The theme this month is "things that go bump in the night.
That's easy, I thought. I'll just put up a scene where my hero and heroine "go bump." A nighttime love scene.
But posting intimate moments online, without any context, for readers who haven't watched the romance develop, doesn't seem fair to the characters. So I decided to do a different kind of night scene. One that leads to bumping, but where no bumping actually takes place.
All that goes bump in this scene is the hero and heroine's hearts.
This is from Tall, Dark and Cowboy, which comes out November 1st. Lacey Bradford left home for a fresh start, bringing nothing along but a beat-up muscle car, an adventurous heart, and a really ugly dog. She ends up at Chase Caldwell's ranch - a place that's as foreign to her as another country.
In this scene, she's left the ranch house to take a walk while Chase does chores. She sits down on the ground, crossing her legs yoga-style, and looks up at the stars.
Something moved at the edge of Lacey's vision, a bright slash in the sky. She turned, but she'd missed it -- and something streaked across the patch of sky she'd turned away from.
"Meteors," said a deep voice behind her. Chase's boots crunched on the dry earth.
She wanted to turn and look at him but another gleam of light sped across the sky and she felt riveted, her eyes searching the sky for the next streaking comet. What seemed so permanent was changing minute by minute on a scale she couldn't even imagine.
"Falling stars," Chase said.
"Falling?" she asked. "Or flying?"
"Flying, maybe." He settled down beside her, bringing his knees to his chest and clasping them in his arms as he tipped his head back to share the view. "I never thought of it that way."
"Falling would mean they're failing." She spotted another and traced its path with one finger. "Flying means they're moving, changing, going somewhere."
"Not right now." She'd been flying as she sped across the country, the Mustang's bald tires eating up the highway. But she wasn't flying now. The urge that had struck her so long ago--the urge to simply run fast and far, wherever her feet could take her--was still there, but she had nowhere to go.
"You're still flying, Lacey. Still changing."
She was scanning the sky, concentrating on something outside herself, so she almost didn't notice when his hand stole into hers. When she focused, she felt everything keenly -- his skin rough and warm, the faint pressure as he squeezed her hand.
"I mean, look where you started with the horses this morning, and look where you are now," he said. "Even a seasoned rider might not have gotten back on Captain after getting tossed like that." She could hear a smile lightening his tone. "I mean, your butt had to hurt on the way home."
"It still hurts."
He reached up with his other hand and rubbed her back with slow, gentle circles. It was nowhere near her injury, but it somehow made the ache in her tailbone feel better. She tilted toward him and looked up at the fathomless depth of the sky. The wide expanse of the land, the sounds of crickets, and the calm breezes going about their business without her had made her feel alone and insignificant.
But Chase's touch reminded her she was real. She wanted to feel his warmth and savor the feeling of closeness to another human being. It wasn't Chase, she told herself. She just didn't want to be alone.
Another star traced a shining path across the sky. They sat and watched the distant fireworks of the universe in silence for a long while, her hand still clasped in his, his arm around her shoulder, sitting in the dirt by a clump of sagebrush in a world she didn't know and had never expected to find.
For some strange reason, she had never felt so at home.
For Chase and Lacey, this is the moment when everything changes. That's my favorite moment in a romance--the realization, where love blossoms and the whole world seems to spin on a new axis.
Do you remember that moment in your own life? Were you under the stars, or somewhere less romantic?