I haven’t had a Teaser Tuesday in a long time. So I thought I’d give you a peek at my latest WIP that I am almost done drafting. Check out the unedited excerpt from The Circle is Small.
An ex-cop returning to face his horrendous past, the woman who won’t forgive him, and the family who’ll never let him forget that he killed their son.
Blurb: First Nations Constable Jordie Chartrand’s guilt can’t handle the accusing stares from the family left to mourn their son after that horrible night…so he flees from his Ojibway community and the woman he loves. Two years later, his mother’s cancer diagnosis forces him to return to help her.
Devoted schoolteacher Ellie Quill wants nothing to do with Jordie after he bolted to the city and left her behind. Her life goals are set. As for her secret, she’ll keep that to herself, even if Jordie’s begging to know the truth about her child.
When the two are compelled to work on a community project to address the rampant drug problem, their forced proximity slowly melts Ellie’s icy walls. But no matter how much her heart desires to give Jordie the second chance that he’s begging for, she refuses to because providing a life for her son in the tradition of the Ojibway culture is her top priority now, not moving to the city where Jordie continues to hide.
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, First Nations Romance, Native American Romance
Heat Rating: Level 3
Publication Date: Coming Soon.
Publisher: eXtasy Books
For daring to return to Ducktail Lake First Nation after scuttling off like a coward, Jordie expected a slap in the face from the woman he’d left behind, and vicious glares, or even knuckles to his nose from the Pemmican family for killing their son.
He shifted back and forth on his heels. The crunch, crunch of gravel beneath his running shoes helped ease the tension digging into his shoulders, and a flutter from the breeze soothed the one side of his cheek. The air carried the scent of spruce, something he’d missed after being away for two years.
Nothing had changed at the reserve. Charlie’s Chicken & Things still needed a new coat of paint since the white siding had begun to peel. Potholes continued to make homes in the many dirt roads in dire need of grading. Dust kept scattering everywhere if someone drove by.
Yep, same ol’ same ol. Even him. He remained the shaky, guilt-ridden man who’d fled this place of lakes, marshes, and reeds.
The blinds to the restaurant were closed against the bright sunlight. Those inside of the diner couldn’t see him lurking about, and he offered up a thanks to nothing.
The walk from Mom’s place had given him a chance to try and work off the nervous edge prickling his skin–the same needles he’d experienced when he’d flown in last night from Winnipeg.
You’re thirty. Man up. He squeezed his fingers, huffed out a big breath, and pushed on the glass door.
The tinkling bell seemed louder than the boom from the sacred drum the community used at each powwow, feast, and ceremony. Every head in the diner swiveled in his direction, as if he’d beaten the drum and had demanded their attention to begin the opening prayer.
A line of sweat trickled down his back. Maybe he shouldn’t have come in on the late flight. If he’d hitched a ride on the morning plane, the “moccasin telegraph” would’ve been abuzz, announcing his return, but arriving at nine-thirty at night hadn’t given the local gossips time to spread the news.
He ran his finger along the collar of his polo shirt tightening around his neck like a noose.
Bertha, as always, staffed the counter. Instead of her gray brows furrowing, the lines around her black eyes softened and her big smile erased the wrinkles peppering the outline of her mouth. “Stah hii. When’d you get back? Huh? Your mom never told me nothin’.”
She patted the white counter and turned over a coffee mug.
Jordie swore someone had glued his running shoes to the floor. Maybe the trickster Nanabush was lurking about, playing one of his mischievous pranks, because he had to almost peel his feet from their rooted position. He forced himself forward, and the walk to where Bertha waited was longer than the Trans Canada, courtesy of the customers’ stares boring into his backside.
One thing had changed, for sure. In the past, whenever he’d arrived for a coffee, he’d received greetings of hello and what’s up. The clatter of a pot coming from the kitchen interrupted the ear-piercing silence.
“Dat. Who dat?” The playful question belonged to a little child.
Jordie turned his head. His eyes almost jumped from their sockets. At the table by the window sat Ellie and the toddler he’d texted her about before she’d blocked him on her cell phone.
The breath whooshed from Jordie’s throat. He’d never expected to bump into her so soon. At quarter-to-nine, she should be at the school in her classroom, instructing thirteen-year-olds.
No matter that Jordie’s ears were hotter than the rocks in a sweat lodge or that self-consciousness was flaming his face, he couldn’t tear his gaze from Ellie’s deep-set dark eyes or the plush, red lips he’d used to taste.
The little boy, Raymond, possessed the same features as Ellie—cupid’s bow to his mouth, pouting stare with his little finger resting on it, and brilliant dark eyes as magnificent as a moonless night on the reserve.
Again, Jordie drew his finger along the collar of his shirt. Dammit, he had a right to know if he was the father.
Studying the child’s black, straight hair, chestnut brown skin with red undertones, and oval jawline, he couldn’t find a hint of himself reflecting in the toddler’s features. Even the boy’s ears were average in size and close to the head—the same as Ellie’s.
The unforgiving look Ellie shot his way was a knife slicing across Jordie’s heart. If not for that night, he’d be sitting with them, instead of standing at the counter under suspicious stares everyone would toss at a wiindigo. He wasn’t some monster that went around consuming human flesh, but after that night two years earlier, they’d probably always see him this way.