No one else has a scheduled excerpt for this morning, so I thought it would be a good chance for me to share something a bit different with you guys. Two short scenes from my latest novel, That Darkest Place. While it is very difficult to find scenes from this book that don’t contain spoilers, I managed to include a funny one (probably my favorite little moment in the whole book, because, for the town’s premiere ladies’ man, Forrest Painter is amazingly inept when it concerns love), and a more serious one, as Jackson makes a decision guaranteed to upset his younger brother. Thanks for reading, and I hope the first one makes you smile, and the second one makes you curious.
Scene from CH 26, Already in Jeopardy, edited slightly to remove spoilers, and containing some mild profanity. Jackson Painter, his middle brother, Forrest, and their respective love interests are seated around the kitchen table, ready to clean up a pretty bad mess caused by the latest disaster to befall Jackson. The previous evening, Jackson had given Forrest a very stern talking to about Forrest’s fear of proposing to Bailey Hunt. Jackson had flatly ordered Forrest to go straight to Bailey’s house, get down on one knee, ask the question, and not to come home again until he’d done so. But Jackson has just noticed that Bailey is not wearing the ring Forrest has had in his pocket for two weeks. This is what follows, told from Forrest’s point of view.
Excerpt 1 from CH 26 of That Darkest Place
Rising, Jackson spoke to Mel and Bailey. “If you two will excuse us a minute, I have something I need to show Forrest. Help yourself to breakfast and more coffee, Bailey. There’s enough for all of us.”
Jackson crunched his way down the hall to his bedroom, not glancing back even once. With a sigh of dread, Forrest followed, but as soon as he reached Jackson’s room, he knew it would have been safer if he’d stayed where he was.
His brother’s arms were crossed over his chest, brows drawn so close together, they had essentially become a monobrow. His whisper was harsh. “I can’t help noticing there’s no ring on Bailey’s finger, Forrest. Care to tell me why that is? Because I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be here right now if she’d turned you down.”
Forrest’s tongue felt glued to the roof of his mouth. “Well, umm ….”
“Well what? You didn’t ask her?”
He shook his head. “No, but—”
“Don’t give me ‘but.’ Didn’t you get what I was telling you last night?”
“Yes. I did get it, Jackson. I might be a damn chicken, but I’m not totally stupid! And I was gonna ask her, but—”
“There you go again.”
Jackson scrubbed his hand over his face, and Forrest knew he’d disappointed him. He hated how that felt, especially when it really wasn’t his fault.
“Listen. I was gonna ask her as soon as I got to her house, but—I mean, then—we , ah, well, we kinda got distracted.”
“She twisted your arm again, I guess?”
“Sort of. It was more like we were both twistin’ each other’s arms, and before you know it, we were in bed again. I figured I’d ask her right afterward, except there wasn’t one.”
“Wasn’t one what? An after? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means we were hornier than we were hungry. We never left her bed, and after the third or fourth time, we fell asleep.”
Jackson’s eyebrows leapt for the ceiling, and his mouth dropped open. “Third or fourth, Forrest? Fourth?”
Sure he was on safer ground now, Forrest nodded. “Well, yeah. You know how it is, right?”
Mouth still agape, Jackson finally shook his head. “No, I don’t know how that is. I’m pretty sure I’d remember an evening like that, no matter how long ago it was. Four times, that’s what you’re saying?”
“Yeah, I think so. I mean, who counts? But the point is, you don’t stop in the middle of something like that, even to propose. I figured I’d do it later. And then we fell asleep. And then you called. And then, well … you know the rest. But I’m gonna ask her. I thought hard about what you said, and you were right. I can’t afford not to go for it, not if this is what I really want, and it is.”
He had no idea why Jackson was still staring at him, but after a long moment, his brother’s expression changed from stunned and skeptical, to affectionately amazed, and as Jackson turned to go back to the kitchen, Forrest heard him mutter, “Son of a bitch. Four!”
Scene 2 from CH 26, Already in Jeopardy. This one takes place after Jackson and Forrest have returned to the kitchen able.
Excerpt #2 from CH 26 of That Darkest Place
Jackson had hoped to talk to Forrest alone first, but no postponing this decision now. He dropped into his seat, dug out a breakfast sandwich, and popped the lid off one of the cups of coffee, aware that three sets of eyes watched his every move. Taking a long swallow of the now-cool coffee, he nodded at Bailey. “That’s my plan. Forrest, I hate to do this to you, but I don’t have a choice, here. I’m moving out.”
Forrest exploded out of his chair. “No! You don’t have to do that, Jackson.”
“You know I do. Please don’t make this any harder than it already is.”
Forrest sank back down.
“Me being here at night is dangerous. That beautiful big truck out there is a neon sign, advertising to the whole town that I’m home. It’s putting a bullseye on this apartment, on me, and worst of all, on you.”
His voice dropped an octave. “I can’t be the reason anyone else dies, Forrest. Please tell me you understand that?”
Struggling with the obvious truth, his brother’s protests slowed. Stricken and miserable, he grudgingly gave in. “It’s not fair. We’re just gettin’ our lives back to normal again, and now you’re leavin’? I hate this.”
“I’m not leaving. But I’m not going to sleep here every night and let a crazy idiot take potshots at us. What’s next? Molotov cocktails? Pipe bombs? I can’t do this, Forrest. I don’t want to die at this guy’s hands, and I damn well don’t want anyone else to, either.”
“What are you plannin’ to do, then?”
“Still working on that, but I figure I can stay at different motels for a while, at least. Maybe down in DeBary or Sanford. Give the police a chance to see if they can catch this ass. It doesn’t have to be forever. Surely he’ll slip up somewhere.”
Frustration close to boiling over, Forrest glared at the table. Bailey reached for his hand, the love in her eyes, obvious. “Forrest, he’s right. If Jackson can’t be found, he can’t be attacked. And that’s safer for both of you.”
Unconvinced, Forrest scowled. “Be damned if I want my brother livin’ out of a suitcase at a cheap motel, because some lunatic is determined to hurt him. It’s not right!”
Jackson laid a hand on his brother’s arm. “No, it’s not right. It’s not fair to either of us. But for now, let’s be careful. We’ll hope for answers soon, so they can put this guy away.”
Mel cleared her throat. “Excuse me? Could I suggest something? I might have a possible solution.”
Marcia Meara, Author
This is me with my son’s dog, Happy. There are umpteen bios of me around this site, so I’m not going to repeat any of them here. Let’s cut to the chase. I wrote my first novel, Wake-Robin Ridge, at the age of 69, without a clue as to what I was doing. Four years and five more novels later, I’m 73, and I still don’t have a clue. And not just about writing, either. But I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had in my life, and I plan to keep on going until I fall face down on the keyboard, or forget what words are, whichever comes first. Be afraid, World. Be very afraid.
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