Fiction Friday -- Certain Suspicions

Wow, I haven't pulled this old thing out of the closet in some time! But a writer on the Wild Rose Press chat loop started a conversation, things were talked about, stories were mentioned...

And I thought of this: The first novel I ever it's 8th draft [AT LEAST!] I read it now and see so many things that I need to fix. Please forgive them. I actually hate this scene. It's the hero and heroine -- their first encounter within the story. Personality flaws are glaringly obvious... As a matter of fact, one author said of my hero. He will not appeal to the reader. He is too unlikable. At the time, I sat dejected, staring at the screen thinking, what the hell do I do now? Today, I would have thanked her. Thank you! That is as it should be. If our characters were perfect at the beginning of the story, there would be NO STORY!

Thanks to Alice Audrey. *waving* Hi! I'm posting an excerpt from the first manuscript I ever completed. ENJOY IT!

Certain Suspicions
by Bethanne Strasser
Another day went by before Jim came to see her. Danielle’s disappointment was unwarranted but she couldn’t stop it. She used all of her stubborn will in order to shield her heart from becoming completely lost to this man. She had protected herself through grief and heartache for ten years. She wouldn’t crumble under the pressure now.

So she pretended not to notice how he filled the doorway with his broad shoulders. How his sandy colored hair was longer than she had ever seen it before. She liked it. It was a carefree side of him that he rarely showed to even his closest friends. Neither his gloriously muscled physique nor the anger that radiated from his green eyes could determine his vocation as the owner and headmaster at a boy’s school.

The grin she gave him was most likely lopsided from the swelling and bruising but she made an effort anyway. "Hi."

He awkwardly carried pretty flowers in the store provided vase. She watched his hands gently place it on the table—they shook and her gaze shifted quickly to his face.

"I…" He stopped, cleared his throat. "…you look horrible, Dan."

She had always been able to count on him for honesty. "Uh, thanks?"

He didn’t apologize just moved to the bed and with the tip of his finger, touched her face. "Are they giving you enough for the pain?"

"Yes. They gave me my last dose this morning. I go home this afternoon. It’ll be Tylenol with codeine from here on in." She watched him sit across the room in the guest chair where he lifted and lowered himself twice before settling in. His leg bounced on the tile floor and she narrowed her eyes. Was he angry as she had thought or just nervous?

"What the hell, Danielle!"

"Excuse me?"

"Brian tells me you aren’t coming home. I want to know why."
She didn’t like his tone of voice at all even if she did understand the frustration bottled up inside of him. She’d known him long enough to identify that tendency. It stemmed from being the ward of an abusive uncle for the first ten years of his life and although his temper occasionally denied the fact, Jim did not like conflict. "Jesus Dannie, what are you thinking?"

"I’m thinking about the safety of the people I love, damn it." She knew he hated swearing but since he started it…

He took a deep breath. "Your father is out of his mind with worry. Brian very nearly had to sit him when he heard you were here. Are you really going to hurt him by not coming home? Your family can take care of you."

He was suggesting her greatest fear. She couldn’t stand the thought of anyone she loved being hurt or worse, being dead. No, she had to stay here in the city. It was her only viable option. "That’s sweet of you Jim, but it’s just not necessary right now. The policeman told me he had several leads and Frank’s here, too."

Dannie was being purposefully sweet yet determined in her plight. But he watched her closely as the heat of guilt warmed her neck.

"How long have we known each other, Dannie?"

She lifted her shoulder. "Twelve years." Apprehension tightened the muscles in her shoulders.

"I think you can cut the bull. I can’t believe you would do this." His disappointment unexpectedly bit into her conscience. The defeated quality of his voice tore a hole in her heart. "I don’t want to fight you anymore. You’ll be safe at home and your dad needs you, Dan. Don’t make him beg, please. Someone wants to hurt you." He faced the wall, his back rigid. "I’m not sure I want to wait around for you to get killed."

"And what the hell does that mean?" Were they friends or weren’t they? She hadn’t expected an ultimatum. God, her head hurt.

He shook his head and turned to her. "Stop running away, Dannie. Face this thing and come home."

His eyes spoke to her like they hadn’t since she was in high school and her mouth moved but no sound escaped. She cleared her throat.

Leaning over her bed, he pierced her with those damn eyes. "Make your choice Dannie…"