I’ve spent a lot of time, precious minutes that should have spent with my butt in a chair and fingers on the keyboard, thinking about how awesome it would be when I was published. Someday, otherwise known as this week, is pretty darn sweet.But never once did I imagine my someday would depend on an Elvis-themed hotel.
“Love Me Tender” started like this: “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” My goals are always laughter, love, and a happily ever after. The first scene I could see in my head was two co-workers with a little history, crammed into airplane seats. If, like me, you fill every inch of your allotted space, you understand just exactly how close you can be to the person sitting next to you before you land in your destination city. I once spent an hour-long flight with my right breast smashed against the left arm of a weary, besuited business man. We got to know each other very well but never exchanged names. It was a little like a one-night stand without any alcohol.
This novella’s ingredients are Valentine’s Day + snowstorm + co-workers + a hotel room fit for the King. Julie’s desperate to make it home to hide from the overwhelming sweetness and sheer pinkness of Valentine’s Day (a sentiment I share) with an action movie marathon and her best guy, her dog Larry. Luke’shappy for another shot with her. The Rock’n’Rolla Hotel sits in the shadows of Graceland and tries to out-Elvis Elvis. Here Julie and Luke are going to fall in love.
That first scene? Here’s how it starts.
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Julie Dillon prayed under her breath while she did a particularly active form of airplane yoga. She contorted her nearly six-foot frame into this position and that to wrangle the seat belt and buckle out of the seat before cramming her twenty inches of hip into a seventeen-inch seat.
“Please don’t let anyone sit next to me. Please, God, let’s leave this one seat empty, okay?”
This had been the day from hell, if hell was a frozen wasteland that sent freezing precipitation across half the country. So far she’d gone from Atlanta to Chicago to Charlotte and right back to where she started before dawn. After a quick race through the airport, she’d been one of the last people to board the final flight of the day. It would take a miracle for her to make it to Dallas tonight but she wanted to get home. She was staring Valentine’s Day in the face, and if she didn’t make it home tonight, she’d be at the mercy of the world’s romantics tomorrow. Maybe the good luck that had gotten her to the gate on time would hold and that seat would be vacant for the hour and a half it would take to fly from Atlanta to Dallas.
As Julie leaned back to take a deep, calming breath, she kept an anxious eye on the front of the cabin and the still-open door.Really wish I’d taken this jacket off before I buckled in. With her knees crammed up against the seat pocket in front of her, she decided there was no way she’d ever be comfortable on this flight, jacket or no jacket, and besides, she didn’t have enough energy to repeat the process and take it off. Instead, she waved her hand limply around her glowing face and decided to cool herself by sheer force of will. She closed her eyes to concentrate and kept whispering “Please let it be empty” under her breath.
“Sorry, darlin’, but that prayer isn’t going to be answered.”
At the deep, soothing voice, Julie’s eyes snapped open and she swallowed a groan. She didn’t want anyone in that seat, but she sure as heck would have picked just about anyone else besides Luke Pearce.
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