This might be the last interview I do for Shotgun Groom since I’m well over halfway done with the book. I’d like to move to interviewing characters of other books while posting more story excerpts and updates on what’s going on. 😀 So let’s bring Joel and April in. This time we’ll start with April.
April: Yes, I love the fresh air and warm temperatures. I’m not a big fan of winter, which is where you have the setting for my story.
Ruth: Well, I had to do that so the snowstorm kept Joel at your place long enough to get you two married. Speaking of which, how are things going with Joel? Is he still sighing all the time.
April: Yes, he has that strange habit, but I actually don’t mind it so much now that he’s stopped complaining about the marriage.
Ruth: It looks like the turning point was Christmas day for you two. I didn’t plan on it working out like that, but you and Joel had your minds made up.
April: You were halfway into the book. I figured it was time to stop the drama of not getting along. Besides, I like the fact that he doesn’t run off to a saloon at night, and when Sep hit him but he didn’t strike back… If you understood what my first marriage was like, you’d know those were the best things that a man’s ever done for me.
Ruth: All I can say is, you can’t go wrong with a Larson. Speaking of which, I believe Joel is here…in swim trunks?
Ruth: Don’t you want to pester me about how I’m destroying your life? Or don’t you want to send out that petition you made up for all of my characters to give me severe writer’s block so I can never write another book again?
Joel: *shrugs* Eh. I figure my brother Dave can use the petition. Once he finds our you’re going to marry his son off to Emily, he’s going to go beserk. Crazy to believe unemotional Dave can go beserk, but you mess with his family, you mess with him. Anyway, it’s not my problem. I’m going to spend the day with April. My mother’s watching Nora so we can do whatever we want. *wiggles eyebrows*
Ruth: You better watch out, Joel. You might end up with a couple kids of your own.
Joel: Which will make my mother happy. Believe me, she has the whole house set up for when her grandkids visit. It’s insane. Twelve grandchildren and she says she needs more. I’ll be doing her a favor.
Ruth: So you no longer think I’m the worst author ever?
Joel: What? You’re a great author. You gave me April. I’d love to stay and chat, but April’s waiting.
April: Go on and post the excerpt to the story. Joel and I will get back to Shotgun Groom when you’re ready to write more of it tonight. Right now we want to enjoy the warm weather.
Joel: And each other.
Ruth: I think that pretty much sums up on how they’re doing now. As promised, I am going to post the excerpt where they began to fall in love.
After the big meal, April put Nora down for a nap in a crib Mrs. Larson put in one of the bedrooms.
“Ma loves to have babies in this house, so she has this crib available for when her kids bring her grandbabies over,” Joel explained while he pulled the blanket up to Nora’s neck. “You’ll notice she also has children’s beds so the older ones have a place to sleep when she watches them for a night or two. I think the worst thing that ever happened to her was when my sisters, brothers, and I grew up.”
Unable to stop herself, April giggled. “She seems happy with the eleven grandchildren she’s got running around the place today.”
“Twelve,” he said as he turned from the crib so he could face her. “It’ll be thirteen once Mary has her child.”
With all the people in the house, she didn’t remember seeing a pregnant woman. “Which one is Mary?”
“The one who made the three apple pies everyone fought over.”
“Well, at least you got the last slice.”
“Sure, after I nearly tackled Tom to get it.”
Amused, she shook her head. “I don’t understand why grown men would make a show of fighting over a piece of pie.”
“Didn’t you get a slice?”
“No. I let Sep have the one offered to me.”
“Next time don’t be so generous. No one makes a pie like Mary.”
She shrugged. “I don’t care how good a pie is. I wouldn’t jump on top of the table to snag the last piece from my brother.”
“Now that’s ridiculous. I didn’t jump up on the table. Besides, Tom already had a slice. He was being greedy.”
“Why don’t you just admit that you love it when Tom gives you a rough time?” she teased.
“Are you kidding me? I don’t like it when he does that.”
“Though you fight with him, you also have a goofy grin on your face, Joel. Granted, I didn’t think so when he brought Rick out to marry us, but I see how the two of you messed with each other today. You’d be lost without him.”
Rolling his eyes, he said, “I don’t know how you got all of that from a discussion on pie.” He paused and gave her a good look. “How did we get to talking about pie anyway?”
“I asked you which one Mary was.”
“That’s right. She’s the one who makes the pies everyone fights over.”
Laughing, she said, “You already said that. I get it. People will clobber each other to get a slice of her pie. I still think it’s insane they’d do that, but I saw it with my own two eyes a half hour ago so I believe you.” She turned toward the door. “I was told to get to the parlor where the gifts will be opened. I have no idea where I’m supposed to sit. That parlor is spacious, but it’s not big enough for the amount of people in your family.”
He followed her out the door. “Well, if you can’t find a seat, you can sit on my lap.”
Even though she knew it was a joke, the comment struck her as so funny, she stopped in her tracks so she could give him a good look. “That’s the strangest thing I ever heard.”
“Is it? Jenny and Sally have been known to sit on Owen’s and Rick’s laps if there’s no room.”
“What about Tom’s wife?”
“Oh, he sits on her lap.”
At that, she burst out laughing. “Surely, you jest.”
“Maybe a little bit, but if it weren’t for her, he’d probably never have got up the nerve to court her. You didn’t see them when they were courting. He was bumping into everything. All you had to do was say her name, and he’d trip on the rug or spill a drink at the table.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Fine. Then ask Jessica what he did to her hair at a square dance.”
“What did he do to her hair?”
“Got it stuck right here.” Holding up his hand, he pointed to the cuff on his shirt sleeve. “And then her friend had to cut a huge chunk of her hair off to free her from it.”
Curious, she cocked her head to the side and tried to gauge if he was kidding or telling her the truth. “That sounds too absurd to be true, but you sure seem sincere.”
“Ask her. She’ll tell you. Tom felt so bad, he went out and bought a whole bunch of hats and ribbons and whatnot to make up for it.”
“Well, that was sweet of him to make amends like that, if it really happened.”
“I can’t believe you doubt me.”
“I’ve never heard of anyone’s hair getting caught in a button to the point where they had to cut their hair off.”
He looked as if he was ready to argue but then took her hand. “Come on.”
Surprised that he was touching her, she mutely followed him down the stairs and to the parlor. Still holding her hand, he headed right for Tom and Jessica. Jessica was sitting beside Tom on one of the couches while their daughters scrambled for whoever could sit on their laps. Without saying a word, Joel brought his wrist near Jessica’s hair so the button of his shirt was facing her. Jessica shrieked and leapt onto Tom’s lap. Their girls protested as they cried that they wanted to sit on their father’s lap.
Tom glared at Joel. “Will you stop doing that? The button incident only happened once, and it was because the thread was loose.”
Touching her hair, Jessica got off of Tom’s lap and settled back on the couch. “It’s not funny, Joel.”
Chuckling, Joel said, “That depends on who you ask.” Turning to April, he added, “Believe me now?”
“I can’t believe it,” Tom replied. “You told April how clumsy I was when I met Jessica?”
On the other couch across the room, Dave shook his head and called out, “You’d think you’d get bored of that, Joel,” as more adults and children came into the parlor.
“That will never get boring, Dave,” Joel replied. “Just as Mary’s pies will never get boring.” He shot Mary a grin while Dave and Mary’s three-year-old son settled on Dave’s lap. His attention returning to April, he lowered his head toward her ear and whispered, “If Dave hadn’t come home laughing about the whole incident when it happened, I wouldn’t have even known about it. So if you think about it, it’s his fault.”
April noticed that he still held her hand as he wove around his parents who headed for the tree in the corner of the room. As he said, most of the seats were taken, so when he sat in a chair close to Sep, he pulled her down onto his lap and held her around the waist. Her body flushed from embarrassment. She thought he was joking about sitting on his lap!
As the seats filled up around them, she saw Sally sit on Rick’s lap and Jenny sit on Owen’s lap. Knowing that she wasn’t the only woman sitting on her husband’s lap helped to relax her. Richard and Amanda sat up front with the older children who sorted through the wrapped presents. She couldn’t believe it. Everyone managed to find a place to sit after all.
Joel’s father stood up and opened his Bible, and Joel whispered, “Every year before we pass the gifts around, he reads the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke.”
She nodded, even as she became acutely aware of his strong arms. She hadn’t experienced such a tender embrace before, and she certainly didn’t expect something so pleasant from her husband. As she scanned the room, she noticed that all of the husbands were either holding their wives or had their arm wrapped around their shoulders. It was a lovely scene, something she didn’t think possible in a family. Sure, her father loved her mother and was tender toward her, but it was just her and Sep all their lives. There was no large gathering such as this. No wonder Joel’s mother looked forward to having the grandchildren over. It meant her children were there as well, and that made for a cozy family gathering.
She glanced at Sep who had a slight smile on his face and knew he noticed the same thing. For the longest time, it had been her and Sep against the world, doing what they could to not upset Harvey and to take care of Nora. And now they were a part of this family. She relaxed and settled in Joel’s arms.