It's Teaser Tuesday! When one lucky person who comments will be chosen at random to receive an ARC -- an uncorrected Advanced Reading Copy of Sea Glass Winter, which will be out January 1st. To allow time for responses, the winner will be announced here, on Facebook, and Twitter Thursday. If you do have to comment anonymously due to some blogger glitch, just leave your name and I'll figure it out. :)
Glass artist and jewelry maker Claire Templeton has moved her teenage son to Shelter Bay, hopefully to escape the bad influences that had gotten him into trouble in L.A. Former explosive ordnance disposal specialist Dillon Slater has left the military and is working as a high school physics teacher and basketball coach.
Although they've already met before this scene, I like it because it shows Claire working in her hot shop, along with the fact that they have more in common than Matt, Claire's son: Enjoy.
Claire Templeton's car was parked in front of the small cottage that had definitely known better days. The shake shingles, which he suspected had once been brown, had been weathered to silver, one of the wooden steps to the front porch was split, and enough moss to grow mushrooms covered the cedar roof. Yet another adjustment her kid would've had to make. For someone who'd lived in the rarified atmosphere of Beverly Hills, this had to be a giant step down.
Then again, Dillon thought, as he stopped midway between the small house and the detached garage, where he heard some music playing, and looked out over the darkening sea view toward the skeletal remains of an old shipwreck glistening in the setting sun, maybe not.
He knocked on the wooden door on the side of the garage, but there was no answer.
He tried again.
So, figuring that between the music and the noise of the fan that was blowing out the side of the building, she hadn't heard him, he turned the knob and walked in.
And was immediately hit by a heat as hot as anything he'd ever experienced in the Iraqi sandbox. Over the fan motors and the music that was a mix of Gregorian chants, drumming, woodwinds, some lyrics that sounded Middle Eastern, a blazing fire roared from inside a steel box.
Suspense, tension, danger, fire!
Could any woman be more perfect?
At first Claire Templeton seemed unaware of him as she pulled the five-foot-long rod out of the hole, slanting it so a bit of the molten glass, which was glowing a bright orange from the intense heat, fell into a bucket of water.
As it sizzled, she turned and saw him. And visibly tensed.
"Is Matt okay?"
"He's fine," he assured her. It might not be exactly accurate, but enough to have her shoulders relaxing even as she began twirling the rod again. "I just came to talk to you about his place on the team."
"So he did try out?" She moved over to a flat surface, where she began rolling the oblong ball of glass.
"He did." He raised his voice to be heard over the fan and the music, which was swelling again into something that sounded as if the monks had gone hip hop. "And to save you from having to ask, he made varsity."
"That's such good news," she said with a relieved smile. "And I really do want to hear all about it, but this is my third try at this today, and — "
"Go ahead. Unless having an audience distracts you."
"I've given demonstrations before. And taught a few classes." She was back to the glory hole, reheating the glass. "So I'm fine. But I'd appreciate you staying by the door so I don't have to worry about dropping molten glass on you. And if you wouldn't talk right now, that'd be helpful."
"No problem." He leaned against the door and folded his arms as she added on more color to the glass.
She was wearing jeans, a long-sleeve L.A. Lakers T-shirt, and sneakers. Her hair had been pulled into a high pony tail through the back of a baseball cap, and her face, free of makeup, glistened from perspiration, which made sense because from her comment about this being her third try to pull off whatever she was trying to make, she'd been working in this hellish oven for a very long time.
When she put her lips to the end of the rod, blowing as casually as she might into a straw, the glob on the end of the rod expanded.
It was as if he'd turned invisible as she slipped back into what he recognized as a zone. Watching her carefully, which was certainly no hardship with the way those snug jeans hugged her ass, Dillon suspected that part of the reason her movements appeared so natural was she was working from muscle memory. Something he was all too familiar with himself.
One of the reasons the Army's basic training was so brutal was to make sure that when in a battle situation, troops didn't have to stop to think to aim and shoot at the bad guys shooting at them. Their bodies took over, and responded as trained.
Whatever she was working on kept getting larger, and as she turned it, the shape began to form. It was when, after opening the center, she held what appeared to be a tall vase or bowl upside down and began twirling it, creating a wavy top, that he realized what the emerald core at the center of the sunset bright colors was.
"A green flash," he said, forgetting he'd agreed to stay quiet.
She glanced over at him. "Very good. That's exactly it."
The highly elusive pulse of dazzling green, lasting only a few seconds, occasionally appeared on the ocean's horizon, at the very top of a setting sun, just as it was about to sink into the water. Although he'd been living in Shelter Bay several months, he'd only been lucky enough to see it once. But damned if she hadn't captured it perfectly.
"My mother, who illustrated children's books, once did the drawings for a book of Scottish myths. One legend said that a green flash will magically banish all pains of the heart for any lucky enough to see it."
"Now there's a thought." Remembering this morning's tears, Dillon wondered what pains Claire Templeton's heart might be harboring. "Maybe you can use it as a marketing incentive. Buy a vase, banish a heartache. . .
"Anyway, I really like those bubbles. They look as if they're sea foam rising up from the bottom of the sea."
"Thanks. My goal is usually to keep bubbles out of my glass, but I decided to play with soda ash on this one to accentuate the idea of liquidity. As you probably know, soda ash is actually the common name for sodium carbonate."
"Na2C03," he said. Though he admittedly hadn't given it any prior thought, he would have assumed that jewelry making and glass blowing had more to do with creative arts than science. He'd been way off the mark with that one.
"Exactly. No one knows exactly when the first glass was made, but we do know that the Egyptians were making glass containers from soda ash as early as 3500 BC. If I place it on a piece of glass, then put a new hot layer over it, a chemical reaction occurs that causes it to release a gas. Which creates those bubbles."
Dillon was already attracted to Claire Templeton. But in the past ten minutes that attraction had just spiked.
"Not only does she play with fire and danger, the lady knows her chemistry. I don't suppose you'd agree to marrying me and having my children?"
"I'm sorry," she said mildly as she broke the bowl off the rod and put it in another oven, where, he guessed, it would cool. "But I'm afraid my schedule is all booked up."
"Damn. I was afraid you were going to say that." He'd have to work on getting around that ice wall she was capable of putting up. Fortunately, EOD had taught him patience.
That's it for this week! I hope you'll drop by for the Friday photo! Meanwhile, here's a picture of the scene from Claire's cottage.