Contemporary Romance focusing on love, family, abuse, military, hope and overcoming trials.
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CaSondra Poulsen-The Official Website
From the author of Torn Hearts comes another moving love story, Calling Me Home. CaSondra Poulsen once again tugs the heartstrings and reaches the powerful emotions that call us home.
What will your answer be when your heart calls you home?
Tom’s smooth surfing life becomes a series of crashing waves when he finds Samantha Richards beaten and barely conscious on the shore of Huntington Beach. His protective nature draws him to shelter the small-town Nebraska girl as she recovers. Captivated by her beauty, Tom quickly falls for Samantha, all the while struggling to understand her family’s lack of concern. The attack has left Samantha battling to unlock the memories trapped within her mind. Hurt and confused by her family’s scarcity, she decides to focus on the one who is concerned about her, Tom. Taya Mitchell, Tom’s sister and Samantha’s best friend encourages their relationship until Samantha’s brother shows up at their home. Greeted by a stiff right-hook, Brian immediately disdains Tom. Taya impressed by Brian’s ability to hold his own with her brother offers him kindness. As the siblings maneuver through the inundating emotions, tragedy strikes once more, bringing them closer, and pushing them farther than they thought possible.
“Dad, I can do this.” Samantha said, moving her hands up and down with each word.
“Samantha, I don’t know. Your mom and I are making arrangements for the missionary work in South Africa. While we’re gone, it won’t be easy to contact us. Brian won’t be close by either.”
“I’m twenty years old. I’m not a child anymore. I can do this. I want to do this. I want your blessing. I’ve always dreamed about becoming a chef and now I have the opportunity. Please, don’t let your fear hold me back.” Samantha slumped onto the well-worn couch across from her father. “Dad, please don’t expect me to stay here. When you and Mom leave, I’ll be all alone either way you look at it.”
He looked up from the Bible in his lap to meet her pleading eyes. “Levi will be around,” he said.
Samantha stiffened. “Oh, Daddy, that is long over.” She stood with a sigh.
“Are you sure it’s over for Levi?” He peered over his black-rimmed glasses. She crossed her arms, hugging her waist tight.
“It doesn’t matter if it is for Levi or not— it is for me.” Samantha turned and walked into the kitchen. He could hear the cupboard door slam, and smiled to himself.
“Samantha,” he called after her. She appeared in the doorway. “Samantha, I love you.”
“I love you too, Dad.” She let her anger go as she looked at him; he only wanted to shelter her as he had always tried to do.
He looked at the independent woman standing before him and wondered where his little girl had gone. With a sigh, he said, “You’ve been saving for this. I suppose if we leave in two or three weeks we can find you an apartment in a safe neighborhood.”
Samantha needed no more prompting. She leaped forward into her father’s lap, hugging his neck like she had always done as a little girl.
“Oh Daddy, thank you!” She released him and ran for the stairs. “Brian! Brian! I’m going!” She took the stairs two at a time.
“Way to wear him down, Sam,” Brian said with a grin, leaning against the wall at the top of the stairs where he had been no doubt eavesdropping.
“I didn’t wear him down. I reasoned with him,” she said lifting her chin and squaring her shoulders.
“Right,” he said pushing off the wall.
“Really, Brian, I reasoned with him. It just took a while to convince him. I can’t believe I’m really going! You’ll come visit me, right? We can go to the beach.” She stepped back and looked up at him.
“Sure, Sam, of course I’ll visit you. Constantly!”
“Dinner’s ready, kids.”
“Be right down, Mom,” Samantha yelled.
Brian reached to tousle her hair. She smiled back as she started down the stairs. Once in the kitchen, Samantha pulled four glasses from the cupboard to help her mom set the table. “Are you excited to be planning for South Africa after all this time of dreaming about it?” she asked her mother.
“Yes, but I’m nervous too. The area needs so much help,” her mother said as she laid a fork on top of the napkin, letting her fingers slowly travel down the handle.
“Grandma Richards' silver?” Samantha raised her brow.
“It’s a special occasion.”
“Yes, for everyone.” She smiled back, unable to hide her joy.
“I suppose it is.”
“Suppose what is?” Brian asked as he entered the kitchen.
“A special occasion.”
“Yeah, we’re all moving on to something exciting,” he said pulling out a chair for his mom before reaching for another and winked at Samantha.
“No, thank you. The last time you pulled the chair out for me I ended up on the floor.”
Brian covered his mouth, snickering.
“Trying to help your sister again?” Their father observed as he entered the room.
“Trying, but she won’t let me.” Brian shook his head.
“Oh, please.” Samantha shoved him playfully.
“The waves are going to be epic today,” Andy said as he took his skeleton-decaled surfboard from the back of the saltwater-faded green Ford Ranchero. The simulated wood panel had long vanished from the front left fender.
“Yeah, I’ve been waiting for the offshore winds. We should catch some air today,” Tom said, unhooking his yellow and white striped board.
The sun rose in the sky and the air felt warm as they made their way down the beach. The sand was warm and promised to be scorching as the day wore on. Tom wiggled his feet side to side as he walked, feeling the coolness just under the surface. He closed his eyes and breathed in deep, letting the warm, salty air fill his lungs.
“What’s that?” Andy pointed to a lump at the water’s edge as a wave washed up over it, uncovering the face of a young woman.
“It’s a girl. Call 9-1-1,” Tom said over his shoulder as he dropped his board and ran to her. Reaching her side, he lifted her head out of the water as another wave washed over her body.
Andy came to Tom’s side, still on the phone. Tom looked up.
“I know her. She’s Taya’s friend, Samantha, from school.”
Samantha made a faint attempt to move her arm.
“She’s not dead. She just moved. Yeah. Huntington Beach, between eleventh and tenth,” Andy spoke quickly into the phone and turned toward the boardwalk.
Tom looked down at Samantha. What happened to her? She wore a torn black dress. Her shoes were missing, as was any identification. She had some bruises and small cuts. If she washed up onto the shore, that could have caused some of them, he thought, glancing away for a moment from her to Andy.
Samantha tried to move away from him and moaned.
“Shh, Samantha, it’s okay. It’s Tom. Tom Mitchell. Taya’s brother. Try not to move an ambulance is on the way. I can hear it coming,” Tom said softly, trying to comfort her. Samantha replied with another moan.
Tom did not know if she could hear him. She tried to lift her head and he supported it with his hand.
“Samantha, please be still. The ambulance is on the way.” Another wave flowed across her body and then ebbed. Where are they? They should be here by now. He could hear the sirens in the distance.
“Look at her neck,” Andy said, his eyes widening while he pointed at her.
Tom leaned over to get a better look. Samantha’s slender neck was deeply bruised in what looked like a handprint. A shudder crawled down his spine. He brushed Samantha’s dark brown hair from her face. The wet sand clung to it and glittered in the morning sunlight. She moaned again and tried to turn her head away from his touch. He stopped, and she quieted.
The medic ran to Samantha’s side and began checking her vital signs. When the second medic arrived with the body board, they braced her neck and moved in deliberate, synchronized surety to place her battered body on the board. Before Tom could say anything, they were carrying her to the ambulance.
“Andy, I’m going with her to the hospital. Call Taya and get my board,” Tom called over his shoulder as he ran after Samantha and the medics. “She’ll need a familiar face around when she comes to. She might be scared.” He turned to catch up to them, not waiting for Andy’s reply.
“Sure thing, dude,” Andy yelled at Tom’s back. “But what about the waves?”
Once in the ambulance the medic started to ask questions while he worked on Samantha. The sirens cut through the early morning air. Flashing lights reflected off the windshields of approaching cars. Tom rubbed his palms together as the medic touched her; he moved with purpose but it was not gentle.
“Did you move her before we arrived?”
“No, I just put my hand under her head to raise it out of the water.”
“Do you know her?”
“Yes. She’s a friend of my sister’s.”
“Do you know how to contact her family?”
“No, she’s from out of state. She goes to school with my sister.”
“By the marks on her neck, it looks like someone tried to strangle her. They will run some tests at the hospital.” Tom shuddered. “Are you a close friend?”
“Yes.” Tom said. As close as she has here, he thought. He stared at his hands and thought of the waves he would be missing. Samantha moaned. The EMT took a syringe and injected a clear fluid into the IV he had inserted into her hand. “I’ll stay.” Samantha quieted and her body relaxed, the waves forgotten. “What did you give her?”
“Something to help her sleep. Her vitals are stable. She needs to rest.”
Tom reached out and caressed the top of her hand. Who would want to hurt Samantha?
The ambulance pulled into the hospital and the medics jumped out. Several people dressed in scrubs rushed to Samantha’s side. They spoke a language Tom did not fully understand.
“Female. Early twenties. Minor cuts. Sub-dermal hemorrhaging on neck, arms and hands. Massive contusion on skull—left parietal and frontal lobes. BP is stable at one-ten over seventy. Brachial pulse sixty. Administered Ketamine, two mg/kg IV at zero-six-thirty-one. ”
He followed close behind as they rushed her into the emergency room.
“Are you related to her?” a nurse asked from behind him.
“Then I have to ask you to leave. You can’t be back here.”
“She doesn’t have any family here. I’m the closest she has,” Tom said, not moving from his spot.
“Sir.” The nurse tried again, putting her hands on her hips.
“I’m not leaving her,” Tom said, pressing his lips into a straight line as he looked down at the nurse.
She turned on her heel, walking to the circular desk a few feet away and began speaking to an older man in a suit. As the nurse spoke, she waved her hands around and tilted her head back and forth.
She looks like a cartoon, Tom thought.
After a few minutes, the man in the suit walked over to him.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Samuel Taylor, the hospital administrator,” he said.
“Hey, I'm Tom Mitchell,” Tom said, extending his hand. Dr. Taylor accepted the gesture with a formal smile.
“I understand the young woman you came in with doesn’t have family in California. Is that correct?”
“Yes, her name is Samantha Richards. My sister should be here soon. She knows where Samantha lived before moving here. I know she’s a student at The Art Institute, culinary studies, same as Taya. My sister.”
The older man looked Tom over, causing him to shuffle his feet as he looked down at his wet suit. He ran his fingers through his uncombed, sun-bleached hair and then rubbed his unshaven face. I hope Taya thinks to bring me a change of clothes. Andy was sure not to think of it; he was probably riding a wave right now.
“I understand that you are planning to stay with Miss Richards,” Dr. Taylor said.
“Yes, she might be scared when she wakes up. I don’t want her to be alone. Who knows what happened to her.” He looked past the swarm of people in scrubs, to where Samantha lay partially behind a curtain on the narrow hospital bed. His eyes softened and he shook his head as he pictured the bruises on her neck.
The older man watched Tom as he spoke and noted his body language.
“Usually we do not allow non-family members to stay, but I think I will make an exception until they arrive,” Dr. Taylor said with a small smile.
“Thank you,” Tom said relieved as he ran his fingers through his tangled hair.