As a diehard romantic, I have to admit that I adore the sappy old Hollywood musicals like Singing in the Rain, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and Meet Me in Saint Louis. Last summer, I decided to introduce my 13 year-old daughter to the joy of musicals, and now I’m often treated to the sound of Oklahoma lyrics being belted through the kitchen as I try to put dinner together. Of course, I have to join in.
My all-time favorite musical is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I adore the western setting, the rough and tumble men, and the marriage of convenience story. In fact, it’s this very musical that served as the inspiration for Short-Straw Bride.
My story has four brothers instead of seven, and the men don’t sing and dance while they do their chores. However the spark came when I thought about this movie and then asked, what if? What if instead of having the heroine agree to a marriage of convenience at the beginning of the story, the brothers drew straws to see who would marry her when a good deed of hers goes awry? And what if instead of all the brothers being named in alphabetical order after Bible characters, my four brothers were named for heroes from the Alamo?
From there, the Archer clan was born—Travis, Crockett, Bowie (who only answers to Jim), and Neill. And when Meredith infiltrates their isolated ranch, they are never the same.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the scene where the Archers catch her trespassing:
“I knew I had to warn you,” the woman said. “After your kindness to me, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.”
Travis drew back. “What kindness? I’ve never even seen you before.” Yet the familiarity that continued to stir at the edge of his consciousness made him question the accuracy of that statement.
“But you have.” The crazy woman actually took a step closer to him, completely ignoring the rifle he pointed at her chest. “I was a trespasser then, too, only a much younger one.”
She reached for something in her skirts and he cocked his weapon. “Don’t move, lady. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Instead of shrinking away from him, her eyes held his, filled to the brim with . . . trust?
“You helped me before. Remember? You freed me from that trap and splinted my leg. Now I’m back to return the kindness you extended to me twelve years ago.”
She reached for her skirts again, and heaven help him, all he did was lower his rifle barrel so he could watch her better. He remembered that girl and those abominable traps. How brave she’d been. How trusting. But this couldn’t be her, could it? Surely time hadn’t passed so quickly. She’d been just a child. This woman couldn’t be the same person.
Travis fought his reaction to her and regained his stance. “This is some kind of trick, isn’t it? Some way for you to worm into my good graces so your fiancé can step in and steal my land.”
Her eyes narrowed. “This is no trick, and that man will never be my fiancé.” She tugged on her skirts again. “I can prove who I am, Travis, if you’ll just give me the chance.” She lowered her gaze to somewhere near the ground. “Look at my leg.”
He might be a recluse, but even he knew what she asked wasn’t proper. But apparently Neill was too young to have any qualms.
“Ah, that little scar ain’t nothin’. Jim’s is better.”
A quiet growl rumbled out of Jim, but Crockett actually laughed. Travis turned a glare on the man to his left. Crockett swallowed his mirth.
Fed up with this girl’s shenanigans, Travis finally glanced down at her ankle, at the small amount of skin exposed above the top of her shoe and below her hem. Sure enough, a thin, linear scar marred the pale flesh there.
In a flash, he was seventeen again, tending her wound, and carrying the little girl in his arms all the way to her home. He’d thought of her often—wondering what became of her. Travis brought his gaze up to examine her face again. Her hair was a little darker now, but a few golden streaks remained, evidence of the toe-headed girl he’d met so long ago. Her vivid blue eyes still cut through him as much today as they had back then when they’d been full of tears. The curves she sported now were definitely new, but the determination and bravery he remembered clung to her bearing like a grass burr to a pant leg.
That scrawny little kid had grown into a right handsome woman.
Travis lowered his weapon. “Good to see you again, Meredith.”
So do you have a favorite musical? Or is there a book you’d like to see turned into a musical?
I’ll be giving away two copies of Short-Straw Bride today, so be sure to leave a comment.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!