Unbreak my heart, p.10

Unbreak my Heart, page 10


Unbreak my Heart

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  This time there was no mistaking the sound of Willow’s frightened voice and instantly Crank’s face broke out into a relieved grin. “WILLOW, HONEY, WHERE ARE YOU?” he called. “ARE YOU OKAY?”

  “I’m over here,” Willow cried, her voice clearer now.

  Suddenly, both of them spotted a tiny hand reaching out from an open flap at the bottom of the locked paddle steamer ticket box.

  Crank had never felt such a sudden flood of relief in all his life. He took a deep breath to calm his shredded nerves and ran a shaking hand through his soaked locks; tears of pure relief running silently down his cheeks.

  As the pair approached the ticket box, a frightened and relieved Willow poked her head out through the flap of vinyl and wiped the sudden splatters of rain from her eyes.

  “Crank, Edward,” she cried, shivering from the cold. “I was getting really scared. Is my Mama here?”

  Crank crouched down and pulled her to him. “No sweetheart, she wanted to come with us to find you, but we asked her to wait at your cabin in case you came back home.”

  Willow reached her hand back in through the small flap and pulled out a completely drenched Mr Truffles.

  “He’s all wet and heavy, Crank,” she sighed, handing him her beloved stuffed toy. “Will he be okay?”

  Mr Truffles was so wet that water was pouring from his legs. Crank gently wrung out as much of the water as he could without damaging him and popped him into his other oversized pocket. “He should be just fine, Sweetheart,” he assured her. “When we get you home we will give him to your Mama so she can lay him out on some towels to dry out a bit more, and maybe tomorrow, if it’s sunny, hang him out in the sun to dry out completely.”

  Willow wrapped her arms around Crank’s neck and buried her head into his shoulder. “I want to go home to my Mama. Will you please take me home Crank?”

  Her little body was shaking from the cold and her skin felt cool and clammy. “Yes, Sweetheart, Edward and I will take you home, but we will have to walk back along the road rather than back along the path and it will take us a bit longer than usual. Is that okay?” He pulled her raincoat from his pocket and unravelled it. “Here Sweetheart, I want you to put this back on. It will warm you up a bit and stop you from getting any wetter.”

  When she saw her raincoat, Willow looked surprised. “Hey, how did you get my raincoat? I took it off to wrap around Mr Truffles and the wind blew it into the water.”

  Crank’s voice cracked with emotion as he spoke. “I saw it in the water when we were looking for you so I jumped in and got it back for you.”

  “You’re the best, Crank,” she lisped through the gap in her teeth, reaching up to plant a kiss on his cheek.

  “Are you alright kiddo?” Edward asked, kneeling down beside his uncle as he helped Willow into her raincoat. “You gave us all quite a scare.”

  “I didn’t mean to,” she said solemnly, “I just wanted to go get Mr Truffles and bring him home out of the rain, but I got lost.”

  Crank twisted his body slightly. “Come on, hop up on my back,” he coaxed, once he had pulled her hood up over the top of her head to give her a bit more protection from the driving wind and rain. “We have quite a long walk ahead of us and your mama is gonna be half out of her mind with worry by the time we get you home.”

  Chapter seventeen

  Clare got up from the sofa and paced the living room of her cabin for what seemed like the thousandth time. Crank and Edward had now been out searching for Willow in the blustering wind and pouring rain for almost an hour and a half and so far there had been no word from them. Even worse, the weather report on the radio reported mild flooding around Caddo Lake and, despite calling Crank’s cell every ten minutes or so for the last hour, she had gotten his message bank every time, leaving her to fear the worst.

  The shrill and sudden ringing of her landline sent her racing, heart in mouth, to the kitchen to snatch up the receiver. “Crank, is that you?” she asked nervously; her voice several octaves higher than usual.

  “Sorry Clare, it’s just me, Michael, I’ve been sitting here by myself for ages worrying myself silly and I was just wondering if you have heard anything from Uncle Crank and Edward about Willow yet? Every time I call Uncle Crank’s cell it goes straight to message bank and Michael’s cell is here, charging on his bedside table.”

  Clare felt a new wave of panic rising up from the pit of her stomach and couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. “Oh Michael, I’m so worried,” she cried, wiping her eyes. “What if something bad has happened to Willow or Edward or even Crank? Shouldn’t he have gotten in contact with one of us by now if they have found her?”

  Michael could hear the panic in Clare’s voice and tried desperately to keep her calm. “Uncle Crank is tough and no matter how bad the weather gets he won’t give up until he finds Willow and brings her home safely. You just wait and see.”

  Clare took a deep, calming breath and wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I’m sure you’re probably right Michael, but the weather report on the radio says that Caddo Lake is experiencing minor to moderate flooding due to the storm and I’m worried that if they haven’t found Willow yet they may not be able to continue their search until the water level goes back down.”

  “Then hopefully they already have Willow with them and are on their way back to your cabin,” Michael cut in.

  Clare grabbed a tissue from the counter and wiped her eyes. “I hope you’re right,” she said, taking another deep breath. “I just wish they would hurry up and contact me before I go insane with worry.”

  Just as she was about to hang up, Clare looked out the window and spotted two flashlight beams coming up her driveway. “Michael,” she said excitedly, “there’s somebody walking up the driveway, I think it might be Crank and Edward; don’t hang up I’m going to go investigate.”

  Laying the receiver on the counter, Clare darted to the door and flung it open just as Crank and Edward were stepping up onto her front porch.

  “Oh my god, Crank, Edward, did you find her?”

  Crank turned to the side in order for Clare to see Willow perched up high on his back. “Yes, we have her, and she’s fine, but she’s very cold and wet so she’s gonna need a warm bath to warm her up, but other than that she’ll be fine.”

  “Mama,” Willow yelled excitedly as soon as she saw Clare standing in the doorway. “Crank and Edward found me and Crank carried me all the way home on his back.”

  “Are you okay baby?” Clare asked, wiping back tears of pure joy. “Mama has been so worried.” She reached out her hands and pulled her daughter into her arms.

  “I’m sorry Mama,” Willow said apologetically. “I didn’t mean to worry you. I just wanted to save Mr Truffles from the rain.”

  “I know baby,” Clare said, kissing her icy cold cheek as she hugged her close, “but please, don’t ever go down to the lake again without Mama, okay?”

  Willow nodded her head. “Okay Mama, I promise.”

  Clare turned her attention back to Crank and Edward. “Thank you so much for finding her and bringing her back home safe and sound,” she cried, giving each of them a gratuitous kiss on the cheek. “I don’t know how I am ever gonna repay the both of you?”

  Crank felt his heart lurch in his chest. He wanted to grab her and tell her that he loved both her and Willow and that he never wanted to be apart from them ever again, that he would always be there to protect them if they needed him to, but instead he gently put his hand on her shoulder. “You just did,” he husked. “Seeing you two reunited and happy is all the thanks I need.”

  “That goes for me too,” Edward chirped proudly.

  Clare looked from one to the other. “I probably should get Willow inside out of the cold and into the shower to warm her up, but if you would both like to stick around for a while I could make you guys a hot coffee and some sandwiches when I have finished? It would be no trouble at all.”

  Crank had barely taken his
eyes off of Clare since they had arrived on her porch. Even after all the stress and worrying about Willow, she still looked absolutely beautiful, and something told him he would find her beautiful no matter what the situation.

  “Thanks for the offer, but right now Willow needs her Mama’s undivided attention and Edward and I are both wet through and totally beat. So I think we’ll take a raincheck and go home and get ourselves warmed up before we both catch a cold.”

  Clare didn’t want Crank to leave. She wanted him to stay here with her all night and let her warm him up and show him how much she appreciated and loved him for being her knight in shining armour once again, but he was completely right, Willow needed her so she nodded understandingly. “Why don’t you bring Edward and Michael and come over for breakfast tomorrow morning?” she asked. “I do a really awesome scrambled egg.”

  Crank bent down and kissed Clare’s cheek. “It’s a date. What time would you like us to arrive?”

  As far as Clare was concerned; the sooner the better; “How does eight o’clock sound?” she asked breezily.

  Crank’s heart lurched again as her smile formed two absolutely sexy dimples. “Perfect!”

  As Clare carried Willow inside and shut the door, she suddenly remembered that Michael was still holding on the other end of the phone.

  “Michael!” she called excitedly into the receiver. “Are you still there?”

  “Yeah, I’m still here. Was it Uncle Crank and Edward?”

  “Yes and they had Willow with them. I’m just about to warm her up in the shower and get her in her pyjamas ready for bed. Your Uncle and Edward just left less than a minute ago; they should be arriving at your cabin in a few minutes.”

  Michael was extremely relieved and absolutely thrilled to find out that Willow was back at home safe and sound and that both Crank and Edward were also okay.

  “Thanks for letting me know Clare, and give Willow a kiss from me. I’ll put the kettle on while I’m waiting and make them both a warm drink to have after they’ve changed out of their wet clothes.”

  Chapter eighteen

  After the five of them had enjoyed a hardy breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast together in Clare’s dining room, Clare asked Edward and Michael if they would mind taking Willow back to their cabin for a while so she could speak privately with Crank.

  “So when are you leaving to take the boys back home to Smithville?” she asked, breaking the awkward silence.

  Crank toyed with the knife and fork on his plate. The idea of driving to Smithville with his nephews and leaving Clare and Willow at the lake was like a crushing weight on his heart. “Tomorrow morning, directly after breakfast,” he said flatly. “Macey is expecting the three of us for dinner.”

  The previous night, after putting Willow to bed, Clare had tossed and turned for several hours. It had suddenly hit her that Crank’s whole world was waiting for him back home in Austin and Smithville; his business, his best friend, Kurt, and his remaining family; Macey, Eli and the twins. Therefore, there was every chance in the world that once he left Caddo Lake he may not return, and the thought of not seeing him ever again had gouged at her heart like a knife.

  With a deep breath to calm her jangled nerves, she suddenly hopped up from her chair, slid onto Crank’s lap and cupped his face in her hands. “Do you think your sister would mind if there were two more mouths to feed for dinner tomorrow evening?” she asked, her lips curling into a seductive smile as she waited for his reaction.

  Crank could hardly believe what he was hearing. In a single breath his heavy heart was suddenly weightless again and soaring like a kite. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” he asked excitedly, wrapping his arms around her waist.

  Clare slid her arms around his neck and kissed him hard on the lips. Somehow, even though she had only known him for a couple of weeks, she had fallen in love with him and she wasn’t about to let him drive clear across state without her and Willow. Not right now anyway.

  When their lips finally parted she looked deep into his grey-blue eyes. “I’m saying that I’m sick and tired of being lonely because I’ve been too scared to move on after my husband’s death. Clay may be dead but Willow and I are still very much alive and I know with absolute certainty that he would want us to be happy. So I have decided to pack some clothes for Willow and I and come with you to Smithville. If you still want us to that is?”

  “Hell, yes!” he whooped, nodding his head like an eager child and grinning like a Cheshire cat. “I want you guys to come with me more than anything else in the world, but are you absolutely sure?”

  Clare kissed him again. “I’ve never been surer of anything in my whole life,” she said happily.

  As she writhed on his lap Crank felt himself getting hard. “Clare,” he mumbled breathlessly. “We finally have the whole cabin to ourselves. It seems like such a waste to spend our precious alone-time talking.”

  “I agree!” she said excitedly, grabbing the hem of his t-shirt and removing it in one swift motion before discarding it onto the floor. All week she had been dying to run her hands over his body and explore every nook and cranny, and now her chance was finally here. Without wasting another second, she slid her hands up his sculpted abs until they were cupping his pecs, and gently teased his erect nipples with her thumbs until they were as hard as steel.

  Crank closed his eyes momentarily to savour the pleasure of her sensuous touch. It had been such a long time since he had been with a woman and Clare’s touch was sending tiny sparks of sizzling pleasure spreading across his skin like flames, leaving a residue of heat wherever she touched.

  Before long he was well past the point of no return and, with deft fingers, made quick work of removing her top and bra. With the barriers removed, he sensually slid his ample hands up her ribcage, hefting one breast and then the other before eagerly bending forward to take each nipple in his mouth, savouring the taste and texture of each one against his probing tongue as he nipped, sucked and licked them until she was moist with desire and begging for him to make love to her.

  As she squirmed around on his lap from the sheer pleasure she was receiving from his lips and tongue she could feel his erection pressing upward against her buttocks, eager to be released from the constraints of his jeans. Obligingly, she slid off his lap and removed the rest of her clothes in record time before unfastening his belt, popping the metal clip of his jeans and unfastening the zipper. She then turned her attention momentarily to his feet, removing his shoes and socks before grabbing the bands of his jeans and boxers simultaneously and eagerly yanking them down and off to reveal his naked and fully aroused body.

  After tossing his jeans and boxers haphazardly into the corner, she straddled his waist once more, placing her hands on his shoulders to support herself as she slowly lowered herself down onto his rigid erection, eager to feel him inside her.

  As he felt her moist heat and tightness descending upon his manhood Crank grasped Clare’s petite waist, closed his eyes and threw his head back, groaning with pure, unadulterated pleasure as she slowly and rhythmically began sliding her body up and down his incredibly aroused length. He knew only too well that after more than six and a half years of forced celibacy it would not take too long for him to climax, but he intended to hold on as long as he possibly could so that Clare would not be left disappointed.

  In the past, when her husband Clay was still alive, Clare too had often closed her eyes and lost herself in the pleasure of the moment as Clay had made sweet, passionate love to her, but today she couldn’t bear to tear her eyes away from Crank. On the outside he looked so strong and calm, but she had been fortunate enough to get to know the real Crank; the generous, loving and big-hearted Crank; the Crank who would not hesitate to risk his own life to protect the people he loved. And most important of all, the Crank she now loved with all her heart.

  Slowly, she began to increase the tempo and, as she did, watched Crank’s Adam’s apple bobbing up and down in his throat of it
s own accord as he swallowed hard between short, ragged breaths to keep himself from climaxing too quickly. She knew this first time together would be quick, but she didn’t mind at all. Neither of them had been with a partner in quite a while and the pleasure was almost certainly overwhelming for both of them.

  Within minutes Crank sucked in a deep, ragged breath, pulled her close and began groaning with pleasure as his hips began to shudder and jerk uncontrollably with his first climax in well over six years. Almost immediately, Clare’s nails instinctively dug deeper into his shoulders as her body responded to his sudden waves of pleasure by convulsing uncontrollably in a mind-blowing orgasm of her own at the same time as the first eruption of his seed entered her.

  When their climaxes subsided, Crank kissed her tenderly on the lips, scooped her up in his arms and eagerly carried her through to the bedroom so she could lay with him in his arms until they had regained enough stamina to make love all over again before they had to leave for his cabin to tell Michael, Edward and Willow the good news that they would all be leaving for Smithville in the morning.

  Chapter nineteen

  Willow shrieked with excitement as they turned off the main road into Macey and Eli’s long, tree-lined driveway after spending more than five hours on the road. “Mama look, they have lots of cows and horses! Do you think we might get to have a horsey ride while we’re here?”

  Clare felt nervous at the prospect of meeting Crank’s sister. “Maybe sweetheart, but we just have to wait and see.” She glanced nervously at Crank. “Hopefully Crank will take us for a horse-ride in a day or so once we have been to the hospital to see his brother-in-law, Eli.”

  Crank reached across the centre console of his 4WD and squeezed Clare’s hand reassuringly. “Relax,” he drawled. “Mace is going to love you and Willow. Trust me.” He glanced at Willow in the rear vision mirror and grinned. “And we will definitely find some time to go for a horsey ride, but you need to be patient, okay?”

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