But love your enemies,
do good to them and lend to them
without expecting to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great,
and you will be children of the Most High.
— Luke 6:35
Whew … it’s been a busy week! I am just about done proofing the final galleys for A Love Surrendered, and I gotta tell you that so far I’ve gone through 26 Kleenex, and I still have 50 pages to go!! So it seems that true to my initial record of 30 Kleenex on the first edits of this book, I should come pretty close on this final edit too. Now, I certainly don’t think any of my readers will go through that many Kleenex because let’s face it—I’m a water spigot when it comes to emotions, but … so help me, if you all don’t cry or tear up at least once in this book, I will throw in the towel as a writer … and it will be soaked, trust me! 🙂
Well, my husband finished A Light in the Window yesterday, and I’m happy to say he LOVED it!! Told me it had the same effect on him that A Passion Most Pure had, and I said, “sure babe, whatever you say,” thinking he just loves me and that’s why he liked it so much. Imagine my surprise (no, total shock) when I get a call from my agent, telling me that she was up late the night before reading the prequel because she couldn’t put it down—the same thing that happened to her on A Passion Most Pure. To say I was stunned is an understatement. I mean, yes, I love this story, but I certainly didn’t think it was the best thing I’d written so far like my husband said nor had the “power” quality to it that A Passion Most Pure did like my husband and agent both implied. So … needless to say, I am pretty darn excited about this book and am hoping to release it as a Christmas e-book this September. And those of you who do not have e-readers? Don’t worry—I will be having several contests where you can win a hard-copy ms. of the book, okay?
Now, in last week’s Journal Jot, I talked about “the flip side” of the coin—how whatever annoys or bothers us in those we love usually has a “flip side” associated with something we LOVE in that person. But the idea of the “flip side” can also be found in abundance in the Bible, such as our Scripture above that talks about doing something that is the total opposite—or the “flip side” of what we want to do. Let’s face it, nobody wants to love their enemies and do good to them, and yet that is exactly what God calls us to do.
Well, last week I promised you part of the first scene of my 9th book, book 2 in the Heart of San Francisco series, working title Dare to Love, where the “flip side” comes into play in a big way. Not only do the negative habits of both the hero and heroine clash from page one, but it’s those very traits that draw them together in the end as well. Especially when our heroine plays the “flip side” of the coin in her behavior with the hero by “loving her enemy” and “doing good by him.”
So, without further ado, here is most of the very first scene when a grouchy Italian police detective bumps heads with my spunky Irish-tempered heroine. Happy reading and HAPPY WEEKEND!!
RARE GIVEAWAY!!! June 25-29, 2012: Join me at the “Overcoming Through Time — With God’s Help” blog to celebrate a week of reviews on my books and win your choice of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Love Surrendered. Here’s the link:
BOOK 2 IN “THE HEART OF SAN FRANCISCO” SERIES:
DARE TO DREAM (working title)
San Francisco, August 1903
“Uh, I think you took a wrong turn, lady—high tea is at The Palace.”
Allison McClare glanced up with a straight pin lodged in her teeth, blinking at a tall, disgruntled stranger cocked in the door of her empty classroom who might have been attractive if not for the scowl on his face. An unruly strand of dark hair, almost black—like his mood—toppled over his forehead, as if in defiance of the slicked-back style of the day, peeking out beneath a strawboater he obviously felt no courtesy to remove. He hiked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the front door, his gruff voice a near snarl as he glared through gray-green eyes that seemed to darken by the moment, the color of stormy seas. “I assume that’s your fancy car and driver out front? Well you need to move it to the back of the building pronto, lady, whether you’re here to teach or just out slumming with the poor folks.”
The straight pin in her teeth dropped to the floor along with her jaw. She gaped, hardly able to comprehend the rudeness of this Neanderthal who would be better attired in a bearskin and club than the charcoal suit coat draped over his shoulder. Rolled sleeves of what might have been a crisp white shirt at one time revealed muscled forearms thick with dark hair like the brainless caveman he appeared to be. His fashionable silk vest hung open, sloppy and unbuttoned. Like his mouth. A late-afternoon beard shadowed his hard-angled jaw, lending an ominous air to a man who possessed less charm than found on the head of her pin. And a head just as pointed, no doubt. Her eyes narrowed to take in a high starched collar with an off-center four-in-hand tie as if he had loosened it in protest to fashionable attire he considered a noose ‘round his neck. Alli’s lips squirmed. Like the one she was envisioning right now …
He squinted as if she were the intruder instead of him, daring to invade his cave. “What, cat got your tongue?”
Yes, you pinhead … a polecat. She glared right back in silence, figuring if she waited long enough, his face would crack … something she’d pay good money to see. She almost wished she had listened to Mother and not attempted to ready her classroom on a Saturday when no one else was here. Her gaze flicked to the clock on the wall that indicated her elderly driver Hadley was more than on time to take her home. And not a moment too soon, she thought with a purse of her lips, if her encounter with this halfwit was any indication.
Her silence apparently ruffled his fur because his eyes narrowed, if possible, even more than before as he blasted out a noisy exhale, shaking his head as if she were the one with a pea for a brain. “Great—a rich dame as dumb as she is lost,” he muttered under his breath, and every word his insolence had stolen from her lips suddenly marched to the tip of her tongue to do battle.
“Pardon me, Mr. Personality,” she said in a clipped tone that suggested he’d just crawled out from under a rock, but the one who is lost here, you cave dweller, is you, so I suggest you lumber back to whatever cavern you climbed out of and search for the manners you obviously left behind.” In a royal swoop befitting the new drama teacher of the Hand of Hope School for Girls, she snatched the dropped pin from the floor with a swish of pink taffeta, jabbing it into the bulletin board as if it were the backside of a certain unsavory baboon. Before the baboon could speak—or grunt—she whirled around with a flourish, satisfied to see a sagging jaw that likely resembled the mouth of his cave. She’d obviously rendered the beast dumb. Good—a perfect match for his brain.
“And for your information, sir, I am the new English and Drama teacher for the Hand of Hope School for Girls, so I hardly need some surly wiseacre telling me I took a wrong turn. Because trust me, mister …” Lips pursed, she did a painfully slow perusal from the tip of his pointed head miles down to laced oxford shoes that were surprisingly well polished. Her gaze sailed back up past a lean body with muscled arms and massive shoulders to settle on an annoyingly handsome face. “If I needed a compass, I’d buy one.”
The grouch caught her totally off-guard when the sullen slant of his mouth twitched with a hint of a smile, joining forces with a shuttered look that fluttered her stomach. “I don’t care if you teach angels to fly in the wild blue yonder, lady,” he said with a flip of a badge from his pocket, this is my beat, and you can’t park your fancy car out front. It’s an annoyance.”
Yes, I know the feeling. She jutted her chin. “You don’t look like a police officer,” she challenged, eyes narrowing at the dark sack suit he wore that appeared of high quality even if it was as disheveled as his hair.
He exhaled with a slack of his hip. “Yeah? Well I’m not real fond of the uniform, okay?” His eyes narrowed right along with hers before he huffed out another sigh. “Look, lady, I’m off duty, all right? And if we’re going to get down to brass tacks here …” He gave her a half-mast look that deliberately meandered from the diamond-studded tortoise-shell combs in her upswept hair, down the bodice of her Chanel shirtwaist, to her Italian kidskin shoes peeking beneath the hem of her expensive Worth and Bobergh skirt. He angled a dark brow. “I’m afraid you don’t look very much like a school teacher either.”
If there was one thing she disliked more than a drafty classroom in an abandoned building in the wrong part of town, it was an obnoxious police officer scowling in that same drafty classroom as if she’d just committed a crime. Which, given the snide look on his handsome face, she was sorely tempted to do … She folded her arms. “Well, then, if you are ‘off duty,’ officer,” she said with a thrust of her jaw, “I fail to see what business it is of yours just where my driver parks our car.”
She stumbled back with a tiny squeak when he yanked his coat off his shoulder and barreled forward, the mere threat of his presence butting her to the bulletin board while he loomed over her like Attila the Hun. “Look, lady,” he said in a tone that brooked no argument, “I’m just looking out for your best interest here.” He stabbed a finger toward the front of the building while he glared, the heat in his eyes going head-to-head with the heat in her cheeks. “This is the bloomin’ Barbary Coast, not a tea party on Nob Hill. The presence of a pretty debutante in a fancy car and diamond combs is nothing more than an engraved invitation to trouble in a district where I’m working my tail off to keep crime down.”
She blinked. Pretty?
He gouged the bridge of his nose with blunt fingers, venting with a blast of air that smelled faintly of animal crackers. “All right, okay,” he said in a civil tone that sounded forced. A hint of contrition laced his words as he held out a ridiculously large hand pert near the size of a baseball glove. “Maybe we need to start over. My name is Detective Nick Barone of the 14th Precinct and you are—?”
Allison stared at his hand, then peered up at his chiseled face, the man so blasted tall, it put a crick in her neck. Up close he was larger than life, older and more intimidating than before, the gray-green eyes such a striking color, he might as well hypnotized her with a watch swinging on a chain—she couldn’t blink, breathe or move. Mouth slack, she finally swallowed hard, the scent of Bay Rum from his shadowed jaw and bold gaze doing funny things to her stomach. She tried to speak, but it was if those incredible eyes had fused the words to her throat. Her apparent stupor actually tipped his full lips into a charming if not cocky smile that sent the warmth in her face straight to the tips of her fingers and toes. She blinked, her sharp tongue utterly mute, insults a whole lot easier when this goliath was a half room away.
His smile eased into a lazy grin as he slacked a hip, the little-boy twinkle in his eye telling her this was a man who knew his way around women. “Now, I know you can talk, ma’am, because you shot enough barbs to qualify me as part of the cactus family, Miss—”
“Mc—” She coughed, clearing the knot of awkwardness from her throat as she tentatively placed her hand in his. “McClare—Allison McClare.”
He hiked a thick brow. “The McClares of Nob Hill—as in Logan McClare?”
“My uncle,” she said with a tremulous smile, wondering how a caveman could go from heating her temper to heating her skin within four powerful strides and a smile that could thaw ice.
He responded with a sharp rasp of air through clenched teeth while the temperature dropped along with her hand when he jerked away, his smile as stiff as an iceberg during an Antarctica winter. “I see,” he said with a glacial look that broke the spell of his eyes. “A snob hill debutante used to doing whatever you bloomin’ well please.”
Her mouth sagged open before she snapped it shut with a plunk of hands to her hips, lips clamped as thin as her gaze. “Look here, Mr. Ga-roan, when you see a sign out front that says ‘no parking,’ you come see me, all right, and I will make good and sure Hadley parks elsewhere.” Her lips tipped in a smirk. “If you can read.”
“It’s-pronounced-Ba-ron-ee, long ‘e,’” he ground out, planting two massive hands low on tapered trousers and slanting in. The motion parted his open vest to reveal a shoulder holster with gun, stealing a rush of air from her throat. “Look, missy, I don’t have time to be a nursemaid to some spoiled rich kid who doesn’t have the sense God gave a gerbil. If you insist on rubbing your old man’s money into the faces of every sick and starving whore monger, cut-throat or murderer roaming these streets, then be my guest—you deserve everything you get.” He grunted. “I’d like’d to see how long it takes before you hightail it back to your comfy-cozy mansion when a thief absconds with one of those diamond combs.”
Gun or no, Allison stepped in and snapped her head up, contemplating suing the moron for whiplash. “Well, Mr. Ba-lon-ee, long ‘e,’ I’d like to see you ‘long’ gone from my classroom, but we don’t always get what we want, do we?” She jabbed a finger toward the door like a schoolmarm reprimanding a student, her eyes burning more than her cheeks. “So why don’t you take your little gun and your little snide attitude right out that door, mister, because you are seriously putting a cramp in my neck and my day.” She swished her fingers under his nose as it to shoo him away. “Go on, pester somebody who is actually breaking the law, you oversized bully, or I’ll give you something to arrest me for.”
The dimwitted oaf actually stood there and laughed with a fold of his arms. “Is that right? What are you going to do, Miss Mc-High-and-Mighty? Sick your butler on me? That ancient dolt appeared as lost as you when I asked him to pull around back.”
“He’s deaf, you brainless barbarian!” she shouted, his insult to Hadley unleashing her Irish temper. “That’s it.” She stomped to the blackboard to snatch her pointer and smacked it on her desk before waving it at the door. “Out—now!”
“Ahem … excuse me, Miss, but is this hooligan disturbing you?” Her beloved butler and driver Hadley stood straight and staunch at the door, his stoic figure impeccable as always in black tails and tie as he studied Mr. Pinhead with his usual air of calm. “I will be happy to escort this buffoon out of the building if you like,” he said, his silver head tipped in question and tone as starched as his crisp white shirt.
The buffoon laughed again, scratching the back of his neck. “Look, old man, I’d hate to break any of your bones—”
“Oh! Good idea!” Allison said, charging the cretin with the stick in her hand. She stopped two feet away to award Hadley her sweetest smile. “Thank you, Hadley, but that won’t be necessary—I’ll be out momentarily after I dispose of this imbecile.”
“Very good, miss,” The elderly man said with a tight click of heels, allowing an uncharacteristic hint of a scowl at the pinhead before disappearing down the hall.
She poked the pinhead’s chest without mercy. “Out—now!”
“Hey, that smarts!” he said with a laugh that bordered on a growl.
“Oh, as if you’d recognize anything ‘smart,’ you dimwitted moron—out!” She prodded him toward the door without mercy while he fended her off with hands in the air, laughing so hard, she whacked him one good. “You think this is funny, mister? Good—let’s see you laugh when I file a police report for harassment.” She walloped hard him on the shoulder, which immediately wiped the smirk off his face.
“Hey, lady, do that again, and I’ll arrest you for assault on an officer.”
“Assault on a moron, you mean—you’re off duty, remember?”
She clobbered him again, and the thug promptly plucked the pointer from her hand and broke it in half with a loud crack. “Okay, sister, you’ve asked for it—I’m going to report your sassy mouth to the principal of this school.” He tossed the broken stick across the room with a clatter, eyes glinting like jagged quartz.
“Good!” She slapped her hands to her hips once again, arms rigid and shoulders square. “She’s-my-mother, you moron …”
“Well, that explains it,” he said with a grunt. “Another rich dame wasting government grants so she can dabble in charity between high tea and tennis on the lawn.” He stared her down, knuckles clenched white on the jacket in hand. “She’d have to be blood related to hire a smart mouth like you.”
That did it. Eyes blazing, she marched right up and thumped him on the chest. “She didn’t hire me,” she snapped, “I volunteered. She tilted her head, hands back on her hips and voice thick with sarcasm. “Because you see, you big lummox, rather than play lawn tennis or eat bon bons, my mother and I prefer to use our time and money to educate disadvantaged young girls so they don’t grow up to be bullied by pompous blowhards like you.” Chest heaving, she recharged with a harsh inhale, unleashing every bit of fury the dumb ox had provoked in a final blast of air. “And at least I have a mother,” she railed, “and wasn’t hatched under a rock in a cave like you.”
His face paled. “Are you quite through?” he said quietly, a tic flickering in his jaw.
She elevated her chin, body quivering as all energy slowly seeped from her limbs. “No, she whispered, tears sparking her eyes. “Please leave and don’t ever come back …”