by Jenny Walker
Sarah Munro, a partner in a growing public relations firm, enjoys a quiet life in New Hampshire. Few know the lengths she's gone to in pursuit of her goals. Believing she's escaped her past, Sarah longs for the one thing that's eluded her, but a long-buried secret haunts her dreams of love.
Mark Hamilton, a little-known U.S. senator, believes America needs a change. His friends, recognizing that his strength of character and principled ethics are just what their country needs, have persuaded him to seek his party's nomination for president. Now they fear he won't be able to rise above inhibitions born out of past personal tragedy.
As their lives intersect and entwine in the heat of a national political campaign, Mark and Sarah reach out to each other. Mark wonders if Sarah is the one who might release him from his past hurts. Sarah faces the possibility that to realize her greatest hope, she may need to confront her deepest fear.
She was lost in another world until the cab driver spoke, telling her that they had arrived. As she stared through the window, she frowned and had difficulty recognizing her house. She blinked hard and nodded her thanks, stuffing a generous handful of bills into the driver's hand. As she exited the cab, the ice-cold fingers of the New Hampshire winter penetrated her woolen coat. She shivered and watched her breath cloud the air.
After the cab left, she stood for a moment. The street was mainly in darkness, permeated with the occasional pools cast by the sparsely-positioned street lights. The houses were dark and the thin layer of snow on the ground muffled the infrequent sounds of nearby passing traffic. She shook her head, as if trying to clear her thoughts, and slowly walked up the path to her two-story town house. She found her keys in her purse and opened the front door.
As it clicked closed behind her, the dam broke.
She swallowed hard to fight the rising tide, but it crashed over her in waves of emotion. She leaned back against the door and gulped mouthfuls of air between her sobs. The tears came faster, accompanied by convulsive spasms. Gradually she slid down the inside of the door until she came to rest on the floor, her legs straight out in front of her. The coolness of the tiles did nothing to dampen the fire that raged inside her chest.
Time lost all meaning as the never-ending flood of hopes and dreams emptied from deep within her. Her sobs became guttural retches that wracked her body. The moisture ran dry long before the well of hurt. Her throat felt raw and her eyes stung; her chest hurt and her legs were numb.
With an extreme effort of her will, she slowly stood up, holding onto the door to keep from slumping to the ground again. Shivering, she cast her gaze around. She felt like a stranger in her own home and idly wondered if anything would ever feel the same again.
Switching on a lamp, she forgot the cold. She grabbed the phone and dialed the familiar number without thinking.
"Hello?" a sleepy male voice answered.
"Jill," she said, her voice sounding husky and shaky.
A moment later, a new voice spoke, "Yes?"
"Jill . . . I need . . . I can't. . . ." She bit her tongue as she tried to hold herself together.
Jill's voice was clearer, more alert sounding, "Hey, where are you? I thought you were –"
"I'm back home."
"It's two in the morning, what's happened?" Jill asked.
"I can't –" Her voice broke and the tears started again.
"I'll be right over," Jill said.
After knocking for a few minutes, Jill gave up and found the right key among the countless number she carried in her purse. When she entered the house, her eyes gradually adjusted to the dim light. Closing the door, she noticed a shadow huddled on one end of the couch.
"Damn, it's colder in here than outside," she said softly. She found the light switch and turned it on, banishing the darkness to the far corners of the room. She exhaled slowly when she saw the pitiful sight before her. Her friend sat stiffly on the couch, her green satin evening dress ripped at one side. Her knees were bent up to her face and she clutched them tightly. She hadn't looked up or even flinched at Jill's entrance.
Worried that she was catatonic, Jill rushed to her side and put a hand on her shoulder. "You're freezing! Oh honey, what on earth has happened?" Without waiting for a reply, she went to the fireplace, knelt down and switched on the gas fire. She grabbed a blanket from another chair and wrapped it around her friend.
"Hey," Jill said, sitting beside her and putting her arm around the woman's shoulders. "Talk to me, please."
For the first time, Jill's friend appeared to notice that she was there and her lip trembled. "Jill, I don't know. . . ."
"Did something terrible happen?"
Her friend nodded, then frowned and shook her head. "I don't know where to start," she said, looking Jill in the eye.
The tear-stained runs in her make-up contrasted against the pallor of her face; and the raw pain emanating from her friend's gaze scared Jill. "Just tell me everything, honey."
"Jenny Walker simply gets better and better. Each of her novels has a different background, and this thoroughly researched saga is a masterpiece of romance and drama. If you aren't moved, sometimes to tears and sometimes to laugh out loud, then you have no soul. A truly great read!"
"Sarah Munro, beautiful and spirited, is a marvelous addition to Jenny Walker's gallery of heroines."
"'Chasing Hope' is the best political love story since 'Doctor Zhivago.' Sarah Munro has spent a lifetime trying to find acceptance. She has found peace by building a wall around herself that love is destined to knock down."
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