JOSH from SANCTUARY COVE by Kate James
TONY from HER TEXAS REBEL by LeAnne Bristow
LUKE from THE WEDDING MARCH by Tara Randel
and special guest: JACKSON from Jill Weatherholt’s Love Inspired debut, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE.
Sawyer and Luke are riffing on their guitars as Josh and Tony relax in a booth of The Coffee Bean and listen in. They finish up the song and exchange smiles.
TONY: Well, Josh, who do you think is the better musician?
JOSH: Oh, no! I’m not going to pick favorites. I’ll say it’s a tie.
SAWYER: It’s okay, Josh. Luke will understand if you admit it’s me.
LUKE: He’d only be saying it to spare your feelings, Sawyer. We know it’s me.
SAWYER: (with a teasing glint in his eyes) I have an artist of the year award that says otherwise.
LUKE: One artist of the year compared to my four Grammys? (shakes his head with a grin) Child’s play.
JOSH: How about I say that you bring out the best in each other when you play together? (Josh gives Tony a self-satisfied smile). And I’ll add that you’re tied because of how much you both use your talent to give back to communities.
TONY: Yeah, especially those less fortunate. So you’re both winners.
SAWYER: Well, when you put it that way… (He puts his guitar aside and extends his fist.) Tie?
LUKE: (places his guitar aside and fist bumps Sawyer) Fair enough. Tie.
JACKSON: (emerges from the kitchen carrying a tray of goodies) What’s that? You guys actually agreed to tie? Phoebe said she was enjoying the music back there in the kitchen.
(The guys perk up at the sight of food.)
TONY: Whatever she’s whipping up has my mouth watering.
JACKSON: It’s chicken and waffles with French fries. She won’t even tell me what she has planned for dessert.
SAWYER: If I was thirty years older and not already madly in love with Rory, I think I’d be asking Phoebe out to dinner.
JOSH: You’d have to get in line, buddy. She’s obviously a keeper.
JACKSON: (laughs) I’ll tell her you said so. Now. (He places the tray in between TONY and JOSH.) Phoebe said we can snack on these potato skins until the meal is ready.
LUKE: If Cassie was here, she’d be wondering how many calories this meal is going to cost us.
TONY: (takes a bite of the potato skins) And you’d have to tell her it doesn’t matter, it’s worth every single one. These might be the best thing I’ve eaten this year!
JOSH: Now hang on, guys, before we get too crazy…remember, the ladies said we have to answer their questions before we can eat.
SAWYER: (groans) I’m starving, man.
LUKE: Well, potato skins aren’t an actual meal, so…
TONY: Let’s just answer their questions while we snack on these. Then we’ll be ready when the chicken and waffles are.
JACKSON: That sounds fair.
JOSH: Okay then, majority rules. (clears throat) So, the first question the girls wanted us to answer is…
TONY: (fakes a drumroll)
JOSH: Thanks, Tony.
TONY: My pleasure.
JOSH: What’s your idea of the perfect date?
SAWYER: (pauses with a potato skin halfway to his mouth) Is this a trick question? (looks around) Are there cameras in here?
LUKE: Well, are we answering what we think is the perfect date or what the ladies would like to do on the perfect date?
JACKSON: Why don’t we try to choose something somewhere in between? Something that both the ladies would enjoy, but we’d have fun doing, too. I’ll go first. My perfect date is a picnic by the Shenandoah River. You guys should see how Melanie’s face lights up when she’s down by the river. (He flashes a grin) Of course, she’s already the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, but I don’t know (he pauses) when she’s at the water’s edge…I could sit there with her for the rest of my life.
TONY: Not a bad answer, Jackson. Okay, I’ll play. Sabrina’s a country girl through and through, so some night fishing at the river would be just her cup of tea. Then we’d crank up George Strait on the radio and two step around the truck. Who thinks they can do better than that?
SAWYER: Well, Rory and I have been together for years, except, you know, for the two years I was in Nashville making a go of it without her. She and I have been through a lot of ups and downs, so if I was choosing a perfect date, honestly, I’d want it to be something she’d enjoy. I wouldn’t have fun if she wasn’t having fun. I’d like to do something really extravagant to show her how much she means to me – like rent a private jet and fly us to Europe or something. (chuckles) Because when you’re famous, you can do that sort of thing. But that’s not Rory. These days, it’s a miracle if we can just have a night to ourselves. So we’d probably stay in, and I’d probably cook dinner because she’s used to her brother cooking for her all the time. He’s a chef. And then we could curl up with a movie. She loves action films more than I do, so we never have problems deciding what to watch. (shrugs) I know it’s simple, but I also know that’s what she’d like most.
JOSH: (smiling) The shared history you and Rory have is special, and I bet your relationship is stronger for it.
SAWYER: Yeah, I think so. You’ll find out yourself in due course with Emma.
JOSH: I look forward to it. Okay, so my idea of the perfect date is not dissimilar from what Jackson said. Emma’s cottage is on the shore of a large private lake. We’d pack a picnic lunch, take her canoe and paddle around to a spot where a stream tumbles over large rocks into the lake. We’d then leave the canoe and follow the stream inland to where there’s a wildflower-edged pond, fed by a small waterfall. That’s where we’d have our picnic. (Josh flashes a grin at Jackson) I’m not going to argue who is the most beautiful woman because I think we’re all darn lucky, but Emma and I both love the outdoors and that’s were Emma is in her element. So, like Jackson said about Melanie, I’ll just say, that—as long as we had our dogs with us—I could sit by that pond with Emma forever. Well, Luke, that just leaves you.
LUKE: Since Cassie’s album hit the charts, she’s been busy with interviews and concerts. I know she’d be happy to stay home for a few days in a row and get some down time from her hectic schedule. We love to pack up our guitars and head over to the gazebo adjacent to the beach in our town. Honestly, we have fun coming up with new songs, even if we’re just goofing around. Being by the surf lowers Cassie’s stress level, and since I’d do anything for her, just sitting by the beach, together, would be a perfect date for us.
JACKSON: Good job, guys. Now, I believe the girls said these answers are what they expect next Valentine’s Day.
SAWYER: I knew there was a reason they asked!
JACKSON: They’re smart, I’ll give them that. Okay, last question, and then we can see how Phoebe’s coming along in the kitchen. They want to know what the most important relationship is in your lives –
TONY: Definitely a trick question.
JACKSON: Hold on…What is the most important relationship in your life…other than the girls?
LUKE: Oooh, good one. Okay, I’ll go first this time. My answer is relationships, meaning the teens that hang out at Kids’ Klub. Mentoring these kids has really given me a purpose I never thought I’d find when I walked away from the music world. It’s humbling, and fulfilling, to be a part of these kids lives, to watch them thrive in the program. And Cassie is right beside me when it comes to all things Klub, so the center is growing and expanded. I couldn’t be happier. Josh, why don’t you go next.
JOSH: Okay, just to be clear, I’ll say after Emma, it’s my family. No question. (Josh held up a hand as Jackson was about to interject.) I know what you’re going to say. I have to pick one person, but I can’t. My mom and dad, brother and sister are all equally important to me. With that, I’ll turn it over to Sawyer. I was so impressed with your last answer, I’m curious what you’ll have to say this time.
SAWYER: Easy enough. My dad. He was always one of the greatest influences in my life, both him and my mom, but after he was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, his wisdom and encouragement became even more important to me. (grows serious) His mind is slipping more and more every day, but he still has these bursts of wisdom that never cease to hit home for me. It’s tough, I’m not gonna lie. But it’s also given me the opportunity to really treasure his presence in my life, both on the good days and the bad ones.
LUKE: Tony, are you crying?
TONY: What? (sniffs) No. But you have to admit, it’s pretty moving. Sawyer’s a tough act to follow.
SAWYER: That’s what they tell me.
TONY: But I’ll give it my best shot. This one is pretty easy for me. Although the teens I work with at Little Mountain Children’s Home rank pretty high, my most important relationship is with my son, Levi. My dad walked out when I was just a baby, so I never had a relationship with him, and I already missed out on ten years with my son. Building that relationship is, by far, the most important thing in my life. Jackson, that just leaves you. I imagine we all know what you’re going to say. Probably has to do with that lovely lady cooking up some chicken and waffles for us as we speak.
JACKSON: Of course, Phoebe is like a mother to me, but my daughter, Rebecca (he releases a breath) She’s my world. There was a time, after my ex-wife left us, if it weren’t for that little girl, I don’t know if I could have gotten out of the bed in the morning. And, that does it. We have fulfilled all the requirements and are now free to enjoy Phoebe’s home cooking!
LUKE: That was less painful than it could have been.
SAWYER: Agreed. And by the way, thanks, Jackson, for letting us have this guys’ night here at The Coffee Bean, after hours.
JACKSON: Phoebe insisted.
TONY: Then I think we need to step back into the kitchen and thank her.
JOSH: (cough) Don’t you mean, check on the food?
LUKE: Well, the potato skins are all gone, and I’m still hungry.
TONY: You read my mind! Jackson, show us the way to the back.
JACKSON: Okay then. Follow me, guys…
If you want to read our heroines' Character Conversation for this month, visit this post.
And don’t forget there is LESS THAN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS LEFT to enter to win one of the LOVE IS BLOOMING prize packages we’re giving away!
Most notably, we have our purchase sweepstakes as a way to say thank you to our readers. One lucky person will receive a spectacular Love is Blooming Potter's Passion Prize Pack consisting of a solid-wood, hand-made planter box, brimming with treats for gardening enthusiasts, a garden tool set, tote and folding seat, thirteen “ever-blooming” blacked-eyed Susan garden stakes, three pairs of garden gloves, 25,000 Harlequin My Rewards points, and three previously-released, signed Heartwarming books! (Approximate retail value: $170.) You can enter here.
Purchase* any of our five March releases for one entry for each book and register your purchase here. You can also enter by purchasing the March Heartwarming box set. The sweepstakes runs until March 30th.
* Alternate method of entry available. Please see Official Rules on the entry form for details.
* Alternate method of entry available. Please see Official Rules on the entry form for details.
Secondly, we're offering the Love is Blooming Gardener’s Dream Prize Pack. This giveaway is a gardener’s dream come true and arrives in a pretty planter. We’ve included three previously-released, signed Heartwarming books to read while you soak your cares away with the bath salts included in the prize pack after a hard day’s work. (Approximate retail value: $55.) You can enter at the bottom of the Love is Blooming blog post here.
Thanks for reading!