Shannon here: Inspirational romance author, Delia Latham shares her brother’s real life romance & a romantic excerpt from her latest release, Lexi’s Heart. Comment on any post dated May 13 – 17 to get your name in the drawing for an e-book copy. Deadline: May 25th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Delia:
Cracker Box Kiss by Delia Latham:
Since my own real-life romance has already been posted here on the Inkslinger Blog, I’m sharing the story of how JoAnn Westberry became my sister-in-law, JoAnn Dawson.
Now, bear in mind that Johnny Dawson is my very-much-adored big brother, so I could be a tad prejudiced, but I happen to know that he was (and still is) an exceptionally handsome man. Dark olive skin tone, black hair, deep brown eyes, and a smile that simply makes folks want to smile back. He’s also pretty darned sweet…but I’m reluctantly willing to concede that could just possibly be truer now than it was forty years ago. Since I was only six when Johnny got married, I didn’t see any of the cock-o’-the-walk attitude that I hear he could portray when he wanted to…but I have it on good authority from multiple sources that my shy, quiet brother has been known to lay that timidity aside a time or two, especially when a pretty young lady caught his eye.
We lived in Weedpatch, California…and I won’t even go into the explanation for that name…at least, not today, not in this post. But believe me when I say it was (and still is) barely a speck on the map. Just one mile up the road, however, was the big town of Lamont, population at that time about—well, I don’t know, to be honest, but it was just over 15,000 in 2010. In 1964 it was considerably less than that. Not exactly a metropolis, but it was the closest we were going to get to “uptown” unless someone made the huge trip into Bakersfield, which was a whole nine miles or so northwest of there.
So. The way I heard it from JoAnn—the gal who managed to rope Johnny Dawson and tie him up right proper—the two of them met while cruising Lamont’s Main Street one evening. Johnny was dating her friend. JoAnn was a passenger in that friend’s car.
Little did she know that God was in charge of events that night. Because her friend stopped at the local hamburger joint where “all the kids went.”
The Cracker Box.
And, in JoAnn’s words…“Here he came, walking up to the car, and he thought he was God’s gift to women with his slinky walk and that look on his face. I had hair rollers in but that didn’t keep him from looking me over.”
Well, JoAnn’s poor friend lost out, because it wasn’t long until she and Johnny were no longer dating. Soon after, JoAnn went to the Edison Drive-in Theater on a date with one of Johnny’s friends— a double date, with Johnny and his newest conquest. As coincidence (?) would have it, Johnny and JoAnn wound up going to the snack bar together, and the attraction they’d felt that first night at the Cracker Box was still there…and still strong. They did manage, flirting all the while, to purchase the snack bar items they’d gone after. But then, on the way back to the car, the inevitable happened.
“We stopped and looked at each other, and we kissed. And that was all it took.”
My sister-in-law’s beautiful, sweet smile makes me so glad it happened just the way it did. “We started going out, and here we are growing old together,” she says. “We’ve lived that kiss for forty-nine years in April.”
Oh, be still my heart! Isn’t that just the epitome of romance? They met twice, and both times they were dating other people…but sometimes love just happens without rhyme or reason. I did ask JoAnn how their dates reacted to that kiss. “Oh, they didn’t know,” she assured me. “We didn’t tell.”
My questions took JoAnn on a trip down Memory Lane. “I can still see Johnny and I at the Cracker Box—him a skinny, handsome guy…and me—yes, skinny, and in hair rollers. As I look back now,” JoAnn says, “ I think we were both hooked that (first) night. We sure did give each other the eye.”
And they’re still giving each other the eye, forty-nine years later. I found one photo on Facebook that described them as “husband and wife, lovers, and friends.”
Love doesn’t get any better than that.
Excerpt from Lexi’s Heart by Delia Latham:
Over the course of time, he’d learned far more about Lexi than he ought to know, and only partly because Malinda talked too much.
He knew that God had given her a mega-dose of beauty she wasn’t even aware she possessed, but any fool with decent eyesight could see that. He knew her husband deserved to be lassoed to the meanest bull in Texas and dragged clear across the state. Mitch had no use for a man who would mistreat a woman—especially one like Lexi. Even Malinda had only good things to say about her, and for Malinda, that was a big thing.
He also knew that Lexi’s no-good excuse of a husband had divorced her three years ago, in favor of some young thing he’d no doubt treat exactly as he’d treated Lexi.
And with Todd Carlisle out of the picture and already married to someone else, Mitch was acutely aware that he was free to act on his attraction for the lovely woman who now stood in Mrs. Martin’s doorway, staring at him as if he’d grown another head right before her big green eyes.
In fact, he couldn’t think of one good reason he hadn’t done that already. Except…well, doggone it, the woman all but radiated a “no trespassing” policy.
A panoply of expressions chased one another across Lexi’s face. Curiosity battled with concern…and something else. Mitch considered himself a more-than-passable reader of people, and unless he’d lost his touch, he was looking at a whole heckuva lot of distrust.
Lexi didn’t quite like him, and certainly didn’t trust him.
He’s way too handsome. Lexi raked the man’s chiseled features with a sharp gaze. Men are either nice or handsome. Rarely both. And it’s easy to see which category Mitch Gaynor falls into.
Her acid tone seemed to have no effect on him. He stood at ease, one finger marking his place in the novel. His eyes tracked her like a hunter might watch a particularly skittish prey—not quite ready to put a bullet in the poor animal, but determined not to let it escape.
Well, she was nobody’s prey. Not anymore.
“I asked what you’re doing here with my mother, Mr. Gaynor.”
His lips twitched annoyingly, and she realized her slip of the tongue. Now he knew that she knew who he was. Oh, well. She hiked both brows in what she hoped was a suitably challenging expression.
He held up the book. “I’m reading to her, Ms. Carlisle.”
So he recognized her, as well. From Angel Hair, of course, since—unlike him—she wasn’t famous for anything at all.
“I was actually able to figure that out on my own. Why are you reading to her?”
To her irritation, a teasing grin appeared on that movie-cowboy face.
Oh, yes, this guy was far too handsome, with a body to match—not that Lexi noticed—and downright cocky to boot!
About Delia: Born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website (www.delialatham.net), her blog (http://delialatham.blogspot.com), or her Facebook author page (Delia Latham).
About the book: Forty-three-year-old Lexi Carlisle’s abusive marriage ended three years ago. Deeply scarred by the experience, and helplessly watching her beloved mother succumb to Alzheimers, Lexi is devastated. After selling her fancy home, she rents a cottage in Heart’s Haven, a special place unlike any other. Slowly learning to live again, she despairs of ever delivering the message of love that burns within her heart for her ever-worsening mother. But Mitch Gaynor, a handsome Christian author, reminds Lexi that with God all things are possible, planting within her battered and distrustful heart the seed of hope for a miracle. But can she open her fortressed heart to God? And is Mitch a part of His plans for her future?
Come back May 15th for Angela Breidenbach!