Title Sworn to Fly
Author Maria Imbalzano
Genre Contemporary Romance
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
Risk-averse ER nurse, Alyssa Beckman, is about to lose her job because of yet another bad decision. In order to put her life back on track, she books a week at a rustic mountain resort to ponder her next steps and rejuvenate. But when she arrives, she learns she’s enrolled in boot camp, an adventure program far out of her comfort zone.
While there, she meets Gabriel Sutton, a world-travelling high fashion photographer who is in danger of losing his clients as well as his status if he doesn’t start following the rules. While hiking, kayak racing, and participating in team challenges, sparks fly between Alyssa and Gabe as they encourage each other to take different life paths. But will those paths lead them farther apart or bring them closer together?
What was it about her that had him craving her company? He could have easily ended their conversation and went on his way without her—his original plan. And smarter plan. Even more surprising than his invitation was her agreement to tag along.
Alyssa followed him as he trekked into the woods, stopping when he did. He pointed his lens upward and fired off several shots, moving here and there to capture the sunlight playing off the multihued leaves. She sat on a fallen tree trunk, looking at the foliage.
“Why so quiet?” he asked after a while.
She laughed—a welcome sound. “No. I didn’t take the class yet. I thought I’d just let you do your thing.”
“I can do my thing while talking.” He pointed his camera in her direction and took a photo.
“Can you please give me some warning when you’re going to do that? I can see my request that you not take my picture has fallen on deaf ears, so you can at least give me a heads-up.” She pulled a stemmy reed from her hair.
“Sorry. Can’t do. That’s not the way I work. I like candid shots when the subject isn’t prepared. They’re the best.”
“So I’m a subject now?”
Gabe headed over and sat down beside her, his leg touching hers. A shock wave coursed through him. He inhaled slowly, trying to take back control. When her arm brushed against his, the wave vied with sparks and heat.
Russet eyes held his for only a moment before she disconnected.
He cleared his throat, hoping to clear his head. “You’re an amazing subject. The photos I took of you yesterday on our little walk were so natural. The intensity of your eyes when you were helping Missy, the sympathy on your face, even though you were the ultimate professional—portrayed a nurse in action, helping a patient. Beautiful.”
Alyssa’s face reddened as she turned her head away from him.
“I have one of you laughing, too. That woman, Edie, was talking your ear off, but you let her.”
That brought out a chuckle.
“My goal is to capture emotion, raw and undetected by most others.”
“Can I see the photos you just took of the tree branches?”
He flipped his camera over and leaned toward her, scrolling slowly through the shots. Sun glinted off the upper branches while casting shadows and darkness on the lower ones.
“These photos don’t look like real scenery. They look like paintings.” She peered up into the trees, then back at the LCD screen. “You have a gift. You see things that most of us humans don’t.”
He stood, needing to get away from the heat she generated in him, but the second he moved, his body yearned for more contact. He strolled a little farther into the trees, working his magic with the camera to get his mind off more carnal thoughts. While he wasn’t opposed to hooking up with an interesting woman for a week before getting back to his reality, he feared Alyssa was too vulnerable, working through more than she’d let on.
He returned to the log where she still sat, holding his hand out to pull her up. Warmth spread through his veins and ricocheted to his core. Something he hadn’t felt in a while.
She was completely different from the women he met—New York City women who were sophisticated in their perfectly put-together appearances and mysterious in keeping their inner selves hidden so he never quite knew who he was dealing with. He played their game, and it worked for him—not getting too close to anyone to call it a relationship. Yet lately he’d been desiring something more.
Maybe he shouldn’t put her on the off-limits list too quickly.
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I was born in Trenton, NJ , in the heart of Chambersburg, the Italian section of town. My father was a barber and my mother, a State employee, who also taught me to jitterbug at the tender age of four. We loved to dance in the living room while watching American Bandstand. Hardly star material, but I was driven nonetheless. The product of a Catholic School education, I learned the basics, and took for granted I would be successful doing something, even if it entailed cutting hair. I attended Rutgers University as a psychology major, but after three years decided I liked political science better. My first job led me to Manhattan where I worked as a paralegal for four years before attending Fordham University School of Law. There I learned to think like a lawyer, write like a lawyer, and speak like a lawyer, all while living like a pauper in the city of my dreams. Living in New York City, albeit on a tight budget, allowed me to indulge my love of ballet, art museums, and theater. Did you know you could walk into a theater after intermission and no one checks your ticket? I enjoyed the second half of many plays as well as ballets. My love of reading dates back to my childhood when I would borrow at least four books from the library every week. During the summer, I would sit in the house and read, until my mother, totally frustrated, would send me outside to play and lock me out. I always found my way back in. However, I must confess, I hated to write. In every English and writing class throughout college, I dreaded trying to be creative. As a friend from law school so aptly put it, “The reason why we’re here is because we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies.” I agreed. Despite my dislike of creative writing back then, I embraced legal writing, and was first published in Volume 5 of the Fordham International Law Journal. My article was entitled “In re Mackin: Is the Application of the Political Offense Exception an Extradition Issue for the Judicial or Executive Branch?” I would advise you against reading it, for you will surely fall asleep. Following law school, I returned to central New Jersey and took a job at a local law firm where I have been a partner for many years. My area of practice is divorce, and while emotions run high and clients are living through the worst time of their lives, I find the practice very satisfying. In addition to litigation, I have added mediation and collaborative divorce to my repertoire, which are much more civil ways of dealing with issues in family law cases. In addition to practicing law and raising two daughters, I’ve been working towards my second career. Memoranda of Law and Legal Briefs, although fascinating, pale in comparison to writing romance/women’s fiction. So how does one transition from divorce lawyer by day to romance writer by night? That’s the beauty of having two distinct passions.
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