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Saturday, May 30, 2020

#SaturdaySpotlight is on T.I. Lowe & Beach Haven!

Good Morning!

Welcome to the last Saturday Spotlight in May 2020. Today's guest visited with us last month and shared insight into the writing of her book. Today we get a sneak peek into the story itself....

Free-spirited Opal Gilbert seems to have everything she needs to keep living a happy life in Sunset Cove as she refurbishes vintage furniture to sell at her funky ocean-side boutique, Bless This Mess. Until Lincoln Cole, a new-to-town ex-Marine nursing deep wounds and harboring hurts he can’t seem to shake, wanders into her shop. Opal knows a person in need when she sees one and offers Lincoln a job in her workshop. But the brooding former soldier has no interest in Opal’s offer. Thanks but no thanks.

But then a hurricane strikes, damaging Bless This Mess. Feeling guilty for how he treated Opal, Lincoln decides to help her repair the store. And soon it becomes clear Opal wants to restore not only her business, but also help Lincoln find restoration. As much as Lincoln tries to keep her at arm’s length, Opal’s well-meaning meddling begins to heal his wounds . . . and capture his heart almost before he realizes it.

Weaving through a jungle of the most outlandish antiques he’d ever come across, Lincoln Cole was dumbfounded and intrigued all at once. Surrounded by unusually dressed pieces of furniture, he did a three-sixty and scratched at the scruff on his cheek. The scruff indicated he was more than a few days past needing a shave, but the rebellion that had taken root in him since the injury he sustained in Syria had overruled grooming protocol that morning. Waking up from the recurring nightmare often left him too raw to focus on such mundane things. At least he had managed a shower and a fresh change of clothes.

Whimsical feminine humming somehow found its way to him as he suppressed the limp wanting to reside in his left leg while hobbling another few steps forward. Although it was a sunny day in late September, his leg was telling him the pleasant weather wouldn’t last for very long.

Nothing good ever lasts long . . .

Lincoln huffed in frustration over his own thoughts and stood semi-hidden in a section of old desks. He cast his gaze upward and blinked a few times. Various tables and chairs were suspended from the ceiling. A few had been converted into light fixtures, while the rest of them looked like they were being held hostage by thick cables.

“Good morning,” a cheery voice came from behind him. “Welcome to Bless This Mess.”

Keeping his focus on the ceiling, Lincoln spoke the first thing to flicker through his mind. “Is that even safe?” He pointed to the pieces of furniture that appeared to be floating above their heads.

“Oh yes. Code inspectors have deemed my mess safe.”

The woman’s teasing voice finally had Lincoln turning in her direction. Peering at him from the other side of a wooden hutch that had been transformed into a bath vanity was a sprite of a woman with the wildest head of golden-red curls he’d ever seen. The tips were lighter as if the sun had reached down and stolen the color. She closely resembled the mosaic fairy he’d seen on the outside of the building.
Clearing his throat, he offered a curt “Good.”

A smile began to blossom across the lively woman’s face as she smoothed some kind of flowy blouse with her petite hand, causing a gaudy collection of bracelets to clang against one another.

Lincoln assessed her as he’d been trained to do in the military. He measured her no bigger than a minute and figured he could apprehend her with one hand tied behind his back, but he considered those big green eyes of hers and cataloged them as her secret weapon. They sparkled, but that wasn’t what set off the warning bells. No, those eyes were watching him way too closely and had already seen way more than they should. Assessment complete, he began to slowly back away.

“I have the perfect piece for you.” She held an index finger in the air, halting his attempted retreat. She skipped off in the opposite direction, sending the spirals of soft red-and-blonde hair into a dance. “I’m Opal, by the way,” she said quickly over her shoulder.

She disappeared from sight, but he could hear the banging and clattering from his two o’clock, giving away her location. “I didn’t come here for furniture.”

“Oh, that’s okay. This piece was meant for you, nonetheless, so I insist on you taking it.” Her grunts came from the back and sounded like she was struggling with something.

Sighing, Lincoln looked heavenward at the craziness on the ceiling one last time before walking through the maze to find her. He stopped cold in his tracks when he found her sitting on a soldier’s footlocker.

“I found this on a junking trip last year.” Opal smoothed her tiny hand over the thick gray cushion that had been fitted on the top. It reminded Lincoln of a military-issue wool coat. “For some reason, I just knew it needed to be transformed into a bench seat. Possibly for an entry piece where someone can sit and remove or put on their shoes. Or maybe at the foot of a bed.” She swung her feet back and forth, looking like a little kid. Flip-flops peeked from the edges of her fraying bell-bottom jeans each time her legs swayed forward.

Not letting himself get caught in the confusing inquiry of where she found such an odd pair of jeans, Lincoln crossed his arms and regarded the piece suspiciously. “Why’d you make it so tall?” His eyes dropped to the thick wooden spindles she’d used for the legs. They were painted a neutral gray to coordinate with the creamy beige used on the trunk. It was obvious she’d put a lot of thought into the piece, even re-stenciling the ID number along the front side in the same gray as the legs.

“I had a feeling the owner would need the extra leg space. What are you, six-four?” She gave him a swift once-over.

Six-five. “Close enough.”

She smirked like she had a secret. “If you’re not here for furniture, then what are you here for?”
Lincoln moved his eyes away from the peculiar woman and swept them over the menagerie of furniture pieces while rubbing a hand through his long brown hair. Haircuts were another ritual he’d allowed to die several months ago, right along with his military career.

After giving her question some thought, Lincoln answered honestly, “I’m not sure.” He turned and began moving through the rows as quick as his achy leg would carry him.

“You forgot your bench!” Opal called from behind him. “And you didn’t even introduce yourself!”
Her petitions did nothing to slow his already-sluggish getaway. He didn’t stop until he was piled back into his Jeep and heading down the beachfront road.

“Smooth, Cole. Real smooth.” He groaned and released one tight-fisted pound against the steering wheel. Between the throb in his knee and the unsettling encounter with the store’s owner, all he wanted to do was go back to his beach cottage and hide from the feeling that he didn’t fit anywhere anymore. The doctors had done the best they could with his knee, putting enough hardware in his leg for him to be considered part cyborg, but no bolt or pin could put his destroyed life back together.

Tonya “T. I.” Lowe is a native of coastal South Carolina. She attended Coastal Carolina University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in psychology but excelled in creative writing. In 2014, Tonya independently published her first novel, Lulu’s CafĂ©, which quickly became a bestseller. Now the author of twelve published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. She resides near Myrtle Beach with her family. Connect with her on her Author PageT.I. Lowe’s Website   Instagram   Twitter (@TiLowe) and Facebook  Get a copy of Beach Haven at Tyndale, Amazon OR wherever books are sold.

WONDERFUL excerpt Tonya! Thank you for sharing. Good luck and God's blessings with your new series.

Remember friends, today is the last day to enter my monthly gift card giveaway so leave a comment.

Until next time, take care and God bless.


Mary Preston said...

Thank you for the great highlight.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Generous excerpt! Looks like a fine read for summer.

T.I. Lowe said...

Thank you for hosting me!

Barbara Britton said...

Hi T.I.
I loved your excerpt. This sounds like a heartfelt story.

T.I. Lowe said...

Mary, Jacqueline, and Barbara, thank you ladies for taking the time this morning to read the excerpt. I put a lot of heart into honoring our military with Lincoln Cole. I hope I did it justice. And Jacqueline, you share the same name with my grandmother and sister!

Anna Taylor Sweringen said...

Thanks for sharing this excerpt. I look forward to reading your story.

Alina K. Field said...

This looks like a great story!

T.I. Lowe said...

Thank you Anna and Alina! It was a joy to write.