Most summer storms tend to break the sultry heat, at least for a few hours. The Storm I want to introduce you to tends to ratchet up the temperatures, especially around my heroine.
Storm, tell us how you met Rachel.
A bunch of my high school buddies and I were at our old swiming hole, celebrating Jackson's birthday. We were drinking and remembering how things were "back in the day" when we played football. While I was swiming, they all took off and left me behind. So, I had to walk home.
I think you missed one important part, Storm.
You're really going to make me do this, aren't you? Don't shrug your shoulders at me. And don't give me that evil smile, either.
Now, is that any way to treat your author?
Hunh! Looks like I have no choice but to tell everything. Jackson took all my clothes except for my Stetson and hand-tooled boots. That's all I had on when I crested the hill into the oncoming headlights of Rachel's Beetle convertible. And why do you smile like that everytime you think of my prediciment?
Sorry. Just the thought of you...well...I imagine you were quite the sight.
Sight? Now, Rachel, she was the sight. Her long tawny hair was in this long braid. She had on a pink dotted sundress, and her shoulders' were warm from the sun.
Wait. How did you know her shoulders were warm? Did you touch her?
Touch her? I kissed her. After all I'd been dreaming about her and those blue eyes of hers for three nights. I couldn't let her get away without kissing those lips I'd dreamed about.
I think the ladies will want to know more about you.
There's not much to tell. I love my twin sister, adore her little boy, enjoy my ranch. Basically, I'm an ordinary Texan -- God, country, family. Now, if you want to hear about someone special, ask me about Rachel. She's intelligent, strong-willed, caring and has this pair of red, strappy stilletos that drive me mad. The first time I saw her in them I nearly dropped to my knees.
By the tone of his voice he wasn’t being critical. She’d been prepared to handle critical and rude and overbearing, but not his gentleness. Rachel searched his face. Warmth shone from his eyes, and for the first time, she noticed wrinkles at their corners, no doubt from spending so much time in the hot Texas sun. She fought the urge to reach up to smooth them with a touch.
“Yes. The better a woman feels about her appearance, the stronger she feels. For cancer patients, feeling strong about anything gives them an added boost. In time, her hair and eyelashes will grow back. This is just a stop-gap measure until then.”
He glanced at his sister again. “I see.”
“I talked her into buying some clothes that fit, too. Wearing clothes that hang on you is only a constant reminder you’re sick. Better to feel pretty and alive, don’t you think?”
Storm studied Rachel for several beats. “You focus heavily on the emotional side of the patient, don’t you?”
“Aren’t we ruled by our emotions?” She certainly was, especially at that moment, with the heat from his warm hand pressing into the small of her back. The smell of his cologne wafted over her, and his dark eyes regarded her intently.
He smiled and leaned over so his mouth was near her ear. “Great shoes, by the way.”
She chuckled and looked in the opposite direction, hoping he wouldn’t see her blush. “Sunny called them ‘ho-red.’ We laughed so hard when the shoe salesman fumbled, trying to tie the laces around my ankles and calves.”
Storm glanced at her shoes again. She could have sworn she heard him mutter, “Lucky bastard.”
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STORM'S INTERLUDE was a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner in two categories. Best book by a Virginia author and Best Mainstream Single Title.