If you read Raining Fools, then you'll know that story had a duel plot-line going on. One was between Stephen and Bekka as they maneuvered through several past hindrances in their relationship. The other continued Ethan and Haley's story, which was my intention for all the novel length books.
But when I wrote Sun Kisses, Ethan and Haley's separate story not only made the book much too long for the romance genre, but their story didn't mesh with Karen and Kelvin's story as well as it did in Raining Fools.
So, at my editor's urging, I took out the second plot line and only hinted about the troubles going on between Haley and Ethan. But nothing is ever wasted. I decided to simply focus on the couple in the next book, Winters End, which I'm working on now.
The fourth book in the Bed and Breakfast series will pretty much conclude the Winters-Madison couple's storyline. I say "pretty much" because future books will still mention them, but most likely will not have them as point of view characters.
Deleted Scene from Sun Kisses- book 3
Ethan had almost made it to the rusty red pickup when Professor Kelvin met him in the driveway getting into Stephen’s mustang. “Not awkward in the least,” Ethan muttered to himself.
“Are you heading into town, as well?” Kelvin asked.
“Yes. I’m late for a meeting at the town hall.” He hopped into the truck and turned the engine, but it only puttered then died. Great. Tapping the gas tank, the needle didn’t even move toward the large E. That little weasel brother of his must have used up the last drops of gas driving over.
Ethan let his forehead rest on the steering wheel. Could his day get any worse? He hated leaving Haley in the lurch, but she had to understand he had things he promised to do for people, too. Still, he couldn’t get those beautiful pouting blue eyes out of his mind. Wasn’t he the one who always said they were a team? That they’d work things out together?
That was before he’d dug himself a hole so deep he couldn’t see over the top anymore.
A horn honked from the vehicle beside him. Kelvin rolled down the window. “Looks like you might be the one needing a ride this time.”
“It’s out of gas.”
Kelvin waved him over. “You got a can somewhere? I’ll get you to your meeting and then go do my book browsing until you’re done.”
Ethan grabbed his bag and climbed from the pickup. “I don’t want to disrupt your day, Kelvin. I’m sure you have research you plan—”
“I can do that anytime. Come on. You don’t want to be late, do you?”
No, he didn’t. Stephen was working with the Scorpion Kings at the studio while he attended this meeting. There was no way he’d ask Haley to drive him to town, not after he’d blown her off like he did. “I think Gaines keeps a gas can in his trunk. Either way, we’ll deal with that later.” He got into the passenger seat, finding it strange to be in this car without his partner in the driver’s seat. “So, what do you have planned for today?”
Kelvin gave a shrug of his shoulder. “Just a bit of exploring. I was told to visit this second-hand bookstore. Was kind of hoping Karen might go with me, but she also has a meeting today. Is it the same meeting you’re late for?”
“Probably so. She is on the planning committee. It shouldn’t last long. They need an update on who we have scheduled so far. The advertisement fliers need to be printed this week.”
Kelvin pulled out onto the two-lane highway and headed toward town. They only had a couple of miles to drive, but it was much too far to walk in his dressy clothes. Especially on such a warm, sunny day as this was turning out to be.
They passed one of those brown delivery trucks in the other lane. Ethan wondered if this one might be delivering that package Haley had been waiting so eagerly for. She’d tried to explain what she’d ordered, but he couldn’t form a mental picture. Who in the world would want long cow’s horns? Did cows have horns, or was that a bull? He shook the crazy thought from his head, deciding he’d believe it when he saw it.
Ethan lowered the window, enjoying the fresh breeze. “I’m glad Karen has been able to help you with your research. I knew she’d be a wealth of knowledge.”
“Yeah,” Kelvin agreed with a wistful smile. “She’s been a real sweetheart. Very knowledgeable, indeed. I wasn’t sure I’d ever meet someone who loves historical facts as much as I do.” He leaned his elbow on the center console. “Who wasn’t a professor, that is.”
“Oh yeah, Karen knows the history of this area all the way back to the first frontiersmen, I think. She really loves this town. I admire how hard she’s working to save it from dying off. Too many little towns are being abandoned. It’s sad, really.”
“It is. Not many are in such a great place to serve tourists as Madison Creek. Those along the lake are more fortunate, it seems. Are you from this area, Ethan?” They were entering the main part of town, and Kelvin tapped the brake to slow the car.
“No. I’m a Yooper. My folks decided to move down here when I fell in love with that old Victorian. And its owner.” He couldn’t hold back his grin. Haley had done a number on him when she blew him off the road with her rogue snow blower. He wished he’d stop feeling a stab of guilt every time he thought of her.
Well, soon as the meeting was over, he’d get back home and make time to help her out.
“Really? I lived in the Upper Peninsula for a year before I moved back down state to take a job at a high school. But that only lasted two years before I started applying for college positions. Couldn’t handle the teen angst and all.”
“Teaching high school isn’t for the faint of heart, is it?” Ethan joked though the serious nod he got from the professor made him chuckle. “Well, I’m sure you’re better off now.”
Kelvin seemed to cringe. Running his fingers through his brown hair, he finally admitted, “No. Actually, I got the email last night that I won’t be returning in the fall. They’ve had to make cuts, and I’m one of the trimmings.”
“Oh man,” Ethan turned in his seat, feeling sorry for the guy. “That’s tough. Will you apply at other colleges?”
“Maybe.” He pulled into the parking lot of the court house, a brown brick Greek revival with white columns and window trim. “Well, there she is.” Kelvin motioned toward the woman standing on the steps leading to the front entrance. “She’s dressed to impress today, isn’t she?”
Karen was in her usual dark blue skirt and coat with a simple white shirt underneath. “As usual,” Ethan slid the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder. He couldn’t help but think the professor had more than a researcher’s interest in the council woman. “You should ask her to the fireworks Saturday night. They’ll have live music and dancing in the pavilion.” He added, “I mean, she’ll probably go anyway, but she’s always alone. She might appreciate the company.”
Ethan’s suggestion seemed to snap Kelvin out of his trance.
“Oh, I don’t know. She seems willing to help me out with my research, but I don’t get the feeling she’s interested in dating or anything.”
Grabbing the door latch, Ethan shot the man a conspiratorial wink. “She doesn’t think she’s interested in dating, but I bet if she met the right guy, that’ll change in a heartbeat.” He opened the door and climbed out. Bending down so he could peer inside, he added, “You have nothing to lose. If she tells you no, what’s the big deal?”
“Maybe.” Kelvin killed the engine. “I’m going to leave the car here and grab a coffee at the bakery. When you’re done, give me a call.”
As Ethan headed into the building, he considered dropping a few hints to Karen about Kelvin, but once the meeting got started, it was apparent that she wasn’t in the mood for teasing or anything else that wasted her time. Even before everyone had a chance to grab a coffee and their seat, she brought the meeting to order. The room frosted over with her cool business woman attitude.
Not once did she smile during the whole hour they ran through her detailed agenda. Soon as they concluded, she rushed out, sullen and glowering like she was late for an important appointment.
What had gotten into her? When Ethan exited the building, he found Kelvin sitting on a bench outside the in the front courtyard. He stood when Karen passed, but she breezed by like a winter storm, not even stopping to acknowledge his presence.
When Ethan reached his side, Kelvin scratched his disheveled head, “Did the meeting go that bad?”
“No. It went fine. I think she’s probably preoccupied with this weekend’s event. She was in a bit of a hurry to get out of there.”
Kelvin patted Ethan’s shoulder. “Well, let’s go get you some gas for your truck and then head back to the inn. I should probably spend the afternoon checking the want ads. I don’t want to wait until the last minute and be left jobless at the end of summer.”
When they returned home, Ethan thought he’d ask Haley if she knew what might be going on with Karen. She was closer friends with the woman, despite their rocky start when Haley first moved to Madison Creek. He found his wife in the backyard dressed in her western wear. Her wait staff was also there looking somewhat skeptical.
The brass bed had been taken down and put together. Wally, Haley’s black Australian shepherd, sat on the rumpled mattress, his tail wagging and tongue hanging from the side of his mouth. A large wooden sign was attached to the headboard that read Madison Inn and BBQ House - Open Thursday through Saturday. Grilled delights and live music! Ran along the bottom.
He stopped a few feet away, dropping his bag of notes. “What in the world is that at the foot of the bed, Haley Isabelle?”
His wife spun around to face him. “It’s our entry for the races. What’cha think?” She stepped aside so he could get a clear view.
Ethan gasped, not sure exactly what he was seeing. He blinked. Was that actually a set of pointed steer horns attached to the front? It had to be six feet in length from one pointed tip to the other. Ethan rubbed his eyes and looked again. Haley’s grin was nearly as wide as her dog’s. Both looked quite pleased with their work. He swiped a hand across his brow, imagining the looks and whispers he’d hear from the sidelines as his wife raced by in this monstrosity.
“I’m… speechless. Where did you get…?” He waved at the horns, wondering what kind of person managed to get anywhere near an animal with such deadly looking spears attached to their heads. “…those?”
“From my old boss. They raise longhorns, along with other kinds of beef, too. But she promised me a set when they…you know.” She gave a one shouldered shrug, glancing at her young workers. Her finger slid across her neck.
Ethan cringed. So did Billy, who was always quick to catch on. “Miss Haley! They killed a poor cow for those horns?”
Haley’s fist went to her hip. “People gotta eat, sugar. What do you think we’re serving our customers, huh?” She rolled her eyes as she turned back to Ethan. “Anyway, picture this, I’m going to dress in my ropers,” she kicked out one of her red boots. “And hat. I even have that lasso I set up in the Yellow Rose room where I’d planned to put these horns. After I’m done with the races.” She waved a hand at her workers. “And my helpers will be dressed up, too. We’re going to win. Papop made this bed to roll fast.”
“Like that snow blower? Haven’t you learned your lesson, Haley Isabelle?” Ethan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “And just how will your team mates be dressed?”
Billy covered her face with her hands as the others all looked away in different directions, including his little brother, Jeremy.
“She’s going to make us dress up…” Billy’s hands slid down her cheeks, “like cows. She’s already ordered the suits from the costume shop.”
Ethan folded his arms across his chest and narrowed his gaze at his brother. “Bet you wish you’d helped Pop dig those sewer trenches now, don’t you?”
History drew them together, then nearly tore them apart...
Grab your copy at these distributors. Sun Kisses is also available in print.
Despite her attempt to portray a woman in control, Karen Borgman’s life is a mess. Living with an uncaring, unfaithful husband had been bad enough, but his death sent her life into a humiliating tailspin. Only her fight to revive the small town of Madison Creek, and sharing its deep history with tourist kept her sane.
When history professor, Kelvin Fairbanks, sailed into her life, Karen’s hope of a life with a good man is ignited. What could go wrong?
But when her heart’s desire, a desire she could never attain on her own, is dropped on her doorstep, her reputation and relationship with Kelvin are threatened.
Another heartwarming story from Madison Creek Bed and Breakfast and the characters you’ve grown to love.
Jackie Castle is an author, artist and dreamer. She lives in Texas with her husband, two grown children and her dog, Banjo. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences.