Shannon here: Jodie Bailey shares insight into her real-life romance and her characters’ plight in her latest Romantic Suspense, Witness in Peril. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy (US only), ebook for international. Deadline: April 2nd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jodie:
When my husband and I were dating and during the first few years of our marriage, he was an avid skydiver. Most of our weekends were spent on the dropzone in the warm sunshine. I’d read while he winged into the sky and then, well, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. I got so adept at the nuances of a jump that I could hear the plane throttle back and, on a good clear day, even see the jumpers exit the plane. There’s a certain small sound as they’re in freefall, that ends in the popping open of the canopy that brings them safely to earth.
It was a thrill I enjoyed sharing with him, although there was no way I was going to actually fly up there and SHARE that thrill. It was fun watching him under canopy and seeing the graceful way he would “step out of the air” when he reached the ground.
Part of packing a parachute involves a long ribbon known as a pull-up cord that, in short, helps to close the main container, the part that looks like a backpack. When we were engaged, Paul had a plastic bag full of various colors of pull-up cords, but his favorite was a blue one with parachutes on it. It was about ¾” wide and about a foot long. One day, about a month before we got married, he handed me his blue pull-up cord as he was walking to the plane and jokingly said, “It’s my favorite. Don’t lose it.”
So there I was, sitting at a picnic table, chatting with a friend whose husband was also on the Twin Otter that was taking off into the sky. While we talked, I was tying this blue ribbon around my leg and untying it. Tying… untying…
Wait. It was blue. It fit around my leg. When I met my friend’s eye, she had the same mischievous look on her face as I’m sure was on mine. I’d found my something blue for the wedding. So I tucked it in my pocket and when Paul landed I put on an Oscar-worthy performance, patting my pockets and searching under the picnic table. Finally, I said, “Uhm, I lost your blue pull-up cord.”
For the next few weeks he teased me about losing the one thing he’d asked me not to lose. I’d just smile, because I knew that my grandmother—who had made my wedding dress—had his blue pull-up cord and was sewing lace and elastic onto it to make it into the traditional style garter that we used to toss at weddings with the bouquet.
When our big day came, our wedding was everything we wanted it to be. In my home church, small, candle lit… and, since we both tilt to the introvert side, short. J I can still remember the moment my Dad escorted me to the front of the church and, when we stopped walking, I leaned forward to look around him. Paul had leaned forward, too. We met teach others eyes, smiled, and the moment was perfect.
My favorite picture from our wedding day is at the reception, when he figured out that the garter was his favorite blue pull-up cord. We opted to “keep it classy,” and rather than make a show of the whole thing, I merely lifted the hem of my dress so he’d see it. The picture of that moment makes me smile even thinking of it. The laughter and joy on both of our faces. My hand reaching to touch his cheek… it’s such a beautiful, perfect picture of the love we had then that has only continued to grow for over a quarter of a century. It was memories shared and memories to be made. To this day, I think it’s my favorite photo of us ever taken. And, we still have that pull-up cord garter. It’s on our dresser, reminding us that there are small little joys and surprises in life that we get to share every single day.
Excerpt from Witness in Peril by Jodie Bailey:
Gripping the counter until his fingers pulsed with pain, Jacob tensed until every muscle ached. How was he supposed to feel? There wasn’t a battle plan for this, no guidance for a soldier who’d walked away from one future, had another blown to pieces and who had started working on Plan C. There was no chain of command to give him orders, to tell him how to approach a daughter to whom he was a stranger.
And there were no rules of engagement for her mother, who, he was beginning to realize, was still lodged in the secret rooms of his heart.
It was enough to make him want to saddle his horse, Shiloh, and ride until both of them dropped. He couldn’t grasp one change before another blew by.
“Jacob.” Ivy’s low voice brushed his ears at the same time her warm hand rested between his shoulder blades.
She’d followed him, just like she had the day before.
She stood beside him and rested her forehead against his shoulder. Her hand remained on his back while her free hand slid down his arm until she found his fingers and held on tight.
Jacob drew his lips between his teeth and clamped down hard as the memories washed over him like the rain that would come with that storm on the horizon. The night the call came that his father had died, he’d fled his dorm room and headed for the football field, lost and angry. She’d found him by the bleachers and offered her silent support in this exact same way. One hand on his back to hold him up, the other wrapped around his, offering comfort. No words, just unwavering, unconditional support.
She’d done the same thing when they’d parted for the last time after graduation, when he turned his back on their future to join the military. She’d been angry and hurt, but they’d shared the pain of dismantling the dreams they’d shared through college and law school. Despite the fact that they were causing one another pain, they’d still sought comfort in one another.
When he’d awakened in a medical tent, screaming in pain, it was her touch he’d hallucinated. Hers he’d craved to the point it nearly killed him. He’d endured that long journey back to strength without her.
And now? Now she was the source of the grief and pain, the reason he was in the kitchen while his daughter was one room and a million miles away. Ivy was the one he should be furious with, should be pulling away from.
But her touch was the only comfort that could find its way into his soul. It made no sense.
Did it need to?
She was validating his pain. Acknowledging it existed. That she had played a part in it.
He’d walked through fire without her in Afghanistan. He didn’t have to now.
Freeing his hand from her grasp, he turned toward her. His hands found hers again and drew her closer as he rested his forehead against hers. He wanted to tell her it was okay. They could work this out and somehow hold each other up.
He forgave her.
But her breathing shifted. Her fingers tightened in his.
And nothing else mattered. Not betrayal. Not secrets. Not murder.
There was only Ivy, the only one who had ever known the truest parts of him. The only one he’d ever imagined a future with.
In this moment, for the first time in years, that future was close, pulling him in. His lips brushed hers and he hesitated. Did he dare…?
She decided for them both, drawing him out of his hesitation into a kiss the likes of which they’d never shared before.
A fullness expanded in his heart with a feeling he’d never thought he’d experience again. A completion of the man he’d thought he’d lost and could never be again.
He slid his hands up her arms and around her back, drawing her closer. A drowning man who’d been too long without oxygen. A dying man brought back to life.
About Jodie: Jodie Bailey is an Army wife, a mom, and a teacher who believes Mountain Dew, dark chocolate and a trip to the Outer Banks will cure all ills. In her spare time, she reads cookbooks, rides motorcycles, and searches for the perfect cup of coffee. She is the author nearly two dozen novels, including the RT Reviewers Choice Award winner Crossfire and the USA Today bestseller, Deadly Cargo. Jodie lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and a seriously energetic pup.
About the book – Witness in Peril: A killer lies in wait… A witness in their sights. Being attacked after discovering her client’s dead body sends estate lawyer Ivy Bridges running to the one man she thinks she can trust—her college ex, Special Agent Jacob Garcia. After arriving at his ranch with the daughter he doesn’t know exists, Ivy finds facing Jacob just as hard as escaping the killers on her heels. Can Jacob keep them safe—even as enemies close in on all sides?
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Question for Readers: Witness in Peril takes place near the Grand Canyon, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. Where is a place you have always wanted to visit?
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