Hi! I write contemporary romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance line. My sixteenth book will be available October 1, 2019, in both print and eformat from most major etailers. Links below the image for clicky-clicky ease :)
Random Thoughts and Useless Trivia
As Lia worked on the one email, a mass-exodus of the galley happened. The people who’d been there all summer with daylight skies and no canvas for the Aurora Australis, might not get another chance. They didn’t start and stop with the flip of a switch, and the skies trended toward twilight now, with darkness far out into the wide, flat, fairly creepy far distance—so different from her mountainous Douro River homeland.
As soon as she hit send, she zipped into the light indoor jacket she wore all the time, returned her tray, and hurried outside. Everyone’s hurry to get out there had informed her decision not to go back to her cabin for warmer attire. She’d be fine for a quick pop out, and if she got too cold, she’d visit the saunas she’d only discovered yesterday.
When she finally made it outside, she found herself at the back of a crowd, all heads turned toward the flat horizon.
She stepped to one side and another, weaseling her way to a spot where she could best view the looming dark.
“You didn’t miss it.” West said from beside her, her first indication he was nearby.
“Did you make it out in time to see some?”
“I wasn’t bent over my mobile phone.” He smiled a little.
So there had been some, but he felt confident there would be more?
She tugged her ever-present hat down more firmly on her ears and shoved her hands into her pockets. “How do you know they’ll recur?”
He turned back to the horizon. She actually felt him look away from her, because she’d determined not to watch him. She’d also determined not to interact much, and yet… here she was, interacting.
“I’m only staying a bit. It’s too cold to watch nothing happening except the approaching dark, which is neat in a different way.”
“It is.” He agreed, then added, “Usually when aurora happen, they happen for a little while. It’s not a one-off. Comes in waves.”
“You’ve seen them before?”
“Not here. In Scotland. Years ago.”
Something else she hadn’t known about him. His accent and name gave away his homeland, but she’d not known he’d been far enough north to view aurora borealis.
“On holiday or at home?”
As privileged an upbringing as she’d had, with money and travel, Lia had never traveled north far enough to see the northern lights. When she skied, she went to the Alps. The rest of the time, she went to warmer places.
“Where I lived.”
Where he’d lived… not at home?
“Where was that?” She asked, unable to stop herself.
“Hmm?” He glanced sideways at her, and she was watching him again, not the sky. “Inverness mostly. Kinlochleven for a while.”
“North.” He looked back at the sky, then touched her insulated arm. “You want to haver on about nothin’ important, or see the aurora?”
A murmur rose from the crowd just after his words, drawing her gaze back to the horizon, which now glowed a strange, unearthly green in a general, diffuse, and… disappointing manner.
Not the light show she’d expected.
She’d watched videos in preparation for her trip, documentaries. She’d looked at photos and read blogs about Aurora Borealis viewing.
“Is that it?” She asked, truly beginning to feel the cold. Excitement had kept it a background buzzing before that, but a bit of green sky in the far distance?
“Might repeat like that. Dunno.” He frowned as she pulled her hands from the thin pockets and began rubbing them together, then stuffed back into the pockets in the vain hope of not contracting some dreaded frozen-Antarctic-finger syndrome. Or frostbite. That one was a real thing. “But if it is, you’ll have plenty of time to see them again, catalog the colors and whatever, over the winter. If you’re stayin’.”
“I’m staying.” She repeated. The man wasn’t going to stop poking her to go. Until he went. When the lot of them were finally forever gone.
Ugh, she was wasting her time.
More important things to do than watch a whole lot of nothing spectacular happen. “I’m going in.”
“Give it another minute.” West said, and it should’ve sounded like an order, but the softness of his voice was all velvet suggestion, coaxing.
Two more days until the transport bus began driving people the short distance to the coast where boats waited to spirit them back to the world. Two days and then she wouldn’t see him anymore. Maybe never again after.
It was more that thought than anything that had her pausing, looking back to the sky.
People kept shifting and blocking her view, so she edged into West’s space to see the horizon.
The glow was there, rippling a bit or pulsing. She wasn’t sure what to call it. Not something to fill her with wonder, as she’d hoped. But just when disappointment began to settle over her, the green grew brighter, and then rippled out, glowing fingers reaching from the dark horizon toward the twilight sky under which they stood.
It moved slowly at first, and then faster in undulating waves that almost looked alive.
She wasn’t aware of having made any decisions, just the cold all around her, the dancing sky above her, and one warmer hand. Because she’d grabbed his.
Not breathing. The murmuring that had taken hold of the crowd faded to reverent silence. All around them, the wind that continuously blew across the barren landscape whispered and whistled. Her own ragged breathing, brought something low and deep into it, and the rapid beat of her heart. The music of a desolate, majestic landscape. Life and beauty where there should be none, deepened by the large, strong hand in her own.
The hand he wouldn’t want to be holding.
Because this was something she felt. Not him. Not for her. Never for her.
It didn’t take long for the truth of her situation to come swimming back to her mind, and with it, she found the strength and self-respect to unfold her fingers from his.
Under the glow of the green and yellow aurora, she felt his gaze on her instead of the sky, and balled her hands at her side to keep from performing another round of self-destructive stupid.
She counted heartbeats pounding so fast that she wouldn’t have been able to breathe at all had she been saying the numbers aloud. Too fast. Too hard.
She closed her eyes.
Go back in and take care of what was expected of her. Emails. Work. Sleep. Repeat.
She hadn’t started moving, the thoughts had appeared in her mind, chiding her, shaming her into action, when she felt West’s hand enfold her tight, cold fist again.
He didn’t stop there, just gave a little tug until she was standing in front of him, and then repeated with her other hand, wrapping both in warmth.
“You’re cold.” He said softly over her shoulder, holding her hands and keeping close, but somehow managing not to put his arms fully around her to do it.
She was cold. She should wish to be colder on the inside, to grow a callus around her still-smarting heart, to be as cold inside as she was outside. If it would help, she’d strip herself bare and pack her body in the snow like a kid packed himself in sand at the beach.
Cold-hearted, less prone to emotion, more to reason. Then she could reason her way through how stupid it was to let him warm her hands when it also warmed her heart and a hollow she’d been babying for months.
The forking-fingers of the green light show in the sky retreated, and even if the next round was guaranteed to be more spectacular than that, she’d still have gone inside. It was too confusing with West, and while she’d pretended she was only angry until she’d seen him, since then the wound had been ripped fresh open. It had never closed, never had the chance to scar. And if she knew anything about wounds and scarring, she knew the scar got thicker, grizzlier, and harder to ignore the more times it was re-opened.
A few words said, and she extracted her hands from his to put some distance between them, and hurried inside to her emails and responsibilities.
Two days couldn’t come fast enough.