Love, loss, and a smoky red…
Audrey is a diligent and self-reliant culinary student at Portland’s prestigious Cordon Bleu. She has a clear picture of her future in mind, and it allows little room for the steely-eyed and tormented young man she bumps into by chance while wine tasting with friends.
Tyson Dawes had a perfect childhood, raised among the vines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. But even the most idyllic of upbringings couldn’t have prepared him for what he would face as a Marine. He returns to his childhood home angry and haunted by the storms of what he has faced and by those he has lost.
Do opposites truly attract? Can the lure of Audrey’s apparent clarity and innocence offer Tyson hope in the face of his emptiness?
Audrey re-entered the restaurant quickly, dragging her mind back to what was going on inside.
“Aud,” Ella hissed as she rounded the table, collecting plates. “Chuck took over the kitchen. We need you!”
“I know,” she said. “I just need ten minutes. I’ll be right back.” She dashed to the kitchen and picked up her purse, shooting apologetic glances at Chuck and Ella as she did so. At least Andrew was there that night, his tall dark frame circling the table and keeping the wine flowing along with his cheerful banter.
When she got back outside, Tyson sat exactly where she’d left him, his head starting to tilt to one side.
“Oh no you don’t,” she said, leaning down to grab his hand. She pulled, trying to coax him to his feet. Finally, he roused and stood up.
“Sorry,” he said softly.
“My car’s right here,” she told him, opening the door of the Jetta. “Where am I taking you?”
“No, no…” he started to pull away from her.
“Dammit, Tyson. Get in the car.” She was starting to lose patience.
He gave her an amused look then, clearly surprised at her forceful tone. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, folding his tall frame into the passenger seat.
“Shit,” she said under her breath as she walked to the driver side.
“It’s just a couple blocks,” he told her.
They drove in silence, Tyson indicating where she should turn. Portland’s Friday night traffic hummed around them, and it took longer than Audrey would have liked to navigate the few blocks between Fork and the bar. When she found the place, there was nowhere to park. She spent another ten minutes searching for a spot. By then, Tyson was slumped against the door, his breathing even and deep.
Audrey stared at him for a minute after she’d parked, as a streetlight poured in through the windshield. He was beautiful, she thought, his full lips slightly parted, the angular jaw covered with blonde stubble. There was a small thin scar running along his left cheek, she noticed. It was partially hidden in the hair at his jaw. She sighed and turned to look at her own hands in her lap for a minute.
“What am I getting into?” she said under her breath.
She needed to get back to work, and began to feel her responsibilities weighing on her urgently. “Tyson,” she said, hoping he’d snap right back to consciousness, but knowing it was unlikely. “Hey,” she said, reaching a hand out to shake him softly. “Shit.”
She got out of the car and locked it, walking down the block to the bar that Tyson had indicated. It was small and dark inside, and packed with people. She elbowed her way to the bar and waited for the man behind it to give her his attention. He turned finally, catching her gaze. His dark eyes were friendly and warm.
“Hi there,” he called over the music and noise.
“Hey,” she said. “Is Rebecca here?”
He tilted his head slightly. “She’s in the back. I’ll grab her. Who should I say is here?”
“She doesn’t know me,” Audrey said. “I’m kind of a friend of Tyson’s.” She had no idea what else to say.
The man’s face tightened slightly and he turned and disappeared into the back. A minute later he returned, and a woman with a nose ring and tattooed sleeves down each arm returned with him. She had short dark hair tousled wildly on top of her head, and couldn’t have looked less like a relation of Tyson’s if she tried. Until she caught Audrey’s gaze with steely blue eyes.
“I’m Rebecca,” she said, arriving around the other side of the bar.
“I’m Audrey. I, uh, could use a hand. Tyson’s passed out in my car.”
Rebecca didn’t ask any questions, just followed Audrey to her car. With significant effort, the women pulled him to his feet. Once one of his arms was over Rebecca’s shoulder, he began to rouse.
“Thanks for returning him in one piece,” Rebecca said.
Audrey couldn’t tell if there was bitterness in the other woman’s tone.
“He came to me. He was already drunk.” She said.
“I know,” Rebecca sounded tired. “He’s always drunk. One day soon, he’ll be dead.” She said it like a fact, and the beautiful man she was holding up opened his eyes at the comment, looking at Audrey for the briefest of seconds before closing them again. “Thanks,” Rebecca said, and she walked with Tyson back to the bar.
Audrey drove back to work and forced herself to think about anything but Tyson.
About the Author:
Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She's been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a direct sales representative for a French wine importer.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home near Washington D.C.
GR RR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18133675-redemption-red
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Delancey-Stewart/e/B00A8OZDKU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1379273172&sr=8-1