It’s always a delight to bring to the readers a new chapter in the life of people in Rebel’s Crossroads. As many well know, Rebel’s Crossroads is a small sleepy little southern town. At its beginning, it was known as the town of Fairpoint, named of course for the large plantation founded by Archibald Saunders. At the time of the civil war, Archibald was made a major in the Confederate Army. His job was simple to construct fort works around the road that led to Richmond and keep the Yankees from stopping Lee in his long retreat.
For three years, the town held, but when the main unit was called to Appomattox, Saunders was left to hold the fort. Expecting the final assault, Saunders hauls two massive cannons up to the cliff line above the town. However, Sherman didn’t play by the Confederate rules. He splits his forces and under the cover of a cloudy night splits his forces and by passes the town making his famous “bowties” out of the rails. Saunder’s last chance at fighting goes down in flames. Later, he will claim Sherman is afraid to fight. His humiliation leads to the downfall of his marriage. The town becomes known as Rebel’s Crossroads because of the many armies that traipse through.
I’ve introduced the readers to a Volunteer Fire Fighter named Patrick Sullivan or Sully to his friends. He meets and falls in love with Mitzi Stancil in a world-wind courtship in the novel, Playing With Fire.
In Random Acts of Kindness, the readers meet Muriel Lowe, Rebel’s Crossroads answer to Lou Ella Parsons, Hollywood gossip columnist in the 1940’s. Believe me, nothing gets my Miss Muriel. She plays matchmaker for Dan Rodgers and Jocelyn Lankford, the local librarian.
This summer, it is my pleasure to bring to you the romance between Stevie Darden and Michael Jennings. Not your typical romance, my characters are bit older. Stevie has lost her husband in a tragic accident. And in one final tribute, she drives his 1956 TBird to Daytona Beach to the Great American Race.
Being an older couple, Stevie and Michael have their own set of problems. Will their children approve? Are they being foolish to think that love will strike twice? To find out, you’ll have to purchase your copy of Those Summer Nights.
Here’s a little sample. I hope you’ll enjoy.
Winning her Heart…..
Wallet in one hand, arm extended, Stevie held out the glossy, heavy paper and waited for the young man to rip off the end and hand the stub back to her.
"Thank you," she spoke softly, placing her wallet back into the large shoulder bag before moving through the gate.
Florida was everything they said it would be, if you understood "they" to mean her husband's old friends, who gathered around the TV set out in the den on Sunday afternoons beginning the first of January to watch the cars race around tracks all over the country. She pushed her white-framed sunglasses onto her face and stepped out of the line of human traffic flowing into the main gates of the superspeedway.
Stevie turned over her palm to glance at the stub. Section X, seat thirty-three in the Lockhart Tower. This shouldn't be too hard to find. Raising her glance to look at the signs, she was surprised to see how many people filled the mezzanine. With a sigh, she merged back into the throng, intent on making her way toward the elevator which would take her up to the first floor of the grandstands that lined the raceway.
A sudden shove to the side caught her off guard. Stevie tried to take a short step in order to catch her equilibrium. However, her sandals tangled in the hem of her white cotton trousers. With a frightened cry, she held out her hands and braced for a very painful fall.
* * * * *
Michael Jennings was amazed at the speed in which he had gotten through the line. Perhaps it was a good thing his company had purchased those suite seats in the tower next to the main grandstand. He hurried toward the elevator, slowing his gait so as not to step upon the person in front of him. Up a head, a group of teenagers went rushing past. He opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly one youth knocked into a woman a few feet off to his right.
She tottered on her feet, only to tilt to the left. Michael stepped around the person in front of him, rushed forward, and caught the willowy auburn before her knees banged onto the rough pavement.
"Are you all right, Miss?" he asked.
Large green eyes flashed uncertainly at him. He offered her his winning salesman smile and allowed her to catch her breath. "Come on. Let's step over here to the bench."
She nodded, and he felt her body tremble. He led her to the park bench out of the line of traffic. Then, knelt before her and placed his hands on either side of her and spoke. "Ok, take a big deep breath and hold it for ten seconds, then blow it out."
Her trembling fingers raked the russet curls from her face as she looked back at him. Whatever she was thinking, the woman could at least follow through with directions.
"M-my sunglasses," she stated, looking back in the direction of the accident.
"Sit tight," Michael told her and moved back to the spot. Making a circle and focusing on the ground, he combed the sidewalk until he found the glasses. Bending down, he picked up the now twisted frames and brought them back to her. "I'm afraid they're a bit worse for wear."
He held them out to her, the frames bent, one glass missing, the other cracked.
"Oh," she breathed.
"Check your pocketbook to make sure nothing is missing," he suggested, knowing that security was good and incidents were rare at race events.
She pulled her large bag toward her and, opening it, then began to put the contents on her lap. The bag contained the usual—brush, comb, a compact—but Michael did admit he was intrigued when she picked up a key ring with a business card instead of a photograph.
"Nope, it's all there." She looked up at him. This time, a genuine smile lightened her face.
Warmth spiraled up and spread through his body, shocking him. He felt…shoot, he felt like a teenager asking some girl out for the first time. "I'm glad." He rose to his feet held out his hand. "I'm Michael Jennings."
"Michael," She murmured. "You checked in at the hotel last night."
He grinned. "Yeah, I did."
"I was behind you," she replied and dumped her things back into the oversized bag. With that done, she grasped his hand with a firm grip and shook back. "Hi, Stephanie Darden, but my friends call me Stevie."
An electric current seemed to pass from his hand to hers then back again. Her lips dipped for a second, but she quickly regained her composure as she withdrew her hand. Michael didn't look away. His intense gaze made her blush.
"I want to thank you for your kindness," she continued.
"Not a problem." Michael said with a nod. "I'm glad I could do it." An awkward silence followed. He looked around but no one seemed to be coming to her rescue. "So, is this your first event?"
Stevie turned toward the crowd, paused and looked back at him. Pink crept to her cheeks. "How could you tell?"
Michael looked down and pointed. "Few women wear three-inch heel sandals."
She laughed. His skin tingled with the melodious sound.
"Next time wear tennis shoes," he remarked. "It's much more practical."
"Yes, I can see that now."
A gust of wind blew by, and Stevie turned away, keeping the fine gravel from flying into her eyes. The mass of curls shifted, and Michael had to hook his thumbs in the pocket of his jeans to resist the urge to help draw it back from her face. He wondered if those luscious locks were as soft and silky as they appeared.
"Let's see if we can't get you a pair of shades," he murmured his voice thick.
Taking her by the elbow, he led her across the way to one of the vendors selling sunglasses, caps, and visors, all with the different driver's logos on them.
"Let's see, I think," he narrowed his gaze to peruse the frames, "maybe Bobby Labonte?"
"I don't think so." She shook her head. "I don't like the color yellow."
"Ah." He nodded. "Hamlin? Waltrip? Edwards?"
With each name she shook her head.
"Why not give up, Mac," the vendor chuckled. "Let your little lady decide?"
Michael shrugged. "Very well, Stevie, which suits your fancy?"
Stevie bit her lip and searched the hundreds of items before pointing to the red with the number 9 emblazoned on the side.
"Kasey Khane," he sighed with a shake of his head. "Now, I would have put you down for a Dale Earnhardt woman." She chuckled again and Michael felt his chest swell with pride. He reached back, pulled out his wallet, and gestured toward the glasses and the cap. "One of each, please. We can't have you burn that pretty nose."
Beside him, Stevie gasped in surprise. "You can't pay for these," she hissed. Her hand went to his arm. Her palm warming the flesh beneath his sleeve.
"I can't see why not," he countered.
"You don't even know me," she huffed.
"Of course I do," he assured her. "You're Stevie and I'm Michael. I saved you from falling and you've lost your sunglasses. It's very simple."
"Simple," she chuckled. "I think not." Turning to the vendor, she asked. "What's the total?"
"Thirty-five, seventy-nine," he replied.
Stevie couldn't help it, she gasped. Michael ignored her surprise and pulled out his wallet. Opening the warm leather, he handed over the several big bills.
"Your change," the vender called pressing a few dollars and some coins back into his hand. Turning to face her, Michael took the cap and placed it on her head. "There now, no sunburn."
His hands brushed her hair and it was as soft as he'd imagined. The silken curls rippled through his fingers, and he gazed down into her doe-like eyes looking back at him. "See," his voice lowered to a whisper, "that didn't hurt at all."
"Not at all," she repeated, breathless.
They stood and stared at one another. Finally, Stevie broke the spell. "I guess I should find my seat."
"Oh, yes, your seat." Michael nodded. "What section?"
"Um, some tower or something, section V, seat 33."
"Well, let's see that ticket stub." With a firm grasp on her elbow, Michael led her toward the elevators as she searched for her stub in the contents of her bag.
"Here," she replied, handing it over.
Michael glanced at the inscription. "Lockhart Tower, and good seats."
"Oh, I had hoped they would be." Stevie nodded.
Michael pushed the button of the elevator that would take them up to the second level and they stepped inside. When the doors closed, he studied her as she crossed her arms over her chest. The elevator rose and he detected a few fine lines about her eyes. She wasn't as young as he'd previously thought. Still, she was quite good looking.
If he ventured a guess, he'd say she stood about five foot five, her shape the classical hour glass. She didn't have an ounce of unneeded weight, yet she wasn't rail thin. She was a woman. A woman, he discovered, that made his libido hum.
Look for Those Summer Nights at: Amazon and Smashwords. It will be coming soon to Barnes and Noble Nook and in print via Create Space.
Those Summer Nights
By the way, here's the cover.
Don't you think the young lady resembles a famous singer? Let me know who you think it might be. Perhaps someone will win an ARC of this great anthology.