Sit Down with ttq Part Two (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Before today's excerpt I want to tell you a little bit more about The Historic Arapahoe - the series, and the building.  My first Heartwarming novel, out this month, Once Upon A Friendship, has a sequel, out in October, Once Upon A Marriage. 

The series centers around the people living in a historic building in downtown Denver.  So, a little history to this idea:

I’ve always had an affinity with older people.  When I was little, my favorite person, other than my best friend, was my grandmother.  I’m told she had a stroke.  And that I was the one who spent countless hours with her, talking to her and encouraging her to speak again.  I’m told that I’m the reason she did speak again.  I remember none of that.  I remember her.  In great detail.  I remember the times I spent with her.  Spending the night with her.  I got to sleep in her bed with her and that was the best of all sleeps.  I remember the smell of her powder in her bathroom.

I remember conversations.  So many of them.  And the cookies she’d always have for me from the bakery in town.  I remember her cooking only what I liked to eat and telling me that when I was at her house I only had to eat what I liked.  Somehow I liked vegetables when I was there.

I remember a voice that was shaky at times.  I don’t remember questioning that.  It was just part of her.  Mostly I remember that she knew everything.  She was calm and wise and kind.  And that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.  I remember when I was in third grade and had a crash on bicycle.  I flew over the handlebars and landed on my face.  I was concussed and had a broken jaw.  My grandmother came to visit.  We went out for my favorite food.  Hamburgers.  And I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to take one bite.  My face was scraped up and I was…as devastated as a third grader could be.

I remember my grandmother standing with me in front of the bathroom mirror.  Looking at my sorry face.  She smiled.  And told me I was her little soldier.  I wasn’t all that sure about a girl being a soldier, but I’ve never forgotten the way I felt in that moment.  My grandmother believed I had it in me to get through this trauma.  And so I did.

She was wise.  A wisdom born of years of living.  Of learning.  Of knowing.  She is the reason I have such an affinity for the elderly.  Because while their bodies might be failing, they are the strongest of us all.  The wisest of us all.  They KNOW.  Because they’ve lived.

In Once Upon A Friendship, three friends buy an old apartment building to prevent the elderly people who’ve been living their all their lives from being put out on the street.  They had no idea what a bounty their investment would be to them in terms of the gifts they’d get in return from the residents they’d saved.  But I knew.  And I had a great time showing them what I knew. 

Todays Excerpt: (The 'she' it starts with is 80 year old Grace, a 60 year resident of The Historic Arapahoe who has just knocked on Liam's door.)

She had a toilet that wouldn’t stop running. She’d picked up the part she needed, she just couldn’t get the bolt undone to replace it.

Because their current budget only allowed for them to call a handyman when things went really wrong rather than keep someone on staff full-time, he ran upstairs to take a look. They stood there together, staring at her john. He’d pulled off the lid, could see little bubbles in the bottom of the water-filled tank, could pretty much ascertain that they had to do with the running water sound, but he had no idea what was causing them.

The water was clean. So was the inside of the tank.

“You’ve never fixed a toilet before, have you?” Grace asked him.

He thought about prevaricating. But looked at her and shook his head. “Nope. Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve ever looked inside one.”

Just hadn’t been on his to-do list.

“See this long screw thing here? That controls this float that controls the water level. This whole thing is called a fill valve. It opens this rubber thing to let new water in when you flush. This is what needs to be replaced. You have to unscrew this from under the tank and I just can’t get enough strength out of these hands to get it done.”

There was a wrench on the floor. A pipe wrench he remembered from his shop class in high school.

“You’ve changed one of these before?”

“Yep. Used to be I’d just watch, but since my Bernie died so young…” She shrugged. “Anyway, we have to turn off the water.” She started to reach under the toilet, and Liam reached in front of her.

“Let me get that.”

“I can do that part,” she said as he turned the water valve. “I did it last night.”

She stood back as he straightened up.

“You flush the toilet to empty the tank. I did that, too, but when I couldn’t get the bolt undone, I had to refill it so I could use it in the night.”

He flushed. The tank didn’t empty completely. But almost.

“Here.” Grace handed him a towel. “You’ll need this under the tank. The rest of that will empty through the hole when you remove the bolt.”

On his knees, and then his back, Liam found the bolt. With very little effort he got it undone. And got sprinkles of water on his face, too. Clean water. Still, the shock of it stopped him for a moment. But with an eighty-year-old woman watching him, he quickly got moving. Following her instructions, which were impressive, he had the fill valve changed and the toilet flushing errorlessly in less than half an hour.

He’d have to tell Gabrielle. She’d get a kick out of it…

His thoughts stopped. Why not tell Marie? She’d appreciate it, too. Heck, Gabrielle probably knew how to change a fill valve.

Because she knew everything about taking care of herself.

"You're a good boy," Grace told him as he finished.

He’d been about to roll his sleeves back down but stopped, deciding to head straight upstairs to the shower.

“I just want you to know, whatever the papers have to say, I don’t believe them. Except maybe the part about you and our Gabrielle. Do you two really have something going? Because I have to tell you, if anyone deserves a fairy tale romance, it’s her.”

He handed Grace’s wrench back to her. Washed his hands. And turned to her.

“Gabi and Marie and I…we’ve been friends for a lot of years and I don’t want us to lose that. You understand?” He spoke gently, but waited for her silent nod before he continued.

“The things the papers are saying about us…they’re lies. And they’re hurting Gabi. I need you to tell the other residents that Gabi and I…as a couple…it’s not true. They listen to you. And maybe, at least here at home, we can end this craziness and have some peace.”

Her face fell, her lips completely losing their smile.

“You’re sure, Mr. Liam? I know she’s a bit too serious, but Gabrielle’s a beautiful girl. Inside and out. And loyal. You’ll never meet anyone more loyal than that one.”

Liam chose to avail himself of his Fifth Amendment rights—staying silent so as not to incriminate himself—all the while cringing on Gabrielle’s behalf. He could just hear the string of words that would come from her mouth if she were hearing this.

“You’re sure there’s no way you could fall in love with her?”

“I’m sure she doesn’t want me to.”

“You’ve talked to her about it, then?”

“Yes, ma’am. And she is as emphatic as I am about the whole thing.” He could look her in the eye with that one. “So can you spread the word for me?”

Seemed like a fair trade for fixing her toilet.

“Yes. Of course,” Grace said, but Liam had a feeling he’d just ruined her day.


  1. I love the story about your grandmother. I often wish I had asked my grandparents more questions when they were still alive. I'd give anything to get some of their wisdom or hear about their life experiences.

    And I'm with Grace, Liam and Gabi need to get together. HEA, right? :)

    1. Amy,

      Haha, it's a Heartwarming romance!! There are actually three friends - Gabi, Liam and Marie. Marie and Gabi have been roommates for more than ten years. From college freshman on through law school and beyond. And then there's Liam - the son of a billionaire. There are two books in these series, and everyone has to have a happy ending so...someone ends up with Liam!

  2. Your grandmother sounds so much like mine, Tara. Thanks for sharing your memories. I too love the elderly, so the premise of your book sounds intriguing. I have an 88 year old aunt, who lives in an assisted living, in another state. I call her every day and love to hear her stories.

    1. And I love that story. I'd think the substance of those phone calls would be strong enough to build a home...

  3. I love the elderly, too - I have to, I am one! How fortunate you were to grow up with that grandmother. That's probably where a lot of your right stuff comes from. The books both sound wonderful. Congratulations.

  4. Muriel,

    Bodies fail, even minds do sometimes, but the life lessons are souls learn - they are forever. I miss my Mimi so much. I've never felt as though I was as loved as I did when I was with her. She thought I was an angel and so I strove to be one.


Post a Comment