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Healing LukeHealing Luke

Ladies' man Luke Morgan has the world at his feet until a freak explosion leaves him burned and bitter. Luke's family offers gutsy occupational therapist Abby Stanford a job facilitating Luke's physical therapy, but Luke wants no part of his family's schemes or Abby's help. When sparks fly between Luke and Abby, Luke must face his deepest fears in order to claim the woman who brought his family together and taught him the real meaning of love.

 


 

"Healing Luke is along the lines of a typical romance novel but with a bit more depth and very charming characters. Well written and more than just a light beach read, this story will keep the reader wanting more." -- Armchair Interviews

"Beth Cornelison builds a fascinating tale of a family trying to cope with the emotional upheaval caused by injury to someone they love. Abby is an Occupational Therapist but she has her own pain to cope with. Luke's handsome body has been scarred by fire but Abby's has been scarred by constant teasing, insults, and her fiancé's rejection of her for a buxom blonde. It's easy to relate to the two on some level as the author shows us the struggle they go through to find emotional and/or physical healing.

The author does a great job crafting this tale. Rather than discount the importance of the process of healing Luke has to go through to focus on the love story, Ms. Cornelison make it a total process without the magic wand many wave to let the love story take precedence over reality.

Dynamics in any family are complicated. This tale helps to express that. It's a joy to read the amount of influence one person can have on the lives of the three great men in the Morgan family. The love story is great but made even better because it could be a slice of real life with real people. Ms. Cornelison excels again with this book." Overall rating: 5 out of 5 hearts! -- The Romance Studio


“Ready to begin?”

Luke turned from the living room window to face Abby when she spoke. She had disappeared with Bart after lunch, and Luke could only guess what kind of scheme they’d dreamed up now.

Did Bart really think some cute little chick was the trick to interesting him in rehab? If so, Bart was wrong.

He’d get better on his own terms and on his own schedule. He didn’t need the humiliation of someone hovering over him while he struggled like an incompetent klutz. And he especially didn’t need to make a fool of himself in front of a sexy woman like Abby.

By now she’d no doubt reported to Bart how he’d hassled her into admitting her real reason for being here. Though he didn’t want to admire Abby for her belated honesty, it seemed she was the only one leveling with him lately.

Now, as she crossed the room toward the sofa where he sat, he studied the strange collection of items she carried: pencils, a small ball, a rock, a seashell, scraps of cloth, and a stuffed animal. When she sat down next to him, he eyed her with suspicion. “What’s all that for?”

“Your rehab. I called your occupational therapist a little while ago, and she filled me in on the exercises she showed you the last time you went-- what, three weeks ago?” She paused and gave him an admonishing look. “She also suggested a little test that will help her know where things stand with your sensory discrimination.”

“No.”

“I’ll stay in touch with your OT and help you do the daily exercises she thinks you need,” Abby continued without blinking. “I’m sort of your dad’s assistant-  helping with the snorkelers as needed but also making sure you stay on track with your rehab.”

“The snorkelers might need your help. I don’t.”

She shrugged one shoulder. “Just the same. I’m here. You’re here. Why not give it a try?”

Her perky voice and blithe attitude grated his nerves. “Go away.”

“Not until we do some status checks Ms. Harris suggested. Give me your right hand.” She wiggled her own extended hand, encouraging him to comply.

“Get lost,” he grumbled and turned back to the window.

Trying the silly exercise didn’t bother him nearly as much as knowing he might not be able to pass her simple little test. He hadn’t wanted to do the tests at the OT’s office, so why would he do them now? The idea that his abilities were now limited yanked a knot of frustration and grief in his chest. Before the accident, he’d never doubted himself-  never had a reason to.

He watched a large pelican swoop down to perch on a post along the pier. The regal bird, standing alone against the vast backdrop of the Gulf, created a haunting image, one with which Luke identified all too well. Never in his life had he felt so alone against such imposing odds. He wanted to get out of this rut, but the hurdles seemed insurmountable. Especially with so many unknowns…

Abby still sat beside him on the sofa, and he sensed her gaze on him. Damn, she was stubborn! He thought about the way she’d stood up to his intimidation tactics that morning and had to admit he respected her grit.

“Come on, Luke. Ms. Harris wants me to assess your range of motion, your sensory discrimination, that sort of thing. It’s normal to—”

“Normal?” He jerked his gaze around again, narrowing a glare on her. “My life will never be normal again thanks to that damn explosion!”

“Oh, maybe not your old normal, but I can help you deal with your new normal, and—”

“My new normal? What kind of psychobabble shit is that?”

Despite his sharp tone, she remained calm. Her unwavering composure, when his snapped so easily these days, irritated him all the more. She shook her head, giving him a withering look. In return, he regarded her with cool detachment and took a magazine from the coffee table.

Abby sighed and propped a hand on her hip. “Do you want to get better, Luke? Or would you rather struggle and be miserable for the rest of your life?”

“I’d rather you shut up and left me alone.”

“To sulk?”

He slapped the magazine back down and shot a hard look at her. “What difference does it make to you?”

“It makes all the difference, Luke.”

The compassion and gentleness in her green eyes twisted him inside. He remembered the flash of apprehension he’d seen in those same eyes when he’d reached for her that morning in the office. She’d trembled when he’d stroked her breast, yet the desire he’d stirred in her had been unmistakable… and reciprocal. Her muffled moan had made him hard.

But if she’d enjoyed his touch, why had she fought her pleasure? His first thought was she’d been repulsed by his injuries, even though electricity crackled between them. Resentment for this rejection seethed inside him.

The shadows of a memory, long ago pushed to the recesses of his mind, taunted him, stirring a hollow ache. Another rejection, many years old.

As he’d practiced in recent weeks, he buried the rising pain under defensiveness and anger, disturbed that Abby had somehow summoned the ancient hurt.

Unable to meet her sympathetic gaze any longer, he stood up and stormed toward the kitchen.

She pursued him. “I have a patient at home who was paralyzed from the waist down when a drunk driver hit his car.”

Though he didn’t answer her, he sent her a querulous look meant to silence her. It didn’t work.

“You could learn something from him.” She wagged a finger at him. “Terrence will never walk again, but he’s glad to be alive and thankful for the chance to see his daughter graduate from high school later this month. You are lucky to have—”

“Lucky?” He smacked his good hand on the kitchen counter and pinned her with a scowl. “Just how the hell do you figure I’m lucky, lady? Was I lucky when that engine blew up? Was I lucky to lose an eye and all practical use of one hand? Was I lucky when you and my family ganged up on me and lied to me?”

She didn’t answer, and he stepped closer to her, yelling. “Well, was I? Am I lucky, Abby? I don’t think so!”

His outburst reverberated in the tiled kitchen, but she didn’t so much as flinch. Rather than feeling he’d scored any ground, her disapproving frown ate away another piece of his self-respect. Who was this ogre he’d become?

With a slow deep breath, she kept a maddeningly patient gaze on him. “Yes, you are very lucky, Luke. You have a father who would do anything for you. You have a brother who loves you so much that your pain is tearing him up inside. You have a heart that is still beating, two legs that work, a successful family business, a beautiful home, and… me.”

She stepped closer and fixed an earnest, tender gaze on him. “I’m here to help you, Luke. I know you’re confused and frightened right now.”

He opened his mouth to deny her assessment, but she put her hand over his lips. The gesture stunned him, silenced him. The cool gentleness of her fingers sent a sharp stab of longing and loneliness to his heart. He pulled away from her touch, glowering at her.

“Luke, let’s get one thing straight from the start.” She aimed a finger at him, and her voice stayed even but firm. “Life is about choices. I can’t make you do anything you don’t choose to do. You have to want it.

“I’ll help you if you want my help. And I’ll badger you if you don’t want my help, because your dad is counting on me to get through to you. But, ultimately, you have to make a choice. You can remain bitter, or you can get better.”

September 2009
Sourcebooks
ISBN 978-1-4022-2434-8

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