I GET KNOCKED DOWN…BUT I GET UP AGAIN
Semi-obnoxious 90’s song stuck in your head? You can thank me later. 😉
So, about a year ago, life knocked me down pretty hard. (Okay, let’s do a synchronized “Awww.” It’ll be the “Awww” of communal misery. Ready? One, two, three…”Awww.” Excellent, thanks y’all. Now we can move on.) There was some serious personal stuff going down that wasn’t pretty or fun, and most days it was an accomplishment just to get out of bed and brush my teeth. I wasn’t the super-plucky, fun girl that I usually am. In fact, I was kind of like a human Eeyore.
What does this have to do with sexy men in kilts and armor you might ask? Well, as I sat down to write my story, “Wicked,” that’s where I was. Trudging through life, just trying not to cry in line at Starbucks.
When I began to plot the story, I had big plans for a robust hero and a spunky heroine who ran circles around each other, very lighthearted and playful. But when my fingers touched the keyboard, Lachlan, my hero (inspired by this hot guy. Again, you can thank me later), said, “Nope.” Or maybe, more accurately, “Nay, lass. I canna be that hero for ye.”
That Lachlan, he’s full of surprises.
He was sulky and angry and difficult (Wait! Don’t run away screaming or chunk your Kindle across the room! He’s also hot and passionate and has mad skills between the sheets). As a man with very specific desires in the bedroom (curious now?) and a freshly maimed leg, Lachlan had kind of crashed head first into rock bottom and made the decision I didn’t: to not put one foot in front of the other. And, damn it, no matter how much I tried to convince him otherwise, he just insisted on being dark and twisty. Cue sad violin music and the sound of angels weeping into buckets of wet kittens.
So what do you do when your hero has given up on himself and is, well, kind of unlovable? Hm, what to do, what to do?
And then it hit me! In those moments when all hope is lost, we need a light, a little trickle of hope, a glimmer of goodness. Sometimes that comes in the form of a person or group of people who help you remember why life isn’t quite as sucky as you thought. At least this is how it worked for me. Don’t get me wrong, I did a lot of the work myself, but it didn’t hurt that I also happened on some amazing people who saw the vibrant me that was hiding behind the dirty pajama pants and pints of Ben and Jerry’s and made it their life’s mission to remind me that I was still beautiful and worthy of love. Unconditional love.
So that’s what Lachlan needed. A woman strong enough to look a scary, broody warrior in the eye and tell him exactly what she thought about him and that she wasn’t going to let him go out that way. One that would risk everything to make him feel whole again. A woman who loved him that much. “Fight, you fool,” I heard her say and I immediately loved her for it. Isobell is every bit as brave as Lachlan and even more stubborn. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to take it. Ah, perfection!
And when they touched each other? Fireworks, my friends! I think my fingers sparked. I love writing characters with that much chemistry and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Be sure to check out Lachlan in all his broodish hotness and Isobell being a pain in his
ass arse in the excerpt below (right under this purely gratuitous picture that I just can’t help but post because….reasons)!
And now that I’ve spilled my guts, tell me, what helps you stand back up again when you’ve been knocked down? How do you feel about broody heroes? Love ’em? Hate ’em?
Drawing near, Isobell feasted on the taut lines of his belly, the thin line of hair disappearing beneath the sheet, and lower to the angry twisted scar bisecting his thigh from groin to knee.
Her gasp was soft but not soft enough. In a motion so fast Isobell didn’t have time to scream, Lachlan pinned her to the wall, his massive forearm across her chest and a dirk at her throat. Panic gripped her in its iron fist, her shallow breaths doing nothing to tame her blackening vision.
He was going to kill her.
As quickly as the fury came, it receded, recognition dawning across Lachlan’s steel-gray eyes. “Isobell?” His voice was ragged with disuse. “Christ, what are ye doing here?”
She swallowed hard as the dirk’s cool blade left her skin. Trembling fingers flew to her neck, her elbow grazing his naked torso. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, and a sheen of cold sweat dotted her face and chest.
There was barely a hairbreadth between his naked body and hers. His masculine scent wrapped around her, drowning her in desire.
She gathered her nerve, squared her shoulders and peered up at him. “I’m here to bring ye back.”
“Is it yer da? Does he need me?” He reached to the side for his plaid draped over a chair, ready in a heartbeat to serve her father. Never a moment’s fear or doubt, just unshakable loyalty, bone-deep bravery.
Isobell reached to still his fingers with hers. “Nay, it isna my da.”
He straightened, towering over her. Long and lean, built for power and speed. A deadly combination of brains and brawn. Confusion knit his brow. “Then why are ye here? Ye shouldna be sneaking around the castle at night.”
Her practiced speeches were tendrils of fog she couldn’t quite grasp under his icy gaze. What had she planned to say? Use me in any way necessary to feel alive again? What manner of idiot was she?
“Isobell.” He touched her chin, tipping it until she met his eyes.
Something dark and liquid pooled in her belly.
“I think ye should leave now, lass,” he said, his voice tinged with anger.
She stiffened her back, grasped the fleeing strings of her frayed courage and infused her tone with all the authority she could muster. “I brought ye water and soap. There’s a clean shirt and food, too. Wash up and I’ll change yer sheets.” She brushed past him and stripped the sheets, the weight of his gaze on her.
Water splashed in the basin just before he spoke. “Leave the sheets. I’ll do the bed.”
“Nay. Let me tend ye.” Isobell avoided his nakedness as she dumped the dirty bedclothes outside the chamber door. She’d give him privacy. For now.
“I dinna need tending, lass,” he said, irritation in his curt words. “I’m a grown man, ye ken?”
The edge in his tone was sharp enough to sever her tender resolve, but Isobell refused to bleed. “I’m not sure of that. It didna look like ye were caring of yerself, sleeping in filth and refusing to leave yer room.”
“And what would ye know of it?” he spat.
“I know ye lay in here, day and night. I know ye stopped riding, stopped hunting. Ye pay the maids to bring yer food but won’t let them help ye wash. Ye came back from battle a ghost of who ye were.” She paused, her fingers bunching in the fresh sheets. “The most frightening part is that ye were little more than a ghost when ye left. Ye’re ashamed of yer leg, of yer limp, so ye push everyone away. People talk about ye, Lachlan. They whisper things.”
The heat of him pressed against her back. His warm breath caressed her neck as he spoke low and deadly. “And what do they say about me, sweet Bell? Tell me, so I can show ye how true it is.”