Books, Writing

What I’m Up To

Just wanted to drop a little FYI that I’m deep into the first edits for Pride & Pancakes.

And what better way then with another tiny sneak peek of my grumpy musician and reporter trapped in a cabin together getting surprisingly cozy?

Tristan sat forward. “Do you know how to play?”

“No.” She shook her head. “Nothing.”

“What?” That shocked the musician. “Nothing? You can’t play any instrument?”

Struggling to keep her tone from turning cold, Beth said, “Contrary to the prevailing image, we aren’t all born with a violin in hand.”

“I…” He blushed bright red across his cheeks, Tristan fading at her tongue lashing. “I only meant because I grew up, where I grew up, everyone…” He faded to a mumbling with no easy answer to being called out. At least he didn’t jump to ‘Are you also good at math?’

With the tension rising in the room, Beth returned to her writing. She was about to dive deep into her father’s early years when Tristan asked plaintively, “Do you want to learn?”

A music lesson with Tristan Harty?

God, that sounded like some contest you could win by sending in enough box tops or magazine subscriptions. Sapphire eyes sized her up as he extended the cherrywood guitar towards her. Beth tried to pull in a breath. Fifteen years ago, girls would have ripped each other to shreds to be in her position. To jockey for his flitting attention, to dream that he’d sing a song just for her, that he’d fall head over heels and the two would go to the prom together.

Thirty, and well aware of her lagging talents, Beth’s mouth ran dry at the thought of playing around him. “I’m not sure if…Okay?” The small part of her that sensed a potential lede in this reached out; the rest was panicking. She was going to make an epic fool of herself in front of him.

Why did she care?

Passing the guitar to her, she folded her palm over the neck, the strings digging into her flesh. “Ah, that’s not how to hold it,” Tristan instructed, quickly flipping it around in her lap. Warm wood cuddled around her thigh, Beth getting a feel for the alien instrument entrusted to her. It was heavier than she expected and almost too large for her size.

“Feel good?” the musician asked.

No. She nodded, trying to act as if the foreign muscle pulls and arm movements were completely normal. “Is…is this a special guitar?”

“Why?” The hands that’d been situating the guitar just right fell back as Tristan leaned away.

“What if I…I could break it?” she squeaked out and a laugh of pure joy erupted from the stalwart man.

“As long as you don’t channel Pete Townshend, I think it’ll be okay. Start by pressing your finger here.” He pointed to a spot on one of the neck strings. “And here.”

Gently, she graced her fingers over the hard strings, struggling to reach with her pampered ring finger.

“Now, strum with…I don’t have a pick but if you scrape down the side of your thumb that should work.”

Scraping her skin over strings? Sounded pleasant. Her eyes darting to the fingers hovering above hers, Beth wondered if he’d developed calluses over his thumbs. What would those feel like rubbed against intimate skin?

Why am I thinking that?

With a gulp and a prayer, she swung her thumb across the two strings her pointed to. An ungodly whine, as if she was slaughtering its entire village, broke from the guitar. Beth’s face cringed inward, but Tristan seemed unsurprised. “You have to press tighter with your fingers up here. Really tight. Don’t worry, you can’t strangle it.”

“What if I snap it in half?” she gulped even while doing as told.

“We check you for superpowers?” was his less than useful response. “Trust me.”