In this epic and unique love story set in the wild mountains of West Virginia, a young woman and her unlikely friends find their way through multiple job hazards and terrible working conditions to achieve the unexpected.
Andrea never thought she’d live in a camp trailer or work outdoors in inhospitable climates; but eager to leave the stress and tedium of grad-school behind, she sets off with her estranged grandpa, Buck, to build a pipeline through the rugged mountains of West Virginia. She’s determined to understand the man and the family divide that drove him away. Once the job starts, she forms an unlikely friendship with Nick, the rough and tumble foreman of the bending crew. Most of the guys aren’t willing to accept her, and Rooster, the handsome, cocky, tie-in foreman, is determined that she’s a ridiculous distraction.
But building a pipeline is fraught with danger, fatigue, and confrontation as egos collide. Caught up in the all-male social microcosm, Andrea can’t help but understand the pecking order, and she’s at the bottom. Being a woman makes it even more unlikely she’ll be accepted. Buck proves to be a taskmaster, but a kindhearted teddy-bear of a man under a gruff exterior, and Andrea comes to love him, opening herself up to the pain of his past.
Rooster and Andrea are drawn to each other, yet they know an on-the-job romance will only cause problems. Rooster is tormented by his own past, and determined to prove himself to Buck, a pipeline ledged. Messing with the old man’s granddaughter is a line Rooster refuses to cross. But as Andrea shows herself to be a hard worker and a valuable member of the crew, she earns Rooster’s respect and he can’t keep his distance. It seems the couple can’t go back, they can’t move forward, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make sacrifices and take a chance on ruining their credibility in order to be together.
An elbow in her side caused Andy to jolt forward and she stumbled her way down the rest of the wooden trailer steps. Several men glanced her way as they passed, then quickly looked away as if she were fascinating yet horrifying, like kryptonite.
Trying to remember where Buck had parked his work truck that morning, she headed across the yard. As she picked her way through the snow and frozen mud, she noticed a group of nine or ten men who looked different than the others, standing near flat bed trucks with dual tires and machines of some sort on the back. They stared at her silently as she passed. Unlike the other workers, these men were in no hurry. They didn’t wear hardhats or safety glasses, instead they wore soft cloth caps with long bills, some of which were turned sideways, with the bill flipped up against their heads. Their jeans were clean, new dark blue, and ironed crisp with a crease. Arrogance radiated off the group.
There had been a group of boys like that back in high school. She remembered their eyes boring into her as she passed in the hall, their eyes glued to her chest. Invariably one would shove another, causing them to fall directly into her. How could she report being groped when–
A horn honk startled Andy, causing her to trip on a clump of frozen mud. With her cheeks flaming, she tore her gaze from the haughty men to find Buck’s truck pulled up by her side. Glad to have a get-away, she tugged open the door and stretched hard against layers of clothing to get her foot up into the truck. Pulling herself up into the cab, she settled into the seat, out of the wind and away from the glares of strangers. With a grunt she tugged the door closed behind her.
As they drove through the yard, Buck was silent, but offered a nod and the lift of two fingers from the steering wheel in greeting as he passed workers. Heat pumped from under the dash as the truck growled and bumped over the frozen ruts, jarring and rattling the paperwork and gear scattered throughout the double cab.
“Who were those guys?” Andy asked, leaning forward to see the group of haughty men in the side mirror.
Buck pulled the truck to a stop at the gate of the yard. “Who?” He bent forward to peer up then down the road, waiting for a break in the traffic streaming past on the highway.
“The ones wearing the funny hats.”
He glanced in the mirror. “Them’s welders,” he snorted.
Unsure why a welder would be different than any of the other workers, she shrugged.
Time clicked past as they drove. Brilliant bursts of morning sunlight flashed through the towering hardwood forest as it slid past Andy’s window. Never before had she seen such dense growth. Even the ground cover was thick and deep. This place was very different that the open rolling green fields of Kansas. Bushes, briars, and plants of every kind made her wonder how anyone could navigate between the trees. She turned from the scenery and back to Buck. “Where are we going?” She asked. It was a simple enough question, but having no idea what lay ahead, she braced herself for the unexpected.
Kirsten is a writer with a love of art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.
As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.