Karla Brandenburg

Indie Author Karla Brandenburg

Excerpt:  Heart for Rent, with an Option

Michelle Alvere’s six-month plan didn’t seem nearly long enough now that it was almost over. She considered moving to France permanently.
After Aunt Brigitte returned to her permanent residence in Lyon, Michelle had spent the next several months recuperating from the emotional implications of the surgery. So far away from home, Michelle was distracted from the way her sister, Hope, had taken Michelle for granted, crushed Michelle’s feelings, expected Michelle to understand.
One thing Michelle had learned while she was away, there were limits to how much abuse she was willing to take.
She checked the clock on her computer. It was midnight in Chicago.
Photos from Hope’s baby shower littered her Facebook page. Michelle should have hosted a baby shower, but Hope probably didn’t even realize Michelle was gone. Once Michelle’s donated eggs had implanted, Hope had turned her back—refused to speak to Michelle, even when complications from the procedure had sent Michelle into emergency surgery.
A new post from Hope appeared while she watched. “On the way to the hospital.”
At midnight, Chicago time.
Hope was having the baby and Michelle could only watch from half a world away. Damn Facebook. In spite of the silent war Hope had waged, Michelle should be there.
It was time to go home.
Michelle had checked flights a dozen times, but always stopped short of booking one. She hesitated once more. A few more days wouldn’t matter if Hope was at the hospital now.
Michelle grabbed her purse and left the apartment. She needed fresh air.
The cool temperature held the promise of a beautiful day. Michelle raised her face to the sky and closed her eyes, allowing Aix-en-Provence to work its magic. Time and distance eased the hurt.
En route to the square, Michelle stopped by the boulangerie where the baker greeted her with a fresh croissant. He pointed her to the strawberries at the market, newly arrived now that they were in season. Michelle thanked him and continued on.
Vendors displayed fresh produce and handmade goods, along with herbs and freshly ground spices.
Michelle stopped to fill a small bottle with sprigs of rosemary while she inhaled the exotic scents.
At the third booth, a vendor waved a plate of sliced strawberries under Michelle’s nose and fanned the fragrance.
Men in black pants and long aprons emerged from the café at the edge of the square to set tables on the cobbled street. Strains from a violin-playing gypsy carried down the street before he disappeared on the road to Aix Cathedral.
A pregnant woman tested tomatoes at the next booth and Michelle was reminded of her sister once more.
The familiar sting made her grimace. Would it make a difference if Hope apologized? A moot point. It wasn’t in Hope’s nature to recognize that she wasn’t entitled to—or to appreciate—the things she’d been freely given. But Hope was her sister. Michelle should be with her.
Michelle had snaked through the majority of the stalls and was back at the main road.  If she wanted to travel back to the States, she’d have to make sure the next few days of work was completed ahead of time. With one last look around the square, Michelle headed back to the apartment.
Time to confirm her reservations home, but she’d promised to text the Colonel before she booked her flight. She picked up her phone and sent the text, even if it was the middle of the night back home.
Planning to book flight 490 to Chicago for Tuesday. Okay to go?
She set the phone down beside her computer and checked her email for new work. Her phone buzzed the response almost immediately. Michelle gazed at it, wondering why the Colonel was awake at o-dark-thirty.
Good to go, the text replied.
Before Michelle could reply, her phone rang. “Bonjour,” Colonel Stratton greeted her.
Bonjour,” she replied.
“Well it’s about damn time, not that you aren’t entitled to some time away. Especially after your ordeal. Wish I could be there to meet you, but I’m at Fort Bragg. With that baby due soon, we’ll be seeing each other before too long.”
“I saw a Facebook post that she’d gone to the hospital. Have you spoken to Hope? Has she asked about me?” Michelle winced, not sure if she wanted to hear the answer.
“I’m sorry, Michelle. She hasn’t said anything to me. I still think what you girls need is a couple of hours locked in a room to sort this all out.”
“Don’t tell me,” Michelle said. “Tell her. I tried.”
“I know you did. Once the baby comes, I’d bet she’ll have a different perspective on all of this. You know how women can be, better than I do.”
Michelle laughed. “Yeah, I know how women can be.”
“You’ll send me your itinerary? And you’ll call me if you run into any trouble?” The Colonel asked.
“You know I will.”
“Then I’ll talk to you when you’re Stateside, huh?”
“Yes, Sir, Uncle Ted, Sir.”
He chuckled. “Safe travels, then. And I’ll assume you’ll handle communication with your sister? Let me know what you find out about the baby.”
Michelle sighed. “Will do.”
Watch for Karla's newest release, Rekindling, her third in the Small Town Illinois series due out later this summer. Find out why everyone hates Cinda by reading Living Canvas, the second in the series. Now through July 5, you can buy Living Canvas at 80% off at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137823 using coupon code UU37K.

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