It’s sunny today–cold, but sunny. We’ve been spoiled by spring weather in winter this year, so this sudden switch to normal temperatures is making us all a little whiny. But you know, I don’t mind the cold so much. The air is crisp and clean–with the sun shining, the chill isn’t quite so biting.
I’m deep into the second week of being off social media and I’m still alive. Actually, being away from Facebook and Twitter is much lonelier than I ever imagined it would be. I’m not sure why, but in my head, the hiatus would mean that people would email and text me and check in here. But they’re not. I’m rather silly to expect that. Facebook is an easy check-in–just click Like and friends know you’re there and that you’re okay with whatever they’ve posted. Comments are even nicer unless someone is trashing you, but even so, it’s acknowledgement, right? Apparently, I’m more of an attention junkie than I believed myself to be. Who knew?
Writing goes along–I’m working with my crit partners on Sarah’s story and I think I may be figuring out where to go next. I toyed with the idea of not having any sex in this book and I confess the reason was I’m not crazy about writing those scenes. I thought I could maybe get away with it because of Sarah’s aversion to all things physical–she was abused in every way by her ex-husband. But the amazing Cheryl Brooks, who is one of my critique partners, pointed out that I would disappoint my readers if I didn’t have Tony and Sarah make love. Fans of the Women of Willow Bay books have come to expect some level of sensuality, so I’m going to put in a love scene . . . She’s right of course–my WOWB happily-ever-afters depend on sensual loves scenes. But I need to be very aware of Sarah’s issues when I write it.
In the meantime, here’s a taste of Tony and Sarah’s budding romance. Their first date is dinner, a walk along the jetty, and then a trip to the shooting range so Sarah can learn to use her new pistol–what Julie later refers to as a “cop date.” 😉 Sarah revealed some of what happened to her when she was married, and Tony can’t hide his fury at her ex-husband. She interprets his anger as judgement of her and tells him to go screw himself, but he chases after her to explain that he’s not judging her–that he never would.
Tony dug his toes into the sand, his heart heavy as he imagined a defeated, grieving Sarah fleeing the home that had turned into her worst nightmare.
Dear God in heaven.
Now he’d blown it. He’d be lucky if she ever spoke to him again. She’d probably leave Willow Bay and he’d never see her after tonight. “I didn’t mean to hurt you or frighten you . . .” He hung his head. “Jesus. Those are the very words I never ever wanted to have to say to you, and here I am saying them on our first date. I like you. I like you so much and . . . God, I’m a jerk.” He put one hand out. “Here, let me take you home.”
Silence stretched between them, widening the gulf he was sure was getting bigger with every word he uttered. At last she sighed. “I believe you’re not judging me, Tony. I-I’m not used to normal men, to normal male reactions.” She stepped closer to him, reaching out to touch his arm before snapping her hand back. “And I’m prickly, especially when I talk about . . . then. I struggle everyday with the fact that I’m a victim. I hate it.”
“Were a victim,” he corrected, longing to tug her into his arms or at the very least, take her hand. “You are a strong woman, Sarah Reynolds.”
“Not so much.” She gave him the faintest of smiles. “I’m mostly a basket case—hopped up on mood-enhancing drugs and just trying to make it through each day without screaming like a banshee.”
Encouraged by the smile, however faint, Tony extended his arms toward the sky. Time to bring in some levity. If he was emotionally exhausted, poor Sarah had to be drained. “You feeling the need to scream right now? I’ve been told I can sometimes incite that urge. Hey, we can stand here and howl at that puny-ass moon if you want.” He threw his head back and let out a low coyote yowl, side-eyeing Sarah the entire time and praying he hadn’t ruined their tentative friendship.
* * * *
Sarah stared in disbelief as Tony took a deep breath and let out another howl that echoed over the bay. The silver threads in his salt-and-pepper hair shone in the lights the lined the sidewalk to the beach and she clenched her fists to keep from stroking the strands that curled over his shirt collar. Inanely, the thought occurred to her that he could use a haircut. Dimples bracketed his grin when he glanced over at her and nodded.
Dammit, he was handsome. Not suave, sophisticated handsome, but good-looking in a rugged, plaid-flannel-and-denim kind of way. He exuded gentleness, and even at his angriest, he would never hurt a living soul. She realized that now as she studied him standing there at the edge of the water yipping at the moon. Tony Reynard was the kind of man you instinctively trusted even if you were a woman who’d never consider trusting any man again . . . ever.
“Come on, join in,” he said. “It’s very cathartic . . . and kinda fun.”
“Um, I’m not all that much of a howler,” she said, even though the idea was intriguing. How many times in her life had she wished she could let go and wail? She’d never done it—not once in all the years of her marriage . . . or after.
Maintaining an iron clamp on her emotions was what kept her sane. If she let herself howl, she might not ever be able to stop, and then they’d surely lock her up in a rubber room forever. “Besides, there are people down there.” With a little jerk of her head, she indicated a group gathered around a beach fire in the distance.
“Nobody cares. Hell, I’m surprised they haven’t already joined in.” The words were barely out of his mouth when a yowl that sounded like a wounded hyena, followed by laughter came from the direction of the bonfire.
He chuckled. “See?” He howled again, grinning as several of the beach partiers responded in kind.
“I seriously wonder about this town.” Ambling closer to Tony, she put her head back and let out quiet yelp. She sounded pretty pitiful, so she took a deep breath, opened her arms, and gave it another try. This one came out more like an owl’s hoot, however her effort got an answering cheer from the group in the distance, most of whom were on their feet, dancing, yowling, and whooping. When she glanced at Tony, he was beaming at her like a proud father whose kid had just hit a home run in the little league championship game. She faced him, turning her palms up in a self-conscious shrug. “I imagine I’ll learn to howl better.”
“You howl just fine, Sarah Reynolds.” Tony extended his hand. “Come on, wanna go shoot some bad guys?”
Let me know what you think . . .