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Penny's Luck

Penny's Luck by Gwynn Morgan
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Recent divorcee Penny Keller arrives in Bisbee, Arizona determined to build herself a new life. A dispatcher job with the Cochise County Sheriff's Department fills her need for employment but puts her in the middle of a long-term feud between Chief Criminal Deputy Pete Lawson and Deputy Valdez Hawke. Penny finds herself drawn to both men but in befriending her immediate supervisor, encounters barriers to a relationship with either of them. As a major drug case unfolds, secrets both past and present are uncovered and the middle becomes a dangerous and uncomfortable place to be. Penny must make choices and take sides, winning through to the lasting love she had not dared to dream she'd find.

Awe-Struck Publishing; June 2004
186 pages; ISBN 9781587494475
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Penny's Luck
Author: Gwynn Morgan
The next morning, in response to the small imp of guilt that nagged her, Penny got up early, determined to accomplish at least a day and a half worth of work in her remaining day off. She had completed the plaster repairs in the living room and gotten the two inner walls painted. That left the outer walls, one broken by the door and the picture window and the other by the fireplace. And the ceiling. With luck, she might be able to finish the room today. By midmorning, she had finished the walls. She took a break for a late breakfast and then got ready to tackle the ceiling. It took some grunting and straining, but she got all the furniture pushed into one corner and covered with a plastic drop cloth. She spread another one across the floor and added some paper and tape to mask the mantle and hearth. Finally, she set up the step ladder and went to work. Ceiling painting, she found, was slow and awkward job. Working over her head made her arms ache and she found the paint tended to run down the handle of the roller and then her arm. Sweat trickled in ticklish streams down her sides and between her breasts. Since the day had turned muggy, the evaporative cooler did little but stir the heavy air. She worked barefooted, wearing a pair of ragged cut-offs and an old shirt of Craig's, tied at her midriff. A bandana kept the worst of the splatters off her hair. By late afternoon, she was almost done, carefully painting around the ceiling fan and light fixture with a brush. The room turned suddenly dark as the building clouds obscured the sun. She squinted in the dim light, trying to be sure she hadn't missed any spots. When the light suddenly came on, she jumped. Then she heard Val's voice. "There, isn't that better?" She turned precariously on the ladder to look down at him. "Gosh darn it! You scared me half to death! I didn't hear you come in." "You were singing," he explained, "but I thought you realized I was here. Sorry." "Does it look all right?" she asked anxiously. "Do you see any spots I've missed? I think I'm half blind right now." Val studied the ivory expanse of the ceiling. "None that I can see," he assured, "and that includes yourself. You've even got paint on your nose." He walked into the kitchen and came back with a handful of wet paper towels. She climbed down to balance on the bottom step of the ladder, turning to face him. Putting one hand on his shoulder, she wavered, trying to keep her balance on the narrow tread. He began gently to scrub the paint off her face. 'You've even got paint in your hair," he chided. "Were you trying to use your bangs for a paintbrush?" He eased a coppery lock of hair forward and wiped it free of paint. Penny swayed slightly, staring into the tanned face so close to hers. Still balanced on the bottom rung of the ladder, she swayed, her field of vision narrowed to only his face. She could count his long lashes, the faint crinkling lines at the corners of his eyes. Their gazes met and locked. A sizzling arc of pure heat flashed between them. He set the paper towels down on the ladder shelf by the paint bucket, then caught her by the waist with both hands. Lifting and turning, he swung her to the floor. Her bare feet touched the cool wood but found no stability, as their mouths came together with the welding heat of a completed circuit. His arms tightened as his hands found their way under the voluminous folds of her shirt to explore her back. The gentle abrasion of his palms on her moist skin sent shivers of delight shimmering though her nerves. His body was hard, wiry, warm and strong. She felt limp and boneless, as if she were melting into him. When the oversized shirt slipped off one shoulder, his lips moved down, along her jaw line, down the side of her neck to the hollow above her collar bone. By then, he had to know she wore nothing underneath the shirt. Her skin burned, soothed only where his hands or his lips touched. She writhed, needing more contact, frustrated with the barriers between them.