has decimated much of San Francisco, leaving thousands without food, water or
shelter. Patrolling the streets to help those in need, Army corporal Ben Tilson
meets a young woman named Charlotte who touches his heart, making him think of
a future with her in it. In the heat of the moment he makes a promise to her
family that even he realizes will be almost impossible to keep.
earthquake, a much worse disaster looms: a fire that threatens to consume
everything and everyone in its path.
make it back to the woman he loves—and even that may not be enough.
is the latest offering from A.B. Michaels’ multi-genre series “Sinner’s Grove.”
I was rolling out a pie crust, thinking about how Richard and I were going to break the news of our broken engagement to my father, when a man entered the kitchen. I looked up and thought perhaps I was imagining things. The stranger was tall and dark, with a full but neatly trimmed beard and mustache. He was wearing a light flannel shirt and dungarees and held a felt hat in his hand. His eyes were . . . they were Ben’s eyes. I stopped what I was doing, caught my breath, and immediately reached to check my hair, forgetting that my hands were covered in flour.
“Miss Lindemann?” he asked in that same calm, comforting voice I remembered.
“Corporal Tilson?” At once I realized I must look a fright, with my hair coming out of its coil and my apron covered with flour dust and spatterings of dough. My heart was dancing in my breast and I tried to settle down by breathing slowly.
He walked toward me, wearing a slight smile and gazing at me with those beautiful gray eyes. I was caught by them, like a most willing prey.
“You’re . . . you’re not in uniform,” I managed to say.
He looked down at his shirt, as if he’d forgotten he was wearing anything at all. “I’m on leave,” he said. He held his hands out and grinned. “This is the real me, I guess.”
I couldn’t help myself, I grinned back and held out my own arms. “And this is the real me, too.”
We both laughed, and if you asked me what the sensation was that arced between us in that moment, I’d tell you it was joy. Pure and simple joy.
But all too soon I remembered he wasn’t mine to feel joyful about. He belonged to another. I tried to put us back on more formal footing.
“You’ve come a long way,” I said. “I trust it’s because of your promise to Berry.”
He nodded. “Among other things, yes. I said I would be back, and here I am.”
“I know Berry will understand about not finding the doll,” I said, attempting to reassure him. “But I’m very glad you came. She was so hoping to see you again.”
He looked at me, his eyes growing more intense. As he stepped closer, he asked, “Were you hoping to see me?”
I could feel the blush starting at the base of my neck and working its way up. If he only knew how much I’d hoped.
raised in northern California, A.B. Michaels holds master’s
degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in the public
relations and marketing fields. An avid quilter and bocce player, she currently
lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry “sons” who don’t
seem to realize they’re just dogs