Oh boy, another day of ‘excerpts’. Who else thinks this is fun?!?
And I have a fun lady for you today. Patti Lacy. I met her at ACFW last month and she was wonderful. Generous, excited, with a dry wit I happen to like a lot. Here is a pic of me and Patti at ACFW. Patti writes women’s fiction that spans multi-cultural and ethnic boundaries.
She lives in Normal, Illinois – which I can’t help but snicker about. Normal? Come on, Patti, how many jokes do you get about THAT one?!? 🙂
ONE MORE THING: Patti’s giving away one copy of either An Irishwoman’s Tale or What the Bayou Saw to some lucky commenter. So make sure you leave a comment with your email to win.
Winners for this book and Mary Connealy’s book from Monday’s post will be announced tomorrow!!
Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. (and let me warn you, Patti has an excerpt that is fantastic – and has a length that might make Julie Lessman’s head spin) 🙂
So GLAD to have you here, Patti. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to get to meet you at ACFW! To the questions:
- What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first
realize they are falling in love with each other?
Since I am spontaneous, my hubby is methodical, I am a secret slob, my hubby is a neat freak, I ADORE the ages-old development of the “Opposites Attract” theme. It dates back to Lancelot and Guinevere and continues to modern times with a recent well-publicized marriage between a D.C. liberal and a D.C. conservative.
So…his GI buzz drives her crazy. Her tie-dye shirt makes him itch all over. Why does he salute every man over 50? Why does she smack gum and gobble granola?
What do you do with such a literary…and romantic…mess?
Start off with the two fencing off, figuratively, idealogically…maybe literally!!
A common value—something heroic—maybe a hurt child, a deep faith, links them.
Sparks fly…but they ignore the white-hot flame.
Then passion melts their resistance.
It’s over. They’ve both lost…to love.
Here’s two scenes from An Irishwoman’s Tale. Choose either one…or none! Sigh. I haven’t looked at this manuscript since 2008!
As the chill from the storm began to permeate the walls of her store, she grabbed her mouton coat, thankful for the thick fur, and her purse. Ratso’s, a couple of blocks away, specialized in mounds of brown rice and undercooked vegetables heaped onto army surplus plates. The last she’d checked, they stayed open until midnight.
She stepped into a snowy maelstrom that obscured all but the barest outline of the grand Chicago skyline. Wind roared down the asphalt swath as glass and steel watched helplessly and then creaked a response. One measured step at a time, like walking on a frozen pond, she negotiated the trip. When a gust knocked her off balance, she clutched at her coat and strode on.
When she shoved the door open, the wind whooshed in with her. A gloved hand flew to her mouth. There was Paul, perched on a lunch counter stool.
“Hello,” she said, her heart pounding. How long had he been making his weekly visits, punctual as the tides? Four months? Five? Since she’d ignored his overture that first day, they’d barely spoken. Now she studied him anew.
“Hello yourself.” The eyes still pierced her, like they had that first day.
Immediately, she knew what was different—he’d grown a beard, thick and bushy, heightening his aura of intrigue and mystery.
With barely a second glance at her, he turned back to the heaping plate of food like it was his lover and leaned over to capture every grain of rice.
Mary stepped back. How could he look so good with such a big mouthful of food? “Looks good,” she continued, grinning at her little inside joke. Would he offer her a seat? She shook snow off her coat, then stepped closer. “This weather’s piqued my appetite.”
He didn’t say a word.
Mary followed his rhythmic loading and unloading like a spectator at a tennis match. There’s something else . . . What is it? The answer almost knocked her down like the wind had. He hadn’t changed; she had. Before, she’d ignored him because somehow she’d sensed that this relationship could be different. Not just a relationship based on physical attraction, but mental. And perhaps spiritual. Her heart unfolded like a rosebud, and she leaned still closer. “You having the special?”
He continued the love affair with his food.
Mary managed to heft herself onto a stool. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”
“You look like a giant carrot cake. What is that thing, anyway?”
She bristled. “It’s a mouton,” she sniffed. “Of course you wouldn’t know about that.”
He kept chewing.
“Greta Garbo wore one,” she added, wanting to keep this going.
“Was that in How Not to Dress? Or was it Anna Karenina? I’d guess the latter, with the Russian themes of natural isolation. Their climate and all.”
Mary’s mouth flew open. “You’ve seen that? Then why didn’t you . . .”
He swiveled his stool around and wiped a snowflake off the tip of her nose.
Just inches away, a pair of smoldering coals enflamed Mary in a way she’d never imagined. Suddenly, the room seemed suffocatingly hot, and if she hadn’t been frozen to her seat, she would have pulled off her coat.
“You don’t know much about me, but you’re about to find out.” He set down his fork, the love affair with his food over.
Hours later, they closed down Ratso’s. The manager had to push them out the door.
As a blast of north wind carried off their last customer of the day, Mary went to hang the “Closed” sign on the door. Then she returned to the cold reality of the ledger, which lay open on the bar. “It’s there in black and white,” her only paid worker had told her. “You can’t keep giving away food.” But the figures were just a jumble to her; after a few minutes, she slammed the book shut.
Paul, who’d come in after his last run, scraped out a last bite of chowder as if nothing was going on. She imagined by now he was used to what Gio called “Irish flares.” For two months, she’d cooked, and they’d gotten closer; and he’d eaten, and they’d gotten closer; and he’d delivered produce, and she’d run the store, and they’d gotten closer. When she was with him, she was usually happy. When she wasn’t, doubt visited. Sometimes Mary thought doubt was good and kept them from getting too close. But sometimes, like now, she wanted them to be close.
Finally, Paul seemed to notice her frustration. “Let me take a look.”
“No.” Mary slapped her palm down. How could she expose her financial ineptitude? That would be like opening her underwear drawer to a stranger.
Paul jumped off his stool, walked with measured strides to the coat rack, and grabbed his jacket. “Where’s that crate you wanted me to pitch?” he asked, his voice as cold as the climate. “After all, I am the vegetable man.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then how did you mean it?” When she didn’t answer, he continued. “Do you think I would cheat you?” When she still didn’t answer, his breath came out quietly but his words didn’t. “I need to know.”
Rooted to the spot, she clamped her mouth shut. Why couldn’t they leave things alone for now? Everything was fine. What would happen when he found out about the dysfunction in her families? She’d met the Freemans, and they were thicker than chowder. What would he think when he entered the coldness of her parents’ home?
The yawning silence engulfed the whole room.
“Okay.” He pulled out his keys. “Have it your way.”
About the time he passed the organic cake mixes, Mary, ledger in hand, ran from behind the bar, the sight of his back necessitating action. She caught up with him at the bulk foods. “So that’s it? You’re just going to walk out?”
When he did an about-face, it was in such a slow, unemotional manner that her blood boiled and she struggled to clamp down the tempest within.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked.
Mary blinked. Dare she tell him the truth? Love me. Don’t change or start drinking or abuse me or give me up or cheat on me or . . . She stepped back. “Help me figure out how to keep this place open.” She tried to keep her voice light, but when she handed him the ledger, her hands shook.
The room seemed to whirl, the predominant colors, black and blue and flesh.
“I don’t think that’s what you want.” He grabbed her and yanked her toward him, papers slipping onto the floor with a sigh. He stroked her hair and kissed her as he never had. She couldn’t catch her breath between kissing him and trying to control the whimper that slipped out every so often. He couldn’t love her like this, could he? She kissed him again. Could he?
“It’s okay, Betsy.” He kissed her again.
Her wrists, her neck, virtually every pulse point throbbed. She wanted him to take her to the back room, but they’d talked about that. And decided it wasn’t an option.
He kissed her a third time, then moved away a bit. “It’s time for you to trust me. For me to meet them. For us to make plans.”
“I do trust you. See?” She pointed to the pages strewn all over the floor.
“Is that what you want? An accountant?”
She shook her head. Of course, she didn’t want that; couldn’t he see it in her eyes? She wanted to be with him, for him to never leave. She looked into black onyx, and along with the fire, she saw rock-hard constancy. Something she needed. Something Michael hadn’t had. She tried to smile, but her lips failed her. “No. I want you to be . . . I trust you, Paul. Can we leave it there right now?”
He didn’t smile that often, but he smiled at her then, and passion sliced through her that even Mrs. Appleby with all her intuition could not have predicted.
He took off his jacket and slid back onto the stool. So graceful yet powerful. She wanted him. The physical and mental and all of it. “Okay,” he said in a businesslike way. “But I still want to meet them.”
She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and stepped back behind the bar. It had been close, so close, a near mid-air collision. But she was safe. For now.
“Fine,” she said. “But they’re nothing like your family. We’re not even talking.”
“Then you need to start.” Before she could respond, he slid the ledger toward her. “The rent hike’s a problem. If it goes through, I don’t know how you’ll manage.”
She threw up her hands. “Gio works for free, and Mrs. Appleby won’t take more than minimum wage.”
He chuckled. “You don’t know who she is, Betsy, do you? Her father was Lloyd Appleby, the stockyard baron.”
“No wonder she doesn’t eat meat.” Mary laughed, but her mind was on something else. “Paul?” Her voice became soft.
He seemed preoccupied with the numbers. “Huh?”
“Why do you call me Betsy?”
She leaned closer to him, drawn by the musk and lime. “Tell me. I want to know.”
Paul fidgeted first with the pocket of his shirt, then with his collar. About the time he blushed, Mary felt herself fidgeting too. Was there a rival for his affections?
Words came, slow at first. “When I was in third grade, there was this girl.”
He nodded. “I called her brother some name; she punched me so hard I felt my jaw snap. She was no bigger than a pencil, all sinew and scabbed kneecaps and braids.”
“So you fell in love with her?”
He growled and grizzled his eyebrows, like a bear. “I was all of eight. The next day, she brought me a bouquet of goldenrod.”
When the giggle started, deep in Mary, she couldn’t stop. “Paul, really.”
He clamped his hand over hers, and she gasped that his one hand could pin her to the bar. She didn’t dare look in his face for fear of the passion she might detect.
“I’ve been looking for a Betsy ever since. Someone that plunges into a sweet-smelling bouquet, ends up with pollen for face powder, and doesn’t care. Someone who empties petty cash out for the homeless. Someone who can dress up and dress down.”
She wriggled, but he clamped harder, and with his other hand traced her lips.
“Someone who loves to read and loves to cook.”
Now she did look in his eyes, and what she saw melted a dark pit in her, a place no one had ever touched.
He kissed her forehead. “Mrs. Appleby has kept me well informed about you.”
Tears rolled down her face, but his expression didn’t change. In fact, the more she looked at him, it seemed he was discussing the weather.
“That’s why I called you Betsy. Any other questions?”
Her body went limp. For two months, he’d only hinted at wells of passion. Now that they had surfaced, it overwhelmed her.
He glanced at his watch. “Gotta go. Deliveries.” He blew her a kiss, the drama of minutes ago checked like a gentleman’s hat. He was out the door when she remembered he’d called her Betsy that first time they’d met, and her shriek rattled the front door.
Can I say that again?
Whew! WHAT A SET OF SCENES! I’m gonna read that last one again – just because it’s SOOOO good.
Did you experiencing that heart-melting too?
Patti, WOWZERS!! I’d forgotten about this scene in An Irishwoman’s Tale – THANKS for reminding me. 🙂
“Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Beyond comprehension, guilt, sin, hatred, pain, loss – WE ARE LOVED.
Not we WILL be loved. Not we HAVE been loved.
We ARE loved. Right now. In this moment, wherever we are. Final.
And NOTHING can change His love for His kids. Nothing.