Friendship -- in the best of all worlds -- can grow into the strongest kind of love. It sneaks up on you like a summer storm, and when lightning strikes, it can change your life forever.
Bella and Jesse faced their high school graduation with hope and happiness, looking forward to the life they wanted together. Until the malicious act of a twisted mind tears them apart and they will spend the next ten years apart; too long to hold hope for a future.
When Bella needs a safe place for herself and her children, Jesse can't deny her. When he learns the sickening reality, and realizes everything he held against her was a lie, Jesse has to find a way to earn her forgiveness, and to forgive himself.
The past isn't behind them yet, and when it comes knocking on their door, Jesse will fight for the future they want.
Isabella stood at the railing of a loft in a very large cabin or lodge. Directly in front of her, but across the open expanse, was a row of small windows. They spread across a distance of at least thirty feet to give her a view of the trees beyond. Below the balcony was a long hall, with doors leading into closed rooms. To her right was a huge room with a fieldstone fireplace and a heavy beamed ceiling. The room opened to a full two stories high.
She looked behind her. There were two other doors along the balcony. One on either side of the room she came out of. When she walked by the first one to get to the stairs, she saw it was a small bathroom. Isabella descended the stairs, and turned left away from the great room.
As she walked towards the kitchen, she passed an open door and glanced inside. Christopher slept on a small bed, his arms spread wide at his side, and beside the bed was Jessica¿s portable crib. Isabella crept inside and peeked over the edge. Her daughter was sound asleep. Some of the tension that had knotted in her chest on waking waned some. Not wanting to wake them, Isabella slipped back out of the room and headed for the kitchen.
A wood-burning stove sat on one corner. The delicious scent of brewing coffee drifted to her. Beside it sat a stout wood box filled with fragrant chunks and blocks of kindling. On a low cabinet, that seemed to serve as counter space, sat a plate of fluffy biscuits. Their enticing aroma mingled with the coffee, and her stomach rumbled.
The sound of a door opening brought her attention around. Isabella turned towards the noise, her breath caught in her throat and she gripped the edge of the counter to stay on her feet.
"I picked up all the parts for the skidder and the International on the way home from the airport, and I bumped into a Husquevarna Salesman at Agway. He's coming up some time next week to show us some of their new saws."
"That's great, son, but I need to talk to you about something."
Isabella stood stock-still. She couldn't breathe. The pounding of her own blood in her ears was a near-deafening crescendo. Her lungs burned, and her eyes stung with hot tears.
It was a dream. It had to be. Some twisted, cruel effect of the Percocet. Any minute she'd wake up.
The years had changed him, and yet he was the same. His jaw line was stronger, and a day's unshaven stubble darkened his chin and cheeks. The nineteen-year-old soldier was now a man. The short cut of his black hair accentuated the strong features of his face. Dressed in blue jeans and a dark tee shirt, with a flannel shirt open and hanging loose around his slim hips, he looked incredible. He carried a large box that he set down on the table. The rumbling timbre of his voice filled the room when he spoke.
"The hardware store was out of axle grease, so they're ordering that for us. It should be in by the end of the week. Merle will call us when it comes in."
Hank shoved the box away. "Will you stop yammerin' for a minute, and let me tell you something?"
"What's the matter, Dad?"
Isabella's heart hammered against her chest. She finally released her breath. "J-Jesse?"
An unseen fist clutched Jesse's heart, painfully seizing his chest. His spine straightened and his head snapped away from his father to search out the source.
It was her.
Isabella stood just across the kitchen, staring at him with wide, dark eyes. Black hair hung around her shoulders, framing her face. A face that hadn't changed in ten years.
The head gasket in his hand slipped free of his fingers and fell with a loud crash to the floor.
Isabella's eyes fluttered, and her knees buckled. He jumped forward, and before she was half way to the floor, she was in his arms. Her body was limp and light. Jesse froze for a moment and looked down into her still features.
It¿s her. What in hell is she doing here?
Then his mind registered the bandages and the bruises on her face and throat. The feelings that filled him were a tumultuous combination of many things: rage, shock, curiosity, and a grudging dash of joy. Jesse straightened and turned, with Isabella against his chest, and found his father. He couldn't make his mouth speak.
"That's what I was trying to tell you, Jesse," Hank Mitchell said with a shrug.
Jesse turned and started down the hall. His father told him she slept upstairs, in his room. Not wanting to think about that fact, he took her up and laid her down on the rumpled quilt. There was no resistance in her limbs, and her pliant body slid from his arms.
Hank stood at the foot of the bed, and Jesse turned to find him. "What the hell is she doing here?"
"Jack McNeil called and asked if he could bring her here for awhile. He said she needed to get out of Oklahoma."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought it'd be best to wait until she was here. Her brother was adamant this was necessary."
"What happened to her? Why did she pass out? What¿s wrong?" Jesse fired the questions in quick succession.
He stared at the swollen bruises around her face, and the bandages covering worse abrasions. His fingers wanted to reach out and touch them, but something inside wouldn't let him.
"Jack just said she was banged up pretty bad. He didn't want to stay long, so he didn't offer much in the way of details. I don't know why she passed out. But Jack said she had a concussion, and she's taking some strong painkillers. The mix must make her groggy."
The cry of a small child came from downstairs.
"Who is that?"
"Her little girl. Her son, Christopher, is down there with the girl."
Isabella stirred and her eyes fluttered. "Can you go tend to them, Dad? I think she's waking up.¿
Hank left the room, and Isabella rolled her head on the pillow, moaning softly. The little one cried out again, and Isabella's eyes flew open as she tried to sit. A sharp wince crossed her face. Jesse reached out and held her back with gentle pressure.
With his hands on her shoulders, Jesse struggled to keep his thoughts clear. And most important, his anger. Isabella settled back into the pillows and stared at him, her dark eyes wide and glistening. A shudder moved through her body. Something clenched inside his gut, but Jesse couldn't pull his gaze away. Jessica cried again, and Isabella's eyes darted to the door.
"Dad is looking after them. He'll probably get them something to eat." I
sabella nodded, and her eyes came back to him. Her silence troubled him. The depth of her black eyes seemed to reach into his soul. She skimmed his face with her gaze, and he felt the caress as intimately as a touch. Finally, he had to look away. Jesse looked down at her stomach. The bottom of her shirt was open, and pulled apart enough to allow a glimpse of her caramel skin. A ripple tore through him. The involuntary reaction of his body to her pissed him off.
A chaotic turmoil of emotions ravaged Jesse. He was in shock, first and foremost. Hearing her voice call his name, after so many years, made his heart swell suddenly in his chest. Seeing her collapse nearly ripped the swollen organ out. Holding her against him, and knowing she had slept in his bed, made his blood burn hot. Just as hot as the last time he touched her. A voice screamed in the back of his mind. It reminded him of her duplicity, betrayal and silence ten years before.
Isabella took a deep, shaky breath.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
She blinked, and swallowed. Her hand fluttered in the air. "I-I'm having trouble. Can't seem to wake up," she mumbled. "Am I dreaming?"
"What are you taking for the pain?"
Jesse nodded, and fought the urge to stroke back the black hair that lay across her forehead. "It can make you muzzy, and fuddles with your mind. It'll take a day or two after you stop taking it before that feeling goes away completely. Do you need one? Are you in pain?"
She shook her head, and the grimace on her face made it clear she wished she hadn't. Isabella shut her eyes momentarily, and winced. "No. No more. I don't like this - this - feeling."
Jesse nodded again, and looked away. He looked down his arm. His hand pressed into the bed beside her. The inside of his wrist just touched the skin of her side. The heat emanating from her flesh warmed his own. A shiver went through her body, and he looked back to her face. Her black eyes were locked on him.
"Are you cold? Do you want the window shut?" He stood and headed for the open window. "I like to sleep with the window open, for the night air."
"You?" she asked in a whisper.
"Yes. This is my room." He didn¿t dare look back at her.
"I didn¿t know," she said. "I don¿t remember arriving. Didn't know where I was," Isabella mumbled in incomplete thoughts.
Jesse shut the window, and walked back to the bed. This time he didn't sit down. He didn't trust his body enough.
"You didn't know where you were going? That you were coming here?"
She shook her head slowly. "Jack wouldn¿t tell me."
Jesse scowled. There were far too many missing pieces in this puzzle. And someone was going to have to explain soon. Why wouldn't Jack tell her he was bringing her here? Why bring her here, of all places?
"I¿m sorry," she whispered.
"Don¿t worry about it. We'll talk when you¿re feeling better. Go back to sleep, Isabella. Dad and I will take care of the kids. What's the baby¿s name?"
"Jessie, um, Jessica," she mumbled. Her eyelids closed.
Jesse moved silently to the door. He left her curled against his pillow, the quilt tucked beneath her chin. Her black hair fanned around her head, and the sheets looked bleach-white against the rich color of her skin. Delicate hands curled beneath her cheek. She looked good sleeping in his bed.
Jesse scowled and pulled the door shut. He reminded himself she held the knife embedded deep in his back. Those stupid thoughts were going to stop right now. There was no place for them, and they didn't deserve being entertained. With his hands shoved deep in his front pockets, he headed for the giggling voices in the kitchen. His father's laugh mixed with those of the children.
Posted by Caree Connolly on 1st Feb 2017
In a “Lightening Strikes Twice” you don't just get the romance. This book goes into deeper things with high school romance, preparing for the future, sadness, betrayal, abuse, forgiveness, and love.
These are all present in this book with our Heroine Isabella ( Bella) and our Hero Jesse Mitchell.
Lightening Strikes Twice is not a book that you can just rush through. There is so much more. You will feel the excitement, the sadness. Emotional turmoil. Anger. And the yes the tenderness. There is betrayal which is felt and finally, when all is revealed, the forgiveness and love.
When all is said and done, and you come to the end, you can say: “That was a book worth reading”.
Posted by Sabine Tyson on 22nd May 2013
Too much as of late, I've noticed a trend in books categorized as "romance" to be little more than a fluff piece. Yeah, sure... a bit of angst to make it interesting, a lot of sexual tension, but little else.
I have never read a book like that from Gail Delaney. She writes with such emotion-provoking skill, I yearn to know her characters. I care about their lives. Their choices. I weep with them, I laugh with them. I believe in them.
None more than with "Lightning Strikes Twice." This book goes so far beyond a simple boy meets girl story: it's about friendship, choices (good and bad), forgiveness, and finally finding that other half of your heart.
And I think more books should be set in Maine. (Hint: Read her "Tender Hearts" title... also set in Maine). What a beautiful state!
Set aside the fluffy stories, and give in to her eloquence of writing.