Sunday Story Sample: Mark and Lexie Share a Walk at the Beach in Runaway Bride

This week, I wanted to feature a sample from Runaway Bride.  I’ll explain more about the conversation Mark and Lexie share in tomorrow’s post because while writing the scene, I found out something interesting about Mark’s past that I didn’t know before.  😀

This takes place when Lexie is still engaged to Nick.

Please note that I have not done any editing to this scene.  It’s in first draft form.

runaway bride november cover

An hour later, Lexie found a parking spot along the beach.  She hadn’t planned on coming here today since she spent time at the caterer’s house, but she knew her mother would be teaching her everything she knew about art and etiquette the next three days.

She got out of the car, flung her beach bag over her shoulder and headed for her favorite spot.  She set down her bag and pulled out her towel.  As she spread it out across the sand, someone called her name.  She turned in time to see Mark jogging over to her.

“Hi, Mark.” She scanned him, noting the way his white t-shirt and blue shorts made his tan stand out.  “You look like you’ve been getting some sun.”

“Well, I remember you mentioned coming here during our dinner the other night, and I thought I’d check it out.  It turns out you’re right.  It’s very peaceful here.”

“I like it.  The restaurants might be further down from here, but you can get a better place to relax in the sun.” She glanced at the sky.  “It’s a shame I didn’t get here sooner.  I probably only have a half hour before it gets too cool.”

“Did you have a bad day?”

“No, not bad.  Just trying.” After a moment’s hesitation, she asked, “Does it show?”

“A little.  You look like you’re under some stress, but I think that’s normal when you’re about to get married.”

“Yeah.  I guess.” Maybe every bride felt as if she was so busy she was ready to pull her hair out.  She almost said she’d be glad when the wedding was over but stopped herself because she wasn’t sure if she would.  Up to now, she hadn’t thought much about what being married to Nick would be like, and at the moment, she didn’t want to spend her energy on it.  With a shrug, she continued, “I like coming here because even at my busiest moments, I like to relax.”

“I like the beach, too, though I haven’t been to this one until you mentioned it.” He turned his attention to the beach and smiled.  “You have excellent taste.”

“I don’t know if it’s taste as much as the fact that I lived closest to this one.”

“Hey, if it works, why not go with it?”

“True.”

“You want to take a walk?” Before she could answer, he added, “Or if you don’t mind the company, mind if I sit with you?”

“If you want to talk to me, why don’t you just say so?”

“I thought I did, in a roundabout way.”

She grinned.  “I wouldn’t mind going for a walk.” She slipped off her sandals and put them in her bag then took out her wallet and keys.  “Would you mind putting these in your pocket?  I’m afraid I don’t have any pockets on my skirt.”

“I don’t mind.” He took them from her and put them in his pocket.  “Which way would you like to go?”

Since she wanted to be away from people, she motioned to the section of the beach that clear.  “That looks like a good strip to go for a walk.”

He nodded, and they headed for the shoreline.  “So, you’re keeping busy?”

“I haven’t had much time to do anything.  I feel like all I do is run back and forth to get ready for the wedding, and the next three days are going to be torture.”

“Really?  How so?”

“Well, Nick got invited to go some art exhibit where his supervisor’s wife’s painting will be on display.  For the next three days, my mother is going to give me lessons in proper etiquette.”

“I didn’t realize there was a proper way to look at paintings.”

She chuckled.  “Me neither, but apparently, there is.  Nick said he was going to give me book to read, but I think my mother knows more about etiquette than even he does.  She plans to look at the book and see if there’s anything she doesn’t know, but I doubt it.” They reached the shoreline, and the water lapped at her feet as they continued their walk.  “So I’ll be spending all of my non-working hours with her.”

“Sounds like you’re dreading it.”

“I’m a horrible daughter, aren’t I?  My mother has always been good about taking care of me, and all I want to do is get away from her.”

“I don’t think you’re a horrible daughter.  It seems to me like you want your own space.”

He was right.  Deep down, she knew he was, and deep down, she knew it was perfectly alright for her to get that space.  But she didn’t know how.  Caitlyn had no trouble telling their mother to back off, but then, Caitlyn and her mother weren’t close.  With a sigh, she said, “I love my mother.  She wants what’s best for me.  I guess I just envisioned my life would be different than what it is.”

“And what did you think it’d be?”

She smiled and glanced at him before turning her gaze back to the shoreline in front of them.  “You don’t ask easy questions.”

“Maybe not.  But my life isn’t what I expected when I was growing up.”

“It’s not?”

“No.  When I was younger, I was satisfied with everything.  I had a ton of cool gadgets to play with, and I thought I would have a job creating more gadgets to make life easier and more fun.”

“Are you talking about video games and computers?” she asked, trying to figure out what he meant by ‘gadgets.’

“Something like that but not quite.  Think of it as virtual reality that could give a man the ability to live out any fantasy he wanted.”

“Oh, so it’s like being inside a movie or a book, except you make up the story?”

“Kind of.  Most fantasies involved women.”

She laughed.  “Really?  I’d think the fantasies would be something sci-fi, fantasy, or adventure.  You know, typical guy stuff.”

“There could be those elements, but the men preferred to add romance to the mix.”

“No kidding?”

“Nope.”

“So do you read romance novels?”

“No.”

Unable to avoid teasing him, she nudged him in the side.  “You wanted to program virtual reality games where men could experience a romance in unusual settings, but you don’t want to read romance books?”

He chuckled and shrugged.  “As I was developing these games, as you call them, I realized even in a virtual reality setting, a fake woman wasn’t as good as a real one.”

“Even if the fantasy woman is perfect?”

“There’s no way a fantasy woman can be perfect because she’s not real.  Everything she does or says is programmed.”

Her grin grew wider.  “I thought men would prefer a woman that way,” she teased.

His eyes twinkling, he shook his head.  “You’d be surprised at how boring that gets.”

She rolled her eyes.  “I’m sure.”

“Well, you write romance novels, right?”

“When I get the time.”

“Do you prefer your world of perfect men when you write them?”

“I try not to write about perfect men or women.”

“Why not?”

“Of course not.  If I did, then there’d be no conflict,” she replied.  “If everyone was perfect all the time, the story would be boring.” After a moment of silence, she added, “Okay.  I get your point.  Fantasy virtual reality women would get boring.”

“And there would be no love.  The man might fall in love with her, but she couldn’t respond in kind and that’s an empty feeling.”

“I guess it would be.”

They continued their walk in silence for a couple minutes, and to her surprise, she didn’t mind the quiet.  Usually, the lack of conversation would have bothered her.  She hated awkward silences.  In general, she wasn’t a fan of silence anyway.  That was one of the reasons she came to the beach.  It was the one place she could go to where she could close her eyes and enjoy the pounding of the surf.  It was one of the most relaxing sounds she’d ever heard.  But at the moment, she didn’t notice the waves so much.

“So this art thing you’re going to,” Mark began.  “Is it something you’re looking forward to?  I mean, I know you’re not looking forward to learning the etiquette involved, but what about the actual event itself?”

“No, I’m not looking forward to it.  I have to go.”

“Was this one of the things you signed in the prenup?”

“Yes, but it’s very important that I go.  Even if I didn’t sign a prenup, I’d go.  You see, in Nick’s line of work, it’s important he looks good, and part of looking good is having a wife who’ll be involved in charities and go to events his coworkers partake in.”

“Sounds like you’ll be busy.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Maybe she was about to be busier than she was already.  She wasn’t sure what her life would be like once she was married.  “Maybe I’ll always be busy.”

He waited a moment before asking, “What do you want to do after you get married?”

“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it.  I assumed I’d quit my job and do whatever Nick needed me to do.  His job requires him to be on call.  He could go in to work any time of the day or night.  I might have to do something for him, like attend a charity event.” Realizing she was rambling, she offered an apologetic smile.  “Sorry.  I don’t want to bore you.”

“You’re not boring me.  I enjoy listening to you.”

“Well, I enjoy listening to you, too.” She quickly averted his gaze, wondering why the way he looked at her made her nervous.  She wasn’t on a date with him.  There was no reason why her face should flush with pleasure.  Clearing her throat, she asked, “Did you ever find out what was wrong with your car?”

“Yes.  It was out of gas.”

She laughed.  “Out of gas?”

“I told you I was having an off day.  I hadn’t looked at the gas tank and realized it was empty.”

“At least it was easy to take care of.”

“That’s true, and it was very nice of you to help me out.  I haven’t forgotten that I owe you a favor.  If you ever need me to bail you out of a bad situation, give me a call.  You still have my business card?”

“Yep.”

“Too bad.  I was hoping to get rid of another one.  I told you I have too many, right?”

Her grin widened.  “I believe you mentioned it.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever go through all of them.”

“I’m sure you will eventually.” They turned around and headed back to where they started from, and she asked, “What do you do for fun?”

“Walking on the beach with you is fun.”

Detecting the teasing tone in his voice, she gave him a ‘be serious’ look.  “I mean, what interests do you have?”

“Okay.  Besides talking to you, I like to research everything I can about Earth.”

“What kind of research?”

He shrugged.  “I like finding out about different cultures, find out about different countries.  What makes each one unique.  Stuff like that.”

“What about the virtual reality thing?  Do you still do that?”

“No, not anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Because I like living real life instead of a fantasy one.”

“So you quit that job so you could be an engineer like Chris is?”

“You could say that.”

She furrowed her eyebrows, curious.  “What else could I say?”

“That I wanted to experience the most life has to offer.”

She didn’t know why his answer should strike a cord in her, but it did.  As much as she kept telling herself she was living the dream every woman had, she wondered if it was true.  She was going to marry a handsome man who had a good job, and she would never lack for anything.  On the surface, it seemed like a fairy tale come true.  And yet, she felt empty.

“Lexie, are you alright?”

She pushed aside her apprehension about the future and smiled.  “Yes, I’m fine.” Brushing back several strands of her hair, she continued, “Do you like being an engineer?”

“I do, especially when I get to work on a group project.  You can learn a lot about people when you’re working toward the same goal.”

“People fascinate you.”

“They do, but I also like working with numbers.  Doing what I do is the best of both worlds,” he said.  “Do you enjoy your job?”

“It pays the bills.”

“The first time I met you, you said you liked to write romances.  Would you rather do that?”

“I guess I hadn’t thought about it.  I don’t write often.  I have so many other things going on.”

“Maybe after you get married, you can write more.”

Somehow she doubted it.  Neither her mother nor Nick thought much of her hobby.  For sure, her mother thought it was a waste of time.  As for Nick, she didn’t know what he thought.  Maybe she should ask him next time she saw him.

“I notice we do a lot of talking about me,” she finally told Mark.

“We talked about me.  I told you about my car and my job.”

“Well, that’s true,” she admitted.

“I guess I have been talking a lot about you, but that’s because I want to learn more about who you are.  I like finding out what you like, what you don’t like, how you envision your future, what will make you happy.”

“I guess I’m not used to someone taking such an interest in me.”

“I’m sure your fiancé does.”

She wanted to assure him that Nick did, but the words didn’t come.  But she was sure he did.  Why else would he want to marry her?

“If I’m making you uncomfortable,” Mark continued, “we can talk about something else.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you wanting to know more about someone.  Besides, it’s what you do, isn’t it?  You like working with people and discovering who they are.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you enjoy being in large social gatherings?”

“It’s okay.  I find it’s not so much how many people are around me as it is who I’m with.  If I’m with someone I like, I can be anywhere with many people.”

“I see what you mean.  Having the right person with you can make anything bearable.”

They reached her spot, and he checked his watch.  “I should get going.  I’m glad I ran into you.”

“Yeah, it was fun.” The most fun she had in a long time, but she didn’t dare admit that aloud.  She told herself it was because she didn’t have to plan for the wedding for the first time in three months, but she wondered if it was more than that.  If it was, she didn’t dare dwell on it.

He shot her a charming smile.  “Maybe I’ll see you around sometime.”

Her heart gave an unexpected flutter, but she quickly pushed the sensation aside.  “That’d be great.”

She watched him as he jogged a few yards down the beach before he went to his car.  There was something about him that seemed different from other people she’d known.  She couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was, except that when she talked with him, it was easy to relax and be herself.  He had the type of personality that made others around him feel comfortable.

Turning back to her towel, she spread it out and settled on it.  She closed her eyes and tried to focus on the surf as it rolled in, but she kept thinking over her conversation with Mark.  She couldn’t recall the last time she’d enjoyed talking to someone so much.  She opened her eyes and examined the beach.  For some reason, it didn’t seem the same.  It was a shame Mark couldn’t have stuck around longer.  With a sigh, she stood up, gathered her things and left.  Maybe next time she came here, she wouldn’t be preoccupied with thoughts of Mark.  Then she could truly enjoy resting on the beach.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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2 Responses to Sunday Story Sample: Mark and Lexie Share a Walk at the Beach in Runaway Bride

  1. Nice sample. I think I could like these two characters. 😉

    • What surprised me most is that the mother (who was horrible in book 1) is showing a nice side to her. what I love most about doing a series where I have different characters’ point of view is that I get to explore another facet of a minor character. So one character sees the person as a jerk and another one sees the likable side instead. 😀 That’s part of what makes writing so much fun.

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