My first first-ever suspense story, Faithful Danger released just last Friday. Yeah, three weeks on the heels of Sanctuary…who woulda thunk two so close? It’s sure been fun. But suspense? What was I thinking?
It’s true. I don’t consider myself a very logical thinker, so I’m truly surprised this story worked out. I have to admit at getting a helpful start. One day, the editor in chief at White Rose Publishing tossed out a “phrase prompt” and “situational prompt”, and I got intrigued. The story had to include the following details at some point, as well as a Christian theme and HEA.. For example, those silly shoes? I have my heroine, a barista, wear them as a maid of honor at a wedding the mysterious hero crashes. And she puppy-sits two Golden Retrievers while the bride’s off on her honeymoon.
Two puppies, a woman in hiding, a mysterious man, and a pair of pink polka dot pumps.
“Dead guys don’t usually show up for breakfast,” she said, staring at the very-much-alive man who stood in front of the pastry counter.
…I want to stick with a Western brand in whatever I publish , so Faithful Danger’s hero, while a high-priced private investigator, grew up on a Colorado ranch (near Hearts Crossing ranch, of course!), and is still very much a cowboy. The book is set in the ranch country of central California’s gorgeous Santa Ynez valley, where the heroine is hiding out in the small fictional town of Rancho Lorena. I chose the location as a tribute to the folks there who hold fundraising events for Livestrong every year. Lance Armstrong has trained in them thar hills. The place and cause are very dear to my heart.
As for the excerpt, well, I was too chicken to get into the trunk myself. Thank God for the internet that told me just what the heroine would have to do. With his parents’ permission, our four year old grandson did, though, and indeed, there are glow in the dark releases that are easy and instantaneous!
Anyway, things came together pretty well with minimal edits, so I hope you enjoy this trip down Suspense Lane. From all commenters today, I’ll pick a name from the Stetson for a pdf. copy.
Frightened and alone, Caffey Matthews leaves behind her wealthy Manhattan life after her husband’s financial crimes and suicide…knowing his enemies are in pursuit. Finding succor in remote California ranch land helps her to reclaim her faith and trust in God. But the heart-stopping stranger Rhee Ryland frightens her even as she’s powerless to halt her deepening feelings for him…
Believing she’s involved in her late husband’s misdeeds, cowboy-turned high-priced private investigator Rhee Ryland arrives in Rancho Lorena on her tail ready to haul her back. Never expecting to fall in love with her, even more surprising is his return to his childhood Lord.
Locked in the trunk of the car!
Caffey battled to stay calm, to breathe normally, to hold down panic. To conserve air. The compartment wasn’t air tight, but heat and hyperventilation could kill. Lord, keep me safe, she begged. But even knowing He was at her side, she had to figure out what to do by herself.
Breathe deep, slow. Breathe deep, slow. Amazingly, she did know what to do. Everett had borne a pathological fear that one day, either one of them might be kidnapped and held to ransom. Now, he was the abductor. Her lip quivered, and she swallowed tears.
Scrunched into a bundle of bones and hot, tightened skin, she widened her eyes in the darkness to try to detect a glow-in-the-dark-handle. Spirits deflating, she understood the car wasn’t a late model with a required trunk release. Just in case, she groped with her fingers to try for a toggle switch or button.
Nothing. Her heart flew into her throat, and she concentrated on easing the pain in her cramped shoulders. Maybe, just maybe the backseat would fold down. Doubtful she’d find a release in the trunk, she explored anyway with her fingertips, then unsuccessful, tried to unwind her legs enough to push the seat down. It didn’t give a centimeter.
Panic started to roil, but she refused to let it. A Psalm of David dashed through her mind. Keep my soul and deliver me, for I put my trust in You. The words had saved her before, too many times to count, and a smidge of relief skittered through her. The Lord wouldn’t let her face this alone.