Wonder Boi Writes

The Long Way Home – Excerpt

It’s out!  The Long Way Home is now available for download at www.boldstrokesbooks.com and from fine bookstores everywhere.  It’s been available for only three days, but I’m already getting some really awesome feedback from folks, which of course makes all the hard work feel worthwhile.  Those first few days after a release are agonizing as you wait to see if anyone out there saw what you saw in these characters and their story, and I’m finally starting to breathe again as I hear from readers who really get it.  Y’all are awesome.

For those of you who still haven’t gotten the book yet, what more can I do to entice you?  The little peek last week wasn’t enough to pique your interest?  Well how about this?  How about I give you the rest of the first chapter.  Will that do it for you?  It had better because this is all you’ll get.

Picking up from last week’s blog. . .

Beth read a list of the Bramble College journal subscriptions, trying to decide which of them needed to be renewed in print and which should be bundled together through online services. She’d already spent too much time on the detail-laden task. Though she was good at the minutiae that were part of a librarian’s job, today she kept thinking about all the things she’d rather do.

The students would be back on campus this weekend, and classes would start Monday. She’d give tours of the library to all incoming freshmen as part of their introduction to composition classes. Then general use of the library would increase sharply over the next two weeks as due dates for assignments and papers invariably snuck up on students who were rusty from their summer vacations. Beth enjoyed interacting with her students and connecting them to information that would help them grow, change, and see the world in new and exciting ways. However, in order to focus on the things she loved about her job when the students arrived, she needed to finish her administrative work now.

The buzzer on the library’s front door interrupted her. She fell prey to a convenient distraction again and went to see who was at the door. When she turned the corner from her office to the small lobby and nearly bumped into Rory St. James, her stomach flip-flopped.

It was clearly Rory. She hadn’t changed much since the last time Beth saw her. Her chestnut brown hair was shorter, and she’d filled out into her medium build, but her essence was the same.

She stood confidently, one hand shoved casually into the pocket of her cargo khakis, her eyes hidden behind a pair of square-lens sunglasses. When she saw Beth, a rakish grin of recognition broke across her face and caused her disarming dimples to appear at either corner of her mouth. For a moment Beth couldn’t think of a thing to say. Thankfully, Flores never had that problem.

“Raine, this is our librarian and the head of our personnel committee—”

“Little Beth Devoroux?” Rory removed her sunglasses, revealing her emerald green eyes. “I hardly recognized you. Wow, time has been good to you.”

Beth’s face flushed at both Rory’s characterization of her as “little Beth” and her compliment. Even though the last decade had certainly not all been good, she was glad the strain wasn’t evident. Rory’s appreciative gaze made her feel like she was in high school again.

“Hi, Rory.” The words left her mouth before Beth could catch them.

Raine winced, and her smile twisted into a grimace. “No one’s called me Rory in ten years.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. I realize you go by Raine now.” Beth mentally kicked herself for botching the reintroduction. This really was like high school.

“You two know each other?” Flores asked, then answered her own question. “Of course you do. You both grew up here. I always forget that you’re a townie, Beth. Why don’t I leave you to get reacquainted, then you can show Raine to her apartment?”

Beth didn’t have time to explain that they hadn’t known each other all that well or that Raine really wasn’t a townie, the term people at the college used for life-long Darlington residents.

Before Beth could say anything, Flores was out the door, leaving an awkward silence.

“She’s a bit of a whirlwind,” Rory finally said.

Beth smiled both in humor and relief. “Yeah, she’s always on the go.”

“I know the type.”

Was Rory alluding to a friend, a colleague, a lover? It was best not to pursue that line of thought, so Beth said, “I bet you’re exhausted from your drive. Why don’t I show you where you’ll be living?”

Beth led the way out of the library and onto the quad. “We’ve had one of the dorms converted into apartments for students with families and our around-the-clock security staff. It’s not fancy, but it’s quiet and convenient when the weather turns bad.”

“And it’s free,” Rory deadpanned.

“Yes, there’s always that,” Beth responded carefully. While part of her had hoped Rory was here out of some desire to reconnect with her roots, deep down she knew she was being naive. Still, she was a little disappointed that Rory had come home only out of necessity.

They walked across the small quad toward Weaver Hall, another brick building, several stories tall. “So, little Beth never left home.” It sounded more like a statement than a question.

“I went away to college for a while before I transferred to Bramble and finished here.” Beth didn’t go into any more details since Rory didn’t seem interested. They entered the apartment complex, and Beth waved to several of the employees.

“You always were such a good girl,” Rory teased, but Beth could sense condescension. “I bet your daddy’s so proud of you he can hardly contain himself.”

A sharp pain pierced Beth’s chest and she stopped. She hadn’t felt that once-familiar sensation in a long time. It rarely crept up on her anymore.

“What is it?” Rory’s cocky demeanor faltered as she obviously read the hurt on Beth’s face.

“My parents died in a car accident eight years go,” Beth stated as evenly as she could. She hadn’t had to tell anyone that for ages. Everyone she was around knew her family and their history.

“Beth, I’m so sorry,” Rory whispered, and placed a hand on her shoulder. The touch comforted and warmed Beth, and the concern in Rory’s emerald eyes made her stomach tighten. The pain once again faded.

“Thank you. Your room is here on the right.” She fished the key from her pocket and handed it to Rory, who opened the door. “It’s not big but—”

“It’s free,” Rory stated again. She made no move to invite Beth in.

“There’s a parking pass in your mailbox in the lobby and a laundry room in the basement. If you need anything, dial zero for the campus directory and ask for me.”

“I’m sure I’ll figure it out.” Rory had clearly dismissed her.

“I’ve been on my own for a long time now.”

“All right, I’ll leave you to it.” Beth turned to go. Was Rory watching her walk away? Probably not. She seemed too absorbed in her own demons to pay attention to anyone else right now.

“Hey, Beth,” Rory called after her.

“Yes?” She turned around get one last look at the striking woman in the doorway. She was strong and proud and every bit as stunning as she’d been ten years ago. Seeing her like that, Beth could almost convince herself that no time had passed at all. “I really am sorry about your folks,” she said sincerely.

“Thank you,” Beth said, then pivoted before her tears fell, the illusion of timelessness broken. It wasn’t ten years ago. She wasn’t care free and innocent anymore, and neither was the woman behind her. The ache in her heart reminded her of all they’d both been through. Having the past surface so unexpectedly jarred and disconcerted her. Beth rarely had to confront the loss of her family anymore. Her students didn’t usually ask personal questions, and outside of them, Beth seldom met anyone new.

Then again, Rory wasn’t new. Beth had known Rory for eighteen years. She’d known her number on the softball team, twelve; her favorite drink, Coke cold but no ice; and her favorite music, John Cougar Mellencamp. But the woman she’d just seen wasn’t Rory. Rory was easy-going, warm, gracious. Rory would’ve hugged her hello. Rory would’ve invited her in to get reacquainted. Rory would’ve known her parents were dead. Rory didn’t exist anymore. The woman who’d come to Darlington, Illinois was Raine, and Raine was a new story entirely.

……..

There you have it folks, the first chapter of The Long Way Home, just for you.  I’ve done my best to get you as excited about this book as I am. Now the rest is up to you.

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September 3, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. […] Spangler posted another excerpt from her book The Long Way Home, meaning you can now read the whole first chapter at her […]

    Pingback by Weekly Link Round Up « The Lesbrary | September 8, 2010 | Reply


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