Sneak peeks into The Art of Going Home

Here's a short peek into the book that is exclusive to this blog post. Yep, it can't be found anywhere else (except the book, of course!): 

     Pouring the last of the wine into my glass while trying to appear unconcerned, I rasped, “When was this?”
     “He ended it with Elaine about ten months ago,” Tabitha said. “She talks bad about him behind his back, but would stoop to anything to get him to go out with her again. As if he would. Like my daddy always said, ‘You can’t shit in one hand and eat out the other.’”
     “I guess that explains what she said to him after the vigil. That he knew how to get in touch with her.” My hand flew up to cover my mouth. “Oh my God! Did they sleep together?”
“I doubt it,” Tabs said, quickly backpedaling. “Who could blame any girl for wanting to? Mm, mm, mmm. With that body of his? Even though Zac obviously knows how good-looking he is, he’s a great catch. You need to take the opportunity to see how things develop between you two.” She went to the kitchen and brought back a second bottle of wine.
     “I don’t know. Zac and me? Aren’t we like brother and sister? And we live so far apart.”
     “Don’t kid yourself,” she scoffed. “He hasn’t looked at you like a sibling since you were a freshman in high school. And neither have you. There are ways to manage the distance.” She could see my hesitation, so she pressed, “Come on, you’ve known him your whole life. He’s a good guy.”
     “I know he is. Probably too good for me. Besides, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to trust a man enough to let him get close.”
     “You have to be willing to learn,” she said. “I bet Zac is the right one to teach you how to open your heart.”

~~~

     I sat at Zac’s kitchen table with a glass of wine. He was cooking dinner for me that evening, after he’d finished his martial arts class and I’d exercised in my room.
     The house he rented was a ranch style on the edge of town. It was about twenty-five years old, red brick on the outside, and boring beige inside, with two bedrooms and one bath. It was a typical bachelor pad. He had a huge flat screen TV, black leather sofa, secondhand coffee table, ancient dinette set, and an old weight bench with weights in the spare room. There was very little else.
     He was making spaghetti. I was thinking about Aunt Ceci’s letter, and my conversation with Tabs. I was also admiring his cute rear end. And his broad shoulders. And his muscular thighs.
     I was on a mission. Determined to get to the bottom of his relationship with Elaine, I needed to come up with a way to broach the subject.
     “So,” I began. “You said yesterday after our picnic that I could trust you. That I could tell you anything, right?”
     “Of course you can,” he said, not looking up. “What’s on your mind?”
     “Does it mean that you’ll be open and honest with me, too?” I asked.
     “Yes.” He responded quickly, with a little less conviction. I let the silence stretch while he fixed our plates and set them on the Formica table. After we ate for a time, he caved. “Is there something you want to talk about?” he asked.
     Finally. He’d taken the bait.

Backstory for The Art of Going Home

This week in our blog hop, we're presenting some background material for our novels. 

Cecilia, also known as Aunt Ceci, is an important character in The Art of Going Home. Because she dies at the beginning of the book, I thought it might be interesting to see, from her point of view,  one of the events that take place when the heroine Maddie is a child:

June 30, Eighteen Years Ago 

     It was the saddest funeral Cecilia had ever seen. More miserable than the day her husband had been buried. At least her William died after having some chance at life, though it was too short. 

      But this? It was incomprehensible. How could anyone justify a life ending after barely ten years? It was difficult for Cecilia to stop herself from blaming God.

     She glanced at her brother among the mourners. His face revealed exhaustion, and rage mixed with grief. She knew Rey’s anger at God would last a long time. Maybe forever. And she couldn’t blame him.  As a deputy in the county sheriff’s department, he’d seen some bad things. But nothing compared to this. Though he refused to discuss it, she knew he was determined to find the murderer.

     Cecilia had come to the house at eleven o’clock, the same as she did every day. As she folded the laundry, Jacqueline’s screams had reached her. Cecilia had never heard such an awful sound. She’d called Rey as she ran from the house, knowing she’d find something horrible.

     Jacqueline had been sitting by the wading pond, drenched after pulling Angeline’s body from the water. Cecilia had tried to make her let go, but Jacqueline refused to release the body. Rey arrived a short time later and confirmed the worst. Angeline had been drowned in two and a half feet of water. And poor Madisen had gotten there before Cecilia, seeing her dead twin clutched in her mother’s arms. She’d fainted from the sight of it.  When Rey picked Maddie up, Jacqueline had screamed at her, “What did you do?” As if the death had somehow been Maddie’s fault.

    As Angeline’s coffin was lowered, Cecilia hugged Maddie to her. Maddie still wasn’t crying. It worried Cecilia that she didn’t express her grief. She knew the longer people buried their emotions, the more damage they would cause. She was truly worried for the little girl. Living in that house, with parents that not only didn’t show the child love, but were cruel to her. 

     Well, Cecilia was more determined than ever to change that. She’d love and protect this girl enough for two parents. William and Angeline had been taken from Cecilia, but no one would hurt Madisen again. Not if she could help it.

 

I hope you enjoyed the short backstory! Thanks for checking in.