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Romance Novel Excerpts – Blue Wide Sky

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Do you love romance novel excerpts and second chance stories? I have always had a soft spot for them. LaVyrle Spencer’s Bittersweet was one of my favorites, and I’ve read it so many times, I feel like the characters are people I’ve really known. It is still one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read.

A second chance is something Gabby and Sam never expect to get in Blue Wide Sky, my next release. They fell in love as teenagers, but were separated when Sam’s father took a job in South Africa. Although they had plans to wait it out and eventually be together, life had other paths for them to take. Read an excerpt from the opening of the book when Sam arrives back at Smith Mountain Lake, the place where he spent summers as a boy and where Gabby still lives.

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You know how there are some things in life that you eventually allow yourself to admit you’re never going to do again? Things that you clung to when you were young with the arrogance that underscored life through your twenties, anyway. Until you hit thirty and that little ping of awareness started up. Uh-oh. This really might not go exactly like I thought it was going to. No u-turns in sight. Just straight ahead highway like the North Dakota stretch from Gackle to Beaver Creek where you can see so far in the distance, it looks like you’ll just fall off the edge of the earth if you ever do get there.

At some point along the way, that’s what I eventually came to accept about Smith Mountain Lake and my memories of it. That this place and everything I had loved about it as a boy were part of my past, a time long gone, so far behind me that it wasn’t possible to ever travel back.

Or at least that’s what I would have told myself just a few days ago.

And yet here I am now, behind the wheel of a rented Ford Explorer, headed out of Roanoke down 581 South to 220 and the winding curves that will take me back to the heart of my childhood summers.

The H&C coffee pot and the Dr. Pepper 10-2-4 signs are still here among the downtown high rises, both erected sometime in the 40’s. The factoid comes to my brain with my father’s voice still attached, and I remember how he’d point them out those first summers when we’d drive in from D.C., headed for the lake in our packed-to-the-gills station wagon.

New on the city landscape, though, is the train-shaped museum that is a more recent part of Roanoke’s contemporary identity. I had read about it in the New York Times online and remember the pang just seeing the city name in print lifted up inside me.

To the left of 581, Mill Mountain looms in the distance, its famous star now modestly dim in the daylight. At night, it glows red, white and blue on top of its post, earning Roanoke it’s nickname as the star city of the south.

A Starbucks, Lowes, and a BMW dealership have grown up alongside 220 heading out of Roanoke. It looks vastly different from the last time I was here, and I am suddenly anxious to leave the city limits where the countryside starts to appear in short, more familiar stretches.

But it isn’t until I’ve hit route 40 headed east outside of Rocky Mount that I start to see green pastures, black and white Holstein cows grazing slope after slope. Barbed wire alternates with white board fencing, the houses ranging in style from brick ranches to two-story farmhouse structures.

I’ve hit late afternoon traffic, and a big yellow school bus has cars lined up out of sight behind me. The transplanted Londoner in me itches to blow the horn and wave for the driver to pull over and let us all pass. I suppress the urge, realizing I don’t want to be that guy. Not here where everyone seems content to wait. Where I used to be someone content to wait.

The thought of London brings with it a ping of guilt.

I should give Evan and Analise a call. Let them know where I am.

But I don’t have the energy to get over that wall just now. It’s possible the kids haven’t even missed me yet. Evan’s on the fast track of a young career, and Analise is nearing the end of her junior year in boarding school. They are both busy and occupied with their own lives.

For now, I’m grateful for this. At some point, I will have to talk with them, but I can use the time here to figure out how I’m going to do that.

And as for Megan, I don’t really owe her an explanation of any kind. Sad, but true, after twenty-three years of marriage. The life we built together wasn’t initially mine by choice, but I did commit to it, and if what we had never felt like a love of a lifetime kind of love, I grew to care deeply for her. I was faithful to her. Odd as it sounds, in some strange way, I am glad that I wasn’t the one who caused our marriage to end, and that I don’t have that particular guilt to live with. . .

Get Blue Wide Sky here.

 

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