In two days, LOVE TATTOO will be out and available to the reading public. It's an exciting time and I'm on the edge of my chair with anticpation. At the same time, it's onward with other writing projects. As another library board member asked me at last evening's meeting, yes, I get up in the morning and sit down to write whether I want or to not. It's a job, I told him with a smile, I'm just lucky because it's one I can do at home.
Tonight's local newspaper (Neosho Daily News) will run a short story about the book release. It's up online now, sans cover which I would speculate maybe they found just a bit too hot for the average reader's taste.
Here it is, short and sweet:
And to tease readers and generate some advance interest, here is an excerpt from the first chapter, beginning with (what else) the beginning:
First time I saw him, it was about four on a sultry summer morning. A rest area on the interstate is the worst place to be at that hour, but I was on my way back to Nashville and I had to do what a girl must so often do— the result of too many soft drinks on the long drive. Against my better judgment, I wheeled into the next rest area, one of the funkiest one I have ever seen in my travels because just off the ramp the entrance road splits. One fork takes big trucks to a parking area from which they walk down to the rest center and the other routes us four wheelers behind the facility so that we have to climb a flight of steps to get there. At that predawn hour, needing to use the bathroom yesterday, I sang all the way up those steps. It was partly to keep my mind off the urgency and to keep from being afraid, like whistling in the dark. I continued the last song I heard on the radio, acapella, and belted out my rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Hello Darkness. It felt appropriate, considering the late hour..
The very last thing I thought about on the way up was men. All I did think about was getting into that restroom for some relief. As I found the women’s room, I hurried on in, more than a little wary because you just never know about places like that. After I took care of business– what my daddy always called seeing a man about a dog – I came out in that steamy early morning darkness ready to roll onto into Music City USA by breakfast time.
Now that I didn’t have to think about needing a restroom, my tummy reminded me that it might not want to wait until breakfast so I paused at the bank of vending machines and bought a package of peanuts. Before I could turn around, I saw his reflection in the wavering vending machine glass and I could smell his rich tobacco. Because I grew up sitting on my Pop’s lap every morning while he smoked his Lucky Strikes and read the newspaper, I love that aroma. For me, no matter how well I know that tobacco has major health risks, that powerful, near narcotic scent meant security and safety to me.
When I turned around and saw him, leaning up against the concrete wall, one boot propped against the building, he looked dangerous. His black denim jeans fit his muscular, long legs as if they were poured over them and left to harden. His boots were black too, and studded with little silver spikes that caught the artificial lights of the rest stop to reflect back at me like twinkling stars. As I gaped at him, mouth open like a fish taking the bait, he smiled at me, a slow wicked smile that made my skin grow sensitive as if I had a high fever. That smile made little ripples run along my nerve endings and down my spine.
“Hello, there, darlin’.” His voice came out as dark and sweet as molasses.
I gave him a closer look because my Mama taught me never to talk to strangers. His black hair curled tight against his head, not cropped short but not quite long either and there was a lot of it. Above those tight jeans, he wore a black Western shirt with white pearl snap buttons and over it all, a black leather jacket. Between his hair and clothes, he looked all black and white – his face and hands glowed pale, almost translucent – except for his eyes.
Those eyes shimmered blue, not just a light blue like most people have but a rich, dark shade like sapphires or the clearest, azure autumn sky. He looked at me as if he knew me, as if he could read me like a favorite paperback book, and what he saw, he seemed to like.
I found my voice, or really it found its way up out of my throat and into my mouth before I could think about what to say.
“Good morning to you.”
He flicked ash from the cigarillo that he held in his right hand and raised it to his lips. The end of it glowed red like dawn, bright as fire and he exhaled smoke, his eyes never leaving my face. I didn’t even know his name and yet he attracted me, pulled me toward him as the moon draws the tides to shore. Until he spoke, his appeal was physical but his next words captured my heart without a single shot and conquered it. After that, he could own me if he wanted. He knew it, too.
“Speak again, bright angel, for thou art as glorious to this night as is a winged messenger of heaven unto the white, upturned wondering eyes of mortals that fall back to gaze on him when he sits bestride the lazy-pacing clouds and sails upon the bosom of the air.”
Shakespeare, quoted at a God-forsaken rest area along Interstate 40 somewhere in Arkansas before daybreak, had an immediate effect on my heart. Any man that could quote the Bard without cheating or peeking at a book impressed me and in this unexpected setting, he had me. Romeo’s words, his aside as he watched Juliet dither around up on her balcony, had a heady and intoxicating quality. But I was no Juliet, no thirteen year old virgin pining for love
If you want to know what happens next, LOVE TATTOO will be available starting Friday. It can be found on the Evernight Publishing site (and now you can also order from their Facebook page!), on Amazon.com, Manic Readers and many other sites.