But I'm retired. I literally live, breathe and eat writing. It's like a compulsion. I can't not write. And, yes, I know that was a double negative, but I've been known to bend writing rules a tad.
Last Friday, I completed my first draft of book two of my Scottish paranormal romance series for Loveswept. The contract called for a minimum of 80,000 words. I ended up with 86.600. It's got some loose threads I need to delete. I also want to eliminate some repetition and deepen the emotion. So I've put it away for 2 weeks, giving my mind time enough to think of anything new I might want to add or major parts to delete. Then I'll drag it out and begin reading it all over again, hoping I can make it stronger.
When I finish writing a book, my brain is so tired I can't speak a coherent sentence, much less write one. I haven't always been this way, but I've been pushing it hard. I started writing seriously in June of 2010. For a few years, I'd type "The End," open a new document and write "Chapter One." I never took a break.
Then the migraines hit and I came to a complete halt. Now, I have enough sense to take a bit of a break. For example, after finishing this last book, I slept for two days, including the afternoon matinee Calvin and I went to. I snoozed during parts of a meal at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I even fell asleep in Walmart, leaning against the shopping cart waiting for the pharmacy to fill a prescription.
Those two weeks of much planned rest were also meant to spoil Calvin a little. He's so good about my writing. I mean, the man even mops the kitchen floors and cleans the oven. We are, in essence, a writing team. I write; he supports me in any way he can.
I'd also planned to wash my living room curtains, clean our master closet and clean the scientific experiments out of our refrigerator. But I was starting to miss writing. Three whole days had passed. I hurried to complete my list of non-writing tasks.
I envisioned him charging into a drug store and scooping all the douche products off the shelf into a shopping cart. Once I stopped laughing, an opening scene came to mind. Would it work for book two of my firemen and marine rescue team in Clearwater, Florida? You know, the moment when the heroine and hero meet. So, I opened a new document and formatted it. Not that I was going to write anything, mind you. I was just getting things ready...after all, I was taking some time off....well, somehow before I could help myself, this rough draft appeared... It's a compulsion, I tell you!
“Quick! What aisle are the douches in? I’ve got three bitches at the beach cottage and they all stink to high heaven.” The broad shoulders of the harried man were tense under his faded t-shirt worn inside out and backwards. His whiskered stubble, bleached by the sun, was pulled tight by his clenched jaw and narrowed lips. The customer practically vibrated with frustration. “I can’t let them in bed with me smelling like that.” His fingertips tapped a beat of annoyance on the check-out counter. “What is it with females, anyway? Ain’t got the good sense God gave them.”
Molly Devon’s temper flared. Oh, yeah, as if you men are the sharpest knives on humanity’s chopping block.
He scratched his neck, his fingers getting tangled in the worn tag. Realizing he had it on backwards and wrong side out, he muttered a curse. “Sorry, I grabbed the first shirt I could find and just yanked it on. He reached back with one hand and jerked it off, trying to set it to rights.
Molly’s Colorado born-and-bred gaze took a skiing trip over the mountains of his hardened pecs and skied down the ridges of his abs. Along his downhill masculine slope, she noticed other things. A tribal tattoo over his shoulder and down his arm to his wrist. Skin tanned dark. Blond chest hair thick enough to grasp in a fit of passion. The waistband of his raggedy jeans barely hanging onto the V indent at his hipline.
Firm biceps flexed as he slipped the faded t-shirt, advertising boogie boards, over his torso, tugging it down and shifting his wide shoulders. “Sorry, about that. But, believe me, I’d sooner be home, hammering away.”
His crass remark jerked her drooling attention to his overconfident square jaw. Yeah, just give me a hammer, buddy, I’ll pound some sense into your arrogant sex-addicted head.
He leaned toward her. “Well?”
The stranger’s bark startled her. With her nerves on edge with her mother’s recent passing, her father’s increasing dementia and her ex-fiancé’s threats after she broke off their engagement, any perceived threat, no matter how minor or brief, set her insides to trembling. Molly tussled with her stresses, scrambling for internal control.
“Ah…” She lifted her index finger to indicate she needed a second or two as she scanned the overhead signs listing the items stocked in each aisle. Where had she seen the feminine products during her brief new-hire orientation two days ago? Another deep breath and calmness returned, her mind finally chugging into gear.
The customer lifted his blue ball cap with some kind of marine rescue emblem on it, forked his long fingers through sun-bleached hair and resettled the hat. “You do carry Massengill, don’t you? That’s the best brand, according to my research.”
“Ah…” My God, what kind of man researches douches? A man who goes to bed with three women, Molly. Now concentrate.
Two broad hands clasped the edge of the counter. His index finger had a nasty red-rimmed cut at its base. An appealing mixture of sawdust, sunshine and male musk snagged her attention and, when the man cleared his throat, her gaze snapped upward to lock on a pair of surf green eyes flecked with brown tones. “Is my question too difficult for you to answer…” he glanced at her nametag, “Molly?”
Oh, this guy has a good tongue lashing coming. Molly sucked in a breath, pulled together a string of insults to hurl at him and then changed her mind. Better to smile while she enjoyed her private opinions of this man-whore, especially since she was saving every penny to replace the laptop her dad had misplaced, along with his wallet and a suitcase of her clothes.
Finally the product’s location slipped into place. “You’ll find them in aisle six, on the right.”
The knuckles of his fisted hand rapped once on the counter before he charged off.
Big feeling, demanding jerk.
Molly was shoving packs of cigarettes into racks behind the register when someone thunked items onto the check-out counter. She pasted on a smile, did a quick pivot and sighed as the grin slid off. Douche-man was back with twelve double packs of Massengill disposables.
“You only had two boxes of the mixable kind.” He read the printing on the box he held, never once sparing her a glance. He tapped the second carton resting on the counter with his cut finger. “Would you mind checking your inventory in the back? I’ll need more.”
“I’m not allowed to leave the register, but I’ll be happy to page our stock boy.”
Douche-man grunted and flipped the package around. “It’s gonna take at least two boxes for Lola. She’s big. Got wide hips. Skinny legs though. Kinda like a twenty-gallon tank on toothpicks.”
What an ass, talking about his girlfriend like that! Molly sneered and depressed the button on the store’s intercom. “Cruz, could you check our supply of mixable douche powder? I have a man who needs three or four boxes.”
“Make it five or six. God, I don’t know which one smells the worst.”
Well, quit putting your nose in their hootchies. “Make that six boxes of douche powder.” A few snickers floated over from aisle two.
“I can see I’m gonna have a rough night ahead. Maggie Mae hates when I give her a good scrubbing, especially if I get soap in her beady eyes or get too rough with her tits.” He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and sighed like a man greatly imposed upon. “God, I hate a whiny bitch.”
Oh, I am so going to belt you.
“Caroline handles her bath pretty well. She likes it rough, especially when I hold her head under the faucet.” He had the audacity to chuckle. “She tries to drink the water, but then she’ll drink most anything.”
She’d have to be drunk to put up with you, buster. You need some serious help.
Cruz hurried to the register, his arms full of boxes. “Here you go, Molly.” He shot the customer a curious glance.
“Thanks. Would you do me one more favor, please?”
The pimply-faced teen’s head bobbed. “Sure.”
“Our customer needs a bottle of peroxide and Neosporin for the cut on his finger. It’s showing signs of infection.” Cruz nodded and hurried back to aisle four.
Douche-man glimpsed at his hand. “Thanks. Been too preoccupied with work to take care of it. Ain’t nothing but an infected splinter. Can’t seem to dig deep enough to get to it.”
Oh, give me a machete. I’ll show you how deep a good woman can cut.
He slid his fingertips into the front pocket of jeans buttery soft with age and tugged out folded bills secured with a silver fire truck money clip. “What’s the damage?”
To your wallet or the self-esteem of those poor women?
After totaling his purchases, Molly handed him his change and six plastic bags. “Hope you get them cleaned up.” And I hope they give you a good dose of payback.
He grunted again. “Sure as hell hope so. Don’t know if I can sleep without the girls laying all over me.”
He headed for the exit, untied high-top sneaks clunking the tile floor.
Molly glared at his retreating form. What a piece of macho jerk.
He snapped his fingers and returned. “Where’s the dog toys? They’ll be expecting a treat after I scrub the skunk smell off.”
“Dogs? Dogs!” Had he been talking about dogs all this time?
Douche-man nodded, his five o’clock shadow was more an eight o’clock sexy scruff. “Yeah. An overweight Black Lab, a beady-eyed Chihuahua and a Collie mix. I’m kinda partial to my girls, but not when they chase skunks and get a good spraying.”
“Skunks? Spraying?” God, I sound like an echo.
“Used to wash them down with tomato juice after being sprayed, but Caroline would lap at the juice and get terrible gas.” He shook his head once. “No one could stand to be around her for days.” He grinned and dimples slashed his cheeks. “So, I researched online and found out about bathing animals in Massengill after encounters with skunks.”
Boy, talk about a miscommunication.
He studied the bags in his hands for a beat and then raised his gaze. “I’m sorry for storming in here earlier and ranting about my dogs, calling them bitches, but they had me so damn mad.” He winced. “Sorry. After a long day of tearing out kitchen cabinets and installing new ones, the last thing I want to do tonight is to scrub down three dogs.”
His gaze flicked over her hand before his green-eyed perusal once more settled on her face. Had he just checked for a ring? “Could I interest you in a cup of coffee after work?” He peeked at his watch. “Store closes in fifteen minutes.”
She hadn’t expected this. “Sorry, I don’t meet strange men for coffee.”
A wide smile spread, exposing straight white teeth with a chip broken off the corner of his left front one. Those deep dimples and chipped tooth added a boyish charm to his male persona, a charismatic contrast to the arrogant sternness he’d exhibited earlier. He set his bags in front of her on the checkout counter before tilting a hip against it and crossing his arms, obviously settling in for a chat neither she nor her boss wanted. She was on the clock, after all.
His eyebrows were furrowed as if he’d been studying her and he cleared his throat. “You know, I really do owe you an apology for my previous temper.” He managed to make his grin almost unsure, as if he’d suddenly lost his confidence. How many times had he practiced this technique—and how many times had a female fallen for it? “A coffee and a piece of pie couldn’t hurt, could it?”
“I repeat, I don’t know you.” She motioned him aside so she could ring-up another customer’s purchases.
She hoped Douche-man would take the hint but, no, he patiently hovered nearby while she waited on two customers, his male aura slowly swirling around her like testosterone fog. Turning to him, she scowled. “What part of I don’t spend time with strange men don’t you get?”
He extended his hand, his charming smile increasing another dangerous notch. “Barclay Gray. Fireman, marine rescue diver, dog lover and pie connoisseur. ” He waggled his eyebrows.The man certainly knew how to pour on the charm, she'd give him that.
Of course he's talking about his 3 dogs and she mistakenly thinks he's talking about women. It's rough, I know, but inspiration comes from many places...and I'd been three days without writing. I was starting to get the writer shakes. Read more about my writing at www.vonniedavis.com.