Indie Book Promo is happy to welcome Coral McCallum to the blog. She’s here to share about her book, Stronger Within. If this book sounds like something you would be interested in reading, please find buy links below and pick up a copy or two.
Stronger Within is Book One of the Silver Lake series.
Lori – in recovery following a serious accident, our fragile heroine is at a crossroads in her life and has sought sanctuary at the beach.
Jake – hard working and with a heart of gold, a struggling musician who is chasing his dreams as front man of local rock band, Silver Lake.
Vulnerability meets rock in this tale of two creative souls following their own paths in life. When their paths collide neither of their lives will ever be the same again.
Stronger Within, set in the small town of Rehoboth, Delaware, is a contemporary love story telling a fast paced tale of rock music, convalescence and unexpected love. It’s a tale of friendship, family and following your heart.
Stronger Within can be purchased from Amazon
Book 2 in the series, Impossible Depths, is also available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. Book 3 in the series, Bonded Souls, will be published in Spring 2017.
Coral McCallum lives in Gourock, a small town on the West coast of Scotland with her husband, two teenage children and her beloved cats.
Jake watched her from the distant vantage point of the boardwalk. He had headed for the beach after the end of his shift at the pizza parlour. It had been a rough day and he had decided to walk off his black mood before heading to meet the guys. The last thing they needed was him turning up in a foul mood, stinking of tomato sauce and cheese. He had walked to the south end of the promenade and had just turned back when he saw the girl walking down on the sand. It was the sun catching the golden highlights in her hair that had attracted his attention. He never noticed her crutches at first. Watching from a distance, he had kept pace with her, then stopped to watch as she turned towards the boardwalk. When he saw her stumble, he regretted not following his instincts and going down to walk on the sand with her.
“Shit,” he muttered. “Shit.”
There were no breaks in the fence nearby, so he jumped over the wooden palings into the dune grass and ran towards her, sand immediately filling his shoes. By the time he was close enough to call out to her, she was sitting up and looked to be unhurt. He almost turned away, but decided against it and continued to walk down the beach.
“Hi,” he called out. “Are you ok?”
She was sitting rubbing her thigh and there were tears on her cheeks. Her pale complexion suggested she hadn’t been outdoors much recently.
“Hi,” she replied with a weak smile. “I could do with some help.”
“Figured,” he said, sitting down on the sand beside her. “Are you hurt?”
“No, not really. It was my own stupid fault. I came too far and wasn’t paying attention. I lost my footing.”
“Can’t be easy walking the beach with crutches,” he observed. “How far have you walked?”
“Less than a quarter of a mile. I was fine when I was down on the wet sand, but I began to get tired. I was trying to get up to the boardwalk. I figured if I got onto solid ground, it would be easier to walk back.”
“Let me guess,” observed Jake. “You’ve not been out much with those sticks?”
“No,” she confessed. “I haven’t.”
A single tear ran down her pale cheek. She reached up to roughly brush it away, embarrassed by her show of emotion, but only succeeded in leaving a smear of sand in its place. That was the final straw. Burying her face in her hands, she sat and sobbed. Months of pent up frustration flowed down her cheeks in a river of tears. Hesitantly, Jake put a comforting arm around her shoulders and held her as she wept.
“Hey,” he whispered softly. “It’ll be ok. I’ll get you home safely.”
“I’m sorry,” she sniffed. “I don’t usually sob all over complete strangers.”
“Well, I don’t usually go around picking up fallen angels on the beach either.”
She smiled at his weak attempt at humour.
“I’m Jake by the way.”
“Lori,” she replied.
“Well, Lori, let’s get you up on your feet and up onto the boardwalk.”
Gauging that she didn’t weigh much, Jake handed her the crutches, told her to hold onto them then lifted her up into his arms. She was even lighter than he had guessed, so carrying her up the beach to the nearest pathway was no challenge. Once back up on the boardwalk, he sat her down on the first bench they came to.
“You sure you’re ok?” he asked, as he sat beside her.
“Yes, thank you. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t come along.”
“You’d have figured it out eventually.”
“I guess. Either that or Mary would’ve come looking for me,” admitted Lori, brushing sand off her jeans.
“Yeah, she’s my housekeeper. It was her idea that I take a walk. I’ve been sitting on the deck all afternoon gazing out at the ocean. She told me I needed to venture off the deck sometime and that today was as good a day as any. She’ll feel so bad when she hears I fell,” she explained.
“Who’s going to tell her?” Jake said with a wink. “I’ll walk you back. You don’t need to tell her that you fell.”
Stiffly and with more than a hint of nerves, Lori got to her feet and repositioned her crutches. Her leg was screaming at her and she knew it would be hard to keep news of her fall from the ever watchful Mary. As they began to walk along the sandy boards Jake observed how carefully Lori walked – watched the determination in each step and sensed the pain that was etched into her pale face. She had the bluest eyes, he had ever seen, but there was a deep sadness cast through them.
“Pardon my asking but what happened to you? I’m thinking the crutches are a very recent addition to your wardrobe.”
“And you’d be right,” she confessed, pausing to look up at him. “I had an accident just before Christmas. I broke my leg quite badly. I came down here about six weeks ago. This is the first time I’ve been out on my own since the accident.”
“And you thought a walk on the sand was the smartest place to start?”
Lori laughed. Jake thought it the most beautiful musical laugh and joined in.
“I guess not, “she giggled. “So what brought you out this far?”
“A shit shift at work. A foul mood.”
“And scraping a dumb blonde off the sand wasn’t in the plan?”
“No, but I‘m glad I was there to rescue you,” he admitted. That wonderful laugh and those sad blue eyes were having a strange effect on his heart. A weird but wonderful effect. It had been a long time since he had felt that way. “Where exactly am I taking you when we run out of boardwalk?”
“Fourth house past the end. If that’s ok?”
“Not a problem, li’l lady.”
They walked on in silence for a few minutes, the end of the boardwalk drawing closer and neither of them really wanting to reach it. Surreptitiously, Jake watched her steely concentration, drank in her fragile beauty and breathed in her light, floral perfume. It had been a very long time since someone had had such an impact on him. A long time since he had bothered to look, if he was honest with himself. Between each painful step, Lori subtly surveyed her rescuer. He would make a fantastic model for a life drawing. His long sun bleached blonde hair fell carelessly down over his shoulders, almost reaching the middle of his back. She guessed from the tiny lines around his twinkling hazel eyes that he was a little older than her and his height dwarfed her small frame. There was something genuine about him. A rough diamond found in the sand? A friend? Lord, she could use one!
Deciding to take a risk, Lori said, “When we reach the house, will you come in for a coffee or a beer? It’s the least I can offer.”
“I’m not sure,” began Jake glancing at his watch. “Oh, what the hell! The guys can wait. Beer sounds good.”
It may have only been a hundred yards, but by the time they reached the end of the boardwalk, Lori was drained and exhausted. Her arms were trembling; her palms sweaty. The thought of the final walk along the soft sand filled her with dread.
“Hey, Lori,” began Jake softly. “If you don’t mind me saying, you look wiped out. Would it be too presumptuous of me to offer to carry you the rest of the way?”
“A bit, but I’m not in a position to decline,” she admitted, her eyes filling with fresh tears of frustration at her own admission of weakness.
With ease, he scooped her up into his arms and headed across the soft sand.
The fourth house on the left stood out from its neighbours with its low white picket fence and generous sun deck. Its enclosed garden had been recently landscaped and a large cushioned sun lounger sat centre stage on the deck. Perched on the edge of it was a small, motherly dark haired woman. As they came to the open gate Jake set Lori down on her feet and guided her into the safety of the garden. She breathed a sigh of relief – home at last!
“Where in Lord’s name have you been?” cried the older woman, leaping to her feet. “You’ve been gone for over an hour!”
“Jake meet Mary,” introduced Lori. “My housekeeper and surrogate mother.”
“Pleased to meet you,” snapped Mary sharply. Her concern for Lori was written all over her face. “I’ve been worried sick, Lori.”
“I’m sorry, Mary,” apologised Lori, as she eased herself down onto the sun lounger. “I walked further than I meant to. Jake kindly offered to see me safely home.”
“You fell didn’t you?”
“I told you she would know,” said Lori, glancing up at Jake. “Yes, I stumbled, but Jake arrived to rescue me. I promised him a beer for his efforts. Would you be so kind as to fetch us both one?”
Muttering under her breath, Mary stomped back into the house through the patio doors. Lori laughed that wonderful laugh again and gestured to Jake to pull over a chair from the table. Gingerly she slid herself back and lifted her throbbing leg onto the lounger. The relief at being off her feet was written all over her face.
“I recognise this house now,” mused Jake looking round about. “I worked on it when it was remodelled about four years ago.”
“Three”, corrected Lori. “Are you a builder?”
“No,” declared Jake, shaking his head. “I was the manual labour for the summer. I loved that sun room when it was finished. If I ever hit the big time, this is the kind of house I want to own.”
“Thanks. My parents bought the original house when I was a little girl. When I inherited it, after my dad passed away, I had it extended. I’ve always felt this was home, but could never spend enough time here. Work always kept me away.”
She paused to reflect for a few moments, lost in a memory of a previous life. With a wistful smile she added, “Now it looks as though I’m home to stay.”
“So what line of work kept you away from the beach?” asked Jake, stretching his long denim clad legs out in front of him.
“I was an art buyer until last year. I travelled a lot. What do you do when you’re not rescuing people?”
“I’m a frustrated rock star,” he confessed with a smile. “I work here and there to pay the bills. Just now it’s a few shifts a week at the pizza place on the boardwalk. Really rock ‘n’ roll!”
Both of them were laughing when Mary returned with their beers. She slipped two painkillers to Lori then left them to chat. There was plenty of time left to chastise her charge once her new friend had left. Deep down, she was just relieved to see the girl home in one piece and even happier to hear her laughing. There had been precious little of that in Lori’s life recently and it was good medicine. The housekeeper retired to the kitchen to prepare dinner and to keep a watchful eye on them from the safety of the house.
As the sun set behind them, the sun deck lights came on and dusk settled over them. Draining his beer Jake glanced at his watch. “Damn, I’m late.”
“Sorry,” said Lori. “I didn’t mean to keep you late.”
“It’s alright,” he replied, getting to his feet. “I need to run. I’m late for rehearsal. Sorry to leave in such a hurry.”
“No, it’s me who should be apologising,” said Lori, starting to get to her feet.
“Stay where you are,” said Jake warmly. “I’m just glad you’re not hurt. Glad we met. Maybe, when you feel up to it, you can come and see the band? We have a regular slot on a Friday night twice a month at one of the bars in town.”
“I’d like that,” said Lori softly. “And thank you again for rescuing me.”
“My pleasure li’l lady,” he said with a smile. “And thanks for the beer.”
With a wave, he was gone in a few short strides down the path and onto the sand.