Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thanksgiving: A Time for Homecomings


A week from today is Thanksgiving, and I'm so excited because it's one of my favorite holidays. Part of the reason is that I enjoy cooking, another part is that there's no decorating or present pressure, and another part is because I've always believed that Thanksgiving isn't just about being thankful. Thanksgiving is also about homecomings. Grandparents coming home from Florida. Aunts and uncles coming to visit us in New Jersey. Now that I'm a mom, it means my kids come home from college and my mother visits from wherever she's traveling in the world. 

While my current romantic suspense release EVERY DEEP DESIRE has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, it is a homecoming book. It's about an ex-Green Beret who disappeared wife eight years earlier, ended up in Leavenworth, and has come home unexpectedly to protect his wife. I've posted an excerpt below of what I call their HOMECOMING SCENE. It's the first time Juliet has seen her ex-husband Rafe in eight years, and seeing him again is not at all what she expected.

EXCERPT from EVERY DEEP DESIRE:


Voices sounded from near the fountain, and Juliet looked up. Bob and the water inspector were arguing again. Sighing, she slipped her phone in her pocket and went toward them…and stopped.

A man over six feet tall had come through the privacy fence and strode toward the fountain. She paused not just because he wore combat boots, low-riding jeans, and a black T-shirt that outlined his ridged stomach, wide shoulders, and tattooed arms. Not just because he reminded her of Michelangelo’s marble male studies exhibit that’d left her with pudding knees. Not just because he carried the aura of carved masculine perfection with ease.

She paused because his gait stole her breath. Elegant, even graceful, he moved with a determined purpose wrapped in fluid weightlessness. She wouldn’t call it eerie so much as powerful. It had to take enormous strength and self-control to move a body as large and muscular as his so…beautifully.
He spoke to Bob, who pointed toward her. The man nodded, shrugged on the leather biker jacket he carried, and turned. Oh God. His long stride ate up the plank walkway while she wiped her palms on her dress and inhaled deeply. In the space of her exhale, he stopped a few feet away. His brown-eyed gaze clasped onto hers with a longing that kept her still. His sheer size and the yearning in his eyes flooded her with the kind of heat that pooled low.

He was larger than she remembered. And the way he studied her, like she was the only thing in this world worth noticing, reminded her of everything they’d been to each other. Everything they’d once had in that forever-and-always kind of way. Which ended up being a total lie.

She had to remember that.

She swallowed. “Hello, Rafe.”

Seriously? The man had abandoned and betrayed her, and that’s all she could say? She couldn’t even keep the tremor out of her voice.

Juliet.” It sounded like a prayer, and her breath hitched in the back of her throat. After eight years, she still remembered how her name resonated on his lips, how the word ended with his soft drawl instead of a sharp consonant.

She blinked while he took her hands and moved in. He brushed a kiss on her cheek, and his familiar musky scent teased her nose. She closed her eyes, and her eyelids burned. It was like the anger and sadness and disappointment that had lived inside her for so long were so deeply buried they couldn’t find their way out. She could only stand there, feel his lips on her face, and remember what used to be. Part of her—the traitorous part that exhaled when the kiss ended—was even relieved that he was still alive. For a few of the eight years he’d been away, she hadn’t been sure.

Could she be more pathetic? Probably not. Because she considered the possibility that if she kept her eyes shut, time wouldn’t only stop, it would swing back to the last hours they’d spent together. The last moment they’d been happy.

What is wrong with me?

She opened her eyes and used her fingers to wipe her cheeks. Her gaze darted around—to her worktable, the fountain over his shoulder, his dusty boots—until landing on the blue ribbon wrapped around his wrist under his jacket’s sleeve. She was over him. So why was this so hard? What was it about him that made her tremble, made her limbs feel heavy? She should be angry and dismissive, yet all she could do was ask, “What are you doing here?”

There were so many other questions loaded into that one: Why did you leave me? Where did you go? What were you doing? Do your tattoos mean what you said they mean?That prickly feeling rushed through her again, and she fisted her hands until her nails cut her palms.

His relentless gaze shone with unapologetic determination. A trait she remembered. “The army released me from prison.”

“For God’s sake, why?” She hadn’t meant to screech—and had, in fact, never screeched before—yet his flinch testified to her pitch and tone. She tucked a stray hair behind her ear and shook her head. Embarrassment sent a flush from her neck to her face.

“The army dropped the charges and let me go.” His voice was low and melodic. He even reached out to touch the strand that wouldn’t stay put and hung over her forehead. Except she turned until he lowered his hand. “I know seeing me must be…unsettling.”

Unsettling. Yes. That was a word she could support. She took two deep breaths before meeting the heat in his eyes. “I thought you had a life sentence.”

Or was that a lie too?

He shoved his hands in his front pockets. Despite his jacket, the movement only emphasized the width of his muscled chest. He was so much bigger than when he’d left. “One day I was in solitary confinement, the next I was free.”

She frowned. The whole thing sounded sketchy. “Do you know why? Or who orchestrated it?”

“No.”

She studied the handsome face she used to cup with her hands and caress at will. Square jaw framed by firm cheekbones and deep-brown eyes. Shorn hair with slashes for eyebrows. Lips that protected white teeth, one with a small chip from the time he fell out of the tree next to her balcony. The same face she’d once loved now had tiny lines around the eyes, a jagged scar on the forehead, and a darkness in its eyes. “So you came home?”

He stayed still under her visual assault, as if daring her to look at all of him.As if daring her to see the man who had supposedly gone AWOL to work as a gunrunning mercenary. As if daring her to ask the question they both knew she wanted to ask but was too afraid to.

“Yes.” He spoke softly, his words edged with steel. “I came home.”

With his obvious physical strength and don’t-screw-with-me-or-I’ll-kill-you attitude, he seemed capable of working for an arms dealer. Heck, he could even bean arms dealer. Yet he kept a polite distance between them and moved slightly so the shadow he cast kept the sun out of her eyes. Then there was his upper body, which shook as if the act of standing still in a garden, talking to her, required a tremendous amount of self-control.

Frustrated with her all-over-the-place emotions, she tucked back that damn stray hair again and walked toward the fountain. He fell into step next to her. “When are you leaving?”

Depends.” The way that word rolled off his tongue, heavy and intense, loaded it with all sorts of meanings.

“On what?”

“On you.”

She stopped near Bob and faced Rafe. “You nuked my life, yet your decision depends on me?”

“Yes.” For the first time, his attention shifted from her to the horse rising out of the fountain four feet away. “Pegasus?” Memories of their childhood were evident in his half smile. “Our winged horse?”

She shrugged. If he wanted to play the deflection game, she would too. Because no matter what he said or did, she wasn’t going to allow him to mess up her life again. She was no longer the wounded bird he’d married. “Classical architecture is still around. Timeless beauty always trumps dead war heroes.”

When he turned to her again, his stare took in her clunky, steel-toed garden clogs and pink linen dress up to her hard hat–mussed hair. “It does indeed.”

She pressed her palms against her skirt. “What do you want.” No question mark. A direct statement requiring a direct answer.

His eyes narrowed. “To see you.”

Why?” Her question sounded desperate, but she didn’t care. “It’s been eight years.”

He ran a hand over his head and glanced away. “Because it’s been eight years, and I need to make sure you’re okay.”

“I sent our divorce papers to you in Leavenworth.” She grabbed his leather-clad arm and forced him to look at her. “We’re not married anymore. I’m not your wife.”

“Juliet.” His voice was so broken she almost couldn’t hear the words. “No matter what the world says, and regardless of what you believe, you’ll always be my wife. Your safety always trumps everything.”

Thunder hit hard, much closer this time, and she wrapped her arms around herself. “What does that mean?”

“I’m here to protect you. And I’m not leaving until I do.”

----------------------------------------------------

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Gracealways defeats Reckoning.

Her acclaimed debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

EVERY DEEP DESIRE is available on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBoundKobo|  Google
And adding it to your Goodreads TBR list is also always appreciated!

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