This month we're posting scenes that we consider "The Most." I'm going to give you the most emotional scene I've ever written, the one that always makes me cry. It's from my western historical romance, Bittersweet.
Here's the blurb first to give you an idea of what the book's about.
Eight months after her husband is killed in a train robbery, Tess Moran knows she must pick up the pieces of her shattered life and build a future for herself and her infant daughter. Daniel Moran’s love for Tess is bittersweet. Acting on his feelings for his sister-in-law will betray his dead brother’s memory. Watching her search for love elsewhere may very well destroy him.
In 1880, life in rural
is filled with hard work and simple pleasures, but trouble looms on the horizon. Together Tess and Daniel battle drought and the outlaw who killed the man they both loved, but the greatest challenge of all is finding solace for their battered hearts. Colorado
Tess Moran stood at the stove stirring gravy in a skillet when a wagon pulled up outside. At her feet Shadow barked once and trotted to the door, his tail wagging.
“Rory’s home!” Tess smiled in delight. Her husband had been gone only a few days, but it seemed like an eternity without him.
“You missed him, too, didn’t you, boy.” She wiped her hands on her apron and smoothed back stray wisps of hair before opening the kitchen door. Anticipation sent her spirits soaring.
The sun sank below the horizon, creating a colorful backdrop for the man climbing down from the wagon, casting him in shadow. It wasn’t until he walked toward her that Tess realized it was her brother-in-law and not her husband who had come home. As much as the two men resembled each other, she would never mistake Daniel’s measured steps for Rory’s swagger.
As he approached, she wondered where Rory was. Uneasiness settled in her chest. The Gallagher buggy rounded the corner of the driveway and pulled to a stop near the wagon. Her father stepped down first and helped her mother to alight.
A cold wind blew through the barnyard. Tess folded her arms protectively around her bulging abdomen. Dread ate at her, steeling the last of her excitement. When Daniel reached her, she saw the lines of strain on his face and the pain in his steady blue eyes. She stared at the blood stains on his coat and caught her breath. Fear slammed through her, and she swayed on her feet. Dear Lord, what had happened?
“Where’s Rory?” Her parents stood one on either side of her, offering their support, but she had eyes only for Daniel. “Tell me where he is!”
He caught her hands between his and cleared his throat. “Outlaws held up the train. They shot Rory.”
The weight of the world crashed down on her. Surely this was all a dream. God couldn’t be so cruel. “Is he hurt? Where is he? Take me to him, Daniel.” Her breath came out in hard gasps.
His grip on her hands tightened. “He didn’t make it, Tess. I’m sorry. God, I’m sorry.”
She backed up a step. At her feet, Shadow whined. “No.” She shook her head, setting her long braid in motion. She wouldn’t listen to him. Daniel was wrong. He had to be wrong. Her gaze flickered over the bloodstains on his coat and darted away. Bile rose in her throat. She swallowed it down.
“Rory is strong. He’ll be fine. He wouldn’t leave me. Rory would never leave me. Take me to him!” Her shouted words carried on the wind.
“Come sit down, Tess,” her mother urged, her voice breaking. “Think of the baby.”
“No!” she cried. Her father reached out a steadying hand, but she lurched away from his grasp. Rory couldn’t be dead. She needed him. Tess clutched her belly. We need him. “Rory is alive. He has to be. Please tell me he’s alive, Daniel.” She looked into her brother-in-law’s tear-filled eyes, and his pain hit her like a fist in the gut. Emptiness engulfed her, gripping her heart in a hollow fist.
“I can’t, Tess. I’d give anything to tell you he is, but I can’t.”
“No, no, no,” she whimpered. “No!”
Her father raised a callused palm and stroked the back of her head. “Tess, honey, come inside.”
Tess didn’t answer. She pulled away from his embrace. Sobs wracked her body as grief overwhelmed her. She couldn’t imagine life without her strong, loving husband. She didn’t want to wake up in the morning if he wasn’t at her side. Rory was everything to her. He was her life.
A sudden, sharp pain stabbed her middle. Gasping, she pressed her hands to her abdomen and doubled over. Daniel rushed forward and caught her before she folded to the ground. Fear ripped through her with the pain. It was too early. The baby couldn’t come now.
“Tess, what is it?” her mother asked, her voice high and frightened.
“The baby,” she moaned. “It’s the baby.”
“Oh no!” Nora’s hand flew to her mouth. “It’s too soon. Wesley, we have to do something. It’s too soon!”
“I’ll go for Doc Fredericks.” Her father ran to the buggy and whipped the horses into a gallop.
Daniel lifted Tess in his arms and carried her toward the house. Over his shoulder, she watched the last of the sun’s dying rays fade against the earth. Rory was gone. She couldn’t lose his child, too. It was all she had left of him, her only reason to live. A mockingbird sang out as the sound of her father’s buggy disappeared in the distance. When another pain wracked her body she screamed.“Rory! Rory! Rory!”
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into Tess and Daniel's world. I promise, the rest of the book is more cheerful! You can find Bittersweet and my other books on my website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.