Racecar Driver Graham Decker refuses to be wrangled into a relationship by another money-hungry female. On a philanthropy mission, he arrives just in time to assist Rori with a llama birthing, but his appearance thrusts her into the media spotlight again.
Has Graham found a woman who doesn't care how deep his wallet extends? Has Rori finally met a man who will stick around when times get tough? Is healing for a hurting heart finally within Rori's reach?
|Publisher:||Pelican Book Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
After a successful auditing career, Dora Hiers left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son no longer wanted her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and her local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers (CRW). Dora and her real life hero make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. When she takes a break from cranking out stories, she enjoys reading, family gatherings, and mountain cabin getaways. She despises traffic, bad coffee, technological meltdowns, and a sad ending to a book. Her books always end with a happily-ever-after! Readers can connect with Dora: Website: www.dorahiers.com Email: Dora@DoraHiers.com Blog: http://dorahiers.blogspot.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorahiers Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoraHiers Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dorahiers/
Read an Excerpt
By Dora Hiers
Pelican Ventures, LLCCopyright © 2014 Dora Hiers
All rights reserved.
"You gotta move if you want to eat, Jumbo."
Rori Harmon nudged the curious four-hundred-pound llama out of the way with her shoulder and tossed the bale of hay into the pasture at Forever Family Animal Sanctuary.
Jumbo munched on the hay, staring at her with huge, chestnut colored eyes and lashes that most females would envy. At least his long ears pointed up, and he wasn't sounding his shrill alarm. Always a good sign with this cantankerous male.
"Sorry. That's it for chow, big guy." She patted his rump and then made her way to the water bucket, sliding her gloves off and tucking them into the back pocket of her jeans. She lifted the hose and turned the spigot, waiting until fresh, cold water flowed over her hand before directing it into the trough. She twisted it off and straightened.
Five male llamas huddled together, their satisfied chomping noises breaking the early morning stillness, a cool breeze ruffling their fiber.
"Time to visit the little ladies. See you later, guys." She cranked the four-wheeler, drove into the female territory, and unloaded another bale.
As fifteen creatures lumbered her way, she scanned the crowd, searching for one particular animal. Where was Snickers?
A groan sounded from near the fence line. Ah, there she was, the shyest of her herd and the sanctuary's newest ward.
Snickers sniffed the ground, paced a few yards, dipped her long neck in a jerky motion, and moaned again. She plunked on the grass and rolled, but that didn't last long. With awkward movements, she got back on her feet and rubbed her head against the combination wood and wire fence.
Poor thing. The expectant mama couldn't get comfortable.
A bud of anticipation bloomed in Rori's tummy. This delivery would be her first experience with a cria birth. "What's the matter, girl?" Rori spoke softly as she stepped closer to the beautiful silky animal.
Since Snickers had arrived just a few days ago, already several months pregnant, Rori had scoured the Internet for articles on llama births. With her degree in veterinary technology, she could probably handle a normal delivery on her own, but what if Snickers experienced complications?
A chilly North Carolina breeze picked up, swirling dust and bits of straw through the air. Branches of the majestic maple trees bordering the property and haphazardly dotted throughout the lawn swayed in tune with the gentle wind, autumn's multi-colored leaves drifting to join the dance.
Rori tugged her sweater tight, humming quietly as she inched closer. Should she try to entice Snickers to the shelter, out of the wind?
"Come on, sweet mama, you can do this."
The six-foot-tall animal lumbered back and forth, cutting the same path across the pasture. A couple minutes passed with more moans from Snickers, growing louder and more urgent, but no sign of the baby.
If Rori were suffering labor pains, she would want a qualified professional on hand to deliver the baby. Well, that wasn't happening anytime in the near future, so why would she allow her brain to wander down that lonely road?
She wouldn't put Snickers and the cria at risk by not having a veterinarian around for the delivery. Rori slid her cellphone out of her pocket and connected with the vet's office.
"Dr. Randolph's office."
"Hi, Judy. It's Rori Harmon. Is Corbin in this morning?" Please say yes.
"Hey, Rori. Nah, Corbin hasn't been in yet this morning. He left word that he had an emergency over at the Whitman farm. I'm not sure when to expect him. Do you need him at your place?"
Rori grimaced. She didn't need him. She needed a vet.
She'd learned at the delicate age of ten not to depend on a man. When her father — A heavy sigh erupted from her chest. She couldn't blame Judy for her poor choice of words.
Jumbo lumbered over to the fence and rubbed his nose against Rori's shoulder, almost knocking the phone out of her hand. She fumbled to keep her grip while he raised his neck and bared his bottom teeth, flashing a giant llama grin. Aww. He was trying to cheer her up, the big lug.
She smiled, grateful for the sweetie, even if he was a bit of a troublemaker.
But he needed a home, a family, and that's why he was here. So he wouldn't be destroyed.
She was tucked way out in the country, far enough away from the big city of Charlotte and secluded from the public's prying eyes and insatiable appetites for gossip, for the same reason. So she wouldn't be destroyed.
Animals didn't let one down like people did. But it sure would be nice if a man, besides her brother or stepfather, would show up when she needed him. Didn't look like that would happen today.
Snickers moaned again.
Rori glanced at the back end of the pregnant female.
Still no sign of the baby yet.
"It looks like Snickers plans to have her cria today, but the little one's not cooperating. I could use a vet, Judy. Whether that's Corbin or his on-call doc, I don't care. Please, just get somebody out here to the sanctuary."
Rori disconnected and headed into the barn. It wouldn't hurt to gather some supplies, just in case.
* * *
"Tell me again why I drove thirty minutes to the middle of nowhere on my first day off in months?" Gravel crunched under Graham Decker's athletic shoes as he tossed his sunglasses on the dash and unfolded himself from the tiny sports car, a cellphone cradled against his ear.
He slid the seat forward and Goliath, his Golden Retriever, hopped from the back seat and scampered off to sniff the grassy yard.
"Because you're my brother and I asked you to." Exhaustion laced his sister's voice, and he almost regretted teasing her. Almost, but he knew she wouldn't be easy to live with for the next three months. Six months pregnant and already experiencing early labor signs, Angela's doctor had just ordered extended bed rest. She didn't enjoy sitting still, so how would she handle bed rest for that long?
Graham gave his head a little wag, feeling a twinge of sympathy for his brother-in-law, but easygoing Mike would take Angela's hormonal mood swings in stride. He couldn't have handpicked a better husband for his sister. She'd done well.
Much better than he had with his choice for a lifelong partner. Look how that had turned out. He blew out a heavy sigh before responding. "Well, there is that —" He glanced around for some indication to make sure he was on the right farm. A faded sign — Forever Family Animal Sanctuary — hung on the front of a huge red barn.
"What's the name of the place again?"
Computer keys clacked in the background. "Forever Family Animal Sanctuary."
"OK. Just checking. This is it."
His gaze lingered on the ancient dwelling next to the barn. An appealing name for the sanctuary, maybe, but the rough abode needed a lot of work on the outside to call it a home. Did the owner really live in a converted stable?
With arms crossed, he shook his head and rested his rump against the car, cradling the phone against a shoulder, keeping an eye on the wandering dog. Goliath sniffed along a fence line on the far side of the barn.
The animal sanctuary might be located in the middle of nowhere, but at least the place had a decent-sized barn and acres of lush green pasture. What were those funny looking animals in the enclosure? Graham leaned away from the car, angling his head, squinting against the glare of the bright sunlight. Were those llamas? Cool! In all his travels, he'd never seen a llama up close. He'd make sure to snap a picture of them before he left.
"And this is your baby." His sister's voice snagged his attention again.
"Not quite, Angela," he sputtered. He knew what she meant, though. Angela handled the day-to-day operations of the Graham Decker Foundation, a charitable organization he founded to raise funds dedicated to the protection of animals.
"You know I didn't mean that literally, Graham." Amusement laced her North Carolina drawl. "But I warned you when I first found out I was pregnant that you might have to handle the foundation's urgent needs for a time."
"Yes, you did, but —"
"Of course, when I said that I was thinking about after the baby was born. Neither one of us could have anticipated my time off to stretch over three months before delivery, but you know I'll do what I can from home." Her voice quivered.
"It's OK, Angela. We'll make this work. You don't need to worry about a thing right now. You concentrate on staying healthy for the baby's sake. Let me take care of this," he soothed.
She did such a great job with the organization, and most of the time, he left things up to her. While she always consulted him about the bigger issues, he completely trusted her decisions.
It was past time he showed her how much he appreciated her. That would start today, with taking care of this visit so she could cross this last item off her list.
"Thanks, Graham." She sniffled. There was a slight pause, and then she continued, her voice growing stronger. "I emailed all the grant applicants to let them know about the delay, but from the sounds of this grant request, it appeared as if the need for funds was rather immediate."
"Immediate isn't in my vocabulary." He glanced sideways at the petite makeshift house again and scowled. The entire footprint would fit into his living room.
Maybe he could make an exception in this case.
"It is when you're strapped in that racecar running a hundred and eighty miles per hour and you see that black and white checkered flag waving in front of you."
He chuckled. "You have me there, Angela. I can't deny that, but we're not talking racing. Fans place their trust in us when they donate their hard-earned money to our organization. I like to mull over these decisions, pray —"
"Well, it's about time you showed up, Doc. Let's get this party started. I don't think it will be long now." A clear voice tinkled in his ear, but it wasn't Angela's and it didn't come from the phone.
His head jerked sideways, and he fumbled with the phone, almost dropping it. He hoisted himself away from the car in one swift movement.
No. That sweet, somewhat angelic voice belonged to a leggy jean-clad female who emerged from the barn, long brown hair floating off her back with the gentle breeze, arms loaded down with more stuff than a girl should rightfully be toting around.
Not when a man was around to handle the load.
She angled her cowgirl hat towards the fenced enclosure next to the barn, where Goliath dug his snout into the ground, sniffing. "Snickers is right over here."
"Look, Angela, I have to go. I'll call you when I'm done here." He disconnected and caught up with the cowgirl. He bobbed his head once, acknowledging her, and held out his arms, palms up. "Let me carry that for you."
She squinted at him, an odd expression taking over her smooth, ivory face, but she finally surrendered the load. Why was she carting around a ton of towels and blankets? And why the strange look?
"Not too often I see a car like that out here." Cowgirl flicked her head to his sports car.
"No?" She probably didn't see too many cars out here, period, but he didn't say that.
She opened the gate and shook her head, flashing some cute dimples. She hitched her hat up slightly, and a glimpse of amber highlights sparkling from luscious green eyes caught him off guard.
Whoa! If he wasn't careful, he could get lost in those eyes, but he aimed to be careful. His ex-wife, Lisa, had taught him all about love and money. Mainly, that a woman loved money, not necessarily the man that came with it.
"No. Most everybody around here drives trucks of some sort, or rides horses, not little beauties like that."
Cowgirl crouched, stroking Goliath's soft fur around his head, and then her short fingernails scratched up and down his neck. "What a sweetie!" she crooned.
Goliath raised his snout high in the air as a soft guttural sound came from his throat.
An all too-familiar longing lurched to life in Graham's gut. For someone to call him by a special name, with love shining from her eyes, instead of dollar signs. For feminine fingers to knead the tight muscles from his achy shoulders after a long day. He gritted his teeth and felt a huge lump crawl down his throat. He'd been there. Done that. And it hadn't turned out so well.
She stood and looked to him, her large green eyes round as she waited for him to follow.
He hesitated, staring into her eyes, searching, more than a little excited to see those amber flints distinctly void of dollar signs.
She cleared her throat and dipped her head, waiting for him to pass through the gate.
Which he did. Eagerly. But at least he wasn't waving his fluffy tail high in the air or grinning like Goliath.
A soft breeze drifted by, bringing with it the typical animal smells like dung and hay, but he also caught a whiff of her scent. Something spicy and floral. He liked it. "I usually drive something else, too, but I left it at work." A smile slid across his lips. Several something else's, actually.
"Oh?" She looked surprised and a little suspicious, but shook it off. She hummed, quiet and pleasant-sounding. She gave no indication that she recognized him. Did she not know who he was? Exhilaration and anticipation took turns causing a ruckus in his gut and finally settled there. Cowgirl stopped walking.
He sidestepped quickly to keep from running into her with his load. He backed up, adjusting the supplies in his arms.
Goliath lifted his snout in the air and wandered away again.
Cowgirl didn't issue any warnings, so he assumed llamas played nicely with dogs.
"Do you mind if I actually work on the delivery?" She asked, pulling a cloth from the middle of the stack.
"Uh —" Delivery? That earlier feeling of anticipation soured. He frowned. What was she talking about?
She flicked a towel on the ground and slid some gloves over her slender fingers. "Yeah. Snickers is fairly new here, and I don't want to frighten her any more than she already is. Besides, this is my first llama delivery."
A llama delivery?
He turned his head to the side and coughed. His, too. For the first time in years, fear pulsed through his veins. Yeah, he might have wanted to get close to the llamas, but crouching behind a llama's backside, waiting to grab a baby llama wasn't really what he had in mind. His head wobbled back and forth. What was he doing here?
She set a digital thermometer, some type of lubricant on the towel — and was that dental floss? — and speared him with a hopeful glance over her shoulder, her wide green eyes sparkling with excitement. "If it reassures you, I have a four-year degree in Vet Technology. Not that it qualifies me to deliver a cria, but, hey, you're here to step in if anything goes wrong."
A cria? Was that what they called baby llamas? He was in way over his head here. He balanced the load of towels with one arm and massaged his forehead with the fingertips of his other hand. So he could offer moral support or lend a hand if she needed one, but that was the extent of his ability. What should he do?
Lord, I could definitely use a little help here. I deliver wins, interviews, and the occasional checks to non-profits, but llamas? They are way out of my realm of expertise.
The tall-as-he-was animal moaned. Rather loudly.
Graham fumbled, nearly dropping the remaining pile of cloths. It didn't look like he had a choice here.
"Aw, sweet girl, it'll be all right. This kind man and I are here to help you. Soon your little cria will be here, and you'll forget all about the pain." Her tone was sweet and soft, almost melodic.
The animal's head angled towards the voice. Ultra long lashes flickered and the llama's posture eased, as if she actually understood what Cowgirl said.
Graham had never seen anything like this before. He'd award her the grant money just for the experience of witnessing a llama whisperer.
Cowgirl flashed a grin over a shoulder. "That's what they say about human births, anyway. Guess it probably stands true for animals, huh?"
"What would you like me to do?" What was he saying? He should be whistling for Goliath, high tailing it back to his car and speeding down the road, heading back towards Charlotte. This was uncharted territory, out of Graham's comfort zone. Way out.
Cowgirl smiled back at him from her vantage point behind Snickers. "You can stack the rest of that stuff on the towel and keep the curious onlookers away."
Excerpted from Rori's Healing by Dora Hiers. Copyright © 2014 Dora Hiers. Excerpted by permission of Pelican Ventures, LLC.
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
Rori Harmon hides away from the outside world after the media fallout following her celebrity father's death. She has centered her life around her animal sanctuary, avoiding everyone except her best friend, brothers, mother, and step-father. Graham Decker is a successful racecar driver and philanthropist but unlucky in love. His ex-wife married him for his fame and fortunes then left him for a rival driver. Rori and Graham's paths cross when he drops by to check out the sanctuary for a foundation grant and she mistakes him for an on call vet. Graham starts volunteering at the sanctuary in order to spend more time with Rori. Both main characters were well developed and their inner dialogs and interactions with one another were relatable and endearing. All the animals throughout the story added a measure of comfort and humor. I had no idea llama's hissed. I love how protective and thoughtful Graham is and my favorite Rori characteristic is her honesty. Overall the story was sweet, funny, and encouraging. I recommend it! I was given the opportunity to read and review this book by NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
I loved this story by Dora Hiers. Each one gets better and better. The characters pulled me into their story; their struggles kept me turning the pages. I identified with the heroine and her fear of social situations. And what better hero for her than one that makes her stretch her comfort zone? Rori Harmon's father committed suicide due to excessive media coverage of his high-profiled life. Rori doesn't trust anyone, and especially God, since he didn't answer her prayers. Rori is learning to pray again, and trusting God to heal her heart and help her overcome her fear. Can Rori trust Graham not to put her in the same situation? Graham Decker is a race car driver. He lives in the spotlight. Graham is used to women chasing after him for his money, prestige, getting whatever they can out of him. What will he think of Rori who won't have anything to do with him because of his career choice? Can he prove to Rori he's the guy for her? He makes a point of being there when Rori needs him, but his career takes him on the road each week. Rori's fear holds her hostage. Graham's past makes it hard for him to trust women. Take comfort and get inspiration from their journey learning, "There's no room for fear in our lives when we experience God's perfect love." If you love Christian romance, reading a story that encourages and uplifts you, and one that helps you in your walk with God, this is the story for you. Fear blocks us from doing what God wants us to do. Take that first step out of your comfort zone. You'll find God there. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Dora has become one of my favorite writers of Christian romance, and she didn't disappoint with this one. I was drawn into the lives of Rori and Graham from the first pages, and thoroughly enjoyed their story. This is a heartwarming and inspiring story of two people with past hurts learning to love and trust again. I definitely will be looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
A very touching story about love and inner-strength. I was intrigued by this story from the beginning; a woman who works at a llama sanctuary. I couldn't wait to see where the plot went from there! I loved Rori immediately. She was so committed to her role as caretaker and guardian for these creatures and so independent, and yet she battled a horrible phobia that she managed to keep hidden. Graham was so endearing. Having been hurt in the past, he felt such a connection to Rori and wanted nothing more than to stand by her side through thick and thin. The road to Rori and Graham overcoming their own inner obstacles was not an easy one, but they each found the strength they needed to travel it. All in all, this is a very uplifting, inspirational story that will have you laughing, near tears and knowing more about llama crud than you ever did before! ***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***