Losing Leo

(1 customer review)

A story of true love that stood the test of time.

This is the final chapter in GG and Leo’s love story. There are grandchildren in their lives now. James and Allison met in college and fell in love; they made their lives in the city and James never returned to Boone to live. But their son, Carter, and their twin daughters, Shelby and Savannah, love to visit their grandparents in the rustic little town of Boone.

GG and Leo are sharing a rich, loving life in Boone and beginning to plan their retirement years. There are the usual crises that happen in any family, but Leo and GG are hit hard when there is a death in the family. It’s a hard period for the whole family, and Leo and GG have to fight hard to get back to the happiness they shared before the accident.

There are more struggles. But the love they share is worth the work that it takes to keep it thriving and they survive the struggle and settle down to live out their lives in the bond that has become even stronger. When the ultimate tragedy strikes the happy couple, it will take the whole family to try to salvage GG, who is the glue that holds the family together. Will they be able to do it?

Publisher Note: This sweet love story contains a theme of power exchange. The final book in A Strong Man’s Hand series, it can be read as a standalone.

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Sample Chapter

Shelby hugged her grandmother and said, “Good morning, Gran! I know I’m early, but I just couldn’t wait to get started. I hope you don’t mind.”

GG Beauchamp chuckled and said, “Of course not. Would you like a cup of tea? And how is our little one this morning?”

Shelby made a face. “Determined to crush my bladder, I think. I’m so glad it’s almost time for him to make his appearance. I never dreamed I’d make so many trips to the bathroom when I should be sleeping peacefully.”

GG laughed. “It’s to prepare you for all the times you’ll have to be getting up after he or she gets here.”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that.”

“Just make up your mind that you need to sleep whenever your baby does and let Sam worry about everything else. At least for a while.” GG poured two cups of tea and stirred some honey into them both.

“I just want you to know, Gran, how much it means to me that you’re telling me the whole story of you and Grandpa. You two had such a beautiful love story and I can’t wait to share it.”

GG smiled and said, “Your grandpa was a very special man.”

“I know he was and I bet he’d say the same thing about you.”

GG’s smile turned a little mischievous. “He really did spoil me to death most of the time. He did make me toe the line now and then, though.”

Shelby’s cheeks were a little pink. “How was it that you put it?”

GG said with a wink, “A strong man’s hand can be a very good thing.”

Shelby had to giggle. “Well, I’m ready to begin whenever you are.”

“Let’s do it.” They settled comfortably in front of the fireplace and Shelby turned on her recorder and opened her notebook.

***

The tall man, still lean and fit, even with the gray scattered through his dark hair, leaned his forehead against the tree trunk and counted out loud, loudly enough to be heard across the large yard. There was the sound of an excited giggle and the big Golden Retriever raced in circles at the edge of the yard by a cluster of bushes, barking excitedly as he romped.

A voice called, trying to be quiet, “Rowdy! Go away! Go find Shelby!”

The dog raced across the yard and the man reached the number one hundred and then called loudly, “Ready or not, here I come!”

A small figure darted across the yard as he turned and started away from her, then froze as he turned and spotted her. Stopping as if he were confused, he looked in both directions and then took a few steps toward her. Another small figure crept out of the shadows of the garden shed and advanced toward the big tree until the dog ran to her, jumping up and down in his excitement. The man turned to see where the dog was going and changed directions again, starting toward the child and dog and leaving the other little girl convulsed with giggles. They were quite sure they were tricking him into chasing one of them, then the other until suddenly he turned and they both reached the big tree, just escaping his clutches. They hugged each other, jumping up and down and laughing hysterically.

“We did it! We did it!”

They both let out screams as he ran up behind them and snatched them up, holding one of them under each arm and jogging around the yard in triumph. GG Beauchamp had come out the back door during their game and was sitting on the deck laughing at them all. Her husband, Leo, carried the girls over to her, grinning and bending over to kiss her as he set the two little girls down.

“Gran, did you see?” one of the dark-haired four-year-olds asked.

“We beat Paw-Paw to the tree!” her identical twin sister said in triumph.

“I did see. You were so fast!”

Leo held his hands up in surrender. “I have to admit, you won fair and square.”

“Rowdy always finds us and he tells on us,” the first little girl said.

GG chuckled. “Yes, it’s pretty hard to hide when Rowdy’s around. Who wants a cookie?”

Before the girls could answer, Leo said, “Me! Me!” It made his granddaughters giggle again and GG passed cookies out to them all.

The two little girls were truly identical, with shoulder length, shiny dark hair and brilliant sapphire blue eyes. But Shelby was quieter and gentler than her more temperamental sister, Savannah, although both of them were soft hearted and loving. Leo doted on them both and GG adored them; she could never get enough of them and if she could have changed one thing in her life, it would be to magically make her son and daughter-in-law love the tiny town of Boone, Indiana, just as much as she and Leo did. But they loved living in the city and they had ever since they’d met in college. She had long ago accepted the fact that they were never going to live in Boone. She was just grateful that the girls loved spending time there and their parents were generous with their visits.

“Paw-Paw, can we go see the horses tomorrow?” Savannah asked, turning her big blue eyes on her grandfather.

“Horses? What horses? We don’t have any horses.” Leo loved teasing them.

“Paw-Paw! You know, the horses we always go see! Miss Mamie’s horses!” Savannah’s tone was outraged.

“Hmm. I’ll have to think about that. Horses might make me sneeze.”

Savannah laughed hysterically at the idea of her grandfather reduced to sneezing around horses. He winked at her and she beamed at him, knowing she would get to see her beloved horses the next day.

Shelby said, “I wish Carter was here. He likes the horses too.”

Leo nodded wisely and said, “I know he does, but his Cub Scout camping trip is very important to him.”

“I don’t think I’d like to sleep in a tent. What if a bear came around?” Shelby looked worried.

Savannah said, “There aren’t any bears in Indiana, silly.” She thought for a moment and then said, “There aren’t, are there, Paw-Paw?”

“No, so far Indiana doesn’t have any bears,” Leo said with a wink.

“Well, girls, who wants to help me make dinner?” GG asked.

“I do!” said Shelby, scrambling to her feet. “Can we make biscuits again?”

“We can make biscuits anytime,” GG promised.

Savannah said, “I’m going to help Paw-Paw take Rowdy for a walk.”

“Okay,” said GG. “Make sure Paw-Paw doesn’t start sneezing around Rowdy.”

Both girls giggled and GG winked at Savannah. Shelby and GG made Swiss steak and mashed potatoes with green beans and a basket full of biscuits with GG’s homemade strawberry jam. After dinner, the girls had their bath with mountains of bubbles and then they all played Candyland together until GG could see the signs of bedtime coming on and she turned on a children’s movie they could all watch together. Half an hour later, her little granddaughters were sound asleep on the couch, snuggled against their sleeping grandfather and GG laughed quietly to herself.

She whispered into his ear, “Leo, let’s get these babies to bed.”

He blinked slowly awake and looked down at the peacefully sleeping little girls and sent up a little prayer of thanks for the richness of his life. He carried the girls up to the room they had fixed up for them, the room that had once been his sisters, Molly and Ginny’s room. Their house had held Beauchamps for several generations and when his parents had been ready to retire to Florida, he and GG and James had moved into it. Filling it with family, especially grandchildren, had always been GG’s dream. They tucked the little girls in, turned on the nightlight and went down the hall to their own room.

“I locked up downstairs and I brought us up a glass of wine,” GG said softly.

“Good.” Leo kissed her and said, “We’ll just watch a little TV in bed; that way we’ll be close to them.”

GG went into the bathroom and changed into her pajamas and when she came out, it was Leo’s turn. She put her arms around him and lifted her face for his kiss. He gave a little growl and said, “Are you trying to tempt me, gorgeous?”

She shook her head and gave a little laugh. “You’re so silly. I’m not gorgeous. I’m getting old. I’m getting gray hair and wrinkles, and even though I try to stay in shape, everything is starting to sag.”

Her husband put a finger under her chin and looked directly into her eyes. “Don’t ever say that again. You’re a beautiful woman, GG, more beautiful now than when you were a girl because of the life you’ve lived, the courage you’ve shown, the love and compassion you’ve given. When I look at you, I see all of it, the girl, the woman, the love. I especially see the love that shines from you every minute of every day. How could you be anything but beautiful? Gray hair means nothing, wrinkles aren’t ugly, they’re a mark of character. Your body bore my son; how could the effects that had on you be ugly to me? So don’t ever doubt me when I call you gorgeous.”

GG’s eyes were shimmering with tears at the words he said to her. “Oh, Leo, how was I ever lucky enough to find you?”

His eyes gleamed. “I was the lucky one. I was lucky that you were so stubborn and determined to get your own way when you were a girl that I had to rescue you from the mob at that Vietnam protest. And that was the beginning of our love story; you thought I was an arrogant, bossy asshole and hoped you’d never see me again.”

GG was laughing softly. “And I was so shocked when I found out that you were living right here in Boone! And luckily, it turned out that I was wrong and you were even more stubborn than me.”

He shot her a look of innocence. “I was stubborn?”

“Yep, you wouldn’t give up on me and you made me fall in love with you.”

“I had to. You would have gotten yourself into all kinds of trouble if I hadn’t been there to get you out of it.”

“Don’t forget, Sharon and I managed to go to a music festival for a whole weekend and nobody ever even found out. And we didn’t get into a bit of trouble.” GG looked quite proud of herself.

“I’d never forget that. You were a rebel.” He kissed her on the tip of her nose, remembering her in her faded bellbottomed jeans with her beads and her long, straight hair falling below her shoulders, with one tiny braid swinging alongside her face, a feather braided into it. She had taken his breath away, and the knowledge of how young she was, scared him to death. He had been twenty-two and she was only seventeen, but he couldn’t get her out of his mind and he had ended up waiting for her until she turned eighteen and graduated from high school. They’d been married a few months after graduation and their lives since then had been a rough journey at times, but one that they always traveled together.

They clinked their glasses together and toasted each other, smiling softly as they looked back at their memories. They had their heartaches to look back on, some that had been almost more than they could bear, but they had managed to come through them together and, in the end, they’d been stronger for it. And when they looked back at it all, the joys outweighed the sorrows by far. Leo still enjoyed his full-time engineering position and GG still ran the arts and crafts gift shop that Leo had bought for her when their son, James, went off to college. The shop, GG’s Gems, had become a part of the little town of Boone; it showcased the work of local artists and craftsmen and women and people came from all around to shop there.

James was their only child, but he and his wife, Allison, had three children, Carter, who was seven and the twins, three years younger than their big brother. So Leo and GG had their family, perhaps not as big a family as they had once envisioned, but enough to fill the house with noise and laughter when they were all there. Both GG’s parents and Leo’s had lived to see their great-grandchildren; Leo’s father had passed away a couple of years ago and his mother had chosen to stay in their Florida community where she had lots of friends and one of Leo’s sisters, Molly, nearby. GG’s parents had retired and bought themselves a motorhome that they lived in, determined to visit every state before they would sell it and pick one spot to live in. They had friends everywhere they went; they were still healthy and when the family gathered at Leo and GG’s home, they loved to come and join them whenever they were able to.

GG’s brother, Carl, had finished his master’s degree before he married his wife and settled down to raise a family. Quite the opposite, his twin, Bryce, had made a name for himself as an investigative journalist and had never married after he’d had a short, tragic marriage in name only with a Vietnamese girl he’d met on assignment. He’d received numerous awards for excellence in journalism and they got to see him often on TV. He visited home when he could and it was usually a complete surprise to the family when he would pop in. He had his choice of assignments and he went to the most dangerous places in the world often. He had a thirst for adventure and a strong need to share the true events of the world with the public.

Savannah was awake first, as usual. She peeked in the door at her grandparents and crept over to Leo’s side of the bed.

“Paw-Paw,” she said in a loud whisper, “it’s daytime out.” When he didn’t stir, she reached over and touched his eyelid, light as a feather, and stroked upward to open his eye.

The touch startled Leo, but he realized immediately what it was and struggled to keep from laughing. She was reaching over to touch the other eye when he jumped and whispered, “What are you doing?”

Savannah squealed and jerked her hand back as she jumped about a foot in the air, she was so startled. Leo laughed and reached out to pull her up onto the bed.

“Well, good morning, Shelby.”

She forgot to be quiet, exclaiming, “I’m not Shelby!”

Leo squinted at her, looking her over for several seconds and finally said, “Oh, I guess you’re not.”

“Paw-Paw, you know I’m always the first one up.”

GG groaned, “Yes, she is. Is the sun even up?”

Savannah said, “It’s been up forever!”

Leo chuckled. “I’ll tell you what; you go down and let Rowdy out in the back yard and we’ll get up.”

“Okay!” She scrambled off the bed.

Leo called, “Walk! And be careful on the steps.”

Savannah slowed down and he could see her grip the handrail carefully as she started down the stairs. Leo leaned over and kissed GG. “Give me five minutes in the bathroom, then take your time getting up. I’ll see if Shelby’s awake.”

A few minutes later, GG could hear him talking to Shelby and then she saw the two of them heading down the stairs together. She lay back for just a second and then sighed and got out of bed, stretching as she went. When she started down the stairs herself, she could smell the coffee Leo had started and she thanked him silently. There was plenty of chatter coming from the kitchen and GG went straight toward the coffeepot, where her husband handed her a steaming cup, already prepared the way she liked it.

“God bless you,” she said fervently, cautiously taking the first sip and then sighing in bliss.

“You used to be much more of a morning person,” Leo observed.

“Yeah, I was younger then.”

He laughed at her and gave her a kiss.

“Don’t worry; coffee will fix it,” she said, taking another sip.

It was a good thing she had her coffee early. The phone rang about twenty minutes later and it was James. After she hung up, she said, “Carter fell out of a tree and hurt his arm. James and Allison are headed to the emergency room, the scout leader is taking him straight there. They think it’s probably broken.”

“Is he all right?” Shelby asked anxiously.

“Oh, yes, it hurts some but he’ll be fine. You daddy did almost exactly the same thing when he was Carter’s age.”

Her eyes were huge. “He did?”

“He sure did. And he was just fine.”

Savannah shook her head solemnly. “He should have come with us,” she said wisely.

GG and Leo had to laugh. Leo looked at his wife inquiringly and she nodded. “He’ll be fine. Now, let’s keep busy until they call us again. What should we have for breakfast today?”

Savannah crowed, “French toast!”

Shelby said, “Yeah, with strawberries.”

“And bacon,” Leo chimed in.

“All right, strawberry French toast and bacon it is.” GG began to bustle around the kitchen and Savannah went to let Rowdy in.

“Paw-Paw, can I feed Rowdy?” asked Savannah.

“I’m sure Rowdy would like that.” He watched Savannah go to the pantry with Rowdy’s bowl and struggle to open the lid of the big plastic bin that held his dog food. He knew better than to offer to help her and, after a couple of tries, she got it open. She measured out the right amount of food and closed the lid before she brought the bowl back with Rowdy dancing around her, eager for his breakfast.

Shelby went to the front porch and got the Sunday paper, bringing it in to Leo. After breakfast, he would sit with both girls in his lap and read the comic pages to them. Then he would be left in peace long enough to get part of the paper read, starting with the sports section. When the girls weren’t there, he liked to watch the Sunday morning news shows, but he didn’t attempt that when they were keeping the grandkids. By the time he got the paper read, GG would have the girls dressed, teeth brushed, and hair up in ponytails, ready for their visit to go see Miss Mamie’s horses. It was the perfect way to spend a spring Sunday morning in Boone, Indiana.

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1 review for Losing Leo

  1. Redrabbitt

    A STRONG MAN’S HAND CAN BE A VERY GOOD THING

    It is with mixed emotions reading this final story in the series. The stories take the reader on the journey of Leo and GG, who are soulmates. The time before they married, after they married, the challenges of life and loss, going from parenthood to grandparents. It has the ups and downs experienced in forty-one years of marriage. I was immersed in GG Devereaux and Leo Beauchamp’s story and all the changes that life brings them.

    Leo: When I look at you, I see all of it, the girl, the woman, the love.
    GG: Oh, Leo, how was I ever lucky enough to find you?
    GG: I was wrong and you were even more stubborn than me.
    Leo: I was stubborn?
    GG: Yep, you wouldn’t give up on me and you made me fall in love with you.
    Leo: I had to. You would have gotten yourself into all kinds of trouble if I hadn’t been there to get you out of it.

    I will say that this is a series I have been thrilled to read, and the characters are like old friends; you don’t have to be around them all the time, but it is a wonderful visit when you are with them again. The story is a journey of a couple, their marriage, their plans, and dreams, along with heartache and changes. GG will tell the tale to her granddaughter, Shelby, who wants to record and document her grandparent’s history.

    GG: Oh, Leo, how did I ever get lucky enough to marry you?
    Leo: We were lucky, both of us. We were meant to be together for the rest of our lives.

    The story has mild intimate scenes between GG and Leo and a few spankings. The tale includes changes in their life, getting together with family and friends, and how the seasons of life have evolved.

    I felt like a voyeur watching, and sometimes it was with laughter and even a few times with tears of sorrow. It felt real, and the characters are so beloved that you felt their joy and sorrow. Just like in life, not everything is perfect; just a touch of angst and plenty of emotions are included.

    I loved the places that Leo and GG travel to for vacations. The closeness of the family—and even friends, how their grandchildren are a joy to them. But this story isn’t all happy times; it comes with its moments of Leo needing to spank GG when she gets out of control, doing or not doing what she knows needs to be done—and afterward, the closeness of intimacy.

    “You know where I’ve always wanted to be? With you. Wherever you are, that’s where I want to be.”

    GG: With everything we’ve seen, home is still the best place.
    Leo: It is. Because it’s our home and we’re there together. I have to confess, I’m ready to get back there.
    GG: I am too. I’m ready to see the family.

    It is a story full of heartfelt emotions with plenty of angst, ups, and downs and a great addition to this series. There were several surprises, one shock, and then the one I dreaded but knew was going to happen. I loved this journey and am so glad I could be that voyeur watching it play out. By the end of the story, I was crying happy tears and so glad we got to see how they lived their life and marriage together in Boone.

    “You were my real, honest-to-God soulmate.”

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