Lindsay's topic on heroes got me thinking about the men in my books and what they might all have in common and what I discovered surprised me. Even though their physical characteristics were quite diverse, I realized all were tall. Taking the observation further, I concluded that their height was probably related to the fact that my beloved grandfathers and uncles were of similar build. And since hero literally means to watch over and protect, these men in my life made me feel secure as a child.
My heroes also share the common trait of strength, both physical and moral. They are rock solid, dependable, nurturing, introspective, and capable of enduring love. There's not a swashbuckling, loquacious, flamboyant rake among them. Boring? Maybe. My heroes are all gentle-men in the true sense of the word. I write about ordinary people, both male and female, who sometimes find themselves in situations that require extraordinary courage and insight. I hope that my readers can relate to the emotions of my characters and become a part of their story in the pages of my books. I hope they will love my heroes and feel safe with them and remember them with affection long after they close the pages of my books.
Circle of Love is an example of the enduring love I mentioned above. Pete and Joanna were soul mates who spent half a lifetime apart but never lost their deep feeling for each other. And when their lives finally come full circle their happiness is complete.
Title: Circle of Love
Genre: Contemporary - Spicy
Author: Linda Swift
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Available as an E-book and in print
Buy link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/circle-of-love-p-1176.html
Joanna returns to a small Missouri town for her high school reunion and comes face to face with Pete, the love of her life. A college professor in Tennessee, she has never married and Pete, a prosperous farmer, is now a widower with five children. Their attraction is as strong as it was on graduation night when Pete was leaving for boot camp. He never knew that Joanna had his child and gave her up for adoption. And Joanna doesn't know that her baby girl, Beth, is now married and has begun a search for her birth parents. Will Beth find what she is looking for? And will Pete and Joanna, despite their diverse lives, rediscover a love that has come full circle?
Crossing to the wrought-iron railing, Joanna gazed at the sweeping panorama below them. Winding streets where cars, like a string of lightning bugs, crawled slowly along; buildings dotting the steep hills, their lighted windows twinkling in the shadows; and beyond, dark silhouettes of trees that rimmed the hubbub of the tourist town with silent splendor.
Joanna leaned both hands on the railing and took a shallow breath then said in a steady voice, “It is quite a view.”
Pete stepped closer and placed his hands on either side of hers, touching her ever so slightly, making her aware of his closeness. Joanna shivered with anticipation.
“Cold?” Pete whispered, his lips almost touching her ear.
“No, I—yes.” She suddenly felt dizzy and turned away from the precipitous drop. Pete did not move back but enfolded her gently in his arms. For a moment her head rested against his shoulder, then he lifted her chin and bent to touch her lips with his own. At first the kiss was tentative, then with bold and certain motion, his mouth proprietarily possessed hers. He pressed her closer against the lean hardness of his body responding to her nearness. Finally, he pulled away from her and wordlessly led her inside, where in the semi-darkness he slowly removed the pins from her hair and ran his fingers through the loosened strands. He undressed her, then himself and lay with her on the rose-strewn coverlet. With indrawn breath, he gazed at her body for a long moment. Finally he spoke. “It’s hard to believe that the girl who filled all my waking and sleeping dreams in a faraway foxhole so many years ago, is here in this room with me now.”
“I’m here,” she assured him.
He stroked her face, whispered huskily, “I love you, Joanna. I always have, somewhere deep inside my heart. I want you to know that nothing—no one—has ever changed that. Do you believe me?”
“Yes, Pete,” she whispered back, “I believe you because I feel that way, too.”
His gentle hand moved to the valley between her breasts, slowly circling to caress first one, then the other. His breathing grew ragged with his forced restraint and her own came in short gasps as her mounting desire grew almost unbearable.
They kissed deeply, tongues tangling with ever more rapid movement, even as his hands
explored her thighs and the recess between. She moaned softly and Pete wrenched his mouth away.
“Joanna.” He spoke through harsh breaths. “I can use protection, but I’ve never been with any woman since my wife.”
“And I’ve never been with any man since you,” she whispered.
“Oh my God, Joanna.” The agonized words tore from his throat. “I don’t know whether to be glad you’ve waited for this, or sorry for all the years of pleasure you’ve missed.”
“After you, I never wanted anyone else,” she told him truthfully.
With a groan, half despair, half ecstasy, he entered her and their bodies melded into one, culminating quickly into climax despite Pete’s efforts to hold back.
He crossed the room and bent to kiss her, reached for the light, hesitated, and hung up his coat instead. He came back to stand by the window, leaning his weight against the ledge. “Joanna, there’s something I want us to talk about.”
So it hadn’t been her imagination. Here it comes. The part about how he can’t take this a second time. So long. It could have been so good between us. But I can’t deal with more sickness. Suddenly, she wondered if Dr. Jacobs had told Pete that she had cancer and he was going to tell her that now.
“Dr. Jacobs told me something that I think we need to talk about.”
So that was it. She took a deep breath. She wouldn’t cry. God, please don’t let me cry. Give me courage.“The night you came back from surgery, he...mentioned that you...had a child.” Pete
stopped and the words hung between them, an invisible barrier in the shadows.
For a moment Joanna didn’t comprehend what Pete had said, so sure she had been of what he was going to tell her. Then comprehension dawned and she was mute, a million sensations whirling in her mind as she tried to think how to respond—denial, protest, apology, anger, accusation. Finally her frozen face moved and she whispered acknowledgement. “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you tell me, Joanna? I knew you weren’t a virgin. I didn’t expect you to have lived a nun’s existence all these years. Why did you lie to me, tell me I was the only man you’d ever slept with?”
Joanna lifted her head and tried to read Pete’s face but he was silhouetted against the waning light, his features invisible. She still didn’t understand his words.
“Even we Catholics are broad-minded about divorce now if the circumstances warrant it. I assume it was divorce since you surely wouldn’t have been ashamed to tell me you were widowed? But the thing I can’t figure out is why you would deny your own child? I know you love children as much as I do, and surely you don’t believe I would reject your child just because I wasn’t the child’s father?”
“You are my child’s father,” Joanna said quietly.
For a moment, Pete was speechless, then he said harshly, “Then why in God’s name would you...?” He stopped, passed a hand across his forehead. “Joanna, please explain this.”
Her ears were ringing and she thought she was going to faint and wished that she would. From far away, she heard a voice that was not her own but it was telling her story.