Meet in the Middle
Thank you for being here today, LoRee.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The concept for this story began because I heard a pig squeal from a TV in the hospital at the time of my husband’s back surgery in October 2017
How would you describe your main character(s)?
Elena Garber was raised in an apartment above a bar, so she has become a self-reliant recluse. She’s sure of herself, capable, and resists the influence of others, except her grandmother, who is now deceased. Elena moves from the city onto her grandmother’s small farm and works from home as a voice over internet.
Colin Lovelady worked as an EMT and ambulance driver but now has PTSD. He also carries a facial scar from a bullet that grazed him and knocked him out while his best friend died beside him. Colin retreats to the quiet of his uncle’s old place, which border’s Elena’s grandmother’s farm. He first meets Queenie, then follows her and meets Elena.
Queenie, a feral pot-bellied pig, is also a star character.
What is the problem your character(s) face in your story?
Elena discovers a letter pointing to buried money that would grant security if she remains on her grandmother’s farm. Colin is in a dark, scary place and can’t pull himself out of it, but his uncle’s money, buried between his place and Elena’s would help him fix up the house.
What would you like your readers to know about your characters?
Elena and Colin carry scars and/or wounds that make them who they are as adults. They deal with their own insecurities and face the prospect of letting another person in on their lives (and secrets). Neither is looking for romance, but Queenie keeps thrusting the two together.
Read an excerpt from Meet in the Middle
How had Colin come so low as to stay in his uncle’s uninhabitable shack? Especially considering it sat on the edge of this Podunk town, where rumors once abounded about Glen Lovelady’s gambling. The bed, such as it was, had him off the grotesque floor. He’d all but covered his head to fight off the chill so, at least to his awareness, no rodents had crept over him during the night.
He fluffed his pillow and smoothed the sleeping bag over the cot. In the gray light of early dawn, he straightened to get out the kinks, rolled and cracked his neck.
The smell hit him. Rotten wood. Mold. Fecund animal droppings. He’d been too tired to breathe last night. Who knew what kind of filth he’d inhaled as he slept? The place looked horrid in the daylight. Unsanitary even for an avid outdoorsman, which he’d never considered himself. He’d have to find a room in town until his next step.
Whatever that might be. What was he even doing here? A desperate move on his part, thinking he could fix up the small house and make a profit so he’d have the means to stay by himself without a job. Just a while longer, at least until the end of summer.
Wouldn’t it be something if the rumors about hidden money were true?
He dragged open the door, no easy feat due to the swollen, broken wood panels, and stepped on the rotted porch. A rusty hinge from a nonexistent screen door snagged his flannel shirt. If he attempted to stay, what should he fix first? A sneeze jerked him. No surprise, considering the dust.
He lumbered to his truck, grabbed a reasonably clean napkin from the console, and blew his nose. He stuffed the used napkin in the white sack from last night’s drive-through meal purchased halfway between here and Lincoln.
Then he retraced his steps, zipped his pillow inside the sleeping bag, and tucked the bundle behind his truck seat. He sneezed again on his return to the poor excuse for a house, retrieved the cot, where he stored it in the truck bed against the cab.
It may be April, but the onset of spring sparked nary a thought of anything good for Colin. Rather than pay attention to varied greens and the touch of the sun now visible above the horizon, he blinked away from the rising orb. Adam had always laughed at those times the sun’s brightness made Colin sneeze. He rolled his shoulders and gazed at the trees lining the Platte River.
And this flat land. It’s prime, surrounding Maplewood, his mom’s hometown, where its bottom land proved fantastic for producing rich crops.
The distant foghorn of air brakes carried from the highway on the other side of the water, as a semi slowed for the lower speed to go through the village.
Poets no doubt had a heyday penning beautiful words concentrated on fresh mornings such as this, but the glory of the day mocked his severed heart. Let the world welcome spring in all its rebirth glory. The only thing that consumed Colin was loss.
The ecstasy of his own rebirth, thanks to Jesus, just as well belong to some other man. He stretched. “How long, Lord, how long until I want to live as I once did, in tune with Your Spirit?”
It took too much energy to pursue a good mood. Easier to stay low, remaining in a dark frame of mind seemed friendlier at the moment.
Friend. He knew in his head that Adam now spent his time in the presence of Jesus. Yet, rejoicing for his friend’s home in heaven escaped Colin’s sensibility.
After all, he’s the one who deserved the bullet.
The Bible talked about restored joy in the morning. He’d rather stay in the dark and absorb the sound of silence, which had become his latest best friend. But he had no power to stave off a new day. The earth still spun on its axis. Living things continued taking the next breath.
All the while, he wallowed in mourning and fought off horrific nightmares that always ended the same. With him unable to save his best friend.
He stumbled along through the weed-entangled yard. Why had he paid taxes to keep this place all these years? Inherited from his mother, who got it from his bachelor uncle, just to keep it in the Lovelady family?
A wadded ball of dried roots from years of over-grown weeds caught his toe. He staggered, regained his balance, and looked up again. Silly. No one around to see him almost fall on his face. He knelt to untangle his booted foot. Moist soil met his fingertips.
A grunt jerked his head to the right.
He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. He blinked. Focused. Nope. No figment of his imagination. He knew what it was, but he’d only seen the pigs on film.
A pot-bellied pig ambled along the ancient rusted wire of the fence that marked his Uncle Glen’s decrepit property, the last acre on this edge of town, bordering a picturesque small farmstead.
Curious, Colin followed the pig’s journey as though it was the Pied Piper. Past Uncle Glen’s property line and onto the next, which happened to be the first farmstead outside Maplewood.
The pendulous animal snorted again, bobbed its snout, and a clot of roots topped by dried strands flew to the side.
The act would be funny, if he felt like laughing.
First, they came upon a small shed, bordered by a plot of fallow, unfenced garden. The pig bypassed a row of what looked like maroon tipped flower heads poking through earth like pebbles to greet the sun, and circled toward the only wreck on the place, an old corncrib with the sun glinting through its unpainted ribs on the back of the farmstead.
His steps ground to a halt as he closed in on the leaning building. He stared through the empty center of the peaked structure. The crib. Money. Whoever in the family came up with the rumor that Uncle Glen had buried money near a building? No buildings on his place, except an unsafe, lilting garage.
Details of the old story flew out of nowhere. A notorious gambler, Glen Lovelady never believed in banks. Family lore claimed Uncle Glen had hidden thousands of dollars at the corner of some old building, way back when.
Colin surveyed the surroundings of the neighbor’s acreage surrounded by farmland. A garden shed. A detached garage. The corncrib. No barn, outhouse, well house, or machine shed. Such buildings would have existed fifty years ago.
Who paid attention to rumors anyhow?
The reality of buried treasure was way too fanciful for a guy like him to consider. On second thought, he had to pull life together and heal from the incident that stole his normal life.
Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. Connect with LoRee through these links: www.loreepeery.com