Monday, February 22, 2010

Welcome, Barbara Hodges

Love, one of Webster's definitions is (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (2): attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests b: an assurance of love

My favorite quote about love comes from Jeremy Taylor. "Friendship set on fire."

That's how love entered my life thirty-eight years ago. And when that first flame turns into an ember, the friendship still remains.

My local writers group, The Santa Maria California Word Wizards have a valentine anthology out with Desert Breeze Publishing. Scattered Hearts is dedicated to love, but not only romantic love. Reading these stories and poems by thirteen different authors showed me the many faucets of the emotion.

One story is about a Viet Nam pilot whose connection to love and home is pink, baby bottles with red hearts drawn on them.

Another is a boy's surprising choice for birthday party guests, and still another is the reaction to a grown child's love letter to her parents.

When I was in my early teens I devoured romance novels and dreamed what it would be like when I feel in love...was swept into a man's arms, and carried upstairs, much like Rhett and Scarlet in Gone With The Wind. Smile. I didn't hold it against my husband when our reality wasn't quite as theatrical.

My love-life hasn't been a romance novel, more like a roller coaster ride, and I would buy the ticket again. But that's my take on romantic love. What's yours?

In, A Spiral of Echoes, the paranormal romance that Maggie Pucillo and I wrote together, our main character Isabelle, is burned by an mentally abusive husband. When he dies, she swears she will never allow love into her heart again. Of course the story deals with that being proved a lie. Maggie and I just signed a contract with Chalet Publishers for A Spiral of Echoes and we are looking forward to seeing it in publication. Here is a short excerpt where Isabelle and Cristiano meet for the first time.

Isabelle stopped before the center island. “Would you like something to drink? A beer? Glass of wine?”

“Water will be fine.” He touched a tile on the island with his finger tip. “Very beautiful. Sol y Luna design, is it not?”

She looked down at the dark blue tile with its depicted half moon and half sun. “Yes.”

“In my mother’s house she has some of the same tile. Not on as large an area, of course.”

She opened the refrigerator and pulled out a pitcher and poured him a tall glass. “Ice?”

“No, it is fine.” He reached for it and their hands touched. Her eyes opened wide at the instant charge arcing between them. It was as if she touched metal after shuffling across a nylon rug. Their gazes locked. His lips parted and he licked his lips. Isabelle felt a groan begin in her stomach. God. I want him. Right now, on the tiles or on the floor, maybe both.

A disgusted yowl filled the air, followed by a length of blonde fur that landed at Isabelle’s feet.

The connection broken, she released the glass and stepped back. She hadn’t even thought about Longie who would of course been in his favorite sunny spot below the kitchen window. Her feline baby did not respond well to being ignored. “My cat, Longfellow,” she said in a rush.

“Senor Longfellow,” he said, but this time he did not kneel. Instead he waited while the cat stared at him with golden, baleful eyes. Longfellow glided forward and rubbed his body against the man’s legs.

“Well you’ve certainly been honored,” Isabelle said. “Longie doesn’t take much to anybody.”

“Gatos must be given the time and space to come to their own conclusions,” he said and turned to stare at the floor to ceiling windows that flanked the door. “You do not find the area is more difficult to keep cool with all of the glass?”

“My late husband saw it in a magazine and thought it was classy.” Her tone came out acerbic and she saw him raise an eyebrow. “The double-paned glass helps keep things cool." She watched him sweep a glance over the rest of the open floor plan.

“Very comfortable I am sure. It is not often we see a fireplace here in Baja. There isn’t a lot of wood to burn.”

She looked at him sharply. Had that been a mocking undertone she heard? His dark eyes stared back at her in angelic innocence. “How many pesos do you think is fair for the time I’ve kept you from your work?”

“One-hundred,” came the instant reply

She did a quick calculation. The amount was less than ten dollars American. “Are you sure?”

“It will do me fine, senorita.”

“Oh, okay. Then I'll be right back.” She turned and walked from the room, feeling his eyes warm her as she moved away.

In her bedroom she stared at her face in the mirror. Her cheeks were flushed, her hair, now dry, wild and wind-tossed about her face. She looked like a women who had just been made love to. The thought made her legs quiver. “He’s turned me to jelly. I never felt like this with Donald, never. What would it be like to kiss him?” Her reflection frowned. “No way. Don't you go there. This is my escape from all of that. I don’t need any local romantic entanglements to mess things up.” She smoothed her hair and gripping the pesos walked back toward the kitchen.

The man wasn’t there and her heart did a queer little jump. Then his voice came from the living area. He sat upon the chocolate-leather couch, Sammi-Sue at his feet, Longfellow curled upon his lap. He idly scratched the cat’s ear and hummed softly. A smile tugged at her lips, and then instant panic erased it. Whoa. No. No. No. Times like these fooled you, and before you knew it you were locked in a velvet prison. “Senor,” she said, sharper then she’d intended. “I have your pesos.” She thrust out her hand toward him.

His eyes narrowed before he sat Longfellow aside and stood. “Of course, Senorita.” His voice was cool and remote. “I apologize if I have over-stepped by coming deeper into your life.”

She forced a smile. “I just don’t want to keep you any longer.”

He walked toward her and she stepped back. In front of her he stopped. “I understand quite well. Will you see me to the door?” A mocking smile followed the words.

She felt a rush of anger as she realized what he thought. It wasn’t like that. She wasn’t afraid of him stealing something, but before she could answer Sammi-Sue came between them and butted his hand for a pet.

“Adios Senorita Sammi and Senor Longfellow.” Then without a glance toward her he strode from the room.

Isabelle stood, stiff and mute. When the door closed, a whoosh of breath escaped her.

Longie and Sammie stared at her, and she could have sworn disgust radiated from their eyes. “Hey,” she said in defense. “We don’t need that type of complication anymore. Remember what it was like?”

With a swish of his tail, Longfellow stalked away while Sammi-Sue moved to the couch and lay below the spot the man had vacated.

I never did get his name. Isabelle rubbed her upper arms. It’s as if he removed some of the heat from the day. She grimaced. What a thought. She crossed to the side-table and picked up her sketch pad, there was still enough light to work on the design for her next masterpiece.

To seem more of my published books visit my website.

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