Hoping it would eventually end up as book one of a series, I made it easy on myself and put three brothers in the storyline. I also made up a character sheet I opened every time I worked on a book. I made four columns--character's full name and age; occupation; role in the story; and physical description. I didn't want the mother to have blue eyes in book one and brown eyes in book three. Or a twenty-eight year-old woman be twenty-five in the next story. After all, I'm the only one allowed to get younger. All point of view characters were written in red; the rest in black. You can imagine by book three, the list is quite long, but my characters are consistent. The groomsman in book one is not the gardener in book three. I even list people who are only mentioned, but are never "on stage" in the book.
Book two releases on April 7th and it's available for pre-order now. The hero and heroine have a past history. There's a lot of pain to overcome and a lot of trust to rebuild. Love can be scarred and dented.
A wounded heart can take a lot of time to heal. One minute you feel good about the other person and ten minutes later, old doubts resurface.
I've also worked hard to make sure each brother has a distinct personality. Creighton, the eldest, is overly protective of everyone and blusters a lot. Since his dad passed when Creighton was ten, he's taken to heart being the head man of the family. Bryce is the youngest and feels the deepest. His wife died in childbirth and he's the single dad raising and worrying over his daughter, Colleen. He's also struggled with letting go of his grief of losing his wife at such a young age. Then there's the middle son--Ronan.
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Ronan is more of a loner. He gets tired of being polite to guests at the family lodge and, every so often, he and his inner bear take off for a cabin he built higher in the rugged Highlands. He needs the solitude. He needs to treat his bear with the freedom to run, which is what his bear was doing when a woman parachuted from an aircraft and landed right on him. Here's a sneak peak--
A sound snagged his attention. A whooshing. His bear stopped and tilted his head, seeking the direction of the unfamiliar noise. At first, he suspected something…a tree, perhaps…had fallen across the stream, blocking the natural flow of water and creating the strange racket but, nay. This was different and growing louder.
He stood on his hind legs to get a better view.
“Oh shit! Oh holy shit! Ohhh blessed mother of Prada, holy effing shit!” A strange human shrieked.
He glanced skyward at a person plummeting toward him, tied to a billowing red parachute.
Nay, buddy, ye take care of the intruder. Roar yer furry arse off.
The bear roared and waved his upper legs in a threatening manner.
The trespasser yanked like crazy on the ropes as if they’d swerve him in a different direction. It didna matter. He crashed into the bear with a potent combination of weight and the force of his speed, his knees ramming the beast’s shoulders to the ground. Fer an instant, the wind was knocked out of the bear as both he and the person from the sky fought to push away the silky fabric. Fer a few fear-filled minutes, the two made eye contact and the dark-lashed person screamed so loudly, the bear glanced back over his head at the forest behind them for a quick retreat from the infernal racket.
The skinny human’s heart beat like a frightened rabbit. It had an odor of wild strawberries and arms that wouldna be still as the person fought to escape the bear’s hold. And its persistent high-pitched screeching made the animal’s ears ring.
Finally, the person stopped screaming and spoke, “A b-b-bear! I’ve landed on a wild and wicked bear! Christ, I’ve escaped the CIA only to become a bear’s dinner.” The person reached between them and unclicked the belt holding the parachute apparatus before slipping his arms free, tossing more of the red silk over the bear’s head, and rolling away from the parachute.
Ronan’s bear fought to work his way from under the soft batch of fabric and with one eye exposed, lay still to watch his advisory roll toward a tree and stand.
The human was a woman.
A frantic woman with arms that waved as she grumbled.
“A bear! A freakin’, smelly, hairy bear. Survival classes never taught me proper procedure for landing from a jump with my crotch under a bear’s chin. Damn incompetent instructors. Hell, they claimed they were preparing us for anything and everything we’d encounter.” She slipped off her backpack. “Calm down.” Both of her opened hands made a pushing down motion. “Calm down. I’ve read several survival guides. I know what to do. I can handle this. I can.
“Do not run from a bear. Make yourself a large target and yell to scare the bear away. Bears are easily frightened unless it’s mating season.
“Oh, wouldn’t it be just my freaking luck to fall on a horny bear? Oh, hell and shit.” She stood on her toes, her arms upstretched, and her hands poised like claws. “Roar! Growl! Snarl! Hiss! Run, you hairy bastard!” She bellowed like Colleen, Ronan’s niece, when she was throwing a tantrum.
Even with his bear at the forefront of their dual persona, Ronan rolled over and laughed. Laughed like he hadna in years. Me God, what a gutsy woman. Funny and plucky at the same time.