Hot coffee, a warm fire, and time in the peace and quiet--this is the only way my female lead likes to spend her mornings. Read the excerpt for a deeper look into Karlee's start to the day.
Note: This excerpt and any other excerpt on the blog are NOT from my actual novel which I am sending out to agents and publishers. These are separate background stories to give you a feel for the characters and their lives while I go through the publishing journey.
The morning always came too early. Karlee Farr groaned as she reached for her chirping phone from the bedside table. She fumbled for the snooze button before stuffing the annoying device under her pillow. She turned onto her side, curling up into a tiny ball under the warm blankets. Just a few more minutes of sleep. Then she’d be ready to wake up.
She startled when the loud chirping sounded from under the pillow seven minutes later. Snatching the phone, she swiped the alarm off and flipped over onto her back. She squinted against the bright screen. 4:52 a.m.
“Fine,” Karlee mumbled and stretched her arms and legs out as far as they could reach before she gave her blankets a reluctant toss to the side and clicked on the lamp.
The gentle light allowed her to see enough to step over the piles of clothes by her bed and around the dresser. One of these days she’d do the laundry. She pulled open a drawer and grabbed one of the few remaining t-shirts. But today was most likely not the day. After sliding into her pair of jeans from the day before and slipping the tee over her head she sifted through the piles to find a hooded sweatshirt.
Where did she put it? She found it stuffed between her mattress and the wooden foot board of her bed. Perfect.
She grabbed a fresh pair of socks—her last pair—and trudged down the hall to the bathroom. A sliver of light peeked out the crack below the closed door onto the wood floor. The muffled sounds of water running proved her father had beat her to the bathroom again.
No matter. She could get a jump on getting the coffee pot and the fire going. She rounded the corner and made her way straight to the coffee station. After grinding some beans and scooping them into the coffee maker, she brought the pot over to the sink to get the water.
While the pot filled with water, Karlee gazed out the small window to the shadows cast in the snow from the yard light. Darkness still permeated the early morning. And the sun wouldn’t be up for another couple of hours.
Karlee poured the water into the coffee maker and pressed the button to start brewing her liquid energy. “Then why am I up?” she wondered aloud.
“Because you live on a ranch.” Her father’s gravelly voice—an octave lower than normal due to the early hour—caused her to jump. “One would think you’d be a natural morning person, since you’ve been doing this your whole life.”
“One would think.” Karlee stifled a yawn. “It’s harder when it’s dark and cold outside. I never have this problem in summer.”
Her dad eased his towering frame into a chair at the kitchen table. He reached for the day-old paper before turning his attention to Karlee. “You know, you probably could get away with sleeping in longer this time of year. I don’t have the cattle anymore and you don’t work any of the horses until the sun is up. You really don’t have a need to get such an early start.”
Karlee waved off her dad’s suggestion and strode over to the fireplace in the living room. “No. I like being able to ease my way into the day, you know? I can take my time, enjoy my coffee, sit by the fire and plan my day…” she trailed off and smiled at her father. “Besides, I doubt you’ll ever stop getting up early and I like our time in the mornings together.”
“You’re just worried I’ll be lonely,” he huffed in a joking manner.
“That’s not it at all.” Karlee plopped some logs down and worked to start a flame. “I know you can take care of yourself.” But inside, Karlee knew her father spoke the truth. I do worry about you, she thought. Ever since mom died… She cut off her thoughts with the strike of a match. No, she wouldn’t go down that road.
Once a few steady flames flickered within the wood, Karlee returned to the kitchen and poured their coffee. She scooted into the bench seat nestled between the table and the bay window. Only then, did she peer over her mug at her father.
He looked well enough, but Karlee knew better. His last stroke was only a few months ago and he hadn’t been the same since. While he could still do everything he’d done before, he walked with a cane some days and struggled with certain basic tasks. And he sold his cattle last summer. He called it retirement. Karlee disagreed. Ranchers didn’t retire, not completely. It wasn’t in their blood. But he’d sold all of them except for the handful Karlee needed to train her stock of ranch and cutting horses.
“It’s time you focused on your career instead of mine,” he’d countered when she fought him on his decision to sell. “Your business is growing. Having to deal with my cows all the time cuts into your own work.”
His words had only put Karlee more on edge. Why did he have to talk like he wasn’t part of the ranch anymore. Was there something he wasn’t telling her?
She tried to drown out her worries by taking a long drink of coffee. If something more serious were going on with her father, he’d tell her. They didn’t keep secrets from each other.
I’m sure he’s fine. I’m worrying for nothing.
But either way, as much as she wanted the extra sleep, she refused to miss out on the time they shared in the quiet mornings.
They both knew how quickly time with loved ones could be ripped away.