Change of Plans & A Brief Time Out

I know that on Friday’s post about turkey leftovers, I said that I’d come to you Monday morning with a menu and Tuesday with my Christmas baking attack plan.

However, about 2 weeks ago, I entered my manuscript, Emerald Heat, in a national contest.  I thought that it was due at the Romance Writers of America’s national headquarters next Wednesday.  Double checking the rules tonight (Saturday night), I realized that it’s due this Friday.

That gives me four days and a few hours to get it ready and polished — a book that is in total and complete draft.  That means that nothing else can happen in this household but that.  I’m wondering if Gregg and the kids can go four days with no food — or maybe they can survive with store bought bread and a jar of peanut butter.

Consequently, the blog is on timeout until Friday morning.

In the meantime, here is the first scene in chapter 1 of Emerald Heat.  I’d love to know what you think about it.

Maxine rolled over in the bed. As the covers slipped off, she felt cool air on her shoulders. While she pondered that with a brain still partially asleep, she went to pull the covers back over herself and her ring caught a thread on the blanket.

Her ring?

Maxine’s eyes flew open as memories of the night before flooded her mind. She whipped her head around and saw the bed next to her empty, the pillow indented from where her husband’s head had recently lain.

Her husband?

Alone in the bedroom, she lifted her left hand and stared, and there sat the ridiculously enormous, preposterously expensive platinum ring, encrusted with emeralds and diamonds, that the man with whom she had been engaged for less than two hours before their wedding ceremony had picked out. When he slipped it onto her finger, he’d said something about the color of her eyes. Seconds later, he’d kissed her.

After a cursory glance around the room to be certain she was actually alone and the bedroom door was shut, she threw the covers off and rushed to the closet, looking for anything to wear. She grabbed a pair of jeans and a sweater and dashed to the bathroom, shutting and locking the door behind her. She leaned against the closed door for a moment to catch her breath.

What in the name of all that was good and holy had they done? Had she done?

With a few flicks of her wrist, she turned the water on for a shower and stopped to look at herself in the mirror. She lifted her fingers to her mouth, to lips swollen from his kisses. Her eyes glowed like the stone on her hand. Her cheeks looked rosy, flushed. She felt warm inside despite the chill.

In her entire adult life, no other man had ever even so much as kissed her. Not once. As she stepped under the warm spray of water, she thought back to the night before and to her complete lack of fear. Many men had tried to taste her mouth, but whenever they’d gotten close enough, panic would rise up and make her push them away. That typically ended the relationship. The ones who suffered that humiliation soon learned that it wasn’t a one-time thing and very quickly gave up trying.

Her husband of less than twelve hours, though — her husband didn’t scare her. When he kissed her, it occurred to her that she felt absolutely none of her normal fear. Instead what she felt was warmth, excitement, attraction. He made her feel safe. He made her feel … loved.

“Husband and wife,” the officiator had proclaimed. Then her husband had leaned in, leaned close, and taken her lips with his strong, masculine mouth as if they were the most delicate rose petals. Her knees had vanished and she felt his arm around her waist holding her up, lifting her, supporting her as she kissed his heavenly mouth.

Then, here, in this hotel suite last night on the very top floor, her husband had let her lead the way. It was as if he sensed that she needed to be able to control all of the activity. She never had to say anything to him or explain her fear. He just accepted her hesitations or kissed her through them. He slowly coaxed and guided and offered until she accepted. It had been so wonderful, so beautiful, that he had held her to him with her head cradled against his broad, thick chest and his strong arms around her while she wept at the beauty of it.

Her sister was going to kill her. Reflecting on that for a moment, Maxi realized she didn’t much care. She was excited, thrilled.

She quickly finished showering and got dressed. After brushing her teeth and running a comb through her hair, she left the bathroom, again relieved at the solitude. Little nervous butterflies woke up in her stomach while she put on her shoes, the sight of the enormous ring on her finger distracting her with every motion of her hand.

Stalling, she straightened the bed. As she pulled the coverlet up, her ring caught the light. Running her hand over his pillow she smiled and felt a warm rush of love flow through her heart, quelling the nervous butterflies.

When she could think of nothing else to do, she opened the bedroom door and stepped out into the living room. Seeing him standing there staring out into the sunrise brought back visions of every time she had seen his face in the last three years. She thought of every time she had sketched his face. She could not believe how much had happened in the last three weeks.

The thought stopped her. Three weeks? Had it only been that long since they put her brand new husband’s first wife in the ground?



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