Over on the Romance Divas, we're celebrating Excerpt Monday where authors give you a sneak peek at something they're working on or recently released. As a special bonus to go along with the Pop Quiz I usually post, I thought I'd treat y'all to a piece from A Run for the Money, my soon-to-be-released rom-com from Avalon Books (release date: August 2009). So sit back and enjoy! The following occurs when our heroine, Nicole, must learn how to surf from the hero, Dante and an old hippie named Moondog:
Squeezed into a glow-in-the-dark yellow wetsuit, Nicole could barely exhale and when she did she could have sworn she wheezed. Well, if she was going to look like an old schoolbus, she might as well sound like one, too.
“You ever been snowboardin’, Clipper?” Moondog asked.
She managed an oxygen-deprived, “Sure,” but didn’t dare attempt a more verbose reply.
"Do you board goofy or natural?"
"So you'll probably surf the same way. How about body surfing? Ever do that?"
"Yeah." In the confines of the tight suit, one word answers were the best she could manage.
“Good. Then you already know the fundamentals of catching a wave and riding it in. That’s half the battle. So, we’re gonna start you riding a long board to catch waves. We’ll paddle out beyond where they’re breaking, like where those guys are.”
He pointed at a circle of men and women, hands anchored to a multi-colored chain of surfboards.
“Once we hit the whitewater, you can either plow through it or raise your chest up so’s the water slips between you and your board. We’ll work on other maneuvers like the turtle and the duck-dive if you decide you want to keep surfing. You and Dante can come back anytime, okay?”
Chances she’d return to this nightmare were as slim as notebook paper. Still, she gave him her brightest smile. “Okay, Moondog.”
After all it wasn’t his fault her mother had the emotional depth of warm Jell-O. Nor could she let Dante suffer for her mother’s pettiness. So she’d press on, keep going, even if the victory would be hollow for her.
All she had to do was finish this surfing gig, get through whatever else Papa Joe demanded of them, and then use whatever money she received to make a new normal life for herself. A normal life without her heart.
“Ready then?” Dante asked from her right.
Nicole nodded and climbed atop her board.
“Remember,” Moondog said, “keep the nose a coupla inches out of the water.”
She repositioned herself, and then gave Moondog a thumbs-up. “Got it.”
At least, she thought she had it. Until the first wave pulled her beneath a powerful undertow. One minute, she balanced on her knees, prepared to meet the wave head-on. The next, an icy wall slammed her, and she fell.
Water filled her nose and mouth, sharp and salty. Her body became as frail as a rag doll’s, and she somersaulted a dozen times, scraping her scalp against the ocean floor. Pain pierced from head to toes, cramping her legs. Water whooshed around her, in her ears to her brain. With no idea if her head faced the ocean’s bottom or the surface, she panicked, fighting against the force crushing her from every direction.
Her heartbeat thundered inside her skull, growing louder and more rapid.
I’m going to die. Oh, God, I’m going to die!
From the depths of the darkness, a strong arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her out of the maelstrom. She came up into sunlight and air, head aching, nostrils stinging, eyes burning, and her throat raw as she gasped for breath. With every scintilla of strength left in her fingers, she clung to the sinewy biceps that separated her from swirling death.
“Easy,” Dante murmured, running a hand across her back in soothing circles. “I got you.”
To her intense embarrassment, she broke into loud, life-affirming sobs. Dante only held her tighter while she humiliated herself for the benefit of the surfing audience.
“It’s okay,” he continued in that same comforting tone. “You got taken unawares. You’re okay.”
She pulled away, not because the fear subsided, but because his stroking affected her in far more dizzying ways. “I’m sorry,” she rasped, her throat like sandpaper. “I can’t do this.”
“Sure you can,” he replied. “You took a tumble, that’s all. Happens to the best surfers.”
She shook her head. “I’m done.”
He chucked her under the chin, forcing her gaze onto his smiling face. With the sun gleaming behind him, he resembled some kind of water god, a delicious Neptune.
“Come on now. ‘Remember the treasure.’ That’s our battle cry. Right?”
Battle cry, schmattle cry. If today got any worse, those words would wind up her epitaph.
But what choice did she have? She couldn’t let down Dante, couldn’t let down Papa Joe. Regardless of her fears, she reached for the surfboard still tethered to her ankle and climbed aboard. Maybe if she drowned trying to get the money, her mother would regret her threat.
Every gray sky had some shaft of sunlight. If only she could find a way to give her mother that shaft…
For more excerpts from other super-talented writers, check out the following links:
Jeannie Lin's asking you to vote in a poll for her opening of Butterfly Swords
Scenting Cinnamon (Rated NC-17!)
Bound by Blood (Rated NC-17!)
Asking For It (Excerpt rated PG, site rated NC-17)
A 21st Century Courtesan (Excerpt rated PG, site rated NC-17)
Resisting Kane (Excerpt rated PG, site rated NC-17)
The Encounter (Rated NC-17)