Thanks for having me here on your lovely blog today, Clover. Although I don’t write paranormal, I’ve been told that my mind is “out there,” so one never knows. I must admit the whole shapeshifter thing interests me, and I’m reading more about that phenomenon and werewolves. Maybe soon I’ll try my hand at writing something in that vein. One should never limit themselves to one thing.
So, Clover dear, I’m stoked and ready to share.
I love stories that are rich with supportive characters. A few family members or close friends can tell us a lot about the main characters. Take the growing friendship between the heroine in Storm’s Interlude, Rachel and Sunny her patient, for example. Sunny, our hero’s twin sister, is a single mother with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her first round of chemo failed, leaving her bald, thin and weak. Initially, Rachel is focused on Sunny’s health, but she also opens herself up to friendship as the two grow closer.
Rachel turned to her patient. “Sunny, let’s take a short walk before your nap. Just one trip around the house.”
Sunny followed Rachel outside, and the two started strolling through the yard. “What Noella said was right, you know. My brother’s definitely interested in you. You keep him on his toes. He needs that. He must have been attracted to you at first sight to kiss you out on Longhorn Road. You mustn’t forget that first kiss.”
No, she’d never forget that kiss as long as she lived. How could one forget that firestorm of feelings he ignited? The things that man did in the space of one kiss. She took a ragged breath and pretended to admire Noella’s flowerbeds.
Storm’s fiancée was back from her trip. She sounded exotic. Pilar was probably beautiful and sexy, while she was short and top heavy and plain. Mousy. A stab of new feeling pierced her, twisting her stomach. She took it for what it was: jealousy.
Everyone would be better off if she ignored the man and focused all of her being on her patient’s recovery. Both Sunny and a darling child depended on her to extend their time together. She wouldn’t fail.
She linked her arm in Sunny’s as they walked around the end of the house. “Let’s get two things straight. One, you’re not going to die just yet. You’ve got too much orneriness in you.”
“True.” Sunny tilted her head and nodded. “Although I never realized it until you came.”
“Second, your brother’s engaged. Perhaps your illness sped up their wedding date, but I doubt even his love for you would make him marry a woman he didn’t love. I have a feeling no one makes him do anything he doesn’t want to do. Now, you and I are going to forget about that kiss and the others. We’ll both be better off if we do.”
“Rachel, you’re so full of it.”
She batted her eyes at Sunny. “Of what, girlfriend?”
Sunny chuckled. “You mentioned earlier you had rotten luck with men. What did you mean?”
“I was engaged for a while.” In many ways her engagement seemed ages ago. So much had happened since she’d received that first e-mail from Sunny.
“Yes. He was my best friend’s cousin, so I knew of him. Just not about him, if you know what I mean.” She glanced at Sunny, and Sunny nodded. “After my father died suddenly in an awful car crash, Phillip started coming by the house. You know, just to see how I was doing.”
“You mean he made his move when you were most vulnerable.”
“Gee, you’re beautiful and astute. Before long, Phillip asked me out on a date. He started doing things around the house, making himself indispensable. I was floundering without my dad. Losing him was extremely hard. I was also busy starting my business, taking extra classes and studying for certification.” She shrugged. “Too much turmoil and pain at one time. Before I knew it, the man—and I use that term loosely—had ingratiated himself. ”
“I hear that. We lost Dad a few days before Sawyer was born. I lost my father, left my cheating husband and gained a son all in the span of five days.”
Rachel stopped and turned to face Sunny. “No! How…how did you survive?” She pointed to the front porch steps. “You need to rest. Your breathing’s labored.”
Sunny nodded and sat on the nearest step. She placed her elbows on the step behind her and leaned back to watch a golden butterfly flit from flower to flower. “I haven’t a clue how I survived. Storm willed me to, I guess. He passed some of his strength and toughness on to me. Of course, there was the wonder of my new baby. He was so beautiful.”
Rachel sat down next to her, took her wrist and checked her pulse. “He still is.”
“Yes, that child’s my whole world. Enough about me. Tell me more about you and Phillip.”
Rachel looked away for a beat, tamping down the pain of the memories. “Once we were engaged, the putdowns started. When I’d object, he’d say I was paranoid or neurotic.”
Sunny sat up straight and stared at Rachel for a beat. “Paranoid? Neurotic? Girlfriend, you have got to be kidding me! You’re so not any of those things.”
She swiped at a tear. “No, but I was in such an emotional state over losing Daddy…the suddenness of his death.” She looked down at her clasped hands. “Some teen texting and driving hit him head on. Daddy and I were so close.” She cleared her throat, trying to regain control. “Initially, when Phillip’s insults started, they didn’t register. Guess I was in a kind of emotional fog. Every time I didn’t see things his way, he accused me of being paranoid or neurotic.”
Sunny took Rachel’s hand and squeezed it. “That’s so cruel. The manipulating bastard.”
She squeezed Sunny’s hand in return, their emotional bond strengthening. “That’s how the abuse started. With his undermining my mental stability, I actually started to doubt myself. Can you believe it? Long story short: he wore me down emotionally so the remaining steps of the abuse seemed normal.” She shrugged again. “Like I deserved it or something. The temper rages started. He beat me several times, broke my wrist. I got scared and ended the engagement. Took me a while, but I finally came to my senses.”
“Smart girl.” She pointed her finger at Rachel. “Now I understand. That’s why you reacted the way you did earlier when Storm was rough with you, isn’t it? Oh, honey, if Storm knew…”
“There’s no reason for him to know. He has Pilar to think of, not me. You ready to go the rest of the way?” Sunny nodded and stood. They started walking again, arms linked.
Sunny patted Rachel’s hand. “Honey, I think the two of you are kidding yourselves about the way you feel. If you could only see how you look at each other, hear the sound of your voice when you address one another…” She wiggled her fingertips in the air. “…see the sparks between you two, then you’d know what I know.”
Rachel shrugged. “I’ve accepted how I feel. I’ve also accepted the man I care for is engaged to another woman. I refuse to bemoan how much it hurts, ’cause frankly, it hurts like hell.”
“What am I going to do with you two?” Sunny stopped and looked at Rachel, who crossed her arms and regarded her with one eyebrow cocked in defiance. “Okay, okay, I can see you don’t want to talk about it. So, tell me what your ex-fiancé did when you broke off the engagement.”
They started walking again. “He slashed my tires.”
“I replaced them. He slashed them again.”
“Oh, a determined bastard.”
She looked away. “Yes. Next he smashed a window in my SUV and slashed the seats. When that didn’t make me come crawling back to him, he broke in my house and cut up all my clothes.”
“Oh, see, now we’re gonna have to kill him. A man doesn’t mess with a woman’s wardrobe and live to tell about it.”