Monday, October 6, 2008


Halloween conjures up ideas of scary things. I don’t have a Halloween story but in JEWELED SEDUCTION I have a scary scene in which I identified with the heroine so much I was tense the entire time I spent writing it.

To set up the previous events so you may feel the same unique sensation, let me explain that the heroine Val MacGyver has come home to attend her best friend’s wedding. Just before the service she is drawn to one of the ushers, Calum MacAlister, who appears overly interested in her as he carries out his duties. Later, at the reception, she finds herself seated next to him and it becomes obvious he knows too much about her. Their personalities clash and since she can’t bear to stay near him she abruptly leaves for a walk on the beach.

Deserted, except for a small yacht bobbing on the gentle waves close to shore, Val remembered the fun she’d had at this beach as a child running barefoot in the sand. The isolation now was tranquil, not lonely, an opportune time to reflect on the ring in her pocket and upon a fading relationship. Adrift in her thoughts, she didn’t hear footsteps fall in behind her.

Until he spoke.

“It’s peaceful down here on the beach, don’t you think?”

Val stopped short and turned. “Calum!” It might as well have been the devil standing in front of her. She glanced both ways along the shoreline. Nobody in sight. Stepping back two paces, she stared at him a few seconds, then tried to regain her composure by agreeing with him. “It sure is.” Her heart pounded without mercy, her peace shattered with his presence.

Fast footwork slipped her past him. She intended to return to the reception--to Butch, her bodyguard. Calum’s long strides were more than a match for hers; he caught up. She stopped again and faced him. Exasperated, she spoke without thinking. “I guess that saying is true.”

“Which is?” He came to a halt closer than she preferred.

She hurried out her reply. “That there’s never a cop around when you need one.”

Calum grinned. “I don’t think you need one. I’m safe to be around.”

She didn’t know about that, but neither was she going to argue the point. Her best option would be a quick retreat.

“That’s my boat anchored there. Would you like to go out for a look, Valerie? I can carry you that short distance. The water is as calm as you’ll ever see it. You won’t get one drop of water on you.”

She saw him glance at her feet. He’d be sure to notice how her toes had curled into the sand, prepared to propel into flight. Jittery, and fearing it showed, she was unsure whether to attempt leaving in a trail of smoke. “I don’t like boats or being away from land.”

Her head down, Val started walking, picking up her pace, but he remained at her elbow. Why did I come here alone? Her eyes focused on the beach ahead. Keep yourself together. Don’t let him know you’re frightened. “You’ve rented the house on the bluff, haven’t you... the one that’s an old winery?” Her steps increased, almost to a run.

“Yes. Its panoramic view of the ocean is magnificent.”

“Are the vats in the cellar still in use?”

“You’re familiar with the place?” His eyes gleamed with more interest than she thought the question warranted. What was going on behind his raised brow?

“I don’t know it well,” she replied, then consciously forced her breath to a more regular flow. “I was in there once as a child. It was dark and dank and just plain spooky!”

He smiled. The tension drained from his face.

Val glanced at the cellar windows as Calum held her elbow and guided her past the winery’s entrance. The shadows of twilight had darkened the interior. She remembered how creepy she’d felt when inside once long ago. Of course, she had been a teenager then, but she still hated to be in dark places. She exhaled and breathed in fresh sea-swept air. The washing of soft, frothy waves blended with the distant dance music drifting from the wedding celebration. Calum’s compelling presence striding beside her and his firm grip on her arm dispelled any hope for a pleasant stroll. Her nerves had braced for trouble the moment he touched her. She quickened her pace. Her fear came to fruition when he transferred his strong hands to her shoulders. Val struggled to free herself from his grasp, but his vise-like grip twisted her around, forcing her to face him. “Calum, what is going--”

“Don’t put up a fuss, Valerie, and you’ll get through this all right. Cause trouble and there’ll be a problem.”

She opened her mouth to scream but only an ummm came out when he clamped his hand across her mouth. “I told you not to try anything. There’s little chance anyone could hear you above the music and reception merriment. Save your breath. You’ll need it.” The husky pitch of his voice sent shivers through her, yet she didn’t dare show weakness. She stilled. He removed his hand from her mouth and put it back on her shoulder.

“Get your hands off me!” She glared at the storm brewing in eyes whose blue coloring no longer appealed to her. “What’s this about, Calum?” In an attempt to lessen her panic, Val planted her feet firmly, estimating her chances to outrun him. Although she wanted to hide her fright, she couldn’t control the quivering of her lower lip.

“We’ll discuss it inside.” He glanced around, then grabbed her forearm and hustled her into the winery, bolting the door behind him.

“Let me go, you pathetic bastard!” she yelled, then jerked her head away from him lest she feel the hard press of his hand against her lips again.

Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.
Carol McPhee: