Fiction (Romance 1)
The following excerpt has been used with the permission of a former client and/or the publisher. Please note that I can adjust my prose style for a particular genre, and the following is not intended to represent my full range of styles or the number of genres I consider. For nonfiction, the level of complexity can be adjusted depending on client preference.
Cassie McIntyre stood in the back of her Ford F-150, tossing bales of hay to the hard-packed earth. A cold front was moving down from Canada, and she needed to make sure the horses were locked in the barn and fed. They couldn't graze with three feet of snow on the ground.
Her new ranch hand had materialized the day before, looking for a job. He'd shown up with only a duffel bag and a hopeful smile. "I'll work hard," he said, not bothering to introduce himself. "If I don't, you don't have to pay me."
"What's your name?" Cassie had asked. "I usually like to know who I'm dealing with."
The young man—he couldn't have been more than thirty-two—extended his right hand. "Tom. The name's Tom Slope."
Cassie took his hand, noticing its softness. Tom Slope had never done hard work in his life. No calluses. No toughness deep in the palm of his hand.
"Where ya from, Tom Slope?" Cassie inquired. "I'm miles from the nearest town. What brings you out this far?" Cassie gazed in the distance, looking at the line of blue mountains cutting the horizon. "And why do you want to work on a ranch?"
"I'm a schoolteacher," Slope replied. "Or was. Thought I'd do a little traveling before I got too old."
Against her better judgment, Cassie had hired the enigmatic Mr. Slope. Today, she had no regrets. Wearing gloves, Slope grabbed the baling wire and lifted the hay with ease despite his slender frame.
"Want some coffee?" Cassie asked when the barn doors had been closed and locked. The north wind was already starting to howl eerily, lifting her long blond hair and throwing it across her face. Pearl-gray clouds were growing darker with each passing moment.
"Sounds good. If it isn't any trouble, that is." Slope turned up the fur collar of his denim jacket and slipped his hands inside the pockets of his faded Levi jeans.
"No trouble. Follow me."
Inside, Cassie took off her leather gloves, put a fresh pot on the stove, and sat at the kitchen table opposite her guest.
"So, Mr. Slope. What did you teach?"
Cassie raised her eyebrows. "Ever write any poems yourself?"
"I have a few books under my belt," Slope said, grinning. He hadn't bothered to brush away the light brown hair that had tumbled over his brow while carrying the bales.
Cassie nodded slowly. "And you're traveling around the country in order to get material for another book?"
"Something like that. Thought I'd put together a collection of love poems."
Cassie blushed. The snow was already falling hard. In another few hours, it would be difficult to open the front door. She wondered how long she should extend hospitality to the cowboy poet sitting a few feet away.