Hearts of Sacrifice

Hearts of Sacrifice

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him. Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie. Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him.

Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie.

Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Chapter18 (v.1) - Getting to Know You

Author Chapter Note

Michelle chats up her driver/body guard Scully on the way to work.<br /> <br /> “Honor and vigilance are what our nation’s armed forces represent. <br /> An act of valor…their willingness to answer our country’s call <br /> is a constant reminder of duty, honor, and sacrifice.”<br /> --Unknown <br />

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 30, 2017

Reads: 554

Comments: 3

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 30, 2017

A A A

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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN – Getting to Know You

 

Scully escorted Michelle through the parking garage below Sophie’s apartment building to the black Audi sedan with tinted windows idling near the elevators.  With the click of a button, the door’s power lock clicked up.  He opened the door for her as he did every morning during the weekday for the last several weeks. 

Michelle glanced up into his gentian-blue eyes that did not hide behind sunglasses yet.  She smiled at the rare sight of them.  He returned it flashing even white teeth at her.  Years dropped off his face. 

Scully combed his hair the color of a dry dirt road neatly away from his forehead as usual.  His uniform in a well-fitted black suit, a black tie, and crisp white shirt graced his slender frame.  She imagined he must have had several of these outfits in the fresh smell of linen she caught when near him. 

“Thank you, Scully,” she said with her travel mug in one hand and her purse in the other.

“You’re welcome, Miss Cartwright,” he replied before shutting the door after her.  He slipped into driver’s seat as she sipped her coffee.

“It’s Michelle by the way.  I do not know why you insist on being so formal.”

He glanced at her in the rearview mirror a moment.  “Sorry, but it’s a habit my employers insist upon.”

“But, now you work for me right?”

“I do.”

“But?”

“While I do not mean to displease you, I must admit that because of these rules I do not feel comfortable addressing you as you request.”

She laughed with the shake of her head.  He was a stubborn but orderly man.  “I don’t want you uncomfortable, and you’ve not displeased me.  Far from it.  At first, I did not like the idea of having you around so much, but in time, I’ve seen your worth.  You give me peace of mind to try to live my life as I used to and for that, I’ll always be grateful to you.”

She saw him sigh in relief as her smile grew.  “You give me too much honor, miss.  I’m only doing my job.”

“If not for your quick thinking, I would have been mobbed by the news people at my job that first day I tried to go back to work.”

Scully said with modesty, “All in a day’s work, miss.”

“And then when Kirk tried to come near me at that restaurant Aberdeen when I was out with my friends.”  She visibly shook at the memory of seeing her ex-boyfriend boldly making his approach while she said goodbye to a few of her girlfriends she had not seen since filing formal charges against Kirk.  He’d been wearing his state trooper uniform thinking that would change anything the restraining order said.  Everyone knew he was on administrative leave.  Unfortunately, he underestimated Scully who seemed great about hiding in plain sight but not intruding on her space. 

Scully realized the danger long before she did.  Effectively, he took Kirk down before the man came near her.  Several of the moves made in their limber dance around each other looked like devastating body blows.  Scully’s adept punch behind his knee that caused Kirk to drop and then his impressive strike to the throat finished the big man. 

The takedown was enough for Scully to usher Michelle quickly out of there before a crowd gathered with their video camera phones.  She felt stunned where she stood with her friends when she saw her ex.  Michelle recognized the rage in Kirk’s eyes.  He wanted to punish her severely for crossing him… punish her like he promised before he left her that night he turned her world inside out. 

Before she knew it, Michelle felt the safety of Scully’s reassuring hands on her shoulders guiding her to the car that waited.  With kindness, he eased her in and took her back to Sophie’s place without further word.  From that day forward, Michelle no longer doubted the slender unassuming young man.  She understood that while polite, he was professional.  Scully was also more than just a driver but a well-trained ex-soldier like her brother.  His skills that day probably saved her life by the look in Kirk’s eyes if he could have gotten his hands on her.

“Stop, miss, you’ll upset yourself, and the day is young and far too beautiful for that.”  He pointed outside.  “See?”

As soon as they came from the underground parking garage, a few overzealous news reporters with their cameras were noticed but not many.  Scully easily maneuvered around them and continued toward Broad Street smoothly.  At his gesture, she did see the bright blue skies above.  He was right.  The day did seem fine.

“I see.”  She sipped more coffee and allowed the warmth to chase the chills away.  “Did you have a good night, Scully?” she asked while changing the subject with a sweet smile.

“Yes,” he said with a glance at her in the rearview.  It was hard to know the expression in his eyes considering he wore the sunglasses again. 

“How do you like Seapoint so far?” she asked casually as she looked out her passenger window.

“It’s different, but a fair city, miss.”

“Better than Portland?” she wondered with a smile that he seemed in a more talkative mood today.  Scully presented himself the sort who appeared to use the least amount of words as possible.

“Smaller.”

Michelle glanced at him in the rearview mirror, yet he stared straight ahead easily navigating his way through traffic.  “Do you miss being there?”

“No.”

She tilted her head at him.  “Do you have family there?”

“No.”

She considered his favorite responses for a moment and took another sip of her coffee.  “Are you alone in the world then?  Any family?”

“A sister.”

“Not in Portland then where?”

“She lives in Los Angeles near our granddad.”

Both her eyebrows rose for this was news.  “Ah, so you’re originally from L.A.?”

“No, Portland, miss, born and raised.”

She frowned glancing around a moment as she processed that and then inquired, “So what’s the L.A. connection?”

He glanced at her for only a moment before he answered, “When our parents divorced Dad stayed in Portland and Mom moved to L.A. to be near her father, our granddad.”

“I see.”  Michelle nodded slowly.  “So your sister went with your mother, and you stayed with your father?”

Scully nodded, too.  “Seemed proper to them at the time, but my sister Una and I missed each other terribly.”

“You’re close to Una regardless of the distance?”

“Yes.  We speak regularly.”

So then, when she would find him in conversation sometimes it must have been with her.  It seemed his manner changed to something almost soft when he did.

Michelle still frowned.  It occurred to her from what Hunter told her and what Scully shared with her that what he just told her of his father failed to make sense.  “So did your dad pass away because you said that you had no family in Portland, but that your dad lived there?”  She frowned with confusion.

Scully sighed at her perception but nodded to the rearview mirror.  “Both my parents died actually in a car wreck outside Big Bear in California.  Una and I believed they were trying to reconcile after all these years but were victims of a drunk driver before any of that could be realized.”

Michelle lowered her travel mug from her lips with a mournful scowl.  “Oh, no.  I’m so sorry.  I didn’t mean to pry, Scully.  I’m just so curious about you.”

He took a glimpse of her before looking ahead and negotiated a left turn.  “Not at all, miss.  I understand your curiosity.”

Both her eyebrows rose toward her hairline.  “You do?”

“Sure.  You need to know if you can trust me.  You can.”

“I know, but I would feel better about you if I knew more.”

“Nothing much to know, miss.”  Scully shrugged and continued a straight path that led them into the heart of downtown.  He could just make out Cartwright Tower ahead.  “I joined the military young, right out of high school.  Was deployed to Afghanistan and wounded.  Came home and found a job working for the company I work for now.  I’ve been with them ever since.”

“And, so you don’t have a girlfriend, or wife and kids back in Portland while you do this sort of work or are you divorced, too?” she probed for this was more information than she ever received from him before.  He kept his answers curt, out of habit because of his training or just because of his nature.  What was different about today?  Or… was it Michelle who was different as she reflected on the past several weeks she put her life in perspective?

Scully shook his head with a dry chuckle.  “No, miss.”

Michelle frowned at him and studied him for a moment.  “Sounds lonely.”

His blank expression did not alter, but he did comment, “I like the work and the people I work for.” 

“Is it enough?”

He glanced at her in the mirror once more and seemed to hold her eyes to his if she could see them.  “It is, Miss Cartwright.”

Although Michelle would have preferred that he elaborate or even looked at her with his lovely blue eyes unhindered, she imagined that those two words were loaded with so many unspoken things.  She believed him, though. 

“I’m glad you’re here with me, Scully.”

“You’re very kind, miss, and please trust that I will do all I can to keep you safe,” he reassured.


© Copyright 2020 Amy F. Turner. All rights reserved.

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