Tonight was harder, although the word count (3,776) looks good. I wrapped up the last major plot point and moved into the final major sex scene. Yeah, you know how that goes. Plus it’s a punishment scene. I have to get it all right. It’s vulnerable and painful and raw in many ways, so it’s rough going. But I refused to go to bed until I broke the 50K mark.
So I’ll finish this major scene. Then I’ll have the closing image that mirrors the opening scene, probably a couple of hundred words. I already know what it should be. Then 2-3 at most story-within-the story scenes and this puppy is DONE. Those last few story-within-the-story scenes will be a little tricky though. I have THIS plot solid in my head, but I don’t really have the other one figured out. It doesn’t really matter, exactly. It’s the reflection of character that’s important, not the plot itself. But I do need to spend a little time figuring out what makes the most sense.
Then I need to go back and add some detail that came out tonight that will make those other scenes even better.
Less than 10K for sure. Probably more like 5K or so. The end is definitely in sight. It’s a good thing, too because my wrists were really giving me fits today. I had to type quite a bit for work, so I’m starting to get tingles tonight. Not good. I’ll have to do more stretches tomorrow and try to take it a little easier.
Hmm, what to give you for a snippet tonight? In looking back, I guess I’ve made a pretty critical error. You’ve not met the hero yet. Poor Jeb. It’s all Tyrell, Ty, boo-hoo all the time, even though he died 12 years ago. There are things that Jeb has endured that will hopefully make you want to blubber like a baby. He’s one of the most tender, protective men I think I’ve ever written, modeled after the great and totally sexy older Tom Selleck. Le sigh.
Snippet: His introduction.
Driving out to the old Connagher place took Jeb back forty years. Once upon a time, he’d been Virginia Healy’s best friend and accomplice in all her scrapes. When she needed someone to help her with something risky and no doubt stupid, she’d known exactly who to call. Most everybody had expected them to get married. Including him. But he’d been dead wrong.
He’d managed to keep the friendship, though. He’d even asked Tyrell Connagher to stand up for him at his own wedding years later. Jeb and Sharon had moved to California and that should have been the end of his unrequited love affair with his best friend. They were both married. Happily. At least, he tried to be happy. Sharon wasn’t Virginia, but she was a good woman. He cared deeply for her and he put all his effort and will into building a life with her far from Texas.
More than a decade passed before Jeb ever heard from Virginia again, when she’d called to tell him her husband had died. Of course he’d dropped everything right away to comfort his grieving friend. Something for which his now ex-wife had never forgiven him.
Jeb slowed his truck to a crawl. He hadn’t seen Virginia since Ty’s funeral. He hadn’t even called to check on her all these years. He couldn’t because he’d been too busy trying to save his own marriage in California. But it’d been too late. It’d always been too late. It’d only been his own stubbornness that made him try so hard to stay and do the right thing by his wife.
Now here he was nearly sixty years old and starting out all over again. No wife. No family. A rented condo. No job.
Well that wasn’t exactly true. He’d owned his own veterinarian practice for years and had finally sold it in the divorce proceedings. Now he had time to do all the things he’d put off because of work or his marriage, and the only thing he could think about was an old flame who didn’t even know she’d burned in his memory all these years.
As he neared the house, he saw her sitting on the porch in a rocking chair. Virginia Healy Connagher, the legend herself. The years had been kind to her. She looked as good as she had twenty years ago and more. Her dark, wavy hair was pulled back at her ears to fall loose and soft at her shoulders, emphasizing her high, angular cheekbones and the dark fire of her eyes. Sure, there was a little gray sprinkled into that hair and some creases around her eyes and mouth as she smiled a pleased welcome, but she looked damned good.
He parked, but before he got out, he reached over and popped open the dash. The small ring box was still there. In some fashion or another, he’d carried it with him for nigh on forty years.
Calling himself a sentimental fool, he slid out of the truck and walked up toward the porch, smiling back but not saying anything. Not yet. What could he say? What would she want to hear? He planted a boot on the bottom step but just leaned against the railing, sucking in her presence. Even injured and fresh out of a hospital bed, she made the air sharper, the colors brighter. She was too alive herself to let anything stagnate around her.
She started to get up, struggling with the sling. “Jebadiah Garrett, you old dog. What brings you out here?”
He strode up the last few steps and took her hand, hopefully discouraging her from trying to stand. “You.”
She snorted. “You heard about a car accident all the way out in California?”
“I’m not in California any longer.”
She tipped her head back, squinting against the sun to try and read his face. He kept that cheesy grin in place, too happy to see her to worry about looking like an idiot. “Well, why don’t you sit down and tell me about it so I don’t break my fool neck trying to look at you.”
She was still letting him hold her hand, so he sat down right where he was on the top step. “I sold the practice a year ago and moved back here last month.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You did? And you never bothered to stop by and let me know you were back in town?”
He reached up and took his hat off, giving him something to do with his free hand. “I had some things to work out first.”
“Typical man. Act first without taking time to socialize. That’s a mighty fine hat, by the way. Is it a Serratelli?”
“Sure is.” He passed it up to her, although that meant she let go of his hand so she could turn the black fur felt hat around and examine it from all angles. He was ridiculously proud of that hat. It was the first thing he’d bought that was solely and wholly his. The sterling silver band had cost a mint, too. Back when he’d been married, Sharon would have had a fit that he’d spent over a thousand dollars on a hat. Let alone where the money had come from.
“It’s almost too pretty to wear. You said I’m not in California. Not we.”
He looked out across the front yard, not really seeing the parallel lines of trees along the driveway or the white-railed fenced pastures of horses. “No, ma’am. Sharon and I divorced almost a year ago.”
“Oh, Jeb, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’d been over for a long time but we kept going through the motions. It was time for both of us to move on.” He smiled but didn’t turn back to look at her. “She’s already remarried and is quite happy from what I hear.”
He shrugged. “I’m starting over. Moving back here was the first step.”
“Are you going to start a new practice?”
“I might,” he hedged a little, turning back to see her face. “I’ve been helping Cap Winston out here and there, although he’s already hired on a new young man to take over.”
Virginia harrumphed beneath her breath. “Yeah, he’s been out here a few times to see the stock. Not sure I trust someone so wet behind the ears.”
“He’s young, but he’s good. I’ve seen him work through some pretty sticky situations.”
She nodded, a little more at ease with the new vet. “Well, if you’re going to be helping out, then I”ll definitely call him instead of trying to find a bigger vet out of Dallas.”
The screen door banged open behind them. Catching a glimpse of pink skirts, Jeb jumped to his feet and started backing down the stairs. Virginia’s mother still sometimes popped into his nightmares, not the gun-wielding Marine father he’d dreamed of someday asking for his daughter’s hand.
“You’re just in time for supper, Jebadiah.” Miss Belle flounced over to grab his hand and tug him back on the porch. “Boys, come and help your Mama.”
He’d much rather help Virginia inside than escort Miss Belle on his arm, but evidently he didn’t have a choice. She might be a petite eighty-year-old grandmother but she dragged him right inside as easily as if he were a toddler and not almost two-feet taller than her. On their way out to help their Mama, her two boys paused long enough to shake Jeb’s hand. He hadn’t seen neither of them since the funeral, both big strapping young men though they couldn’t match him for height. Both of them were successful and well-mannered, as if Virginia and Ty would have allowed them to grow up rude or shiftless. Ty must be beaming with pride at them both.
“So that’s why you insisted we set an extra plate.” Virginia’s only daughter smiled at him. “Welcome, Mr. Garrett. If you need to wash up, come on in to the kitchen.”
Sharon hadn’t wanted kids. At the time, he’d regretted the decision, always hungering for the chance to be a father. But after their ugly split, he was relieved they hadn’t had children in the mix, even though they would have been adults by then. He hadn’t expected all of Virginia’s children to be home, but knowing the family, he shouldn’t have been surprised. Of course they’d all rally around her after the accident, even though Conn and Miss Belle lived in Missouri.
They all know me. I’m just an old family friend.
Which was true, but as Jeb washed his hands and prepared to sit down at the Connagher table, he had a feeling he ought to be upfront with at least Virginia’s boys.
How are they going to take the idea of me courting their Mama?