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Archive for April 15th, 2013

ComingHomeCoverNo woman ever really forgets her first love. Callie Sorenson is no exception. Hers was tall, tanned, and—as her older brother’s best friend—completely off limits.

Danny McCutcheon.

It’s a name that Callie hasn’t spoken in years, even if the man to whom it belongs has never really been all that far from her thoughts. Or her heart. But now a twist of fate will bring her back to the childhood home she left behind years ago, and to the hometown boy for whom she secretly longed.

When her mother takes a bad fall and breaks her hip, Callie leaves the bright lights of New York City to fly back west and help with the rehabilitation. It’s a tense homecoming due to a long time estrangement between mother and daughter, and it drives Callie to confront both a painful personal loss and her unanswered questions about the father who abandoned her when she was just a child.

It also brings her face to face with Danny again, and Callie quickly realizes that old feelings die hard.

But for Danny, it’s new feelings that are a problem. Callie is not the young girl he remembers but a woman now, and a very desirable one. They both have reasons to fight the growing attraction between them, but the temptation may just prove to be too much to resist, despite some very real risk to their hearts. The past casts a long shadow over the future, though, and Callie will have to overcome it or else face losing the one man who means the most to her.

~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~

There’s an aura of glamour around the writing industry, isn’t there?  Especially the romance writing industry.  One tends to picture bon-bons and champagne.  And for all we know, maybe things like that really are staples in the lives of the top names in the business.  For the vast majority of writers, though…

 

Meh.  Not so much.

 

Most of the writers I know have to keep their day jobs to pay those pesky bills.  Man, creditors can be such sticklers, can’t they?  My day job involves runny noses, lots of Clorox wipes, and the occasional lack of control over bodily functions.

 

Hmm, you wonder…triage nurse perhaps?

 

Nope.  Kindergarten teacher.  And by the way, it’s the kids who occasionally experience a loss of control over their bodily functions, not me.  Not yet, at least.

 

Now I know what you’re thinking:   Awww!  Kindergarteners are cute!  And it’s true, they are.  Without even trying to be.  But it’s also true that life in a kindergarten classroom is the polar opposite of “glamour.” Here are some examples of what I mean:

 

Glamour:  expensive lacy undergarments handmade in Italy

Kindergarten:  small boy dangling soiled Spiderman underwear and saying, “I pooped my pants.”

 

Glamour:  the graceful swipe of an elegant fountain pen and the beauty of calligraphy combining to create a love note that is then sealed with a kiss

Kindergarten:  the removal of yet another crayon from up a nose

 

Glamour:  strawberries dipped in chocolate

Kindergarten:  gummy bears and animal crackers

 

Glamour:  glittering diamonds and ropes of pearls

Kindergarten:  “Look, teacher, I found a marble in the toilet!”

 

(It’s funny how many of my interactions with students seem to end with the sentence, “Okay, now please go wash your hands.”)

 

So this writer’s life, at least, is not all that glamorous.  Maybe that’s why I prefer to write stories about regular, everyday sorts of people instead of jetsetters and high society folks—not because they’re better but because I can identify with them more.  Coming Home is a story about two people just like that:  Callie Sorenson, who made a bold choice to strike out on her own when she was just eighteen and pursue her dreams…but still struggles with a deep, personal loss; and Danny McCutcheon, the best friend of Callie’s older brother and the man for whom she’s carried a secret torch since she was a teenager.  They both have issues in their pasts to overcome, issues that may not drip with glamour but do feel very much real-world and leave you rooting for a happy ending.

 

And in the end, maybe glamour is overrated anyway.  Because no matter how dazzling two dozen red roses might be from the local florist’s shop, they don’t hold a candle to a single wildflower offered to you by a shy, little lisping kindergartener.

 

Know what I mean?

 

Excerpt

It was clear that she didn’t want to be here. She sat stiffly in her seat and looked everywhere else around the sports bar but at him.

“You can pretend to watch that baseball game if you want to,” he said dryly, opening up his menu and looking it over, “but don’t think for a minute that I’m buying it.”

“What?” she returned. “Maybe I like baseball now. For all you know, I could be the Yankees’ biggest fan.”

“Fine,” he said without looking up. “Then tell me what a ground rule double is.”

She mulled it over. “Oh, shut up,” she muttered finally.

He grinned at her then, unable to help himself, and she reddened.  But she smiled a little, too.  He felt a sweet stab of pleasure at the sight and told himself not to ruin things by saying anything else.

Their waitress stopped by their table and turned her attention immediately to Danny. “Ready to order?”

“Steak,” Danny said. “Medium rare.”

“The same,” Callie echoed. “And a side order of onion rings.”

“Anything to drink?”

“A beer.” He glanced at Callie.

“Make that two.”

The waitress upped the wattage of her smile, and Danny returned it politely but only for a moment, and she left.  “Quite the appetite,” he observed.  “I remember you as more of a soup and salad kind of person.”

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me anymore.”

“I suppose so. It’s a little unnerving.”

“Really?”

“Don’t look so pleased.”

She smiled again, and he felt a little more of the tension between them melt away.

“So tell me,” he asked, careful to keep his voice casual, “what else don’t I know about you now?”

Their waitress delivered their beers and the onion rings, smiling coyly at Danny again. “Anything else I can get you?”

“Thanks,” Callie said with a pointed stare.  “We’re good now.”  She waited until the other woman left before answering Danny’s question.  “Hmm. Let me think…I’m unemployed now.”

He nearly choked on his first swallow of beer.  “What?”

She shrugged in an apparent lack of concern and sampled an onion ring.  “My choice.  I’ll find something else when I’m ready.”

“When you’re ready?”  He thought he felt his blood pressure rise on the spot.  Did she not have a practical bone in her body?  “Callie, jobs aren’t just—”

“Have an onion ring,” she interrupted, thrusting one into his open mouth.

“Callie—”

“And don’t talk with your mouth full. It’s rude.”

How could she make him want to shake her and laugh with her at the same time?  He considered himself to be a laid-back sort of person, but she brought out tension in him that he hadn’t even known existed.  No one else made him worry quite like she did.

She took a drink and leaned back in her chair.  “What else…I’m addicted to salsa.”

“The condiment?”

“The dance. Oh, and I’ve been mugged a couple of times.”

“You were mugged?  Why didn’t you tell anybody?”

“Oh, come on.  You haven’t truly experienced New York City until you’ve been mugged,” she said.  “And I’ve got a tattoo, a pimp, and a coke habit, too.”

“What?”  He watched as a wicked grin spread across her face, and his eyes narrowed.  “You little sadist.  Was any of that true, or was it all BS?”

“The tattoo part was true.”

Picking up his beer, he put it to his lips to stop himself from asking where the tattoo was. Bad enough that images were already popping into his mind of inked artwork in intimate places…

~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~

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