I spent some time hanging out on the event page yesterday, talking a bit about my own writing and what I'm working on. While there I mentioned there that I've got half a dozen projects at various stages of progress right now with a contemporary romance as the one that I'm hoping and planning to release this summer - sooner rather than later. And I shared some details specifically about that forerunner.
This contemporary romance blindsided me earlier this year, after all I almost always write with a paranormal or fantasy background, and though I have mentioned the book on my Facebook page, I don't think I've really talked about it here at all. So now that the cat is out of the bag, I'm here today to tell you about it.
HERE IS HOME is at it's heart a second chances story. The story revolves around Annabelle Carlisle and Aidan Hennessey, high school sweethearts that everyone believed would end up married young and together forever. At least, everyone thought that until Annabelle left town, disappearing just days before the couple were to head off to university together. More then a decade later Annabelle returns to her hometown and has to face the man she left behind, the friends she's hidden from, and the family who still don't know why she left, alone, in the first place.
While settling back in to daily life in their picturesque town, rebuilding old friendships and securing her position as the new high school science teacher at her old alma mater, Annabelle continues to hold her secrets and many details of her life from the decade she was away, to herself.
But an accident changes everything and Annabelle is forced to explain why she left years earlier. She's forced to tell her loved ones about the secrets she's been keeping from them and mistakes she's made.
And then all she can do is hope that they will be able to forgive her.
Before I wrapped up my time yesterday at the event I decided to give everybody a sneak peek at the story and ended up sharing a rather long excerpt from the unedited version of the story... For your pleasure (and maybe some input) here it is...
“Hey Belle!” The call came from the house and she jerked around to see Heather coming toward her. “Your phone has been ringing almost non-stop for the last five minutes.” She explained as she tossed the device gently to her from about 6 feet away and Belle fumbled to catch it one handed.
“What?” Annabelle muttered and set her beer between her feet on the ground before examining the screen, scrolling quick through the list of missed calls, messages and texts. Jer. Jer. Mom. Steve. Dad. Mom. Unknown. Unknown. Jer. Jer. Steve. Jer. Jer. Unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown...
“What the hell?” she exclaimed and then nearly dropped the phone when it rang again. Steve, again.
“Hello?” She answered.
“Thank God!” He answered and then rushed on. “I really hope you’re at the house where your car is parked because I couldn’t hold him back anymore and I really can’t deal with a mob of insane teenagers tonight.”
“Annabelle,” he started to say but she quit paying attention when she heard her name again, coming from behind her and in another man’s voice. “Anna.”
“Christ,” she squeaked, jumping up from her seat and turning so quickly she tipped the chair over. Then she froze as she watched Jeremy stalk towards her from the corner of the house.
From the phone she heard, “I guess we found you.” But her attention was focused on the man in front of her. He stopped on the other side of the fallen chair and looked at the phone in her hand, glanced quickly around the fire at the crowd of people, then met her eyes.
“I’ve been trying to get a hold of you all night.” Jeremy informed her in his deep voice.
Annabelle shook her head and swallowed against sudden anxiety. “I left my phone here earlier when we went out. We had dinner and then there was a football game.” She said with a gesture towards the group around the fire.
He pressed his lips together and stared hard at her but she couldn’t tell whether it was frustration or something else. Finally, he reached down and pulled the chair out of his way and stepped closer to her, placing his hands on her arms and holding tight.
“Annabelle,” he said and she vaguely noticed that Steve was now standing a few feet behind him looking at her solemnly.
“What?” she asked through lips that were suddenly going numb.
“There’s been an accident, Anna.” He began to tell her.
“When they couldn’t get a hold of you on your cell phone they called me. I guess you still have my number listed as a secondary contact.” He explained and Annabelle felt the blood rushing away from her head because she knew where she’d listed him as a secondary contact. “When I couldn’t get a hold of you either, Steve and I got on a plane.”
“Where were you?” She asked faintly, dumbly, as if it mattered.
“Boise, Idaho.” Steve answered softly over Jeremy’s shoulder.
She met Jeremy’s eyes and saw the grave expression, the serious set of the planes of his face. Mostly she saw something that she didn’t want to acknowledge, something she knew he wouldn’t let her dodge. And staring in his eyes she began to tremble.
“Anna, its Andrew and Shawn.” He finally said.
“No.” Annabelle whispered.
“They were driving to a football game or something. There were a few cars involved and a semi-truck and trailer. They were both taken to the U of A Hospital, Shawn by ambulance, while Andrew was air-lifted.” The more he said the quieter it got around the fire, as everyone seemed to understand the gravity of the situation. His hands tightened on her arms. “They’re not sure that Andrew will make it Annabelle.”
Her eyelids slid shut, two tears slipping loose and sliding slowly down her face. All she heard was the roaring in her ears and the pounding of her heart. She felt numb and she knew that if he hadn’t been holding her arms she probably would have slipped to the ground in a puddle. The sound of Sarah’s laughter flitted through her mind and then Shawn’s beautiful, innocent face flashed behind her closed eyelids jolting her from the chaos in her head.
“What about Shawn?” Her voice, loud in the silence, sounded strange to her ears. “Jer, what about Shawn?”
When Jeremy hesitated to answer she grabbed on to the front of his sweater and demanded again. “What about Shawn?”
“He’s unconscious.” He finally told her and she sucked in a breath. “The guy I talked to said that they ruled out skull fractures and they didn’t see any bleeds when they did an MRI, but it’s a head injury so they’re being cautious. Beyond that he has a broken arm. They told me it was a clean break about three inches below his wrist.”
“But his head?” She cried and everyone heard the panic building in her tone.
Jeremy shook his head. “They’re cautious but optimistic Anna. That’s what they said. They’re pretty sure he’ll be okay.” Annabelle released a shaky breath and dropped her forehead to his chest. They all waited while she took several deep breaths pulling the shreds of her composure together.
Finally she raised her head and stepped back and out of his hold. “I need to get there.” She announced it resolutely. “I need to be there.” He nodded.
“We charted a flight Annabelle.” Steve told her quietly. “It’ll be about a 30-minute flight from here. The pilot is just waiting for us to get there.”
Belle nodded and knelt down to pick up the phone she’d dropped at some point in the last couple minutes. She took a couple steps away from the fire and then turned back to face her friends and family. They were all standing, all looking at her with pity and compassion in their eyes.
“I have to go.” She said to no one in particular.
“We know.” Kara said and when Annabelle looked close she saw that both Kara and Lindsay had tears in their eyes.
She looked at Aidan and swallowed. “I’m not sure when I’ll be back. I don’t –“
“Go, Bella.” He answered with a nod. “And call if you need anything.”
Annabelle bit back a sob and nodded as she turned and rushed out of the yard with Jeremy and Steve.
*Excerpt from HERE IS HOME by LD Ferris, 2016*
So there you go. I'll be back on the event page this evening, along with authors Tom Fallwell and Selena Rivera between 7PM-11:59PM MST - pop in and join us... It's not to late to join in.
And if you're an author or blogger and would like to join us and do a last minute takeover time tonight please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or PM on my Facebook page... There are still times open and available, just give me a shout!