This Time Forever

This Time Forever

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by Kathleen Eagle, Eve Gaddy
     
 

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RITA Award Winner for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel

She’d helped convict him of a crime he didn’t commit.

Now she wants his help adopting the son he never knew he had.

Seeking refuge in a world not her own, Susan Ellison follows her conscience to the reservation of the Lakota Sioux, hoping to heal the wounds of her

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Overview

RITA Award Winner for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel

She’d helped convict him of a crime he didn’t commit.

Now she wants his help adopting the son he never knew he had.

Seeking refuge in a world not her own, Susan Ellison follows her conscience to the reservation of the Lakota Sioux, hoping to heal the wounds of her ravaged heart.

Sentenced to life in prison, former rodeo champion Cleve Black Horse seeks freedom and justice.

Two lonely outcasts separated by culture, stubborn pride and prison bars, their destinies are joined by a shared duty to a helpless child — and by the blossoming of a bold and magnificent love that a cruel, intolerant society forbids.

Bestselling author Kathleen Eagle retired from a seventeen-year teaching career on a North Dakota Indian reservation to become a full-time novelist. The Lakota Sioux heritage of her husband and their three children has inspired many of her stories. Among her honors, she has received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times, the Midwest Fiction Writer of the Year Award, and Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award. Kathleen takes great pleasure in reading letters from readers who tell her that her books have tugged at their heartstrings, entertained, inspired, and even enlightened them. Visit her at www.KathleenEagle.com

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611942392
Publisher:
BelleBooks, Inc.
Publication date:
12/21/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
225,822
File size:
2 MB

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Chapter One

Susan Ellison had worked overtime the night before she was called for jury duty. It wasn't easy to switch gears from treating a child for smoke inhalation and third-degree burns to answering the prosecutor's questions about where she'd taken her nurse's training. The child's pain was still immediate. Susan could still see the little girl writhing against the stark white sheet and hear her screaming whenever anyone touched her. She heard the prosecutor's questions, too, but even as she answered them she had a sense that she wasn't really the character she was playing in this bare, yellow box of a courtroom. She was the nurse tending the child who persisted in her head.

Martin Ness was trying too hard to put Susan at ease. She wished he'd just make up his mind about her. She assumed his questions were designed to help him decide whether she was perceptive enough to see things the State's way in a murder case, but he propped himself against the jury box rail as though they were just two people visiting over the backyard fence, while he asked about her move from Minneapolis to Mandan, how she liked North Dakota, and what ties she had here. Under other circumstances, Susan might have found him pleasant. But she was tired, and not interested in chatting. If she had to serve, so be it, but she didn't see what her religious affiliations had to do with anything.

Ness was more skilled than defense attorney Carter Fetch. While Ness approached each juror with the easy smile of a good car salesman, Felch stood at attention and read from a legal pad in a grating tone of voice. He asked her whether she read thelocal newspapers. Sometimes, she said. She knew what he was looking for, and she was feeling perverse. She told him she preferred the Minneapolis Tribune for real news.

"Would you say that the murder of Arnold Bertram was real news, Ms. Ellison?"

Felch's lips twitched as he waited for her answer.

"I read about the murder," Susan informed him.

"Do you have an opinion as to who did it?"

"I hadn't given it much thought. The name of the man who was arrested didn't mean anything to me, and obviously he hasn't been tried yet."

Fetch made a note on his pad. "Has the media coverage led you to draw any conclusions about the murder?"

"Only that a man was killed at a rest stop." She hadn't thought about the possibility of ending up on the jury when she'd read about the crime a couple of months ago. She had been on the list for twenty-one months, long enough to forget to worry about being called. At the end of two years, she would have been off the hook with the selection of a new jury pool. Deep in the pit of her stomach, she had queasy feelings about taking part in a murder trial.

"Has anyone close to you ever been victimized by a homicide, Miss. . . Ms. Ellison? Do you prefer Ms?"

Susan stared at Fetch's stiff-lipped smile. He was about her age, and he was talking down to her. If she'd felt more energetic, she would have laughed.

"Ms. is fine, and no, I've never really known anyone who was murdered."

"As a nurse, you must have treated patients who were victims of violent crimes."

"Yes."

"And how did you feet about that?"

If she told him she was outraged, and she always felt like killing the bastard who'd caused the pain, she knew she could get out of this. But she didn't like the idea of being dismissed by Mr.Fetch.

Susan answered quietly. "The same way I feel about patients who are victims of illness. I want to help them if I can."

"Ms. Ellison is acceptable to the defense, Your Honor."

Court convened at 9:00, and at 8:50 the following morning Susan parked her gray Honda sedan beneath the yellowing leaves of a tall cottonwood which shaded the corner of the parking lot. Not too early -- she didn't want to sit around waiting for the proceedings to get started -- but never late. She worked at a hospital in Bismarck, but she lived just across the Missouri River in the smaller town of Mandan. Her apartment was only a few blocks away, but she'd brought her car so that she could run some errands at lunchtime. It was probably silly to lock it with the police station and the courthouse so close by, but she did. In the cities -- which to everyone in this part of the country meant Minneapolis and St. Paul -- Susan had learned to be cautious.

The sound of her high heels clicking against the pavement made Susan straighten her shoulders and lift her chin a little higher. She sounded official. She feltofficial. She'd had a good night's sleep after working out in her aerobics class. It had felt good to move around after sitting through the jury selection process, which had taken the better part of the day. Thirteen names had been chosen, because the judge wanted one alternate in this case. After her exercise class, she'd called her supervisor on the three-to-eleven shift to say that she had been selected for the jury, and the judge had said it would be hard to guess how long the trial would take. Susan's friend, Callie, had gotten the word and called her later.

"I'll bet it's going to be fascinating, listening to all the grisly details," Callie said. "What's the killer look like? I've heard he's supposed to be pretty good-looking."

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