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Elizabeth Kelly Books

Healing Gabriel (EBOOK)

Healing Gabriel (EBOOK)

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Fifteen years ago, Gabriel Dern was involved in a car accident that left terrible scars covering half of his body.  He retreats from society and rejects the idea of ever finding a woman who will accept him for who he is.

After her mother’s death, Morgan Wilson moves to the small town of Martinvale to begin her new life.  While living in the carriage house on Gabriel’s property, she gradually begins to tear down the walls Gabe has built around him. 

As Gabe slowly warms up to her, Morgan must find a way to convince him she wants both his friendship and his love.

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Read an excerpt

Morgan didn’t notice him. He was sitting in the dark on the back porch, drinking a beer and staring at the garden when she walked past the house along the stone walkway. She was humming softly to herself and Gabe watched as she stopped to smell the lilac tree.

Vincent growled loudly and before he could stop him, the dog was bounding off the porch toward her. He barked once and she jumped before turning toward the dog.

“Vincent, hush! It’s just me.” The dog’s growling turned to a low, pleased whine and she giggled when he head butted her leg.

“What are you doing up so late, puppy?” She rubbed his head and started walking again. Vincent was weaving around her feet and as she disappeared into the darkness towards the carriage house, Gabe took another drink of beer.

Tomorrow would be a week since she moved in. He stayed away from her, but she sought him out a few times when he was working in the garden, chatting politely to him as he weeded and trimmed. He kept his replies short and used his body language to tell her he wasn’t interested in talking. She ignored his silent hints, and finally he started to work in the garden during the day when she was at work.

There was a muffled thump and Morgan groaned. Vincent started barking and she hushed him hurriedly. Gabe hesitated and then stood and started down the steps. Delilah trailed after him as Morgan groaned again.

“Ouch! Son of a biscuit!”

He hurried down the path and stared in disbelief. Morgan was lying tangled in the large rose bushes planted along the stone pathway.

“What the hell?” He said and she gave a short scream. “How the hell did you end up in the rose bushes?”

“Your dog tripped me.” She glared at him as she struggled out of the bushes. She hissed in pain as thorns scraped across her bare arm.

“Oh for God’s sake.” He reached down, ignoring the thorns that caught on the sleeves of his shirt, and helped her out of the bushes.

“Can you walk twenty feet without falling down?” He muttered.

“It was dark, okay? Besides, I told you I was clumsy.” She picked a thorn out of her arm and winced.

He sighed. Even in the dark he could see the blood streaming down her arms. He took her wrist and led her toward the farmhouse.

“Come on.”

She didn’t argue and allowed him to lead her back down the path and up the steps of the back porch. He opened the screen door, and she followed him into the kitchen of the farmhouse.

“Sit down.” He pointed to one of the kitchen chairs and she sat as he opened a cupboard and pulled out a first-aid kit.

* * *

Morgan stared at her arms. Blood was trickling in thin streams down them, and they were covered in scratches from the thorns. Her face was stinging and she touched her cheek gingerly, not surprised when her fingers came away bloody.

Gabe pulled up a chair and sat across from her, their knees nearly touching. He examined her left arm, pulling out a few small thorns and dropping them on the table as Vincent, joined by Delilah, put his head on Morgan’s lap. Gabe ran his fingers over her right arm and she shivered a little at his warm touch. Mistaking it for a shiver of pain, he apologized.

“It’s fine.” She cleared her throat. “Thank you for rescuing me from the roses. I’m sorry I crushed them.”

He shrugged. “I was thinking of taking them out anyway.” He opened a bottle of peroxide and ripped open a package of gauze.

“Really? But roses are so pretty, why would you rip them out?”

“I’d think you’d want them gone. Odds are you’ll fall into them again sooner or later.”

She laughed. “Good point. Maybe I should start wrapping myself in bubble wrap?”

He grunted and she grinned again. “The fourth time I fell off the jungle gym, my mom threatened to send me to school in a helmet and protective padding. I could only convince her not to, by promising to never set foot on the jungle gym again.”

He poured a bit of peroxide onto the gauze. “Maybe you should just try turning on the porch light so you can see when you’re walking down the path.”

“The light’s burned out,” she said. “I would have changed it, but I’m too short to reach it, and I tend to avoid stepping on to chairs or stools.”

“Probably a wise idea,” he said. “This is going to hurt.”

He dabbed the scratches on her arms with the peroxide-soaked gauze. She hissed again with pain.

“Sorry.”

“That’s okay.” She studied his face in the light. Engrossed in cleaning her arm, it was the first time he wasn’t actively hiding the left side of his face from her. She stared at the scars that marred his face. Half of his left eyebrow was missing, as was the hair at his temple. No hair grew on the marred skin, and she supposed that was the reason why he kept the right side of his face and his upper lip so closely shaved. The burns had come incredibly close to his left eye, and his bottom lip pulled slightly to the left because of the scarred skin.
She quickly looked down at her arms when he raised his head, knowing he would be embarrassed if he saw her looking at him. He took a new piece of gauze, soaked it in peroxide and went to work on her left arm.

“I’ll change the light for you tomorrow,” he suddenly said.

“Thank you. I really appreciate that. I’ll probably still trip, but at least I’ll be able to see when I’m picking myself up out of the rose bushes.” She grinned at him and his lips twitched in response.

“Why, Mr. Dern, is that a smile?”

This time he really did smile, revealing even white teeth, and she gave him a delighted look. “You have great teeth.”

He blushed and she patted his arm. “Aww, you’re blushing. Seriously though – great teeth. Did you have braces?”

“Yeah, two years.”

“Me too. Wasn’t the tightening part awful? Gosh, I used to moan and complain something awful when I had to go in and have them tightened.”

He just shrugged and swiped at one of the scratches. Without looking at her, he said, “Were you out with Andy tonight?”

She twitched a little. “I was. How did you know about Andy?”

“Small town. News travels fast.”

She laughed. “I guess I’m used to the city where no one knows your name and couldn’t care less about your business.”

“I didn’t mean to be nosy.”

“You weren’t,” she said hastily. “I’m not trying to hide it or anything. I met Andy at your sister’s barbeque last weekend. He asked me out to dinner and we had a good time, so I accepted his invitation for a movie tonight.”

“What movie did you see?”

“A really awful horror one. Just between us - I think Andy was expecting that I would squeal and latch onto him in terror. I should have told him that I don’t scare easily, and then maybe we could have gone to the comedy I suggested.”

He finished wiping her arms and sat back. “There you go.”

“Thanks again, Gabe. I appreciate your help.” She gave him a sweet smile and he hesitated.

“Wait. Your face is bleeding too.”

He took the final piece of gauze and soaked it in peroxide. She leaned forward and closed her eyes. He wiped gently at the scratch on her cheek. She flinched a little when the peroxide bubbled.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

She opened her eyes. Their faces were so close, she knew he could see the rims of her contact lenses. He continued to wipe at her cheek without tearing his gaze from hers. His pupils became darker and larger until there was only a tiny bit of blue showing.

She parted her lips and wondered if he could feel her trembling. When he dipped his head, moving his mouth toward hers, she made a low sound of encouragement. Just before his mouth touched hers, he jerked his head back.

He dropped the gauze on the table and shoved his chair back before standing and turning away from her. “I’m finished.”

Morgan released her breath slowly and stood up. “Thank you.” When he didn’t turn around, she walked to the door.

“Good night, Gabe.”

“Good night, Morgan.”

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