Good morning and welcome to week three of “What was I thinking?” In weeks one and two I shared my thoughts on scenes from Man Law and A Just Deception. This week, it’s Michael and Roxann’s turn with Risking Trust.
In this book, Michael Taylor walked out on Roxann Thorgesson twelve years ago without an explanation. Now he’s come back into her life and needs her help. His estranged wife has been murdered, he is the prime suspect and Roxann owns a newspaper large enough to help him clear his name.
During content edits for this book, my editor asked me to increase the romantic tension and awareness between Michael and Roxann. She wanted me to dig into what these two people had once meant to each other and how that would help them rekindle their relationship. They’d shared a ferocious love that was now only a memory, and I needed to convey the depth of that love. I wanted to show the stages of their relationship from twelve years ago without killing the pacing of the story. It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced during the revision process. Reunion stories are tough! :) I found the best way to accomplish the task was to add a couple of flashbacks from both Michael and Roxann’s point of view.
The following scene was not in the original manuscript, but I wanted readers to experience Michael’s state of mind (twelve years earlier) the first time he met Roxann. In this scene, Michael is in his office discussing Roxann with his partner (and closest friend) and he thinks back on the first time he saw the woman who would become the love of his life.
Still, the legs got him every time. The first time he’d spotted them, he’d been twenty-seven years old, sitting on a folding chair in the miniscule backyard of a friend of a friend at a fourth of July party he hadn’t wanted to go to. Four weeks fresh out of the army, he’d been dealing with undiagnosed PTSD that left him exhausted and supremely strung-out. Between the lack of sleep and the nightmares, when he did manage rest, he hadn’t had a lot firing in the mental agility category.
But he’d gone to that party because he felt like crap and needed to get laid. A piss poor motivating factor, but the physical release would clear his mind.
On that summer night, the sky was clear, the air cooler than normal and filled with a mix of music and chattering voices from the crowd packed into the tiny backyard. He sat alone nursing his beer when the long-legged blonde entered the yard. She wore khaki shorts and a sweater tank top that clung to her lean form. Her long hair, streaked with sun-drenched highlights, fell loose around her face and she tossed one side over her shoulder, exposing a softly sculpted cheek that he immediately wanted to run his fingers over.
Michael breathed in. She’s the one. What that meant, he wasn’t sure and didn’t necessarily care. He knew he had to have her.
A group of people huddled in front of him, blocking his view, and he shifted a little. The blonde stepped to the picnic table not ten feet from him and parked her trim ass next to five women.
Thirty minutes later he still sat there, watching and waiting, damn near mesmerized by her. She hadn’t so much as glanced his way, but she hadn’t glanced anyone else’s way either. He couldn’t call her aloof. Not with the way she laughed and yapped with her friends, but she had a quality to her he couldn’t define. Elegant maybe. He didn’t know, but it worked. Hard.
A few people stopped to say hello to him, but his attention stayed on the blonde. If she moved from that group, he’d be on her. No doubt.
The break came when the two women closest to her got up and left. She wasn’t alone, but the three remaining women were deep into their own conversation. Take the shot.
He made his way to her, squeezing through the crowd that had once again gathered in his path. He stepped up to the table and set his beer down. She glanced at the beer, then brought her gaze, a blue-green that nearly stopped his heart, to his face.
“Hi,” she said.
“How do you feel about love at first sight?”
The corner of her mouth quirked. “I’m not sure.”
“Well,” he said, “I’m suddenly a believer.”
She rolled those amazing eyes and laughed at him. For a few seconds, Michael let himself forget about being a miserable bastard and soaked up the sound of her soft laughter.
She gestured to the seat across from her. “It’s too soon to tell, but you can have a seat and maybe I’ll let you know in awhile.”
He dropped onto the bench and she propped her chin in her hand. “As opening lines go, I have to say, that one got my attention.”
He grinned. “It was a maiden voyage. And just so you know who it is that’s fallen in love with you, I’m Michael Taylor.”
“Hi, Michael Taylor, I’m Roxann.”
And damn those blue eyes glittered. So incredibly gorgeous. To Michael’s disappointment, Brian, the guy hosting the party, appeared. “Hey, Rox.”
Roxann-the-beautiful shifted to face him. “Hi, Brian. How are you?”
“Thanks for coming. Haven’t seen you since you got back from the Olympics.”
“You went to the Olympics?” Michael asked.
Brian snorted. “She was in the Olympics. Won a gold in the four-hundred relay. You grabbed a silver too, right?”
She smiled and the glow could have lit the darkened yard. “Yep. In the two-hundred.”
Beautiful, athletic and a competitor. God help him. Fried already and he hadn’t laid a hand on her.
Someone called Brian away—thank you—and he high-tailed it.
“The Olympics. That’s amazing. Do you still compete?”
She twisted her lips. “For fun. Now I have a big girl job.”
“What do you do?”
“I work at the Banner-Herald”
To Michael, who was working a laborer job while he figured out how to use the skills acquired as an Army Ranger, the newspaper gig sounded pretty cool. “Are you a reporter?”
“What do you do?”
“Whatever my father tells me to.”
“Your dad is your boss?”
She laughed. “My dad is everyone’s boss. He owns the paper.”
Michael’s euphoric high plummeted. Gone. That fast. This girl was so far above him he might as well quit now. If that didn’t suck the mother lode he wasn’t sure what did. He laughed his derision, slapped his hands on the table and stood. “Enough said. I’m leaving. I’m glad we met though.”
He started to turn away, but she grabbed his arm. “This from the man who just proclaimed his love?”
Could he possibly have a shot with this girl? “Honey, I’m a kid from the neighborhood. You’re so far out of my league I’ve got no business being on your planet.”
“Why do you get to decide I’m out of your league? I’ll make my own decision. Why not stay and see what happens?”
It made enough sense that he sat again and spent the next two hours hearing about the Olympics, her doubling up on classes to graduate on time and taking the job at the newspaper. When the party began to fizzle, he and Roxann moved to a 24-hour coffee shop two blocks away where they talked until six in the morning.
He finally walked her to her apartment and, as much as he wanted to, didn’t try to worm his way in. After all night together, he’d hoped he’d get his shot another time. A fast lay wouldn’t suit. That he could get anywhere. He’d wait it out. The beautiful Roxann Thorgesson was not a girl to disrespect. On any level.
RU Crew, thanks for stopping by!
Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women’s fiction. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. For more information on Adrienne’s Private Protectors series please visit http://www.adriennegiordano.com/. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano.
- Part One: What was I thinking? by Adrienne Giordano
- Part Two: What was I thinking? by Adrienne Giordano
- A Case For Story Structure by Adrienne Giordano
- Can I Get A Moment?
- One Man’s Story of Giving Back (to the world)