Shifting Into Love Final

 

Dear Readers,

I’m so sorry to have delayed the end for this long. I was wrapped up in completing my first novel, and couldn’t shift back into this story, so to speak. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I’ve left the end in a way I could come back and explore the world some more from her sister’s point of view. I’m hoping to participate in another blog hop in July, so whatever story I do will be done in a week like April Showers 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

Evelyn

 

Samantha tightened her arms around Levi’s body and whispered, “The ocean.”

He leaned towards the seaside, and the knowledge that she’d decided where to go made her spine tingle in time to the hum of the motorcycle’s engine. The sky on the mountain route drizzled down like a water color painting left out in the rain and then vanished. The ocean disappeared as well but only because they drove behind a high hill, followed by another. The hills were perfect mounds, varying in width and height—the brown grass waving in a gentle breeze. Samantha frowned with disappointment, thinking her choice had been ripped away from her, but they drove around a hill with the landscape opening up on black sand beaches and indigo waters.

Basking in the beauty of the sunlight glistening off the water, she leaned her head against Levi’s shoulder. Humidity surrounded her and made her shirt cling to his leather jacket in a bond that seemed oddly comfortable. She couldn’t sense his emotions or desires except by gleaning from his relaxed muscles that he was content.

The heartbeat of the bar still pulsed inside her. As they drove on the winding roads between the hills and along the shore, the bonds between her and the bar loosened. Levi leaned into a turn so far that they seemed almost parallel to the highway. When he righted the bike, a tie between her and the bar snapped, whipping back from the way they’d come. Grief and happiness fought within her, severing another tie in the process.

She pressed her forehead into Levi’s back and tears from her eyes fell, turning into pearls as they hit the road. She’d never really lived her life before she’d taken over the bar, and now she was headed towards some unknown destination—but at least she’d chosen it, whatever it was. The bar pulse inside her. She heard Harrigans’ voice for the first time in her life deep inside her. Its tones were rich like mahogany wood when it said, “It’s time for you to help yourself instead of others.”

The last word slashed through the remaining chords between them. She screamed in a sweet agony that caused Levi to turn off and drive into the black sand of a beach. Moonlight had replaced the sun at some point that Samantha hadn’t noticed, and she saw a white cottage shimmer into existence before them.

She cut off the scream when they stopped. Levi pulled her off the bike and held her in his arms until laughter built up at the bottom of her belly and burst out of her mouth with bubbles flying everywhere. The bubbles popped and infected Levi with the laughter. She pulled away from him, grabbed his hand and ran to the ocean, dropping articles of clothes behind them like the tears that had flown from her face earlier.

The sand was soft like cotton but the water was chilly like a fall afternoon. Samantha didn’t care about the temperature—she was outside and free from the tie that had bound her for so long. Her clothes strewn across the beach, she allowed a wave to wash around her nude body. Levi took her hand and pulled her further into the ocean where they dove and swam and laughed until her muscles had fatigued into the happy point of a day well spent.

The moon shone on Levi, and for the first time Samantha noticed his well defined muscles and the lithe way he moved them. As she looked him over without hiding her desire, a grin broke across his face, and he pulled her to his body. She kissed him with a passion that must’ve been hiding from the presence of Harrigans because she couldn’t remember ever feeling this way about a man in the bar.

Her hunger for him made her break off the embrace abruptly and say, “Race you to the house.” Without waiting, she swam to shore and yelled, “Hey!” when he climbed onto the beach before her. A light rain washed away the sand and salt as they ran. The clouds had gathered to create a feeling of a world of their own.

Inside, they wrapped each other in fluffy towels to dry off and unwrapped the towels to make love. Their bodies entwined as if they’d always known how to fit together and yet still caused fireworks inside from the newness. Their love making shook pictures off the walls and flattened the cushions in every room. Samantha climaxed so many times that every nerve on her skin sent a charge through her body at the slightest touch. The whole house glowed from the moon shining through the windows, but Samantha knew part of the glow was powered by her sublime pleasure from Levi.

At last, the two fell onto the bed in a room at the top of the stairs. Levi gripped her hips to his and made love to her one last time in a slow rhythm that accelerated with every thrust. They drove to the finish like two motorcycles in a race that ended in a tie.

Levi nuzzled her neck and whispered something in her ear, but Samantha fell asleep before she comprehended.

She woke to sunlight blazing into the windows and the bed empty next to her. She clenched the sheets in her hand and swept her gaze around the room. Yesterday had been too amazing for him to be gone already. A niggling thought picked its way into her mind that maybe all the men she’d taken upstairs in the bar had felt the same way when she’d vanish in the middle of the night.

And then the scent of coffee hit her nose. Levi was still there.

She spied a white terri cloth robe on a chair by the door, put it on and stole down the stairs.

The front door opened at the bottom of the stairs and seemed to beckon her back into the world again. She could be free and alone for the first time in her life, or for the first time she could be connected to someone with a human body and a motorcycle as strange and magical as Harrigans.

She heard her phone ring. To her surprise, it was in the pocket of her robe. She lifted it up and held it to her ear. “Hey, Shannon.”

Somebody at the bar told me they saw you leave with a hot, young biker.” The tone sounded accusatory, and Samantha had no response. Shannon broke the silence and said, “I’m glad you’re finally free.”

How’s your headache?”

It vanished as soon as I arrived. At least the work is steady here. You’d better visit even though I’ve been a crappy sister.” Her voice broke at the end.

You’ll be okay. Just trust Harrigans for awhile. I’ll be by soon enough.”

You better be.”

The line went dead. Samantha gave the open door one more glance and then turned towards the kitchen. Levi stood at the counter, also in a bath robe, watching her. “I wasn’t sure you were going to stay,” he said—his tone stoic.

She kept walking to him and asked, “What did you say to me last night before I fell asleep?”

He looked down at the cup of coffee in his hand and set it on the counter. When she was next to him, he drew her close and whispered in her ear, “I love you, though I hardly know you.”

Her mind and heart flipped, but when they settled her response was certain. “I love you, and want to know you.”

As they kissed, their bodies relaxed together with fluidity and the coffee remained on the counter, forgotten.

 

Shifting into Love Part 2

Samantha pulled herself up to her full height, swung her head so her blonde hair fell behind her shoulder and ignored her phone. Her sister had been the one to leave, and if she were making a play for Harrigans now, Samantha would fight it. She shrugged out of the stranger’s grip and turned to greet him, ready to know what he needed—how the bar could serve him.

Her mouth fell open when her eyes met his—brown like rich soil and completely blocking his soul. She had no insight into his desires or needs like she did every other person in the bar. It made her stagger back and balance herself with the pool cue. He reached out and caught her by the elbow too. Her phone quit ringing.

“Hey, are you okay?” he asked. Bangs fell over one eyebrow in a boyish manner, but his voice resonated with deep tones.

Goose bumps flared where he touched her, and she yanked her arm away. “I’m fine,” she quipped. In a calmer tone she added, “Can I get you a drink?”

“Actually, I was wondering who was a good mechanic around here. My motorcycle slowed down on it’s own when we got near the bar and then it just died. I can’t restart it, but I see no obvious problems.” He gave a sideways smile as if he was trying to impress her and said, “I rebuilt it myself.”

The smile made her want to lead him upstairs and forget about the rest of her customers, but she had to figure out what was going on with the bar first. She’d send him on his way and go to the cellar to focus. He was just another man, nothing special—except she couldn’t read him.

She scanned the room, hoping to find a mechanic. She never knew where the bar materialized and always had to rely on Harrigans’ knowledge for any local questions. Sometimes the bar had a phone book, but she’d try the crowd first. Her eyes landed on whom she was looking for, and she frowned. The mechanic was a red headed woman tossing back a beer. She was cute and young and perfectly unacceptable to introduce this enigmatic stranger to. Samantha scanned the room some more, but knew the red head was the only mechanic there.

What did Samantha care? She needed to mend the bond with the bar and not worry about her sex life. “Go talk to her.” She nodded her head towards the mechanic and turned back to the pool game. Her opponent had just missed the nine ball and left her a great shot. She sunk it with ease, winning the game. As the group cheered and jeered, and her opponent racked the balls for another game, Samantha watched the stranger’s easy saunter over to the mechanic.

The mechanic looked him up and down and grinned as he talked. Samantha’s stomach twisted.

Shit. She didn’t have time for jealousy. She handed off her cue and strutted through the bar to the stairs in the back. She descended into the only room that never changed: the cellar. It had casks of liquids, some of which Samantha hadn’t even tried, and floor to ceiling wine racks. In the center were a large oak table and chairs.

She sat in one of the chairs and placed her palms on the table. The room pulsed, weaker than usual. “What’s wrong?” she whispered.

Sometimes they’d get a customer who needed special attention, and Harrigans would be miffed at Samantha until she tended to her, but Samantha had felt no such need in the crowd. The only odd person had been the man with the broken motorcycle, but Harrigan’s had given her no insight into him. She pressed her palms into the table, and the room pulsed again. The bar pushed love and sorrow through her veins. Her guess had been right: there was someone at the bar whose needs Samantha was ignoring.

“Who?” she whispered. “I felt nothing.”

The bar took over her vision and showed her the main room. The red headed mechanic scooted out of her booth and took the boyish stranger by the arm. Samantha’s heart pounded with envy and fear as he led the mechanic to the door. Wait, maybe they were the ones who needed special attention.

She shoved aside her own fear that he would step outside and she wouldn’t see him again to try to sense their need. The woman clearly desired the motorcyclist, but Samantha could still feel nothing from him. “I don’t get it,” she said out loud to the bar. “There’s nothing special about her, and he’s completely blocked to me.”

The couple had almost reached the door when the motorcyclist said something that made the red head laugh. She took her hand off his arm and ran her hand down his back and to his ass, squeezing it.

Inexplicable rage coursed through Samantha. She pulsed her own power through the bar and locked the door just as the motorcyclist tried to push it open. When his fingertips touched the door, Samantha finally felt a bit of his soul—broody and filled with wanderlust. Her own spirit responded by swelling with the urge to travel. She allowed the desire to expand for just one moment before she squelched it as she always did.

The bar needed her to help someone. Her destiny was not one filled with new places, at least places outside of the Harrigans.

Her energy drained out in her effort to keep the door locked. Her phone rang and echoed her sister’s ringtone all around the cellar. If she answered it, the door would unlock and the motorcyclist would be free to leave. She couldn’t figure out why the bar had shown her the couple, when they didn’t seem to be the ones who needed help.

Her phone rang again. Maybe it was her sister who needed help. Samantha asked Harrigans what to do, but the bar remained silent.

 

What do you think Samantha should do? Answer the phone to see if her sister needs help and allow the door to unlock? Or keep the door locked long enough to get back upstairs and put her sister off one more time?

Friday Flirtations: Next Crowd Chooses Romance (CCR)

Pull up some chocolate and sit a spell. The CCR that I did for the Love, Lust and Lipstick blog hop went so well that I’m going to do another one in May. Three lovely readers cast a vote all three times that I asked for a decision, so I decided to involve them in the next story.

I asked Shannon to send me a name and attributes for the heroine, and I received Samantha: a tall woman who “drinks like a fish and plays pool like a shark.”

Jeri sent me the hero who I think will be the perfect compliment to Samantha: Levi, a scruffy rebel, who rides a 1947 Triumph motorcycle and waxes philosophical after a few beers.

I asked Janet to choose the genre. I knew she was trouble when she wanted me to introduce a brand new character in the middle of April Showers 🙂 So I wasn’t surprised when she gave me a tricky genre: Slipstream. I have never read a slipstream romance, and if you don’t know what slipstream is, the best I can say is it moves in and out of what’s real and what is fantastical. I think the 1947 Triumph motorcycle will be the perfect vehicle to move our heroes in and out of reality.

I’ll let you know next Friday when the story will start. If you’re new to the site, I made a page for April Showers so that you can read it in its entirety.