Anyone else feel like time just keeps speeding up on them? It's Friday and this week I have the delightful Melanie D. Snitker on my blog with her contribution to Fall Into Romance, Finding Forever in Romance. Melanie has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out creating episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, camping, and hanging out with family and friends.
In our boxed set, Melanie's story is the one that sets the stage for the rest of us. It is in Finding Forever in Romance we learn more about the animal shelter and the people who run it. Curious to know more?
From the time he was a child, Brent Todd has helped lost pets find healing and homes. Now, he runs Romance's Finding Forever Animal Rescue. Amid the dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, and exotic animals in his care, he convinces himself he has everything he needs. Then a beautiful woman and her son volunteer to help at the shelter. Brent soon realizes he needs more than the rescue animals to fill the empty spaces in his heart and home.
Dedicated to raising her son, Nicole Crawford views romance as a lovely idea. But between being a single mom and the pain of her past, she refuses to dwell on something so out of reach. To teach her son about helping others, they volunteer at Finding Forever on a temporary basis. But the more time she spends with Brent, the more she realizes it'll be impossible to walk away from him and the shelter with her heart intact. Together, maybe Brent and Nicole will discover a forever family of their own.
The scene we have today isn't at the shelter, but showcases Nicole's workplace. Melanie said of this scene, "This takes place at Romance’s local roller skating rink. Nicole works there and Brent decided to go to the family skate night, hoping for an opportunity to spend some time with her. He’s been skating for a while as he waited for Nicole to get a break from working the front counter.
"My brothers and I were homeschooled and when we were teens, one of the monthly activities was roller skating. We looked forward to it each time. They’d play our favorite songs and we’d laugh, visit with friends, and sing along. I also played roller hockey with a homeschool team and later in college with a small-time league. When I wrote this scene, it made me smile and brought back all those happy memories. My husband and I now homeschool our children, and our local group has roller skating every week. I still strap on a pair of inline skates and get on the rink with my kids from time to time."
And now for our scene:
Brent checked the time. With over a half hour until Nicole would get a breather, he decided he’d better sit down for a while. Otherwise, he’d be done before he even got a chance to spend time with her. He found a spot at one of the few picnic-style tables on one end and enjoyed watching all the people skate, laugh, and visit.
A while later, a shadow fell on him and stopped. Nicole stood in front of him, hands on her hips and inline skates on her feet. “I’m surprised you’re still here.”
Brent shrugged. “Sometimes I don’t know when to quit.” He gave her a pointed stare and was satisfied to see pink creep up her neck and into her face. “You’ve been working hard.”
She glanced over at the front desk. “The hardest part of my evening is over. Natalie will keep an eye on the front counter for the rest of the evening. Now I just need to stay awake.”
“If there are no more people coming in, what do you do for the rest of the evening?”
“I’m mostly a chaperone. Concessions and the skate counter are manned by other people.” She pointed toward the DJ. “And I could only choose the music once before getting kicked out of that spot.” They laughed. “I usually end up skating for a while and visiting with people. But yeah, Friday nights are long ones by the time we clean up and close.”
“So, if I head back onto the rink, I might run into you out there?” He crossed his arms in front of him, well aware he’d presented a dare.
She shrugged but couldn’t quite keep the amusement from her face. “Maybe.”
The DJ put on the original Ghostbusters song and most of the people on the rink cheered and sang along. Brent laughed. “I haven’t heard that one in ages.”
“Trust me, if you stick around here in the evenings, you’ll hear many songs from your childhood.”
Brent stood and skated onto the rink, happy to see Nicole was right behind him. They joined the crowd and skated side-by-side for a while. Ten minutes later, the DJ announced it was now couples only, and you had to be holding hands to stay on the rink.
A lot of people found a partner to skate with whether it was a parent, sibling, friend, or spouse. Brent held a hand out to Nicole. “Don’t leave me out here all by myself.” He winked.
She shook her head at him as if she didn’t quite know what to do with him before sliding her hand into his. The surrounding air had chilled her skin as they’d skated, and he liked the idea of warming it back up again. He laced their fingers together and gave her hand a squeeze. This felt right; as if her hand belonged in his.
They skated past the tables as Tony took a seat at one of them. “I take it your son isn’t a fan of couple’s skate.”
Nicole laughed at that and seemed relieved to have something else to focus on. “Oh, no. He’s at the age where the thought of participating in any way may as well signal the end of life as we know it.”
Brent chuckled. “I remember those days.”
“Yep, I’m fine with them. I’m not ready for him to grow up yet. Girlfriends, jobs, etc. I want to hold onto my boy a little longer if I can.”
They made their way around the rink as Brent studied her profile. “I’m surprised there aren’t guys lined up waiting to skate with you tonight.”
Nicole noticeably picked up the pace and seemed to look anywhere else but him. He’d assumed she was still single. What if that wasn’t the case? The thought of anyone else out here holding her hand caused a mix of protectiveness and jealousy to rise in his chest. When Nicole said nothing, he tugged on her hand just enough to slow her down. She glanced at him.
Brent had to know, even if roller skating might not be the most appropriate place to ask. “Are you seeing anyone?”
She gave her head a little shake. “No.”
Who knew one little word could inspire such a sense of relief? He flashed her a smile. “Good.”
Such fun! Did you ever have to work at getting someone to date you?
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius