It’s time for another First Chapter Friday where I share the first chapter or up to 1,500 words from a different story each week. Sometimes, the selection will have a sale attached to it, and other times a new release, or just because it’s a story I love. Happy reading!
The fifth book featured in First Chapter Friday is ACCIDENTAL ROMANCE. (Not the entire first chapter, but over 2,000 words from the first chapter.) This story is available now on its own, but will also be available in my LOVE IN A NEW WORLD New Adult Romance box set which releases July 31, 2017. Enjoy!
by Jessica E. Subject
Leanne ducked, trying to avoid the apple flying toward her. With its speed, it stirred her hair, but she avoided contact. Instead, the fruit smashed against the wall then fell to the floor, a mess of brown pulp and skin. She stood and glared at the source of the flying object. “Jake, you’re such an ass.”
He grinned at her from across the milking parlor, tossing into the air another rotten apple he must have grabbed when he put the cows out to pasture. “You’d better be nice to me, LA, if you want me to do your chores tonight.”
With a huff, she rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I wasn’t the one who threw fruit at your head.” She cursed him several times a day for such pranks. Often he’d tossed her in the manure pile or turned the pressure hoses on her. He lived with his family down the road, and if their parents weren’t such good friends, she would have told her father to fire Jake years ago.
“What do you have planned for tonight anyway?” He sauntered toward her, gripping the other apple so hard, she expected pulp to squeeze between his fingers. “Going out with your boyfriend?”
She cringed, hating how he mocked her with the word. “Jealous, much?”
Taking a step back, he scowled. “You wish. Why should I care who you date? You’re a grown woman.”
“I’m glad you noticed.” She reached down for a piece of straw and poked him in the chest with it. “So, why is it such a problem?”
He shrugged his shoulders, his expression suddenly indifferent. “I think you can do better.”
She poked him again. “What, like you?”
He leaned closer, his face only an inch from hers. His musky scent overpowered the sweet stench of the barn and filled her senses. If he hadn’t been a constant pain in her ass, she might have thought he was going to kiss her.
“In your dreams.”
Should have known. She chuckled and tapped his cheek a couple times with her palm. “I can honestly say you have never been in any of my dreams. Not even my nightmares. And if you must know, I’m going out with my friends from college.” She spun around and called over her shoulder. “Tomorrow I’ll be with Scott.” She headed out of the barn. A field of wheat waited for her, and she had to harvest it before she went out.
Leanne slammed the door of the bright green tractor then slid to the ground. Stupid auger. Yet another delay in her chores. She hadn’t seen her friends since she’d graduated from the business administration program and moved back home three months before. But if her day kept going to shit, she wouldn’t see them at all.
All she had to do was get the damn grain in the corrugated bin. She hoped things would run smoother when she officially took over the farm than they had today. First, the cows had gotten loose after Jake had put them out to pasture. Some punk kid had cut the chain on the gate, and the herd of course found the opening and made a run for it. Thank God, Jake and his four-wheeler had been there to round them up. And then the freakin’ auger had a bearing seize, making it impossible to get the wheat up into the grain bin. She’d had to head to the farm a mile and a quarter over to borrow an ancient version, and now the piece of shit was jammed. Fuck!
She didn’t bother to turn the tractor off. She could probably shake the clump of grain loose and be back to filling the bin in minutes. As she stormed over, she rolled up her sleeves and grabbed a stick in case the blockage needed some extra oomph to break it down.
Her phone vibrated against her leg. She plucked it from her pocket and stared at her boyfriend’s smiling face. Scott. At least he could brighten her day.
She stuck the cell to her ear. “Hey, babes. What’s up?”
“Are we still on for tomorrow?”
“Of course. I’ll be there around noon after I finish morning chores.” She hadn’t seen him all week, having been too tired to drive into the city every night after taking care of the farm.
“Good, ’cause I miss you.”
“I miss you, too, but I’ve gotta go. Stupid machine here is jammed.”
“You know, if you moved into the city with me—”
“Scott, we’re not having this conversation again.” Living there for two years to attend college had been stressful enough; she was a country girl through and through. While she doubted he would ever join her on the farm, she planned to enjoy their time together while they lasted. “I said I’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll have fun.” Sweaty fun.
“No, Leanne, we are having this conversation. You can’t keep darting around it.”
She groaned. She didn’t have time for this shit. “Can’t we do this tomorrow?”
“No. What’s the point of me setting a whole day aside for you if we have no future?”
Clutching the phone, she sighed. Not this argument again. “Well, I’m sorry if I’m such an inconvenience, interrupting all your precious plans, but I wasn’t the one begging you to come over all week, was I? And it’s not as if you ever come to visit me.”
“You know I hate the country.”
“Well, I hate the city. And so you know, I’m never going to live there. Ever.” She’d had enough of catering to him, and he’d caught her on a really bad day. If their relationship wasn’t going to work both ways, she didn’t want to continue. Might as well set him straight now.
“Then I guess we’re through. You were a nice fuck while you lasted.”
She vibrated with anger. Mother fucker! Should have known he’d be an ass. All those wasted months. She could have been focused on something else—like sleep—rather than making him happy. Jake was right. She could do better. At least tonight, she could enjoy the time with her friends without worrying about what her boyfriend thought. If she ever got the auger working.
“Scott, you’re an asshole. Good riddance.” She flipped the phone closed and shoved it in her pants pocket, setting her sights on the clogged equipment. Something else giving her shit tonight.
The grain in the hopper piled up. She banged on the side of the auger in an attempt to shake the blockage loose. No such luck. Time for the stick. Leaning over the hopper, she rammed the piece of wood into the spinning blades. With a snap, the twig broke and managed to dislodge the clump of grain. The hopper began to empty again. She pushed off the edge of the plastic tub, but couldn’t get any traction. Her feet slipped on spilled-over grain. She fell forward, thrusting her hands out in front of her. She caught the edge of the hopper. Her upper body continued forward, twisting around. Oh God. She tried to stop herself, pull her body over to the edge, but couldn’t halt the inertia.
Her hand slid past the rusted old guard and into the spinning blade. The steel sliced her fingers apart, spraying blood across the grain and up into her face. She couldn’t fathom the sight. Pain sang along every nerve, firing from her mangled fingers to her brain. Darkness flooded her vision. A cold sweat washed over her. She cried out, tears filling her eyes. As hard as she fought, she couldn’t pull free.
Molten agony continued through her body. With one final effort, she threw all her weight back, ripping her shredded limb from the auger.
On her back, she stared at the mutilated hand, her vision wavering. Strips of torn flesh with bone poking out. So much blood, and it kept pumping out. Her stomach churned, bile burning her throat. She couldn’t turn her head in time and puked all over herself. Then everything went silent except the high-pitched ringing in her ears. Her body grew numb to the pain. Bright lights danced behind her eyes.
A warbling sound broke through. It kept repeating until she heard it clearly. “Leanne, are you okay?”
She tried to answer, but her body wouldn’t cooperate.
Something touched her face. “Stay with me, sweetheart. The ambulance is on its way.”
A calming weight pressed down on her until she felt nothing, and she disappeared into the void.
White walls surrounded her. Machines beeped. Taking in the new scenery, she closed her mouth, the pain forgotten. Bags filled with clear liquids as well as blood hung from a metal pole. She followed the tubes from the bags into her left hand. Was that where the burn came from? She glanced at the other arm, the end of which was wrapped in thick bandages. The image of spinning blades and her mangled flesh flashed before her eyes. She screamed again, tears falling down her cheeks. This can’t be happening.
Bodies rushed into the room, many in scrubs. With her vision blurred, she didn’t recognize anyone. All strangers. She was in the foreign place by herself. A nightmare. Had to be.
“Shh, calm down, sweetie. You’ll be okay.”
A familiar voice. She glanced to her other side to see her mom standing beside her, her eyes glassy. She held her hand, but Leanne couldn’t feel it, only the throbbing which had returned to her other one, the one that was…gone? She groaned, turning on her side, and pulled her knees up to her chest.
“Mom, is it really…?”
She brushed her fingers over her forehead. “Don’t worry about it right now. You need to rest.”
“It hurts so bad.”
“I know.” Her mom stroked her face again. “But the nurses will help it go away.”
“Leanne,” one of the nurses hovering around her said. “I want you to take deep breaths and count backward from ten.”
“Ten.” She sucked in air and cried out in agony. Fuck!
Between clenched teeth, she continued. Anything to stop the pain. “Nine.”
Ice traveled through her veins. “Eight.”
The throbbing slowly ebbed away. Seven.
Darkness swept over her and pulled her down with it.
“Sweetheart, are you okay?”
She’d had the worst nightmare, losing her hand in an auger. She wiggled her fingers, needing assurance it wasn’t real. They all responded. All of her fingers worked. Just a horrendous dream.
Opening her eyes, she lifted her arm and stared at the end, all wrapped in bandages. “No, tell me it’s not true.”
“Honey, I’m so sorry.”
She glanced over at her father.
Dressed in a clean pair of farm coveralls, he ran his fingers through his already disheveled hair. “But everything will be okay. You’ll be fine.”
“Daddy, my hand is gone.” Her chest heaved and she struggled to breathe. “It’s gone. Nothing there. How am I supposed to take over the farm?”
“We’ll worry about that when you get out of here. Right now, you need to calm down. Relax.” He squeezed her shoulder, but his touch brought no comfort.
Her hand was gone. The hand she used to write. To eat and brush her hair. To do everything. And she could never get it back.
Tears of loss trickled down her face. She stared at the bandages. What did it look like under there? Just a nub? What was she supposed to do with that? “Daddy, where’s my hand? What did they do with it?”
“It’s gone, sweetheart. They couldn’t save it.” He moved a chair closer to her bed and sat in it, stroking her hair. “I’m so thankful your hand was all you lost. It could have been much worse.”
“My hand is gone. How could it be any worse?”
“People have lost their lives in auger accidents. If Jake hadn’t been there….”
“Jake?” She tried to recall the night of the accident, what had happened, but everything blurred together. She remembered the spinning blade, her feet slipping…. Oh God. And a voice. Someone there beside her. “You were there. I heard you.”
“No.” He glanced away. “I wish I had been. I might have prevented it. But your mother and I didn’t see you until after you’d already arrived here. Jake found you. He turned off the tractor and called 9-1-1. He stayed with you the whole time. I owe him for saving your life.”Saved by the sexy farmhand. Read the 1st chapter from ACCIDENTAL ROMANCE. #1stChFriday #romance Click To Tweet
About Accidental Romance:
Her plans changed in an instant…
Once finished college, Leanne intended to take over her family dairy farm, let her father retire and finally take a vacation. After one tragic night, her dreams go up in smoke. She loses the ability to do the most basic of things.
And brought him closer…
Jake, the farm hand who lives down the road, refuses to let Leanne give up on her goals. He remains by her side throughout her healing. But, when he confesses his true intentions, their friendship takes a drastic turn.
If only she’d known before she lost her arm.
Available as part of LOVE IN A NEW WORLD July 31, 2017.