Today’s snippets are going to be about Settings. The setting of the story obviously makes a huge impact. A werewolf story can be set in the big city or the wilderness, and that alone will mean that the challenges facing the characters will change.
For a story like Rocky Mountain Heat, the fact that it’s a contemporary romance set in the foothills of the Canadian Rockie Mountains, and the characters are ranchers means their whole world is in place for me as an author. Including a chance to visit my old stomping grounds: the Calgary Stampede.
Calgary Stampede, Alberta, July
“Damn, are you sure you can’t last a little longer, Jaxi?” Travis looked away, but not before she’d spotted the disappointment in his eyes. The annoyance.
Jaxi leant her head against the stall door. The familiar scent of animals did nothing to ease the swirling in her head. She felt like the bottom of a horse stall and there was no way she could fake her way through any more of the day. “I’m sorry. I have to go home now,” she pleaded.
“We bought tickets for the grandstand show tonight and–”
“Why are you two still here? I thought you headed back onto the fairgrounds. The showings for all our stock are already done.” Blake Coleman’s deep voice soothed her pain, stilling part of the pounding. She opened her eyes to peer up at him.
“Ahhh, Jaxi’s being a wuss and wants to cut out early,” Travis bitched.
“Jaxi? A wuss? Get real, Travis.” Blake tugged her arm gently and pulled her closer. People wandered past, admiring the animals on display in the Livestock Pavilion of the Stampede Grounds. Watching the rodeo and chuckwagon races kept many of the visitors entertained, but there was a good crowd here in the quiet of the barns, far away from the roar of the fairgrounds and carnival rides. A low murmur of voices and the contented sounds of animals filled the oversized building. Blake’s hand rose to her forehead and she caught her breath.
In spite of feeling like a mule had kicked her, his touch had its usual effect. She dropped her gaze and bit her lip. He wasn’t supposed to affect her this way. She was going out with Travis and big brother Blake was firmly off limits.
“Damn, you’re burning up. Jaxi, why didn’t you say you weren’t feeling well? You guys could have come another day. Stampede lasts until Sunday.” Blake’s face folded into a frown.
“Travis wanted to come today and so did his buddies. I was fine until after lunch. I guess I should have stayed home,” Jaxi said, wrapping her arms around herself to contain the shivers that threatened to surface. She drew farther from his body and the temptation to lean into him, let him hold her close.
“Travis can take you home in my truck and I’ll stay and drive the others,” Blake offered.
“I want to stay for the show. All my friends are here and I don’t want to leave…” Travis’ voice trailed off. Blake slipped him the head nod that meant he wanted to talk privately.
Jaxi sat on a nearby bale of hay, holding herself as still as possible in the hopes the room would stop spinning. Their voices were quiet but clear even as Blake dragged Travis away from her down the length of the main barn of the Exhibition Grounds.
“She’s your girlfriend and she’s sick. I’d think you’d want to get her home safely instead of taking off and hanging out with your friends. Come on, Travis, do the right thing for a frickin’ change.”
“Hell, Blake, it’s just…it’s the first time in a long time some of my friends have made it to the Stampede. Things haven’t been so hot with Jaxi lately and…well, I planned on breaking up with her soon anyway. It’s a pain in the ass to leave when everyone else is sticking around having a good time and I have to go home with blue balls…”
Jaxi bit her lip. So, the other shoe dropped. Travis had enough of her not putting out for him, not playing his games.
The room spun.
Oh hell, she needed to lie down. She stumbled to the nearest empty stall, forced the door open and collapsed onto the clean straw. She closed her eyes but the ceiling kept turning in circles, the sound of their voices echoing strangely in her ears.
“Shit, she’s messing up my whole evening,” Travis whined.
A solid thump was followed by more complaining. “What the hell was that for Blake?”
The contempt in Blake’s voice was thick enough to cut. “I shoved you because if I slugged you Ma would give me hell. At least until I explained why, and I don’t want to have that conversation with her. Damn it, Travis, Jaxi’s sick and you’re bitching about not getting any? You’re an ass. I’ll take her home, I have to get some of the stock out of here anyway. You can drive the old pickup back after the show. There’s room for everyone who came with us to town, but Travis, I’m warning you. You’re the designated driver. You drink more than one beer between now and getting home, and I’ll take you apart for more than being a shit to Jaxi.”
Soft footsteps approached. The door of the stall swung open and Jaxi swayed as she sat up. Blake stared at her from his six-foot plus height, anger tingeing his face, but she wasn’t the one who’d put it there.
He’d care for her, just like always.
“Ah hell, girl. You’re a strong one, aren’t you? In spite of Travis giving you shit. Come on, Slick, let’s get you home.”
Rocky Mountain Heat releases August 31st
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