Orion is very outdoorsy and skilled with a chainsaw. He makes great pieces of art out of stumps. Here's a handy guide for you about the Anatomy of a Lumberjack.
Let's end with a little excerpt from More Than Cookies.
The July sunshine filtered through the maple trees and white pines, casting warm, golden streaks on the lush greenery beneath Orion Finley’s booted feet. He absolutely loved summertime in the Vermont woods. Everything smelled fresh and alive. Huge dragonflies hovered in place as they checked on a leaf here, a branch there, then landed on a rock bordering the path leading deeper into the woods. A few hawks circled overhead, letting loose screeches every now and then to make sure Orion knew they were keeping an eye on him.
Only two things were missing to make this trek into the forest perfect. His dog, a Greater Swiss Mountain dog named Ranger, and his six-year-old daughter, Myah Rose. Both were currently held captive in his fire-breathing ex-wife’s lair.
He had to constantly remind himself that it wouldn’t be this way forever. He would get both of them back. Soon. Orion didn’t care what he had to do, but Ranger and Myah belonged with him and he wouldn’t stop until everything was as it should be. He had plenty of room at his farmhouse for a small girl, a large dog, himself, and his father, Ian Finley, a retired fisherman who Orion now cared for. He could handle it all. He knew he could. Proving it—when his opposition was a she-beast lawyer he used to love—was turning out to be the biggest challenge of his life, but he wasn’t one to shy away. Especially not when the reward was getting to see Myah every single day.
Damn, he missed her blue eyes and her black hair—two features she shared with him, only her eyes were bigger and her hair longer. Her smile was definitely better than his too, because she still remembered how to smile. His lips, on the other hand, were reluctant to take on that shape since The Divorce. Since Adriana Whitfield-Finley, his once true love, decided being married to a chainsaw artist and living in the woods of Vermont wasn’t what she was “put on this stinking planet to do.” She wasn’t supposed to be “wasting her time and intelligence on someone like him.” Her words. Her razor sharp, dice-a-man’s-heart-into-pieces words.
Whatever. He never should have gotten involved with her in the first place. He knew as well as his father did that sophisticated women didn’t settle down with men like them. Men who liked to spend their days outdoors, making things with their own two hands. Men who were more comfortable wearing sawdust than cologne.
Men who weren’t rolling in money.
Orion’s mother had skipped out on them when he was ten. Adriana hadn’t made it to Myah’s tenth birthday before she had to get away from the “stifling squeeze” Vermont—and apparently he—had applied to her metaphorical throat.
He hated metaphors.
He also wouldn’t be getting into any situations remotely resembling a relationship with a woman. They were all sweet smiles and passionate kisses… until the claws came out.
Sighing now as he continued farther into the woods, Orion pushed aside thoughts of Adriana, Myah, Ranger, and his father. This morning was about finding the perfect trees for his next sculptures. The order was for three life-sized black bears—one of his most favorite things to carve. A zoo in New York had requested the carved critters for a display to be erected near the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in December. They wanted them now so they could build the rest of the display around his bears. This one customer would bring in some good money. Hopefully it would be enough to convince a judge that he could support his daughter.
After taking a swig from his water bottle, Orion followed a brook toward a grove of suitable pines. Tall, straight, and healthy, they were perfect for this project. He reached into the pocket of his cargo shorts and produced three lengths of bright orange rope. He tagged three trees to mark them for his buddy, Adam Rouse, who would come in with the heavy equipment, cut those babies down for him, and tow them to Orion’s workshop. Then he’d get to hack away at the logs until the bears emerged from the shavings.
He couldn’t wait.
Carving always made him feel… free. As if he could give birth to absolutely anything he wanted out of that wood. As if it were just waiting for him to breathe beauty, creativity, and art into it. As if, without him, the wood would not have fulfilled its true purpose in this life.
He ran his rough and scarred hands over the trunk of the nearest pine. The bark scraped across his fingertips—except for the pinkie fingertip on his left hand. He’d lost from the first knuckle up to the tip during one carving project, making the entire cast of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for an obsessed Frank L. Baum fan. If Orion had “only had a brain,” he would have been extra careful carving around the lion’s mane, but he’d still been developing his techniques. Still experimenting with which angles created the right effects, which tools did the job best. He’d made a rather important note to self on that job. Under no circumstances should one’s pinkie finger come into contact with the grinder’s blade. Not good. Lots of blood. Lots of swearing.
Looking at that abbreviated finger now, he shook his head and pulled out his cell phone.
“Hey, Adam,” he said when his buddy answered, “I’m west of the brook, about two-thirds of a mile in. Tagged three trees.”
“Got it,” Adam said. “I’ll grab those for you tomorrow.”
“Thanks, man.” And that ended their conversation. Vermont men didn’t need a lot of words to get jobs done. Orion liked it that way.
Carrying his phone, he turned to retrace his steps back to his workshop. As he walked, dog barks and a few gunshots echoed somewhere closer than he would have liked. Damn hunters were always parading through his land with their bloodhounds, cornering bears, and calling it a sport when they put a bullet into the trapped creature.
As far as Orion was concerned, there were much better ways to spend one’s time.
He continued on his way but stopped when a deer bounded across his path. Its big brown eyes connected with his for a moment then the animal was gone. While Orion stared down the path the deer had taken, another shot rang out.
Something hot and painful bit into his right thigh. He immediately clamped a hand over the aching area, and his stomach did a sick flip-flop when his hand came away wet and red. His vision got spotty. His ears rang and not in the this-is-an-awesome-rock-concert way. No, definitely more like the I’ve-been-shot-and-am-going-to-pass-out way instead.
This was so not the morning he’d planned.
See where Orion ends up after being shot in More Than Cookies and enjoy Book One in the series, More Than Pancakes, for FREE in ebook!
It’s all good in Vermont, eh?
To me , there's a difference between lumberjacks and mountain men, but maybe that's because I write western romance. Still, I'd curl up with your hero anytime. :-)
I have a chainsaw artist hero in one of my books, Asking For Trouble. It's an unusual career but very cool. Great excerpt, Chris!
Love this guy and your excerpt is a hook for sure. I want him to get his daughter and dog back!
A cleverly titled series, for sure, Chris. The food group; the romantic couple...perfect combo! Vermont, a state we spent some time in last summer, is a gorgeous state...lots of room for mountain men. I'm agog at artists who work with chainsaws...but I do imagine the 'life' of an artist, often check to check, isn't for the faint of heart (after all look at us authors). Good conflict set-up! Happy Sales!
I did read this and really enjoyed it! Love your memes!
Great excerpt and pictures, Chris. I'm going to check out this book. Best wishes.
Thanks, everyone! I never tire of writing about VT.
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