Have you ever met someone with whom you instantly connect? Within minutes you feel as if you’ve known this person all your life. Other times, you can’t warm up to someone, no matter how hard you try. And occasionally you meet a person who turns you into someone who can say the silliest things—a real foot-in-mouth character.
But what if this person is a man and you’re a woman? What if something about his demeanor makes you act out of character? What makes that happen? Hormones? Pheromones? Reaction to testosterone? I’ve taken such a scenario as the beginning to my novella—Back Where You Belong.
So allow me to share the opening of my story…
What the hell?
Tyler Desmond whirled away from the shot he was about to make at the pool table to grasp for whatever caused the sudden, stinging pain at the back of his neck. When his fingers closed around a dart, he yanked the offending object out, searching through the crowd in the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk for the bastard who dared throw one at him.
His cousin Billy Wayne leaned in close as if to examine the dart’s point of entry. “Damn, that’s gotta hurt.”
Tyler’s eyes narrowed on the culprit. The object of his wrath stood about eight feet away, her face glowing red like embers in a branding fire and eyes mushrooming when his gaze zeroed in on hers.
He handed his cue stick to Billy Wayne and growled, “Not as much as one female’s about to. You can be damn sure of that.”
Three women, her friends no doubt, scurried back to their table, leaving her to face him alone. He slowly sauntered toward her, gathering his words as he approached. He’d cut many men to size with his acidic tongue. This woman would be no different.
Nervous hands clasped and unclasped and then fiddled with curly blonde hair. Then, as if to prepare herself for their inevitable confrontation, she squared her shoulders.
Good move, lady. You’re going to need a dose of courage for I plan on giving you a verbal thrashing you’ll never forget.
He extended his hand, the offending dart lying in his palm. “I believe you lost this…in my neck.”
“Crap, yes, I did.” She plucked it from his hand. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.”
He placed his hands on his hips and glared into her blue eyes. “Really? Then who the hell were you aiming for?”
The woman had the audacity to giggle. “I…I wasn’t aiming for anyone. You see, Carrie Jo”–she jerked her thumb toward the table of women behind her–“bumped against my elbow just as I was shooting. She was horsing around, calling me ‘Dart Demon.’”
His gaze ricocheted toward the gaggle of women, all nodding and smiling. Two did a finger wave. He scowled as a dull ache settled behind his eyeballs. When Dart Demon leaned toward him, he got a whiff of her perfume and fought to ignore its beguiling, flowery scent.
“Just between us,” she began, her voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, “she’s had too much to drink. Good thing I’m the designated driver tonight.” Her hand rose in a swearing gesture. “Honest. Nothing stronger than diet soda. See, Carrie Jo and her boyfriend are fighting again. They’re just not suited for each other.” Her blonde head shook once. “Ever notice how opposites attract? It’s the strangest thing, isn’t it?”
She pursed her lips, giving him no time to reply before she charged ahead like his prize Brahman bull. Evidently the woman didn’t need to breathe to talk.
“He likes rap music and she likes country. He likes to play video games while she runs marathons and works out. He’s a slob and she’s a neat freak. Yet, they can’t keep their hands off each other. The chemistry’s there, but not the compatibility. Know what I mean?”
Tyler inhaled and opened his mouth, ready to start his tirade. But before one angry word could roll off his tongue, she commenced her nonsensical rambling again.
“That’s not why we’re here though. We’re here to celebrate. I sold an article to a magazine. My first!” A smile, brighter than a hill country sunrise spread and niggled at one of his faint, long-forgotten memories.
“Isn’t that just too wild?” She pressed a hand to full breasts that strained a T-shirt imprinted with: I’m the strong, silent type.
Silent? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
“People keep telling me I have writing talent, but I’m not so sure. I guess you could say I have a lot of self-doubt.” Her blue-eyed gaze locked on his as she pursed those pink lips again. “I’m just not good with words, you know?”
Right, and I’m not good with raising cattle. The dull ache in his head ratcheted up a notch.
“I’m prattling, aren’t I? I am.” Those blonde curls bobbed again, and he wondered if they were as soft as they looked. “I prattle when I get nervous. Normally I’m quiet.” Nervous hands rose and fell. “Most days you can’t get a word out of me.”
Just my damn lucky day then, isn’t it?
While shooting pool at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, rancher Tyler Desmond takes an errant dart in the neck. Ready to retaliate, he’s instead captivated by the blonde who threw it. Tyler isn’t interested in opening his heart, so why does he kiss the verbal buzz saw? Just to shut her up?
As a teenager, Lacy LaRoche had a secret crush on Tyler. When the dart brings them face-to-face, all she can do is chatter—until he kisses her. But Lacy didn’t come back to Texas to fall in love. She’s hiding another secret: her roommate surreptitiously videotaped Lacy undressing and posted it on the internet.
When Tyler’s daughter is bullied at school, Lacy must reveal the truth and face the emotional damage of cyberbullying. Over-protective of his daughter—and his heart—Tyler must learn to trust again. Can two scarred hearts find their way back to where they belong?
Run, don't walk, to Amazon and snatch up this fantastic story!