I’ve been asked what inspired me to write Away to Me. It was a spin off of an idea from my first novel, Stricken. What would happen if a child went looking for their birth family, and it wound up being someone they knew? How would they react? How would the birth parent react when they realized their child had been in their life for a long time?
Enjoy this excerpt from Away to Me.
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Wednesday was an opening shift that went into the mid-afternoon. It was a busy day, due to unusually warm temperatures and sunshine for late March. The residents of Lunenburg County were slowly coming out of their winter hibernation.
After her shift ended, she went home to change before she went over to Neil’s. She was anxious to see him and their daughter.
When she unlocked the door, Kelsey heard a noise from the hallway.
That didn’t sound like one of the cats.
Shit. I hope someone didn’t break in. I’ll fucking shoot them if they did.
Warily, she grabbed an umbrella and held it like a baseball bat. She crept down the hallway, toward the bathroom.
There was a loud thump from her daughter’s bedroom. The door was shut. She couldn’t see what or who was in there. She froze, ready to swing, and held her breath as the doorknob turned.
Her daughter jumped and yelped when she saw Kelsey.
“What the fuck?” Kelsey screeched. She slumped against the wall, the umbrella dropped to the floor, and she covered her heart with a hand.
“Kelsey, are you okay?” Rikki asked, her eyes huge.
Kelsey tried to catch her breath. “I thought you were a burglar!” she exclaimed and slid down the wall to land on her rump. “You scared the shit out of me.”
Rikki slapped a hand over her mouth. “Sorry!”
“I’m glad it’s you.” She shook her head rapidly and let out a long breath. “Give me a second to get my bearings, and you can tell me why you came over without calling first.”
Rikki nodded sheepishly and helped her mother stand. “I’ll make you some coffee while you change.”
Kelsey waved her off and went into her bedroom to change out of her work clothing and into her usual home clothing of jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers.
Did something go wrong at school, or did she have a fight with her father?
Hopefully whatever it is, I can help her. If not, we may have to recruit Neil.
Or, if it’s really bad, Gina and Ruby too.
Rikki was at the table, mournfully staring into a glass when Kelsey entered the kitchen a few minutes later. She brushed a hand over her daughter’s hair and sat down.
“Did you and your dad have a fight?” she prompted.
“No,” the girl whispered.
Whew, I hate seeing them argue. “Call him to let him know where you are.”
“Can we wait a bit?”
“Call him, or I will.”
“You do it. He’ll freak out on me for sneaking out of the house.” Rikki hung her head.
“I’m willing to let it go, as long as you spill why you did it,” Kelsey said. “I’ll try to convince your dad to let it pass too, but you’d better get ready to start singing.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Rikki got up and went into her room.
Kelsey dialed Neil’s number.
“It’s me,” Kelsey said quietly when he answered. “I’m going to be a bit late.”
“What happened, did you get roped in to working a double shift?” Neil sounded a little annoyed.
“No. I’m home.” She sighed. “Something came up.”
Kelsey fell silent as she mulled over how to tell Neil without the expected blow up. He has a long fuse, but not when it comes to Rikki. It’s like touching a lit match to gasoline.
“Kelsey, what happened? What’s wrong?” The amount of concern in his voice made her heart skip a little.
No time for that. Tell him.
“Rikki is here,” she blurted.
“No, she’s not. She’s in her room, listening to music.”
Kelsey sighed again. “Go check.”
“I’m not going to check.”
“Please, go look in her room. You’ll see I’m telling the truth.”
He let out an irritated noise. “I’ll check, but you’re going to feel foolish when you hear me talking to her.”
Wrong. She could hear the music blaring over the airwaves. I’m going to really let her have it for making him think she was still home. God. She picked at a cuticle while she waited.
A moment later, Neil bellowed, “The fuck?”
“She’s not there, is she?”
“No. Where is she?”
“She’s here. She’s reading while I talk to you.”
“What is she doing over there without my permission?”
“I’ll talk to her, and tell you later.”
“That’s not good enough. She knows not to do this. I’m going to fucking ground her for a month for this!”
“Neil, take a deep breath. She’s fine, and promised not to do it again.”
“She knows she’s not allowed doing that, Kelsey.”
“She looks like she’s about to cry and decided to talk to me for a change. Let me find out what’s going on before you go berserk on her.”
“Jesus Christ. Now I see why so many of her friends’ parents are going grey.”
Neil’s grumble echoed in Kelsey’s ear. “For fuck’s sake, calm down, or I’ll kick you in the ass. I can see why she came to me if you’re going to react like this each time she does something stupid.”
Silence ricocheted over the line. Finally he let out a long breath and cleared his throat. “Good point.”
“I’d rather have her sneak out to see me instead of a boy.”
Neil groaned. “You’re right. Thanks for calming me down. I’m still fit to ground her, but not until we find out what’s going on.”
“I’ll fill you in after I walk her home. We can decide if she needs to be punished or not.”
“As long as she’s not pregnant, I may let it slip this time.”
It was Kelsey’s turn to groan. “Now you have me worried. Gee, thanks.”