Fighting to breathe, p.1
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       Fighting to Breathe, p.1

         Part #1 of Shooting Stars series by Aurora Rose Reynolds
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Fighting to Breathe

  Fighting to Breathe

  Aurora Rose Reynolds

  Copyright © 2015 Crystal Aurora Rose Reynolds

  Nook Edition

  Kayla Greenwood Robichaux executive Editor

  Cover design by Sara Eirew

  Designs: Formatted by BB eBooks

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons or living or dead, events or locals are entirely coincidental.

  The author acknowledges the trademark status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/ Use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.

  All rights reserved.

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  About the Book


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15



  From Me to You

  Other books by this Author


  To the fighters, the winners, the gone but not forgotten, this book belongs to you.

  Flossie “Nana” Arpasy (Angel), Grandma Guillemette (Angel) Zoë Graves (Angel), Aunt Precious (Won) Sylvia (Angel), Pat (Angel), MJ Carnal (Fighting), Robert Nuzzi (Angel), Sharon Ross (Angel), Steven Goyack (Angel), Sharon (Angel), Gordon (Angel), Robert Ross (Angel), Yolanda Santos (Angel), Mary C Rodriguez (Angel), Cheryl Rhoads (Won), Betty Bryan (Angel), Rose Kewosh (Angel), Nancy Beveridge (Fighting), Annie Baird (Angel), Brian Davidson (Angel), Treva Jarrell (Angel), Nikki Mitchell (Angel), Kay Cocozzo (Angel), John Moulden (Angel), Vera Brown (Angel), Gale Allison (Fighting), Robert Brassell (Angel), Ashley Friend (Angel), James Shaw (Angel), Ken McMahan (Angel), Lynne Brown (Angel), Leo Hubble (Angel), Terry Voyles (Angel), Michael Fleming (Angel), Mazie Kelly (Angel), John Kelly (Angel), John Hickey (Angel), Tom Kelly (Won), Betty Kelly (Fighting), Vanessa Broadhurst Miller (Fighting), Jim Jankowski (Angel), Tammy (Won), Lillian Garrett (Won), Tootie Garrett (Angel), Charles (Angel), Danny Walls (Fighting), Jerry Walls (Fighting), Sunny Walls (Fighting), Jane Titcher (Angel), Linda Gnat-Moore (Angel), Karen Robbins-Bell (Won), Judy Scheetz (Angel), Cyndy Andrews (Angel), Cristy Martinez (Angel), Vi Collins (Angel), Alice Ervin(Won), Lorraine Moen (Won), Diane Daisey (Angel), Cecilia Sargent (Angel), Dianne Long (Won), David Perchal (Angel), Micheal Bonds (Angel), Renee Cooper R.N. (Angel), Ernie Wright (Angel), Brenda Wright (Angel), Cynthia Hartley (Angel), Helen Young (Angel), Cletus O’Dell (Won), Carmen Stalsberg (Angel), Sandra my aunt (Fighting), Joseph grandad (Angel), Rachel Blick (Won), Ronni Roth (Angel), James “Papa” Harris (Angel), Brylee West (Fighting), Sally Howe (Angel), Mike Bowman (Angel), Kurt Volger (Fighting), Denise Leblanc (Angel), Delia Turner (Won), Donna Witchey (Angel), Gail Santilli (Angel), Avril Monroe Teaster (Angel), Melissa Ferrell Williams (Won), Eleanor Tryon (Angel), Helen (Angel), Patty Balmer (Fighting), Abdias Ramos (Angel), William Issette (Angel), Emil G Dvorshock (Angel), John Stasek (Angel), Kathy Hammerson (Angel), John Lehec (Angel), Victor Lehec (Won), Danny Lehec (Won), Barry Macdonald (Fighting), Ed Clark (Angel), Donna Hays (Fighting), Jacqueline Martinez (Fighting), Marilyn Hicks (Fighting), Eludina Miranda (Won), Felipe Rosario (Angel), Aide Vazquez (Angel), Theodore Vazquez (Angel), Derek Scott (Angel), Margarette Mullikin (Fighting), Ronald William (Angel), Heather Smith (Angel), Queenie Mason (Angel), Vickie Whitney (Angel), Geoff Munkenbeck (Angel), Iris Seath (Angel), Regina Trinidad (Won), Stella Bird Radle (Fighting), Cassie Simpson (Angel), Callimae Venable (Angel), Mary Lutrina Williams (Angel), Carl Williams (Angel), Olen Williams (Angel), Wanda Williams (Fighting), Katie Arrigo (Won), Virgina Adams (Won/Fighting), Velma Sommerer (Angel), Lynne Hahn (Fighting), Frank Andres (Angel), Ora Porter (Angel), Bill Kuklenski (Won), Paolo Siciliano (Angel), Virginia Denning (Fighting), Eddie Gaumer (Angel), Yvette Roberts (Angel), Carolyn Tate (Angel), Maria Antonia Paz (Angel), Megan Reeves (Angel), Polly Robbins (Angel), Eleanor Kreitz (Angel), Richard Kreitz (Fighting), Katrina Brownell (Angel), Karen Lopez (Won), Gloria Laguna (Angel), Greg Lance (Won), Ofie Dela Pena (Angel), Deborah Cole (Angel), Junior Hamby. (Angel), Victoria Canoto (Won), Larry Jones (Angel), Bill G. Shaw (Angel), Michelle Lord (Fighting), Karen Carozza (Angel), Claire Metcalf (Angel), Robert Steck Sr. (Angel), robert steck jr. (Won), Patricia robinson (Won), Pauline C Villa (Fighting), Sui Yung Yau (Won), Sandy Borrero (Won), Eduardo Barral (Angel), Grandma (Angel), Felice Webber (Angel), Sherry Bishop Borrero (Fighting), Terry Herrington (Angel), O.D. Smith (Angel), Robin Aisen (Won), Timothy Williams (Angel), Randall Williams (Angel), John Featheringill (Fighting), Carol Dial (Angel), Jim Sanders (Angel), Luther Rice (Fighting), Jerry Dugal (Angel), Michelle Cage (Fighting), Marie Ease (Angel), Opie Davis (Angel), Dale Chekwech (Fighting), Toney W Poole Sr. (Fighting/Won), Joan Jenkins (Won), Sharon Batson (Fighting), Denise Proctor (Angel), Chris Stabo (Angel), Rafael Pantoja (Won), Tommy Matlosz (Angel), Aunt Aggie (Won), Barbara Salandy (Angel), Catherine Hastings (Angel), Grant Ketner Sr. (Angel), Ellen Ketner (Angel), Alvin Ketner (Angel), Bill Guando (Angel), Wanetta Vickers (Fighting), John “Cookie” Basile (Angel), Donna Yarosz-Harris (Won), Michele Tenedine Stoto (Angel), Amy Duffy (Won), Dan Breault (Won), Norma Medlin (Angel), Delores Brumbaugh (Angel), Dorothy Reeves (Angel), Shirley Seigler (Angel), Deana Crowell (Angel), Mary Elizabejt Durham (Fighting), Sandra Jordan (Angel), Henryk Thoma (Angel), Sophie Cepulonis (Angel), Perry Clevinger (Angel), Carmen Monti (Angel), Cesar Emilio Baez (Angel), Grandma Rusty (Angel), Grandpa Bob (Angel), Rosemary Dolan (Angel), William F Wulf (Angel), Cate Drake (Angel), Laura Duguay (Fighting), Avi Kouris (Angel), William Bass (Angel), Pamela Scott (Angel), Emma Keating (Won), Martha Kalbus Kalbus (Fighting), Denise Terry Kalbus (Fighting), Ronnie Goldman (Angel), Audrey Hobbs (Angel), James Skeen (Angel), Dorothy M Smith (Angel), Alberta Wyatt (Angel), Gerald Wyatt (Angel), William Duren (Fighting), Ann Duren (Won), Lois Rollings (Angel), Mary Lane (Angel), Homer Harris (Angel), Maureen Muzikar (Angel), Margaret Davies (Angel), Diana Littlefield (Angel), Wanda Cochran (Angel), Randy Donaldson (Angel), Rebecca Meek (Angel), Jennifer Barr (Fighting), Amanda Cross (Won), Paul Standard (Angel), Allen Standard (Won), Carol B. (Won), Lilly B. (Won), Nicole Stygar (Won), Michael Milam (Angel), Lena Brock (Angel), Gail Stabback (Angel), Warren Treadgold (Fighting), Paul Currier (Angel), Secundo Fernandes (Angel), Betty Begley (Angel), Isacc Bode (Angel), Amanda Ray Petty (Angel), France Familiaran (Fighting), Doris Scobey (Angel), Wesley Scobey (Angel), Tracy Hill Janosko (Fighting), Lori Garding (Fighting), Cheryl Elens (Angel), Barbara Robichaux (Angel), Blanche Webber (Angel), Penny Nixon (Angel), Donna Merow (Angel), Warren Wirges (Angel), Esther Wirges (Angel), Allison Merow (Won), Arlene Geekie (Angel), Ida Pelham (Angel), Joseph LoCicero (Angel), Margaret Parry (Angel), Alfred Parry (Angel), Dorman Henry (Angel)

  Fighting to Breathe

  Looking out at the ocean, you sometimes forget it’s dangerous.

  The sea is like a woman; you have to respect her, listen to what she’s telling you, and never ever doubt tha
t she has the power destroy you.



  “It’s so beautiful,” I whisper, cuddling deeper into Austin’s side as I look up at the night sky. I swear you can see every single star there is when the nights are clear like this.

  “Yeah,” he grunts, making me smile as his fingers on my arm move in soothing strokes.

  “We graduate in two weeks,” I say while butterflies erupt in my stomach. Austin has been my boyfriend since I was sixteen, and since the very beginning, we have talked about getting married as soon as we graduate high school. I know a lot of people would say we’re too young, but ever since the day I laid eyes on him, I knew he would be my husband.

  “Lea Wolf,” he says, and those butterflies begin to fly faster. I scoot up, place my hands on his chest, and rest my chin on top of them while searching his face. Austin has always appeared older than he is. His dark dirty blonde hair is shaggy, his jaw covered in an ever-present layer of scruff, and his lips that I love so much are full and soft, but as my gaze locks on his, I know his eyes will forever be my favorite thing about him. The crystal blue reminds me of the glaciers near my house, one of the most beautiful places on earth. “You’re going to be my wife, Lea. Are you ready for that?” He runs his finger down the center of my face and brings them to rest under my chin while his thumb sweeps across my lower lip.

  “So ready,” I say, watching anxiousness form on his handsome face. I know he thinks I’ll want more than the life of a fisherman’s wife, a small town life, but deep down I know this is all I will ever need. As long as I have Austin, I don’t need anything else.

  “Graduation, then Vegas,” he rumbles, pulling me up to rest completely on top of him.

  “Graduation, then Vegas,” I agree then smile as his hand on the back of my head pulls me closer until we’re sharing the same breath.

  “I need to get you home,” he breathes against my lips then rolls me to my back, looming over me before dropping his mouth down to mine.

  “I wish we could stay out here all night,” I sigh when his mouth leaves mine.

  “Me too, baby, but I promise you—when summer starts, we’ll sleep outside, under the stars, on the boat, in the middle of the ocean. Out there, you can see everything.”

  “I would like that,” I say, wrapping my arms tighter around him and giving him a squeeze. He pushes back and stands before holding out his hand for me to take, helping me out of the back of his truck, where we had made love under the dark, starry night.

  “I wonder what’s going on.” I question as we pull up in front of my parents’ house, where the sheriff’s car is parked.

  “Don’t know,” Austin mutters, sounding concerned as he shuts off his truck. Then quickly gets out, walks around the hood, and opens my door, lifting me out and setting me gently on my feet. As soon as we make it up the front steps and into the house, my confusion turns to worry as I see my mom sitting on the couch, rocking back and forth while sobbing hysterically.

  “What happened?” Sheriff Jefferson’s head turns my way, and my mom lifts her gaze to mine and begins shaking her hand frantically while tears stream down her cheeks.

  “Have a seat?” Sheriff Jefferson says in a tone that I have never heard from him before as he holds his hand out to me.

  “Mom?” I whisper. My stomach begins to knot, and I feel Austin’s arm slide around me, pulling me closer into his side.

  “I—” My mom starts then covers her face with her hands and sobs harder, the noises coming from her ripping into me, making it hard for me to even breath.

  “What’s going on?” Austin asks, pulling me around and tucking my face into his chest. Even though I know deep down what the sheriff is going to say, nothing can prepare me for hearing the words out loud. Every single one of them strangles me until I’m fighting to breathe.

  “Sorry, Lea, but your dad’s boat disappeared this afternoon after he called in a mayday. The coastguard found his boat, which caught fire; they also, found his skiff, which was empty. They are still searching the water for him, but with the temperature, it’s not looking good.”

  “There’s still a chance, right? He could still be alive?” I practically beg, while my body begins to shake.

  “There’s always a chance,” Austin says, holding me closer.

  But there wasn’t a chance. My dad’s body was never found. They believed the fire spread so quickly on his boat that he didn’t even have a chance to put his survival suit on before he tried to get into his skiff, ending up in the water and either drowning or freezing to death.

  Chapter 1


  15 years later

  “Lea, you need to breathe,” I tell myself as I drive my car onto the ferry that will take me from Anchorage to Cordova. I’m not afraid of the ocean, but my knowledge of how dangerous it is has made me more fearful of the power it holds. Parking my car I get out and walk towards the edge of the boat and look down at the calm water as the boat pulls away from the dock. I never thought I would be going home again, not after so many years away, but when my mom called to tell me she had cancer and wanted to be in the home she and my father shared, I could only tell her of course. Even if that meant I’d be going back to a place I left behind, to people I left behind. The only thing I can hope for is never running into Austin, that somehow the town I grew up in had sprawled out and the population became similar to Manhattan, lessening the chances of me ever seeing him again.

  Fifteen years ago, I was crushed under the weight of the loss of my father. I realized then how easily life could change, how quickly someone you loved could be taken from you, and I knew then that I couldn’t stay in Alaska with Austin, not when there was a risk of something happening to him. I also knew after mentioning leaving to him that he never would; his family had been fishing in Alaska for generations.

  He grew up loving the sea, grew up knowing he would spend his life doing something he loved and that one day he would pass his love for fishing down to his children, the same way his father and his grandfather before him had done. I couldn’t ask him to choose me, so I left him behind. Even though in leaving him, I left a piece of myself. My only hope at the time was that the parts of me I was able to salvage would be enough to get me through the rest of my life.

  Leaning over the side of the ferry, I look down at the water then hold out my left hand. Five years ago, I got married. I thought Ken could heal me. I thought the parts of me that were left after losing my father and leaving Austin would finally be full. I knew my father would want me to be happy, and I knew from talks with my mom that Austin had moved on, so it was time for me to do the same, to stop believing he would come after me, that our love was more than just a teenage love story.

  I tried to give Ken all of me. I tried to make things work, but in the end, I failed and he found what he was looking for in someone else. I won’t say it didn’t hurt, but I wasn’t devastated by the loss of us. I was more upset that the idea of us had been ruined, but if I was honest, I brought it upon myself when I gave him our vows but didn’t follow through on my end.

  Slipping my wedding ring off my finger, I feel tears pool in my eyes as I drop the metal band into the ocean, watching it disappear before squeezing my eyes closed. There was no going back, and now wasn’t the time to feel sorry for myself. I needed to pull myself together enough to take care of my mother. My mother, who had flown out to Montana to see me every few months since I left home. My mother, who was never the same after the loss of my father. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with her illness, or eventually the loss of her, but I know I will need to find a way, especially if I’m going to survive myself.

  “Lea?” My eyes open and I turn my head. “Lea Lamb?” I feel my eyebrows pull downward in confusion as I take in the woman in front of me.

  “Rhonda.” She points at herself and smiles. “We went to school together.”

  “Rhonda?” I repeat in shock. The once chubby girl who didn’t have many friends had becom
e a stunning woman. With red hair that fit her fair skin, her face was round, but her cheekbones were pronounced, showing off her button nose and full lips. “How are you?” I ask, stepping back from the edge of the boat.

  “Good…great, really.” She smiles wider and places a hand on her stomach, which I realize is large and round, but the stylish coat she’s wearing minimizes it.

  “You look beautiful.”

  “You do too, but then you were always beautiful.” She smiles then waves at someone over my shoulder. When I turn my head, I see a handsome man wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a vest, walking towards us. His long hair is pushed back away from his chiseled face and his skin is tan. His sunglasses hide his eyes, but there is something familiar about him.

  “Ben, look who’s here,” Rhonda says, and it takes everything in me to not run away when Ben looks at me, pushes his sunglasses up to the top of his head, and frowns. Ben was Austin’s best friend in high school, and judging by the look in his eyes, he’s not happy to see me.

  “What are you doing here?” He snaps.

  “Ben,” Rhonda hisses, coming to hold onto my arm gently like she’s trying to offer me support which is strange.

  “No, you know the way she left Wolf,” he says, looking at Rhonda. Then he looks at me and snarls, “Why are you here?”

  I know I deserve this, but I won’t lie and say it doesn’t burn just a little that someone I had once considered a friend was looking at me like I was the scum of the earth. I was hurt, too. Yes, I left, but he never came after me; he never even asked my mom where I was, if I was okay…nothing.

  “You know why she’s here, Ben,” Rhonda says softly, moving to stand at his side, resting her hands on his chest. His eyes leave me and go to her. His face goes soft as he wraps his hand around the back of her neck, dropping his forehead to hers and speaking gently. I take two steps back then pull in a deep breath.

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