Happy Valentine's Day!
Since I'm currently editing Every Last Minute, the first novel of my time travel romance trilogy, I thought I'd give you a peek behind the scenes. Will and Mara Sterling are newlyweds and the main characters of my story. Here they are in one of my favorite scenes from Chapter One:
Will had already set out dinner on the coffee table when Mara emerged from the bedroom. Even though she was ninety-eight percent sure Will had been kidding earlier, Mara was still a little relieved to see a cup of tzatziki sauce on each of their plates.
“We’re not just eating out of the containers tonight?” she asked. “Fancy.”
“Only the best for my girl,” Will said, offering her a paper napkin. “Now get ready—there’s something playing on TV I think you’ll like.” He pressed the power button on the remote.
Mara squealed when the familiar Spanish-style mansion appeared on the screen. “They brought it back for another season?”
“I cannot believe you got me to start watching this,” Will said, as the words “Engaged or Enraged,” appeared on screen. The voice over began:
“While most engaged couples are shopping for wedding gowns and picking out favors, these ten couples are taking the ultimate challenge. They’re putting their marriage to the test before they take their vows. Will extreme sports, team challenges, and unbelievable drama bring them closer together? Or will their relationship shatter under pressure? It’s an all-new season of ‘Engaged or Enraged!’”
The theme song began and Mara hummed along. Each of the ten couples appeared in turn, dancing a little and pretending to shoot each other with fake bows and arrows when their names flashed up on the screen.
“Every time I watch this crap, I die a little inside,” Will said.
“We don’t have to watch this,” Mara said, shooting him a mischievous grin. “I did say you could pick anything you wanted.”
“No, I know you really like it. I don’t mind,” Will said.
“Uh-huh. Plus you’re the one who looked up spoilers for the finale last season because you couldn’t wait to find out who won.”
Will pretended to be too busy eating his dripping gyro to respond.
Mara nestled back in the deep sofa cushion. On screen, the couples had been issued their first challenge. They were going to play some type of capture-the-flag game on an obstacle course complete with fences, rope courses, and rock walls.
“There’s one more twist,” the host said, pausing over each word for dramatic effect. “One partner in each couple will be blindfolded.” The couples groaned as the host passed out bandanas emblazoned with the show’s logo.
“We’re going to win this, no question,” said one man as his fiancée nodded happily beside him. “Our communication is on point. We’re just like…I’ll be talking and she’ll just know…”
“…exactly what he was going to say!” the fiancée finished sweetly.
Mara nudged Will’s leg. “Hey. How come we never finish each other’s…”
“Fries? Don’t mind if I do,” Will said, hovering a hand over her plate. Mara swatted him away and he grinned.
The show switched to a commercial. As a businessman deplored the effects of his chronic dry eyes—just in time to discover a drug that could help—Mara took the first bite of her gyro. Good. Better than the ones that were served by the sub place that catered their last company luncheon. Not nearly as good as the ones she and Will used to get from the food trucks when they were in college.
“So how much grading are you going to be doing tomorrow night?” she asked Will.
“I’ve got two teacher workdays. I have plenty of time to get grades in.”
“You’re going to be up working all night tomorrow, huh?”
The dry-eyes commercial ended and the next began. As the camera panned over a dimly lit room, Mara watched Will from the corner of her eye. The foreboding music came to a crescendo and there it was—a sudden flash of light, a blood-curdling scream, and a half-hidden ghostly figure. The voice-over intoned the title of the horror movie due out in theaters next month.
Will kept nonchalantly eating his fries. If he was triggered by anything onscreen, he didn’t show it. Hopefully that meant he really was okay. Even after eight years, it could be hard to tell with Will.
Mara reached over and squeezed her husband’s hand. He squeezed back.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked.
“How much money people have to get paid to be on reality shows.”
“Probably not much,” Mara said. “Some people like the spotlight.”
“Fair enough. I’d need at least a million to consider it.”
“Only a million? There’s not enough money in the world to convince me.”
The commercial break was over. As the camera panned in on the couples lining the obstacle course, Will nudged her. “Your turn. What are you thinking about?”
“That if we were on this show, you’d be wearing the blindfold,” Mara said. “I give better directions.”
“Not a chance,” Will said. “I’m not banging my head on every dang obstacle because you can’t see around me. Tallest guy plays navigator. Always.”
Mara laughed and tucked her legs up under her. They fit together so neatly, his arm around her, her head on his chest.
All in all, it had been a good day.
It was a good life.
I'm still editing Will and Mara's story, but I'm planning to release the trilogy later this year! If you'd like to receive news and updates, sign up for my mailing list in the blue bar at the top of the page!