Author: Anne Marie Citro
Series: Sistas #1
Pub. Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Anne Marie Citro
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Under Her Wings
Wishing for death while living through hell, Gabriella is rescued off the rocks of a Scottish loch at the lowest moment of her life by the hot, humorous Edward and the sexy, staid Liam. The two men nurse the despondent woman back to health while teaching her how to pick up the pieces of her life. Both are captivated by her and vie for her attention.
Friendships are formed and secrets revealed. One man will become her lover, while the other becomes her best friend. Together, they have a past they cannot change, a present they must live through, and a future yet to be discovered. However, every time things appear to settle down for the trio, fate deals another blow, testing their trust and faith in each other and the love they have created.
Gabriella discovers the beauty of Scotland and life anew as she learns that trust is a two-way street that can either strengthen bonds or destroy relationships. Will she accept all that she learns or continue to believe she is betraying the memories she ran from?
Edward awoke to the sound of haunting sobs. A chill went up his spine. He couldn’t help thinking if there were such things as ghosts, that would definitely be the sound they would make. The sound triggered déjà vu in the recesses of his mind, and he searched his memory for something he couldn’t put his finger on.
The curiosity of the lost memory and the wailing sound drove him up and outside, to either help whatever was making that noise or put the thing out of its misery. His mind was so busy trying to place the sounds that were haunting him that he inadvertently forgot to give Liam, his guard and best friend, a heads-up that he was leaving.
Night had descended hours ago, and even with a shirt and heavy sweater on, the chill still seeped into his bones. Combine that with the relentless sound, he was uneasy.
He cautiously walked through the gardens connected to the side door of his suite, which were stunning in the summer, yet now looked lifeless and sad. He was on alert because of who he was. People were forever trying to catch him in compromising situations, and always tried to take a piece of him, befriend him, and not with a desire for real friendship, but for their own gain. However, late April wasn’t a popular time to visit; the temperature could be downright nasty, and the sun rarely shone in the summer, let alone spring.
The inn they had chosen for its solitude was named McIntyre Country House, a beautiful, old estate that looked lonely with its regal, black roof and white exterior walls. Phone reception and Wi-Fi were on again, off again, tending to be more off.
The inn only had one other guest, and the innkeeper had tried to cancel that reservation to accommodate Edward’s privacy, but he had been unable to reach the guest in time. Instead, the owner had asked Edward if it was okay to put them on the other side of the building with the assurance they wouldn’t disturb the men. Edward had hesitantly conceded.
Just as the moon moved out from behind the clouds, the light allowed him to see.
“Good God,” he gasped.
There was a wee woman crying—no, howling—on the boulders by the loch. She must have been hurt, maybe had gotten her leg caught between the rocks, and was now crying out for help.
Edward ran at top speed, then stopped just a few feet from the boulders so as not to alarm the woman curled up and cradling herself.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “Miss, are you all right?”
No answer, but her sobbing turned softer.
“I don’t want to frighten you, but I am going to join you on the boulders. Miss, can you hear me?”
Still no answer.
He approached her with caution, thinking she might have been attacked, that a man or an animal had hurt her. However, something about the sound of her agony led him to believe it wasn’t a physical pain, but something much deeper.
When Edward got closer, all sounds stopped from the woman. That frightened him more than the thought of ghosts.
Did he dare touch her? What if this was another setup to make him look bad in the eyes of the world?
Edward pushed all negative thoughts aside. He had to help her.
He touched the woman’s cheek. Holy Mother of Mary, she was either frozen, or she had died before his eyes.
“Miss . . . ? Please, are you okay?”
Bloody hell, I have to get her warm, he thought.
Edward bent down and checked for a pulse, breathing with a sense of relief when he realized she had one. Next, he checked her body for wounds, running his hand around her skull and down her neck, then checking his hands continuously for blood. Nothing. Next, he ran his hands down each arm, her torso, and finally down each of her legs. She didn’t appear to be bleeding nor, by quick assessment, to have any broken bones. His military training had its rewards, one being he was efficient in field combat first-aid.
He gently lifted the woman into his arms, which wasn’t an easy task since she was soaked to the bone. He had a dilemma. His arms were full, and if he made any sound or someone spotted him carrying a hurt woman, the press would explode and crucify him in the tabloids.
Shaking off those thoughts, he progressed carefully across the boulders. He carried her quickly through the gardens and, in mere moments, was back at the inn.
He gently laid her down on the ground and searched for his key.
Damn it to hell! He had forgotten to grab it.
He felt it before he heard the words, a gun pressed against the back of his skull. Bloody hell, could this night get any worse?
“Take your hand off the door and back away from the woman.”
Edward released a thankful breath.
“Liam, man, it’s me, Edward,” he whispered.
“Jesus Christ,” Liam cursed. “I could have blown your head off. What in God’s green earth are you doing out here? And where the bloody hell did that woman come from?”
“There is something wrong, very wrong, with her,” Edward answered. “I think she’s hurt.”
Liam secured his weapon in his chest holster, gave Edward the key to both suites, and then gently lifted the woman into his arms. He had to wonder if Edward had dragged her body up from Loch Snizort. Had she almost drowned, or had she been trying to commit suicide?
Whatever had happened to this woman, Liam couldn’t even fathom. She was soaked and frozen. They needed to get her inside, and Edward out of sight.
Liam walked through Edward’s suite and told him to unlock the connecting door into his own. Once there, Liam laid the woman on the chesterfield. Even in an emergency, he had enough sense to do his job and protect Edward first. He also had to consider any gossip that could surround Edward, especially if anyone knew there was an unconscious woman in their lodgings.
After re-establishing she had a pulse, first-aid 101 stated she needed to be warmed up as quickly as possible. Therefore, Liam instructed Edward to go into his closet and grab his workout clothes, consisting of sweat pants, a T-shirt, and a hooded sweatshirt. Liam also wanted towels.
Liam looked down at the girl and assessed her age to be mid to late twenties. She looked like a drowned rat with her long, dark hair hanging in wet clumps around her delicate, tiny face. Her bone structure was fine and reminded him of a bird. Her skin was a grey colour, wrinkled, wet, and goose bumps covered every inch. Her lips were purple, and she had dark circles under her eyes that made her look even younger. Liam noticed all this as he started to remove her clothing.
He tried to give her as much dignity as he could, which wasn’t an easy task when the jeans were so wet they clung to her like a second skin. Regardless, he finally managed to peel the pants off, along with a turquoise lace thong. The woman’s lady bits were hairless, much like the slags from porn movies.
Liam, feeling a little guilt and shame for noticing, quickly averted his eyes, moving on to pull her coat and sweater off. As he did, he couldn’t help noticing she had on a matching turquoise bra that he removed to reveal her shapely breasts. What really knocked the breath out of his lungs were the stretch marks and scars that lay all over her lower belly. This young woman was someone’s mum, and it was his responsibility now to make sure she was reunited with her loved ones.
Why was she alone, wet, and nearly frozen to death? Where was her family?
Edward approached with the items Liam had requested, but before he reached the girl, Liam stopped him.
“Throw the clothes and wait until I cover her.”
“Really, Liam? Sod the fuck off. She isn’t the first female I have seen naked.”
“But she is someone’s mum, and if it were Raven, she would have been devastated by one strange man seeing her naked, let alone two.”
At the mention of Raven, Edward stopped dead in his tracks, tossed the clothing, and turned his back. Liam very rarely mentioned Raven, so this meant something to him.
Liam worked quickly and efficiently to warm and dress the mysterious woman. Now all tucked in the chesterfield with his clothing swimming on her tiny frame and blankets wrapped around her, she appeared to be resting peacefully.
Liam turned to Edward. “Where did the lass come from? Who is she? And why did you not call me to give assistance?”
Edward painstakingly retold the tale of the last forty-five minutes, wondering why things always happened to him.
Liam wouldn’t call the authorities or Scotland Yard yet, not until they were certain the young woman wanted or needed police help. He wanted Edward far away from whatever was going on. Nevertheless, they would have to wait to get answers when she awoke.
I was born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada. I grew up surrounded by a large, loving family, and I am married to a wonderfully patient man.
He is the love of my life.
We have four very cool sons that I love and adore! The girls they have brought into our family that have become daughters of my heart. I have also been blessed with a beautiful granddaughter, of course, after raising four boys...
I have my own personal gaggle of girlfriends, who enrich my life on a daily basis and make me laugh until I cry. Caesar Friday is my favorite day of the week; that's Caesars with the girls and date night with the hubby.
I love the arts and have tried my hand at painting, wood sculpting, chainsaw carving, wood burning, metal and wire sculptures. Yes, my husband is a very patient man! I am an avid reader, burning through about three books per week.
But nothing makes me happier than riding on the back of my husband's Harley and throwing my arms out and feeling the wind race by. We work very hard, so we can take a few weeks every year to travel to spectacular destinations around the world.
I worked with the most incredible group of special-needs teenagers, and they taught me how to appreciate life and see it through gentler eyes. My husband has encouraged me to follow my lifelong dream of being a writer. I've really fallen in love with the characters that take over my imagination and haunt my dreams.
I am so excited for this new journey and can't wait to see what the next chapter holds for me in life.
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