Authors: Clare Revell
Tags: #Christian romance
AFTER THE FIRE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
AFTER THE FIRE
COPYRIGHT 2011 by CLARE REVELL
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Pelican Ventures, LLC except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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Contact Information: [email protected]
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com
Cover Art by
White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410
White Rose Publishing Circle and Rosebud logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC
First White Rose Edition, 2012
Print Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-134-2
Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-133-5
Published in the United States of America
For my daughter Ceryn.
Thanks also to Pastor David for his very timely sermon on Romans; to Donna and JoAnn for their tireless critiquing; my editor Jamie for having faith in the story. But most of all to the Lord from whom my inspiration comes.
Praise for Clare Revell
Season For Miracles
Kyle and Holly came to life in this book with so much ease they hardly sounded fictional and so real. The pain and fear that Holly goes through is heartbreaking but I loved that with Kyle anything is possible. This is definitely a book worth reading for it has everything just right for the season: God and hope. ~
Lena - Happily Ever After Reviews
If you enjoy romantic suspense, you’ll love this fast-paced read. Suspense elements kept me turning pages and the well drawn characters touched my heart. I read Season For Miracles in one sitting, snow bound and cozy. Delicious. I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a well written and balanced, inspirational romantic suspense. I can’t resist a story that celebrates God’s love and its miraculous power. ~
KM Daughters - author
‘Clare Revell does it again with this beautiful story of hope and redemption. SAVING CHRISTMAS packs a lot of story into a limited number of pages, and draws the reader in from the very first line. It’s a wonderful respite from the hectic holiday to-do list. ~
Mary Manners - author
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:12
Private Investigator, Freddie Flynn walked into her office to a laugh from her personal assistant.
“Ms. Flynn—can’t you stay away?”
Freddie looked at Patsy and laughed with her. “Nope—actually I forgot something. So, I’m not here, I’m still on leave. I’ll be in and out in a jiffy.” She walked past the desk into her own office, freezing in the doorway as Patsy spoke again.
Did Patsy just say what I think she did?
Freddie closed her eyes for a moment, wishing she had gone straight to Cornwall and not come in to pick up her spare inhaler. She worked alone for a reason and didn’t need or want a partner—especially if that partner came in the handsome form of Vice President Jason Bryant.
Freddie sucked in a deep uneven breath.
No, thank you
. She knew from personal experience that being around Jason was like kindling tossed on a fire. She’d gotten too close and ended up burned.
If that wasn’t reason enough, everyone knew the last few people that Jason—Mr. Bryant, she corrected, had come into contact with, had ended up fired. The man seemed to be working his way through the rank and file, stream-lining the private investigation company, Jones Associates, as if it was his personal mission. No one person or department was safe from his scythe. Her stomach churned and for a moment she was afraid she’d throw up. Was she next on his list? What had she done to merit this?
Freddie straightened her glasses, and took another deep breath, before turning in the doorway. She looked at her personal assistant, hoping she was wrong. “
tell me I misheard you, and they’re not putting me on a case with him.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Flynn.” Patsy Kennet sounded as contrite as she looked. She held out the overstuffed file in her hand. “Mr. Bryant was here when you rang to say you’d be popping in. He insisted you wait so he can nip back to discuss the new assignment with you. Here’s the case file. He asked that you familiarize yourself with it.”
Do I really need a new assignment?
She already had a huge caseload— the Rafferty case being the one she was concentrating on the most. Surely he and the boss weren’t planning on taking her off any of them in favor of this one. She took the outstretched file and managed a smile. “I’ll do that, thanks.”
She didn’t want anyone’s help, especially Jason Bryant’s. In fact, she’d rather not see him at all if she could avoid it. She was due in Cornwall by five, and really didn’t want to delay leaving. Maybe if she just left and… She shook herself mentally.
That won’t help. Meet him, get it over with. Let him brief me and arrange to start the new case next week when I get back from holiday. Just because I don’t like the guy doesn’t mean I can brush him off. He is my boss, after all.
She took a deep breath. This wasn’t Patsy’s fault. Best not to shoot the messenger. “Could you do me a favor? Ring Mr. Jones and see if he has some time available within the next twenty minutes or so. I may as well give him the Cassidy case as I’m going to be here a while.”
Patsy nodded. “Sure.” She lowered her voice, despite the fact they were the only ones in the room. “Honestly, I don’t blame you for not wanting to work with Mr. Bryant. He does have quite a reputation.”
As a heart breaker.
Freddie pulled out her hair band and retied her ponytail. Her personal feelings aside, Mr. Bryant was the boss and demanded respect from the staff. “The new vice president is good at his job and leaves no stone unturned. He wouldn’t have been appointed to the job if he wasn’t. He’s also as straight as an arrow.”
Hmmm…when did I start defending him?
“I’ll see if Mr. Jones is free.” Patsy turned to go. “Oh, Mr. Bryant asked for you by your first name—almost as if he knew you.”
Freddie managed a tight smile. He knew her very well, but that was in their past and not for public debate. The last thing either of them needed was that particular piece of gossip doing the water cooler circuit. “Of course he does, he knows everyone on the staff. No doubt some people better than others. Thanks for this, Patsy. Let me know when I can go up and see Mr. Jones.”
The door clicked shut, and Freddie dropped the file to the desk. Closing her eyes, she tried to push aside the grief filling her. Fifteen years since she had seen or spoken to him, yet as soon as Jason joined the company seven years ago, she’d recognized his name, and skillfully managed to avoid him. It helped that he was at the smaller office ten miles across town. She even went as far as missing the Christmas party several years running to avoid him. Hearing his name was painful enough—seeing him would be unbearable.
Glancing around the office, Freddie perched on the edge of her desk and rubbed her face. Her varied work as a Private Investigator for Jones Associates, took her the length and breadth of England. She loved it and had worked hard to get where she was now. There was a partnership opening soon, and she planned to put in a bid for it. The Rafferty case could make or break her chances, and she wasn’t going to allow anything to stand in the way of that. That included her emotions
The phone rang and she grabbed it. “Hello?”
“Ms. Flynn, the boss says he has a few minutes and he can see you now.”
“Thanks, Patsy. I’m on my way.”
Freddie pulled the Cassidy file out of the filing cabinet. She made her way down the corridor and up two flights of stairs to the huge fourth floor corner office occupied by Edwin Jones. His secretary waved her straight in. The office decor left a lot to be desired, and as always, Freddie wished she had shades on when she entered. The lime green and orange were nauseating. “Sorry for descending on you like this, boss.”
“Not a problem. Come on in.” Edwin Jones smiled at her. Tall and balding, with hideous horn rimmed specs that were a throwback to the seventies perched on his nose, he looked a lot older than his fifty years.
The chair in front of the desk swung around. A tall man wearing jeans, white shirt and leather jacket sat there, one leg crossed over his knee. His leather boots shone in the bright room. Shards of emotion sliced through her. He’d always been particular about his boots. Dark wavy hair, as untidy as ever, framed his face. A pair of mirrored shades hooked over his shirt pocket and an all too familiar smile lit the brown eyes that took her in and swallowed her whole—Jason.
A solid wall hit her, knocking the breath from her lungs. The office walls closed in on her at the same time her throat did. Her knees weakened, her stomach flip-flopped, her heart raced, and for a second she was a teenager again.
Oh no, not now, please not now. I don’t need this. I’m not ready for this. How can he still affect me like this after all this time?
Freddie turned to Mr. Jones, burying her instant reaction to Jason’s unexpected presence in the office and hoping her makeup hid the growing heat on her cheeks. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t realize you were busy. Your secretary said to come straight in.”
“It’s fine. We’re not busy, just chatting over coffee. I don’t believe you’ve been formally introduced to the new vice president, Jason Bryant. Jason, this is Freddie Flynn. She’s one of the best PI’s we have, but of course you already know that, as you’ve read her file. Just don’t call her Miss. She prefers Ms.”
“Hello, Mr. Bryant. It’s a pleasure to see you again after so long.” Freddie stuck out a hand. She could do this. He was her boss, nothing more.
Jason got to his feet. Freddie felt her face burn as his slow gaze covered her body. His smile widened, recognition dancing in his eyes. He stood there for a moment, before grasping her hand too firmly, his familiar touch sending ripples of sadness through her. Her knees weakened, and it took every ounce of courage she had not to show emotion on her face.
“Likewise, Ms. Flynn. Your file makes impressive reading.”
“I take it you two know each other?”
Glad for the escape, she pulled her hand back and turned away from Jason. “We were at university at the same time, sir.” Freddie spoke before Jason had a chance to say anything. “It’s been about fifteen years now.”
Actually, it’s been exactly fifteen years, four months and ten days…but who’s counting?
She took a deep breath and stepped forwards, putting the file on his desk. “I don’t need much of your time, sir. I just want to brief you on this. I’m not actually here today—I’m on leave until the middle of next week.”
Jason’s laugh was as rich as she remembered it. “So you’re just a figment of our collective imaginations then?”
“Something like that.” She smiled. “I popped in to pick up my spare inhaler.”
Mr. Jones indicated the second chair by his desk. “Have a seat.”