on her. Scott said he was a good guy. Strong sense of right and wrong which was pretty helpful for a cop, er police officer. Pretty helpful in a boyfriend, too.
But Paul brought flowers.
How did this happen? Yesterday she’d been a carefree single woman. And now…
She hurried in the building, taking the first two flights of stairs at a run and slowing for the last flight so she could catch her breath. When she pushed open the stairwell door on her floor, he was knocking.
“Paul?” she called.
He turned and smiled. “There you are. I started to worry when you didn’t answer.”
“I’m sorry. I was late leaving my cousin’s house.”
“No problem. I brought these for you.” He held out the flowers, white and yellow daises. Very noncommittal.
“Thank you. They’re beautiful. Why don’t you come in and I’ll put them in water before we go? I’ll warn you, I don’t know what state Sonya left the place in.” She stuck her key in the lock, praying that Sonya hadn’t decided to dry her underwear on the back of the couch.
She hadn’t. The place looked like a furniture showroom. Colleen breathed a sigh of relief. Obviously, Sonya wanted to show off for Paul. She’d even fanned a couple of issues of Ladies Home Journal in the middle of the coffee table. Neither she or Sonya had ever bought the magazine so Grace must have supplied her with back issues. “Have a seat. Do I need to change or will this be all right?”
“You look great. You might want a sweater, though. It gets cold at night.”
“Cold.” Colleen chuckled as she walked into the kitchen for a glass to put the flowers in. Gee, the way her life was shaping up, she might have it invest in a vase. “You Californians just don’t understand cold.”
“It can get pretty chilly. I lived in the desert when I was growing up.” Paul leaned on the doorway, watching her move around the small room. “Some days it would be a hundred degrees at noon and drop to forty at night.”
“Heck of a drop, but still not cold.” Colleen half-filled a glass with water and arranged the flowers in it. “Cold is when it’s been below zero for a month, the wind chill is thirty below, and it’s only November.” She carried the flowers out to the table. “But I’ll take your advice and get a sweater.
In her bedroom, she caught sight of herself in the vanity mirror. That person had made it all the way through high school without a date. Or that the person in the mirror had been engaged to a man who was cheating on her.
“All ready,” she said joining him in the living room.