This is an excerpt from the novel I’ve been querying…slightly condensed to fit the word count. Dean is falling in love with Beth and her young son Toby, and for their first “date,” they’ve gone to an apple orchard. As always, concrit is most welcome.
She looked so cute in her baggy t-shirt, with crinkled leaves sticking out of her hair from dragging through the branches. She was just crying out to be kissed.
Her head jerked to the left. “Toby! Get back here!”
“I got him.” Smiling, Dean took off after the runaway. He scooped Toby up and hung him by his ankles. Toby giggled, and Dean risked a glance at Beth. She was laughing. “You ready to get down, kiddo?”
Dean swung him down, keeping hold of his elbows till he was sure Toby had his balance. Just as he let go, a cold drop of water hit his arm. He looked up and got another one in the eye. “Uh, Beth”
It started to rain steadily then, as if some celestial shower head had been turned on. Toby froze, then touched his neck wearing a puzzled expression.
“Come on!” Dean said, trying to shield his face. “We can send them out for the baskets.”
“Just a few more,” Beth pleaded, reaching up with a long handled basket picker. She stood under the shelter of the tree, but even so, it only took about thirty seconds for her shirt to be soaked through.
“Okay!” she said, setting down one last basket beside the others. “Let’s go!” She heaved Toby up on her hip, and they took off running down the wet pathway, laughing, feet slapping noisily as mud splattered their jeans.
But they were still well away from the barn when Beth stopped, gasping for breath, and said, “I can’t run anymore. He’s too heavy.” She set Toby down.
“I’ll take him.”
She shook her head. “What’s the difference? It’s not like we’re gonna get any wetter.”
“Whee!” Toby stamped in a mud puddle and screamed with laughter.
Dean grinned. “I see your point. Come on, buddy,” he said. “Take my hand.” Toby obeyed, and they started off at a leisurely stroll through the gray downpour.
A big black Lab stood at the edge of the fenced yard, barking. Toby let go of his hand and took off running. His voice floated back to them, fractured at every footfall like a long, gleeful line of Morse Code. Dean looked at Beth, who met his gaze without any trace of the apprehension he’d seen earlier. It was as if the rain had washed away the barriers and created an intimacy that hadn’t been there before. He held out his hand. Smiling, she took it.