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Excerpt for His Only Love, A Special Wishes Time Travel Romance by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

His Only Love

A Special Wishes Time Travel Romance


Kristy K. James



Copyright 2014 Kristy K. James


All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be copied or reprinted without express written permission from author.


While the writing team known as Mystic’s Carnival Collective is defunct as of April 2016, the carnival, fog surrounding the carnival, portals, and shared characters may continue to be freely used by Kristy K. James, Debra Kristi, and Melinda VanLone as they see fit. Any series’, novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories copyrighted after April 2016 by any of the former members will in no way be connected to the works of the others.




Once again, I’d like to thank beta reader/editor Kathie J. for all the time she spent looking for typos and inconsistencies. I truly appreciate the care she takes in helping to make my stories the best they can be.



For three years, she’s haunted his dreams…


When the woman he loved more than life wanted to take their relationship to the next level, Kyle Ferguson’s fear of marriage sent her running away from him. It was only then he realized he’d do whatever he had to in order to be with her, but before he could tell her how sorry he was, how wrong he’d been, Maggie died in a tragic accident.


Now, with the third anniversary of her death looming, is it possible a drunken wish might change the events of the past? Might allow him to save her? Might give him a second chance to make her his wife? Or is it all just a delusion brought on by too much alcohol and too many lonely nights?



Other Works by Kristy K. James


Coach's Boys Series

The Daddy Pact, Book 1

A Hero for Holly, Book 2

A Harry Situation, Book 3

Her Best Friend Jon, Book 4

Code Red Christmas, Book 5

Darby's Dilemma, Book 6

The Detective's Second Chance, Book 7

Back to the Beginning, Book 8

Holding Out For Love, Coach's Boys Companion Story (should be read between books 6 & 7)

Cooking With the Coach's Boys


The Casteloria Royals Trilogy

A Prince on the Run, Book 1

The Physician to the King, Book 2

The Princess and the Bodyguard, Book 3


The Haunted Depot Series

The Secret, Book 1

The Depot, Book 2

A Merry Depot Christmas, Book 3


Men From the Double M Series

Josh, Book 1


Special Wishes Time Travel Romance

His Only Love

Her Long Road Home


Enza Series

Enza, Book 1


Other Fiction:

The Secret Admirer

Erin's Christmas Wish

A Fine Mess

The Ripple

Reluctant Guardian

Storytime Shorts, the First Collection



CHAPTER 1


The raindrops pelting his face felt like the stings from a thousand ravenous fire ants as Kyle clawed his way across the spongy, water-soaked ground. A gale force wind pushed against him almost as though it were a living thing, determined to keep them apart, and yet he pressed on, inch by hard won inch.

Still, he couldn’t get close enough to save her. He never got close enough. All he could do was watch, helpless, as she lay there dying, impaled by an impossibly huge tree limb. Its branches and leaves covered her like a shroud, leaving only her face, and one lifeless hand exposed.

“You killed us.”

Rather than being drowned out by the hellacious storm, Maggie’s soft accusation drifted across the distance, echoing in his head, slicing his heart in pieces. Blue eyes, filled with sadness, locked with his as she watched him fight the elements, determined to change the outcome this time.

“No! I didn’t mean to,” Kyle cried, his hands fisting in the grass. Tears streamed from his eyes, washed away by the deluge as he tried to explain, to make her understand. “I couldn’t get there in time, Mags. I tried, but I was too late. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry.”

“If you’d ever wanted us, we’d have been home where we belonged. We’d be there with you now. Our daughter would be two years old.”

Daughter?

Kyle never understood why she always talked about a baby, but she had. Every time. This was the first time, though, that she’d identified it as a girl. Why did she think they had a daughter? Because she’d desperately wanted to start a family? Because he hadn’t been ready and he’d robbed her of the one thing she’d desired above all else?

The pain squeezing his chest felt like it might crush him, made it hard to breathe. Thinking of a child in generic terms had somehow made it not as bad as it could have been. But – a daughter?

Would she have had Maggie’s silky straight chestnut hair? Or would it be more like his, sandy blond with a tendency to curl? Her blue eyes, or his brown? If they’d had a daughter, she would be walking by now, maybe even talking so he could understand her.

If he hadn’t killed Maggie. Killed her dream. Killed their child.

The vision before him changed slightly. Instead of just Maggie lying there, he could see a pair of tiny feet, the head and torso hidden beneath a canopy of leaves. In a sick way it reminded him of the witch who had been killed by a flying house in the movie about little people, apple throwing trees, and a dancing scarecrow.

Only this was his family who had been crushed by a falling limb during a storm the likes of which he’d never seen before that day. The family he could have had, only he’d hurt and chased them away because he hadn’t cared enough to make them his own.

Freedom had mattered more to him in that one crucial moment than anything else. Even though he’d realized less than a day later that he’d been wrong, it had been too late. Before he could get to her, to tell her that she was his everything, to beg her to forgive him, she was gone.

“Think about us,” Maggie whispered, as the vision wavered and began to fade.

“No! Don’t leave,” he begged, reaching out to try and stop her. “Maggie, stay with me.”

But she disappeared, the same as she’d done nearly every night for the past three years. Nothing ever changed. Not even the way he’d been jolted from his sleep, heart pounding, and crying out because he’d lost her again.

Usually the visions weren’t quite this vivid, but the closer it got to the anniversary … this one would mark the third … the worse they got. And he knew that from experience. They would make his life hell, tormenting him, torturing him through the long, endless hours. Hours that made eternity seem like a brief moment in time. No matter how hard he’d fight to stay awake, he would lose the battle. Not that he ever expected to win, still he always hoped.

Today was the first of several anniversaries that would haunt him for the next week. The argument. The catalyst. The horrible defining moment that started a chain of events he couldn’t change, culminating in the death of the love of his life. The death of the dreams she’d had for them, dreams he longed to share…now that it was too late to make them come true.

Wiping at the tears that trailed down his cheeks, Kyle threw the covers back, sitting up on the edge of the mattress as he tried to pull himself together. He was shaking from head to toe, the images and her words replaying in his mind like they were on some sort of sadistic loop.

Squeezing his eyes closed and trying to relax his fists, Kyle concentrated on just breathing. Slow measured breaths, in and out, as he focused on everything but Maggie.

He really should stop by the car wash this morning. The grass was getting long enough the neighbors would start complaining soon, so he needed to take care of that this weekend, too. Mundane, everyday thoughts that, in the grand scheme of things, wouldn’t make a whit of difference to anyone or anything, but they served to calm him down. Eventually he got to his feet, slipped into his robe and headed toward the kitchen, his bare feet padding along the chilly hardwood floor.

The first thing he needed was coffee. And then he needed to figure out more ways to occupy himself for the next several days. Activities that would actually work for a change. Anything to exhaust him, both mentally and physically. And then, perhaps, if God had mercy on him, he might fall into a dreamless sleep each night.

This time he would stay so busy he wouldn’t have time to mark each event as they’d happened in 2011. Especially the worst ones, beginning with the moment he’d arrived at the farm – only to discover that she’d died more than an hour before. Her parents blaming him, Jeb taking perverse pleasure in telling him it was his fault Maggie was dead.

Maybe he’d never been able to let go because he hadn’t been given the chance to tell her goodbye.

Even though they’d bought a house together, had lived side-by-side for more than two years, because he’d made the wrong choice, he’d had no rights when it came to the funeral arrangements. Her parents, Maggie’s lawful next of kin, blamed Kyle for what happened, and had refused to allow him to attend her funeral. He never got to see her that one last time. Never got that oh so important closure. Not that he’d ever believed it would have made a difference. He would never get over the pain of losing her. He didn’t want to either. Didn’t deserve to.

Except he wasn’t going to dwell on it this time. There was no way he could forget, but he could do his best to distract himself from the memories. Stay busy and keep his mind focused on other things until this whole miserable week was over. And if he could pull it off, then he’d know what to do from now on. He already knew it was going to happen again next year. And the year after…and every year for the rest of his sorry excuse for a life. He just needed something to get him through this one.

“Yeah, right,” he muttered, turning the kitchen faucet on and rinsing the coffee pot out. Like that was going to happen. No matter what he did, it would still be there, waiting to jump out and catch him unawares.

After filling the machine, filling the filter with dark roast grounds, and flipping the power switch on, Kyle walked back down the hall, grabbed clean clothes, and hit the shower – all the while running the list of things he might do over the next few days through his mind.

He dropped his chin to his chest, and he let the hot water wash over his shoulders, already tense and aching, and he hadn’t been up for a full thirty minutes yet.

He’d been dreading this day for fifty-one weeks, and it was just as bad as the last two. Same as before, his thoughts turned to a shower exactly three years ago, when Maggie had been there with him.

They’d almost always showered together, from the moment they’d moved in to the house, until that last morning, and he missed it. Missed holding her close as she scrubbed the shampoo into her long hair, or even shaved her legs with his razor. He’d always teased her about ruining one blade after another-

Realizing what he was doing, Kyle shoved the memory aside, wondering instead whether he should get an oil change, all the while washing his body as fast as he could. No relaxing for him, not even for a few minutes.

After a quick breakfast of coffee and toast, he just sat at the table, still not sure what to do, or even where to start. It was Saturday, and Hal never opened the doors to Micro Byte Tech Services on weekends, so trying to forget by working was out.

He and Hal Becker had grown up on the same street, attended the same schools throughout their childhood, had gone to the same local college, and even shared an apartment until graduation.

It had been during those first exciting years on their own that Maggie had entered their lives. She and Hal had hit it off as friends almost immediately after meeting in an economics class, but as soon as he’d been introduced to her, Kyle had known she was the one and only love of his life.

Slamming a fist on the tabletop, he made a determined effort to think about something else. Anything else. He supposed he could clean the house, top to bottom…except everywhere he looked, he saw Maggie.

It hadn’t made a difference when he’d gotten rid of all of the furniture they’d picked out together, replacing everything with the barest of essentials – nothing pretty or homey like she’d chosen for them. No ceramic bears or eggshell white curtains at the windows. No fresh flowers or colorful throw rugs. Despite the fact that he’d worked hard to make the house as utilitarian as a military bunkhouse, she was still here, and he wouldn’t be able to forget if he didn’t get away.

“Think, Ferguson,” he muttered, smacking his hand on the tabletop.

The only thing that came to mind was his old standby, Hal’s pet project, the soup kitchen down on Pine Avenue. He’d lost track of the number of hours he’d spent volunteering down there over the past three years. For whatever reason, spending time with the homeless and those down on their luck, made him feel better. Not much, but some.

Helping to prepare huge quantities of food also kept him busy, so that’s exactly what he would do today. Cook, chop, dice, repeat. Whatever needed doing, he’d do. And then he’d stay after to wash the mountain of dishes, because Hal was also a firm believer in saving the planet. Nothing but glass dishes for his ‘guests.’

And then, no matter how many times he told himself he wasn’t going to do it again, he’d head home for a bottle of his favorite whiskey and the little pity pack, before driving to the beach. There, he would relive every moment, every word of the biggest mistake of his life. The day he’d thrown away the most important things in his life. Maggie, and the family they might have had someday.


~~~~~


“Hey, Kyle,” Hal Becker greeted him, glancing over his shoulder when he heard the door open. His boss and childhood friend was standing in front of the oversized sinks scrubbing carrots. “Kind of figured you’d show up here today.”

“Not much else to do on a Saturday,” Kyle said, not quite meeting his eyes. “What can I help with?”

“How do you feel about shredding the cabbage for coleslaw?” Hal nodded to about twenty heads draining on the sideboard.

“No problem.”

After donning a neck-to-knees apron and a disposable hair net and gloves, Kyle grabbed the food processor from one of the cupboards, a couple of five-gallon buckets, and a sharp knife from the utensil drawer. Pretty much a no-think job, it would keep him busy for the next hour or so. Afterward, he would help prepare whatever entrée was being served.

Saturdays usually meant ground beef stroganoff, or turkey with noodles, peas and carrots. Just because they referred to it as a soup kitchen, didn’t mean that’s what they served.

This was often the only real meal the ‘guests’ would eat over the weekend, so Hal made sure they were nutritious, delicious, and above all, filling. Then he made sure everyone left with a few pieces of fruit, jerky, and packages of peanut butter crackers and granola bars to help make Sundays a little easier. That was the only day they weren’t open during the week and Hal couldn’t stand the thought that they might have nothing at all to eat.

Instead of living ‘high on the hog,’ Hal chose to pour a good portion of the company’s profits into the kitchen. He’d also spent a small fortune on the former dime store-turned-dormitory a couple of blocks from here. Nothing fancy, but it could sleep two hundred people on really cold nights.

He, Hal…and Maggie, when she’d still been with them…had invested countless hours in setting both places up. Now it was just the two of them, only Kyle’s heart wasn’t in it anymore. It hadn’t been for a long time.

“How’s it going today?” Hal asked, his voice low so the half a dozen other volunteers couldn’t hear. He sat a huge bowl of peeled carrots on the chopping block.

“About the same as I expected it would,” Kyle muttered, shoving another wedge of cabbage down the chute. For a moment the silence was broken by the whirr of the blades as they made mulch out of the vegetable. “But I’ve gotten through it twice before. I’ll get through it again.”

“If there’s anything I can do-”

“Thanks. I appreciate it, but I’ll be okay.” He felt a hand on his shoulder.

“If you want to talk, you know I’m here.” Kyle nodded, blinking back the tears that burned his eyes. “Are the dreams getting bad again?”

“Yeah. Worse, I guess. She said… She said we had a daughter last night.” He heard Hal’s sharp intake of breath. “Yeah, I know. There’s no way to prove that, but this is the first time she’s ever said anything but ‘the baby.’ Maybe that’s why she wanted to get married. Maybe she didn’t just want a baby. Maybe she was already-”

“You do know that these are just dreams, right?” Hal asked, cutting the thought off. “Maggie isn’t haunting you, Kyle. She isn’t trying to punish you either.”

“I know.”

“I hope you do, because she wasn’t that kind of person. It was an accident. You didn’t kill her, and wherever she is now, she knows that.”

“You’re probably right.”

Much as he might want to snap at his friend, he couldn’t. Hal had been nothing but supportive, long after everyone else in his life had had enough. After they’d decided it was time he put Maggie where they thought she belonged – in the past.

What they really meant was that he should have started looking for someone to replace her, and that was something he didn’t think he’d ever be able to do.

“What are you doing tomorrow?”

“I don’t know yet. I thought I might take a drive up the coast. Maybe hit you up for the week off, and spend a few days in Monterey. Maybe it’s time I find someone and try dating again.” Where had that thought come from!

“You could get a date right here.”

“No. I don’t think I can.”

He fully expected a first date, if he ever worked up the guts to try again, to be a colossal failure. If he was right, and that happened, he didn’t want to have to worry about running into the woman right here where he lived.

“Then I guess we’ll see you back in the office a week from Monday. I’m going to go start the burger.”

It was still several hours before they’d open the doors, but Hal liked to let food simmer so the building smelled homey and more welcoming than a cafeteria, which is basically what the place was. Between that and the brownies Cora Sinclair was baking, one pan after another, he’d accomplish that goal today.

“Thanks, Hal.”

“No problem.”

In truth, they both knew that Kyle would be parked at his desk first thing Monday morning. That he had no intention of leaving the city, any more than he had plans to find someone to go out with. After Maggie, he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to involve himself in another relationship. And since he would love her forever, all he’d be doing is using other women. Somehow he just couldn’t bring himself to do that.


~~~~~


Unlike most soup kitchens, Hal had set this one up buffet style. He thought that serving the food to these people smacked of a prison cafeteria, and he refused to make them feel any worse than they already did. The only rule he set in place, a rule that was non-negotiable, was that everyone had to wash their hands at the sink set up near the warming tables. Other than that, they could eat until they’d had their fill, easy enough to do because there was always more than enough, even for those who went back three and four times, eating until they were so full they almost waddled out the door when they left.

At the moment, Hal and Cora were sitting in different areas around the dining room. Those who worked here ate the same food everyone else did. They were also required to sit and visit with anyone who showed up. If you weren’t willing to do that, then he didn’t want your help.

It was one of the reasons Kyle had come today. There was never any shortage of people in need of a listening ear, and there was nothing like the troubles of others to take your mind off yourself.

“You’re lookin’ a little down in the mouth, Kyle,” Fred, one of their elderly guests, observed as he buttered a roll. He’d started coming around a couple of weeks ago and, for some reason, Kyle found himself drawn to the old gent. There was just something about him that seemed to ease the never ending pain. “What’s got you draggin’ your chin on the ground?”

“Just one of those days,” Kyle said evasively, pushing the noodles around on his plate.

“Bet it’s a girl, isn’t it?” He lifted a gnarled hand and took a bite, his pale green eyes studying Kyle until he felt like he was under a microscope.

“That about covers it,” he murmured, stuffing a forkful of stroganoff in his mouth, chewing it slowly, taking his time before swallowing it, partly because Hal made great stroganoff, partly because he hoped Fred would take the hint and shut up. But if there was one thing he’d learned in the short time that he’d been stopping by, it was that Fred was a talker.

“Usually is, isn’t it?” He didn’t say another word until he’d finished half the roll. “Funny thing about life is that even after it throws us a curve ball, sometimes it’s not as permanent as we think it is.”

“Maybe in some cases. But sometimes it’s permanent – forever,” He wondered what Fred would say if he told him about Maggie being crushed to death by a tree limb. Not that he would. He was just trying to cheer him up.

“You just might be surprised at how things can turn around.”

“Well, if this situation turned around, I think it would be one for the record books.”

“Maybe you should get the number for the Guinness people ready then, because I have a feeling that things will be working out for you. Sooner than you think.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Have a little faith, my friend.”




CHAPTER 2


Kyle wandered through the nearly empty rooms, disgusted because he was doing it again. After promising himself he would do everything in his power to distract himself from thoughts of Maggie, he was dwelling on her again. It was hard not to though. With five gallons of white semi-gloss paint, and all of the supplies he would need to paint the first floor, he’d made another conscious decision to erase more of her from his life.

Maggie had chosen all of the colors for the walls, bold shades that worked with the pictures, mirrors, and knickknacks she’d scattered about the house. Without those things to brighten the rooms, it all just looked – and felt – dark and depressing. And so tomorrow he would make a start at changing that.

As he wandered through the home they’d shared, he still saw her everywhere. Curled up in her favorite chair reading a book, or crying over one of her favorite chick flicks. In the kitchen pulling a freshly baked pie out of the oven. Who cared that it was just something she’d picked up in the freezer department at the grocery store? It didn’t matter that it hadn’t come close to being as good as pies his grandmother made from scratch, it made the house smell terrific. And Maggie got to play Susie Homemaker, a role she cherished, though her cooking skills had always been sadly lacking.

Kyle’s weren’t much better, and they’d often joked about taking classes. Someday, if there had been time, they might have actually done it, too, especially after they’d started a family. That had been one of the things she’d worried about, feeding kids too much takeout garbage.

Kyle brushed at a tear rolling down his cheek, jaws clenched, as he headed for the bedroom, passing the linen closet on his way. He could feel his lips trembling, even as he smiled, remembering how he would hide around the corner to watch as she discreetly refolded towels he’d washed while she’d been out running errands. He always folded them haphazardly because it had been a fun way to tease her. Maggie could be a downright slob about some things, but towels? They had to be perfect, edges lined up just so, and stacked neatly enough that sometimes he’d sworn she used a ruler.

Jerking the nightstand drawer open, he withdrew the small envelope full of pictures, the newspaper article about the storm, and her obituary, and tucked it into his shirt pocket. He’d put it together on the first anniversary, and had spent it – and the one that followed – getting drunk and being miserable. He didn’t see any reason to change that pattern this year.

On the way to the garage, he grabbed the whiskey from the cupboard above the refrigerator, and headed to the beach, the site of their final argument. The argument that sent her fleeing to her parent’s house, to her death, because she thought he didn’t want her.


~~~~~


Kyle locked the car and ambled down to the beach, stopping just shy of where the waves lapped against the sand. How long he stood there, staring out across the water, he couldn’t have guessed, but he was vaguely aware of the annoying sounds of shouts and laughter as people of all ages splashed around in the water. Of course, they were all here to have a good time. It wasn’t their fault he was here to feel sorry for himself. To remember things he could never forget anyway.

He wished he could wipe all thoughts out of his mind, but Maggie was relentless, always there, haunting his dreams, living at the edges of his consciousness when he was awake. Reminding him that if he’d valued her like he should have, she’d be with him today. It was only right, he supposed, that his penance be a life filled with misery and loneliness.

Finally, as the sun hovered just above the horizon, and the crowd began to disperse, Kyle turned and started walking to the place they’d gone that night. They’d always called it ‘their spot,’ but the litter they found from time to time, was proof they weren’t the only ones who knew about it.

The rocky area offered privacy for anyone wishing to spend some time alone, away from prying eyes. It was the place they usually chose when they wanted a romantic evening with no interruptions. And nothing, to their minds, could have been more romantic than this secluded slice of Eden. On warm summer evenings, it offered everything a couple in love could wish for, a star-filled sky, the music of the waves in the distance, and soft breezes to caress their skin.

That night they’d spread the blanket in the small sandy area surrounded by walls of rocks, stones, and boulders. A duffel bag, packed with thick towels for their midnight swim sat close-by, along with a picnic basket filled with sparkling water, fruit and cheese.

“I love you so much,” Maggie had whispered, settling against his chest, after he’d flopped down and leaned back against one of the rocks.

“I love you, too.” And he did. More than he could ever put into words.

That night they’d been content to sit there for a long while. Life got in the way so often that moments like this were something they both cherished.

He’d known then he would never tire of holding her. Corny as it might have sounded, she completed him. Maggie had been the missing piece of his heart. For his entire life, he’d been aware of a gaping hole in it and the moment they’d met, he’d known she was the only thing that could make it whole.

And that’s what made the next memory hurt so much. Kyle hated it, but knew it would play out like a bad movie, and there wasn’t a thing he could do to stop it.

“Kyle?” she’d murmured. He remembered feeling her tense in his arms, and he’d known she was going to spoil the moment with something he didn’t want to talk or know about. Still, he bit back a sigh and asked,


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