Under A Painted Sky (Spirit Warrior Series), page 1
Under A Painted Sky
Spirit Warrior Series
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Any trademarks mentioned herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks used are specifically in a descriptive capacity.
No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form (electronic or print) without permission from the author. Please do not participate in piracy or violating the author’s rights.
Editor: Lea Ellen Borg
Copyright © December 2012 Jenna Roads
Printed in the United States of America
To my beautiful, precious daughter, without whose love and support this work of heart would not have been possible. Thanks for inspiring me, believing in me, encouraging me and loving me.
You are one of my two greatest joys on this Earth.
All my love, forever.
It was finally moving day for me, Isabella Reed. I’m from a very small, quaint town in North Florida. This place was not the same to me after my divorce six months ago. My so-called friends shunned me.
It was definitely time for a new beginning which entailed leaving the town where the disgrace of my husband leaving me lies. Things would never be the same as they were before when people envied the relationship that I had with my husband. I was looking forward to a welcome and promising move.
We were so much in love and in sync with one another, even finishing each other’s sentences. How could things be so right and turn out so wrong? I guess people change. You wake up one day, find out your husband is leaving, and your whole life is turned upside down. Now, my friends can’t decide if they should be his friend or mine.
I was complaining to my mother about how I couldn’t even have friends anymore and how I hated this town. The divorce had spoiled everything about the place I called home.
She told her sister, my Aunt Carol, how I was feeling, and my aunt suggested that I come to stay in her brand new vacation home. She and her husband of five years, James, had just finished building it. James is an engineer and comes from old money. Can you say loaded? They have a vacation home everywhere they find a place they like to go back to visit. I believe this house was number eleven. He had like eight houses already when they married. I guess the rich just get richer. What a life! They loved New Mexico, so they built a house there.
My Aunt Carol was leaving the country for a few months and said it would be so nice to have someone in the house. She said it was completely furnished and ready to go and I could store my furniture in the three-car garage until I decided what I wanted to do. They had already hired a caretaker. He was a real young guy by the name of Logan Hayes and they would let him know that I would be living there. He would still do all of the upkeep on the house and grounds.
She told me there were plenty of nursing jobs to be had because there was a shortage of nurses in New Mexico. I could live there for free forever, if I wanted.
Oh, my Gosh, I couldn’t believe it! It was the perfect answer to my whole situation. I could leave this town and start out fresh in a brand new place where nobody knew I was now divorced. It sounded too good to be true.
I had enough money in savings to last about four months since I wouldn’t have to pay rent. That was enough time to settle in a new place.
I had never been to the southwestern part of the country. From the pictures on the Internet, it looked beautiful. What was not to love about wide-open skies, beautiful colors everywhere and no bugs! My aunt told me there were no mosquitoes or gnats and you could sit outside with nothing biting you. She knows how it is in Florida. I am a bug magnet so, this was great news. I jumped at the chance to go there.
After all, I could always Skype my parents and fly back every now and then, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Land of Enchantment.
I graduated from high school early at seventeen and started college that summer. Soon after I’d turned nineteen, I’d gotten married to the man I had dated since I was fifteen. Jackson was the most thoughtful and coolest guy ever—and hot. Yes, he was hot. He had sandy blond hair and blue eyes that looked like the ocean.
I was going to school to be a nurse and started working two jobs both part-time to pay for college books. My parents were paying for the tuition. I had to work if I wanted my cell phone, clothes, gas for my car and all the little extras a girl must have. My husband couldn’t afford all that on his salary working as a mechanic.
Six months before I finished school, my husband decided he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. Just like that—no arguments or fights or anything. He wanted a divorce and he wanted it quick, so he could be on his way with his new I don’t have to work queen.
It turns out that the man I married wanted a woman that didn’t have to work for a living and said life was too short to spend it working. Tell that to the bill collectors. I was sure they would understand that—like, never! Well, the last thing in the world I wanted was to be with someone who didn’t want me.
I had just finished school, and taken my state boards and passed. I was waiting for my license to arrive, which usually takes sixty to ninety days so I could get a job as a nurse and start my life.
The final room of furniture had been loaded on the semi-truck and I stood outside signing the necessary paperwork for the moving company. The door to the moving truck slammed shut, as was a chapter of my life. The truck pulled out with what was left of my life’s belongings and they were on their way.
My family was there to see me off: my mom, Jackie, my father, William, and my brother, Blake. My dad handed me a wad of money. He whispered in my ear, “This is mad money. I want you to take this so I won’t be mad thinking that you might be in need of something and I’m not close by to help you quickly enough.” We did our hugs and kisses and waved goodbye. I pulled out in my car behind the movers with enough stuff to last a couple of weeks until the rest of my things arrived. Wow, 1,711 miles from city limit to city limit, a long drive to take all alone. The biggest move I had ever made, but I was so ready for a change of scenery.
Besides, I loved my car. It was a high school graduation present from my folks. It was a black Nissan Murano with GPS in the console and my tunes connected from my iPod. Who could ask for more?
Well, New Mexico, here I come.
* * *
After three days of driving with my iPod blasting through my stereo until I got tired, sleeping in motels and after many glasses of iced coffee, I finally made it. There were a few times when I thought I wasn’t going to, like when I saw those camels in a field on the side of the road. I pulled over and got a motel room only to find out they really were camels. It was a camel farm in Texas. I couldn’t believe it or the buffalo herd I saw. You don’t see those things on the coast where I lived.
I couldn’t believe this New Mexico landscape with all the colorful places and beautiful southwest buildings everywhere.
Well, this was it. It was 11 a.m. at Vista Hermosa, which means beautiful view. It was a gated community, not bad for a twenty-one-year-old to live for free. My aunt had given me the gate code and I entered it at the gate. Voila, open says me. Ha, ha! My Aunt Carol said she would leave instructions about the new house on the table for me.
This was me, 1521 Vista Hermosa. Wow! The house is two-story in dark tan, stucco adobe-style with rock trim and a complete rock entrance at the front. The tiny lawn in front had been perfectly manicured with edging and tiny river rock colored stones on the ground. It had small beautiful green trees and flower bushes of yellow, purple and blue, and large boulder rocks for decoration. There were pavers leading to the front door.
This looked like home to me. It even smelled like home when I opened my car door to get out—the smell of fresh baked cookies filled the air. The neighbors must be baking.
I unlocked the door to the house with the keys Aunt Carol had mailed me in FL. The door opened up into the hallway. To the left was the dining room and to the right was the doorway to the three-car garage. I opened the door and peeked into the garage. It was huge with shelves down one side and closets. I shut the door and crossed over to the dining room. Wow, she said it was nice, but it was much more than just nice. There was a beautiful table and china cabinet, with all the works and warm earthy colors. To the right was a stairway leading up to the bedrooms. Next, there was a coat closet on the right and to the left was the kitchen. The kitchen had stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and a huge pantry. It had a window overlooking the back patio and you could see the mountain. The whole downstairs, except the living room, had these awesome large tile floors. It was decorated, as was the whole house, in southwestern style. There were warm earthy colors, along with some radical bold colors. It looked incredibly inviting, just like some of the pictures I’d seen on the Internet. A sign hanging on the wall said, ‘Mi Casa Es Su Casa.’ I loved that!
There were chili peppers hanging down the wall. A pot rack hung from the ceiling with Emeril pots. Grape vines and wine decorations draped the cabinets. There were even small wine barrels on top of the cabinets. One barrel had burnt into the wood ‘Reserva New Mexico.’ The living room was on the right. In between the kitchen and living room was a large patio door leading to the back patio and yard.
The whole house was completely furnished with curtains and blinds everywhere. The living room had a large fireplace with a beautiful mantle and a switch on the wall to turn it on.
If you went out the door of the kitchen to the back yard and patio there was a large brick wall in the back yard. There was the same kind of landscaping as the front except for one wow feature. It had a waterfall that cascaded over rocks. The water sounded so beautifully peaceful. There was a bench a little way in front of the waterfall. The left side of the patio was complete with an outdoor kitchen under roof. Nice, large, uneven stones were used for the patio floor. There was a large pool on the right. It had a cascading waterfall over rocks that went into the pool. You could have some serious parties out here.
On the left side of the back yard was a patio table and chair set. If you looked past the brick wall, you could see neighbors in the distance below. You could look out at the sky and you see forever. It was like miles and miles of no barriers in sight.
The mountain looked awesome. I really loved this. I thought I might never, ever want to move out.
Next, I checked out the upstairs bedrooms.
The master bedroom was the first one to the left. It was huge with the master bathroom door on the left. As you go through the door, there are two sinks on the right with a toilet on the left and a huge walk-in closet big enough for four people. Straight past the sink was a huge jetted Jacuzzi tub with an enclosed shower stall on the other side of tub. Wow, could it get any better? Yes, it could. There was a door to a veranda off of the master suite. Walking out the door, there was a wrought iron railing around the veranda. It had a round patio bed with pillows on it and tables sitting on each side of the bed. You could lie out there and look at the stars all night. It made me wish for a moment that I still had a husband to do that with.
Oh, well, enough of that.
The master bedroom suite was gorgeous; the furniture looked like it belonged to royalty. There were two other bedrooms of medium size and a bathroom. It had a laundry room with washer and dryer in place. I loved it.
I reached for my phone to call my Aunt Carol to let her know I’d made it and to thank her for this awesome place. There was no answer, so I left her a message about how wonderful the place is. I texted my brother and my mom to tell them I made it and how incredible the place was.
I still had to unload my car, ugh!
First things first—I went into the living room and plugged my iPod into the Bose music system.
Wow, the sound was coming from everywhere and so crystal clear. It made it seem like you were at the concert. I thought I was in heaven. I couldn’t live without my music.
After about two hours had passed, I had my car unloaded and my things put away.
I realized I was famished, so I went to the fridge to see if maybe there was something in it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was stocked full with all the things I liked. Wow, she must have talked to my mom. What a welcome home present. My aunt was something special. I hadn’t seen much of her since she married James. They traveled everywhere.
In the middle of the fridge was a plate of sandwiches from Paradise Bakery that said welcome home on a sticky note on top of the container. “Sweet.”
I grabbed some water and started devouring a turkey, avocado and bacon sandwich.
All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door.
I went and opened it to find a total hunk standing there. He was kind of tall and muscular with brown hair and glistening green eyes.
“Hello, can I help you?” I asked.
“Hi. My name is Logan Hayes. I’m the caretaker here. You must be Isabella?”
“Yes, I am Isabella.”
“Well, I don’t want to intrude, but I just wanted to check on you and see if there is anything I could help you with?” Logan asked.
“Uh, no, not that I can think of,” I responded.
“I hope the food I picked up was okay. I tried to stock the fridge full as your aunt requested,” he said.
“Oh, it was great! Thank you so much,” I replied.
“Are you sure there’s nothing I can do?” he asked.
“Thanks, but I think you’ve done enough already,” I said.
“I guess I’ll be on my way then. Oh, yes… I’ll be here tomorrow to do the pool about 10 a.m. if that’s okay?”
“Sure,” I said.
“One more thing; I promised your aunt to show you the town for however many days it takes, so tell me when you’re available for the grand tour.”
“Oh, really you have done enough. That isn’t necessary.”
“Your aunt paid me for it. You wouldn’t want me to have to give the money back, would you? After all, it will be the easiest money I’ve ever made just playing tour guide.”
“Okay, then. It would be nice to be shown around. I’m available anytime.”
“How about as soon as I finish the pool tomorrow? Logan asked. “It will only take about twenty minutes.”
“That would be great.”
“I guess I’ll see you in the morning then.”
“See you,” I replied and shut the door.
Wow, I couldn’t believe I had a pool guy that looked like that! I couldn’t believe he was showing me the town. Thank you, thank you, Aunt Carol.
I knew I’d better call my mom before she totally freaked out.
“Mom, I made it. Yes, I’m fine, everything could not be better. Yes, it’s very beautiful. Yes, I’ll keep the doors locked. I have an alarm system here. I feel real safe. Do not worry. I love you. Tell dad I love him, too. Bye,” I said.
I decided to take a dip in the pool and cool off.
I hurried up the stairs to the master bedroom and put my bathing suit on. I grabbed a towel, headed downstairs and out the sliding glass door to the pool.
I dove into the crystal clear waters and swam a few laps. The water temperature felt just right. I got out of the pool and plopped onto
After an hour had passed, I decided I’d better get in the house and unpack my things. I must admit, I am somewhat of a neat freak, something my friends had never understood. I can’t help it. I guess I was born that way.
All of the things I brought in the car were now properly in their place, so I felt better and I was starving again.
I headed for the fridge and got another of one of those glorious sandwiches, roast beef this time.
I grabbed a bottle of water and headed for the living room. I couldn’t resist turning on the fireplace to watch the fire even though it was the middle of June. One flip of the switch and it was ablaze. I adjusted the AC a little so I wouldn’t burn up.
I watched a couple of movies on TV, set the security system like the instructions said and then it was off to bed. I went up to the master bedroom and tucked myself in. I had never been afraid of staying by myself. I guess I had plenty of practice when my parents would travel and leave me home because I had school. I went right to sleep.
I was awakened by a very heavy breathing sound. I looked around and I didn’t see anything. It sounded like it was coming from the door to the outside veranda. I got up and looked out the window to the outside and whoa! There was a hot air balloon out there. I grabbed my robe and threw open the door. The balloon was about twenty-five feet away from my porch. The guy in the basket of the balloon waved and yelled, “Good morning.”
I waved back and said, “Good morning.”
I couldn’t believe it. It was like I could almost touch it. I had never seen a hot air balloon except on television. It was red, black, blue, yellow and orange; each color in teardrop, up and down the balloon. I stood at the porch rails and tried to take it all in and there came another.