For this week’s “What I’m Writing Wednesday,” I thought I’d share the beginning of one of the side projects I’m working on. I need to have at least two things in the works at all times, because then, even if I get stuck on one project, I can be working on something else. Right now, I’m working on finishing Nether and Earth Bound, but I also have this book in the works for those times when the HIDDEN world is just driving me too crazy.
This is the beginning of the first book of what I’m calling “The Copper Falls series,” which will be out next year. It will be paranormal romance, and not at all related to the HIDDEN series. So, here’s the opening scene in the first book (which I don’t have a title for just yet, so we’ll just call it “Copper Falls #1” for now.)
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Copper Falls #1
Sophie unlocked her front door with a sigh of relief. Long day. A busy day, which was always good, but she was more than ready to take a cup of tea out to her garden and lose track of everything other than the perfume of herbs and the trilling melodies of the birds in the woods that bordered her cottage.
As she turned and grabbed her mail out of the box, she noticed a rumbling motorcycle turn into the driveway down the road. The farm had been empty for nearly a year. She grimaced. The idea of hearing a motorcycle all the time wasn’t exactly appealing. She shook her head and went into the house.
The second she walked in, everything just felt right. She breathed in the clean, natural scents of the herbs drying from the beams above, beeswax. The soaps she’d made the day before were curing on wooden racks in the next room, and they perfumed the entire house. She flipped on the radio, started bobbing her head immediately as Rihanna wafted from the speakers.
She shrugged out of the white button-down top she wore to work, shimmied out of the crisp khakis. She pulled on a pair of well-worn jeans and a faded Detroit Red Wings t-shirt.
She was in the kitchen, debating over whether she wanted a salad or scrambled eggs for dinner, when there was a knock at the door. She glanced in that direction, then at the clock. She never got visitors out here. That was the entire reason she’d been so thrilled to have inherited this in the first place.
She sighed and glanced out the round window in the door. There was a man standing on her porch, clad in denim and a t-shirt. He was facing away from her, looking across the road. Longish, wavy, dark blond hair. Very, very broad shoulders.
Sophie opened the door a little, kept it braced with her leg. “Yes?”
The man turned around, and Sophie’s mouth went dry.
His hair was a little unruly, and he had a short, neat beard. Long black lashes. Icy blue eyes.
Eyes she’d dreamed, not knowing what it meant. Visions that spoke of danger and heartbreak, and always, those eyes. Sophie tried to force herself to remember to breathe.
“Hi,” he said, and his voice was deep. Low. Almost a growl. “I just moved in across the road. There’s a goat in my yard. Wondering if it’s yours.”
She blushed. “Oh, shit. That would be Merlin. Sorry.” Sophie slid her feet into the sandals she kept by the door and stepped out onto the porch. Beside him, she felt tiny. He was easily over six feet tall, and her five-five put her roughly at chest level.
And what a chest it was, she thought to herself. Holy broad-and-muscled, Batman.
“I’ll get him. I’m so sorry about that. I just got off work and haven’t even checked on them yet.” Stop babbling, she told herself, and clamped her mouth shut.
“It’s not a problem.”
“It will be if you plan on having livestock. I’ve been putting off reinforcing the fencing. I’ll have to get on that.”
“Not planning on any livestock,” he said as he followed her across the road.
“No? You’ve got over sixty acres, right?” she asked.
“Yeah. Mostly, I just wanted somewhere quiet and where I could spread out a little. No neighbors on top of me.”
She smiled to herself. He sounded like her. “And your first day in, you have a neighbor’s goat in your yard.”
“Well, goats I don’t mind so much,” he answered, and she could hear the smile in his voice.
They crossed the two-lane road side by side, and it occurred to her that she was walking away from her home, her sanctuary, her safe haven, with a man she’d (maybe?) seen in frightening visions.
If she was one of those witches who could summon fire or wind or something, she’d have less to worry about it.
She cursed her stupidity, but walked with him nonetheless. It was entirely possible this was not the man from her dreams. And, anyway, she was new at this witch stuff. What the hell did she know about visions?
She followed him around the side of the house, up a long gravel driveway, and there was Merlin, standing there, calmly chewing at some grass near one of the fence posts.
“Merlin, you devil,” Sophie muttered under her breath. She clicked her tongue at him, and he raised his chocolate-brown head and studied her. She walked toward him calmly, nonchalantly. As if she had no intention whatsoever of grabbing the blue nylon collar he was wearing and leading him home. She was aware of tall, muscled, and gorgeous watching her, and felt even stupider for the ploy she was making.
Sophie sprung at the goat and he tried to buck away, but she grabbed his collar and held tight when he tried to fight his way away. He pulled, and tried to pivot, and she planted her heels in the soft soil and tried to hold him fast. After a few attempts of breaking free, he just gave her a bored look and bent to chew at the grass near their feet.
That settled, Sophie chanced a glance toward her new neighbor. He was watching her, an unreadable expression in his eyes.
Sophie gathered as much dignity as she could and led Merlin back toward the driveway.
“Sorry about that,” she muttered, well aware that her face was burning with embarrassment.
“No problem,” he answered. “Does he get out a lot?”
She was walking down the driveway, and the fact that he joined her only made her nervous. “Yes. I’ll fix the fencing. I just need to get the replacement fence.” And the money to pay for it, she thought to herself. “Goats are a major pain. Wish I’d known that before I bought them,” she said aloud.
“Why do you have them, then?” he asked, putting his hands in his jeans pockets as they crossed the street again.
“For their milk. I make soaps,” she said, shrugging. “Made more sense to have them around for that. I was stupid to accept a male, though, since I could just borrow a male when I need one for the girls. I felt sorry for him,” she finished, feeling like a babbling idiot.
She glanced toward him, noticed a blank expression on his face.
“Anyway. It won’t happen again,” she said, looking with hope toward her door. Something in her told her to run from him, to get away and stay away. She’d be setting wards tonight, she thought. Weak as hers were, they were better than nothing.
“If it does, at least I know who he belongs to,” he answered. “I’m Calder, by the way.”
“Sophie,” she said, glancing toward him again, feeling relief once they stepped into her yard. She could feel the energies of her own magic, that of her ancestors, there. It was the only place she felt safe.
“Well, Sophie—“ Calder began, when a delivery van pulled up. The driver jumped out and passed a clipboard to Sophie. She knew what it was already, tried not to show her panic. She signed, and the driver handed her the thin brown envelope, departed without another word. She looked down at it, hating that her hands were shaking.
She took a breath. “Sorry again about the goat. Welcome to the neighborhood,” she said absentmindedly. “Excuse me.”
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And, that’s that! Have a great day, all!