THIS JUST IN!
RUTH LOGAN HERNE TOLD ME THAT I COULD INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM FOR A SPECIAL (AND VERY SELFISH) ANNOUNCEMENT. SHE SAID THAT JULIE WOULD UNDERSTAND.
I JUST RECEIVED WORD THAT I DOUBLE-FINALED IN THE GENESIS! YA AND CR. WOW!!!!!! PRAISE GOD AND…WOW! I’M OVERWHLEMED AND VERY SHOCKED.
NOW….BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG POST. MORE ON THIS EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT TOMORROW!
Well, do to a power outage last night, I’m running behind on my blog post.
And this is the LOOOOOONG awaited excerpt day too 🙂 An excerpt from Julie Lessman’s upcoming novel, A Heart Revealed. Of course, after you read the excerpt you’ll be dying for September to get here. Unfortunately, since there are four months between then and now, we’ll just have to use the wise-old addage, “All good things come to those who wait.”
I keep repeating that to make me feel better.
Anyway – so…. let’s get a glimpse of Emma and Sean’s story….shall we?
Here is an excerpt from A Heart Revealed where Emma Malloy (a married woman) and Sean O’Connor (a confirmed bachelor) encounter feelings for each other. Emma has bullied Sean into learning to dance because he is going to a wedding with the girl he is dating, Rose.
With barely the sound of a click, she closed the door and turned, hands tight on the knob while she stared at him with those soft, gray eyes that always reminded him of a deer about to bolt.
His jaw set. To the devil with the deer—he wanted to bolt, but the shy, hopeful look in her eyes had him by the throat, a talent that Emma Malloy seemed to master without even trying. He blew out his frustration on a wave of noisy air. “You’ve got thirty minutes, Malloy, but I’m gonna warn you right now—Fred Astaire I’m not.”
Her lips curved into that innocent way that always melted his heart, and he found himself relenting—as usual—with a reluctant smile. He lumbered to his feet with a groan. “Okay, Ginger, let’s put your foot where your mouth is.”
“I promise this will be fun,” she said in a rush, hurrying to the cherry-wood buffet against the wall where an RCA Victor phonograph stood ready and waiting. His mouth went flat. Further evidence of her plot to goad him into making Rose happy. He shook his head and watched her while she bent over the phonograph, his gaze traveling the length of her before he realized what he was doing. Heat ringed his collar and his pulse notched up a degree when he suddenly realized Emma Malloy had a beautiful body. How had he never noticed before—those long, willowy legs that slid up to gentle hips and a small waist? Fire scorched his cheeks as he admired generous breasts all the more obvious in a new pale yellow sweater that brought out a touch of green in her eyes. He cleared his throat and looked away while she carefully lifted the needle into place with a scratchy sound before it glided into the record’s groove. The mellow sounds of Duke Ellington’s Three Little Words suddenly floated through the air and oddly enough, his muscles begin to relax. He closed his eyes to enjoy the magic of one of his favorite songs, by an artist Emma knew he loved.
I know what you’re doing, I see it all too clear …
He inhaled deeply, and all of his resistance fled, because he knew exactly what Emma was doing and why. Her mission in life seemed to be to make those she loved happy, and for whatever reason, Emma desperately wanted to see him happy, to make a go of it with Rose, to walk down that aisle into a life she believed would bring him much joy. The air in his lungs released in a slow, tranquil sigh at the gift of Emma in his life. He had never felt this close to a friend, much less a woman, and he marveled at the fact that when he was with her, contentment seemed to purl through his body as languidly as the Duke’s music now oozed through his mind.
His eyelids opened, and there she stood, arms outstretched and an impish grin on her face. “I knew the Duke would work his magic,” she said, taking his left hand in hers and clasping it at eye level. “Which I must admit, has me feeling a wee bit like Charity.” With a chew of her lip, she placed his right hand on her shoulder blade and rested her arm on his. “Now relax, because you’ll find the foxtrot to be a smooth, easy dance very similar to the waltz.”
His lips angled up. “Oh, that helps, since I know how to waltz too.”
She lifted her chin, apparently striving to be professional, but the twitch of her lips gave her dead away. “First, left foot forward, one-two, then right foot forward, three-four …”
Without a word, he followed her effortlessly, as if he had Astaire blood in his veins. It should have felt strange, holding her this way, but somehow it didn’t and Sean wondered why. Maybe because he was from an affectionate family that hugged all the time, he reasoned, so naturally closeness and hugs had already become a part of their friendship.
“Left foot to the side, five-six …” she said, gaze intent on their feet.
Their proximity allowed him to study her close up … the way one side of her mouth tilted when she scraped her teeth against her lip, like now, indicating she was focusing hard on the lesson. For the first time he noticed an almost invisible sprinkling of tiny freckles across her nose, subtle and shy like Emma herself. He caught a faint whiff of the perfume Charity had given her—Shalimar—with its hint of lemon and vanilla, and he breathed it in, the scent teasing his senses with the same innocence and beauty of the women he held in his arms.
“Then left foot forward, one-two …” She glanced up with a smile. “Good … good, you’ve got it, now. Then turn your right foot one-quarter angle, three-four …”
He wasn’t surprised that he picked it up quickly—athletics had always come easily for him, and apparently dancing was no different, but to say he was shocked he enjoyed it was an understatement. The music seemed to flow in his limbs and in no time, he was whirling her in his arms, hand firm against her back as he drew her close with confident ease. He gave her a crooked smile. “Look out, Fred Astaire!”
A breathless giggle escaped her lips as the music stopped, and she put a hand to her chest. “Goodness, you’re a natural, although I should have expected that with your affinity for sports.” She dashed back to the phonograph to reset the needle, shooting a grin over her shoulder. “Once more, and you’ll be giving me lessons, I promise. And then it’s the Lindy, and your life will be complete.” She returned, clasping his hand.
Maybe it was the door being closed … or Emma near breathless … or even the velvet voice of the Duke that created an intimacy he found he rather enjoyed. He smiled, his voice husky with affection. “So, Mrs. Malloy, tell me how you’ve become so light on your feet—have you been frequenting the dance marathons at Revere Beach?”
The pink of her cheeks deepened as she cocked a brow. “Why, yes, Mr. O’Connor, I find it a great release for the little energy I have left after 12-hour days, six days a week.”
He laughed and tightened his hold for a spin. “Then it’s a wonder we haven’t bumped into each other, because heaven knows that’s how I spend my spare time.”
Her eyes warmed with approval. “This will make Rose very happy,” she whispered.
His chest expanded as he studied her with a wry smile, reveling in her praise. “I know, but isn’t it about time you start thinking about my happiness? Dancing and marriage—two things that give me indigestion, and yet you seem intent on prodding me into both.”
It was her turn to laugh, the gray of her eyes sparkling like polished silver. “I am thinking of your happiness, bound and determined that your fears will not keep you from all God has.”
The music stopped, but he retained his hold, assessing her through pensive eyes. He nudged a finger to her chin and smiled. “So that’s how you spend your free time, then—as a guardian angel to the people you love?” His thumb grazed the curve of her jar, marveling at its silky touch. “Tell me, Mrs. Malloy, just how did I rate you as a friend?”
“Why, as a favor to Charity, of course,” she said with wink, the action so uncharacteristic that it made him laugh outright. “She asked me to keep an eye out for her big brother because … well, apparently he has a few flaws …”
“Flaws?” He released her with a cross of his arms, eyes in a squint. “Such as?”
She scrunched her nose. “Well, she says you’re a late bloomer for one …”
“Late bloomer,” he repeated, head cocked. “And what exactly does that mean?”
She peeked up, lips curved in a tease. “Oh, you know, a mature man on the outside, but inside, nothing more than a little boy who refuses to grow up and fall in love.” She nibbled on her lip as if to suppress a grin. “Which, Charity claims, is simply because you’re a little …” There was no mistaking the sass in her eyes now. “… dense.’”
His jaw dropped, along with his arms. “I’ll show you dense.” He tickled her, the plane of his hand to the side of her neck, causing her to squeal and tuck her head in a knee-jerk reaction.
“I didn’t mean it, I promise,” she shrieked with a giggle, twisting to escape.
Laughing, he pinned her arms to her sides, eyes narrowed in a mock glare. “Say it, Emma—Sean O’Connor is not dense; he’s one of the most brilliant men I know.”
Cheeks flushed with fun, she masked her humor with a serious sweep of lashes followed by a show of humility that softened the gray of her eyes. “Sean O’Connor is not dense,” she repeated slowly. “He’s one of the most …” She gave him an innocent blink. “brilliant men I know.” A grin broke free as she plucked the half-eaten Cherry Mash out of his pocket and lurched away. “I mean little boys!” she shouted, her giggles bouncing off the walls as she skittered for protection on the other side of the room. She faced him at the window, chest heaving and palms braced on the ledge, the candy bar smashed in her hand. Behind her, a tangerine moon rose ripe in a starry sky, its hazy glow encircling her like a halo despite the mischief in her eyes.
The thrill of the hunt broadened his grin as he took his time, his gait slow and easy while he rounded her desk, gaze hungry and locked with hers. “Give it back, Mrs. Malloy,” he whispered, feeling the adrenalin of horseplay that pumped in his veins.
“No!” she cried, more giggles bubbling over. She jerked her chair to block his way, then eased around the desk waving the Cherry Mash like a taunt, her impish smile reminding him of Gabe. “Not until you learn the lindy and promise to leave the candy at home when you go to this wedding. You may be a late bloomer, but at least you won’t smell like a little boy.”
That did it. Slamming the chair in, he lunged, surprising her with a firm clasp of her arm. He dove for the Cherry Mash, but she fought him with shrieks of wild laughter, the candy bar clutched tightly behind her back. He reeled her in and grinned, challenge coursing his veins as he gripped her to his chest. “Give it up, Emma,” he breathed, “you won’t win.” Locking her with one arm, his other circled her waist while his hand wrestled with hers to recapture the candy.
Her body stilled … and in a catch of his breath, everything changed. One moment she was laughing, and in the next, her laughter faded away, leaving her lips parted with shallow breaths while gentle eyes slowly spanned wide. The effect totally disarmed him, causing his heart to thud to a stop. Silence pounded in his ears as he became aware of her body pressed to his, her warmth, her scent engaging his pulse to a degree that jolted him. He swallowed hard, feeling the rise and fall of her chest, the burn of her hand embedded in his, and a flash of heat traveled his body until it scorched in his cheeks. He flinched away. “Emma, I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to manhandle you.” He stepped back and plunged his hands in his pockets, desperate to deflect the embarrassment he felt. His smile was awkward. “Keep the candy then, I have more in my bottom drawer.”
Julie – it’s been such a pleasure to ‘boast your books’ this week! Your ministry, your calling, is so evident and blessed. We are just a few voices that benefit from the words you write. Thank you!
REMEMBER:Leave a comment about what you are most looking forward to from A Heart Revealed. Your name will be placed in a drawing to win one of Julie’s books. The winner will be announced this weekend! WOOHOOO!!!! Good luck!