The Traveling WomanJane Harvey-Berrick
The Traveling Woman
What they said about The Traveling Man
Books by Jane Harvey-Berrick
Chapter 1—Starting Over
Chapter 2—Learning to Walk
Chapter 3—Learning Lessons
Chapter 4—Clipping Wings
Chapter 6—Taking Flight
Chapter 7—Moving On
Chapter 8—New Beginnings
Chapter 9—Flying Higher
Chapter 13—Crash and Burn
Chapter 15—Out of the Smoke
Chapter 16—Rise Again
Bonus Chapter—Once A Carnie
More about JHB
THE TRAVELING WOMAN
Copyright © Jane A. C. Harvey-Berrick
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you do, you are stealing from me, my family and my dog. I only distribute my work through iBooks, Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Create Space. If you have gotten this book from anywhere else, it is a pirate copy, it is illegal, and you’ve really spoiled my day. Just saying.
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
All rights reserved.
Jane Harvey-Berrick has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Jane Harvey-Berrick has asserted her moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
First published in 2015
Harvey Berrick Publishing
Kirsten Olsen and Trina Miciotta
Cover design by
Hang Le / www.byhangle.com
Cover photograph by
Michael Anthony Downs / www.michaelanthonydowns.com
Cover models, Tyler Gattuso & Nicole Osorio
Interior design and formatting by
Christine Borgford / www.perfectlypublishable.com
What they said about The Traveling Man
Natasha is a Book Junkie
“I’m speechless. This book is so beautiful”
“An exceptionally stunning piece of emotional writing that demanded our entire hearts as the characters captured us in every way possible”
Maryse Book Blog
“Beautifully written, super-sweet, wonderfully detailed and HIGHLY recommended by so many of my well-read fellow readers!”
“I can’t get the characters out of my head even now”
Kelsey’s Korner Blog
“Reading into the early hours of the night I didn’t wanna put this baby down”
Beauty and the Beastly Books
“Five magical stars! How can you start reviewing a book that touched you as deeply as The Traveling Man touched me?”
“This ride is unlike anything else I’ve read, and that made me enjoy it even more.”
Suzanne’s Book Obsession
“The words hit me hard and I was hooked. This whole book had the magic feel, the emotional draw, absolutely everything”
Have Book Will Read
“Kes has stolen my heart”
“An amazing story, full of passionate and well rounded characters.”
The Scarlet Siren
“Captivating. Mesmerizing. Hypnotizing”
No BS Book Reviews
“Simply perfection in my eyes”
The Hopeless Romantics
“Books like this one is the reason I love indie authors”
The Book Bellas
“I absolutely loved this passionate and moody story”
Hopelessly Devoted 2 Books
“Jane has recreated the magic of the carnival flawlessly”
“NOT your average LOVE story! No, it’s MUCH BETTER!”
At Your Beck & Call
Dangerous to Know and Love
Playing in the Rain
Summer of Seventeen
The Dark Detective
The New Samurai
The Education of Sebastian
The Education of Caroline
The Traveling Man
The Traveling Woman
To Wanda Summers, for being a survivor, just like Kes.
How many times do you gamble on love? When love has knocked you down, should you give it another chance? When does optimism become stupidity?
And what happens when the man you’re in love with is never still, always moving, always traveling? Do you say goodbye, or do you leave behind everything that you’ve worked for, everything that you’ve ever known? Can a traveling carnival be my home? Can one person be my home?
Oh. You thought I had the answers. No, sorry. No answers, just a lot of questions—and a heart that wants to rule my head.
I woke up in tears. The pain was a sharp ache inside my chest, cooling to a dull throb as I sat up slowly.
A whole month without Kes, without the man I loved. But instead of getting easier, each day seemed longer and emptier than the one before.
It had been my decision to leave, and Kes, my Kes, had begged me to stay. He’d opened his heart, and I still left. So whatever pain I was feeling, I couldn’t help thinking it was at least partly deserved. Well, more than partly. But not wholly, not really.
On paper, I’d made the right decision. My work, my career, was here in New Hampshire—I’d made a home for myself. I had close friends and my own apartment. I was a good teacher, a respected member of the Walker Elementary School faculty. I had a purpose, I had a life.
Responsible, predictable, reliable Aimee: I was beginning to hate that version of myself.
The drive to school passed in a blur, the wide, tree-lined streets that I found beautiful, today making no impact. In my mind, I was 3,000 miles and a lifetime away.
I pulled into the staff parking lot and climbed out of my battered Honda. Gregg was waiting for me.
“I don’t want to have this conversation again, Gregg,” I said wearily.
“Why are you being so stubborn?”
“We’re finished. I’ve moved on.”
He stared at me appraisingly. “You don’t look very happy for someone who’s moved on.”
He was right about that.
“Goodbye, Gregg,” I said, pulling my purse over my shoulder and heading for my classroom.
I sighed with frustration—Gregg would not get the message. I closed my eyes and shook my head, but the moment I shut my eyes, a torrent of images rushed forward, playing out silently behind my eyelids. I remembered the intense feelings of Kes’s hands on me, his eyes, his mouth . . .
I opened my eyes quickly. School was not the place to have those thoughts.
I touched the tiny
gold Ferris wheel I still wore around my neck and had to fight back tears.
With the arrival of my students, I forced a smile. You love being a teacher, I reminded myself. Then why do I feel so empty?
At the end of the day, Gregg cornered me again.
“I could walk you to your car if you’re almost finished?”
I’d been so lost in my thoughts that his words made me jump. I jerked my head and a bolt of pain shot through my neck, bringing with it a rush of irritation after weeks of little sleep.
“What do you want, Gregg?”
“I didn’t think my suggestion was particularly confusing,” he grinned at me. “I’d like to walk you to your car.”
I gazed at him levelly. “Why?”
“We’re still friends, aren’t we, Aimee?”
I stared at him in amazement.
“And I’d like us to try again.”
He spoke with such confidence that my mouth popped open and an incredulous smile broke out across my face. Which he completely misinterpreted.
Gregg stepped into my classroom and closed the door behind him.
“We were always good together, Aimee. How about we go out tonight? There’s a new place that opened in Manchester and they make delicious clams. I know you love clams.”
Nope, I hated clams. Gregg was the one who liked them. And even if I had liked clams, I felt nothing for the man standing in front of me, only a vague shadow of indifference.
“So I’ll pick you up at seven,” he said, moving closer.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said quickly.
“Oh come on, don’t be like that. I know you missed me.”
I shook my head. “I’m not interested, Gregg,” I said firmly.
A small frown of annoyance marred his smooth forehead.
“I’ve apologized for the misunderstanding,” he pressed. “Let’s move forwards,” and he reached out to take my hand.
“Let’s not!” I said, moving out of reach. “And anyway, you didn’t apologize for fucking Lulu, but whatever. Read my lips—I’m not interested.”
I slung the strap of my purse over my shoulder and marched out of the door. Gregg followed, his voice becoming wheedling.
“Aimee, you’ve got it all wrong. That day you saw her in my car, I was simply giving a colleague a ride.”
“Oh, I know you were giving her a ride!”
“Don’t be childish!”
“Don’t be irritating, Gregg. I’m not getting back together with you. EVER.”
He huffed behind me. “I know you don’t mean that.”
I shouldered my way through the front doors, hoping they hit him in the face.
I stopped suddenly and Gregg all but ran me over, knocking my purse from my arm and making me stumble.
“Really, I can explain about Lulu,” he babbled, but I wasn’t listening to him.
I was staring at the man on the other side of the parking lot, his silver-gray eyes fixed intently on me.
“Kes,” I breathed, my heart starting to gallop.
I squeezed my eyes shut, wondering briefly if I’d fallen over the edge of sanity and conjured him up, imagined that he’d come for me. But when I looked again, his eyes were still watching me, full of fire.
Gratitude, hope, love, shock—so many emotions twisted inside me.
He was leaning against an electric-blue motorcycle and a plain black helmet dangled from one hand. A leather jacket hung from his broad shoulders, his long legs encased in dark denim and ending in heavy black biker boots. He looked dangerous, and when he pushed his free hand through his dark hair and straightened up, his heated eyes never left mine.
He was here. Really here. For me.
My body hungered for his and my arms longed to reach out for him. The words ‘I love you’ burned on my tongue, but I bit them back.
He was here, but I needed to know what it meant. So I locked my heart away. Kes still had secrets.
But he’s here! My happy heart screamed.
His eyes swept up and down my body and a pulse of heat washed over me as color rose in my cheeks.
But then his eyes narrowed slightly as he lasered in on Gregg, and I could see the rage boiling up inside him.
“Oh shit,” I said softly as Kes stalked toward us.
I pulled my purse back onto my shoulder and glanced at Gregg who was still talking. Finally, he noticed Kes striding over and his eyebrows lifted with surprise. But it was Kes who spoke first.
“Can we talk?”
I stared at him. “You want to talk? That’s new.”
He winced, regret and pain on his face, and glanced across at Gregg. “Am I too late?”
I met his eyes and spoke honestly. “No, you’re not too late.”
Gregg’s stunned gaze ping-ponged between us.
“Aimee?” he clipped out. “Do you know this person?”
Kes’s fist clenched and I laid a hand on his arm.
“Yes, I know him,” I said quietly. “And to repeat what I said earlier, Gregg, I’m not interested. Goodbye.”
His jaw snapped shut with a loud click. “We’ll discuss this at a more convenient time,” he muttered.
Kes glared at him. “She said she’s not interested, so you’ll leave her the fuck alone.” His voice was a low growl.
Gregg took a quick step back, his face twisting with understanding and disgust.
“Really, Aimee? A biker? Is that the best you can do?”
I shot Gregg a furious look, and I thought Kes was going to lose it, but I was wrong; he didn’t even look at Gregg again, already having dismissed him in his mind.
“So, this is what a school looks like,” he said softly.
His eyes wandered over the brick building and the small jungle gym in the play area, then back to me.
“I thought there’d be more kids,” and this time there was a small smile on his lips.
I replied awkwardly. “They’ve finished for the day.”
He nodded, his expression serious once more.
“Can we talk here?”
I shook my head quickly. “No, not here. There’s a coffee shop about a half mile up the road.”
His lips pursed, and I wondered what he was going to say, but then he simply nodded.
“Okay, I’ll follow you.”
He paced back to his bike, throwing a scorching glance over his shoulder.
I don’t know when Gregg had disappeared. I hadn’t noticed him leaving and I didn’t much care either, but I wasn’t surprised to see Mirelle waiting next to my car.
Over the last month, she had been an amazing friend, offering me a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear anytime, day or night.
“Is that him?” she asked quietly. “Is that Kes?”
I nodded, my throat suddenly dry, and her hard expression softened.
“Look, it’s fantastic that he’s come all this way to see you, but you’ve got to do what’s right for you, chica. Call if you need me, okay?”
She gave me a quick hug and walked over to her own car.
As I slid into the driver’s seat of my Honda, my hands were shaking, probably from nerves, maybe from adrenalin. I was still stunned to find that Kes was here, in New Hampshire, for me.
I drove slowly, my eyes constantly flicking to the rearview mirror, hyper aware of the motorcyclist following me. I tried to think about what I might say, what Kes might say, but my mind had seized up, and I was still clueless when I parked outside True Brew Barista. I climbed out of my car, trying to steady my nerves at the same time. Kes had already kicked down the bike’s stand and was pulling off his helmet.
For a second, I thought he was going to take my hand when he walked toward me, but instead he stuffed his fist into his pocket, holding his helmet in the other.
I led us to a small booth at the back, trying to keep calm as Kes placed his helmet on the seat next to him and shrugged off his leather jacket before fixing his eyes on mine.
“Latte?” he asked softly.
/> I nodded again, and Kes went to stand in line. I took the opportunity to study him without those fierce, questioning eyes pinned on me.
He looked tired, dark shadows making his eyes seem more silver than gray today, and the thick scruff that was almost a beard only served to frame the fading bruise on his cheek. Of course, it didn’t stop the barista from checking him out. I couldn’t blame her for that.
Without his jacket hiding his body, his t-shirt stretched over his biceps and clung to his muscled chest, hanging loosely over his flat stomach and ridged abs. But it was more than just looks: it was something about the way he carried himself, something that could only be called charisma—it made you want to look at him, to bask in his attention.
I’d always thought of him as my personal sun, feeling warmed just by being near him—that hadn’t changed. I knew that I was still in love with Kes—that hadn’t changed either, but it didn’t mean that we were right for each other.
He carried the two coffee cups back to our table, and I breathed in the comforting aroma.
Kes poured three packets of sugar into his black coffee and stirred it slowly, as if he was trying to summon words from the black swirl.
“It’s good to see you,” I said.
His eyes lit up as he looked at me. “I wasn’t sure you’d be happy that I came here.”
I felt guilty all over again: I was just another person who said I cared then walked away and left him.
Kes looked down, his eyes dropping to the table. I tried to write you a letter . . .”
I frowned. “I never got it.”
Kes grimaced. “I didn’t send it. I couldn’t . . . it was shit—looked like a fucking child had written it . . .”
I reached over and took his hand. “I wish you’d sent it. I wish you’d felt that you could send it.” I sighed. “I wanted to text you, but I didn’t think . . . I hated how we left things.”
His thumb rubbed slow circles over the palm of my hand.