A knock sounds at the door.
I tense, look up. I’m deeply uncertain that I’m doing the right thing, especially at this stage of the game. “Come in,” I say.
The door opens. The Hero stands there. He’s gorgeous. Truly. Deep indigo eyes, black hair, broken in all the ways that make women scream to mend him. A wounded, dark, sensual Wallander of the North American north. I can hear the BBC theme music just looking at him.
“Take a seat,” I say.
He does and my office seems to shrink in his presence. A vacuum with the air being sucked right out of it.
I clear my throat. “You’re fired.”
He blinks. “What?”
“It’s not you. It’s her.”
“She’s fallen for someone else. We need to replace you as the love interest.”
“You have got to be kidding me? She has *that* much sway in the Story?”
“I’m afraid her agent sold the part to her based on the premise that this is a heroine-driven romantic thriller, so yes, she has that much sway. This is her story.”
Silence. Energy rolls off him in dark waves. Fear flickers in my stomach. The room feels too small, too close ….
“Who?” he says. “Who has she fallen for?”
“The bush pilot.”
“O’Halloran? Crash O’Halloran. That cowboy? He runs trap lines, for Pete’s sakes. What Hero runs trap lines!? He can jump start a chopper with old batteries found on a dump site? Are you nuts. The man is mad. Wild. He’s never obeyed a rule in his life just because it’s a rule. He tempts death like a junkie who needs fear to live. She has zero idea about his background, do you know that? She has no idea what he’s done—they say he killed a man. Cold blood.” The Hero stares at me. Unbelieving. He’s vibrating. “Sh*t, you are serious.”
“I am. Maybe. I think.”
“It’s a mistake.” He surges to his feet, points his finger at my face. “That man is dangerous. He’s going to give her a hard time, one hell of a ride. It’s not going to be easy.”
“Exactly.” I push the envelope containing his severance payment across my desk. “Maybe another book,” I say. He doesn’t touch the cash. He gives me a final smoldering look, and I know in my heart that this man will be back. For vengeance? Justice? Not sure yet … but when he does set foot back in a book, he will be a better Hero for it. I’m sure.I think.