It's been a couple weeks since I touched base here, since it's NANOWRIMO and I'm working like crazy to finish the first draft of my newest Novel, Spark of a Hero.
I'm excited about this novel because in it I'm doing something I've never done before: I'm taking characters from previous novels and putting them in a whole new story. In this case, I'm taking Collier James, who was my "best friend" from Fresh Ice and putting him into Rock Harbor, the world I created in Lies In Chance. It's been fun going back and giving my old characters new life and creating new characters along the way.
So tonight, since it's my birthday, I thought I'd share something with you all: A chapter from the new novel. This is an early scene where Collier, our hero, has his first real contact with Mel, our heroine. The scene, for those of you familiar with "Lies in Chance" takes place in the loft Bryan built for Shara.
Collier followed Molly’s car closely on the shiny, rain slick roads. They drove through what felt like endless miles of dark farmland until Molly turned up a narrow drive. Collier pulled the Mercedes into the round yard next to her car. On one side of him was a small cabin. In front of him was a garage and to his left was a small barn where, he surmised, would be the loft. He got out of his car and tried to avoid the muddy puddles as he followed Molly to the barn.
She slid open the barn door. The soft whicker of horses greeted them. “Shhh, Pepper, Shhh girls.” Molly patted the horses in each of the four stalls. “You’ll be up those stairs in the loft. It’s really more of a small apartment. There’s a bathroom. It’s not glamorous, but it’ll suit I’m sure. Light switch for the barn is at the top of the stairs. I’ll close this door.”
“Thank you, Miz Hunter.”
Molly waved a dismissive hand. “I know you’re southern, but plain old Molly is good enough for me. “
“Okay, Molly it is. So when will the Jacobs’ be home?”
“Oh they’ll be back later tonight. They’re just over at the Shepaski house for dinner. I think Shara said something about a Scrabble game .”
Collier raised an eyebrow. “Not exactly big recording mogul stuff.”
“No, But Shara isn’t a typical big recording mogul. She and Bryan could have both been big shots with huge fortunes. They both turned it down, and it’s a good thing, too.”
“How would turning down a fortune be a good thing?”
Molly smiled and leaned against a stall door. “They would never have met each other if either of them had stayed in their family’s business.”
“My uncle said they had a romance for the ages.”
“He wasn’t wrong. And they have two precious children to show for it. You’ll meet them soon enough”
“I’m not sure I’m up for a happy romantic couple,” Collier kicked a bit of sawdust.
“Sounds like you’ve got secrets of your own.”
“Not secrets. Just stuff I don’t want to talk about.”
“Well good luck trying to keep anything quiet around here,” Molly stepped out of the barn and pushed the rolling door halfway. “You’ll find most folks have some sort of secret they want to keep hidden, but everyone knows it because,” she smiled, “you can’t keep a secret in a town this small. The winters are long and cable TV service is uneven at best. We’ve got nothing else to do.”
She closed the rolling barn door and Collier headed up the stairs. He snapped off the barn light and turned on the loft light. The room was small, yet about as cozy as any he’d ever seen. He set his duffle bag next to the bentwood rocker and flopped onto the firm mattress that took up most of the floor space. He opened the double hung window and gazed down at the cabin. In the distance he made out the shape of another building, a farmhouse. Recalling the conversation with Uncle Archibald, Collier surmised that was the recording studio, formerly a burned out shell of a farmhouse Bryan had converted to a studio as a wedding gift.
Another perfect romance, another perfect hero for his woman, and I’m stuck in the middle of it all again.
Collier closed his eyes and tried not to picture Izzy.
What woke him, Collier didn’t know, but even still in the haze of deep sleep, he knew he wasn’t alone in the loft. Someone latched the door quietly and stepped closer to the bed before turning on the overhead light.
“Who’s there?” he called out as the light flashed on, momentarily blinding him. A woman’s scream pierced through the shock of light and he squinted in her general direction. He recognized her instantly. “What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.” She held her bulky shoulder bag in front of her. “Who are you ?”
Collier shifted to sit up. She froze. “Don’t move, I’ve got mace in here.”
“I’m not going to move, since I’m pretty much naked here.” Collier grinned at her. “But you don’t have mace in there.”
“How would you know what I have in my bag?”
“Well, because if you had mace in there, you would have started spraying it the minute you realized there was a man in the room. That, at least, is what I hear from most women.”
“Oh, and you know most women, do you?”
“No, but I’m pretty sure most women wouldn’t ask any questions before mentioning they have mace. So relax, put the bag down and tell me what you’re doing here.”
“Shara lets me stay here sometimes, when I need to.”
“Sound mysterious…and shady.”
“Yeah, well, you’re a stranger around here, and that’s enough mysterious for me to call the cops. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t.”
“My uncle said I could stay here and Molly Hunter brought me here.”
This visibly calmed the woman, although her countenance remained stoney. “Who’s your uncle?”
She relaxed further. “Fine. “ She sat in the rocker. “But still, you can’t stay here.”
“Because I’m staying here.”
Collier chuckled. “I was here first. And, I’m not wearing pants.”
“I’ll close my eyes, you get dressed, and get out.”
“Why should I get out? I got here first. I was sound asleep, and you woke me up.”
She shrugged. “Not my problem. You can’t stay here.”
“It is your problem, I’m not leaving.” He grinned. “We could both stay here. It’s a big enough bed.” He patted the spot next to him.
She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Typical man. Look. I need to stay here. Alone.”
“Well, I’m from out of town and have no place else to go. From what I hear, Pamela Prier, you live in Rock Harbor which means you have a perfectly good someplace else to go.”
“Call me Mel.” A shadow crossed her face. “I can’t go there tonight. You can’t make me. And how do you know my name…oh, wait…”
“Of course.” Mel nodded. “She knows everyone and everything thing in this town. Steer clear of her if you want to keep anything private.”
“You don’t like Molly?”
“Everyone likes Molly, and Molly likes everyone.”
“And that’s a problem?”
Pamela shrugged. “Obviously not for her.”
“We’re not talking about her.”
She shrugged. “I really don’t care. I try not to make attachments. It’s easier to leave if there aren’t any attachments.”
“And you want to leave Rock Harbor?”
“I want to leave Wisconsin. Every single day of my life.”
It was probably the one completely truthful thing she’d said. Collier studied her, trying to assess her age. “You’re what, thirty? You’re old enough to go out on your own. What’s stopping you?”
“I’m twenty-seven thank you.”
Collier nearly laughed out loud at the wounded expression on Mel’s face.
“And I can’t leave because it’s complicated. But I can’t go home tonight.”
There was a glimmer of true fear in her soft green eyes. Collier relented. “Fine. Just go…go in the bathroom for a minute, let me get my crap together and I’ll go sleep on the hay downstairs.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Oh now that you’ve won the bed, you want to know what my opinion is?”
The softness melted from her face and her jaw line hardened. “Not really. I couldn’t care less where you sleep tonight, so long as it’s not in here.”
“Suits me fine. I’d rather sleep with horses than up here with you. Less shit to deal with.”
“Oh very nice. They teach you that language in the south where men are supposed to be so mannerly?” She glared at him as she stomped into the small bathroom and slammed the door.
“No!” Collier yelled as he pulled on his jeans. “I learned manners just fine, because where I come from the women aren’t complete bitches!” He stuffed a few things into his duffle bag and slammed the door behind him, startling the horses in the stalls below.
There was a blanket hanging from a hook near a stack of hay bales. Collier spread the blanket over the bales and stretched out, thankful his years on the road in the Renaissance faire circuit had toughened him. Staring at the ceiling, he watched the light that glowed from between small cracks in the loft floor. When the light switched off, he closed his eyes. Still, she is pretty…pretty bitchy.