Please welcome my fellow Astraea Press author Liz Botts! She’s here today with her latest release, A Family Name (Wright Country #1). You can learn more about Liz and her books on her website http://www.lizbotts.com.
So where the heck is Mountain View, South Dakota?
For my latest release, A Family Name,I knew the story had to be set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but where? There are so many great towns in the Black Hills, and I was tempted to borrow one to place my characters in. Places like Hot Springs, Custer, Hill City, and Spearfish would all have made amazing settings, each with its’ own personality.
However when I began writing I found that I had different needs than any town out there so I decided that I needed to create one. I knew the general area of the Hills where the town needed to be, but I didn’t want to replace any of the existing towns. (I’m odd like that.) Mountain View sits in the northern Hills off of I-90, slightly north of Spearfish, but south of Belle Fourche. For me the geography was extremely important to me because each area of the Hills is different. When I write the setting often becomes extremely important to me because that’s where the characters move and breathe.
Mountain View is a struggling town because tourists tend to favor other parts of the Hills. Homes are being foreclosed on, and people are packing up and moving out. The people sticking it out are doing their best to band together to keep the town strong, but it’s getting harder. Still, if you were to sit down in the café, you would be greeted warmly and served a piece of pie on the house. It’s a good place to raise a family.
To learn more about Mountain View, and the people who live there, pick up a copy of A Family Name.
Will moved to sit on the sofa beside Charlotte. He hovered a moment before easing himself onto a cushion at the opposite end. “What do you say to moving in here? You and Lexi. I’m sure the move will only be temporary. Just until I can get custody of Lexi, then you can go back to your own life.”
He watched as Charlotte clenched her jaw. He wondered what was going on in her head. Something told him to keep his mouth shut, which was proving far harder than he had ever imagined. Walker had always been more of the strong, silent type. Wyatt served in the role of family goofball. Will, on the other hand, had prided himself on being the serious one, the honest one, the shoot-from-the-hip one. Now he shut his mouth and decided to keep it shut until Charlotte answered him.
“That could take awhile.” Charlotte kept her eyes down, no matter how much he wished she would look up at him. “The courts can be so slow. I just don’t know how I feel about living here, just the three of us.”
“Sierra and Shane will be here too.”
The look on Charlotte’s face told him that he might have said the wrong thing. Or at the very least confused her. As he thought through the events of the past half hour it dawned on him why Charlotte’s brow was furrowed. In the shuffle of the news that he had a daughter Will had forgotten to mention his guardianship of Sierra and Shane.
Will took a deep breath. “My best friend and his wife named me temporary guardian of their children. They’ll be living with me until their grandparents come for them.”
He watched as Charlotte pinched lumps of stuffing under the fabric of the throw pillow. She had long, graceful fingers, but short, unpolished nails. Refined, yet practical. The paradox of this woman intrigued him, and Will found himself mentally shaking himself to bring the conversation at hand back into focus.
“They’re great kids. Sierra’s five, and Shane is three.” Will felt a knot of emotion rise up in his throat, and he stopped talking. This grief he felt was so out of character for Will, and while he knew it was fine to feel it, he couldn’t stop himself from being embarrassed. He certainly didn’t’ want Charlotte to see this weakness.
To his surprise, a moment later Charlotte’s hand curled over the top of one of his fists. She didn’t say anything, simply held on to him. The connection Will felt to this virtual stranger nearly overpowered him. When he looked up and their eyes met in a gaze that caught something deep inside Will, he let go of Charlotte’s hand like it was on fire. Grief was making him soft.
“I just don’t know,” Charlotte said softly.
Silence settled over them as Will watched Charlotte. Her teeth caught at her bottom lip, and he could read her nervousness no matter how hard she was trying to hide it. Emulate Walker. That would be his new motto.
“I’d have to take a leave of absence from work, and I don’t think that’s even possible,” Charlotte continued after a few minutes. “And Lexi would have to leave her school. She just started there a few weeks ago. How would that make her feel?”
“We could ask her,” Will said, glad to hear his voice sounding even and like himself again.
“She’s thirteen and desperate for a relationship with her real parents. I can guarantee she’ll happily agree, but I can’t let her make this choice. She’s a child, and I’m still responsible for her well being.” Charlotte leaned back and crossed her arms.
“And I’m her father, so I think I should have some say in her well being.”
Charlotte laughed a short laugh. “You just found out that you are her father not even thirty minutes ago.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s mine,” Will said, knowing that he meant it. “I can see my family in her.”
“But how does that qualify you to make decisions for her so soon?”
Irritation rankled Will. Many retorts came to mind, but he bit them back instead only shrugging. “I’m her father. That’s all the qualification I need, in my mind anyway.”
The look Charlotte gave him actually made Will shiver. Her eyes narrowed, and her mouth became a line so thin it appeared to disappear into her face.
“So… I’m guessing this isn’t something you’re really considering?” Will felt defeated, and confused. Defeat wasn’t in his nature, but he couldn’t very well bully Charlotte into moving to the ranch. He’d feel guilty even if it did mean having his daughter there with him. Still there had to be a way.