Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hearts That Go Bump In the Night

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."

"Like you."

"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?


  1. Joanne: Now I want the book in my hands and I'll have to wait! Do you know what wait's a four letter word!
    I wasn't under the stars when I met Mr. B for the first time but believe me I saw stars!

  2. Saw my then future hubby for the first time as he was standing guard in front of his battallion (military college.) He looked at me with a twinkle in his blue eyes and charged right toward me... Some other cadets had walked up to me as well. He told them, "You can't have her. She's mine." He proposed 10 days later. :)

  3. Great scene, Joanne...I definitely need to get my hands on your book:)

    We were standing in the hallway and my brother was reminding me that I had met his friend before, and that Dad wouldn't mind that his friend took me home(my brother had a hot date that night).

    When my future hubby looked down at me, my heart raced, I couldn't catch my breath, and I knew my life had forever changed...

  4. What a lovely excerpt, Joanne! I love the part where she feels at home, that is pivotal, I think, to falling in love. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Oh, I'm sure I was never anywhere this romantic. What a lovely scene.

  6. Carolyn, it's coming soon to a bookstore near you! And I believe you about Mr. B:)

  7. Wow, Blogger can be a challenge! For some reason, it hasn't wanted to let me in today. I've finally convinced it that I am me and it's safe to let me post! I'll try to make up for lost time.

  8. Aww, Colleen, that's sweet. It's amazing how your heart knows when you've met "the one," isn't it?

  9. Aww, Colleen, that's sweet. It's amazing how your heart knows when you've met "the one," isn't it?

  10. Thanks, Kathryn! I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. That really is my favorite moment, in romance novels and in real life -- the feeling that you've found the place where you belong.

  11. Thank you, Shana! But I don't believe you - with the books you write, you have to be a true romantic!

  12. Hi!Now I want to read the book...I was taking line dancing lesson and was always mixing my left from my right and bumping into him. Later I found out his name was Jimmy,its long story for he was at the time seeing this girl I knew. Anyways, 3months later, we hooked up for awhile, alot came between us, but 25 yrs. later we have started talking again, and were both single..its like we never will see what the future holds for us!

  13. Carole, that's so sweet that you found each other again! You'll have to keep us posted. I'm a clumsy line dancer, too. I always seem to be going the wrong way--but maybe for you it was the right way!

  14. What a marvelous use of symbols! The darkness/light, the stars, the warmth, the injury that doesn't slow her down... much, getting back on the horse, flying, bald tires... in a tiny excerpt.
    Now THAT is some writing! I want to read your book, of course, but more than that, I want to BE in your book.

    Congratulations on another wonderful tale!

  15. Great excerpt, Joanne! Not sure when that happened for my DH, but for me, I'm pretty sure it was the first time I saw him.

  16. Grace, thank you so much for the kind words! I admire your writing very much, so I'm realy flattered.
    I never think of all those symbols and metaphors until the ideas stop flowing and I read it over, and then I find all sorts of surprises and amplify them a little. It's funny how the mind works.

  17. Cheryl, I'll bet it was the first time he saw you, too. Or the first time he read one of your books...but I think you've been together longer than that!