Author Marata Eros sits down for a chat with our Alaskan-star-crossed lovers Chance & Brooke, from The Darkest Joy, on sale today!
Chance folds his arms across his chest, his sea-colored eyes never leave mine. I break away from that intense gaze and look at Brooke. Hers are just as disconcerting. Her violet eyes are so much more real in the flesh than I ever imagined them in my story.
I watch them look at each other and Chance grins, soft color blooming across Brooke’s cheekbones as they share secret knowledge, memories. Probably too intimate for me to witness.
Yet, I was always their silent witness. The testimony to their love.
I turn to Chance, settling more deeply into the chair: So Chance—I say and he leans forward, fully engaged, and I’m struck by how big he is. I understand I wrote him, but he’s a huge guy in the flesh, and there’s so much delicious masculinity to see. Brooke’s a lucky woman.
ME: You’ve just returned from New York and you guys are setting up house…
(interrupts) Brooke: and Aunt Lily’s piano…
Indulgent love softens the hard features of Chance’s face.
Chance: with a piano.
ME: are you sure you can make Alaska your home. Y’know—most view Alaska as a foreign country… chuckles; it’s a huge misnomer that we live in igloos and ride polar bears.
Chance’s stillness gives him away. He’s more talkative than my other heroes but his silence carries weight, a presence that words can’t quantify. He so personifies Alaska: untamed and wild.
Chance: my home is where Brooke is.
He looks at her, his face so full of how he feels I look away.
Brooke: it’s where I got my second chance.
They stare at each other and this time, I regard them both.
ME: at what?
But I think I know.
Brooke: smiles –Life.
I clear my throat, allowing the swollen moment between these characters I created. They’re so real I can feel their heartbeats, the weeping of emotions between them.
Chance stands, and I look up—surprised. He walks to where Brooke sits on the couch and sits beside her, sliding Brooke onto his lap.
I wag my finger.
ME: I haven’t written a romance scene for this interview.
Chance looks at me, swinging his longish black hair out of his eyes. He nods. He presses his lips to Brooke’s head and lays his cheek against the top of it, his defiant eyes meeting mine.
He’s my creation and I can’t be put out that the Alpha male in him takes the moments of passion as he sees them. Of course, Chance knows me as well as I know him, and a sly smile transforms his face.
Chance: just sitting next to my girl, Marata.
He flashes that smile and I know I can’t hold them back. Not in this room, not in the wild and unpredictable life they have planned in Alaska.
I cross my legs.
ME: so tell me you’ll play the piano, Brooke.
She cups Chance’s chin, a watery smile of adoration touching his face.
Brooke: Chance has set up a regular venue at the Salty Dawg.
I put a fist over my mouth to cover my grin. I think of the liberties I’ve taken with the iconic establishments of where I’ve lived. The Salty Dawg saloon always had a piano in my imagination. Now Brooke will be playing at it.
She and Chance will have children and Jake will babysit. They’ll learn how to cast off from the deck of his boat. The children will be beautiful like their parents.
Lily’s small cabin is not high end and perfect like Chance’s house, but it’s that piece of Brooke’s family that she doesn’t have to give up. In my mind’s eye, I see the fireweed in full bloom like a magenta sea outside the solid wood confines of the cabin. A deep, wide garden rises from the back forty, the waves of the ocean pound, lending music to the openness beyond.
Chance and Brooke see my face.
Brooke: that’s what it will be.
ME: thank you.
Chance: for what?
I can see he’s genuinely puzzled.
ME: for letting me see… and write it all down.
laughs Chance: was there a choice, Marata?
I gently shake my head.
There’s never a choice. The characters live and breathe, and I catalog their time, a pocket of their lives I’m privy to. They get their happily ever after and I can think again.
Until the next voices come.
I stand up and they do too. Chance hugs me tightly against his hard body and I bite back tears, because it’s goodbye. His hands slide down my bare arms and I feel the callouses from his life of fishing.
They’re rough against my skin.
Brooke walks to us and he puts an arm around her waist. Her head is only chest level and I realize I always write tall guys. I smile and she does too.
Brooke: thank you for the happy ending.
I nod, my heart full.
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