Title: The Issue Is Love
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Books To Go Now
When scandal erupts around editor Adam Bevens at his big-city newspaper, he accepts his uncle’s offer to fill in at a small-town paper in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He doesn’t anticipate hostile employees, the chance to encounter extraterrestrials or the possibility of a Sasquatch sighting. He definitely never expects to get hooked on the coffee from the local diner, or the company of zany, fiery feature writer, Coleen Collins.
Coleen thinks she’s perfectly capable of running Tomorrow’s News while her boss is away, and doesn’t understand why he’s has brought Adam in. Could it be an effort to tame her wild imagination and her tendency to run away with her stories? Her head tells her she should start a campaign to chase Adam out of town. Her heart begins telling her there just might be a much bigger issue at hand. Because when the big city meets the back woods, something has to give.
“You’re not going to ditch me out here, are you?”
She glanced at him. “Not a chance.” Being so close to him, in the confines of the vehicle, only made her want to get closer still. She could catch his scent—spicy soap and alarmed male—and sense his warmth. She wondered how it would feel to kiss him.
She longed to find out.
If she were honest, she’d wanted to find out ever since that first day he arrived at the office. If only he weren’t so darned annoying.
Curiosity always proved powerful—even irresistible—to her. The desire to know gnawed at her, to know how he’d taste, how that black hair of his would feel between her fingers. How his eyes would look when he got aroused.
She bet they’d go all dark and intent, like—
Something—or someone—rain in front of the jeep. Coleen slammed on the brakes and the vehicle slewed around in the muddy road, before coming up hard against a boulder.
For an instant, stunned silence filled the jeep. Then, in a shaken voice Adam asked, “What was that?”
Barely believing her own words, Coleen replied, “I think it was a Sasquatch.”
The jeep stood with three wheels on the muddy track and one up on the flat rock that lodged under the front bumper. The rock-bound tire leaked air at an alarming rate.
“What now?” Adam asked, calmly for a man stranded in the wilds. In the rain, with a no doubt crazy woman. A man who’d—maybe—just seen Bigfoot. As numb as a man bound for the gallows.
Coleen scowled at the vehicle but didn’t answer.
He hauled his cell phone out of his pocket.
“Don’t bother, Adam. No service back in here.”
“We’re lucky the air bags didn’t go off. We may be able to push the jeep off that rock ledge, change the tire and drive out.”
“You think so?”
“I’d say it’s fifty-fifty.”
“Let’s do it, then.”
“Not yet.” She turned to him. Her wide gray eyes glowed. “What did you see, just before we spun?”
Adam wetted his lips. “I’m not sure. It was big.”
Something sparked in her eyes. “A hairy person?”
“Come on.” She snagged his hand and towed him off the path, through the trees. No cleared forest, this, it was scrubland, choked with shrubbery, dead weeds and vines. Adam bit back a curse as a pricker caught his free hand and scored the wrist. The soaking vegetation slid away under his boots.
“Shh! She’ll hear us.”
“She went this way.”
A nightmare journey ensued. Winding their way between the trunks of tall trees, smacked in the face by branches, they crept. At least it had stopped raining, though the air remained chilly enough to make a cloud of Adam’s breath.
Coleen stopped so suddenly, he banged into her, and wrapped both arms around her so they wouldn’t fall.
“I don’t see—” Then he did. A dim figure moved across his line of sight from right to left. Hazy in the misty air, it looked shaggy and brown.
Even as they watched, it pressed between the branches and disappeared from sight.
When Coleen started off again, Adam had no choice but to follow. This time, when she paused, he managed not to bump her.
It might be. She almost had him believing, after their wild dash. Or it might just be two trees leaning close together, covered by vines.
Coleen dragged the pack off her back and dug out an ancient camera.
“What are you doing?”
“She went in there.”
Adam stood stock still while Coleen took her pictures, wondering if they’d ever see the jeep again, and if in these soaking woods they’d left reality behind.
When Coleen finished taking her photos, she turned and flung her arms around Adam, eyes glowing.
“Isn’t it great? A true sighting. Even you can’t argue with that.”
“We don’t know what we saw.”
“You don’t know it’s female. You don’t even know it’s a Sasquatch.”
“It must be.”
“It could be a hunter or one of your alien trackers, or—”
“Why can’t you just believe?”
Because it’s crazy, he wanted to yell. But when he looked into Coleen’s face, the words wouldn’t come. What could it hurt, playing along with the fantasy? What could it hurt, holding her in his arms, all warm and vibrant, for just a few minutes more?
Their eyes met and Coleen stopped breathing. Her pupils dilated, and her lips trembled. Adam had to kiss her, even though it might be a bad idea. As bad as the mad chase through the woods and the pictures, and the fantasy.
Damn it, he wanted the fantasy. He wanted the kiss, and had from the minute he first saw her.
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Issue-Love-Job-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07PVL4NMC
Books To Go Now: http://bookstogonow.com/books/the-issue-is-love/
Multi-published and multi-award winning author, Laura Strickland writes stories that span several Romance genres. Her Scottish Romances have been compared to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and her American Historicals echo the work of authors such as Susan Wiggs and Kristin Hannah. Her award-winning Buffalo Steampunk series has broken new ground both for its setting and its portrayal of automaton characters pursuing their rights. Currently, she is at home in Western New York and at work on her next book.
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