Authors: Dori Lavelle
(Moments in Time #1)
By Dori Lavelle
Copyright © 2013 by
All Rights Reserved.
Cover Art: Najla
Wohl-Pollack and Samantha Gordon
This book is a work
of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or
locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
uploading and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means
without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.
Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in
or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the
author’s rights is appreciated.
Table of Contents
A deadly accident can take a life in more than one way.
Four years ago, Carlene Adams made a deadly mistake. A
tragic accident derailed the future she’d hoped for, taking the life of the man
she’d planned to spend forever with.
As a self-imposed penance for her solitary sin, Carlene has
given up on every dream she ever had. She has committed to spend every
remaining moment trying to make up for that one instance when everything
Then she gets a second chance.
When Carlene meets Nick Johnson, the single kiss they share
awakens the desires she shoved aside for so long. Suddenly she wants more than
what she believe she deserves. Will she ever see him again?
A thing of fate.
Leaving the life she built on regret, Carlene waits for fate
to intervene. But just as she begins to believe in a fresh start, she’s forced
to realize a horrible truth—one with the power to send her second chance
crashing before it even takes off.
Nick isn’t who she thought he was. She isn’t the girl he
believed her to be, either. Their lives were intertwined even before they met,
and if Carlene tells him the truth, she’ll risk tearing them apart—for good.
Lids heavy with sleep, I pulled myself to a sitting
position. My toes curled as my feet made contact with the cool, tiled floor.
Start of summer, and yet the sleeping hall never warmed up.
I shivered as I ran the palms of my hands over my bed sheet,
smoothing out the wrinkles of the night.
Time to wake Melisa, whose bed was positioned to the right
of mine. We both relied on my cell phone alarm, but Melisa didn’t respond to the ringing.
“Melisa, wake up,” I said, approaching her bed.
“Go to hell.” She pulled the threadbare blanket tighter
around her petite body.
“Come on, we’re on breakfast duty.”
She sighed, and shoved the blanket from her body. Her
sluggish movements roused suspicion inside me. “You had a drink last night,
“Do I look drunk to you?” Her heavy lashes flew up to reveal
“Yes, you do.” I hated to think what alcohol would do to her
beauty. Even after all she’d gone through, at thirty-four, Melisa Bergfeld’s beauty
hadn’t faded. Her amber eyes, fiery hair, and curves in all the right places
made most everyone look twice. I, on the other hand, was tall and slim with
minimal curves and full auburn hair that lacked luster. But I wouldn’t trade my
baby blue eyes for anything. They reminded me of the mother I’d never known.
All memories of my biological parents were photographs.
My parents died in a car crash when I was two, and I grew up
in The Serendipity Sunshine Orphanage and later with several foster parents. My
last foster family cared for me as if I were their own. They moved to
Germany—my foster mother’s home country—when I moved out at eighteen.
“One beer, that’s all,” Melisa admitted as she folded her
blanket carefully. It was one of the Oasis Shelter rules for neatness. All beds
should be well-made, and sleeping areas tidy at all times.
On our way to the bathroom, we walked down the aisle created
by thirty beds, fifteen on each side.
The female staff bathroom had two shower cubicles, a sink,
and a toilet with a broken cover. Nothing fancy, but at least it was clean.
Unlike the two residents’ bathrooms. No matter how much they were scrubbed
down, the mildew, grime, and dried globs of toothpaste never disappeared from
the walls and sinks.
“Morning, Suzie. Hi, Jade.” The two women, both in their
early thirties, stood at the sink, brushing their teeth. They nodded at my
“I need a strong coffee. My head is about to explode.”
Melisa’s back slumped against the wall, as we waited for our turn at the sink.
“What you need is to stop drinking.” I extracted her
toothbrush from her hand and squeezed toothpaste on it.
“I’ll stop tomorrow.” She wrapped one of her red pigtails
around her hand.
“Isn’t that what you always say?” Lauren finger-combed her
short, spiky black hair.
“And I mean it every time,” Melisa retorted. “What’s it to
you, anyway? At least I’m not a crack addict.”
“You know very well I kicked the habit years ago.”
“Once a drug addict, always a drug addict.” When Melisa was
drunk or hungover, her fuse was as short as a matchstick.
“Same as a drunk.” Jade intervened to defend her friend, but
then sighed. “We’re just trying to help.”
“You can help a lot by butting out of my business.”
Jade and Lauren both shook their heads and left the
“Melisa, we’re all in Oasis to heal. Putting each other down
only worsens things.” I handed her back the toothbrush.
“I know. That Lauren just drives me mad sometimes. Come on,
let’s finish up here.”
Two other women were on duty with us in the kitchen—Rory, a
resident, and Lynnette Magill, a frail woman with grey hair who founded the
By quarter to six, two large pots of coffee and two of tea
stood on the scarred wooden table next to the kitchen entrance. Melisa sliced
the bread, and I smeared the slices with peanut butter and strawberry jam.
Halfway through, my knife scraped the bottom of the jam jar. At Oasis, that
spelled disaster. Some residents would throw a tantrum if they didn’t have
their bread with both jam and peanut butter, as they were used to. It had
happened before—some disgruntled resident got aggressive and threw a punch at
one of the helpers.
Working at Oasis could be dangerous sometimes, and
exhausting, what with the long hours. But nothing could compare to the feeling
of being there for people in need. In my case, it was also an opportunity to
hide from the past and atone for my sins. By helping others get by, I helped
myself. The more strenuous the work, the better. It gave me less time to think,
“I guess you’ll have to run to Shop ‘n’ Carry,” Lynnette
said in her deep voice, unexpected for such a small woman. “Three jars should
be enough. I’m sending out some orders on Wednesday.”
The Serendipity Shop ‘n’ Carry chain of grocery stores had
once belonged to Matthew Magill, Lynnette’s father. Though he had sold the
chain at a nice profit, it still occasionally donated food to Oasis.
Getting out sounded perfect. I’d already planned to go out
for my monthly prayer at Grace Chapel.
I descended the front steps two at a time, and hurried down
the street, past The Rising Dough. The door to the bakery was half open, and
the aroma of cinnamon bread wafted out. My mouth watered, so I increased my
pace to avoid being lured in by the smell. As I neared the chapel, I considered
going in but then decided to stop by on my way back. When I spotted a queue
that started at the door of Patty’s Petals, cut across the pavement, and
stretched all the way into the street, I slowed down. Cars honked, and people
laughed and talked, excitement dripping from their voices.
Patty, her breasts spilling out of a too-small dress, handed
out bouquets of flowers and single roses. Today was her favorite day. The Rose
Petal Festival occurred every year on the first day of summer, drawing people
from not only Serendipity and other towns in Door County, but from the rest of
Wisconsin. A yearly tradition, attended by lovers and seekers of love. People
brought food, drink, music, and of course, rose petals from loved ones and
admirers to sprinkle into Lake Serendipity at midnight—a wish for good fortune
in love. It wasn’t my favorite day, though. The Festival reminded me only of
the day Chris died. But I had to find a way to get through it.
“Excuse me.” I pushed my way through the queue, breaking it
Twenty minutes later, I was headed back to Oasis. With every
step, the jars of jam chinked against each other inside my carrier bag as I
quickened my step.
But I stopped abruptly in front of the chapel, my stomach
clenched with tension.
A black Porsche was parked near the entrance. Expensive cars
were a rarity in this part of Serendipity.
Brushing aside my surprise, I lugged the jam jars—and my
heart—up the cracked steps and pushed open the heavy wooden door. The cool
interior smelled of burning candles and comfort.
I parted my lips and slowly breathed out.
For years, I’d lived life holding my breath, except when I
came here once a month to exhale. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person,
even if I did believe in God and had attended a church service every Sunday as
a child with Aunt Deena from the orphanage. But today, as always, I longed for
the soothing power of prayer.
I slipped into the last pew to the right and placed my bag
on the burnished wooden seat, next to a leather-bound hymnbook. The chink of
glass against glass rang out and echoed in the silent chapel. I looked up,
ready to apologize if I’d disturbed someone’s quiet moment.
Apart from a tall, suited man lighting a candle at a stand
near the altar, the church was isolated. He didn’t turn from the dancing flame
of the candle. But his broad shoulders slumped forward, and he shook his head
as if unwilling to come to terms with something.
Relieved not to have disturbed him, I clasped my hands and
closed my eyes to see the darkness in my soul. All I remembered were the events
of that fateful day.
Tears stung the backs of my eyes and then spilled out,
unhindered, warming my cheeks and dripping onto my hands. With every drop that
fell, guilt and regret shredded my insides.
I opened my mouth to pray, but the words froze inside my
throat. After all this time, I still found it difficult to put into words what
I’d done. Every time I came here, words failed me, and I ended up praying
without them, asking silently for the forgiveness I could never give myself.
A lot could happen in four years. People forget and move on,
start over. Yet I found it hard to unglue myself from the past. How could I
move on with the guilt weighing me down?
Did I even deserve a new start?
Blinding grief ripped through my chest and stomach as I
returned to that morning. The one that had shattered me in every way possible,
erased any chance of me ever living a normal life again.
“Are you all right?”
I wiped the tears from my face and looked up into eyes that
sparkled in the dim lighting. They belonged to someone who smelled of fresh
linen and vanilla. The man who, a few minutes ago, had been lighting a candle.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” My cheeks flushed.
I quickly picked up my things and headed for the opposite
end of the pew, down the aisle, and back out the door into the morning
sunshine. Pausing on the steps, I steadied myself.
“You didn’t look okay back there.”
I wheeled around and met the most vivid emerald eyes. I used
to think my ex, Chris, had the most gorgeous eyes. They were the same shade of
green. But this man’s were captivating, electric.
My gaze slid to his full and well-shaped lips, the strong,
square chin with a hint of a dimple in the center. A current raced through me,
almost knocking me over.
Attempting nonchalance, I leaned against the brick wall and
sucked in a breath. “I’m fine. I appreciate your concern.”
His lips stretched into a dimpled smile, and to my horror,
he wiped a remnant tear from my cheek. “People who are fine don’t shed these.”
He paused. “Unless they’re happy, of course. But I don’t think you are.”
Goose pimples prickled my arms, and I looked away. “I have
to go.” Unburdening my problems on a stranger wasn’t in my plans. Not even if
the stranger was a handsome one. Why would I tell him what I preferred to keep
He gazed at his watch and then back up at me. “Look, you
clearly need someone to talk to. So do I. I know I’m a stranger, but I’m a nice
stranger. I promise. How about a quick coffee?”
I tightened my grip on the strap of my grocery bag. I wanted
to walk away from this man. I knew I had to return to the shelter with the jam,
“Okay.” The word surprised both me and the stranger. Neither
of us had expected me to accept his offer. But something about him made it
impossible for me to walk away.