What is your most annoying habit?
Ha! I think that would depend on who you ask. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have any annoying habits.
What are some things that you can’t leave the house without?
The one and only thing I take when I leave the house – aside from my truck keys – is my cell phone. Hell, that thing is capable of doing anything. What else would I need to bring?
What would one find in your refrigerator right now?
Probably a ton of stuff that’s expired. When I’m on tour, I tend to come home to find that I need to make a run to the grocery store or starve.
Who are your inspirations?
The greats, of course. Johnny Cash, George Jones, George Strait. And if you weren’t talking about music, I’ll have to give it some thought.
What song describes your personality best?
Sittin’ on a Tailgate (Mud Digger)
What is one of your favorite quotes?
“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ― George Bernard Shaw
What is your least favorite chore?
Sweepin’ the floor. I mean seriously. I know it doesn’t take much effort to do, but it takes more than enough to want to do it.
Is there a particular sound that you just love to hear?
Crickets chirpin’ in the trees while you’re outside under the stars. Ain’t nothin’ better than sittin’ around with nothin’ to do, preferably hangin’ with good friends and cold beer.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
If I had to? Like someone was forcin’ me to change my name? Cause they don’t like Dalton, or what? Sorry, need a good reason before I up and change my name. But hell, just for grins, maybe I’d go for Cletus. Just sounds right.
What is the first thing you bought with your own money?
A truck. My parents didn’t have the money to buy me a car, so I started workin’ at fifteen and saved every penny I made just to buy this piece of shit ol’ Chevy. I loved that damn truck.
When was the last time you were nervous?
Every single time I step on stage. It’s the one place I love to be, but I still get nervous every time I step in front of a crowd.
Taylor here... So, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a certain character of Nicole’s at the local IHOP here, and I thought I would share with you the experience.
I walked into the small restaurant right on time. It was eleven o’clock during the school year, so the place was empty save for a few individuals scattered about. My hands clutched my purse strap like they normally do when I’m nervous. And holy hell, was I nervous.
Granted, I feel like I had good reason to be. It’s not every day that I go out to meet up with a mafia boss. Actually, it’s not every day that I go out in general… So I could’ve very well been uneasy from the forced social interaction.
The girl, who I’d known for a couple of years since we’d gone to high school together, working at the host stand smiled and greeted me amiably, and I did my best to smile back through my grinding teeth; yet another nervous trait of mine. Her head tilted slightly as she sensed my unease, and her brows only furrowed more once I told her I was here to meet someone. Apparently, she’d already met the man I was here for. I do suppose the entire situation would be even stranger from an onlooker’s perspective; someone that had none of the background information.
I was escorted through the restaurant, passing a man here, a mother with children crawling over her there. Finally, my eyes found the man of the hour.
Max Adorite’s gaze lifted to mine and he offered a business-friendly smile in my direction. I’m actually almost positive I did not smile back. Not because I didn’t want to, but I had bigger things on my mind at the moment. Like trying to relearn how to breathe without throwing up.
The girl swept her arm out in a motion meant to show me to my seat, but it felt more like she was strapping a ball and chain to my leg, letting me know there was no turning back now. Mumbling something that I assumed involved when our waiter would arrive, she refused to look into my eyes as they begged her to find me an excuse to run out of there. Without glancing up to look at either of us, she scurried off back to her post with her head down. I believe it was at that exact moment that the friendly memories of us became considerably less friendly.
Before I could sit down, Max stood, greeting me verbally with an extended hand that I shook and then regretted because I was pretty sure his hand was now coated in the sweat from mine, although he kindly didn’t show it.
So, from that point on, we both sat, he was polite, I was awkward as hell, the waiter came and made me feel better because he was even more awkward than I was… All in all, it wasn’t a totally horrible experience. It took me a few minutes, but I started to become slightly more relaxed and comfortable as we made small talk, realizing that he wasn’t so scary. At least not right then.
After our server came back with my Splashberry and Max’s coffee, we began the interview.
Waiting for anyone, especially an eighteen-year-old girl who wanted to pelt him with questions wasn’t the ideal way to start a morning by any means, but somehow Max managed to hide his irritation. For whatever reason, maybe because Nicole had told him this interview was non-negotiable, Max had arrived early. Taylor, Nicole’s daughter, arrived right on time, so technically it wasn’t her fault. He tried to remember that as she greeted him.
When she shook his hand, he’d noticed how clammy and small hers was, but he masked his expression, smiling in an effort to ease her obvious discomfort. She was nervous, there was no doubt about that.
“Did you have any problems finding the place?” Taylor asked, her smile forced, her voice breaking slightly.
“You mean, aside from driving down to Austin from Dallas?”
Taylor smiled. “Well, there was that. Was the drive okay?”
“It was fine,” Max replied, sipping his coffee, willing her to get on with her questions.
“Nicole wanted to be here, but she’s writing at the moment.”
“What’s she workin’ on?”
“Umm…” Taylor glanced around as though this was top-secret information. Lowering her voice and leaning in closer, she whispered, “She’s writing your sister’s story.”
“Which sister?” Max inquired, not sure he liked the direction this was going. He didn’t want his sisters to have a story. If they did, that meant they’d have a happily ever after and he wasn’t quite ready for that yet. In fact, he wasn’t sure he’d ever be quite ready for that. He was a very protective man so the thought of either of his sisters getting hurt didn’t sit well with him.
Taylor’s cheeks turned pink as she said, “Ashlynn.”
“Who does she fall in love with?” Max realized his question had come out a little harsher than he’d intended, so he forced himself to relax a little.
“I can’t tell you that,” Taylor replied.
“Why not?” He wasn’t used to anyone denying him an answer to his question.
Taylor’s hands were shaking as she gripped the glass in front of her. “You’ll have to ask Nicole?”
“Is that a question or a statement?”
“A statement,” Taylor said with a choked laugh. “Definitely a statement.”
“Fine. I guess while I’m here in Austin, I’ll stop by and talk to Nicole before I head back, make sure she and I are on the same page.”
“What’s wrong?” Max asked, concerned by Taylor’s odd expression.
“It’s just…” Taylor cleared her throat. “Never mind.”
“No, tell me.”
“Well … I know you’re a gangster and all, and I’m sure there’re a lot of people who are scared of you, but I don’t think my mom is.”
“So you’re sayin’ she won’t share any details with me either?”
“We’ll see about that.”
Taylor relaxed somewhat. “Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
For the first time, Taylor’s smile seemed genuine. She was clearly confident in how Nicole would react. Max decided he liked that about her.
After the waitress came by and took their breakfast order, Max turned his full attention back to Taylor. “You ready to do this?”
Max cocked his head slightly. “Did you have something else in mind? I mean I didn’t come prepared to play cards or anything.”
Once again Taylor laughed. “Yes. Okay. The interview. Yes, I’m ready.”
Max waited for her to continue, but she only stared back at him. “Well, since you’ve got the questions…”
“Right. I do.” Taylor turned to her purse, rummaging around briefly before retrieving an iPad, which she quickly turned on.
After a moment, she cleared her throat and read what was obviously on the screen. “So, do you like being a gangster?”
Taylor’s eyes widened and she looked as though she hadn’t actually planned to ask that question. Almost as though it just popped out of her mouth.
Max lifted his eyebrow, waiting for her to elaborate. When she didn’t, he said, “Is that like asking whether or not I like having brown eyes? I think what you meant to ask was, ‘Do you like being a successful businessman?’ In that case, yes, I do.”
Taylor smiled sheepishly before continuing. “Okay, maybe an easier question then. What’s your favorite brand of gun?”
“The one that’s loaded and ready when I need it.”
“Oh, well…” Once again, Taylor appeared extremely nervous, which surprised me somewhat. After all, Nicole knew more about me than anyone so it would’ve only made sense that Taylor had talked to her mother prior to the interview.
“How many people have you killed?” Taylor blurted out.
Max glanced around briefly, wondering why Taylor had thought to practically yell that particular question so that most of the restaurant heard it.
Rather than worry about the few heads that turned their way, Max responded with, “Today? Or in all? Either way, the answer’s always none.”
“None? Really?” Taylor did not look excited about his answer. “Then what’s the point of being a gangster?”
“Businessman,” Max corrected.
“You say gangster, I say businessman.”
“Right.” Taylor grinned, clearly getting the point. “Okay then.” She peered down at the iPad again before lifting her gaze back to meet his. “Do you always drink whiskey when meeting with a client?”
Max smirked as he reached for his coffee. “Seems to me you’ve been watching some movies prior to this interview. If it’s business, I don’t usually drink. If it’s personal, I prefer single-malt scotch.”
“Well, there you go. Okay next one,” Taylor glanced down again, “Have you ever strapped someone to a chair and interrogated them in dim lighting?”
“Did you come up with that all on your own?” Max inquired.
“No,” she admitted.
Max waited patiently.
“Colt actually wanted to know.”
“Colt?” Max didn’t know who Colt was.
“Nicole’s husband? My dad? You know who he is.”
“Aww. Yes. Well, that explains the additional reference to gangster movies.”
“So? Have you?”
Max shook his head slightly. “The answer’s always no.”
“Well, if that’s the case, this interview’s not gonna be all that interesting.”
“Do you have the cops chillin’ here in the restaurant?” Max glanced around slowly. “Because I’m startin’ to wonder. Maybe IHOP is an acronym for something else, I don’t know.” Meeting Taylor’s gaze once more, he continued. “I think the key to this interview will be for you to ask questions a little less … incriminating. You wanna chat about what I do and don’t do, we can take this interview back to Nicole’s house, let her explain some of it. But then again, you might not like the answers there either.”
Taylor swallowed hard, clearly perturbed by the thought of finding out the truth behind some of the questions. He seriously doubted she’d expected him to answer those questions, but he had to give her props for trying.
Physically shaking her head as though trying to clear the fog from it, Taylor forced a nervous smile and proceeded to change the direction of her questions.
“What are you thinking at this exact moment?” Her eyes squinted at him as though she’d be able to read his mind before he had the chance to speak.
“I’m thinkin’ that the cops are gonna raid this place any minute and I’m gonna have to figure out a way to get them to focus on you.”
Taylor’s jaw dropped and she glanced around the place nervously. When her eyes settled back on his, she lowered her voice. “Do you think there might be cops here? Do they follow you around often?”
Max grinned, leaning back when the waitress returned with their food. After she’d placed everything on the table and asked whether they needed anything else, she was on her way.
“I don’t make a habit of bringing the cops along, no,” he told her, pouring more coffee into his cup from the carafe on the table. “Why, are you worried? Have you done something illegal?”
“No,” Taylor said quickly. “I mean, nothing more than not wearing my seatbelt in the car. But that was only once. And I was little. I think.”
Not knowing what to say to that, Max picked up his fork, holding it above his plate while he waited for Taylor to continue. He pointed the fork toward her in an effort to signal her to get on with it.
“Oh, right. Sorry.” She peeked over at her iPad again. “Have you ever used your position as a pick-up line?”
“My position?” He chuckled. “I’ve used many positions, but not generally for a pickup line. Those are usually reserved for after I’ve picked her up.”
Taylor’s face flamed bright red and Max had to laugh at her innocence.
“You’re definitely one of my mother’s characters.”
“That I am,” Max agreed. “Keep going.”
After taking a bite of her pancakes and chewing slowly, Taylor asked, “Do you have any pets?”
“No.” No reason to elaborate, it was a simple question, so a simple answer.
“Did you ever want any?”
“Me, personally? No. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for pets.”
“Do people in your line of work really sleep with a gun under their pillow?” she asked, deadpan.
“In my line of work? I’d like to think that most people sleep with a gun under their pillow. In that case, yes, I’m one of them.”
Taylor’s eyebrows formed a V on her forehead.
“What?” Max asked, wondering what he could’ve possible said to confuse her.
“It’s nothing. I’m just making a mental note to start checking under people’s pillows when I visit.”
“Or, don’t show up uninvited, or go in their bedrooms,” Max said. “That’s the logical thing to do.”
Taylor paused, studying him again before blurting out her next question. “Are you carrying a gun right now?”
“Of course.” He leaned in again and smiled. “I’ve also got a license to carry.”
Taylor’s eyes narrowed as she looked over at the table across from them.
“Is he with you?” Taylor asked.
“Maybe.” Max didn’t bother looking over at Dane, who was sitting in a booth by himself with a newspaper.
“Who reads the newspaper anymore?”
“Who said he’s reading it?”
“Fine. Is he carrying a gun?”
“No,” Max said simply. “He’s carrying more than one gun.” Max nodded toward another table. “And so is he.”
“Do you really feel like you need a gun inside an IHOP with an 18 year old girl?”
“I wouldn’t have thought so until I sat down at this table with you. Now, I’m not so sure.”
Taylor pursed her lips while obviously trying not to smile.
“Amusing, am I?”
“I find it funny that a mafia boss would think he needed protection from me. It’s actually kinda flattering, considering I was the one scared out of my mind before coming here.”
“You are, after all, a teenager. Aren’t they all to be feared?” Max took a sip of his coffee, grinning behind his cup.
“That’s what my mother would say,” Taylor replied. “Okay, next question. If you weren’t born into the ‘family business’ what would you like to do?”
“I don’t know anything else, so that’s hard to say. I’m a businessman and I’m damn good at it. I’d like to think I would’ve taken the same path regardless.”
“Do you feel like you didn’t have a choice in your life’s path?”
Max sat up straight. These questions he could deal with. “In a sense, yes. Family is family and I was raised to respect it. Because of who my family is, I was expected to act a certain way, which generated various outcomes. Those outcomes led me here.
“To IHOP with an eighteen year old girl?” Taylor asked.
Max rolled his eyes. “No, to this place in my life.”
“It was a joke. Get it?” Taylor seemed to be waiting for him to answer, but Max kept his mouth shut.
“Whatever.” Taylor peered over at her iPad again. “Do you want kids?”
“Yes, I want kids.”
“Wow, nothing seems to faze you. I thought I’d stump you with that, but you just keep going. Will your kids be required to be in the family business?”
“No, they will not be required to be in the family business. I want my kids to be who they want to be and I’ll help them get there. They may want to be in Courtney’s family’s business, taking down the bad guys. But, if they do, either way, I’m good with that.”
“Do you think anyone can be… in your line of work?”
Max smiled. “Are you thinking of a career change? From what I gather, you’ve got a level head; you’re dedicated, loyal, and motivated. I’d say you could easily be a … businessman. Or woman as is the case here.”
Taylor apparently appreciated his answer because her smile widened.
For a few minutes, they finished eating. Taylor continued to cast curious glances over at Dane, but she didn’t ask anything more. After they were done, Max paid the waitress, finished off his coffee and then looked at Taylor again.
“What else you got?”
“That’s it,” she said. “I’m all done.”
“Good. I’d say that was fun, but it wasn’t.”
“So what do you do now?” Taylor asked.
“I thought you said no more questions.”
Max laughed, easing out of the booth and getting to his feet. As he adjusted his suit jacket, Dane stood, as did Sal, who was two tables down. “Now, I go talk to your mother before she gets too far into writing my sister’s story.”
Taylor got to her feet, stuffing her iPad back into her purse. “Have fun with that.”
Oh, he fully intended to.
“Mr. Walker, thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me today,” McKenna stated as soon as Sawyer Walker stepped into the small room she had commandeered in order to conduct the interview. After informing Tag that she had been granted an interview with the infamous playboy, Tag had insisted on joining her for the trip to Coyote Ridge. When she mentioned that she would be staying at the Alluring Indulgence Resort during her time away, the frown he’d started with had turned into a wicked grin.
And now, here she was.
“Mr. Walker’s my father. Call me Sawyer, please,” Sawyer said with a mischievous smirk as he reached out and shook her hand. “I’m surprised your ol’ man agreed to leave you alone in here with me.”
McKenna grinned, recalling Tag’s blustering when she mentioned she was going to do the interview alone. “Men. What do you expect? Please, have a seat,” McKenna added, gesturing toward the empty chair across from her.
Sawyer laughed. “So you’ve decided to interrogate me, huh?”
“I’m not sure that’s how I would refer to it.”
“No?” Sawyer cocked a nicely shaped eyebrow. “Well, I’ll let you know when we’re done.”
McKenna nodded, gesturing toward the recorder on the table. “I need to record this so that I ensure I get all of the details correct.”
“No worries. Won’t be the first time a woman’s gotten me on tape.”
McKenna chuckled as she hit the button to record.
McKenna: Let’s start out simple. Tell me a little about you.
Sawyer:What is it you wanna know?
McKenna: How old are you? When’s your birthday? Are you the youngest or the oldest brother? Those types of things.
Sawyer: *smirks as he leans back in his chair, crossing one ankle over the opposite knee* I turned thirty-four in May. Travis is the only one older than I am. Anything else you wanna know, you’re gonna have to be a little more specific.
McKenna: *smiles* Be careful what you wish for.
McKenna: Okay, next question. Which of your brothers are you closest to?
Sawyer: *eyebrows scrunch briefly* I’d have to say I’m close to all of them. For different reasons. Kaleb, Travis and I work close together, always have. As for Ethan, well, you’ve probably heard the story there. I’ve always kept an eye on him. Braydon and Brendon, well, they sometimes need a little guidance, so I tend to keep tabs on them. Not that they appreciate it, but I think they’ve all accepted that I’ll stick my nose in when necessary. And Zane… Well, he’s Zane. If someone ain’t watchin’ out for him, then he’s probably gettin’ in trouble.
McKenna: What’s it like being a playboy?
Sawyer: *face lights up from his wicked grin* Who said I’m a playboy?”
McKenna: Nice try. I think it’s a little known fact that you’ve got a way with the ladies.
Sawyer: Maybe. *winks* But I’m not one to kiss and tell.
McKenna: *laughs* Right. Why don’t I believe that?
McKenna: What size boot do you wear?
Sawyer: *glances down at boot, then back up to McKenna* Fourteen.
McKenna: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Sawyer: *sobers* I wanted to be my father. Have you met him?
McKenna: No, but I’ve heard a lot about him.
Sawyer: My father is the greatest man in the entire world. I think it’s a testament to a father’s strength of character that his kids want to be just like him. I admire him. The way he has cared for his family, never once doubting us. No, I’m not sayin’ he’s always agreed with everything we’ve done, but he’s been there when we needed him. I’m not sure I could ever fill his shoes, but that’s always been my goal in life. To put my family first, always.
McKenna: *speechless as she stares at Sawyer for a moment*
McKenna: *swallows and glanced down at the notes in her hand* Okay, here’s something for you. Your brother mentioned seeing you on the side of a road, half naked, holding a sign saying “Will work for sex”… Do you have anything to say about this?
Sawyer: *signature grin tilts the corner of his lips* Not much to say. Stick around town long enough and I’m sure you’ll see me do it again.
McKenna: Don’t you think you’re a little old to be holding up signs on the side of the road?
Sawyer: I don’t think you’re ever too old to do what you wanna do. Age is just a number.
McKenna: Do you ever plan to grow up?
Sawyer: *narrows eyes slightly* Darlin’, I’m grown up in all the ways that count. I take care of my own, I don’t tread on other people’s business unless they’re directly affecting someone I care about. I believe in living life to its fullest. I’ll never apologize for that.
McKenna: Do you want children?
McKenna: Care to elaborate?
Sawyer: What is there to say? I want kids. Plain and simple.
McKenna: It’s been announced that you have adopted a dog? What can you tell us about that?
Sawyer: *face lights up* I did. His name’s Buster. Maybe you can meet him later. He’s a real chick magnet.
McKenna: Why do I get the feeling you didn’t need help in that department?
McKenna: It’s been said that you’re the fun-loving brother. How does your personality clash with that of your brothers?
Sawyer: Our personalities don’t clash. If anything, I’d say we complement each other. *smiles* For example, Travis is an asshole, I’m not. Zane is a trouble-maker, I’m not. Kaleb is too serious, I’m not. The twins… Well, I don’t even know what to say about them, but I assure you, I’m not like them. *laughs*
McKenna: Are you ready for some personal questions?
Sawyer: Darlin’, if you think those questions you asked aren’t personal, you might wanna rethink just what we’re doin’ here.
McKenna: Fair. But these are gonna dig just a little deeper.
Sawyer: Hit me.
McKenna: *briefly reviews paper in front of her then meets Sawyer’s gaze* What is the first thing you notice about a woman?
Sawyer: *expression turns serious* How smart she is.
McKenna: *laughs* That’s the first thing you notice? Seriously?
Sawyer: No, but it sounded good, didn’t it? Next question.
McKenna: Do you have a non-sexual talent that no one knows about?
Sawyer: Making signs. *smirks*
McKenna: Are there any body piercings on you that we should know about? If not, would you ever consider getting one?
Sawyer: Who’s ‘we’? And if I had any, why would I tell you? If you get lucky enough to see me naked, you’d know firsthand. And no, that’s not an offer, doll, just a fact. *smirks*
McKenna: *laughs* You’re something else, you know that?
Sawyer: That’s what I’ve been told.
McKenna: It’s been brought to my attention that there is a particular young woman you seem to have a keen interest in. Kennedy Endsley? Can you tell us anything about her?
Sawyer: Whoever brought that to your attention is mighty fucking nosey, aren’t they? *laughs*
McKenna: So I take it that it’s true.
Sawyer: I might have a little interest in her, sure.
McKenna: So what’s stopping you from going after her?
Sawyer: Who says I’m not?
McKenna: You seem like the kind of guy who gets what he wants. I just figured if you really wanted her, you’d have her by now.
Sawyer: *stares directly into McKenna’s eyes* Just like my father says, the best things in life don’t come easy. And if they did, they wouldn’t necessarily be worth it. Let’s just say that I like a challenge.
McKenna: What would you do if you saw Kennedy show up at the club?
Sawyer: I’ll let you know when that happens.
McKenna: When? Not if?
Sawyer: Never say never, darlin’. *smiles*
McKenna: Okay, last one. What is one thing you’ve done that your family won’t let you live down?
Sawyer: There’re are plenty of things I’ve done in my life that my brothers give me shit about. That’s what brothers do. As far as anything serious, we don’t hold things against each other, if that’s what you’re asking. Sure, I’ve done some things in the past that I might do differently today, knowing what I know now. But that’s all part of building character. What we did in the past makes us who we are today. But I don’t live in the past. I live in the now. Today. That’s all I’ve got. And if I’m lucky enough for tomorrow, then you can ask me the question again then, because I’m sure I’ll have done something today that they’ll want to give me shit about. That’s the way it works.
Kara: “Hi everyone, it feels so wonderful to be back here in Texas, thanks for inviting us to do this interview. I can see why y’all love coming here to Moonshiners, the mood and setting is perfect.”
Handshakes start to be handed out. Caryn greets everyone with kisses to their cheeks as her form of ‘hello’. Ethan then reaches to shake hands with Kara. Kara seems to have other ideas as she fails while attempting to wrap her arms around Ethan in a hug.
Kara: “Sorry, I’m just a tad excited! I may need a beverage to relax my nerves”
*Ethan grins and glances over at Nic*
Nic: “What? I warned you.”
The group gets situated in a tall, circular table top towards the back. Mack walks up to the group to ask what they’d like for drinks.
Ethan: “I’ll take a Heineken. And since I now know you’re a waitress on the side, I fully expect the royal treatment from here on out.” *smirks*
Mack: “Sure thing, E. Just keep waitin’ for that.”
Beau: “Heineken for me, and Nic wants a Belvedere and Sprite.”
While the others are ordering their drinks, Kara leans to whisper in Caryn’s ear: “I’m sweating in places that I don’t think I should be sweating. Looking at Ethan and Beau with their Stetsons is nearly too much! Thank god a good portion of their bodies are under the table because my eyes would most definitely not be focused!”
Kara: While giving Mack a handshake, Kara states: “Hi Mack, it’s nice to meet you. Could I please get an Amaretto & Coke? I’m hoping it will help cool me down a few notches.”
Nic: “Mack, you might bring her two. I’m not sure one will be enough.” *smiles at Kara knowingly*
Carryn: after giving Mack a kiss to the cheek, Caryn then orders her usual. “Mack, I’d like a 7/7 please.”
Mack: “Now that’s more like it.”
Beau: “Awww, hell, Mack. If I’d known you like being kissed, I’d have done it long ago.”
Mack: “Yeah, you can keep your lips to yourself. I’ll be right back with those drinks.”
Upon everyone receiving their drinks, the interview gets underway.
BC: Nic--how has Ethan and Beau’s story touched you differently than your other novels?
Nic: From the beginning, I knew that Ethan was a tortured soul. And as time progressed and I realized just how difficult Ethan’s life had been, I realized just how deep my feelings for him were. Ethan is an emotional story that touches on a lot of sensitive subjects. He’s spent his life punishing himself for things that were out of his control; however, these are situations that happen in real life, unfortunately. They are horrific. I have incredibly strong feelings about bullying and I found myself pissed off for the sake of it when I was writing this book because I know that people endure this and much, much worse on a daily basis.
As far as Ethan and Beau go, I knew as soon as I finished writing Zane that Beau was the man for Ethan. They are complete opposites that complement one another in so many ways. As far as I’m concerned, there couldn’t have been a more perfect person for Ethan. And vice versa.
BC: Ethan, you said Alluring Indulgence and Crave are “not your thing.” Would you care to explain your thoughts behind this? ;)
Ethan: It’s pretty simple, I think. *glances over at Beau* I don’t share. Ever. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a pretty private person. I don’t want the spotlight on me. And I damn sure don’t want eyes ogling what belongs to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with the club or the resort. To each his own and all that. It’s just not for me.
BC: Have your opinions changed now that you and Beau are happily married? Have the two of you enjoyed any trips to AI and/or Crave?
Ethan: No, I stand true to my beliefs. This man is for my eyes only. We haven’t been back to AI since New Year’s and unless there is another family event, I don’t have any intentions of going back.
BC: Thinking back to last New Year’s Eve night, Beau what was going through your mind as you watched Ethan and Blake? And also when Ethan told Blake to “stop” followed by you telling Ethan that “this changed everything”?
Beau: Seeing Ethan with Blake made me sick. Knowing that I didn’t have the right to intervene at the time was worse. Sure, I’d have given anything to toss Blake around a bit, punish him for what I knew he’d done. But that wasn’t my place. And when Ethan walked away after telling Blake to stop, everything did change. *looks over at Ethan* I knew in that moment that this man would be mine. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and it’s just a damn good thing I’m a patient man.
BC: Ethan, what were you afraid of when you kept telling yourself “I don’t want him. I don’t need him.”?
Ethan: *looks down at table for a moment* It’s been a rough road for me. Ever since I was nineteen years old. And I knew Beau. Even had an idea of what I could feel for him long before he started pursuing this. Needless to say, it wasn’t easy for me.
BC: Ethan, I love you but I have to admit that I wanted to slap you for your stubbornness. Thinking back, what are your thoughts on said stubbornness?
Ethan: *grins deviously* I’m still stubborn. I might’ve wised up a bit, but I’m still stubborn as hell. Don’t discount me there.
*Ethan reaches for his beer and everyone notices the new ink on his left ring finger at the same time they notice Beau’s*
Kara: Wait. Hold up a minute. Are those your wedding rings?
Caryn: *Grabs Ethan’s hand from across the table and studies tattoo on his finger* Nice. What made you decide on tattoos versus traditional rings?
Ethan: I liked the idea of something permanent. And since we’re mechanics, wearing traditional rings wasn’t really an option. Too much risk of the ring getting damaged or worse, losing a finger. So, these made sense.
BC: When did you start getting the feelings that you loved Beau? *ahem* Let me clarify, because I can recall the scene where you knew you loved him, but were there any times before that realization?
Ethan: Like I said before, I’ve known Beau a long time. I know the man he is, what he stands for. I’m damn lucky to have him. Anyone would be damn lucky to have him. *cocks an eyebrow* Lucky for me, I wised up a bit.
Beau: *clears throat*
Ethan: Fuck. *laughs* Fine, I wised up a lot. Let’s just say the love wasn’t instant with him, but I knew a lot about the type of guy he is. It still took me time to open up, but he’s one of the few people – outside of my family – that I’ve ever trusted. It just took me a while to admit it to myself.
BC: Beau, we’re pretty sure we fell in love with you when you talked about Ethan’s laugh and wanting to hear that sound every day. Can you tell us more about what hearing Ethan laugh does to you and why it’s so meaningful to you?
Beau: If you knew Ethan, you knew he didn’t laugh. He still has a hard time with it. And yeah, it turns me inside out to hear him laugh. He’s doing more of it these days, but in the beginning, the sound was so rare, you couldn’t help but notice it. Not to mention, have you heard him laugh? It’s sexy as fuck.
BC: Ethan, how is therapy going? And has Beau attended any sessions with you?
Ethan: *glances down at his hands resting on the table* Therapy has been… hard. *Looks up at Kara and Caryn* It’s been hard, but worth it. I knew I had a lot of demons inside, I just didn’t realize how much I’d let them fuck me up. *Glances over at Beau and slides one hand down to his lap, taking Beau’s hand in his beneath the table, thinking no one noticed* Beau’s been going with me. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’d have made it this far without him.
BC: Nic—what are your thoughts regarding the progress Ethan has made?
Nic: *Smiles at Ethan and Beau* I knew from the beginning that it was going to take a swift kick in the ass for Ethan to come to terms with what he needed. Not what he thought he needed. Look at them. They speak for themselves. I knew I was on to something. Ethan needs Beau and Beau needs Ethan. They complement each other in ways that strong relationships thrive on.
BC: Is work in the shop keeping you guys busy? How’s the business going?
Ethan: Works leveling off now. We aren’t working more than forty hours a week at this point. *Nods head toward Beau* He’s a slave driver. He refuses to let me work too hard. It’s helped. Let’s put it that way. There isn’t as much stress these days. And as for Walker Demo, it’s thriving. Jared knows his shit. He’s going to keep us going, I’m sure of it.
BC: Beau, what’s the meaning for you with all the firsts you shared/experienced with Ethan? And have there been any other firsts that no one may know about?
Beau: Do you remember the first time you fell for someone? I mean really fell? Not just lust. Well, that’s a first that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Ethan gave me many of those firsts and I think I needed them. No, I wasn’t a virgin when I met him, but looking back on it, what I’ve experienced with him, what I feel for him. Those will never be duplicated. And yeah, *grins* there are a couple of other firsts that we’ve experienced together.
BC: Alright guys, we’re all dying to know…how did Beau propose to you, Ethan? We heard he beat you to it, so did he surprise you?
Ethan: Yeah, he beat me to it. I can’t give you the details because we don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet.
BC: Do either of you feel any differently now that you’re married?
*Ethan and Beau look at each other then back at Kara and Caryn* At the same time, they say “Yeah.”
BC: After your wedding, we understand y’all went to Hawaii for your honeymoon. Did anything exciting go down while you guys were there?
Beau: ‘Go down’? Is that an innuendo? Are you ladies getting dirty now?
Ethan: Let’s just say there was some going down. How’s that for an answer?
BC: How do you both think your relationships with your parents has impacted your relationship with one another?
Beau: *Looks down at the table*
Ethan: *squeezes Beau’s hand hidden beneath the table* It’s not a secret that my parents are very supportive. Not just of me, but of all my brothers. I never doubted that they’d support me. They do. They treat us just like they treat the others. I think my mother is thrilled to have Beau a permanent part of the family. Not that he’s ever been anything else, but now, it’s actually official. And yes, it helps that they are there for us. Just knowing that we don’t have to hide from them makes it so much easier.
BC: Has having Mason in your lives sparked any talk about kids?
Beau: Yeah, we’ve talked about kids. Right now, we’re going to spend a few years getting in the groove. E’s gonna keep going to therapy and when he’s ready, we’ll talk. Until then, we’re going to spoil the shit out of Mason.
Ethan: We’re gonna make sure to spoil him enough that he drives his parents batshit crazy.
BC: Nic, Is there any more you’d like to see/explore of Ethan and Beau’s journey?
Nic: I could definitely see more from Ethan and Beau in a few years. I’d love to check in on them when they do decide to have kids. If you’re asking what I think you’re asking, then yes, you can probably assume you’ll get a little more of them in the future. But I wouldn’t hold my breath as to when. Remember, Ethan’s still got some brothers left who’ve been driving me crazy to tell their story.
Ethan: *Looks over at Nic* And don’t forget the cousins.
Nic: What he said. Can’t forget the cousins. *smiles*
Kara: Alright guys & Nic, we’re going to do a lightning round, where a question will be asked and ALL of you need to answer at the same time, stating the first thought that comes to your mind. And of course in the necessary questions think of your significant other to help determine your answer. Ready…..
1. Do you enjoy fast or slow . . .
Ethan: Fast (and dirty)
Kara: here let me finish… fast or slow routes to your destination?
Nic: Ummm… slow?
Ethan: *glances at Beau*
Beau: *glances at Ethan and smirks*
2. What trait do you find most endearing in your significant other?
Nic: He’s incredibly thoughtful.
Ethan: He’s… *pauses* He’s determined.
Beau: He’s… *glances at Ethan* fucking hot.
3. Top or bottom . . .
Nic: *laughs* Standing up
Ethan: *laughs at Nic* I like that. I don’t have a preference, actually.
Beau: It works for me either way.
Kara: oooookay, thank you so very much for that fine visual, but again let me finish the question please: bunk. Top or bottom bunk?
Nic: Depends on where Colt is. I sleep wherever he sleeps.
Ethan: Yeah, like I said, I don’t have a preference.
Beau: Bottom. Definitely bottom.
4. For Ethan & Beau: how many kids would y’all like to have?
Ethan: When the time is right, I’d like to have one or two. But, I’m not particular. I’d consider myself damn lucky with one.
Beau: Growing up an only child, I’d prefer to have two.
5. For Nic: how many more pets would you like to have? Or is there a certain pet you’ve really really wanted?
Nic: No more pets for us. The German shepherds we have are more than enough. And I’ve wanted German shepherds all my life, so I can’t complain. They’re very spoiled animals and I don’t think we could handle any more.
6. What gets you riled up the most?
Nic: *looks around the table* Are we talking about sex again?
Ethan: Aren’t you always talking about sex?
Ethan: Well, then there’s your answer. While she ponders that one for a minute, I’ll say that I get the most riled up when Beau goes to his knees and *Beau clamps his hand over Ethan’s mouth*
Beau: They get the picture. *laughs and then blushes* I found that my back is an extremely erogenous zone, so I’ll keep it PG and say that.
Kara: Thanks guys! That was a rather visual, enlightening round. You’re not going to hear any complaints from this girl!
BC: Has anyone seen anymore of Jimmy Reardon and/or Ricky Dillinger?
Beau: They’re still around. We didn’t expect them to go anywhere. But I will say they’ve buttoned up their mouths a little more than before. At least they’re thinking before they speak at this point.
BC: Beau, how are you currently coping with your parents’ reaction? Has your mom reached out to you?
Beau: *looks down at the table again and sighs. Looks back up.* I haven’t talked to my mother. Yet.
It’s been hard, I won’t lie. I mean shit, they’re my parents. I never expected them to fully support me, but I wasn’t sure I was completely prepared for them to disown me quite so easily. I think I’ll talk to my mother soon. From what I’ve heard, she’s not having an easy time of it. Whether that means she’s still upset that I’m gay or if she’s upset that we don’t speak, I don’t know.
The girls at Book Crush Reviews had a chance for a little face to face time with author Nicole Edwards and Country music star from Chasing Dreams, Cooper Krenshaw. Kara, Caryn and Karen met up at the The Rusty Nail with Nicole and Cooper. Because Kara is a wee bit excited to hang out with Nic and Cooper, we let her handle most of the interview.
Cooper: Hey y’all, thanks so much for coming. *Cooper stands up in true cowboy form*
Kara: *blushing* Thanks for inviting us, it’s nice to meet you.
After a round of handshakes, it’s down to business.
BC: Nicole and Cooper, how did you two meet one another?
Cooper: You wanna take that one? I’m sure I can’t be held responsible for all that stuff that flies around in your head.
Nicole: *glances at Cooper* Sure. *smiles like Cooper isn’t there* I met Cooper about six months ago. Although he claims he can’t take responsibility, I solely blame him for Chasing Dreams. I do have to admit that I met Tessa first, and between her sheer determination and her hidden vulnerability, I knew she needed someone who was strong enough to handle her.
*Cooper flexes and grins*
Nicole: Not that kind of strength. *laughs at Cooper* He just showed up unannounced and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Kara: Yes it is, and we loved the ride *winking at Nicole*
BC: Both of you being artists, what inspires you?
Cooper: Ladies first. *nods at Nicole*
Nicole: Thanks. Let’s see… inspiration comes from all things. Honestly, most of my characters are spawned from hours and hours of thinking. I can find myself walking through a store, completely oblivious to everything around me and then all of a sudden, I’ve got a new character in my head. And of course, when there is one, there has to be two. Oh, all right, so sometimes there has to be three. *blushes* And the rest is usually determined based on those characters’ individuality. Where they grew up, where they would be now, what occupation they have, even what type of car they drive. It all comes together, and that’s how a plot is formed for me. And as for what keeps me going during the book, it’s usually music, pictures, even the book cover. The book cover is like putting a face with a name for me. During the time that I am designing it, I’m forming the characters in my head, which helps. So, if I get locked up on a scene, I stare at the book cover to remember what it all comes down to.
Cooper: Well, hell, I don’t have an answer quite as complex as that. *glances at Nicole and then back* My songs come from my heart, they’re based on real life situations. And now, see that beautiful lady over there? *nods his head in the direction of the bar where Tessa is currently serving a customer* She’s all the inspiration I need.
Kara: *sigh* *whispers to Karen and Caryn* Do you just hear that…can I have one?
BC: We love the idea of a country singer as we can just hear his twang and picture him in his wranglers…how did the stories of Devil’s Bend come to mind?
Nicole: Oddly enough, it started with The Rusty Nail. I came up with the idea for the bar and then, of course, I needed a really strong woman who could own it. And Tessa needed a strong, secure guy. So, my next question was how does she meet this guy? Would he be a customer? Another business owner in their small town? Then it came to me… a performer. And what better than a country music singer who would fit right in here. As most people know, I love country music, and I love small towns like the one I live in. From there, it came to fruition.
BC: How will the Devil’s Bend series be different than the AI or Club Destiny series?
Nicole: Well, Devil’s Bend will be different in many ways. As for AI and CD, those are based on sex clubs and kinky sex.
Cooper: *clears throat* Umm… I’m not sure this series is much different in that aspect. The last comment anyway.
Nicole: *laughs* Ok, so maybe Coop is right in that sense, but as I was saying… All of my books are based on family and friendships, deep love and affection for one another. So, in that sense, Devil’s Bend is remarkably similar. It’s just a different atmosphere. From the beginning, Chasing Dreams felt different to me. I knew the sparks would fly between Tessa and Cooper because that’s just who I am as a writer. But as you can see in Chasing Dreams, it’s about real life. The unthinkable that happen to real people and the love they search for – whether it be from family, friends or a significant other. These characters, unlike in CD and AI, don’t have the means to do grandiose things, the money isn’t plentiful, but their core values are just as strong and they are survivors.
BC: How many Devil’s Bend books are you thinking there may be? We see on your website: http://www.nicedwardsauthor.com/ that you have Dalton’s, Jack’s, and Adam’s stories under coming soon…and we absolutely cannot wait!!
Nicole: Honestly, when I started writing Chasing Dreams, I thought there would only be three books. One for Tessa, another for Jack and one for Adam. But, somewhere along the way, I fell in love with other characters like Dalton. And that’s what happens when I write a book. Another character is introduced, and their complex life makes me fall in love with them. I want to know more, so I give them the opportunity to tell their story. So, to answer the question, at this time, it is not determined. I’d love to have another open-ended series like Club Destiny.
Kara: Well I think it’d be safe for me to say that we as your fans would also love an open-ended series like Club Destiny.
BC: What inspires you first and foremost?
Nicole: My husband and my children. They are the reason I live and breathe. I wake up every morning and go to bed every night thanking God for allowing me to have them in my life. I’m blessed in so many ways. If it weren’t for their ability to make me smile, make me laugh, and even make me mad, I’m not sure where I’d be. Writing is my passion, but as with anything I’ve done in my life, I give 150% because that’s what my family deserves. They deserve for me to do the best that I can for them and that’s the true inspiration behind anything that I do.
BC: What motivates you/keeps you going?
Caryn:*smiling* Preach it !! As far as I’m concerned, coffee is the nectar of the Gods
Karen: Haha Amen!
Nicole: Wait, that wasn’t the answer you were looking for. *grins* Ok, seriously, I receive my daily motivation from the amazing readers that I encounter. The emails, posts and tags on Facebook, private messages, and the comments on my blog give me a huge rush. I love hearing from people and learning that what I’ve done has in some way affected them in a positive way. And the ladies of Nicole-Nation (my Facebook group) keep me on my toes in the best of ways. So, yes, it’s the readers who keep me going every single day. Well, that and lots and lots and lots of coffee.
BC: What’s a current goal you’re working towards?
Nicole: Right now? Like today? Hmmm, another cup of coffee, then a shower…
Kara: Ummmm *gives a side look to Karen and Caryn and whispers* is she joking?
Nicole: You’re shaking your head. That wasn’t what you meant again? *glances at Cooper who is shaking his head and laughing* What are you laughing at?
Cooper: You. It’s all about the coffee with you, isn’t it?
Nicole: Yes, it is. Never underestimate the power of coffee. *smiles* But seriously, each and every day I have one goal: make it through the day and live in the moment. However, in the grand scheme of things, my overall objective is to continue doing what I love. And that means I have to write a book that readers will love with characters that readers will fall in love with and connect with. That’s always my goal. As I’ve said before, the characters tell the story, I’m just here to translate it to a readable version.
BC: Who’s your favorite author, your favorite genre, and your favorite book?
Nicole: My absolute favorite is J. R. Ward. I fell in love with her when I started reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood years ago. I do not normally read paranormal romance, but I will forever be addicted to J.R. Ward’s books and will read anything she writes. My favorite genre? Well, that would be romance. Any kind of romance from sweet to spicy and everything in between. I would love to tell you what my favorite book is, but truthfully, I don’t know. In the past week, I have read books by Kristen Proby, Olivia Cunning, J.R. Ward, Laura Griffin and every one of them has stuck with me. That happens whenever I read a new book, and they are all my favorites. You know that question, “If you were stranded on a deserted island with one book, what would it be?” Well, I’d truly be screwed. I’m not sure I could pick. Not to mention, if I had the option of being stranded on a desert island or not, I’d definitely opt for not.
Kara: I’ll agree with you there, about the deserted island *smiling*
Karen: My two cents; if I were on an island, I say I’d want my Kindle (which has about 700 books on it), and maybe some kind of solar charger. I wouldn’t want to be on a deserted island, but if I wouldn’t mind an island in the Caribbean.
BC: Do you have a preference for Indie or Traditional publishing?
Nicole: This is a question I see all the time and one that baffles me honestly. Publishing is publishing. Yes, the ability to self-publish has transformed the book industry, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have it.
I hit “publish” on my first book just over a year ago, and I sat back thinking, “Now what?” I had no idea what was going to happen, but I knew that I had a story to tell, and I did that with Conviction (Club Destiny, #1). The next thing I know, one person bought it, then another, and another and here I am today continuing to do what I love. I have never sent out a query letter to a literary agent asking them to read my book. Would they? I have no idea. Does that make me less successful than a traditionally published author? I personally don’t think so.
But truthfully, whether you publish independently or traditionally, it’s all about the story and the delivery. Did the author put their blood, sweat and tears into the story? Did they spend hours and hours with characters who both frustrated them and also made them laugh? Did the author take time away from their family at some point because the characters were speaking to them and adding just one more chapter seemed like the most critical thing to do at the moment? Did they scramble through edits to ensure that the reader received a polished, professional version of the story? Did they work with a cover designer to come up with what they felt told the story visually? Well, I can tell you, whether you are independently published or traditionally published, I’m pretty sure all authors have been through that. It’s a process and a journey and some choose to go the independent route, not because we have failed at being discovered by traditional publishers because I can tell you, I have never even tried. *drops mic*
Kara: *picks up mic and wipes peanuts off it* AAAAAAmen!!
BC: What inspired you to be a singer/songwriter?
Cooper: I guess you could say I’ve always loved it. Since I was in high school, I loved to sing. Writing songs just came naturally to me, and why that is, I have no idea. *grins sheepishly* I just go with the flow.
Kara: *whispers to Karen and Caryn* I’m picturing a younger Cooper singing in the shower, is that bad?
Karen: *whispering back* Now I’m just imaging Cooper in the shower! *smiling*
BC: Cooper, tell us what it’s like to spend a day in your life…
Cooper: Now? Or then? *laughs* How about I tell you about now since it’s exactly where I want to be. I get up early, which sometimes isn’t as easy as you think when I spend nights here.*gestures to surroundings* Since we’ve acquired several horses at the center, they don’t care how much sleep I get either. I recently hired a trainer, and we’ve got a couple of high school kids who volunteer to help with their care, but I’m still up early to make sure they get what they need. After that, it’s a lot of the same since Tessa and I both spend a lot of time at the center. Havoc and Harmony, our dogs, like to hang out with us while we’re there. And after the day is done, the best part begins. I get to fall into bed with my wife.
Kara: Awww, how perfect, especially after such a hard-worked day.
BC: What is your idea of a perfect date?
Cooper: I happen to be kinda partial to dinner on the back porch. Throw in a sleeping bag and I’m happy.
BC: What’s your favorite drink?
Cooper: I’m just an old-fashioned guy. Give me a decent beer any day of the week and I certainly won’t complain.
Tessa: *walks up and interrupts* Just be sure it’s in draft and not bottle. He might be old-fashioned, but he’s picky.
Cooper: Hey, darlin’. Glad you could join us. *Leans over and kisses Tessa sweetly*
Tessa: Looked to me like you were doin’ just fine.
BC: What’s a secret no one knows about you?
Cooper: I’m a mama’s boy.
Tessa: Cowboy, that’s not a secret. Everyone knows that. *winks* But, I can tell y’all that he’s particularly fond of foot rubs.
BC: What drives you Cooper?
Cooper: Well, if I took a page from Nic’s book, I’d go with coffee.
Nicole: Hey! No reason to beat up the author now.
Cooper: *grins that sexy lopsided grin as though asking for Nic’s forgiveness* Ok, no, it’s not coffee. Seriously, *pretends to look serious* something deep down inside of me, maybe it’s a competitive gene, I don’t know. I’m just driven. No matter what I do, I go after what I want.*Glances over at Tessa* And I make sure I get it.
BC: Okay we have 4 questions we want to ask and give the first answer that comes to mind…
Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Cooper: Easy one. Tea. Sweet tea.
BC: Beer or hard liquor? And what label?
Cooper: Beer. Plain and simple. Bud Light.
BC: Do you prefer kissing or spooning?
Cooper: Kissing when spooning. Doesn’t everyone prefer it that way?
Kara: *chuckles* I think maybe it depends on who I’d be doing said kissing and spooning with*winks at Cooper*
BC: Boxers or briefs….or dare we say, commando?
Cooper: *actually blushes and glances around at the ladies* Briefs.
Caryn: *laughing as she holds out her hand*…Pay up girls…I win the bet! *Karen and Kara smirk while shaking their heads*
BC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Cooper: *an enormous grin lights up his entire face* I’m thinking oh, maybe, two or three kids by then. I plan to continue with my music, maybe dabble a little more in the song writing side of it. And of course, my biggest plan is for the equestrian center – Dream Chasers – to be thriving. Tessa’s got some amazing plans, and I can’t wait for her to get the chance to implement them now that the center is running smoothly.
BC: What was going through your mind when you and Tessa were eyeballing one another while you were singing that first night at The Rusty Nail?
Cooper: I’d say she stole my breath, but that’s cliché and not to mention, I was singing, so it would’ve been untrue. However, when our eyes met, there was a spark, a connection that immediately tethered me to her. I wanted to know her. I wanted to know every single thing about her. And I knew right then that she was the one woman who had the ability to reduce me to a puddle at her feet. And I was right.
BC: Cooper, you would get, is it safe to say fairly angry when those around you commented or asked you why you’re running from Nashville several months ago. Now that lots of time has passed, how would you respond to them now?
Cooper: *glances down at his hands for long seconds and inhales deeply* I’d like to say that it wasn’t true. I wasn’t running away from Nashville, and I wasn’t running from my singing career. But, yes, I guess it could be considered running. However, I’d like to think I was running to something and not away from it. My life in Nashville could never be compared to this. *slides his hand into Tessa’s* Singing is something I do, it’s something I enjoy, but it never completed me. Not the way she does.
BC: Cooper, are you writing anything new? If so, where’s that inspiration coming from?
Cooper: I’m working on a few things. I’ve got another album in the making, and I’m working on my own songs for this one. Not sure where that’ll lead from here, but it seems like the right thing to do. My father, also now my manager, is supportive and likes the direction I’m taking things. And just like “Angel in Blue Jeans”, *Cooper’s eyes dart over to Tessa* she is my true inspiration. In everything that I do.
BC: Are you planning any gigs right now?… maybe Iowa, we do have lots of farms there.
Cooper: Y’all do have a lot of farms up there, don’t you? *insert sexy, crooked grin here* Right now, Dalton and I are working on some farm tours. After the one Dalton threw together, I think it’s something people will enjoy.
BC: Could we put you on the spot for a minute? Would you like to write a little ditty that we can share with your fans?
Cooper: I’d love to help you out there, but I have to say I’m fresh out right now. *laughs*Considering the late night last night *shoots a grin at his wife* and the early morning, I’m not firing on all cylinders at the moment.
BC: What did you first think (unedited) when you met Cooper, excuse me…fell into his arms?
Tessa: *ducks her head down and smiles* My first thought? Really? *shoots a look at Cooper* I was wondering just how much baggage he came with. Being that good looking, that successful, with a voice so sinfully sexy… I knew he was probably hell on wheels.
Cooper: Surprised you, didn’t I?
Tessa: Yup. He surprised me all right. Turns out, I’m the one who was collecting suitcases full of stuff and keeping it stored up tightly. Thankfully, this one, *gestures to Cooper* he’s a persistent one.
BC: Why have you decided to stay in Devil’s Bend all this time?
Tessa: *eyes widen* Wow, no one has ever asked me that. I think it has always been just a given. This is my home. The place I grew up. And no matter what happened in all that time, it’s where my roots are. My family is here. I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else, even though at one point, I didn’t think I had much of a choice.
BC: What’s a secret no one knows about you?
Tessa: *leans her head back and laughs* Why didn’t I even consider y’all would ask me that one?
Cooper: So, what’s it gonna be, darlin’? What little secret are you willing to share with these fine folks?
Tessa: Hmmm… I’d have to say one of the secrets no one knows is that I put my socks on in a specific order. Left one first. Then the right. Oh, and I put my boots on the same way.
Kara: *laughing really hard* ‘scuse me, I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard anyone say that before.
Karen: What Kara? Do you think there something is wrong with that? *shrugs* I get it, Tessa!
BC: What’s a fantasy you have that maybe even Cooper doesn’t know about?
Tessa: A fantasy, huh? *Tessa’s cheeks turn pink* Originally, I would’ve said *Tessa lowers her voice* sex in my bar. *grins* But it’s no longer a fantasy. So, I guess next on my list will be skinny dipping in the pond.
Cooper: Well, hell, woman. Why didn’t you mention that one before now? It’s warm enough.
Tessa: *chuckles shyly* Not quite warm enough for all I want to do. *face turns crimson*
Kara: *fanning herself and turns to Karen and Caryn* Do you two think it’s warm in here?
BC: Tessa, when you were pondering whether you wanted Cooper to stay in Devil’s Bend you mentioned not wanting anyone to know how vulnerable you are. What were you referring to being vulnerable about?
Tessa: I’ve always seen depending on someone else as a vulnerability. I’ve had my heart cracked wide open a few times in my life and giving it away freely to someone else wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. And, as you know, I made Cooper work for it, even if I didn’t mean to. I’m just thankful that he managed to put up with me for all that time.
BC: Tessa, you’re a youth counselor at your church, do you mind us asking what got you interested in this?
Tessa: As y’all may have heard, I was a little rebellious as a teenager, and it took me a while to get my life in order. I figured one way I could give back was to talk to kids, spend time with them. I’m not saying that I would’ve done things differently; however, I think I might’ve not blamed myself so much for the things going on in my life if I’d had someone to talk to. I want to be that someone for these kids who might be walking a fine line between being a teenager and being reckless.
BC: Do you have any advice to give those who live their lives full of guilt and regret?
Tessa: I’d love to say put the past in the past, but it’s not always that easy. I still have guilt and regret, but I’m learning to move forward. Living in the past never got me anywhere. And, *nods her head toward Cooper* thanks to him, I’m finally learning what it means to do that.
BC: Tessa, what were your personal thoughts when Cooper informed you that he’d written Angel in Blue Jeans about you?
Tessa: I remember the exact moment. I think I managed to successfully hide some of my reaction. I was speechless. I love that song. In fact, it’s my absolute, all-time favorite. And that was even before he told me it was about me. I truly had no idea. But to know he wrote me a song, I was emotional, but I was scared to let him see all of what that knowledge did to me.
BC: Did you keep The Rusty Nail or is this someone else’s bar we’re meeting in?
Tessa: I did keep it *grins as she looks around* Dalton was actually the one who convinced me to hang onto it after he brought me the For Sale sign the day that Cooper proposed. And I’m glad we did because I think it’s good for us. We need to get out sometimes, and this offers the best escape from the daily chores at the farm.
Kara: Of course, and how could you get rid of the place where you first met when it’s yours*grinning*
**Thank you so much for having us. We love the space and are so happy to see that y’all are doing so well.
Kara: Coop, let me know if you’re interested in touring at a farm in Iowa.
Karen: You can come back to Chicago anytime!! Caryn and I will show you around and maybe take you to Lou’s.