When I wrote “Dream Architect,” I just sat down and started writing. I knew it couldn’t be longer than 12,000 words, but when my word counter showed I’d reached 12,000 words, I wasn’t finished with the story. So I wrote until it was finished.
The result is – several thousand words were cut from the first draft. Two of those scenes are being made available to you.
The scene where I introduce Dylan Cutright is a freebie for anyone who signs up to receive my newsletter. I will only send these to announce release dates or special events. I can’t imagine more than four of them per year.
The other scene gives you a deeper look into Ashlin Taylor’s family dynamics. One of her biggest problems is that she’s trying to make her family happy. This is a New Adult romance, and I will bet many in the 18-22 age bracket still struggle with the same issue.
Without further ado…
Ashlin Taylor stared at the two story house where she spent fifteen years of her life. While her fingers twirled her sable hair, mixed memories frolicked. She chased the happy ones, but they flitted away like butterflies. With a huff, she opened the car door. Dinner at her parents’ house offered more of the usual pressures. Maybe this evening would be atypical.
Her twelve-year-old sister flung open the door before Ashlin’s hand reached the knob. Her greeting, “Do you have a date for Saturday night?”
“Someone I know, I hope.” Benjamin Taylor responded from his place in the recliner. His slipper-covered feet, crossed at the ankles, jittered with his words.
Nope. The status quo remained solid.
“Let her in.” Ashlin’s mother rounded the corner from the kitchen, wiping her hands on the skirt of the apron she wore over her slacks and sweater.
Ashlin hung her purse and coat over the back of a chair, giving her mother a quick hug. She didn’t have to feign interest in her sister’s plans to sleep over at a friend’s house on both Friday and Saturday.
Soon, the table was set and they took their places, two empty chairs signaling the absence of her older brothers. While the dishes were passed, her mother shared information about the various acts performing at the fundraiser, one of which was the band Nicole wanted to support. Ashlin nodded, happy to be a bystander. As usual, her father concentrated on cutting his food into precise bites and listening to the news still blaring from the living room.
After dinner, Ashlin cleared the table. While her mother carried the cup of decaf coffee to her father, her sister ran to get her sewing projects. Water drowned out the sound of her parents’ voices.
Once Ashlin had inspected the neat seams on her sister’s handmade dress and assured her it was blue-ribbon work, she and her mother were left alone with the sink full of dishes.
“You must be so proud of her,” Ashlin said.
“She surprised us, arriving so long after you, but yes, we adore her.”
“Not what I meant, Mom.”
“Oh.” Her mother crossed the kitchen to replace the serving tray in its proper cabinet.
“She sews and knits and is completely excited about 4-H. All the stuff you wanted me to do.”
“Yes, she shares many of my interests,” her mother said, sighing. “But she can’t cook as well as you do. And she’s a natural disaster when it comes to organizing anything.”
A smile twitched Ashlin’s lips upward.
“But she fits the mold you and Dad have pushed me in to.”
“We haven’t pushed you into anything.” Her mother’s hand stilled on the lid she was drying.
“Really? A job at Taylor and Sons, a date with every guy you know. The constant conversations about when I get married.”
“Don’t you want to get married?”
Ashlin squelched the monstrous sigh that swelled in response. Somehow the conversation always managed to return to that subject, while never focusing on how controlled Ashlin felt. She gritted her teeth. Tonight would be different.
“Sure. When I find the right guy. Until then” – and boy did that seem like it was years away – “I would like to pursue a career.”
“Your uncle says you’re the best assistant he’s ever had.” The pan clattered as she stowed it with the others. “I thought you liked that job.”
“The job’s fine, but it isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
“Of course not,” her mother said, patting her arm. “You’ll get married, have children and move forward to the next phase.”
“Why can’t the next phase be college?”
The cupboard door where her mother had placed the last saucepan swung shut. Ashlin drained and rinsed the sink. The gentle touch on her elbow surprised her. She shut off the water and faced her mother.
“It can, I suppose, but shouldn’t you have started that right after high school?”
Ashlin tamped down the frustration somersaulting behind her ribs. She would not raise her voice.
“You mean when dad asked if I wanted to work at his office or Uncle Mike’s?” They stared at each other. “And then tossed all my college catalogs in the trash. That’s when I was encouraged to go to college?”
“Maybe not encouraged, but we never said you couldn’t.”
Ashlin’s chest heaved with her expelled breath.
“Then I suspect you’ll both be happy to hear I’ve enrolled in the design and drafting program at the community college.”
Her mother blinked several times. The black pupil’s contracted within the greenish irises. Ashlin awaited the imminent explosion.
“If that makes you happy,” her mother said. The balloon of tension between them withered. “Do you really want to work once you have children, though?”
The fluttering spark of stress flared to life. Ashlin widened her eyes to avoid rolling them.
“I don’t have children, Mom. I don’t know if I’ll ever have children, but I know I want to design houses.”
Without pause her mother exclaimed, “Of course you’ll have children.”
And just that quickly, the conversation returned to the topic at the forefront of her parents’ mind.
Listening to Nicole bemoan another failed plan with Vincent probably would have been preferable.
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