My birthday is July 28th. I share my special day with Jackie O., and only one other person I’ve actually met in my lifetime—my daughter’s best childhood friend, Hailey.
I always loved that my birthday came in July. The Oklahoma weather was traditionally hot. In those early years, we dressed in our best party dresses, wore white anklets and Mary Janes, and always, there were beautifully wrapped gifts (no gift bags in those days!) and a marvelous homemade cake.
My sixth birthday is one I remember vividly. We were in the process of moving, and our furniture hadn’t arrived. Mom never bought cakes, but this was an exception. She bought the only chocolate cake the store had—a German chocolate cake—forgetting that I was “the one” who didn’t like coconut. We pulled out the kitchen drawers, turned them on end and used them for makeshift chairs around our “table”—a large wardrobe box turned on its side. The same day we were moving in, another family was doing the same thing, just down the street. The best birthday gift of all? They had a little girl my age! Jane became my best friend.
Slumber parties were popular in later years. Parents endured a houseful of giggling, rambunctious elementary school-aged girls for the longest night of their lives…until the next year rolled around.
Costume parties were another fad. The pictures that my parents took of a costume party I had for my tenth birthday are unforgettable. I remember how much fun we all had, figuring out “who” or “what” we were going to be. Amidst a hippie, a leprechaun, and Indian princess, and a gypsy, I was a hula dancer. My oldest sister had just returned from a year of college studies in Hawaii, and I had a brand new grass skirt that needed to be broken in. My good friend DaNel, who’d moved just across the street, wore my kimono—another present from my sister. This was before Pizza Hut—we ate hot dogs for dinner.
And what about skating parties? Do any of you remember those? We had a skating rink with a wooden floor (yes, this definitely shows you how old I am!) and we never tired of skating around and around, couples skating, all boys, all girls, backward skate—the changeups were endless, as were the games.
This month I’ll celebrate a milestone birthday—number 55. I don’t mind getting older at all—hey, I can get my discount at IHOP now!
In my book, FIRE EYES, Frank Hayes, the youngest of the deputy marshals, has made an embarrassing and potentially deadly mistake. Though Kaed Turner, the main character, survives, Frank has made the decision to give up law enforcement. Kaed seeks him out, along with Travis Morgan, another marshal, to have a talk with him about it. He shows Frank that no matter what, he’s part of a different kind of family now. Birthday reminiscing is how the difficult conversation begins.
EXCERPT FROM FIRE EYES:
“Well, Frank, I expect you’ll remember to tell someone next time, won’t you?” Kaed said quietly.
“Won’t be a next time, Mr. Turner. I don’t b’lieve I’m cut out for this.”
Travis started forward, but Kaed put a staying hand on his arm. Travis met his eyes and Kaed shook his head. He came toward Frank slowly. When he got within arm’s length, he stopped.
“How old are you, Frank?”
“Twenty. Or close enough. My birthday’s next month. My ma, she always made a cake.” He glanced around at Kaed, a flush staining his neck, making its way into his face. “Chocolate,” he mumbled, “if she could get it.”
Kaed gave him a half-smile and closed the last bit of distance between them. “You’re awful lucky, Frank. I lost my mother when I was just shy of nine. I’m not sure I even remember exactly when my birthday is. But, that’s not really important, anymore.”
Frank nodded, but didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes fixed on the gently swirling water of the creek.
Kaed went on. “When you became a marshal, you got another family. We all share the same life, the same dangers, the same loneliness of bein’ out on the trail.”
Frank shuddered, his lips compressing tightly. “I know you’re right, Mr. Turner.”
When he didn’t continue, Kaed said, “I’m not mad at you, Frank. Anybody can make a mistake. Travis, here, he was a couple of years older than you when he made his big one.”
Travis drew his breath in, and Kaed turned to give him a quelling glance. “Right, Trav?”
Kaed turned back to Frank. “You’ll have to get Trav to tell you about it.” He spoke easily, as one friend would to another, as if he thought Travis and Frank were on amicable terms.
Frank gave a short, brittle laugh. “I don’t think Travis Morgan is gonna talk to me about any mistake he ever made.”
“Trav, come on up here,” Kaed said.
Travis slowly stepped forward to join Frank and Kaed, swallowing tightly. “Frank, I guess I need to say—”
“You better do more than guess what you need to say, Travis,” Kaed said, his tone cool.
Travis glanced at Kaed and flushed. He nodded. When he turned back to Frank, his green eyes were apologetic. “I gave you a hell of a rough time, Frank. I’m sorry for that.” He extended his hand. “Will you accept my apology?”
Kaed looked at Frank expectantly. He felt like an older brother overseeing two younger, quarreling siblings, forcing them back to brotherhood once more. But Kaed knew he was the only one who could end this discord between them.
Hesitantly, Frank reached for Travis’s hand and shook. “Sure. Forget it.”
“All right. Now let’s hear no more of this business of you givin’ up marshaling, Frank,” Kaed said. “You trained with Lem Polk, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir. I think that might be my problem.”
Kaed nodded, sure that it was. “You ride with Travis for the next few months, see if he can’t teach you what you need to know.”
Both Travis and Frank started to speak, but Kaed held up a hand, giving them both a hard, cutting look. “Make your peace, boys. Travis, I expect you to teach him everything I taught you.”
FIRE EYESA gritty, sensual western novel not meant for the faint of heart...
Love's healing power...
Wounded by sadistic renegades who rule the borderlands, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner understands he faces certain death. Then Fate and a war party of Choctaw Indians intervene, delivering him instead to an angel with the skill to heal him.
Jessica Monroe has already lost a husband and a brother to the outlaws who tortured Marshal Turner. As the rugged lawman lies bleeding on her bed, she faces a difficult decision. Can she afford to gamble with her heart one last time? For when Kaed recovers, he is sworn to join in the battle to wipe out the renegade gang—once, and for all.
When vengeance is done, will Kaed keep riding? Or will he return to claim his future with the beautiful woman the Choctaw call Fire Eyes?
I’ll be giving away a copy of FIRE EYES today to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment about one of your own birthday celebrations and your email address to be entered in the drawing.
Thanks so much for coming by today, and thanks again to Cheryl for having “Cheryl #2” as her guest!
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