A beginning — maybe

Like many writers, I fret and fuss over the beginning of a new book. This one is nothing new. While the ending of the next Nocturnal Lives book gels in the back of my mind, I’ve been plotting and planning the next in the Eerie Side of the Tracks novels. It picks up not long after Light Magic ends and introduces a new character, possibly “the third” Miss Serena references at the end of Light Magic. She is probably the most flawed of the main characters in the series. She also doesn’t deal with Mossy Creek as well as the others have. Here’s a quick (and very rough) excerpt of what might be the opening, or at least part of it:

I stared into my now empty glass and tapped a finger against its rim. I didn’t look up. I didn’t need to. The bartender knew the quicker he gave me another drink, the bigger his tip would be. Now if I could only figure out how to get him to turn down the music. The twangs of a country-western song I didn’t know and never cared if I heard it again filled the air, as thick as the cigarette smoke that hung in the small bar like a cloud. I didn’t care my clothes would reek of the smell come morning. The headache I felt the beginnings of didn’t matter. I was still in Mossy Creek, Texas and much too sober for my liking.

God, why in the hell had I returned?

I looked up, frowning, when the bartender didn’t refill my glass. My right brow arched and I tapped the rim of the glass again. Then I nodded to where my platinum credit card rested next to the cash register. The message was clear. He either poured me another drink or close out my tab. At least then I could go next door to the town’s only liquor store and buy a bottle of good whiskey I could drink in private and away from the bad music and cigarette smoke. Then, come morning, I’d be gone.

And I’d never come back. Twelve hours in town had been more than enough to remind me why I’d left in the first place.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” the bartender asked as he wiped down the bar in front of me.

I looked at him. Through the haze of booze and smoke, I smiled. If he wouldn’t serve me another drink, maybe he’d agree to serve me something else. I needed something to distract me until I could get out of town and he’d certainly fill the bill nicely. Tall, broad chest, narrow waist and blue eyes I could fall into. Of course, there was that pesky wedding band on his finger, damn it.

“There is never enough where this town’s concerned,” I said and tapped the rim of my glass again. “Either pour or close me out and I’ll go somewhere else.”

“It’s okay, Brett. We’ve got her.”

I bit back a snarl as a hand closed over my shoulder. I knew the voice and I had no doubt who the “we” she spoke of was. Well, too bad. I had no intention of going with them, no matter what they said. If I couldn’t get a drink here, I’d find some place I could – preferably someplace without “helpful” friends.

“Close me out.”

I didn’t look behind me. Instead, I waited as Brett – funny, he didn’t look like a Brett – rang up my tab and ran my credit card. A moment later, I scrawled my name across the bottom of the slip, adding a tip that wasn’t as generous as it would have been had he poured me another drink. Then I stood, sliding my credit card into my pocket. As if to prove a point, I stared at him for a moment, letting him see I didn’t waver or stagger. Hell, I didn’t even have a buzz on yet. It wasn’t fair. I’d drunk enough to put most people under the table. It would take another couple of drinks to make a dent. That was just one part of what made me “special”, if you want to call it that and, at the moment, I didn’t.

I drew a deep breath and held it for a moment. Then I turned, facing three women around my own age.

“Don’t.”

That was all. Before they could say anything, I pushed past them. I loved them each like sisters. Hell, I’d known two of them my entire life and we’d been as close as sisters growing up. The third had been to Hell and back with me. But, just then, they were the last people I wanted to see. They’d betrayed me and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to forgive them.

“Sophie,” Annie Caldwell said as they followed me outside. “Wait.”

“Wait?” I spun to face them.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder, a united front. There’d been a time when I would have stood with them. Now they joined forces against me, plotting and planning to make me act against my own wishes. Well, to hell with them and to hell with this town. I wasn’t going to fall for any of it.

* * *

It’s just a rough beginning but it lets you know right away that Sophie isn’t happy to be back. Why she left and what brought her back will be explained in the next chapter or two. This time, no family emergency is involved. Friendship, at least that’s what she thought, is the key. However, from the beginning, she wonders if that friendship has led to betrayal.

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