This is the original opening scene of my first published novel, which I called Princess of Bosque Bend and my publisher renamed What the heart Wants.
Laurel held the long rope of pearls up to the light shining in her bedroom window and wondered how much she could get for it at her favorite out-of-town pawnshop. Maybe enough to pay the bills for the next couple of months, if she was lucky.
The doorbell chimed from downstairs.
Who was it? Prince Charming magically appearing to rescue her from Bosque Bend?
Her shoulders slumped. She didn’t believe in happy endings any more. Dropping the glowing beads back into their padded box, she stood up from her dressing table.
More likely the paper boy come collecting, though it didn’t seem time for him yet. Obnoxious twerp—always peering behind her into the hall as she handed him the money, then running as if all the demons in hell were after him.
Immediately her overactive conscience charged into action. Of course, the paperboy was afraid. Who could blame him? The house was probably notorious by now.
If only she could mail in her payment, like when she used to take the Dallas Morning News, but this was Bosque Bend, barely fifteen thousand strong, and old ways died hard. Mr. Sawyer, the game old codger who put out the Bosque Bend Retriever, the town’s bi-weekly newspaper, had never met an innovation he didn’t dislike.
She walked out into the hall and started down the wide stairway. Think positive, Laurel Elizabeth. Maybe the person at the door was a prospective buyer the realtor had sent over, but, darn, someone should have phoned her first so she could’ve changed out of her slacks into a nice dress.
Good grief, she was channeling Mama! And even Mama had finally accepted women wearing slacks.
The doorbell pealed a second time, as if urging her to hurry, but Laurel refused to alter her pace. She might not have anything else left, but she did have her dignity. Three generations of family portraits on the staircase wall watched in solemn approval as she regally descended the steps. As a child, she used to cringe from their see-all stares, but now she drew strength from them. They were her heritage. She might have to sell the house out from under them, but she wouldn’t disgrace them like her parents had.
Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders before opening the big wooden door a few inches and peering around it. With what she’d been through the past two years, caution was the name of the game.
The man on the other side of the screen was tall and intimidating, a giant figure darkly silhouetted against the red blaze of the summer sunset. Definitely not Prince Charming--more like The Hulk.
Laurel Harlow?" Laurel
She pushed the wooden door open wider and the hulk moved forward to examine her through the wire mesh. Confused, she retreated a step. The voice was familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it.
He smiled, a slight baring of his teeth, and took off his sunglasses.
"It's Jase Redlander, from old Bosque Bend High."
Her heart skipped a beat. Jase Redlander! Of course. His voice was deeper now, his shoulders broader, and he seemed even taller, but it was definitely Jase.
Jase, whom she’d loved to distraction. Jase whom she’d thought she’d never see again. Jase, who sixteen years ago had been run out of town for having sex with his English teacher.
"Sorry to bother you, but I just drove in from Dallas and I’ve got sort of a--well, a family emergency that I think might end up on your doorstep." He glanced behind himself at the noisy traffic moving up and down Austin Avenue and grimaced. "Could we talk inside?"