Thank you, Rachel, Brenda and Linnea. This is a book I drafted but haven’t worked on in a couple of years, and it shows! I would like to revise it though, so that’s why I’ve chosen to share it for these exercises.
I’m always drawn to starting with backstory – I definitely need to work on this! So, the idea for this book was based on a family experience, and to be honest, when I drafted this I didn’t get into a lot of research. Obviously I need to correct that. We were contacted by a Fugitive Investigator at the time, so I chose to use that title. For story purposes, he needs to be an investigator but he is currently on personal leave from his position. However, he is using his investigative skills to locate his nephew. A little backstory there: During a domestic dispute, his sister was shoved down stairs by her ex-husband and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The husband went on the run with their son, and JT is searching for his nephew, as doctors think seeing her son may help with his sister’s recovery. It is rumored the nephew has been hanging out with Dana’s younger sister, hence his presence outside Dana’s house.
I toyed with starting when Dana discovers JT casing her house – perhaps this is a better start?
FUGITIVE HEART REVISED (NEW START?)
Dana Taylor pressed a hand to her chest and forced herself not to hyperventilate.
For God’s sake, what was she thinking? She’d seen the unfamiliar car hanging around her neighborhood the past few days. She should have called the cops when her neighbors’ dog started barking, but Monty barked at everything. Instead she’d gone out the back door, snuck around the corner, and there was a man, crouching below her window.
She stared down at the shadowy figure on the ground. Her fingers ached from the death grip she had on the long-handled flashlight, but she wasn’t about to let go of it.
She blinked and took a deep breath. Maybe her mother was right. Maybe she was too independent for her own good. But she refused to depend on a man who wouldn’t be there, whether she needed him or not. The fact was, he wouldn’t stay.
Her dad was a prime example. Bill Taylor had divorced her mother when Dana was ten, hooked up with another woman, and had another child. For sixteen years, he’d doted on his second daughter while Dana got the leftovers of his time, even though they’d been living in the same town. And now he expected her to take care of her half-sister while he was off gallivanting around the country.
Resentment flowed hotly through her. How could she when Christy was a constant reminder that her dad deserted his first wife and daughter?
Just as quickly, the resentment cooled. How could she not? Christy was a sweet girl and didn’t deserve to be cheated out of a sister, just because her father had been a jerk. For that matter, she herself didn’t deserve to be cheated out of a sister, either.
She squared her shoulders. She didn’t need a man. In spite of what her mother thought, there was nothing wrong with taking care of herself. She intended to prove it once and for all.
Dana frowned at the man on the ground. What was wrong with him? He’d fallen to the ground just as she’d raised the flashlight to hit him. Was he really out, or just faking it?
Chewing her lip, she clicked the beam on low and pointed it at him. Black cowboy boots? Not exactly quiet footwear for a burglar. The black jeans were no surprise. They blended in well with the dark night. But the way they fit his long legs and showed off his butt—
“He’s a burglar, not a boyfriend prospect,” she muttered. It really had been too long since she’d had a date, if she found her burglars’ butt attractive.
Not that it prevented her from looking.
She kept her light moving. Above the snug-fitting jeans was a black t-shirt, worn under a black leather jacket. Dark hair curled over the upturned collar. She glanced quickly up and down his backside and sighed. Not a bad package viewed from behind. But who was he, and why was he here?
She stepped over his body. His head lay in the light spilling from her window, but his face still wasn’t clearly visible thanks to his shaggy hair and dark stubble. She reached out to push his hair aside.
He moaned and she froze. The man rolled onto his back, and his face landed roughly against her shoe. He groaned and covered his eyes with his arm.
“J.T. Hawke?” Dana dropped the flashlight and sank down next to him. Her heart squeezed with longing. Was it really him?
How many times had she imagined him returning to Centerville? But in a million years, she hadn’t expected him to be casing her house. What was he doing here?
She tucked her legs up Indian-style and gently lifted his head into her lap, pushing his arm away from his face so she could see him better.
A rush of tenderness filled her.
“What are you doing here?” she whispered as her hands traced the contours of his face. He hadn’t shaved in days, and dirt dusted his cheek where he had fallen.
Reality smacked her in the face. She was no better than her mother, lusting after a man she couldn’t have.
She tried to brush the dirt off but her fingers came away warm and sticky. Dana’s stomach churned as she swallowed past the lump rising in her throat. She felt around, trying to find what had caused the bloody gash on his forehead. Her hand landed on a large rock with a jagged edge. Even in the dim light she could see it was splattered with blood. She tossed the rock under the hedge.
Hoping none of her nosy neighbors were watching, she removed her chambray shirt and blotted the gash, then wrapped her shirt around his head and knotted the ends. He might have disappeared from her life eight years ago with no explanation, but she couldn’t just leave him bleeding in her yard.