Suzanne McDermott is a strong, modern woman. She’s fully prepared to face the world after her spoiled, philandering husband leaves her. But, as she awaits the arrival of her new baby, Fate brings her another unexpected guest…a guest from the past.
The last thing Charles Garrity remembers was being shot and falling into the ocean off the New Jersey shore. That was in 1926. Now, he’s being dragged into the present day—literally dragged out of the water by Suzanne. How he got here is a mystery. It’s a mystery Charles doesn’t have time for, because right now the beautiful, pregnant woman in front of him is starting labor.
Can Charles overcome the differences between the past he knew and the wonders of the present? Can Suzanne put her life and finances in order in the face of a petty, trust fund husband? And, most importantly, can Charles move past his old-fashioned pride before it gets in the way of the love growing between them?
In HERE AND NOW, Constance O’Day-Flannery, the original “Queen of Time Travel Romance,” crafts a beautiful story of souls reaching across time to find a love everlasting.
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Here and Now
By Constance O'Day-Flannery
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2001 Constance O'Day-Flannery
All rights reserved.
"This can't be happening," she whispered in numbed shock. Stuff like this just didn't happen in her life. This was like the craziness of tabloid television!
Breathing deeply of the late spring air, Suzanne McDermott looked out to the Rancocas Creek and then stared at the diamond-studded wedding band in the palm of her hand. Secretly, she'd always thought it was too heavy and gaudy for her taste. The sunlight glinted off the raised gold setting and she registered a moment of surprise that after six years of constant wear the ring still shined brightly—unlike the marriage.
A thick lump formed in her throat and her chest ached with an unbearable heaviness. She had stuck by the rules. She'd played fair her whole life, but she didn't get to live happily ever after.
An image of her husband and her dearest friend assaulted her mind, and she groaned with a bitter, heart-rending pain. Betrayal. She honestly didn't know which tore at her the deepest—the man with whom she had shared her life and planned for a future and a family, or the woman who had shared her intimate thoughts since she was a child in seventh grade. She had honestly thought they were each other's best cheerleaders in life. The two people in the world that she'd trusted most had just ripped apart the foundation of her belief system, and she had nothing to hold on to any longer. She felt as though everything was falling away and she was sinking. No matter how she tried, she couldn't seem to wipe away a mental picture of Ingrid and Kevin together. How could her brain make sense of it when her mind continued to haunt her with fantastic scenarios of them making love, while she ... she ...
Looking down at her extended stomach, she felt fresh tears begin to surge up within her. Eight and half months into a pregnancy was one hell of a time to have a husband walk out on her for her best friend.
Rules? There are no damn rules now!
She wanted to scream, pull her hair out, and pull out Kevin's hair and Ingrid's too! She wanted to fight, to make them hurt the way she was hurting. She wanted to shriek her denial that everything she had dreamed about was never going to happen—for in that one horrid conversation her world had tilted crazily and she couldn't seem to find her equilibrium. But she couldn't, wouldn't harm the baby. Somehow, by some miracle in the universe, she had to keep it together. She could not afford a nervous breakdown. Not with a baby soon to be born.
Taking a deep breath in a feeble attempt to calm down, she tenderly ran her fingers over her belly and mentally whispered, We're going to be all right, you and I. I don't know how, but we'll get through this madness.
Immediately her mind snuck past her best intentions and once more began to torture her with outrage. How could they go behind her back and betray her at a time like this? Sniffing through more tears, she looked out to the river and heard Kevin's voice in her head. He was sorry, and the timing couldn't be worse, but he and Ingrid had been having an affair for over a year. He had to be honest and confess they were in love and now they wanted to be together. She'd listened carefully, yet at the time thought she was having an out-of-body experience as he went on and on about how sorry they both were. None of it felt real. It actually was like one of those tabloid shows! Her life had been so sane, so perfect ... or so she'd thought. A great husband, a beautiful home, financial security, a baby on the way. What more could a woman want?
The truth, maybe?
She'd told him to get out, to leave the farmhouse, the only piece of land left after he'd sold over 150 acres to a land developer. And the kicker was that she'd been so damn liberated and so sure the marriage would last forever that she'd signed a prenup six years ago. What a fool she'd been. Why hadn't she seen even a hint of this coming? Had she been too self-absorbed with the pregnancy? What was wrong with her?
"Arrrgh!" The yell escaped her lips and she felt better for it. Why was she making excuses? Why was she blaming herself? Kevin was the one who was self-absorbed. He was the one who had broken the marriage vows, though he still claimed to care about their unborn child. And now here she was, standing at the edge of the Rancocas Creek, her favorite place since childhood, a place where she always came for peace of mind.
It wasn't working. Not this time.
This time there was no easy fix. Her brain spat out the facts: Her husband had made it clear he wanted out of the marriage. She was pregnant. He wanted to marry Ingrid. She had signed away her security. She was alone in the world.
As if in protest, she felt the baby move.
Okay, she wasn't alone.
Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared at her swelled body, encased in a blue knit maternity dress that looked like a gigantic sweatshirt. She felt so ugly, so unwanted, so pathetic. "I'm so sorry," she sniffled, wishing with all her heart that she could provide this child with a stable environment. At thirty-four, she was without extended family now. Her parents had died within a year of each other. First her father was killed in a car accident almost five years ago and her grief-stricken mother just didn't wake up one morning. There was nowhere to turn.
Kevin's parents were retired in Florida and even though they would be shocked, they would support their precious, spoiled son, just as they always had—even when he'd sold the family's land two years ago. His grandfather was kept alive by machines in a nursing home and didn't even know of the sale. The old man still thought the family farm was intact. There was no one to help her now. Maybe the worst part was she couldn't even turn to her best friend for support. Somehow, she had to handle this hideously nauseating drama herself.
Everything was heavy upon her, as if she were carrying the weight of the world, and she felt the muscles in her abdomen tense with resistence. Unconsciously, her hand caressed the side of her belly in response.
What was she going to do?
She wanted to go entirely numb. And why not? She felt abandoned by everything. She didn't believe in marriage anymore. She didn't believe in God anymore. She didn't believe in friendship. All of it, everything she had been taught, had backfired on her and she was left with the ugly lies.
Rubbing the moisture away from her eyes, she stared at the water, watching as the sun reflected off it and felt suddenly mesmerized by the bright dancing lights that seemed to move closer to her with the ebb of the tide. For a moment, Suzanne was almost blinded by the phenomenon and blinked several times to clear her vision. She glanced down to her palm and picked up the wedding ring.
Clutching the heavy band between her fingers, she looked back out to the wide body of water where she'd made every major decision in her life. It was here that she had decided to marry Kevin, and now it was here she knew it had all ended.
When you've lost everything, what are you?
A tiny thought flickered across her brain, as though struggling to pierce through her sorrow.
Maybe you're free.
Freedom didn't feel so good. She still had too much hurt inside of her that was begging for release. It felt like a volcano of agony bubbling right below the surface, white, hot, and unbearably powerful. Somehow, she knew if she didn't find a way to get it out she would explode, have a stroke or something. What she needed was some help—from anywhere!
Gathering all her sorrow, she felt she had to do something, even if it were merely symbolic. With every ounce of strength and willpower she possessed, Suzanne McDermott threw that wedding band, that symbol of a lie, as far over the sparkling water as she could. Screw love. The only love she knew to be true was what she felt for the child she carried beneath her heart. As she tried to follow the path of the ring, again the sun almost blinded her as it reflected off the surface of the water and for just a moment she thought she saw something, a large fish or—
"What the hell is that?" she whispered in disbelief.
With no more time to wonder, she jumped with fright. Only a few yards from her, a creature suddenly lunged out of the water, gasped for breath and splashed back down. Instinctively, she retreated and almost tripped on an exposed root on the embankment. Regaining her balance, Suzanne caught her breath and squinted back out at the water. Shielding her eyes from the bright sun, she tried to find the place where she had just seen ... whatever it was.
There! A dark lump was floating on the water and she craned her neck to see better. All thoughts of her own miserable situation fled as she began to make out the form.
It was a body!
"Hey," she yelled, trying to quell the panic escalating inside her. "Hey! Are you okay?"
Immediately she realized what a ridiculous question that was and slowly stepped to the water's edge. She could now see it was a man. He was floating closer to her with the tide and her heart started thudding harder against her rib cage. He was alive. She'd seen him gasp for breath. He'd probably been swimming by and her ring had struck him and—
Wait a minute. People don't go swimming fully clothed ... Stop wondering and react! If she didn't pull him out of there, he might drown, and with the way her luck was running, the last thing she needed was a dead man! With no thought for herself, Suzanne clumsily waded into the cool, shallow water until she could grab his boot.
She felt her sandals sink into the silty bottom and coldwater lap around her exposed legs. Ignoring the sensations, she pulled with all her might on his pant leg and, as his body turned over, he choked for more breath. It was evident to her now that his time was running out, so she did the only thing she could and grabbed the front of his white shirt. Her brain barely registered that the man's complexion was pale gray and as soon as the water cleared from his face, a wound at his temple began to bleed.
"Shit!" She didn't mean to hit him with her ring! She hadn't seen him in the water; the sun had blinded her for a split second just as she threw the damn thing!
Grasping his collar, she dragged him toward the shore. She felt every muscle in her body straining with herculean effort. She barely noticed one of her sandals being suctioned off her foot in the muck as she struggled.
When she finally had his torso out of the water, she let him go and knelt next to him. Panting, Suzanne turned her head and tried to see if he was breathing. She couldn't tell. Immediately, she crawled closer to him and went into action as every TV emergency show she'd seen flashed through her brain. After wiping her mouth on her sleeve, she slid her hand behind his neck and tilted his head back. Pinching his nose with her other hand, she gasped in a deep breath and then blew into his mouth. Over and over she gulped air and blew into his passageway, watching his chest rise with each exchange. Okay, his airway was obviously clear. She didn't need to do CPR ... or did she? Damn, she always meant to get it straight in her head.
With one more breath into his mouth, Suzanne felt his body spasm and she lifted her face just as the man gurgled water and started coughing. She pulled back and turned his face away to let him spit out the river water. Relief spread over her entire body and she gasped for air along with him.
"Thank goodness," she breathed. "You'll be all right now."
He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at her, before turning on his shoulder and coughing some more.
"What happened? What the hell happened?" he rasped out after several moments. "I'm alive?"
"Yes, very much alive."
"What were you doing?" He hung his head as he coughed more water onto the ground.
"Doing? You mean CPR?"
He gasped for breath to fill his lungs. "Kissing me."
Feeling a bit shocked, she sputtered, "I wasn't kissing you! I was saving your life."
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, as he again glanced up at her and after several moments added, "Thank you."
He coughed a few more times and she could see the color returning to his cheeks. In seconds her mind registered that he appeared to be in his mid-thirties, had a long, lean build, an attractive face, and the most startling green eyes she had ever seen. His wet hair had glints of auburn that were highlighted by the afternoon sun. His expression appeared sincere, even though blood was trickling down the side of his face. And if she wasn't mistaken, he also had a slight Irish accent.
"You're welcome," she answered, then added, "though maybe I should be apologizing to you." Suddenly, she was distracted by the sensation of something warm seeping down between her legs.
"Why would you need to—" He coughed.
Before he could finish, she interrupted, "I think I may have hit you with my ring."
"Your ring?" he gasped, still catching his breath.
She nodded, trying to ignore the tensing of her abdominal muscles. "My wedding ring. I ... I threw it into the water when you were swimming. Listen, I've got to get out of this mud." Focusing on getting to drier land, she was vaguely aware of the man staring at her.
"Are you all right, ma'am?" He turned on his side and wiped his bloody temple on his shirtsleeve.
"I don't know," Suzanne sputtered, as she shuffled on all fours to the grass. A strange cramping began at the small of her back and was wrapping around her hanging belly. Turning her head to the man who was now crawling toward her, she muttered, "But you need to see a doctor."
"I think you may need one more than I do," he breathed back, collapsing on the lush green knoll. "You're bleeding too."
"I'm what?" Startled, Suzanne grabbed up the front of her dress and was shocked to see bloody water trickling down her legs. "Oh my God, this can't be happening now! It's ... it's too early!"
She looked at him as though he were either blind or just stupid. "I'm pregnant! But my due date isn't until the twenty-ninth!"
Charles Garrity stared at the strange woman next to him who was kneeling on all fours, gasping for breath, and appearing as though she was about to become hysterical at any moment. He looked back out to the river and couldn't see the railroad bridge. Wondering how far he had floated before she'd found him, he glanced around at his surroundings and, as his gaze fell upon a piece of red machinery, he felt his jaw dropping in awe.
"What is that?" he whispered, lifting his hand and pointing to it.
The woman raised her head and looked in the direction of his hand. "It's my car, what do you think it is?" she demanded impatiently while glaring at him. "Look, I need some help here. You think you can make it to the car and get my purse? I have a cell phone. I need to call nine-one-one and get an ambulance here right away. I am not going to have my baby in the mud!"
He glanced back into her frightened blue eyes. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about getting help! I'm in labor here!" She again pointed to the large red metal piece of machinery. "Get my purse!"
"In the car."
"The car? That's an automobile?"
Still kneeling on all fours, she appeared exasperated as she lifted one hand and pushed the short curly blond hair back from her face. She then spoke to him slowly and deliberately. "Just ... go ... in ... the car ... and get ... my ... purse." She took a deep breath before adding quickly, "or help me to stand and I'll damn well do it myself!"
"All right. I get it. I'm not lame," he muttered, pushing himself upright.
Once on his feet, he couldn't seem to find his balance and nearly fell back down.
"Oh, geez ... what a pair we are. You're worse off than I am!" the woman exclaimed. "Here, help me up."
"Oh, geez ... what a pair we are. You're worse off than I am!" the woman exclaimed. "Here, help me up."
He turned to her and grabbed her outstretched hand. Using all his strength, Charles managed to get her upright as they awkwardly balanced each other.
Grasping the front of his shirt, she looked into his eyes and whispered, "Who are you, anyway?"
"Charles Garrity, ma'am. And thank you again ... for pulling me out of the river." He didn't know what else to say to this confusing female and he certainly had no idea what to do with a woman about to give birth.
Excerpted from Here and Now by Constance O'Day-Flannery. Copyright © 2001 Constance O'Day-Flannery. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
At first, I thought that this book would be terrible. I'm not fasinated with books that aren't realistic. Boy, was I wrong! This book was a great read.
In 1926 at a New Jersey bridge, Mitch Davies points a gun at his partner Charles Garrity demanding he hand over the deed. Instead Charles jumps off the bridge taking his chances with the river. In 2001 pregnant Suzanne McDermott sits near the same river pondering her future since her spouse left her to marry her best friend. Her musings end when Suzanne rescues a drowning person, but she begins bleeding as the baby is coming two weeks early. A confused Charles does not recognize a car¿s ignition, a clutch or her cell phone but drive her to the hospital in her vehicle. Matthew Charles is born and Charles becomes Suzanne¿s hero. Charles explains to Suzanne that he leaped off a bridge in 1926. Though she doubts his story, she invites him to stay at her house, which he does. The next day he picks up Suzanne and the newborn and takes them to her home. Over the next few weeks, Charles realizes that he loves Suzanne, but will leave her because he has nothing to offer her. She pleads with him to stay because she loves him too, but his ego propels him to leave. Award winning Constance O¿Day-Flannery has written what may be the best time travel romance of the year in HERE AND NOW. The key is the reaction to the time differential by Charles with little things taken for granted by Suzanne seeming strange and almost magical to him. Augmented by a Twilight Zone twist on top of an exciting romance that leads readers to a fabulous one sitting plot. Harriet Klausner
Years back I read several of her books and enjoyed them. I ended up skipping through a lot on this one. Wasn't as good as her other work.