Under Her Wings
By Anne Marie Citro
Date Published: June 21, 2016
Wishing for death while living through hell, Gabriella is rescued off the rocks of a Scottish loch at the lowest moment of her life by the hot, humorous Edward and the sexy, staid Liam. The two men nurse the despondent woman back to health while teaching her how to pick up the pieces of her life. Both are captivated by her and vie for her attention.
Friendships are formed and secrets revealed. One man will become her lover, while the other becomes her best friend. Together, they have a past they cannot change, a present they must live through, and a future yet to be discovered. However, every time things appear to settle down for the trio, fate deals another blow, testing their trust and faith in each other and the love they have created.
Gabriella discovers the beauty of Scotland and life anew as she learns that trust is a two-way street that can either strengthen bonds or destroy relationships. Will she accept all that she learns or continue to believe she is betraying the memories she ran from?
Please Take Me
Gabriella stared out at the stormy water of Loch Snizort, five minutes away from the town of Portree on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. She sat on the edge of a cluster of boulders that were half-submerged in the loch. The spray of the water mingled with the tears streaming down her face. She was soaked, shivering, and not even aware the daylight was escaping from the night.
“Goddammit! God, if I believed in you—which I don’t—I would ask you why! Why!” She sobbed. “Why leave me? Please take me. I have nothing.” Her stomach muscles ached from the constant, racking sobs she couldn’t control.
She had contemplated suicide, but the fear that God did exist had stopped her. If by any chance an afterlife did exist, by killing herself, she would be denied the privilege of entering Heaven, of holding her beloved boys in her arms again. She would be stuck in the hell that was her never-ending existence.
It had been years—three to be exact—since her world had been turned from light to dark. Everyone had said she needed to deal with her grief, and she had tried. Regardless, it hadn’t worked.
Besides, who the fuck were they to say what stage of grief she was dealing with? What if the next stage never came, and she never recovered? Then what? Did people actually believe it was a conscious choice not to move on? Was it depression? Abso-fucking-lutely! Did seeing a shrink help? No. Did talking about it help? No. Did medication help? No, because no one seemed to understand Gabriella’s pain.
She had lost her world through no fault of her own. It was marred not just by loss, but also because of the rumours surrounding her family’s deaths …
Edward awoke to the sound of haunting sobs. A chill went up his spine, thinking if ever there were such things as ghosts, that would definitely be the sound they made. The sound triggered déjà vu in the recesses of his mind, and he searched his memory for something he couldn’t put his finger on.
The curiosity of the lost memory and the wailing sound drove him up and outside to either help whatever was making that noise or put the thing out of its misery. His mind was so busy trying to place the sounds that were haunting him that he inadvertently forgot to give Liam, his guard and best friend, a heads-up that he was leaving.
Night had descended hours ago, and even with a shirt and heavy sweater on, the chill still seeped into his bones. Combine that with the relentless sound, he was uneasy.
He cautiously walked through the gardens connected to the side door of his suite, which were stunning in the summer yet now looked lifeless and sad. He was on alert because of who he was. People were forever trying to catch him in compromising situations and always tried to take a piece of him, befriend him, and not because of friendship, but for gain. However, late April wasn’t a popular time to visit; the temperature could be downright nasty, and the sun rarely shone in the summer, let alone spring.
The inn they had chosen for its solitude was named McIntyre Country House, a beautiful, old estate that looked lonely with its regal, black roof and white exterior walls. Phone reception and Wi-Fi were on again, off again, tending to be more off.
The inn only had one other guest, and the innkeeper had tried to cancel that reservation to accommodate Edward’s privacy, but he had been unable to reach the guest in time. Instead, the owner had asked Edward if it was okay to put them on the other side of the building with the assurance they wouldn’t disturb the men. Edward had hesitantly conceded.
Just as the moon moved out from behind the clouds, the light allowed him to see.
“Good God,” he gasped.
There was a wee woman crying—no, howling—on the boulders by the loch. She must have been hurt, maybe had gotten her leg caught between the rocks, and was now crying out for help.
Edward ran at top speed then stopped just a few feet from the boulders so as not to alarm the woman curled up and cradling herself.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “Miss, are you all right?”
No answer, but her sobbing turned softer.
“I don’t want to frighten you, but I am going to join you on the boulders. Miss, can you hear me?”
Still no answer.
He approached her with caution, thinking she might have been attacked, that a man or an animal had hurt her. However, something about the sound of her agony led him to believe it wasn’t a physical pain, but something much deeper.
When Edward got closer, all sounds stopped from the woman. That frightened him more than the thought of ghosts.
Did he dare touch her? What if this was another setup to make him look bad in the eyes of the world?
Edward pushed all negative thoughts aside. He had to help her.
He touched the woman’s cheek. Holy Mother of Mary, she was either frozen, or she had died before his eyes.
“Miss …? Please, are you okay?”
Bloody hell, I have to get her warm, he thought.
Edward bent down and checked for a pulse, breathing with a sense of relief when he realized she had one. Next, he checked her body for wounds, running his hand around her skull and down her neck then checking his hands continuously for blood. Nothing. Next, he ran his hands down each arm, her torso, and finally down each of her legs. She appeared not to be bleeding or, by quick assessment, didn’t have any broken bones. His military training had its rewards, one being he was efficient in field combat first-aid.
He gently lifted the woman into his arms, which wasn’t an easy task since she was soaked to the bone. He had a dilemma. His arms were full, and if he made any sound or someone spotted him carrying a hurt woman, the press would explode and crucify him in the tabloids.
Shaking off those thoughts, he progressed carefully across the boulders; carried her quickly through the gardens; and, in mere moments, was back at the inn.
He gently laid her down on the ground and searched for his key.
Damn it to hell! He had forgotten to grab it.
He felt it before he heard the words, a gun pressed against the back of his skull. Fuck, could this night get any worse?
“Take your hand off the door and back away from the woman.”
Edward released a thankful breath.
“Liam, man, it’s me, Edward,” he whispered.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Liam cursed. “I could have blown your fucking head off. What in God’s green earth are you doing out here? And where the bloody hell did that woman come from?”
“There is something wrong, very wrong, with her,” Edward answered. “I think she’s hurt.”
Liam secured his weapon in his chest holster, gave Edward the key to both suites, and then gently lifted the woman into his arms. He had to wonder if Edward had dragged her body up from Loch Snizort. Had she almost drowned, or had she been trying to commit suicide?
Whatever had happened to this woman, Liam couldn’t even fathom. She was soaked and frozen. They needed to get herinside, and Edward out of sight.
Liam walked through Edward’s suite and told him to unlock the connecting door into his own. Once there, Liam laid the woman on the chesterfield. Even in an emergency, he had enough sense to do his job and protect Edward first. He also had to consider any gossip that could surround Edward, especially if anyone knew there was an unconscious woman in their lodgings.
After re-establishing she had a pulse, first-aid 101 stated she needed to be warmed up as quickly as possible. Therefore, Liam instructed Edward to go into his closet and grab his workout clothes, consisting of sweat pants, a T-shirt, and a hooded sweatshirt. Liam also wanted towels.
Liam looked down at the girl and assessed her age to be mid- to late-twenties. She looked like a drowned rat with herlong, dark hair hanging in wet clumps around her delicate, tiny face. Her bone structure was fine and reminded him of a bird. Her skin was a grey colour, wrinkled, wet, and goose bumps covered every inch. Her lips were purple, and she had dark circles under her eyes that made her look even younger. Liam noticed all this as he started to remove her clothing.
He tried to give her as much dignity as he could, which wasn’t an easy task when the jeans were so wet they clung toher like a second skin. Regardless, he finally managed to peel the pants off along with a turquoise lace thong. The woman’s lady bits were hairless, much like the slags from porn movies.
Liam, feeling a little guilt and shame for noticing, and quickly averted his eyes, moving on to pull her coat and sweater off. As he did, he couldn’t help noticing she had on a matching turquoise bra that he removed to reveal her shapely breasts. What really knocked the breath out of his lungs were the stretch marks and scars that lay all over her lower belly. This young woman was someone’s mum, and it was his responsibility now to make sure she was reunited with her loved ones.
Why was she alone, wet, and nearly frozen to death? Where was her family?
Edward approached with the items Liam had requested, but before he reached the girl, Liam stopped him.
“Throw the clothes and wait until I cover her.”
“Really, Liam? Sod the fuck off. She isn’t the first female I have seen naked.”
“But she is someone’s mum, and if it were Raven, she would have been devastated by one strange man seeing hernaked, let alone two.”
At the mention of Raven, Edward stopped dead in his tracks, tossed the clothing, and turned his back. Liam very rarely mentioned Raven, so this meant something to him.
Liam worked quickly and efficiently to warm and dress the mysterious woman. Now all tucked in the chesterfield with his clothing swimming on her tiny frame and blankets wrapped around her, she appeared to be resting peacefully.
Liam turned to Edward. “Where did the lass come from? Who is she? And why did you not call me to give assistance?”
Edward painstakingly retold the tale of the last forty-five minutes, wondering why things always happened to him.
Liam wouldn’t call the authorities or Scotland Yard yet, not until they were certain the young woman wanted or needed police help. He wanted Edward far away from whatever was going on. Nevertheless, they would have to wait to get answers when she awoke.
About the Author
Anne Marie Citro grew born and raised in the greater Toronto area of Ontario, Canada. She grew up in a large, loving family. Anne Marie is married to a very patient man. He is the love of her life. They have four very cool sons, and the girls they brought into their family that have become daughters of her heart. She has been blessed enough to finally have a beautiful granddaughter after four sons. She has her own personal gaggle of girlfriends, who enrich her life on a daily basis and make her laugh. Caesar Friday is her favourite day of the week. Caesars with the girls and date night with her hubby. She works with special-needs teenagers, that have taught her how to appreciate life and see it through gentler eyes. Anne Marie was encouraged by her husband to follow her life long dream to write. She loves the characters that take over imagination and haunts her dreams. She loves the arts and she has tried her hand at painting, wood sculpting, chainsaw carving, wood burning, metal and wire sculptures. Yes, her husband is a very patient man! Anne Marie is an avid reader and enjoys about three books per week. But nothing makes her happier then riding on the back of her husband’s Harley and throwing her arms out and feeling the wind race by. Anne Marie and her husband take a few weeks every year to travel to spectacular destination around the world. Anne Marie is excited and can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for her life.and enjoys about three books per week.