Not sure if I've mentioned it, but I recently released my third novel, Fresh Ice (Don't be confused, there are two books out there with the same title...mine is, well mine. By SARAH J. BRADLEY) Anyway, the tale of former figure skater Isabella "Izzy" Marks seems to resonate with most readers, so I thought I'd give you all a little more of a peak into her world. At this point in the book, she's decided to leave Wisconsin for good and move to Nashville to be closer to her daughter, who is attending college there. Oh, and there's this sort of mystery guy she saw at a club...and she's intrigued. So here you go! (and for those of you NOT into Kindle, this book is also available for the Nook, any e-reader, if you click HERE! It's also available in print if you click HERE!
Izzy sipped her iced tea and tried to ignore the chatter floating around her like cottonwood pollen. Jenna and Mikayla carried on a loud discussion about what they would wear on the first day of classes. Izzy knew it was a hilarious conversation, simply by looking at Adele’s disapproving glare. Sean, probably thinking about the long day’s drive he had ahead of him in the morning, was quieter than normal, which only emphasized Izzy’s own lack of participation.
I have to stay focused. I have to think of exactly the right words to somehow make this decision seem right for everyone involved, including Adele.
“Ladies, I hate to break up your chit chat,” Sean pushed his chair back from the table, but we have a long drive tomorrow and us oldsters need our sleep.”
Adele looked at her watch. “Oh you are right, Sean. Okay, girls, give me a hug.” She stood and held her arms out wide. Jenna and Mikayla stood and positioned themselves into her iron embrace. Izzy knew, from the girls’ body language, that this hug was not soft and motherly.
If she’s hard and unyielding with the girls, what’s she going to be like with me when I flat out defy her?
“Come on Izzy,” Adele could have been summoning a dog to her side. “Let’s go.”
The word was out before Izzy had time to second guess herself. It hung in the air like the glow of an unexpected bold of lighting.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?” Adele put her hands on her hips, a fighter, waiting for the bell.
Sean and the girls froze in their positions. Only their eyes moved back and forth from Adele to Izzy.
“I said no, I’m not coming with you.” Izzy struggled to keep a fearful waver out of her tone.
Adele’s expression clouded. “I see. So you’re having a few moments with the girls before you turn in?”
“No. I mean I’m not coming back to
. I’m staying
in Wisconsin .” Nashville
Sean and the girls slipped back to seating positions and waited.
“You’re staying here?”
“You’re not coming back?”
“No.” Izzy shook her head for emphasis.
“What do you intend to do?”
“I guess I’ll do what people do. I’ll find a place to live, a place to work. There’s nothing for me back in
. The house is
foreclosed, my job won’t support me.” Wisconsin
“Oh, and there are so many opportunities here? What kind of job do you think you’ll get here? There isn’t much of a market for a former figure skater with no education and bad credit.”
Adele’s words stung like a slap to the face. Izzy blinked, and glanced at Jenna, whose expression of fury steeled Izzy’s resolve. “My daughter is here. I have, or will have, enough money to get a modest place.”
“How do you have any money?” Adele waited a beat. “Unless that man you were with paid you. Just how good are you that you can snag a dirty musician and suddenly have enough money to make a major move like this?”
“Mom!” Mikayla shouted. “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“No Mikayla, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Remember yesterday when she was so sick she couldn’t help you move? Well, I found her out with a man, and they looked like they were headed to bed.”
“All right Aunt Iz!” Mikayla cheered.
“Adele, shut up.” Izzy kept her voice low. Fear was gone, replaced by righteous anger. “I was not headed to bed with a man. Collier was my best friend growing up. We happened to meet yesterday purely by chance. We talked, we had dinner. And then he put me in a cab and I went back to the hotel. Alone.” She glanced at Jenna, who gave her an uncertain smile.
“Well at least you can’t ruin him like you ruined Jason. He’s already homeless.”
Izzy staggered back at the force of this unexpected blow. “I didn’t ruin anything for Jason.”
“That’s not the way I remember it.”
“Adele, that’s enough,” Sean said quietly.
“No, Sean, this is a long time coming. My brother had everything going to him until her father bribed him to skate with her and then she trapped him with a pregnancy.”
“Your brother was a grown man who got a young girl pregnant.” Sean’s face turned a shade of red Izzy had never seen on him.
“Yes, and had she gotten the abortion like we all told her she should have, he wouldn’t have been exiled in shame.”
“Mother…shut the hell up!” Mikayla put her arm around Jenna. “Do you listen to anything that falls out of that gaping pie hole of yours or do you just say every damn word that comes to your head?” Mikayla eased a stunned looking Jenna out of the booth. “You are one foul bitch. For your information, Aunt Izzy won the lottery. Not a million bucks, but certainly enough to tell your queen bitch ass to go to hell.”
“Whatever.” Mikayla hugged Sean, who was now also standing. “Sorry Dad. Have a safe trip back. Come on Jenna.”
Without another word, the girls walked out.
“Do you see what you did?” Adele turned on Izzy, her eyes blazing.
“What I did? What I did? I didn’t do anything to you.” Izzy took three steps toward the door.
“Everything you owe me, and this is how you repay me?”
Izzy paused, her hand hovering over the knob. The idea of owing Adele anything froze her. “What on earth could I possibly owe you?”
“If it weren’t for us, you and Jason would have been on the street.”
“Adele, Jason more than paid for that and you know it.”
Adele whirled her viper eyes on Sean. “Shut up Sean! That was nothing! That was a pittance! We gave them a life, we gave them livelihood!”
“They paid for that. Izzy’s more than paid her share.”
Izzy stared at Sean, his intense glare of defiance surprising her. Sean never stood up to Adele. What does he mean, we paid for it?
“It wasn’t enough given the years I’ve had to put up with this!”
Izzy’s glance whipped back to Sean as she waited for a spirited rebuttal, but the look was gone, replaced by his usual slack expression of defeat. I’m on my own against her again. Izzy squared her shoulders. “Well, Adele, I’m so very sorry you’ve had to put up with me all these years. So I guess I’m taking that huge task away from you. Whatever will you do with all the time you’ll have, now that you can’t think up ways to blame me for everything?” She didn’t wait for a response, and given the purple hue to Adele’s face, it was doubtful the one she got would have been pleasant. She whipped the door open and charged through it, rage speeding her steps.
Once out on the street, the warm night air did little to calm her. She started up the street with a vague notion of tracking down Jenna. She didn’t realize she was nearly running until she crashed into another pedestrian and fell down.
“Hey, where’s the fire?” The tall man held out his hand.
“Thank you. I’m so sorry…oh, it’s you…” Her knees went weak as she looked into the clear, beautiful eyes of the mystery man from Jason’s funeral.
He smiled, and kept his hand on her arm. “Yes it is.”
“I’m so sorry. I mean, you’re the guy from the other night, the one who introduced the bands. Quinn…something.” Why am I blanking on his last name?
“Yes. Yes, that’s what my stage name is; Quinn Something.”
Izzy brushed herself off. “I’m sorry. I’m a bit preoccupied.”
“I gathered that.”
“Well, anyway.” She shook his hand. “Thank you for your help, Quinn Something.”
“You’re very welcome, Miss. Look, can I buy you a cup of coffee or something?”
Izzy looked up into Quinn’s face. Again she was mesmerized by his eyes. “Are you in the habit of asking out complete strangers?”
“No, of course not. But we’re not complete strangers.”
“Really. I mean, you saw me at Chance’s, and we just ran into each other here. Plus, we know 25% of our combined names. We’re nearly old friends.”
“Ah. So what would we be if we knew each others’ full names?”
“Well, this is the South. We’d be kissin’ cousins.” He gave her a dizzying smile.
Her knees went weak, and Izzy laughed out loud to cover her sudden flash of arousal. Her anger at Adele shed itself from her like a heavy coat. There was something about Quinn that put her at ease. Also, there were his beautiful eyes. “Say, you don’t have a twin, do you?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“Then we have met before. My name is Isabella Marks, but everyone calls me Izzy. But you must have already known that.”
A shadow crossed his face. “Why do you say that?”
“You were at my husband’s funeral, back in March.”
Quinn was quiet for a long moment, his eyes darkened. “Yes, I was there.”
Briefly Izzy wondered why admitting that fact was so difficult for him. She decided not to pursue the line of questioning.
“So they call you Izzy.” He seemed happy to change the subject. “That is a properly Southern nickname.”
“I grew up here.”
“Okay then, Miss Izzy,” he bowed low, and used an exaggerated Southern accent, “my full name is Quinn Murray. I did not grow up here, but here is where I have taken root.” He took her hand and brushed his lips lightly on the tips of her fingers. “So, where would you like to go?”
“I don’t suppose there’s anyplace I could get some good coffee and grits, is there? I have a sudden urge for grits.”
“Miss Izzy, this is the South. Finding grits here is like finding cheese curds in
. And I know the perfect place for
grits this time of night.” Wisconsin
Ten minutes later, Izzy and Quinn were seated in a Waffle House, waiting for their food to arrive.
“So Mr. Murray…”
“Call me Quinn, please.”
“Quinn. What are you celebrating?”
“I do some charity events at
and I just got something lined up
for the spring that could help a very worthy cause in a big, big way. And today
I got permission to use the Center for the event. I’m pretty excited about it.” Bridgestone Center
“Well that is a reason to celebrate.” She set her coffee cup down. “You said some of the Admiral players were your friends. Are you a hockey player?”
Quinn took a long time stirring cream into his coffee before he answered. “I work for the Nashville Predators, that’s the NHL affiliate of the Milwaukee Admirals.” He took her hand in his. “Ja-Your husband seemed to be well liked. I am sorry for your loss.”
There’s something about his expression. He doesn’t look all that sorry.
I’m imagining things.
“Thank you. It’s been a big adjustment. I’ve just decided to move back to
. My daughter is starting at
Vanderbilt and I’ve got nothing holding me in Nashville .” Remembering Adele’s hurtful
words, Izzy shook her head. “I’m celebrating moving back.” Wisconsin
Quinn smiled at her, his clear blue-green eyes lighting up. “Well, then, I guess welcome back Izzy Marks. Welcome home.”