Today I have decided to post an excerpt from my first book, Running Home. This is a nice scene which i think gives a great insight into the two characters–Jo, and Tom.
Tom dipped his bread into the stew. The spicy, meaty meal was not much of a distraction to him compared to the timid woman who stood watching the food as if she had never seen anything like it in her life.
It took all of his restraint not to stand up, grab her, and force her to eat. He knew only too well what it was like to fight an inner battle. The woman looked like she hadn’t eaten a good meal in weeks. Unexpected anger flared inside his chest, shocking him.
“I’m Tom Cane, by the way,” he offered. He kept his eyes on his food, not wanting to intimidate her.
After a moment, Tom lifted his curious gaze. She was looking at the door, her hands twisting, and her white teeth chewing at her bottom lip. The sight pained him, angered him. Why was she so scared?
“Sit down. It’s getting cold,” he ordered. If she wouldn’t make the choice, then Tom would make it for her.
Jo turned and stared at the table with sad eyes. Resignation crept across her face and she dropped into the chair. He dipped his bread again, relieved when she reached over and picked up her own bread roll.
“This is good.” Her softly spoken words made his skin tingle. His body jerked as the sound of her voice made his heart jump. He looked up and her deep, sorrowful, brown eyes held him captive.
“Thank you.” He wanted to say more—not knowing how. For three years his life had been quiet, just him and the farm. Since he had come home, injured and unable to serve his country any longer, he had been quiet, except for his fits of rage. Eventually, he had taken over the farm, and now he spoke only when he needed to. Some days that was not at all.
They sat in silence as they ate the comforting stew. He noticed her slowly relaxing, the stiff line of her shoulders dropping, and her frown smoothing out.
His small house had warmed up and was quite cozy now. It worried him that she was so desperate to go back out into the frigid autumn air. What is she running from? Did she go out for a walk and get lost? He looked at her dirty, torn clothes and flimsy trainers and thought not. She had bruises and small cuts that marred her soft-looking skin, and that was just what he could see. How damaged was the rest of her body?
Anger swelled inside him. His eyes fell to her left hand. Relief cooled his veins when he saw no ring. Not that that meant anything. Lots of people didn’t wear rings.
“You married?” It was a simple question really, but it turned his stomach. He didn’t know why it should. She stopped stirring her stew, and bit her bottom lip. A pulse of irrational jealousy throbbed through Tom’s mind. She is married.
Tom couldn’t imagine she had been married long. She looked quite young. His gaze traveled over her bent head. Her dark hair flopped loosely around her face, obscuring her expression.
Did her husband do this?
“Yes,” she whispered, in a voice barely loud enough for Tom to hear. He saw the tension return to her shoulders.
“Are you running from your husband?” He yanked back his growing anger. What fucking right does a man have to treat a woman this way?
After a tense moment, Jo stood up and turned her back on Tom.
He had been right. And, shit, how he hated it.
Tom laid his spoon down, sat back, and watched her pace the living room. Her eyes
strayed to the front door, as if she were still contemplating running.
“You are safe here,” he said, allowing his voice to harden a little. The sight of her
trembling body, wrapped in those pitifully ruined clothes tore at his resolve. He stood up and walked a little way around the table. “You don’t have to leave tonight.”
Tom found himself lost in her stare. Pain and hurt stared back at him from eyes so pretty they stole his cool. She looked lost. Tom stepped a little closer, to comfort her, to make her see she didn’t have to be frightened of him, to let her know nothing could touch her while she was there.
He knew he was not a traditionally handsome man. His time in the army and Iraq had hardened his features. The scar that dented his right cheek probably looked gruesome to her. Tom knew his limp was off-putting and he looked ruined and weak. For the first time since he had left the army, he wanted to look different. He wanted to stand tall again, and be free of the constant pain that throbbed and burned in his leg.
His palm itched to soothe the worry from her eyes, to softly stroke the hair that had fallen over her cheek. If he could only run his fingers through her hair, he was sure he would never feel anything softer, but he had to control his hands.
“I can’t stay here,” she said.
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