October 28th is Loren’s 30th birthday, which due to a photo shoot and magazine interview, she celebrates with Graham in New York City.
All isn’t balloons and party streamers however. Loren and Graham had a major row two days before, and as seen in the excerpt below, someone from her past has reached out.
If you’ve read Wheeler and you enjoyed it, click HERE for the second novel in the Wheeler series, In Darkness, There is Still Light available through a variety of outlets – not just Amazon.
As Loren dressed after her shower, her thoughts were occupied with what to tell Maggie about what happened recently. She heaved a sigh and glanced at her watch.
Band-Aid theory. You can do it. She picked up her mobile to begin a video call while moving to the desk near the windows.
“There’s my birthday girl!” Maggie sang when the video connected, but her expression changed to a deep frown. “Are you alright? You don’t look so good.”
Loren patted her cheek. “I’m fine. Nothing a bit of tea and a soak can’t cure.”
“What happened on Sunday?” Maggie narrowed her eyes. “Is Graham with you?”
“He’s here. He just went downstairs for a minute.” She glanced away, shrugging. “And nothing happened on Sunday. It’s just the tabloids trying to spin something.” Her aunt’s expression didn’t change, and Loren rolled her eyes. “Leave it alone, Mags.”
“Uh huh,” she muttered. “What do you have planned for today?”
“Honestly, I just want to sit here and stare out the window.” She changed the screen to share the misty view.
“Wow. Is that Central Park?”
“That it is.” Loren turned the camera back to her. “Fortieth floor penthouse on West 63rd, courtesy of Benny Wallace.”
“Damn. Maybe I should find myself an actor.” They both chuckled, but Loren’s didn’t last long. “There’s something else, isn’t there,” Maggie said.
“I got an early birthday present. A letter from Aaron.” She scrunched her nose. “His name is Adam, now.”
Her aunt’s mouth popped open. “You’re joking.”
“No. I’m sending you a copy of it now.” She grabbed her tablet to pull up her email and after she pressed send, Maggie’s tablet pinged almost immediately. Her aunt’s brows knotted as she read and when she was done, she looked up with tears in her eyes.
“Maggie!” She put a hand over her ear. “My virgin ears!”
“Oh, stop it,” she laughed but let it fade. “He was in Philadelphia? Do you know what he’s talking about?”
Loren nodded. “Yes, and I was a little freaked out, but I had to focus on the race.” She bit her lip as she opened her email again. “I emailed him back the other day, and I just sent you his reply.” The bedroom door opened behind her. Graham walked over and leaned down to see the screen.
“Hey.” She gave a distracted wave as she was reading, then looked back to Loren. “O’Connell is my maiden name,” she said.
“I imagine that’s why he chose it, but I’ll ask him about that when I see him.” She sat back and pressed her lips together as her aunt’s mouth dropped open again.
“You’re going to see him?”
“I talked to him last night.” Her eyes slid away and she swallowed hard. “Mags, I’ve started to remember more and none of it is good.” She glanced at Graham. “We were going to meet up today, but I’m starting to freak out.” He brushed her hair over her shoulder.
“You have to do what’s best for you, love,” he said. “You can’t think about hurting his feelings, but I’m certain he’ll understand.” Loren worried at her fingernail before looking to her aunt again.
“I need to know what’s real, and he’s the only one who can tell me.”
“I know, kitten, and I’m sorry I can’t help you more,” Maggie said, then glanced at her watch. “Poop. I have to get to work, but call back later, okay? Randall and the kiddos would love to hear from you.”
“I will.” Loren sat back in her chair after disconnecting and stared out the window. Graham touched the back of her neck.
“You’ve got your thinking face on.” She gave a soft smile, then pressed her lips together.
“I need to be in control, and I’m not.”
“Loren, you can’t control everything.”
She shot him a look. “I know I can’t, but I should be able to control my reactions. With everything that’s happened… ” She sighed, and Graham put his arm around her shoulders.
“Darling, you’ve spent years winding yourself up so tightly,” he said. “You’ve been able to function, but I don’t think you’ve actually lived.”
She raised a brow. “And then you came along, and my whole world started to unravel.”
“You make it seem like that’s a bad thing,” he said, his mouth somewhere between a frown and a smirk.
“In some ways it is, but I think my remembering was only a matter of time,” she replied, making a face. “James told me I had to stop looking down into the hole I dug, because if I looked up, I would see how many hands were reaching for me, to help pull me out.” Graham reached for her hands and squeezed them.
“I’ve got strong hands, you know,” he said. “I can change out a bike tire pretty quick.”