Love is a fantasy. Why do I say that? Because I learned it firsthand when my husband, the man I had trusted with my heart, was murdered by his lover's wife.
My name is Sam Lane. I'm an author with several books under my belt. Since David's murder, I've sworn off any sort of personal relationships. With men, that is. After moving over a thousand miles from where I lived, I adopted a pit bull mix I named Jazz who is my constant companion.
And then ... I met Noah.
The reporter, Noah McCreary, did call Sunday morning as promised. He seemed as shy on the phone as he had in person which amused me. Most reporters I ran into were nothing if not aggressive, actively or passively. Noah, as he'd said, was definitely far from intrepid. We discussed where to set up the interview, eventually settling on his coming (to my house) where we'd have privacy, something that was difficult to find in a restaurant -- which had been his other suggestion -- especially on a Sunday when parents tended to take their broods out for Brunch with a capital B.
While I waited for him to arrive, I did a down-and-dirty dusting and vacuuming of the ground floor and made coffee. I decided, on the spur of the moment that we should sit in the back yard instead of indoors. I got a second lawn chair from the garage, putting in on the other side of the table on the small patio from the chair I regularly used. Jazz watched with some interest before deciding playing with one of his well-chewed tennis balls took precedence.
I'd barely put a tray on the kitchen counter, with cups, sugar, and half-and-half in a pitcher, when the doorbell rang.
"You made it," I said, letting him in. He was dressed casually in jeans and an open-necked shirt, with a messenger bag slung over one shoulder.
"I did, Mr. Lane, and almost on time." He paused to look around the main room. "Nice. Simple."
I chuckled. "Meaning there's a definite lack of furniture? Not surprising since I live alone and rarely have company. Oh, by the way, let's dispense with last names, Noah."
"Okay." He wandered over to check out the bookshelves. "You're an eclectic reader. I don't see any of yours, though."
"I keep them in my office, along with all the ones I use for research. I though, since it's a nice day, we could do the interview on the back patio instead of there, if you don't mind."
"Not at all." He followed as I went into the kitchen to fill the cups with coffee. Picking up the tray, I took it outside, setting it on the table, and we took our seats. He put his bag beside his chair, then we fixed our coffees the way we liked them, sugar and half-and-half in my case, only sugar in his. Jazz bounced over with a ball in his mouth and dropped it at Noah's feet, obviously having decided it was playtime. I told him firmly he was to entertain himself. He gave a dog version of a harrumph and settled under the tree in the corner of the yard with a rawhide bone.
At that point, Noah took a small recorder from his bag, turned it on, and laid it on the table. "Where do you want to start?"
I lifted one shoulder. "It's up to you."
"All right. You've been writing for approximately ten years, correct?"
"I've been writing for a lot longer than that, but my first book was published ten years ago."
"Sorry, I should have made myself clear." He took a drink of coffee to cover what seemed to be embarrassment. "Why did you choose to write what are popularly called thrillers?"
I told him, and the interview continued the way most of them did, with his asking about how I wrote, how I dealt with reviews, both good and bad, and the rest of the things a reader likes to find out about an author they like, or one who is new to them.
Then, he said, "I did some research while preparing for this interview, and found something about your past that's rarely mentioned in stories about you." He looked directly at me. "You used to be married."
"If you know that," I replied with a mix of anger and anguish that surprised me at this late date. "If you know that, you know why I'm not anymore. It's a part of my past that holds no relevance, now."
"How can you say that? It has to have affected your life and your writing."
"Not at all," I said succinctly. "I've put it behind me. I was betrayed ..." I sliced my hand through the air. "Enough. That topic is off the table. If you even hint at it in your story I will see to it you lose your job and your career. Is that understood?"
He nodded sharply. "Manifestly clear." He turned off the recorder, stuck it in his bag, and stood. "Thank you for the interview. It should appear in the next issue of the paper." With that, he used the side gate in the fence to leave the yard.
Jazz made a beeline to the gate, hoping to get to it before it closed. He almost made it, but I was closer and faster, grabbing his collar with the admonition, "No! You know better!"
He looked at me in surprise. I rarely yelled at him and his disbelief showed in the curl of his tail under his body and his lowered head.
"I'm sorry." I knelt, wrapping an arm around him. "I'm not angry at you, I promise. Him, however ..." I meant what I'd said to Noah. If there was even one word in his story that would let the readers know about David and his murder I would do everything in my power to see he never worked as a reporter again.