Sometime in the next month, a new piece of my work will come out. Only it won’t appear as Cedar Sanderson, author. The reason for this is that I’m trying a new genre, and to keep from confusing my readers who expect fairies, pixies, and ogres to pop out of the woodwork, or space ships and interstellar travel at least, I’m creating an open penname. So welcome Lilania Begley to the world. My middle name, and the soon-to-be-married last name (which makes the First Reader strut a little). Lilania will write mystery, romance, and some things that are a bit of both. Just no magic, or lots of science. It’s all very mundane, and all about the characters!
Without further ado (because I have a paper to write!) here is the second snippet of Farmhand, a modern Western Romance novella. You can find the first snippet here. Next week I will try to have a mock-up of the cover for you, and as always, this is a work in progress at the time of snippeting. It may have errors, typos, and will certainly change before final publication. Let me know what you think of my new venture!
“Dad…” Dev shook his head in disbelief.
“Well, she said yes, she’d like that.” His father had a slightly defensive note in his voice, and Dev flashed back to boyhood, and certain critters that had come home with him, and that note in his own voice.
“You brought home a stray. You don’t know anything about her.” He accused, knowing it wouldn’t help but he had to say it.
“Sometimes you don’t need to know someone long to see the quality in them.”
Dev shook his head. His father was sautéing mushrooms and onions now. “So what happened?”
“Well, we went in to town. She dropped her rental car off and we went to the Diner. She changed in the ladies room, then we sat over coffee for a spell and we discussed pay and what-not.”
“Dad. I need someone who can help around here. Until I’m all healed…”
Gray Macquire came around the table, stiffly moving, showing his age, Dev saw with a pang, and laid a hand gently on his son’s shoulder. “I’m grateful to just have you here. Don’t fret about what needs to be done. She’s going to help, and you need to work on resting more.”
Dev sighed. His fatigue was wearing on him again just then, his body aching and pulling his mood down. Stress, no doubt, he thought ruefully.
“Today I might as well write off. Not getting any more done. I’ll go get my tools in.”
Gray nodded, “And I’ll finish dinner. She will help with that, too, she said, just like you do.”
Dev swore fervently as soon as he walked out the door beyond his father’s earshot. His leg and side ached. He leaned on the mended fence and rubbed his thigh for a minute. The muscles were healed, they said, but the pain remained. Physical therapy helped, but the drive to town took so much time, and he did the home exercises when he remembered, which wasn’t as often as it should be.
He didn’t hear her until she was standing at his shoulder.
“How long has it been?” The warmly concerned feminine voice broke in on his reverie.
Dev jumped, instantly furious at his own reactions. “Shit! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”
She had a quirk to her lips like she was trying to suppress a smile. “My apologies, soldier. Your leg?”
“Caught beneath a humvee when it flipped. Broke my femur and a couple ribs.”
She winced. “No wonder you needed some help around here.”
“I do all right,” he growled.
“I can see that. Your Dad’s ticker is iffy, and you have a bum leg. I can help, if you’ll give me a chance.”
She picked up the toolbox and handed him the cane he’d left there. He didn’t use it much, but he had to admit it would be good right now.
He leaned into the cane and headed for the barn. “You’re blunt. How’d you know about Dad’s heart? He doesn’t like to admit it.”
“Could see it on his face while we were pitching hay. He gets a little blue around the lips under cardiac stress.”
“You a medic?” That was interesting, and not a bad thing to have on the skills board.
“Yeah, a paramedic.” She sounded nonchalant, but wasn’t.
Dev kept on with his prying. “How long for you?”
“Two tours.” She looked away, and he knew there was more than that.
“I’m a fool, then. Three. Last one cut short by this…” He gestured and then held the door to the barn open for her. “Week before heading home. What the hell happened to you? Pardon my language.”
She smiled and shook her head. “That’s all right. I keep it covered in public. This…” She reached up and touched the scar gingerly. “Wasn’t in the line of duty.”
He could see that she didn’t want to talk about it. Without thinking about it, he reached up and touched her throat softly. She stilled, looking up into his eyes. Dev felt his own throat tighten at the heat of her skin. He dropped his hand back to his side and she walked quickly to the workbench and set the toolbox down.
With her back to him, she asked “What needs to be done?”
Dev ran a hand through his hair. This woman was driving him crazy and he’d known her a matter of hours. “Too much. Fences need fixing, Garden’s a shambles… Can you ride?”
She turned to look at him now, smiling. “I grew up riding mustangs and cow ponies.”
“Heh… should have figured. Come on now, let’s get dinner.”
Their first meal was the pattern for the days to come. Easy talk, where Irina gently led his father into telling old stories. Dev mostly listened, enjoying his father’s animation even though he’d heard most of them before. She didn’t hesitate to pitch in and help out in the kitchen, although he doubted his father had expected so much out of any other farmhand.