Brenna Harris was a nurturer at heart. Having lost her sister at a young age, then having to watch her parents' marriage fall apart, she quickly learned that it was up to her to take on the responsibility to care for and protect the people around her.
Grant Warner preferred a solitary existence. As a police detective, he often found himself sitting in his car watching a suspect or going under cover with only himself as company. After the falling out he had with his family, the solitude suited him. He didn't need, nor did he want the responsibility of having to make anyone else happy.
Then one fateful day, while working undercover to solve a murder case, Grant watched helplessly as a beautiful stranger stepped forward to protect him, putting her own life at risk. From that moment on, their lives became inherently entwined.
As Grant works with his department to help solve a series of murders, he fights equally hard against his attraction to Brenna. When she comes under threat from some unknown assailant, he has no choice but to step in to protect her. As much as he wants her safe, being with her goes against the self-imposed, singular existence that he prefers.
Can Brenna show Grant that a life with her is worth the risk? Will Grant allow her in or will he walk away from her like he did his own family?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Reason to Dream
Sisters of My Heart Trilogy: Book One
By P. L. Byers
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 P. L. Byers
All rights reserved.
Grant Warner huddled down on the dirty, scarred bench, trying to get comfortable. The dirt he'd smeared on his face was starting to itch and the bench he'd been sitting on for over an hour was getting harder on his backside. He swore that the clothes his captain had handed him to put on earlier this morning were infested with tiny, living creatures, because he was sure he felt things crawling underneath.
Shifting once again, he looked around the subway station for possible suspects. In the past two weeks, three homeless people had been murdered, so it only made sense to send in a decoy to see if the person responsible could be caught. Grant had volunteered to disguise himself as a homeless person. Now here he was, sitting in the cold underground MBTA Station at Park Street in Boston on a cold, dreary day in May.
In an effort to minimize any danger to innocent passengers, the station was filled with other undercover Boston police detectives, wandering around, attempting to blend in with the crowd. It had already been three hours since they started, and Grant was getting impatient. He loved his job, but at times the waiting around got on his nerves.
Glancing to his left, Grant saw one of the other agents make a motion, indicating that someone suspicious was approaching him from behind. He turned slightly, hoping to see if the man approaching had any type of visible weapon.
* * *
Brenna Harris entered Park Street Station at a fast pace, trying to get to her train on time. She'd had a long day dealing with a recently assigned case. As a licensed social worker, she was used to long, crazy hours, but it was the sadness of her most recent case that was weighing heavily on her.
Boston University had prepared her for the job, but not the emotional toll of her cases. She had more clients than she had time for, but she still went above and beyond to make sure the children she was responsible for, knew that she cared deeply.
Coming to a stop on the platform, she looked down the track and breathed a sigh of relief. She had made it in plenty of time. Stepping back, she checked her watch and then looked around at the other passengers. Sometimes, if she was lucky, Brenna would see her friend Madison, who worked downtown several days a week and often took this same train.
Not seeing her friend anywhere, she looked around for a bench and noticed a homeless man huddled under a lot of clothing, trying to keep warm. She started to walk toward him to see if she could help him find a shelter to stay in. Suddenly, she noticed a man approaching him with what appeared to be a knife in his right hand. Brenna ran toward the homeless man, yelling for him to watch out.
Her screams alerted the thief. Just as she reached the homeless man, the attacker turned toward her and violently shoved her away, knocking her to the ground. Brenna didn't have time to register what was happening, and was unable to protect herself as she went down hard on to the cement, her head hitting with a thump.
Grant turned and saw the woman coming but couldn't react quick enough to stop her. He couldn't stop the man from shoving her to the ground either. He winced as he heard her head hit the pavement. As Grant jumped forward, the thief grabbed Brenna's purse and ran for the closest exit. He was quicker than any of the undercover police officers. He dashed between the other passengers and escaped out onto the street.
Grant, knowing that his fellow detectives were following the thief, kneeled down to the woman who had tried to come to his rescue. He touched her shoulder gently, trying to rouse her back to consciousness. When there was no response, he spoke into the mini-microphone in his right hand and requested an ambulance.
Within ten minutes, Grant heard the ambulance pull up outside on Park Street. It wasn't long before the EMTs made their way down to the platform where he waited with the injured woman. Grant showed the paramedics his badge. They quickly examined the woman, started an IV, and checked her vital signs. Finally, when she was still nonresponsive, they looked to Grant for information.
"I have no idea who she is," he said. "I was working undercover; she came and intervened when she thought I was a defenseless, homeless man. The perp knocked her down, grabbed her purse, and ran off. I don't know yet if he's been caught or if he dumped the purse somewhere. I looked in a few of her pockets, and her ID isn't on her, so I assume it's in her purse."
"We're going to transport her to Brigham and Women's Hospital," the paramedic said. "There's a pretty serious bump on her head. If you want to follow, maybe she'll regain consciousness once we're there."
"I'm riding with you," Grant said as he shrugged out of his disguise. Seeing the skeptical expressions, he said more sternly, "This is not up for a discussion."
Rather than wasting their time discussing it, the EMTs quickly loaded Brenna onto the gurney, adjusted the IV's, and started for the exit. Once they had her in the ambulance, Grant jumped in the back, staying close but making sure not to interfere with the paramedic doing his job.
When they arrived at the hospital, Grant stayed in the Emergency Room as the medical staff worked on the woman. Grant stood off to the side, out of the way of the doctors and nurses rushing back and forth, observing the scene playing out before him. It just didn't feel right to leave the woman alone. While her intervention at the MBTA station hadn't been necessary, she hadn't known that. Most people would have walked away from a situation like that; but this courageous woman stepped in, without regard for her own safety, to help him. At the very least, he thought, she deserved not to be left alone in a strange place.
Grant knew what it was like being alone. Most of the time, his self-imposed isolation didn't bother him. His job often required him to work alone, infiltrating some group known to deal drugs or sitting in his car following a suspect that needed to be brought to justice. Those times he preferred the solitude. It was when he was home, off duty, rambling around his condo that his thoughts drifted to how nice it might be to have someone to come home to after a grueling day like this one.
When Grant had first started his job, he had just had a falling out with his family, and being alone appealed to him. Going under-cover and being unreachable for weeks at a time suited his purpose. Invariably, when he would return to his place after being away, there would be a dozen tearful messages from his mother, begging him to call. After months of unreturned calls, his mom had finally gotten the hint and stopped leaving messages.
Not being one to give up easily, she eventually sent his brother Dan to Grant's house to check on him. Grant loved his younger brother; but after several attempts, even Dan got the hint that Grant wanted distance from their parents. Dan would still come by, but it was usually to watch the Celtics or to mooch dinner from his big brother. Grant loved that they were close; but after two years, he still refused to discuss their parents. Some things, he felt, were just unforgivable.CHAPTER 2
Later that evening, Grant was sitting in a chair next to the woman who had tried to save him. The tests the emergency room physician had done showed that she had a severe concussion but no other injuries. They admitted her to a room and not wanting to leave her alone; Grant followed the gurney up and watched as the nursing staff got her settled. When the nurses left the room, he pulled a chair closer to the bed and sat down, waiting for her to awaken.
Unfortunately, the man who had knocked her down kept her purse, which carried her ID. The other detectives had searched the surrounding streets and dumpsters but had had no luck in finding the stolen item. For now, the poor woman would remain nameless.
Grant watched the heart monitor for a few minutes. According to the physician on call, her vital signs were good, but with the severity of the hit to her head, it could take days for her to wake up. Glancing back to the woman lying in the bed, he thought she looked too pale. Her brunette hair looked to be about shoulder length and curled gently around her face. She was such a petite woman that the bed appeared to swallow her up.
Sighing, he switched positions and thought briefly that he would give anything to see the color of her eyes right about now. Then he would feel free to head home for a much-needed shower and a long nap. It wasn't his job to sit here, but with no one else around to be with her, he didn't feel comfortable leaving.
Just as he was pulling out his cell phone to check to see if anyone had any luck finding her purse, a shadow appeared near the door. Looking up, he watched as Bob Sanchez, the captain of his department, and his boss, walked in. Seeing Grant sitting in the chair next to the woman's bed, he shook his head.
"Seriously, Warner, this penchant you have for damsels in distress is getting exhausting. What are you still doing here?"
It was a joke around the station that Grant had a particular soft spot for women. Behind his back, his fellow officers called him the woman whisperer. It seemed like every time a call came in that involved a woman with an issue, he was on duty. Invariably Grant would end up with a weeping woman clinging to him, begging for comfort. Even when he was only there for back up, he became the one assigned to handle any females on scene. The first sign of tears or hysteria, he was tasked to deal with it.
"Just hoping she'll open her eyes and tell us who she is," Grant said, answering his captain's question.
"No luck with finding any ID?"
"None. I took her fingerprints and sent them off , hoping to get a hit to tell us who she is. I'm waiting to hear back from them now."
"Did you get a look at the man who did this?"
"No, I didn't and honestly, I don't think that was our guy. He seemed more interested in mugging me until this lady stepped in, then the perp's interest was in grabbing the purse. I don't think he had plans to murder anybody."
"Then why approach what he thought to be a bum? You wouldn't have had anything on you if you were a real homeless person."
"True, maybe he thought I was panhandling and had cash on me. Who knows?"
Just then his cell phone rang. Snatching it up quickly, Grant answered the call, listening intently to the other person on the line. After a few brief minutes, he hung up and looked at his captain. "That was the station. Her prints came back with no hits. We still have no idea who she is."
"Well, I guess I'll head out then. I was hoping she was awake to answer a few questions." As the captain reached the door, he turned back and looked at Grant. "You're not responsible for what happened to her Warner.
You don't have to sit with her."
"I know, Captain. I'll head out shortly." Nodding, his boss turned and left the room.
* * *
For the next two days, when Grant wasn't on duty, he sat by the stranger's bed, watching over her as she slept. He wasn't a religious man, but even he spent some time in the chapel, praying she would wake up.
When he wasn't working the case, he was sitting by her bed. At first, he was mostly silent but as time crept by, he started reading to her. In the beginning it was just an article from the newspaper he brought in with him. When that didn't seem to rouse her, he brought in a book he thought she might like to hear. After all, reading bad news from a newspaper didn't really seem like something a person would want to wake up to.
Grant knew he wasn't obligated to stay with the woman, but it didn't seem right to leave her there alone. The more time that went by, the more concerned he became that she might not wake up. When he spoke to the medical professionals, they would just say they were doing all they could, and time would tell. Not very helpful in his opinion, but that was about all they would say to him.
Late into the third day of his vigil, he contacted his captain to get his thoughts on taking a picture of the unknown woman and showing it on the news that evening in the hope that someone who knew her might speak up. So far, there weren't any reports of a missing person so either the woman was new to the area or she had no friends or family to speak of.
Getting the go ahead, he took out his cell phone and took a picture. After snapping one, he looked at it and decided if she were awake, she would probably object to a picture of her hair sticking up being shown on national television. Feeling ridiculous, he asked one of the nurses for a comb and did the best he could to put her hair in some semblance of order. Satisfied that he had done what he could, Grant put the comb down and took another picture.
Grant had several contacts with the local media, so he called them and explained what he needed them to do. Without hesitation, the various media organizations agreed to help, and within ten minutes, Grant sent the picture over.
Sitting back in the chair next to her bed, he turned the television on in her room and waited for the six o'clock news. True to their word, the injured woman was the lead story on all the local stations. After explaining that there was a woman in the hospital that was unconscious with no ID, they asked if anybody recognized her, to please contact the Boston police department immediately. When the story was finished and the local channel switched to another news update, Grant looked over to the woman and leaned closer to her.
"Well lady, I've done what I could for you. I hope someone comes forward to claim you."
Still watching her face, Grant was surprised when her eyelids opened and a set of beautiful green eyes looked back at him. She hesitated briefly, smiled a breathtaking smile, revealing perfectly straight white teeth, and then quickly shut them again.
Grant stood up and started gently shaking her arm, trying to get her to look at him again. When he received no response, he ran out to the nurse's station to get someone to check on her. When the doctor completed his brief exam, he explained to Grant that sometimes that happens and not to worry. Hopefully, she would soon wake again and stay conscious long enough to tell them who she was.
Unfortunately, the next day still found Grant sitting next to the woman as she lay unconscious. Feeling frustrated, Grant remained by her bedside, reading from a book, having no idea if the poor woman could even hear him.CHAPTER 3
Grant took a sip of the coffee he had purchased from the cafeteria, and scrunched his face at the bitter taste. Hospital coffee was even worse than the putrid, colored water he got at the police station. He'd just finished a long shift at work though, and was desperate for the caffeine boost, no matter how awful it tasted.
Sitting back down, Grant picked up the book he'd left on the floor beside his chair. He glanced to the lady lying in the bed and nudged her shoulder, hoping to get her to open her eyes again. Not getting a response, he opened the book and began reading from where he left off the previous night.
About half way through the next chapter, he heard loud voices in the hallway, then two women rushed through the door, stopping short as they noticed Grant sitting in the chair. A nurse rushed in right behind them, exasperated that the women flew by her, not stopping to answer her questions. "Ladies, I have to ask you to leave. This patient isn't taking visitors."
The auburn haired woman jerked her thumb in Grant's direction and grunted. "Then what's he doing here?"
"Ladies," the nurse began. "This young woman is not receiving visitors. We have strict orders....."
"She's our friend," the woman answered quietly.
Grant got up from his chair, dropping the book on the floor. He approached the two women who had entered, looking them over as he approached. "You know who this woman is?" he asked.
"Of course we do," the red head said. "We've been best friends since middle school. Who the hell are you?"
Smiling, Grant held his hands up and shrugged. It appeared that the injured woman in the bed had two ferocious friends, ready to do battle to protect her. "I'm a police officer. And you are?" he asked, moving his jacket aside so they could see his badge.
"Sorry. My name is Madison Bowman," the redhead said. Pointing to her blond counterpart she said, "And this is Christine Marshall. We've been friends with Brenna since middle school and have been trying to get a hold of her for days now. We were really starting to get worried."
"So that's her name, Brenna. It'll be nice to call her by name instead of just lady. What's her last name?"
"Harris. Brenna Harris."
Excerpted from A Reason to Dream by P. L. Byers. Copyright © 2015 P. L. Byers. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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