This week we’re looking at past history. We all have it and it’s something I think characters desperately need in order to show why they tick the way they do. I believe Jessie in Because of You had the most tragic history of all my Samhain characters, so I chose to share a snippet from the book with you.
“I have a feeling you’re going to have quite a long wait until you can hit your bed. Wanna come in for a cup of coffee?” she offered, sorry to see her night with Caleb end so soon. He was an easy man to talk to.
“I’d love coffee,” he said. “Now that I’m away from the madness, I’m not looking forward to plunging back into it right away.”
Jessie grinned and led him through the small house.
“Todd and Stephen have done a hell of a lot of work on the ranch. It needed a major facelift and some big time renovations when they moved in. Looks great now,” Caleb said. Stephen had inherited the ranch from his parents after their tragic deaths in a car accident two years earlier. Before that, he and Todd had resided in Denver and the two of them had been her constant companions along with Tommy since they’d all lived in the same apartment complex. She and Tommy had missed them when they moved away, but they’d understood their friends’ desire to find an easier pace of life and their dream of setting up a bed and breakfast at the house. She knew Stephen, born and bred on this ranch, had never truly been happy with life in the big city and his high-stress job at an investment firm.
“Yeah, I came up with my husband right after they left Denver. I honestly can’t believe all the improvements they’ve made. They’ll be ready for business soon.”
Jessie had been making the coffee as she spoke, but even with her back turned she sensed Caleb’s sudden tension. She turned to see his eyebrows lowered, his face serious and upset.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, wondering what she could have said to have produced such a rapid change in his disposition.
“Husband?” he asked and she saw his eyes dart to her ring finger. She given up wearing her diamond engagement ring, but she couldn’t seem to part from the actual white gold wedding band.
She sucked in a breath at his question. She’d carefully avoided talking about Tommy all night. She ’d wanted a night to forget, a night to pretend that her life was normal and happy and that she hadn’t had her heart ripped out of her chest eight months earlier.
“I’m a widow,” she said and the sound of that simple word released the flow of ice cold water throughout her body once again. For a few hours, she’d been warm. Hell, between Caleb and the alcohol, she spent more than a few moments on fire and it had felt so damn good.
“I’m sorry,” he said, rising and crossing the room to take her icy hands in his. She didn’t realize until his touch that she was shaking. In just one evening, he’d diminished the shadow of fear that constantly hovered over her. He’d rejuvenated her, made her feel alive.
She shook her head, desperately willing away the chill, the sadness. Dammit, she didn’t want to be cold anymore. She was tired of being afraid. “It’s been eight months and I’m afraid I sometimes tend to talk about Tommy in the present tense, like he’s still here.”
“Had he been ill?” he asked and she smiled sadly. He sounded very much like a doctor.
“Freak accident. He slipped on a patch of ice and hit his head on a car door. It was late and brutally cold and he was the last person leaving work that night. It was several hours before I found him and by then—”
“You found him?” he asked, pulling her gently to a chair in the kitchen. He pushed her down before sitting next to her. He never released his grip on her hands and she knew he felt the coldness in them as he began to rub them with his own as if to warm them.
“I was concerned when he didn’t come home and didn’t answer his cell. He was an accountant and it was audit season, so he worked late occasionally, but it wasn’t like him not to call and check in. Finally, I worried myself into a frenzy and decided to drive by his office, fully prepared to give him holy hell for scaring me so.”
He nodded. “I’m sorry it was you who found him.”
She shrugged and closed her eyes. She was a master at controlling her tears, yet here with Caleb it seemed harder to do. She’d managed to push her pain deep inside her and she even found it easier of late to discuss Tommy’s death. Tonight, whether it was the alcohol or her tiredness or Caleb’s compassion, the emotions were threatening to bubble over and she refused to let that happen.
“Well, I suppose I managed to bring tonight’s fun level down. That’s me—the official ruination of all parties,” she tried to joke. She pulled her hands out of his comforting grip and went back to the counter. “Do you like cream and sugar in your coffee?”
“No, I drink it black, and, Jessie, you didn’t ruin anything. You’re going through a damn hard time right now, dealing with something no one should ever have to deal with. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I wish I could give you an easy fix, but I’m afraid nothing except time will cure this.”
She grinned over her shoulder, determined to return to the easy banter they’d enjoyed all night. “That’s quite a bedside manner you have, Dr. Caleb.” The flirtatious line felt rusty and foreign as it fell from her lips, but Caleb didn’t seem to notice.
He gave a short, brief laugh. “Oh yeah, I’m a master at bedside—” He paused mid-sentence and she was surprised when he walked over to her and placed his hands on her cheeks. “Christ, Jess. I want to kiss you so badly it hurts.”
“So kiss me,” she whispered, uncertain where the words had come from, his and hers. From the second he touched her face, she wanted him with a passion she’d thought long gone.
He leaned down and took her lips gently, sweetly, but she refused to be patronized, treated with kid gloves. She was a living, breathing woman and she wanted him. Wanted him beyond reason, beyond care.
Click below to check out more “past history” by these fantastic authors.