One day I received an email from one of my yahoo loops about a post entitled "Love Darts and Escargot." Hunh? Seems Rolynn Anderson's tree was peppered with snails throwing quills as part of their mating ritual, or love darts as she called them. Whoa!
Just the mention conjured a visual in my demented mind.
In a flash, the opening scene to BACK WHERE YOU BELONG was right there! I opened a document and started writing and chuckling and scheming. Don't you love it when that happens?
Here's the opening scene...
What the hell?
Tyler Desmond whirled away from the shot he was about to make at the pool table to grasp for whatever caused the sudden, stinging pain at the back of his neck. When his fingers closed around a dart, he yanked the offending object out, searching through the crowd in the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk for the bastard who dared throw one at him.
His cousin Billy Wayne leaned in close as if to examine the dart’s point of entry. “Damn, that’s gotta hurt.”
Tyler’s eyes narrowed on the culprit. The object of his wrath stood about eight feet away, her face glowing red like embers in a branding fire and eyes mushrooming when his gaze zeroed in on hers.
He handed his cue stick to Billy Wayne and growled, “Not as much as one female’s about to. You can be damn sure of that.”
Three women, her friends no doubt, scurried back to their table, leaving her to face him alone. He slowly sauntered toward her, gathering his words as he approached. He’d cut many men to size with his acidic tongue. This woman would be no different.
Nervous hands clasped and unclasped and then fiddled with curly blonde hair. Then, as if to prepare herself for their inevitable confrontation, she squared her shoulders.
Good move, lady. You’re going to need a dose of courage for I plan on giving you a verbal thrashing you’ll never forget.
He extended his hand, the offending dart lying in his palm. “I believe you lost this…in my neck.”
“Crap, yes, I did.” She plucked it from his hand. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.”
He placed his hands on his hips and glared into her blue eyes. “Really? Then who the hell were you aiming for?”
The woman had the audacity to giggle. “I…I wasn’t aiming for anyone. You see, Carrie Jo”–she jerked her thumb toward the table of women behind her–“bumped against my elbow just as I was shooting. She was horsing around, calling me ‘Dart Demon.’”
His gaze ricocheted toward the gaggle of women, all nodding and smiling. Two did a finger wave. He scowled as a dull ache settled behind his eyeballs. When Dart Demon leaned toward him, he got a whiff of her perfume and fought to ignore its beguiling, flowery scent.
“Just between us,” she began, her voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, “she’s had too much to drink. Good thing I’m the designated driver tonight.” Her hand rose in a swearing gesture. “Honest. Nothing stronger than diet soda. See, Carrie Jo and her boyfriend are fighting again. They’re just not suited for each other.” Her blonde head shook once. “Ever notice how opposites attract? It’s the strangest thing, isn’t it?”
She pursed her lips, giving him no time to reply before she charged ahead like his prize Brahman bull. Evidently the woman didn’t need to breathe to talk.
“He likes rap music and she likes country. He likes to play video games while she runs marathons and works out. He’s a slob and she’s a neat freak. Yet, they can’t keep their hands off each other. The chemistry’s there, but not the compatibility. Know what I mean?”
Tyler inhaled and opened his mouth, ready to start his tirade. But before one angry word could roll off his tongue, she commenced her nonsensical rambling again.
“That’s not why we’re here though. We’re here to celebrate. I sold an article to a magazine. My first!” A smile, brighter than a hill country sunrise spread and niggled at one of his faint, long-forgotten memories.
“Isn’t that just too wild?” She pressed a hand to full breasts that strained a T-shirt imprinted with: I’m the strong, silent type.
Silent? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
“People keep telling me I have writing talent, but I’m not so sure. I guess you could say I have a lot of self-doubt.” Her blue-eyed gaze locked on his as she pursed those pink lips again. “I’m just not good with words, you know?”
Right, and I’m not good with raising cattle. The dull ache in his head ratcheted up a notch.
“I’m prattling, aren’t I? I am.” Those blonde curls bobbed again, and he wondered if they were as soft as they looked. “I prattle when I get nervous. Normally I’m quiet.” Nervous hands rose and fell. “Most days you can’t get a word out of me.”
Just my damn lucky day then, isn’t it?
She waved her hand as if to dismiss her concerns. “Silly me, you don’t want to hear my life’s story. You’re here to chew me out for hitting you in the neck with the dart, aren’t you? And you have every right to. Is darts a sport? Or a pastime? I’m not athletic, you know. Never was, except for riding horses.” Her lips pursed while her forehead wrinkled. “No matter, I suppose. Does it hurt? Let me see.” She leaned up on her cowgirl boots. “Show me where it hit.”
Woman, for the love of heaven, shut up. He merely pointed. By now his head throbbed more than the wound.
Warm breath feathered across his neck. Fingertips ran over his skin, and he felt current zap clear to his calloused feet.
“Honestly, you can barely see it. Might want to rub a little antibiotic cream on it before you go to bed tonight, though. That’s what I do when I get a paper cut, or slice my finger cutting veggies. Should be okay in a day or two. A little iodine wouldn’t hurt, but then not everyone likes iodine.”
God, the woman’s like a verbal buzz saw. Pain pounded the backside of his eyeballs, and he pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger.
“Let me buy you a beer. The least I can do is compensate you in some way. Like I said, it was an accident.” She pursed her full, pink lips again—a bad sign. “Funny thing about accidents…”
To shut her up and bring some relief to his headache, Tyler did the one thing he knew would stop her incessant chatter.
He kissed her.
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