Before I wrote Interior Designs, I introduced the characters in Embrace the Whirlwind, the story of one young woman’s journey to overcome childhood abuse and find her happiness…and her struggles against the woman who seems determined to chase away her new joy.


Below, read a portion of Chapter One.


She hadn’t trusted in the myth of “happily ever after” for a very long time, but despite herself, she had believed that he was going to be the love of her life.  After all, the two of them had been hanging out pretty regularly now for a couple of months.  He came to the roadhouse where she worked, usually right after he finished up with his construction crew, and they had fallen into the habit of leaving together after her shift ended.  But tonight had been different, right from the start.



First of all, he had barely acknowledged her presence when he got there.  Still, she had tried not to take it personally, telling herself that he was just catching up with the guys.  But then he’d started flirting with some of the other girls who had come in halfway through the night.  Toward the end of her shift at the roadhouse, she had watched Buck walking out with that little twit, the one who had been hanging all over him all night long, and she could see the handwriting on the wall:  he was moving on.



She had struggled along anyway, trying to pretend that none of it bothered her, until finally she was able to leave for the night.  She headed toward the parking lot, and after she climbed into the old beat-up pickup truck, she huddled up inside for a few minutes wishing she could somehow disappear.  She wished she could close her eyes, and then, once she opened them again this whole day would have magically turned out to be nothing but a dream.  A nightmare, of course, but just a dream all the same!  The humiliation of it all!  She could still see the faces of the others as Buck had turned on his heel and walked out that door with someone else.



So anticlimactic after the way he had relentlessly pursued her all those months.



As she slowly drove out of the parking lot, wishing that she could go back somehow and change a lot of things about her life, she knew that starting up with Buck Edmonds in the first place would be at the top of her list.  With his long dark hair tossed casually over his shoulders and wearing those sexy suede cowboy pants and leather vests, he had captivated her with his chivalry and sexual magnetism.  Now she thought that he must have faked most of that.  Ha!  He’d probably read a bunch of romance novels so he could convincingly play the part of the romantic hero.



As Amber Cushing reflected on her choices so far, she shuddered.  For as far back as she could remember, everything she touched seemed to turn to…well, shit!  That was the only way she could describe her life up to this point.  Not to mention all those people who sat in judgment, looking down their noses at her!  She knew what they were thinking.  She made a wrong turn…she made a bad choice…if only she’d listened…Amber had said the very same things to herself over and over, so she didn’t need any of those judgmental folks telling her where she’d gone wrong.



Except, it wasn’t all that easy.   Sure, she guessed she was probably a little impulsive.  Well, maybe a lot impulsive.  She allowed her emotions to lead her most of the time, and maybe her instincts weren’t that great after all.  But it’s not like she set out to make mistakes.  Things just weren’t that clear sometimes.



She braked suddenly when a squirrel darted across the roadway, and after that she paid closer attention to the road and when she saw the turnoff to her trailer she skillfully guided the vehicle up the sloping dirt road until at last she could see the outlines of her home.  She sat in the truck for a moment, studying this place she called home.  It sure wasn’t like anything you would ever see in those pages of House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, and Metropolitan Home that her mother always had spread out on the coffee table.



She quickly shoved the images of her mother and her childhood out of her head and trudged up the graveled pathway to her front door.  Once inside, she sank down onto the old tweed couch, trying to think of what to do next.  A beer might help.  She grabbed one out of the old fridge and as she popped the top on the can, for just a moment, she felt like everything was somehow going to turn out okay after all.



Closing her eyes against reality for awhile, she gradually began to feel the slight buzz as the liquid slid down her throat.  She finished the beer in record time and idly pointed the remote control toward her TV, hoping that she still had cable.  She knew the bill was overdue, but sometimes she got lucky and they gave her a little grace period before they turned it off.  No such luck this time.  Nothing but the public access channel.  Not even the networks came on when they shut off the box.  Well, guess I’ll have to scrounge up some money to pay that bill.



Next to the front door sat the basket with the unpaid bills.  Overflowing, it signaled how out-of-control her life had become.  But then again, had it ever been under control?  Mostly she could remember her life going pretty much like this, with her staying one or two steps behind while she scrambled to keep up.



She shoved her thumbs into her temples as she tried to concentrate.  There had to be something she could do to turn things around.  But what?   No way would she call either of her parents.  Mother had been speaking volumes lately with her exaggerated silence.  And Daddy…well, Daddy had been gone for so many years she had lost count.  Even when he’d been around, he’d been pretty much useless.



But she needed some cash.  And she needed someone, somewhere to give her a decent job.  Continuing to work at the bar after her total humiliation tonight…well, that was just out of the question.  She pictured Buck sauntering in every night with his new ladylove, and her flesh began to crawl.  Since he was a regular at the roadhouse, there was no chance to avoid him if she stayed on at that job.



She picked up the phone slowly.  As she dialed her mother’s number, she cringed; planning what to say and hoping that she wouldn’t have to beg, or worse yet, hear that disappointment in her mother’s voice, she hesitated.  But maybe her mother would take pity on her and offer to help, without any of the usual lectures.  Fat chance.



For the remainder of Chapter One, check HERE.



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