Twenty-one-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?
Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers. Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?
CHAPTER ONE, Page One
Claire Murray headed for the barn, a burst of cold air lifting her long, blonde hair and tossing it into her face. Pulling it back into a ponytail, she glanced at a darkening sky, her cane propped against her leg. A storm was coming.
Hopefully a powerful spring storm would rumble through the rolling countryside of Southern Oregon.
She opened the door and stepped inside. The smell of hay and horse swept out to meet her like a wave of comfort. Drawing the door closed, she hitched it up a notch to make sure it fell into place and couldn’t swing open.
In the peak of the rafters, a shadow of an owl moved. A sparrow darted to a place beneath the eaves and a nest tucked out of sight. Soon there would be chirping fledglings courageously making their first flight.
Claire breathed in the scent of the familiar. Did she have the courage to venture out from the place that had been her refuge for the last twenty-two years?
A soft nicker came from the nearest stall. Cinnamon.
Claire made her way to the horse, grabbing a handful of grain from a bucket as she passed. “Here you go, girl.” She slipped her hand through the gate, and the big red horse snuffled the grain out of her palm. “How are you this morning? Ready for a run, I’ll bet.” If only she could be the one riding her. “We had some good times, didn’t we, girl?” She stroked the horse’s heavy neck, the sound of pounding hoof beats resonating in her mind. “I’m going to miss you.”
Setting her cane against the wall, Claire opened the gate and stepped into the stall. She stood directly in front of the big horse and placed her hands on both sides of the animal’s face, breathing in her scent. Like fresh rain it quieted her nerves. She ran a hand down a white blaze on the bridge of the horse’s nose, then pressed her forehead against Cinnamon’s face.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been out to see you. It’s been a bad week.” She patted Cinnamon’s neck and then combed out her mane with her fingers. “I’m going to be gone for a while. But I’ll be back. I promise.”
The horse nudged her as if trying to let Claire know she understood and that it was all right for her to go.
Claire looked into the horse’s dark brown eyes. “I hope one day we can go riding again. Maybe things will be better when I get back.” She could almost feel the wind in her face and the movement of Cinnamon under her as they galloped across the rolling hills of her parents’ ranch.
The sound of a car engine cut into Claire’s reverie, and a shiver of apprehension coursed through her. Maybe she should stay.
The barn door grated as someone opened it.
Time to go.
Footsteps crunched on the barn floor and the gate creaked.
She looked around and saw her mother, Susan, leaning on it. Claire gave the horse another pat. “I’m going to miss her.”
“She’ll miss you too.” Her mom’s gaze went to the horse then back to Claire. “It’s time to go. Unless you’ve changed your mind.”
Claire swallowed past the lump in her throat. “No. My things are ready.” She ran a hand down Cinnamon’s face and across the velvet soft nose, then pressed a kiss to Cinnamon’s white blaze. “I guess I have to go now. See you soon.”
Bonnie Leon is the author of more than twenty novels, including the recently released To Dance With Dolphins and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
June 11, 1991 a log truck hit the van she was driving, and her world changed. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and in search of personal value, she discovered writing. She has been creating stories ever since.
Bonnie is familiar with the challenges of disability beyond her personal experience. Her sister endured the debilitating illnesses of lupus, MS, and Bi-polar disorder. And her daughter is grappling with the chronic progressive disorder of syringomyelia.
Through chronic pain and disability Bonnie found new purpose. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups, teaching at writing seminars, and mentoring young writers. She also administers an online support group for those living with chronic pain and disability and is a participating member of the Syringomyelia and Chiari Network.
She is married to her teen-age sweetheart, the mother of three grown children, and grandmother of eight. Bonnie and her husband Greg live in the mountains of Southern Oregon.
You can find her on the web at these links:
Readers, you may purchase To Dance with Dolphins at:
Or have your local library order it in for you!
Bonnie Leon is giving away a copy of To Dance With Dolphins.
The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)