This morning—and for the rest of the week—my house is in turmoil. Kind of like the characters’ lives in my new book. The painters are here to repair the pergola above the patio and repaint. Their ten-foot ladders are propped against the outdoor walls, their pickups parked in my driveway. I’m looking forward to these improvements—so tired of the flaking paint drifting down from overhead—but it upsets me to have my little world disturbed. It always does.
A dear friend has told me I’m not alone. She doesn’t like her space upended either. Still, it’s harder for me to write with male voices (not my hero’s) in my head. Speaking of heroes...
In November the newest book in my Kansas Cowboys series comes out! It's available for pre-order now, and I love this cover of the hero, Cody Jones, leading a horse through the snow. And how about that Christmas wreath around Prancer’s neck?
In previous stories, Cody was a bad boy. Charming, irresistible, but clearly not on the right path in life. His love for Willow Bodine, a wealthy rancher’s daughter, was doomed then, but after a stay in prison he’s back again, hoping to redeem himself and get a second chance—only to find her engaged to Cody’s worst enemy. But he’s not about to give up yet and, in this brief edited scene, has come to see her at her family’s ranch where he is definitely unwelcome:
Willow would not let him charm her again. She’d be better off to maintain a strict distance. “You’ve changed,” she pointed out, her voice sounding thick, “even lost some weight.”
Cody pretended to examine his forearm, all corded muscle, the skin dusted with golden hairs. “Yeah, but take a look at my tan.” And her heart turned over. His T-shirt read Navarro Correctional Facility. “I did a lot of work outside there.” His mouth set. “How long, angel? How long did it take you to forget?”
So, he’d heard about her engagement to Thad Nesbitt [his rival, the prosecutor who had faced him in court]. “We broke up, Cody. You and me, I mean.”
“I didn’t think we broke up for good.” He looked at her ring. “I don’t see any diamond here. Just a plain silver band?”
“It’s platinum.” Her cheeks warm, she turned the ring around again. It was a bit too large for her finger and needed to be resized. “A yellow diamond.” Several carats, and Thad’s choice.
“Go big or go home, huh?”
“Cody, stop. We were through before you even went to trial.” Her voice shook. “I’m glad your sentence was shortened. I hope that’s behind you now. I wish you all the best—”
“Wow. That sounds like some Dear John letter. You really love him?” For a long moment Cody didn’t speak. Then, “Do you love him as much as you said you loved me?”
What she needed to say, what he needed to hear again, was yes, but the word stuck in her throat. “Go,” she begged him. “For your own good, Cody. Don’t come back.”
The stunned look on his face shouldn’t have been there. How could he not know what kind of reception he’d get at the WB? From her? Yet he’d come anyway. He’d called her angel again.
“Okay,” he finally said. “If that’s the way you want it.”
With a shrug of his broad shoulders, he turned away and left. Willow watched him get into the yellow pickup and speed down the drive, raising a cloud of dust. Then she rushed from the barn, ran through the gate into the nearest pasture and kept running until she came upon the small herd grazing there and called to her horse.
“Good girl,” she murmured and threw her arms around the mare’s neck. She buried her face in Silver’s mane. And wept.
Willow and Cody are in a lot of trouble, far worse than the brief disruption to my household/writing routine for the next few days. I had great fun “fixing” them so they could deserve their happy ending. And I’m—really, I am—looking forward to enjoying my repainted pergola. But first, all that noise...
How do you feel about such necessary interruptions to your life? Yay or nay?