And so we are. I’m finally out from under a rather large editing gig that was a particularly challenging one. I only have one project on my desk this week, although I am getting another at the end of the week, and so my plan is to write, write, write.
I had the great news from my editor that Max’s book is on the way to the copy editor, along with warm congratulations that I’d nailed the story in revisions and she’s excited for the next one. Whew! That is always a marvelous message to receive.
So the next one is underway and I’m learning the characters and their quirks and foibles and trying to give them their just due. It’s Becker’s story–he’s the oldest Lange brother and kind of mysterious in a way. He’s nearly forty and has come back to River’s Edge after going through a painful and messy divorce in Indianapolis. Although he’s always been the quiet, serious one, his brothers and mom worried about him because he has seemed so morose after returning home. He’s cheered up some in the last two year and as the new Fire Chief in River’s Edge is settling back into life there, but he’s still alone, and Rye and Max, who are happily and crazily in love wish he’d find someone new, too. That someone new just might be nursery school teacher, Harley Cole, who is determined to bring Beck into the lights of the holidays, but whose sunny outlook hides her own sad secrets. Two reunited childhood friends may turn out be the best thing that ever happened to each other.
Here’s a snippet:
Harley Cole stroked back tiny Stella Keys’s golden bangs. “Be sure you’ve got all your belongings, Stella.” She knelt down and peered into the child’s big blue eyes. “Where’s your lunchbox?”
“Right here in my backpack, Miss Harley.” Stella held up her pink backpack, which had already gotten pretty grubby even though it was only the day before Thanksgiving vacation. But three- and four-year-olds were notoriously hard on their stuff, something Harley had discovered after teaching at the Learning Tree preschool for over ten years. The girl grinned at Becker Lange, who was standing next to Harley. “Bye, Chief. Thank you for the coloring book and the stickers! I love the polka-dot dog ones!”
With that, she threw her arms around Becker’s legs, where her cheek hit right above his knee. Attractive and distinguished in his River’s Edge Fire Department dress blues, Beck still managed to appear as uncomfortable as Harley had ever seen a man look as he grimaced, then hesitantly patted the child’s head. “You’re welcome. Um…” He glanced at Harley, looking hilariously bewildered. “The polka dot ones are Dalmatians.”
Harley chuckled and stood up. “Scoot, little one. Grandma’s waiting.” She waved at Pam Keys, who was standing by the back door of her car. Harley smiled affectionately as Stella’s grandmother hugged her granddaughter and buckled her into a car seat, with Stella chattering the entire time.
When she turned back to Beck, his gray eyes were huge—the wonder in them tickled her. “Does it take this long to get these kids out the door every day?” He followed her back into the one-story building attached to St. Agnes Episcopal church.
“Yup,” she said over her shoulder. “They’re fun and I love ’em, but by the end of the day…well, let’s just say I’m ready to hand the little darlings back to their parents and grandparents.”
He shook his head. “I’ll bet. You up for an early dinner at the Riverside?”
“As long as it’s my treat”—she gave him a sidelong glance when he made an impatient sound—“yes, I insist, Beck. You came here and talked to the kids even though it’s usually not the fire chief’s job. Plus, you brought them coloring books and stickers and answered their endless questions and let them climb on your antique firetruck. Don’t think I couldn’t tell it hurt your heart to let them do it. It was written all over your face. I’m buying you dinner.” She stopped outside the classroom. “Besides, I haven’t had a chance to toast your new position at the fire department yet. No arguing.”
That’s it. Soon, I’ll have a shiny new cover to share with you for Ryker and Kitt’s book, The Valentine Wager. It’s all done and I love it, but it’s a little early in the game for a cover reveal since the book doesn’t even release until February 2022. Anticipation…
Stay well, stay safe, mes amies, and most of all, stay grateful,