In her blog a few days back (while I didn't have a life), Julie Cohen talked about what goes on in the first page or two of her books. How she isn't just nattering on, but is laying groundwork for things to come. And she challenged other authors to tackle the first page or two of their books and discuss that topic.
So, here I am -- discussing. I thought I'd take a look at The Santorini Bride -- a sort of sneak-peek as it were of my next book which should come out in late January 2007.
This is how it goes:
One more hill.
Looking up the stone steps that twisted up from the dock, Martha could see the house at last. Thank God.
When she’d got off the launch in Santorini she’d thought, “I’m home.” But she’d forgotten the climb and she hadn’t told Ariela, the local lady who took care of the house, that she was coming. So no one knew to meet her. setting the stage geographically and also emotionally. Martha is weary and desperate to get home and she's not announcing her arrival.
No matter. She’d been determined to get here on her own, to be here on her own. The climb was just the last part of it. Still, she was exhausted and sweating and her duffel bag, packed for a move back to New York, not a spur-of-the-moment desperate flight to Greece, felt like lead as she dragged it behind her. She ordinarily lives in New York, but considers the family home in Greece her "real" home and her flight here was definitely not planned. SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED!
She looked up again. In the shimmering summer heat the walls of the two story white stuccoed building seemed almost like a mirage, a dream. Martha had been running on adrenaline so long that it could well have been a hallucination if she didn’t know she was down to her last dollar having spent nearly every cent in her savings account to get her plane ticket from JFK yesterday afternoon. Martha's finances are not enviable and she didn't get help from anyone to get here. She's doing this on her own.
Was it only yesterday?
It seemed like another lifetime since she had blithely and eagerly bounded up the stairs to her boyfriend Julian’s loft apartment in Tribeca, already anticipating his killer grin, his open arms that would grab her and swing her around in joy when she announced she was back for good, that she had finally finished the mural in Charleston that had taken her out of New York for the past month, and that while she was gone she’d made a decision – she was ready at last to share his bed. Martha is something of an innocent. She's deliberately taken a long time to make a commitment to Julian and she's about to burst in on him unannounced and take their relationship to the next step.
She had opened the door, calling his name. Then, hearing the sound of the shower, she had thrown caution to the wind. What better way to prove to him that she was ready for the intimacy he’d demanded –
And so she’d kicked off her sandals, stripped off her shirt and was shimmying out of her skirt as she’d opened the bathroom door. Once Martha makes up her mind to something, she does it.
And discovered Julian wasn’t alone. Oops. Here's the reason for Martha's headlong flight away from New York and back "home" to Santorini. Her judgement has let her down. So has her taste in men.
Through the steamed glass she could see two bodies beneath the spray – Julian, his blond hair plastered flat, and some curvaceous brunette with an all-over tan. Their bodies bare, their limbs entwined.
Martha had stopped dead, gut-punched, rooted to the spot as she gazed unblinking at the sight of her fantasies, her dreams and hopes crashing to bits. Martha is an idealist. She had a dream of what her life would be like, and it's just been shattered.
And then the cool blast of air she’d brought in when she’d opened the door caused Julian to look up. He wiped a hand over the glass, clearing it briefly to stare straight at her stunned face.
His mouth opened and an expletive formed on his lips. Martha’s own mouth was as frozen as her feet as she watched the woman rub against him unaware. Julian shut his eyes for a moment, then opened them and met her gaze again. This time there was less shock and more defiance.
And thank God, Martha found that her feet would move. She isn't going to stand around and let life run over her. She's on the move at once.
She spun away, snatching up her shirt to cover her own bareness, her foolish vulnerability. She yanked it on, face burning. heart slamming – but nowhere near as hard as she slammed the door on her way out.
She’d run down the stairs, her duffel bag banging along behind her, desperate to get away into the street where crowds of people passed, unconcerned, unaware of her humiliation, of her world spinning out of control. Nothing had changed for them.
But for Martha the world had just gone upside down. And it's in this frame of mind that she arrives at her family home in Santorini -- and meets the force who is going to spin her upside down world even faster. But Martha has already been shaken up -- and she's ready for anything now. And determined to deal with it -- which on the next page, she will!