Friday, 18 March 2011
Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Changless as the Heavens
It's excerpt Friday and Barri has left us with a great excerpt from Changless as the Heavens.
Leave a comment here on the blog and I'll pick one winner on Monday to win a PDF copy of Barri's book. I'll announce the winner and on the Connections Loop.
Cara did understand and that was the problem. "Oh, but I do. I understand perfectly."
Rand's lips twisted scornfully. "Then you're one up on me because, once I was gone, you made a choice that I don't understand."
He left her with no options. She was forced to carry on without him as best she could. "What choice?"
"The choice to cut me out of your life completely and permanently. You never once, during the first year I was gone, tried to find me or get in touch with me."
Cara's heart gave an uncomfortable lurch. "How do you know that?"
Rand asked, sharply, "Did you?"
She hadn't, mainly because she'd been too busy trying to survive. "No."
Rand nodded. "And later, even though you had no proof I was dead, you chose to think of me that way, why Cara?"
He was raising questions that even now, were too painful and too revealing for Cara to face, let alone answer. "I... don't know."
"My boots, my clothes, my guns, books, tools, fishing gear." Rand spread his hands. "All the personal belongings I left when I went away, where are they now?"
"We moved. The farmhouse was crowded." Cara was making excuses and not very good ones. "Why do you want to know?"
"I'm trying to assess where I stand."
So he was looking for an excuse to make another quick exit. She would make it easy for him this time. "Nothing in this house belongs to you. You have no ties here at all."
Rand's jaw tightened. "Except for my sons, I'm beginning to think you're right. What did you do with my worldly possessions?"
Cara sorted through old memories. "I sold most of your clothes. What I couldn't sell, I gave away. Elaine was getting rid of Baron's things. She said there was no point in holding on to the past when you needed money for the present. I decided she was right."
"The tools, the fishing gear, the books, my guns, did you sell them, too?"
He was forcing her to recall painful events she'd rather forget. "I sold the tools and the guns a few months after you left. I needed the money. The next summer I traded the fishing gear to Fred Thompson for some work he did on my car. When we moved to the farm, space was limited. I gave the books to the library." Her chin came up. "Things were rough in the beginning. I did what I had to do."
Rand ran his fingers along the sides of his hair. "The money I left should have more than taken care of you and the boys for that first year."
Cara gasped, "You didn't leave me a red cent. I never got any money from you." That wasn't quite true. "Except the allotment I received after you joined the army."
Rand's voice dropped to a whisper. "I left the money with Dad." Realization caused his features to harden. "He never gave it to you?"
"Your dad never gave me one thin dime."
"All this time you've believed I walked away and left you with no income, a pile of debts, and two children to support? I'm beginning to see why you preferred to think of me as dead." He was a man in obvious pain. "Did you sell your wedding ring, too?"
Cara looked down at her bare finger. "No."
"Then where is it? Why aren't you wearing it?"
"I put it away." Sometimes forgetting was as painful as remembering. "It's in my bedroom, in my jewelry box." It was time she stopped dodging the issue. "If you want a divorce I won't fight you. We can reach an amicable settlement."
His eyes were two blue magnets. "I don't want a divorce."
Cara gasped again, this time in amazement. "What do you want?"
"I want another chance."
Cara asked, oh so cautiously, "To do what?"
His words seemed to levitate and hang in the tense air, "To make our marriage work."
Confusion and a host of polarizing emotions left Cara speechless.
Perspiration beaded Rand's top lip. "I know you have reason to doubt me. All I ask is a chance to prove to you how wrong you are and to make up for any past mistakes, be they real or imagined."
He spoke with such sincerity. "I don't know what to say."
"Say yes." Standing, Rand walked toward her. "I'd like to set things right." Pulling a chair with him as he advanced, he stopped directly in front of her. "Will you listen to what I have to say?" He sat in the chair and waited for her response.
What did she have to lose other than her heart all over again? "Okay."
Rand took her hand in his. "When I was first approached to do undercover work, it was to be a one-time, short-term mission. I thought I'd complete the assignment and be home with you by the following spring. My country needed me. A few months out of my life didn't seem too much to ask or to give." He closed his eyes then opened them again, slowly. "I have to admit also, the idea of having a little adventure in my life appealed to me."
So he had craved excitement, even then. And he hadn't found it with his oh-so-ordinary wife; all the more reason to be wary about taking him back. "Were you that bored with your life?"
"I thought it might help if you and I spent some time apart." He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her fingertips. "I know now I was wrong. What you and I needed was more time together."
How time could alter perception. Once she would have agreed with him, not any more. Without some outside interests, Rand would have bolted long before he did. He thrived on diversity, excitement and adventure. Cara on the other hand, needed the peace and security of stability and routine. What a wise fool she was. Knowing what a chance she'd be taking, letting him back in her life again, she was still tempted to say yes. "There are so many problems, so many things to consider..." Her voice trailed away on the end of a little sigh.