Love at Penguin's Crossing
Love at Penguin's Crossing
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A once in a lifetime opportunity brings two hearts together that didn't know they were searching for another.
What starting as a meeting of the minds is turning into a meeting of hearts? Now they’re both wondering if this temporary family can be something more after the penguin’s crossing.
- Grumpy Hero
- Women Friendship
A once in a lifetime opportunity brings two hearts together that didn't know they were searching for another.
Claudia Bosen, animal reporter, knows facts and figures. Her penchant to be open and honest has made for a lonely existence so she dedicates her life to things she can trust animals. She’s come to town to visit the annual Penguin crossing in Inheritance Bay. Everything is going well until infamous injured athlete Andrew Trakes comes to town and decides to make it a private event for his sons.Andrew Trakes has just gotten full custody of his twin eight-year-old sons from his deceased wife’s family. He needs to reconnect and prove to them he wants to be a family. Then everything goes wrong. The nanny he hired to help him with the boys quit before hand, the press is on his heels judging him before he’s even tried and a pesky reporter is badgering him about using his entitlement to take away her story.With nothing left to lose, a bargain is struck. Claudia will help Andrew with his sons for the next week. It can’t be too hard she’s seen mothers in the wild care for their young. In turn, Andrew agrees to give her exclusive shots of penguin’s crossings to publish. What starting as a meeting of the minds is turning into a meeting of hearts? Now they’re both wondering if this temporary family can be something more after the penguin’s crossing.
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
appeared to be more security around the house than there was for the president.
Bosen sat in her gray Ford Explorer across the street from the driveway of
Penguin Crossing Manor. The Victorian monstrosity sat like a living guardian to
the preserve behind the house.
outrage coursed through her body as she thought about the selfish,
inconsiderate, and inopportune timing the current resident had. Her blunt
fingers and short nails with no polish tapped her faded blue jeans as she sat
in the driver’s seat, waiting to see the nemesis she had to defeat. She wasn’t
sure how she expected to get this job done, but the alternative wasn’t an
option. What would her sister Cheryl think about what she was doing? Claudia
shook her head and focused on the here and now. She only had one opportunity to
keep her word, and she had every intention of doing so.
was brought out of her reverie when two black limos drove past. Her breathing
kicked up a notch and she waited. Claudia waited for the obstacle in her path
that had been solidified into the existence of one man.
father of two, and if the rumors were true, a beat-up, out-of-work quarterback
who was on the injured list. Reciting what she had found out about him wasn’t
making this experience any easier. Andrew Trakes was keeping her from
fulfilling her deceased sister’s last wishes. It made her so mad, she could
barely keep from rushing up to the front door. If it weren’t for the fact that
she had already tried that, and Sheriff Terrell, who knew her, gave her a break
and didn’t throw her in jail the first time and only gave her a warning, she’d
be out of the car already.
had it all gone sideways so quickly?
relapse was the beginning of the end. Claudia had thought they had more time to
get through their list. They had lollygagged in places too long, and the time
had flown by. They thought they would be done with the list in a year, and
instead, wound up just wandering through Europe. A year later, they hadn’t done
half of the items on the list. The only thing they could both agree on was to
come home and see the Penguin Crossing that happened every two years.
and Claudia Bosen had grown up in Inheritance Bay and knew the story about the
penguins well. An eccentric man met his wife on the Galapagos Islands excursion
in 1835. It was the same year Darwin visited. They loved fiercely, and she
loved the penguins that lived in Galapagos. The rumor was amongst the samples
Darwin took; he took the penguins who didn’t need to live in the arctic climate.
He gave two penguins to Zinnia and Parker Trakes when his work was done. Both
were coming from wealthy families; they created a small lake in the back of
their mansion for the penguins to be seen by others.
lake was divided, and two separate habitats were created. The only way to get
from one side to the other was a rock bridge. The bridge was opened every two
years. The penguins would cross over when they smelled the fresh fish in
abundance, and the cooler waters washed over the bridge. Galapagos penguins
don’t need ice, but they do need cooler waters. So, every two years, while one
habitat was being prepped, the penguins lived on the other side.
Zinnia Trakes died, Parker Trakes opened the habitats to environmentalists and
the public to share Zinnia’s love of the penguins. Trakes came and went as time
went on, and the habitat became a preserve that sat on Trakes’ land.
had been in remission for the last year, and now she was gone right before it
was time to see the penguins. On her death bed, Cheryl made Claudia promise to
finish the list; as usual, nothing was going right for Claudia.
current Trakes owner was a self-absorbed Greek God of a football player who had
closed off the habitat claiming he wanted ‘peace’ while he recuperated. There
were even rumors in town that he was thinking about donating the penguins and
destroying the habitat.
thought they all needed some peace. She needed the peace of knowing she had
fulfilled her sister's wishes, and Mr. Allstar needed to recuperate, so she and
Mr. Trakes would have to come to an agreement. The problem was, trying to see
Mr. Trakes was like trying to do a walk-in to the White House. It wasn’t
happening. Claudia was sure if she could just explain the situation to Mr.
Trakes, he would be reasonable to a neighbor coming home.
all seemed logical until his security team gave her an impressed look. They all
gathered around, saying she had the best story yet to see Andrew. While they
were moved, they weren’t going to be fooled by a groupie trying to see Andrew “The
Bison” Trakes. Now that she had seen “The Bison” in real life, she could see
that the name was fitting. He was huge across the shoulders, all muscle in his
workout shirts that he seemed to favor all the time, and he was always moving
with a sense of purpose that made a woman want to watch him move. Not that she
was one of those women, but if she were, he would be it.
only thing she needed to do to cool the flame of interest that ignited around
him was to remember Cheryl’s smile and eagerness when they had made the list.
Besides, Claudia knew the only reason she had this response was because she
hadn’t dated in a while, so anything looked good. Claudia liked to face issues
head-on, and the other problem was this wasn’t the first time she had seen
Andrew. She knew him from high school. High school was forever ago, but it had
been a rough time for Claudia. She had always known that she wanted to work
with animals. Her focus and concentration had led the kids in school to call
her the cat lady. It didn’t help the football mascot was a cat. When the team
saw her, they would call out, “cat lady, cat lady, don’t forget to bring our
mascot next time.” The boys taunted her, and the football team was ever
vigilant. “Bison” wasn’t the leader back then, but he was with them.
was desperate, and she was going to try a long shot. She waited until the doors
closed and the car was in the driveway. She was grateful it wasn’t one of those
long driveways but something you could see right out of the gate. Her anger was
giving way to fear and uncertainty. Claudia felt as if the world around her was
moving in slow motion.
stepped out of the second limo, and Claudia ran to the gates. Two security
guards made eye contact with her, shook their heads, and headed to the gates.
They had grim expressions on their face as if when they called the sheriff,
they were going to make sure I didn’t get off again.
stepped out of the limo and stood up to stretch. If the moment hadn’t been so
strained and she wasn’t about to get arrested and go to prison, she would have
appreciated that muscular body as it unfurled out of the car to reach the sun. But,
instead, she got as close as possible to the gate and then yelled.
a moment, everyone stopped moving. They seemed like they were confused by the
yell and then smiled. Claudia knew they thought she was crazy, but if Andrew
heard it, she was hoping it would make him pause. She was sure no one had
called him that since he started in pro ball.
got the reaction she was looking for. Andrew whipped his head to the gate, and
just as the guards were getting to her, Andrew called for them to wait. There
were a lot of funny elements here that Cheryl would have fallen out on the
floor laughing about.
fact, had it been any other time, she, too, would have seen the irony of
calling the Bison Trakes twinkle toes. However, that was what he used to be
called. The football team had thought his feet were magic, so they called him
twinkle toes. Well, twinkle toes was on his way to the gate, and Claudia had to
admit he didn’t look as amused as she thought he might be.
yeah, she could see now that maybe this wasn’t her best idea yet.
the two main guards who had given her praise for her ingenuity and the unique
story, Claudia couldn’t help giving them the I-told-you-so look. Mutt and Jeff,
the name she had given to the two guards, looked at her and then at the approaching
you must have gone to the school here. Hi, I’m Trakes. You are?”
was mildly offended he didn’t remember her, but what did she expect? It was
hard when one became the star quarterback and earned a million dollars to
remember a geeky girl who loved animals more than people. At least animals
could be trusted if they only wanted your food and your hand just happened to
have it. Animals were honest.
we did go to school together, and my name is Claudia Bosen.”
looked like he was trying to remember. Claudia was sure that he would try for a
few minutes before asking her who she was.
the cat lady!” he said with a wide smile as if he had just discovered sunlight
or some other eternal light from the heavens. Although, with the smile Andrew
had, she could see how he might be mistaken and think he was one of the
heard Mutt and Jeff snicker, and Claudia just hoped that she was still standing
tall and hadn’t done what she had done in high school and tried to shrink into
herself. But, as Andrew came closer to the gate, the thought that ran through
her head was: Time has surely been very kind to you, Bison.
Trakes wasn’t perfect, but his imperfections seemed to enhance his appeal.
appears that you really wanted to get my attention,” he said, after what seemed
like an eternity of him looking at her.
seems like the cat lady lost her tongue,” whispered one of the guards. It
wasn’t the way Claudia wanted to start this meeting, but she was grateful
someone else was there to break her out of her stupor. She had to remember that
he was just a man.
did, and it’s not as easy as you make it seem.”
got this, Claudia. Others would have given up, but you know better. Cheryl
wouldn’t have given up, and you won’t, either.
had his attention. She wasn’t going to mess this up now. Claudia had to treat
this like when she was working in the field. She had finally gotten a potential
shot at an animal she had been waiting for, for hours, maybe even days.
tried to talk to you, but it seems as though your entourage believes that the
only people who might want to speak to you are fans. So, they keep you well
insulated to make sure no one attacks you. As you can see, my 5’10” and 160
pounds is obviously going to overpower your 6’4” and however much all that
muscle weighs. Security is one thing, but isolation is another, unless those
were your orders?”
intrigued about what would make you so persistent. As for my staff, we are
going through some trying times, and they are a little more protective of me
than normal,” he said. However, Claudia didn’t think his expression was all
that apologetic at all. “Well, let me ask a question or two, so I’ll know where
this is going.”
for it,” Claudia said. He hadn’t invited her in the gate yet. He could still
get jittery and leave. This was the critical time when she had to control her
natural urge to grab him through the gate and beg him to listen. She was trying
to find a way to release the nervous energy without him being distracted by it.
In the end, she decided that she would try to clench and unclench the hand
farthest from his sight to release some tension.
you want money or time from me?” he asked with a look on his face that clearly
said he knew her type and understood what others wanted from him.
smiled right back at him.
I don’t want to do anything at all with you. If this works out well, we won’t
see each other, and there will be no ties,” she said with a smile. He looked at
her questioningly. Claudia could see the curiosity getting the better of him.
come in, cat lady. It seems you are about to do something that very few people
can do,” he said.
gates opened, and she rushed in behind him as he walked up the driveway.
are about to surprise me.”
looked from side to side and saw that he had more than Mutt and Jeff as his
at how well insulated you are, that might not be as hard as you may think,” she
muttered. She followed him into the house, and she was immediately taken aback
by its high ceilings and marble floors. The house had the feeling of old
comfort and classic elegance that came from old money. Claudia hadn’t realized
that she had stopped to look at the high vaulted ceiling in the foyer; on it
was angelic stained glasswork that framed both sides of the front door. When
she realized she had stopped, she immediately looked for Andrew, only to find
him looking at her with a smile.
don’t hurry on my account. The first time you come into the house, it takes
your breath away. My mother put a lot of time into the home when we were
younger,” he said almost wistfully.
now, what does she put a lot of time into?” she asked.
let out a sigh and gave a sarcastic shrug.
my parents are off saving some other species in some distant land,” he said. “So,
tell me, cat lady—”
you don’t mind, since I’ve already got the distinction of being the one who can
surprise you, I would appreciate it if you could remember my name, Claudia
Bosen.” She knew she was being prickly. In truth, it shouldn’t matter what he
called her as long as he let her see the penguins.
then, what can I do for you?”
moved into the residence right before the penguin’s crossing. This year my
sister and I were supposed to see the crossing.”
well, I’m not opening the house to—”
was my sister’s last wish. She passed not that long ago because her leukemia came
out of remission.”
could see whatever he was going to say, he stopped. He wasn’t flippant or
dismissive; instead, he nodded in understanding.
sorry for your loss.”
waited for the platitude to pass to see if he would do anything beyond that.
to be abrupt here, but I don’t need you to be sorry. I need you to let me see
know no one knows exactly what day they cross, right?”
smiled, and Claudia could see why so many women fell for his easy demeanor. He
wasn’t a man trying to hit on a woman, and in truth, it looked like he wasn’t
even aware of how his looks affected women.
sure you and everyone else heard. I’m doing some recuperating from an injury.
If you want, you can stay in one of the other rooms. As long as you can follow
some rules,” he said.
Claudia nodded, excited. This was better than she could have ever imagined. She
wasn’t sure what he was going to ask, but whatever it was, she would do it.
“Let’s hear it.”
need to come in from a side entrance so no one will see you. Also, you can’t
have company here. If you should see anything in this house or hear anything,
we’ll have you sign an NDA. If you’re good with all of those conditions, then
I’ll be happy to help you.”
looked at Andrew’s extended hand and thought about Cheryl. She would have loved
the house and being able to stay, waiting like a mom expecting a baby to
arrive. It brought a warm feeling to her heart. It made her reconsider her
initial thoughts about Andrew being shallow and celebrity-minded to the point
of not caring about others. She realized that she was applying a stereotype to him,
but her grief had led her to quick assumptions.
to Lionel; he’s one of the men who will see you out and help you schedule
moving in with your items.”
shook her head.
don’t have much to move in. I’m a conservationist photographer, so I always
travel light. The most baggage I carry is for my cameras, and I have three
standard ones. As long as there is a bed, I’m good.”
I’m happy to help, Claudia, and I hope you get what you’re looking for. I’ll
take you to your room, and when you’re ready to go, just ask for Lionel, and
he’ll have instructions and paperwork for you to sign,” he said. He took her to
her room upstairs toward the back of the house. When she got in the room, he
left with a wave, and she just sat on the bed and let her tears roll down her
let the wave of gratefulness go through her. Being here and doing this felt
like she was still connected to Cheryl. This was precisely what she needed. She
wasn’t sure when the penguins were coming out, but she’d be there to fulfill
her promise to Cheryl. Then maybe she’d be able to find some peace and forgive
herself for not being able to do this when Cheryl was alive.