Hooray for Stef, Debbie, Ronlyn, Jenn J, and Bo! They all got it right — and Stef hasn't even read the book yet. Our first Mystery Excerpt was the (in)famous manacles scene from Sweet Release.
The funny thing about that scene is that I wrote it after the book was finished. Alec and Cassie were still in my head, and the scene just came to my mind as if it were already written. I sat down and worked it in, enjoying every second of writing it. It made me laugh and it made me love Alec even more for being a strong enough and sexy enough man to play games like that with his beloved.
Little did I know that an editor was about to make an offer on the book — eight years of hard work finally paying off (seven to write it, one to revise it and get it to an agent). My editor loved it, and it was officially part of the story.
In writing Sweet Release, several things surprised me, two that stand out. The first was how determined my characters were in their own right. They knew what they wanted to do, and if it wasn't part of the plot, so what? They became real people -- something I never would have understood before writing. And No. 2 -- I never would have imagined how SAD it can be to finish a book. For seven years, all I'd thought about was finishing the book. I had imagined how I would dance for joy when it was done. And what did I do? I typed the last word, smiled, drew a deep breath — and started bawling!
I have since gotten used to being bossed around by fictional people, and though I'll never get used to saying goodbye to people I love, I'm at least prepared for a few weeks of post-partum blues after each book.
Now on to today's Name That Scene. Enjoy the art!
Name That Scene #2
She worked her way down the riverbank, keeping a safe distance from the swirling waters, peeled soft moss from the earth, placed it in her bowl. She walked quietly, warily, remembering the war party that had passed this way only weeks ago. But the air was so sweet and the singing of the birds so lovely that she could not linger on dark thoughts.
On impulse she began to pick the wild violets that grew beneath the trees. They would make a pretty bouquet for the table. Or perhaps she would tie them at the head of Belle’s cradle. She followed the violets around a bend in the river, picking them in clusters of purple, white and yellow, when a movement caught her eye.
Heart in her throat, she froze.
He stood with his back to her in the river just around the bend, water up to the middle of his thighs.
And he was completely naked.
She meant to avert her eyes, to turn away, to flee before he saw her. But she could scarce breathe, much less move. She had never seen a naked man before. Oh, aye, she’d cared for Andrew in his illness and after death. But he had not looked anything like… this.
His body was all muscle, lean and hard. His thighs were heavy and corded, his bum twin mounds of smooth muscle that tightened and released as he moved his weight from one leg to the other. Dark, wet hair clung to his skin, hung down his powerful back all the way to his narrow hips. The muscles of his arms and shoulders bulged and stretched as he washed himself. His skin, bronzed from the sun, was slick and wet.
’Twas like stumbling upon some heathen river god.
She stood as if under a spell, her mind beyond fear or reason. And although some part of her knew what she was doing was wrong and sinful, she could not make herself turn away. Never would she have imagined that she could find a man beautiful. Yet beautiful he was.
Time was measured in heartbeats as she stood, watched.
And then it happened. She could not say when, but suddenly she became aware that he was looking straight at her.
Even at this distance, they pierced her.
She felt naked. And although she knew she should turn away, apologize, leave him in peace, she continued to stare. Against her will, her gaze dropped from his bonny face to his broad chest, with its sprinkling of dark hair and wine-dark nipples tight from the chilly water. Then, as if by some deviltry, her gaze was drawn down along the trail of hair to his rippled belly and then, further still, to his sex.
She felt her womb lurch.
Bereft of thought, of breath, she stared at what she had never seen before. To her eyes, he seemed huge, his shaft thick and heavy, his stones full and nestled in dark curls.
Heat and heaviness seemed to spread through her belly, a new sensation and more than a little frightening. She meant to look away, tried to look away, but his raw maleness enticed her, called to her.
And some unknown part of her answered.