I got up early. I always do. And I intended to stay out of my office because, you know, it's the weekend and I made it a rule not to write on weekends. But I was out here by 6:30, still in pajamas and socks, drinking tea from my Keurig and being nosy on Facebook. I check my emails, take a cruise around blogs I like to read, peruse the news. I didn't mean to open the file to my work in progress, but I did, and read over what I wrote yesterday (yes, I know, that was the weekend, too, but I had this scene I wanted to finish, and one that needed fleshing out...you know how that goes). And tweaked it, just a little. After all, I have plenty of time before ch--
HOLY METHODIST COW, IT'S 9:15! Sunday School starts at 9:30 and it's my week to teach--I knew I should have studied the lesson last night. It's also Communion week and I'm the steward, and I need to change the sign out front and try not to misspell "welcome", and...I really should brush my teeth and get dressed. Thank goodness for hair clips. No one will ever know I didn't get the comb all the way through it. It's a good thing the church is right across the road and I get there--somewhat disheveled but worshipful for all that--at 9:28.
I'm home by lunchtime. A sandwich and a glass of something later, I'm dozing in the recliner. My husband and I talk about how we'll spend the afternoon. He'll watch movies, he thinks, and take a nap in the other recliner. I'll sew, I decide, but I won't write anymore--it's the weekend, remember.
Except maybe a little.
Okay, okay, I'll stop. But I so love being a writer and the fact that my story (even on the days I hate it, and there are those) is right there at my fingertips. I was lucky enough to like my day job right up until the day I left it, but writing fills the well in a way it never did. Writing for Harlequin Heartwarming? Well, it's the icing on the proverbial cake.
I've already shown (and gushed over) my cover, but here it is again. Isn't it wonderful? Below please find a blurb and an excerpt for Back to McGuffey's that I hope will make you want to read the rest of it the very minute it's released on October 1.
Oh, I just got a box of author copies! I'd love to give one of them away to a commenter today. Tell me about your Sundays, and thanks for coming by--I hope you enjoyed the cider, and I hope you love the book.
The one that got away
Could Kate Rafael’s day get any worse? First she lost her job, then her house burned down and now her ex is back in town. Apparently, Ben McGuffey's taking a break from being a big-city doctor to help at his family’s tavern and reassess the choices he's made for his career.
Ben ends up giving Kate a hand...then giving her kisses...and finally, a second chance. But when a local teenager shows them both a glimpse of what it means to be a family, Ben wonders if having kids in small-town Vermont would clash with his ambitions. Or can he truly come home again…to Kate?
“I’ll miss you.”
Ben’s words lay between them like the pieces of pizza crust. She thought at first he hadn’t really said them, that maybe she’d just wanted to hear them.
As though he knew what she was thinking—he probably did know—he said, “I will. I’ve always missed you.”
“I’ll miss you, too.”
She would miss him as she always had before this summer, deep in the place in her heart she kept closed. It had opened for a while over the previous months. Aired out. Old love had become new and valued friendship. It had become more than that, but she wouldn’t think about that part right now.
They were good at being friends and she would treasure that. They’d be able to have long telephone conversations, dance at McGuffey’s on the weekends he came to visit his mother and maybe even attend a few Celtics games if she could get away from A Day at a Time long enough to make the trip to Boston.
“We used to talk about that.”
Only when he said, “About what?” did she realize she’d spoken. Good grief, where was her mind? First she wasn’t sure he had said something and now she was saying things she didn’t mean to.
“Um...I don’t remember.”
Because if she told him, he’d feel obligated to invite her down to go to a Celtics game with him, and that was more than she could bear. Friendship was fine—obligation was not.
“Do you remember when Penny got pregnant our senior year and she and Dan snuck off and got married during spring break?” she asked suddenly.
He snorted. “Of course I remember. We snuck off with them to be their witnesses. We were in such deep trouble when we got home that we said we might as well have been the ones who got pregnant.”
“Do you ever look at Samantha and wish we had?” She did, almost every time she looked at their beautiful goddaughter, but it wasn’t her she was talking about now. It was him.
Ben hesitated. “Not that, no. Do I look at her and wish things between us were different? You bet.” He clasped Kate’s hands and looked into her eyes. “But I was all about me then, about skiing in the Olympics and maybe eventually becoming a doctor. You remember that—Dylan was a better boyfriend after I went to UVM than I was.” He frowned, looking as though he wanted to say something else—something different. But then his face changed, the expression lightening. “If we’d gotten pregnant, we wouldn’t have been the statistic Penny and Dan are. We’d have been the other one, the ones that end up divorced and hating each other before they’re old enough to drink. Not because of you, Katy, but because of me.”
She knew what he meant. If there’d been a little McGuffey on the way, Ben would have “done right by her.” They’d have gotten married, but it would have been because he felt obligated. Though she still believed they had loved each other, marriage and parenthood would never have worked. Even then, combined with love, obligation wouldn’t have been fine. It wouldn’t have been close to enough.
“You’re not all about you now.” It was almost begging. She knew that. And she hated that she was saying the words, but it didn’t stop her. We could still be parents. Good parents. Even if we’re not in love anymore, we’re friends and we’re good at it. And we’re more. I know we’re more.
Regret reset the lines of grief that had been in his face when he arrived, the ones that made him look weary and every minute of his age. “I’m thirty-nine, getting scary close to forty. I don’t want to be a dad with a baby who’ll graduate from college after I retire. Maybe that’s selfish. Maybe I am still all about me and just don’t want to see it. But I know fatherhood’s a ship that’s already sailed for me.” He lifted her hands to his lips, kissing her fingers. “I’m sorry. One more time, I’m sorry not to be who you need. Who you deserve.”
All that was missing, she thought later, staring through the skylight that was over her bed, was the music in the background and the passionate good-night kisses and half promises that the breakup was only temporary.
She’d wept after he left with his usual request that she lock the door after him, quiet tears that made Sally climb into her lap and pat her face with a sympathetic paw. “I’ve cried more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years,” she told the cat.
She even wrote in her journal as she had thirteen years before. It Is Over.