Gail Robbins is the heroine in Debra's "Valentine's Day at The Corral".
We first meet Gail in This Feels Like Home. She is Amber's cousin, and provides the emotional support Amber needs as she works her way through a relationship with Jake. After I finished The Corral trilogy, and those niggles kept nudging me to write a few shorter spin-off stories set there, I knew Gail would star in one. When I decided those spin-off stories would have holidays themes, it was always in the back of my mind to put Gail in the Valentine's Day one.
I never dreamed I would be writing it this summer. The deadline for submitting a VD story was long past for a 2016 story, so I decided I'd focus on the Fourth of July one. Little did I know my muse had a completely different idea. One morning, I woke up, long before I wanted to be out of bed, with the opening lines for Gail's story in my head. They kept pushing me until I got out of bed, grabbed the notebook on my nightstand, and scribbled away. Before I knew it I had not only the opening line, but several paragraphs to follow.
What followed that was simply a whirlwind. I wrote the story in eleven days. Now granted, it's a 13,000 word novella, but still...I was proud of myself. I sent off a quick e-mail to my editor asking if there way any chance for a 2016 release or if I should put it in the hopper for 2017. (Which just seems like so far away.) She checked with the powers that be and told me to send it ASAP. I did a quick, but deep (hopefully) edit, and sent it off. Either she knows my writing really well or I wrote one heck of a synopsis, because she passed the story right along to the reader (a step in the process at TWRP) without doing a read herself.
Now I wait to see if Gail will get her story in 2016. The mss needs both reader recommendation and senior editor approval before a contract would be offered. If not, the story will go into the hopper for some revisions and edits before I submit it again at the beginning of next year for a (hopeful) 2017 release.
So let me tell you a little bit about Gail. She's thirty, has lived in the same small town her entire life, works as a receptionist for an accounting firm, and has never found Mr. Right. She lets her cousin talk her into attending a pre-Valentine's Day singles' mixer/speed dating event, where she runs into her new boss. Scott has just taken over the company for his ailing uncle. And while sparks and an attraction have been there from the start, Gail is not keen to mix business and pleasure and date her boss. Besides, she likes cowboys in boots, hats, and jeans, while Scott is all city business man in his suits and ties. However, when Scott begins to woo her with candy and flowers and gifts for Valentine's Day, she finds her resolve wavering. Perhaps he's just her type after all. Now all she can do is hope he discovers small town life is to his liking and decides not to return to the big city.
Here are the opening paragraphs and a peek into Gail's mindset at the beginning of the story:
Payback was a bitch.
Gail Robbins assessed the surprisingly crowded barroom and wondered for the eighteen-thousandth time how she’d gotten herself talked into this. Hundreds of people milled around the spacious room. Tension hung thick in the space, almost like the smoky haze of days of old. Were there really so many desperate people in this small corner of Texas?
The whole thing made her see red. Literally. Cherry-colored cherub and heart cutouts plastered the walls. Pink and white twinkle lights twisted around the wooden columns framing the parquet dance floor. A single blood-red carnation in a bud vase centered on a paper doily on a red or pink plastic table cloth scattered with confetti stood on each high table. Supposedly to set a romantic, Valentine’s Day mood, instead the insipid decorations turned the cozy, rustic barroom of The Corral into her own personal hell.
Most of the soon-to-be participants wore shades of red as well. Gail’s stomach knotted behind the navy and white striped sweater she wore over blue leggings. Her hand shook slightly when she sipped her drink. Chardonnay. Not merlot. Refusing to give into the nauseating color scheme even a little bit, she’d stuck with white wine.
A slightly balding man in his late thirties/early forties wearing a red and white plaid sweater vest…yep, no lie…caught Gail’s eye and smiled. She half smiled in return, but quickly averted her gaze, not wanting to encourage him.
She was going to shoot Amber. Favorite cousin-almost-like-a-sister or not.
When Amber had first suggested Gail attend the singles’ event, she’d laughed it off. When Amber had handed her an already-paid-for entry ticket and reminded Gail about the auction where Gail had set her up on a date with Jake, a sneaking suspicion had wormed into her mind.
Was this Amber’s idea of revenge?
Amber had no reason to complain. Jake was…well, had been…the hottest commodity at The Corral. Gorgeous. Charming. The most eligible bachelor…yada yada. Not anymore. Now he was officially off the market, and he and Amber were as happy as clams. All due to Gail.
And this was how her dear cousin paid her back? A lonely hearts speed dating event? The whole thing was just so…humiliating.
Why hadn’t she put her foot down and refused?
Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed!
Until next time,