I don’t know if all little girls are wedding obsessed or not but I was. I’m not sure what triggered my bridal instinct but something did. Back when I grew up, most girls played ‘house’ and ‘school’ and with their Barbie dolls. I did all that too but one of my favorite games was ‘wedding’. Every Sunday some of my dozens of cousins came over to play. Three of my cousins, two brothers and one sister lived less than two blocks away so I decided I had my wedding party. Tom – the oldest – served as the priest for our Nuptials, Mary became my bridesmaid, and Bill, just one year older than me, was my groom. I dolled up in one of my mother’s old slips and put my First Communion veil on my head. With a plastic bouquet borrowed out of one of my mom’s vases I marched down the long hallway and wed, again and again. It didn’t matter that my would-be groom developed cold feet and was held in place by his brother as he officiated at our little wedding. As the bride, I felt like the star.
The first music I learned to play on Mary’s electric organ happened to be ‘The Wedding March”. I owned a beautiful bride doll and my Barbies possessed a wardrobe of lovely wedding gowns. They married often too.
When I was about seven or eight my aunt and uncle bought a large old house to fit their growing family and when I met the family next door, another Catholic bunch with more kids than I could count, I became smitten with the son closest to me in age. I admired his sports skills during the summer daily pick up baseball games in his back yard. We played hide-and-seek together, caught fireflies, ate watermelon, and more. His harried mom allowed us to make the empty apartment above their garage into a ‘clubhouse’ but after the two oldest sons, teenagers caught us lying on top of each other on the worn out sofa, they took over the space.
I fell in love and figured I’d grow up to marry Joe. Maybe it might’ve happened but my family moved to another part of the state although as teens, we shared a few happy afternoons when I visited my aunt. Long distance in real life usually fails to make the heart any fonder, just lonelier and my boyfriends were guys in my new hometown far away. But I never forgot my ‘first love’.
And that’s where the first inspiration for my 2012 contemporary Valentine’s Day romance, A Patient Heart, from Rebel Ink Press begins. In the novel, my heroine Catherine fell hard for her next door neighbor at an early age. Unlike me, Connor and Catherine’s affection blossomed into love….before it crashed. Until he showed up as a patient in the far away hospital where Catherine serves as a nurse, Connor was the guy she never forgot, the first love who broke her heart. She’s afraid to trust…even more scared to love but neither can deny the emotion remaining between them.
Here’s the blurb and then I’ll share an excerpt:
As a little girl, Catherine dreamed she'd marry Connor Donavan one day and as teenagers, that dream seemed within reach. Until Connor ended their relationship, leaving town and breaking Catherine's heart. Ten years later, far from the old hometown, Catherine reports for work as a nurse one snowy January evening and learns that her new patient is none other than her old love, Connor. When he recognizes her, all the old feelings stir but a few sparks fly, too. As Connor recovers from an accident, Catherine realizes she loves him more than ever and he seems to love her as well. But after he leaves the hospital and convalesces at her home, his real life intrudes into their quiet time together. Then Connor leaves Catherine behind and she stays until a message sends her speeding to Kansas City, to Connor's club... On Valentine's Day.
By noon, Catherine yawned with exhaustion but a buoyant happiness kept her going. Removing his catheter proved to be a painful process and she’d left the room, offering him privacy and so she didn’t have to watch. Before the lunch trays were delivered, the PT staff had him on his feet and in his shoes, one of the few things he’d been wearing that survived the accident. Catherine watched his triumphant trek back down the hallway, loving the broad grin on his face but afterward, Connor’s fatigue was evident. His eyes drooped and he slumped in the chair but with the cath and his IV lines gone, he didn’t look as ill.
“Tired?” she asked with a smile.
“Oh, yeah,” Connor replied, “I’m not complaining, though. It’s good to be up again.”
“After you eat lunch and get rested up, how about a shower?” she asked, “Or is that too much for today?”
Connor shrugged, “I don’t know. What is for lunch? Anything I’d want?”
Catherine lifted the lid on the plate and studied it, “It looks like baked chicken and dressing, corn and some pudding.”
He curled his lip but he nodded. “I’ll try to eat it, I guess.”
Connor looked so much like a petulant little boy she laughed, then bent and kissed him full on the mouth with heat. His arms caught her and held her as he kissed her back, his lips sweet as she recalled and yet confident with a maturity he’d lacked before. Catherine felt the pull of his mouth on hers as he took control of the kiss, as strong and inevitable as the ocean tides. Heat flushed her face, spread through her body like ignited wildfire. She welcomed the raging flame, recognized it for what it was and exulted in it. She didn’t know about the love but the passion they’d shared survived. His mouth explored hers, commanding and yet gentle. She caught her breath, held it until her head swam. If she hadn’t caught sight of the monitors he remained plugged into, realized his pulse rate rocketed, his heart rate increased and his blood pressure shot up, Catherine might not have stopped when she did. She pulled back, her lips still warm and curved in a smile.
“Slow down, sweetheart or you’ll collapse into the floor,” she laughed.
Connor grinned but she could see the shimmer of perspiration on his face. “It’d be worth it if I do. I’m dizzy as hell, though."
Catherine started to laugh but his expression shifted and warned she pushed his head down between his legs, “Don’t pass out, please, Connor.”
Voice muffled, he responded, “I’m trying not to, Cat.”
His breathing sounded too fast but she put one hand on his back, standing beside him, worried but as he calmed, he began to breathe at an easier pace and she sighed with relief.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
Connor sat up, face ghost white but lit with a grin. “Yeah, I’m fine, just shakier than I thought.”
“I’m sorry,” Catherine said.
His grin widened to the proportion of the Mississippi River, “I’m not.”
A nursing assistant burst through the door, wide-eyed, “Mr. Donavan is everything all right? I was watching monitors at the desk and yours went wild.”
“I got a little excited,” Connor replied smiling.
Book trailer: http://youtu.be/Eo4Ttr_7O8Q