Sometimes great things happen.
And then there are times when God just sends you for a loop with plans so MUCH better than you could have planned. That’s what meeting the Seekers at ACFW was like for me. I didn’t go with grandiose visions of publication – but I had one primary objective: Meet as many Seekers as possible! Why? Because they have been such an encouragement to me for the past year and half. Ever since Mary Connealy suggested I take a peek at Seekerville.
And the rest is obsess…er…history.
So among the amazing people at ACFW, God provided the wonderful opportunity to spend time with Audra Harders. And let me just tell you. She. IS. WONDERFUL!!! She didn’t mind my obesess…my interest in the Seekers, or my need to stalk..er…visit with them often. She even encouraged it. Taking me under her wing, so to speak, and giving me advice. She even endured my jigsaw-puzzle-genre-hopping with a longsuffering smile. Oh, I just LOVE her.
Do you see that picture? Doesn’t she look SWEET?!? Lovely and sweet!
And BEST OF ALL- her debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, comes out in JANUARY 2011. YIPEE! Check out this cover! And in celebration of this momentous occassion, one lucky commenter will win an IOU for the book as soon as it is released! So leave your email along with your comment. VERY EXCITING!
Okay, okay, time for the juicy stuff. Thanks for being a guest, Audra.
What do you think makes a great experience where the hero & heroine begin to realize one is in love with the other?
When the hero and heroine first realize they’re falling in love with each other, each character questions the reality of their feelings. After all, they come into my books absolutely certain they’ll never find a kindred spirit, much less a soul mate. In the past, love opportunities that looked promising for them have fallen short when weighed on the can-I-grow-old-with-this-person meter. Physical attraction alone makes for a very shaky foundation. They subconsciously know the cornerstones of a good relationship need to be in place — friendship leads to trust leads to support leads to caring. They’re so busy denying their fascination with each other, they are completely blindsided when the truth of love lifts the veil from their eyes.
And then the fun starts!
And by ‘fun’, of course she means a sneak peek into Rocky Mountain Hero. (giggle)
Melanie glanced at her watch again. Five minutes. Grace sat across the room, her head bowed in prayer. Gabe stood at the window, his shoulder propped against the mullion and arms crossed over his chest. He just stared out the glass.
She folded her hands and bowed her head. Almost before her eyes closed, her mind stilled. Peace washed over her. Lord, comfort these people.
An elbow poked her in the side. She opened her eyes and saw Jason frowning at her. “Mom, don’t fall asleep.”
She reached out and smoothed back his blond hair. “Just thinking.”
His frown lifted and his shoulders relaxed. “You were grinning.”
“I was looking for a happy place.”
“The ranch is a pretty happy place.”
She lifted her eyes and looked across the room at Gabe. “I think it is, honey.”
Gabe shifted his weight and settled beside the window. Chin tucked into his shirt collar, he stared with a vacant look.
Unable to sit a moment longer, she walked over to him, reached out and touched his arm. “C’mon, let’s walk.”
Stark pain reflected in his beautiful brown eyes. She slid her hand down his sleeve and into his rough palm. As his fingers interlocked with hers, the sharp edge in his gaze softened. Melanie gave a feeble smile, the best she could manage at the moment, and tugged on his hand.
He followed her out of the waiting room. The late afternoon air cooled her skin and cleared her head. “I love the evenings up here. The day wrapping up and getting ready for bed.”
They strolled in silence, their shoulders bumped as they followed the path that meandered around the commons area of the medical center-slash-hospital-slash-clinic. The range of medical care available in such a tiny community surprised her as she’d passed it earlier in the week. Now with Martin’s health in question, she thanked the health facility for being well staffed. She pressed her knuckles into his palm, savoring the warmth of his skin. They finished the entire loop and started a second.
“I like watching the sun come up.” Gabe spoke in a bare whisper beside her.
So did she. “Best part of the day.”
“You’ve got the whole day to work, and sometimes, you work into the night.” The heels of his boots clicked on the cement walk, his pace easy to keep up with. “It’s all gotta get done.”
She loved the sound of his soft, strong voice. Even in the midst of a crisis, he maintained an even tone, a gentle calm. “I imagine there’s a lot to do to keep a ranch the size of the Circle D organized.”
“Cattle, hay, fence, equipment–it all needs attention. Dad knows how to do it all.”
She stole a peek, the brim of his hat cast a shadow across his cheek making the lines at his eyes appear deep. “You run the place, too.”
“Right now, I can’t think of a thing to do.”
“There isn’t anything more important than being here for your family.”
Gabe shook his head. “Dad wouldn’t have let a little thing like someone getting sick stop him from finishing chores. Zac came down with pneumonia one winter. We all stood around his hospital bed praying for the fever to break. Waiting. Finally, Dad had enough. He told Mom the cattle needed feed. He took Nick with him and told me to stay with Mom so she wouldn’t have to drive home by herself. Dad didn’t shirk responsibility.” He looked straight down as they followed the path, the very bleakness of his words etched on his face. “I can’t think of a single chore that needs to be done.”
Melanie squeezed his fingers and rubbed her shoulder against his sleeve. “Your dad hates feeling helpless. He needs to fill time with physical activity; he needs to fix it. Not everyone is like that.” She stepped closer beside him. “Offering comfort with your presence is a gift you have. Gabe, you’re a different man than your dad.”
A growl rumbled deep within his chest. “You got that right.”
“It’s not a bad thing. When your dad is out of danger, you’ll collect your thoughts and finish what needs to be done.” She nudged him. “I’m sure whatever chore you think of will still be waiting for you when you’re ready.”
He leaned closer. “You’re right. No one’s racing to go muck out stalls for me.”
“No, but people like being around you.”
He threw her a sideways glance. “Do you?”
Why? She’d been asking that same question for days now. She walked along the path, careful not to step on the lines, a childhood habit. Why did she look forward to seeing him in the morning, or talking to him through out the day, or wanting him to push her on the swing again just to feel his touch? Why did she trust him with her son?
Why did she want to trust him with herself? “You make me feel safe.”
Steps slowed and he came to a stop. His eyes grew round as he tipped back his hat and stared at her. “Safe?”
Her cheeks burned as she scrambled to call back the truth she’d unwittingly blurted. “Well, you are a stranger after all.”
“Hard to remember that.” He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “Seems like you’ve been here longer than a week.”
She took a step back. He held firm and tugged her closer. A surge of panic raced through her until she recognized the vulnerability in his rich, dark eyes. “This has turned into the most bizarre vacation I’ve ever experienced.”
She wanted to bury her face in his shoulder, to feel his arms wrapped around her. She wanted to hug and be hugged in return. To offer comfort more than words. She wanted to know what safe and trust really felt like.
Copyright 2011 by Audra Harders
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
Oh dear – how beautiful. Anyone else REALLY want a hug? Like Right NOW!! Thank you for sharing this excerpt, Audra, and I plan to start looking for your book by the third week of December (just in case)
Oh my goodness – check out this wonderful paraphrase of Psalm 119:73-76
With your very own hands you formed me;
now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
your testing has taught me what’s true and right.
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to.
Did you know that God hugs you with his love? Sometimes he uses the hands and arms of his servants on this Earth, but even when there aren’t people with ‘skin on’, He’s still there. Everpresent. Ten times better than the worlds coolest cyberhug.
It’s an internal comfort and knowledge that you are loved.
and Treasured beyond your wildest imaginings.
The hug that squeezes out the doubt and insecurities.
That envelopes the pain and deepset wounds with a ceaseless comfort.
That enfolds you in the truest love you will ever know.
Wow – He made us. He loves us. WHAT A SAVIOR!!