When I wrote Birds Do It! I was in a critique group with four other romance authors. Two were writing romantic suspense, one historical and one romantic comedy. (I was the lone author of fantasy romance of the group.) However it happened, each of my crit partners had characters named Logan and Rachel. Of course I figured I should join in on the naming fun. Instead of using Logan as my hero’s first name, I made it his last. And Rachel became his daughter. My fantasy romances were based in a contemporary world, so that part wasn’t too difficult. I just used my made up city. I made it a personal challenge to write this book with no fantasy–and almost made it. There’s one tiny nod to the fantastical and I challenge my readers to find it.
But, back to names. Before I can really learn who my characters are, they must have names. And the right names. Names that fit, that perhaps have special meaning for their personality or heritage. I wanted a good, strong name to go with Logan, and after a lengthy search of my favorite name books, settled on Garr. I had fun with Birdie, since she’s an avian expert, with a shop called Birdies. Love the play on words. She’s actually named for my grandmother, though, whose nickname was, at times, Birdie. I like family names, and sneak them into my stories from time to time.
Garr’s daughter spells her name a little differently than my friend’s Rachels did. Here’s a scene showing how when Birdie agrees to frost the nine year old’s birthday cake:
~ * ~
Birdie sighed, tried to force her curiosity and the fluttering in her chest away, and peered at the smooth, blank surface of the cake. What had she gotten herself into? A soft chattering, a strangely calm sound from a large parrot, sounded from the sunroom.
Bright inspiration flowed into Birdie and she picked up a small bowl, filled it with white icing and reached for the package of tiny bottles of food coloring.
Sometime later, she finished a final swirl around the word ‘birthday’ and held the decorating bag suspended above the cake. Only one thing was needed to complete her edible work of art—the birthday girl’s name.
A movement, caught from the corner of her eye, startled her into squeezing a blob of bright yellow onto the center of the cake. “Oh, no.”
Garr shoved his hand under the bag and caught another glop of icing in his palm. He moved to the sink, washed the color away, and dried his hands with a paper towel. “Sorry I startled you. I’ve been here a while. Watching.”
Birdie slammed the bag onto the counter, and splattered yellow across the granite surface. “Oh, d—darn it anyway.” She turned an apologetic smile to Garr. “I get so involved sometimes, I don’t notice what’s going on around me. No harm done. As long as you wipe up the counter.”
Garr’s eyes widened imperceptibly. Had she really said that? Commanded him to clean up after her? Crinkles appeared at the corners of his eyes and he smiled. Hazel. His eyes were hazel. Unable to look away, Birdie wondered if the color changed depending on his mood, or what he was thinking.
Garr turned his smile to the cake and pointed at the yellow mound. “That’s not harm?”
Using a flat spatula, Birdie scooped up the offending icing and dropped it back into a small bowl. After wiping the spatula on a damp dishrag, she scraped the last of the white icing from its container and repaired the damage. Smoothing the surface with a deft flick of her wrist, she spoke. “I need to know how your daughter spells her name.”
“The French way.”
“And that is?” Birdie held up a hand. “Wait a sec.” She reached for a second decorating bag filled with bright blue icing. After testing the flow from the tip over a bowl, she paused with the tip close to the cake. “Okay, shoot.”
“R.” Garr swallowed heavily. This woman, a stranger, came into his house, magically quieted a maniacal bird, and created the most beautiful cake for his daughter. Her hand moved smoothly, putting a final, flowery flourish to the large letter.
“A.” She arched her shoulders forward as if easing tight muscles. Garr’s fingers twitched, and he longed to soothe, to comfort, to relax her tension. That longing curled into heated tension low in his belly.
“C.” Pausing, Birdie held the top of the decorating bag in one hand, wrapped the fingers of her other hand around it, and gently forced the icing toward the tip. Then, she wrapped her fingers more tightly around the bag and adjusted her grip slightly. Garr bit back a low groan.
“H.” How the letter got past the lump in his throat was a miracle. Unbidden, unwanted, the vision of her fingers wrapped around him… stroking… caressing… squeezing…
His body responded painfully.
“E.” A deep intake of breath filled him with her scent; spice and warm vanilla. As casually as he could, he moved to the other side of the island to hide his physical reaction. Perhaps the distance would help.
“Two L’s.” How long had it really been since he’d been attracted to a woman, drawn to someone so intimately? The tip of her pink tongue peeked between her lips as she concentrated, moving slowly along her full lower lip as if it traced the letters as well.
“E.” By God, if she didn’t stop caressing that damn bag…
“There, finished.” Birdie looked up at him. A triumphant smile made her face bright and beautiful. She sucked an icing covered finger into her mouth. “What do you think?”
I think I want to know you better. Much better. Realizing she waited for an answer, Garr cleared his throat and tore his gaze from her face to look at the cake. A large blue bird covered nearly a third of the surface; the yellow-circled eye watched him much as the monster did. “It’s remarkably like Brutus.”
Her grin widened. “That’s what I was trying for. Oh, wait.” Scrounging through the mess on the counter, Birdie came up with a candle shaped like a nine. After placing it carefully, it looked like the bird held the candle in an outstretched claw. The bright yellow ‘Happy Birthday’ above the deep blue name made the cake an artistic masterpiece.
“Amazing. Rache will love it. How can I ever thank you?” He inched back around the counter to stand beside Birdie. “I’m in your debt. First for helping with the bird, and now this.”
Birdie spread her hands. The movement tugged her blouse tight across her breasts. Garr moved closer. The blue in her eyes deepened until the gray disappeared. He sank deep into her gaze. He was going to kiss her—again and again if she would let him. Her eyes told him she would. The space between them narrowed.
~ * ~
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For now…this is me…
*lizzie always made up games and stories to keep her company. So, a cunning witch lived in Grampa’s weather research station and was only held at bay by waving a certain weed. An ancient road grader morphed into a boat carrying wild adventurers to islands filled with fierce lions and dangerous cannibals, which really looked a lot like sheep. Now, filled with fantasy, love, and romance with a sparkling twist, the stories of her imagination swirl their way into the mundane world. When *lizzie must return to a more routine life, she’s *the Lunch Lady* at a private school.
Author and lunch lady~~what a combination!