Cheers, lovely readers of Love Bytes! I’m J. C. Long and I’d very much like to thank you for joining me on my book tour for my newest release, Hearts in Ireland, part of the World of Love novella series from Dreamspinner Press. I’m in great company with this novella series, and am grateful to be a part of it. As always, my wholehearted thanks to the wonderful people here at Love Bytes for hosting me.
Today I’m bringing you a scene that no one has seen before, not even my editor at Dreamspinner, because I deleted it early on in the writing process. It is set before the moment where the story starts in the novella, so it’s not got spoilers (at least not for anything you won’t know after the first paragraph). I really hope you enjoy this deleted scene and check out Hearts in Ireland, on sale now!
I didn’t need to ask where my mother was when I arrived at her house. It was just past two in the afternoon on a beautiful late spring day, so she was without a doubt outside in her garden.
I walked around the side of the house toward the gate that would let me into the backyard she’d commandeered from my father and transformed into a massive garden. As I approached I could hear her singing. Before I could fully hear the words I knew what it was. She always sang the same song while she gardened, a song that I knew by heart before I could read because she sang it to me every night before I went to sleep.
“Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen and down the mountain side.” Her voice was a beautiful rich tone, somewhere in that gray space between an alto and a soprano.
As I opened the gate I added my voice to hers in greeting. “The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling. It’s you, It’s you, must go, and I must bide.”
She stopped singing and turned to me, a bright smile appearing on her face. “Ronan! I didn’t know you were coming by!”
She stepped carefully around her broccoli plants and pulled me into a hug, careful not to touch my clothes with her dirt-covered gardening gloves or the spade in her right hand. When she pulled back to look at me I felt my heart falter a bit.
I’d been distracted by her glowing smile when I’d first arrived; I hadn’t noticed the paleness of her skin, seeming almost translucent to me today, nor the sheen of cold sweat that lined her face.
“What’s with that face?” Mom asked me. I started guiltily, schooling my expression as quickly as I could, but there was no point, she’d already seen it. “I’m fine, Ronan, really.” Her voice carried just enough warning in it to make me think twice about pressing the issue, but I also caught the tremor in it, the exhaustion that she hadn’t had a month before.
“Are you pushing yourself too hard, mom? You know what the doctor said.”
She scoffed, waving the spade dismissively. “If that old man had his way, I’d be permanently in bed, sheets tucked up to my chin!”
“You have cancer, ma,” I reminded her firmly but gently.
“I don’t think there’s any danger of me forgetting that,” she said, voice going bitter for a moment. “Listen, I know you’re worried about me, Ronan, but this is life. What will be, will be, and nothing we do can change it. If this cancer is going to take me—”
“Don’t say that, mom,” I chided, fear and panic gripping my heart tightly just thinking about that possible outcome.
“If it’s going to take me,” she repeated carefully, “it’s going to be on my terms., I’m going to do the things I love, until I can’t anymore. You wouldn’t take that from me, would you?”
She didn’t play fair, at all. How was I supposed to respond to that, other than to say of course not? “This is emotional manipulation of the worst sort,” I grumbled. “You know I’m just worried about you.”
“I know, sweetie, but what good is worrying going to do anyone? You know what you can do for me? You can help me with this broccoli here. The small heads are ready to be picked—not the big ones, leave those a bit yet.”
We worked there in the garden side by side, picking vegetables, and for a moment I was able to forget that she was sick, forget that the doctors said she wasn’t responding to the treatments. She acted like the woman she was before the diagnosis.
I stepped inside to fix us both glasses of lemonade, leaving the back door open so I could hear her singing as I did so.
“Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,” she sang, even though we’d already sung the first verse. She never could pick up from the middle, she always started over. “From glen to glen and down the mountain side. The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling. It’s you, It’s you, must—”
The premature silence rang out louder than her singing had. Dread in my heart I turned to see her collapse suddenly, body just buckling. Before I fully realized it I was running to her side, calling out to her, though I could barely hear my own words over the end of the song, which my mind seemed to supply without prompting.
It’s you, It’s you, must go, and I must bide.
When the future is shrouded and it’s hard to find direction, maybe it’s time to let the heart lead the way….
Ronan Walker stands at a crossroads, unsure how to pursue his education… unsure if he even wants to. Now that his mother is gone, all he has left are the wonderful stories of her youth in Ireland, and he’s drawn to the land of his ancestors. There, he seeks out his mother’s family and meets Fergal Walsh, who works at Ronan’s aunt’s bookstore. A love of literature facilitates a fast friendship between the two men, and even though Ronan cannot deny the potential—and his desire—for more, he cannot see a future for the two of them when he leaves Ireland. Fergal must persuade Ronan to give school in Dublin a chance—and convince Ronan that his heart has already found its home.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an Army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his lifelong involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States, J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that.
His favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing, and Korean food (not in that order… okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts, and wishing he were writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.