In my upcoming book, Soul Tie, Tamara is married to cold-hearted federal judge Blaine Castellan, and after only a year's passage, yearns to divorce him. Coincidentally, associate Dr. Gil Payne is the perfect match for Tamara, but unfortunately, she is already married.
In this excerpt, Blaine refuses to drive Tamara home after a minor medical procedure, and she plans to take a cab. However, Gil gets wind of it and gallantly offers her a lift home. To her delight, they stop first at his beautiful home.
“Do you mind if I stop at home first to grab my lunch?” Gil asked. “I forgot it on my way out the door this morning, and after I drop you off, I’m driving to Gainesville to a conference.”
I was going to see Gil’s house! My delight superseded any pain I currently felt in my wrist. “No, not at all,” I assured him. “I already feel terrible making you miss your lunch.”
He smiled. “Well, don’t. I’d be driving past Stardust Park on the way out of town anyway. I’ll eat at the fountain outside the conference hall.”
“I love that fountain,” I admitted. Whenever I was in Gainesville, I’d stop to admire it.
“How is your wrist?” We stopped at a light, and he glanced at my bandaged arm.
“It’s fine,” I assured him. “I just hope it doesn’t come back.”
“Could it?” he asked in concern.
“Sometimes they do,” I replied, basking in his attention. Blaine had earlier dismissed my ganglion as a minor nuisance. “But it’s just a minor nuisance,” I continued, echoing Blaine’s insensitivity.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Gil said. “I know it’s bothered you for some time now. Let’s hope the problem is behind you for good.”
It felt so wonderful to be cared about, even if it were over just a minor medical issue. It seemed I had to worry about everyone else, like Michael’s dire illness, Kateryna’s mental state, and Justin’s rebelliousness. And Blaine’s deepening depression over Betty’s demise was just another eggshell pathway to navigate daily, yet he possessed no extra sympathy for me.
We turned on lovely Magnolia Street, and I soon spotted his charming two-story house surrounded by birch trees. The old home was yellow with white trim, and a sizeable wraparound porch greeted us as we strolled up the front walkway. Flower gardens bordered either side, with columbines, climbing vines displaying delicate bells, and delightful blooms peeking through a few stray grass strands and dandelions.
I found the dandelions and delicate grass threads reassuring and sniffed the air. The scent of moist earth and subtle flower perfumes greeted my sensibilities instead of the noxious lingering after-scent of chemical weed killer, which was often the case at the Craftsman’s flawless landscape.
Once inside, I glanced around almost laconically. The enchanting and old-fashioned interior also appeared approachable, with the slightly frayed chair cushions and stray books left about. The morning paper still lay scattered across the couch, and the afternoon sun filtered through the long windows, casting a delightful glow about the rooms.
I stood in the doorway of the country kitchen as Gil rummaged in the refrigerator for his lunch.
“Ah, there it is,” he pronounced, extracting a crumpled paper sack. Blaine ordered lunch delivered to his office every day or dined with colleagues. I could not recall his ever asking to take a lunch, much less packing it himself.
The kitchen, located at the back of the house, appeared entirely captivating in a timeworn way, replete with a staircase leading up to the bedrooms, as opposed to our staircase in the front foyer. I wished we could share lunch on the charming brick patio beyond the windows and remain with him here forever. Instead, I accompanied him back to his old Volvo parked in the narrow drive, and we headed out for my exile in the dreaded Stardust Park.
“I like your house,” I quietly confided as we drove down the highway again.
He nodded. “Well, it’s an old clapboard farmhouse that belonged to my grandmother. I’m afraid it’s rather spacious for one person. But I’m reluctant to give the place up for sentimental reasons. I suppose I’ll live there until I die.” He laughed good-naturedly.
“Uh-huh.” I studied his dear profile. “What do you think of Stardust Park?” I asked, curious to know in a macabre sort of way.
He was silent momentarily as cars whizzed by in the opposite direction.
I’d never known him to tell a lie. I’d put him in a tight spot because he’d never want to hurt my feelings deliberately.
“It’s a bit flashy, and I don’t like gated communities. But that’s subjective. Most people would feel very fortunate to own a house there.”
It was my turn to fall silent.
He looked my way. “Do you like living there?”
We drove for a while when he turned to me again. “Perhaps you could convince Blaine to move? A nice home on the next block is selling soon. I think you’d like it.”
“Uh-huh.” I didn’t want to move—not with Blaine anyway. And I was almost sure Blaine would never leave the Craftsman where he had lived with adoring Betty. If anyone would remain in one place and never budge again until their demise, it was Blaine Castellan.