I’ve talked a lot about the central “challenge” faced by my male protagonist in Healing Hearts but wanted to take this opportunity to chat a bit about Abigail Powers, the woman who provides him with the impetus to slowly but surely move past his trauma and find happiness again.
Abby has her own set of demons. She had a loving family… once…until her father died and her mother “crawled into a vodka bottle and was never seen again.” Abby does her best to cope, but the added burden of having been married to a sociopathic liar for three years who bolted after running up thousands of dollars in debt in her name has left her an empty shell of herself.
By the time she “meets” Jay Longmire, she is reduced to working 40 plus hours a week at a friend’s coffee shop in the tourist town of Traverse City, Michigan, her hometown. Her life is a long trudge of work and study because she has a dream: to be a registered nurse. And she is eagerly awaiting her acceptance from the University of Michigan nursing school.
Abby is a great foil for Jay. She is a nurturer by nature and the “sad, movie-star handsome man” who comes to her coffee bar everyday to sit and stare out the window while his expensive coffee gets cold really has her intrigued. When he finally snaps and nearly passes out right in front of her, her natural inclinations take over and lead her down a path she never imagined. But her mother’s further descent into addiction and dependence nearly takes it all from her. Until she is ready to admit that she too can accept emotional support and help from others, including the man she has reluctantly fallen in love with.
Jay Longmire had it all–a successful business, a beautiful wife, two loving children. But one normal Sunday evening in Ann Arbor everything was ripped from his arms at knifepoint. He has retreated to Traverse City to hide from the world, nursing his physical and emotional wounds and trying to cope with mind-numbing guilt over his inability to protect his family.
Abby Powers serves him coffee he never drinks and has become obsessed with the movie-star handsome but melancholy man. And the anticipation of his appearance every day takes her mind off her own messy life.
What begins as a near desperate physical connection out of the blue develops into a friendship that has the potential to heal two damaged hearts. But Jay is terrified to love again. While Abby’s fierce independence forces them both to acknowledge the deeper relationship they both desire, but that remains just out of reach.
“Stop flirting with me. That’s a personal bubble violation,” he whispered, letting his lips graze her earlobe, loving how her whole body shivered against him.
“Fine, then stop pressing against me so hard I can feel how much money is in your pocket.”
“Touché.” But he gripped her closer. The candlelight flickered, the music embraced them, and she nearly brought him to his knees with her next words.
“I can’t be what you want me to be, Jay. I have goals. I need my independence. I want to make it on my own.”
He sucked in a breath, slid the hand he had on her hip around to the small of her back. He didn’t need this. But he wanted it so much he was about to explode. “I’m never going to be what you want me to be, either. Let’s just be…what we are…tonight.”
She laid her head against his chest, and he shut his eyes, trying not to let the moment overwhelm him, send him screaming into the night. Christy’s face at their wedding, at the birth of their children, and that last moment when her eyes clouded over after she told him not to blame himself while he watched her die—they all rose, clear and bright. He swallowed, leaned down into Abigail’s thick riot of dark curls, sucked in a deep breath.
“What do you want me to be for you…tonight?” he asked.
She put her hand to his face, went up on her tiptoes, and met his lips, urgent and needy. He kissed her, listening to the crowd clap and catcall. Then broke away. “Well?” he asked, his body zinging.
“I want you to be the guy who takes me to bed again.” The simplicity of her words taking his breath away. “I don’t want to be made love to, not now. I need you, Jay. With me, inside me, all over me. And you need it, too. No strings, no emotion. Only physical urges met. I’m willing. Are you?”
He stepped away from her, a little shocked and a lot horny. “Give me two minutes.” Grateful the room had dimmed for the music and dancing, he dropped three hundred in cash on the table, more than enough to cover the meal, wine, and a healthy tip, and took her hand.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she said, giggling when he pushed her up against the side of his SUV and dove into her mouth, sweeping into it with his tongue, his hands cradling her face then buried in her hair. She molded into him, making that damn noise, the one that made him insane, down in her throat.
He broke from her, stared into her eyes. “Yes.”
Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great middle west, in a Major College Town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry) has prepped her for life as erotic romance author. When she isn’t sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications. Her ground breaking romance sub genre: “Romance for Real Life” has gained thousands of fans and followers, interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)
Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.
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