My 12th book releases TOMORROW, and I’m taking a break from craft this week, to squee just a bit. So far, the reviews are good (fingers crossed), and I’m hoping for a successful launch. I’m chatting with Frannie Cassano on Wednesday – I’d love for y’all to join us – I have this junior high party nightmare that no one shows, and I’m left amid all that onion dip. We’ll be talking about our fave western romances, writing processes, and of course, cowboys!
Here’s the link to get access: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/forever-laura-drake
I wanted to share a bit of the beginning with you, in case, you know, you wanted to preorder…. 😉
I love summer for a lot of reasons, but especially because I can drive to work on a Monday with the sun coming up over the Sandia mountains.
The opening notes of Amarillo by Morning ping from my phone. If this is our high school busboy calling in sick, I swear— “Hello?”
“Is this Lorelei West?”
“Yes. Who is this?”
“Officer Beaumont, New Mexico State Police. Do you know a Patsy Lynn West?”
“What?” My hand jerks and the car takes a sharp swerve. My heart beats timpani in my ears, my blood swirls in a dizzying storm surge. I pull off the road, skid to a stop in the gravel and throw it in park. “She’s my sister. What—”
“Ma’am. I’m sorry to do this over the phone, but I need to inform you there was a vehicular accident last night—”
“Out on Highway 10—”
“No, where are you calling from? What city?”
“Oh, Las Cruses. Ma’am, I’m so sorry to inform you, but your sister died on the way to the hospital last night.”
I’m dreaming. I’m in my bed, and this is just a nightmare, probably from the chilis in the meat loaf—
“Ma’am? Are you there?”
“Yes,” the word comes out on an emphysemic wheeze.
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Ma’am, but I need to know—”
“You’re sorry?” The word spirals up as pounding blood spreads over my vision in a red-tinged haze. “Where do you get off, calling at,” I check the clock on the dash—like the time of day could make the least bit of difference. “Five a.m., to tell me you’re sorry?” My shout echoing off the windshield slaps me, making me realize I could be a tad hysterical.
I heave in a lungful of air and come back to myself. “No, I’m sorry. Give me a second here.” My arm loses function, and the phone drops to my lap. I rest my forehead on the steering wheel. I’m not dreaming. Patsy is . . .gone. A picture flashes, of the last time I saw her. She gave me a hug and a dazzling smile, told me she loved me to pieces. Then she hopped in her truck, threw me a kiss in the rearview and dust billowing, rode into the sunset.
If I’d had any inkling of the future, I’d still be holding onto her. Even though she’d be kicking and screaming; she loved the excitement of the next rodeo down the road. How could she be gone for good? For ever? I feel like I’ve fallen into an alternate universe. Because this world has my baby sister in it.
“Ma’am? Ms. West?”
When I become aware of a faraway chirping, I realize I’ve been hearing it for a while. The phone weighs a ton when I lift it to my ear. “I’m here.”
“I am truly sorry, Ma’am. I just need to know what you plan to do about the baby, since neither the mother nor the father survived the accident.”
I pull the phone from my ear and stare at it. Either I am sleeping, or he’s crazy. Or maybe, both. “What are you talking about?”
“Your sister’s baby.”
“You’re telling me Patsy had a baby.” Yeah, sleeping. This has the same tilted, off-the-rails feel to it. I dig my nails into my palm hard enough to draw blood. Funny, I never felt pain in a dream bef—
“Yes, Ma’am. A . . .” papers shuffle, “. . . Sybil Renfrow was apparently babysitting and called us when Ms. West didn’t return.” For the first time, his voice shifts from administrative to human. “I know this is a shock, but if you don’t want custody of the baby, I need to let Social Services know. Are you aware of any other—”
“Stop! Stop right there!” My brain does a slow, sluggish turn from the past to the present. “I’ll be there, okay? I’m on my way.” I check the clock again. “I’ll be there by lunchtime. I’ll take the baby. Text your address to my phone. You called me, so you have the number.”
“And Sir?” I take a breath. “How old is the baby? Do you know its name?”
More rustling. “Six months old, Ma’am. Her name is Sawyer. Sawyer West.”
Somehow, knowing her name makes this real. A baby.
Just click on the photo to be taken to a retail site.
Thank you for sharing my joy today!