Each Saturday, a guest author entertains us here with a first meeting scene – that moment when the sparks start to fly and anything is possible. Today, I welcome fellow Love Historical’s author Sydney Jane Baily who claims to be slightly psychic, at least where color is concerned. This is her fun fact: “If you hold a handful of items of different colors, say crayons or ribbons, and you choose one and concentrate hard on that one color, I can see it (or guess it) with my eyes closed with a fairly high rate of success. Psychic super-heroine? Maybe, but it’s a rather useless super-power in my humble opinion! Unless I am called on to defuse a bomb and need someone to telepathically tell me which color wire to cut.”
Now, let’s move on to some red sparks with an excerpt from Sydney’s Americana romance An Irresistible Temptation.
SETUP OF THE SCENE: In An Irresistible Temptation, heartbroken Sophie Malloy has just disembarked a train from Boston to Spring City, CO. Expecting to be met by her sister-in-law’s friends, she finds herself alone in a small and dusty western town. Not one to sit around waiting, she drags her trunk while carrying her carpet bag along the town’s main thoroughfare.
“Main Street” stated the sign, as she approached the first block of buildings and she paused. It had to be a joke as she saw no other streets at all. But on the horizon were mountains, grand, even awe-inspiring. She shivered despite the heat of the day and the difficult task at hand. She really was on the edge of nowhere.
All the buildings looked similar, with flat fronts and squared off tops, though she could see behind the frontage that the roofs were slanted as any in the east. Some had a second story, with two windows over two, but that was the highest she saw. No wonder her sister-in-law had walked Boston’s streets staring up at the buildings for months after she’d arrived.
Sophie had no idea a town could still look so . . . so primitive in this day and age. She saw no brick at all, only wood, even the sidewalks were wood, raised up a step from street level.
Along the sidewalk was the occasional barrel, a trough, or a hitching post. Wagons were parked and horses pawed at the road that bisected the town before stretching, it seemed, all the way to the mountains in the distance. And, of course, there were people—not a lot, but some sitting on benches in front of stores, some standing in doorways. And every one of them turned to look at Sophie.
She knew what she needed to find, either Fuller’s Hotel and Restaurant or Doc Cuthins’ surgery. She had to locate the people whom Charlotte considered friends and whom Sophie could ask for help. She dragged her trunk a few more yards, wishing she could set it down and walk briskly along unhampered, but she feared everything she’d brought would disappear in the blink of an eye.
With almost all the strength gone in her arms, she was attempting to heave the trunk up onto the sidewalk, perching one end on the wooden planks, when someone collided with her from the rear.
“Oomph,” she expelled all the air from her lungs as her stomach caught on the tilted edge of her trunk, then she slid slowly down the length of it back onto the dirt road, head and hands first. For a dreadful moment, she sprawled there, knowing her dress was up at her waist and her drawers, lavender-colored and lacy, were on view.
“Damn,” she heard before she could right herself. The man’s sentiment echoed what was in her head, though she was too much of a lady to voice it. And then, “Oh, Jesus, ma’am” as strong arms lifted her off the ground.
Sophie was not one to take offense, though she was getting sorely tired. Anything she was about to say, however, died on her lips at the spectacle of the man who now had hold of her.
To compose herself, she looked down to see what had happened to her things—her carpet bag was upended in the street—then she looked back to the man’s mud-splattered boots, up his worn, fitting blue jeans, and to what had once been a pale blue shirt now covered in grime.
Her gaze traveled higher to his equally grubby but ridiculously handsome face that had stopped her cold for a moment, with his burnished brown eyes, dark eye lashes, and inviting mouth that curved as though it tended to smile often.
He tipped his black brim to her, with a quick tap of his hand.
“Ma’am,” he said and gave her a brief smile that showed a dimple in his right cheek, his teeth looking all the whiter for appearing in the midst of his dirty face. Dirty and devastatingly attractive—a combination she hadn’t experienced before.
He was tall, clearly, for she had to look up to him, despite her own uncommon height, at least for a woman. And she realized he was still holding her arm with one hand, a strong capable hand. She felt his warmth right through the fabric of her dress and her mantle.
Letting herself feel his fingers gripping her for a moment more, she then shook him off by taking one step back.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
Sophie looked at her hands, stretching them in front of her and wriggling her fingers. Everything seemed fine except for her white gloves being torn and filthy.
“I’m fine,” she said at last, seeing as he was watching her careful examination. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
“Me neither,” he offered. “I was talking to Dan and walking out of Drew’s.” He gestured to the feed store. A man standing in the doorway, wearing a heavy apron, chuckled.
“Yup, he was,” Dan confirmed. “Riley, don’t you know better than to leave a store ass first? Unless you’re trying to drum up future business for yourself.”
Riley laughed and looked back at Sophie, who tamped down the inappropriate notion that he had a very sweet, even sexy laugh and that his eyes sparkled wickedly when he was amused.
“Most women would have given me a tongue lashing for knocking them into the street and ruining their gloves.”
“As long as you don’t make a habit of it,” she said, glad that she hadn’t been in Boston, where she would have been run over by a brougham within seconds.
“I’ll try not to.” He treated her to a broad grin—a very sensual grin, too, Sophie mused. She must be very tired and lonely to keep having these incorrigible thoughts.
“Can I make it up to you?” he asked.
Without waiting for an answer, he lifted up her traveling trunk as though it weighed nothing and deposited it on the sidewalk in front of the feed store.
She retrieved her carpet bag from the street and stepped up beside him.
END OF EXCERPT
I’m guessing that Riley will make it up to Sophie in more ways than one!
Sydney and I both welcome your questions and comments. Make sure to drop by every Saturday for a new excerpt from a visiting author!