A HERO'S SPARK: the final book in the Wicked Women series!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sneak Peak Sunday: Spark of a Hero

Good evening all!

It's been a marathon writing weekend, I have to say, and I'm within a couple pages of finishing the first draft of my newest WIP, "Spark of a Hero."

I thought I'd share a bit with you, to inspire you to read the other two books in my Wicked Women Series,  Lies in Chance and Fresh Ice.  (Click on the book covers to check them out at Amazon). While you don't NEED to read those two books for this one to make sense...hey, it wouldn't hurt.

Anyway, enjoy!

Mira pulled into Dave’s parking lot, her speed lower, but her rage still heating her body. She slammed her car door, the feel of the force calming her a little. By the time she was inside, much of her anger had cooled. “Hey Chanel.”
          “Hey there, Mira. You’re not…you’re not waiting table tonight are you?”
          Mira wanted to laugh out loud at the concerned expression on her friend’s face. “No, I’m not. And you don’t have to pussy foot around it, Chanel. I know Dave’s pissed at me for my last performance. Hell, everyone around here is pissed at me for one thing or another.”
          “You’re just in a rough spot, that’s all, girl.”
          “I know. I know. But I’ve got something. I think I really have something, I just need to work on it. I was hoping I could use the backstage piano?”
          Chanel looked around and shrugged. “It’s quiet tonight. Go ahead. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
          “Dave won’t mind?”
          Chanel grinned. “If he is, I’ll take care of him, don’t you worry. You just go write something brilliant so you can get back on track.”
          Mira grinned. “Thanks Chanel. I knew I could count on you!”
          She wasted no time heading to the dark back stage area where a battered old piano was parked in directly beneath the lone light bulb in the space. She opened the cover and sat on the bench. She set her music folder on the music rack, and pulled out the sheets she’d covered with notes and lyrics. Taking a deep breath, she touched the scarred keys lightly, listening to the echo in the wide room. Softly, almost in a whisper, she sang as she played, stopping only to write a note here or there on the music.
          Time stopped while she was working. She knew, with each note she played, this was a good song. She liked the overall feeling, but today, after her encounter with Madelyn, a second, darker verse popped into her head and she really liked how the lyrics paired with the music. It was definitely a song to be proud of, and it was all hers.
          She stopped playing for a moment and wrote a few more notes on the music. She sensed, as she wrote, someone behind her. Looking over her shoulder, squinting at the shadows, she saw him. “You. Can’t you ever not be where I am?”
          Collier stepped into the dim ring of light. “Sorry. I was in the back, putting away dishes and I heard you playing.”
          “Yeah, well, you can go back to putting away dishes. I’ve got work to do.”
          “You’ve got a good song there.”
          “Not that I need your opinion.”
          “I’m just sayin’. It’s good.”
          She hated that his approval gave her a sense of calm. “Whatever. I’m playing it for Shara tomorrow.”
          “Oh, well, that’s good, right?”
          She grit her teeth. “Yes, Ren Faire Boy. It’s great. It’s freakin’ awesome that she was able to take some time out of her busy day of praising you to listen to what I have to offer. It’s super amazing that I have to beg and scrape for time now that you’re the golden boy at the studio.”
          “Hey, look. I’m not the one who can’t play when the tiniest distraction shows up. I’m not the one who had a freak out on stage the other night.”
          “No, but you always seem to be right there when I screw up.”
          “Why is that, I wonder. Are you threatened by me?”
          She didn’t miss the glimmer of humor in his steel gray eyes. “I’m not threatened by you. And I have more talent in my left hand than you’ll ever have in your entire life.”
          “That might be true. But talent isn’t always going to be the thing that gets you what you want in your career.”
          She wanted to punch him in the throat. Her right hand balled into a fist. “No, what gets you where you want to be in your career is being the spoiled nephew of Shara’s lawyer.”
          “That has nothing to do with it.”
          “The hell it doesn’t. If it weren’t for your uncle, you’d be begging your guys from your pirate band to take you back.”
          His expression registered a minimal amount of surprise and just a touch of hurt. “So that story’s gotten around I see.”
          “It doesn’t take much in this town. But don’t try to deny it. If you weren’t a relative, there’s no way you’d find your way up here.”
          “You don’t have to be bitter.”      
          “Oh you’re right. I don’t have anything to be bitter about. No, I’ve lived in this town forever and I’ve worked my butt off to get a chance at working with Shara and then you swoop in, you second rate cover singer, and you get my spot.”
          “I might be a second rate cover singer, but you’re an unstable mental case. And that is always going to get in the way of your talent.”
          She hated how calm he was. She hated how little her barbs seemed to affect him. Mostly, she hated how much he was probably right. “Get the hell out of here Collier James. I have work to do.”
          “Fine. I’m going. I’m going. I just wanted you to know…that’s a good song you’ve got there.”
This Sneak Peak Sunday brought to you by
a coffee fueled weekend!
          As he left, she shook her head, trying to dislodge any sense of pleasure she got from his compliment.
          The next morning, Collier got up and helped Bryan with the chores. He liked the way physical labor made him feel, like he’d actually accomplished something once the task was done.  He appreciated that Bryan didn’t feel the need to fill every moment with talk. They could work together, cleaning stalls, moving hay bales, filling the water tank, without much chatter.  It was calming for Collier who’d spent so long trying to make as much noise as possible to shut out thoughts of Izzy.  Now, in the morning stillness of the barn, he realized he hadn’t thought about her in a couple days.
          After chores, Collier shared a companionable pot of coffee with Bryan and headed to the studio to work. As he got close to the building, he didn’t have to open the door of the studio to hear the argument raging inside. He stepped into the building with caution, surprised to hear Shara Jacobs’ voice involved in anything quite so heated.
          What didn’t surprise him was Mira, once again voicing an opinion opposite Shara’s and the other members of Teachers’ Pets. Collier eased open the booth door and sat in the shadows, his curiosity rising by the second.
          “I’m not doing a duet!” Mira stood in front of them all, her back turned to the booth window, her fists balled at her sides. “This is a song I wrote and I want to sing it. Alone.”
          “Well that’s just fine because the one thing Teacher’s Pets doesn’t do is country.” Jake did nothing to hide his acrimony, his arms crossed and his eyes blazing.
          “It’s not a country song.”
          “Really? Because all I hear is twang, twang, twang.”
          Mira was about to retort something when Shara put her hand up. “Enough. Mira, this is a good, solid song. But I’m with Kelly and Jake on this one. This is definitely a duet, and I’d like to package it as such.”
          Collier watched as the room settled into an unsteady truce.
          “That said, it does skew a bit country and Jake’s right, Teachers’ Pet is definitely not a country band.”
          “Told you!”
          Collier stifled a laugh. Jake looked like a four year old, and Collier knew Mira was struggling to keep from sticking her tongue at him.
          “Although there was a time when this band didn’t allow ‘chicks’ in either, if I recall correctly.” Shara shot a glare at Jake, who settled down immediately. “Guys, I think it would be really appropriate for us to at least think about performing this song when we do the holiday tour. We’ll be in the heart of country music and wouldn’t it be nice to stretch our fan base just a little bit?”
          “Shara, okay, fine. But it’s a duet, like you said. So who do we get to sing it? I’m no country singer.  Kelly’s no country singer.  And Tony and Dave,” Jake grinned, “They’re not singers at all.”
          There was a general shout of protest from the guys in the band. Collier could see Mira’s confidence crumbling little by little. For all the fight and snarling she had in her, Collier realized her music might be the one thing Mira had that wasn’t protected by her thorny outer shell. It was the one place where she was completely honest. 
          “I’ll do it.”
          Everyone turned to squint at the glass. Collier whipped his finger off the speaker button, shocked as anyone that he’d spoken.
          “You haven’t even heard the song. You might not like it.”
          Collier stepped into the studio and ignored Mira’s icy glare. “I heard part of it last night, Tony, and I liked it. Besides, if Miss Shara says it’s good enough, it’s good enough. If you guys aren’t sure about it, I’ve got a connection in Nashville where she and I,” he nodded at the still fuming Mira, “could try it out on stage. I know a few musicians there who could back us up, so you wouldn’t have to do anything but listen. You guys can gauge the crowd reaction. That way we can perform far, far away from Teachers’ Pets, but we can still sort of do some promotion for you guys. It’s a win all the way around, if you think about it.” He grit his teeth, hoping they bought the idea because he doubted he could suggest performing at Second Chances’ again. There were too many memories in that old place.
          “I like the idea, but I think you two should work on this a bit before you sign anything. Starting now. Guys?” Shara held open the studio door for the others to leave.
          Alone in the studio, Collier sat at the piano and looked at Mira, who hadn’t moved a muscle in the time he’d been there. “So let’s hear it from the top.”
          “Like I really want to share this song with you.”
          Collier shrugged and got up. “Suit yourself. I’ve got my own stuff to work on. Teachers’ Pets want me to come with them for the holiday tour as the opening act.” He put his hand on the doorknob.
          “You really got a connection in Nashville? A good one, not some dive?”
          Collier grinned and turned around. “Well, ‘Second Chance’s’ is a dive, but it’s a great place to work out new material. Mostly a college crowd, but very music savvy. I used to try out new material there all the time. The food is sort of horrible, but the wine list is decent.”
          He looked at her closely. There was definitely something different about her.
          Mira ran a hand through her hair. Collier frowned. She looked ghostly and thin.  He hadn’t noticed it last night, but she’d lost some weight recently. “Hey, are you okay?”
          “I’ll be fine.” Mira sat down and shook her head. “When I’m writing, I forget to eat, that’s all.”
          Collier wasn’t quite convinced, but he wasn’t going to push. “Okay, so show me what you’ve got and let’s see if we can’t put a little country into Teacher’s Pet. Then I’ll get you a burger over at Dave’s.”
          Mira nodded and handed him some sheet music. “It’s a song about not getting anything handed to you. How some people have to work for everything they get while others just get everything.” She bit her lip, then gave him a defiant look, daring him to cut down the song.

          Collier read the lyrics and was instantly hooked. “I can definitely get behind this one. Let’s get to work.”

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