Welcome to my new blog feature, Fiction Friday, where on Fridays–whenever I can–I’ll share a snippet from a novel I’m writing or have written. The snippets won’t always be the beginning of a story, like today’s, but they will always be something I hope you’ll enjoy.
Today’s excerpt is from my novel From Glowing Embers, reissued this week as an ebook but also part of an innovative promotion in which I was invited to participate several months ago. Since that time there’s been lots of behind the scenes activity and planning from a group called the Summit Authors, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for years.
I can and will tell you all about the promotion tomorrow, but not before, so please check back then. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Meantime, let me introduce you to Julie Ann Mason, now known to the world as Julianna, who has an unsettling encounter on an airplane which sets the stage for the remainder of the novel.
Put yourself in Julianna’s place. Suddenly you’re face to face with the most important man in your life, a man you haven’t seen in ten years and hoped you would never see again.
Dear God! The child sitting next to Gray Sheridan was only a little younger than Ellie would have been!
Julianna Mason took a step backward, as if putting additional distance between herself and the little girl sitting by the airplane window would somehow shield her from pain. Nothing could shield her now, however, nothing less than a magical return to the moments before she had stepped into the next cabin of the DC-10 carrying her to Honolulu and seen Gray Sheridan relaxing beside the brown-haired, brown-eyed pixie.
Brown hair and brown eyes. What color would Ellie’s eyes have been? They had been blue at birth; Julianna knew that much. Blue eyes in an impossibly tiny face. Blue eyes that had seemed to grow dimmer and dimmer with each faltering heartbeat. Blue eyes that might someday have been the deep tarnished silver of her father’s. If Ellie had lived.
How long had it been since she had let herself think about her daughter? The time between memories could be measured in weeks now. Sometimes even a month went by. But then, just as she thought she was learning to forget, she would awaken in the middle of the night to Kauai rain tumbling over the eaves of her house, and for a moment she would believe she was back in Mississippi. And Ellie…
Julianna pulled her eyes from the little girl to the man sitting beside her. From their position in the two seats by the window, and from Gray’s relaxed posture and closed eyes, Julianna guessed that the little girl was his. She wasn’t surprised he had a child, but one this old? How long had he mourned Ellie’s death? Six months? Three?
Julianna was almost close enough to touch him, although she had learned a long time ago that touching Gray wasn’t possible. Not really. There was no way to get to the man under the classically handsome facade, a facade that was aging just as flawlessly as she would have expected. Gray was what, thirty-one now? Thirty-one to her twenty-eight, ages when a woman passes the first flush of youth and a man comes into his power.
Of course power was an easy word to associate with the Mississippi Sheridans. Julianna had no reason to doubt that Gray had become a powerful man. Power was something he would feel comfortable with. He had grown up with it, seen it nurtured and twisted and used to his family’s advantage. She imagined Gray had become a man much like his own father, one who could stroll down any sidewalk in his home state and know that any man he met would inch toward the street, if necessary, to make room for him.
Julianna couldn’t define the feelings those words evoked. She was seething with feelings, and there was no separating them. She only knew that she hurt. She had to get away before she made a fool of herself.
“Excuse me, miss.”
Julianna heard the flight attendant’s words. Without turning, she knew she was blocking the progress of the beverage cart. She had to move, and yet, for a moment, she couldn’t seem to make her body obey her brain’s command. She wanted one more look at the child whose eyes were examining her. One more look at the child who should have been hers.
Brown hair and brown eyes and a smile that would live in her dreams forever.