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Authors: Clara James

Her Last Love Affair

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Her Last Love Affair

 

by

Clara James

Copyright © 2013 by
Clara James

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any persons,
living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

Her Last Love Affair

All rights reserved.

This book is protected under the
copyright laws of the United States of America.
No part
of this work may be used, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording and faxing,
or by any information storage and retrieval system by anyone but the purchaser
for their own personal use.

 

This Book may not be reproduced in
any form without the express written permission of Clara James, except in the
case of a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages for the sake of a review
written for inclusions in a magazine, newspaper, or journal—and these cases
require written approval from Clara James prior to publication. Any
reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is
prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

 

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter One

Workaholic

K
yle Needham slammed his open palm on the desk and
thrust his chair back. “You haven’t got enough to go on, Allie,” he insisted.
“If we publish this, he’s going to sue.”

The young woman he spoke to paced the width of his office.
“It’s the truth,” she argued, tossing the words over her shoulder. “Every
single word of it is the truth. He can’t get away with pretending to be Mr.
Squeaky Clean.” She continued to stride, her long legs taking her across the
office in four steps. Reaching the wall, she spun on her heel and made short
work of the return journey.

“I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Kyle sighed, recognizing the
stubborn glare in her fiery brown eyes. “But you do not have enough evidence.”

“What about the statements from his ex-wife?” she quickly
asked, halting her feet directly opposite his desk and folding her arms beneath
her bosom.

Needham slowly shook his head, refusing to meet her stare.
“It’s not enough, Allie, and you know it.”

Sucking her bottom lip between her teeth, she chewed
thoughtfully on the soft flesh. She waited patiently for her boss to lift his
eyes to hers, but sensed the wait was in vain. “I’m not letting this go,” she
told him, as she flicked her head, tossing a few strands of dark brunette hair
from her face.

“This isn’t up for discussion any more,” Needham responded flatly.
“I’m reassigning you and as far as I’m concerned, that’s an end to it.”

“But-” she began.

“That’s the end of it,” he repeated, his tone stern.

A tiny muscle in Allie’s jaw clenched as she fought to
maintain an already slender hold on her temper. “You want more evidence,” she
huffed, exhaling a breath she’d been holding for almost too long. “Fine, I’ll
get more evidence, but don’t take me off the story.”

Shaking his balding, weary head, Needham cast his eyes to
the computer screen to his right. Fixing his gaze there, he pulled his chair
back under the table and, with a sigh, lifted his hands to the keyboard.

“Chief,” Allie urged. “Chief,” she repeated more loudly than
before, as it became apparent that she was not going to regain his attention.
Allowing her arms to flop listlessly by her sides, she glanced helplessly at
the ceiling. “I’ve been working on this for two months, you can’t just-”

The case for her story came to an abrupt halt, as a light
tap sounded on the office door’s window. It was followed by the slow creak of
hinges and a scruffy mop of sandy blonde hair that appeared in the opening.
“Sorry to interrupt,” the face beneath the hair mumbled.

“It’s fine,” Needham stated, before Allie could open her
mouth to tell the newcomer to go away. “Come in, Grant.”

“Oh,” the nervous youngster blurted. “It’s okay, sir,” he
added, shaking his head. “I just came to get Allie.” Turning his focus towards
the irascible female reporter, he flashed an apologetic smile. “There’s a phone
call for you.”

“Just take a message,” she sighed, barely looking at the
boyish-faced new recruit, whom she’d quickly come to view as being like a pesky
younger brother.

“Umm,” he stalled. “Well, it sounded kinda important,” he
carefully insisted, stepping back a pace, as though he anticipated an
explosion.

Her eyes quickly left the frightened looking Grant to find
her editor smiling benignly at her.

“Go ahead,” he nudged, jerking his head toward the door.
“We’re done here anyway, remember?”

“We’re not done,” she argued, taking a small step backwards.
“I’m not going to leave this,” she added, pointing her index finger at her
employer. Despite herself, she took another step backwards, extending her right
hand behind her and reaching for the door handle. “I’ve never let a story go
yet,” she reminded him.

Needham wasn’t sure whether that was indicative of a threat
or a promise, but he watched her go unable to dismiss his admiration for her
steely determination; something that had prompted him to hire her six years
previously. Knowing that he’d only managed to win round one, he sighed in preparation
or the inevitable round two.

Allie left the editor’s office, closing the door more firmly
than was necessary.

“I’m sorry, Al,” Grant mumbled still lurking nearby, but
careful to keep out of arm’s reach. “I didn’t know you were discussing something
important.”

Closing her eyes, Allie tried to take a calming breath. It
did little to help, but, by the time she opened her eyes again, she couldn’t
quite find it within herself to be angry at the office gofer. “It’s all right,”
she said, aware that the words were spoken with such lethargy that even she
didn’t believe the sentiment. “He’s trying to kill the Pelzer exposé,” she
explained, her feet moving apathetically towards her desk.

“Oh,” Grant responded. “That sucks,” he shrugged, knowing
how many hours she had devoted to building the story and having spent a few
late nights searching for background on her behalf.

Tossing him a glance, she nodded. “Yeah, you could say
that.”

“But it’s not going to stop you, right?” he added,
enthusiastically. “You’re Allie Mclaren, nothing stands in your way.”

She managed a light chuckle, as she tried to show her
gratitude for the impromptu pep talk. However, by the time she tossed herself
into her chair, she couldn’t manage to keep the smile in place.

“Oh,” the young man added excitedly, placing a hand on her
shoulder. “I know you said you weren’t interested, but that guy from the press
conference last week keeps calling. He offered to take you to dinner on Friday,
and if that’s no good, a movie on Saturday.”

Shaking her head, she picked up a pile of haphazardly
scattered papers on her desk. “I told him, I’m too busy,” she sighed, repeating
herself for what felt like the hundredth time.

“Well,” Grant urged, squeezing her tense shoulder beneath
his long fingers. “He seems keen, so if you change your mind…” As his words
trailed off, he quirked his eyebrows suggestively.

“Is that the phone call you dragged me out her for?” she
demanded, ignoring the innuendo of his brow and rummaging frustratedly through
the sheaves of paper.

“No,” he laughed, removing his hand and pointing at the
phone in the far corner of her desk. “Line two,” he told her, before his head
jerked up at the screech of his name. “Duty calls,” he muttered, following the
direction of the impatient yell.

Allie raised her left hand in a half-hearted wave, before
reaching for the telephone. Quickly gripping the receiver, she scooped it up
onto her shoulder and clamping it to her cheek. With both hands once again
free, she returned to her search through the mess on her desk. “Allie Mclaren,”
she said flatly into the phone.

“Oh, Ms. Mclaren,” a female voice returned. “I’m calling
from Dr. Reynolds office. He’d like you to come down to see him.”

The frantic movement of Allie’s fingers slowed, before
coming to a complete halt. “What is it?” she asked in barely more than a
whisper.

 

***

 

Dr. Reynold’s office was as homely as any doctor’s office
can be. The cream colored walls were adorned with Monet prints and he offered
his patients a high-backed brown leather chair. Everything on his mahogany desk
was neatly arranged and, for reasons she couldn’t explain, Allie had always
wanted to shift something out of line or, better still, tip his pen holder
over.

This time, however, she paid no attention to the
compulsively organized desk. Instead, she sat quietly and almost completely
still. The only movement was the light swing of her right leg, which was
crossed over its partner. She watched the black court shoe, as it swayed back
and forth. Momentarily her eyes traveled to the bruise on the inside of her
ankle, which was not very well masked by the tan pantyhose she wore. Another
war wound; an injury she’d picked up while in the scrum of a press conference.
Her brain was unable to focus on anything other than the slow, hypnotic motion
of her foot. It was as though anything else, anything even slightly more
significant, would be overwhelming.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting.” The deep voice came from
behind her, but she didn’t bother to turn around. She could hear the soft brush
of his pant legs, as he made his way swiftly across the room. Allie caught a
brief glimpse of the doctor in her peripheral vision, as he approached her
right hand side and continued his route around the desk.

“That’s all right,” she said, her gaze lifting from her
shoe, as she forced a smile.

Dr. Reynolds didn’t return the grin. The middle-aged man,
with a slight potbelly, gently smoothed over his tie as he sat down in a chair
almost identical to the one Allie was using. “Thanks for coming in so quickly,”
he nodded, running a hand through his black hair, which was speckled with
strands of white.

“Well,” Allie murmured. “You’re secretary said it was
important.”

The doctor offered a hum in response, while the hand that
had been in his hair dropped to the side of his face. One chunky index finger
rubbed thoughtfully at his jaw. “We’ve got the results from your blood test,”
he stated. “I’m afraid it’s not good news.”

“I’m still anemic?” Allie offered, trying to preempt what
the doctor had to say.

“I’m sorry,” the doctor said, looking Allie directly in the
eyes. “It’s much worse than anemia.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Allie,” Reynolds said gently. “You’ve got leukemia.”

There followed a deathly silence. Allie could no longer hear
the steady roll of traffic outside, she couldn’t hear the hum of the air
conditioning. “Cancer?” The word was half question, half resigned statement.

“I’m so sorry,” Reynolds responded calmly and
professionally.

“But…” Allie stammered, her head shaking in disbelief.
“I…No,” she eventually insisted, as though that simple statement of denial
would mean that it wasn’t true.

“You’re suffering from the acute myeloid form of the
disease,” Dr. Reynolds said in the same even manner he’d used since he walked
into the room. “I want to put you on an aggressive course of chemo right away.”

Allie’s head stilled, as she began to digest the doctor’s
words. The beat of her heart became more prominent, the rhythm no more quick
than usual, but every pulse stronger than the one before. Her breathing slowed,
as she drew in deep lungfuls of oxygen. “Am I going to die?” she asked simply,
fixing Reynolds with an unflinching stare.

There was a moment’s pause before he responded. “There’s a
chance that with strong doses of chemotherapy and radio-”

“How long?” she interrupted, knowing that the man’s brief
pause answered her question more truthfully than the positive spin he was now
trying to put on the situation.

Reynolds cocked his head to one side, regarding the stoic
features of the young woman before him. “I don’t know,” he honestly replied.
“These things aren’t an exact science. It depends how quickly the cancer
spreads to your organs or…” The thought trailed off, as he noticed the glazed
eyes of his patient. “Allie,” he nudged. “I know an excellent oncologist.”

BOOK: Her Last Love Affair
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