Genre: Sweet contemporary romance novella
Blurb: Kasey Griffin is determined to prove a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis isn't going to ruin her life or define her expectations. She is dedicated to her pregnant sister, her pets and operating her bookstore, 'The Next Chapter'. She has everything she needs to have a full and satisfying life--the daily challenges of her condition notwithstanding.
Then hunky musician Ben Salem rolls into town. Ben's subtle charm quickly reminds Kasey she is more than a woman with a disease, she is also a woman with a heart. And Ben wants it. Will Ben still desire her once he learns the terrible details of her condition?
Tears stung her eyes. “What's going to happen when Ben sees me like this?” What was going to happen when it got worse? Though today she was hard pressed to define ‘worse’. How much more was her life going to change? It was terrifying.
Abbie quietly waited, her soft blue eyes warm and reassuring. Abbie would always love her.
“He won't want me when I can't walk anymore.”
“Kase, we don't know for sure that will happen to you. New medications and treatments—”
“I remember Mom a little before she died,” Kasey said softly, her whisper halting Abbie. “Mostly I remember the wheels of her chair.” They had been as tall as her.
“Oh, honey,” Abbie took her hands into hers, searching her face. “Do you remember her at all before that?”
Kasey shook her head. “I barely remember what she looked like when she was...healthier. Before. Just hazy pictures.”
Abbie nodded, understanding. “And Dad stuck by her till the end. He stuck by us till the end too.” He raised two little girls for five years after his wife died until he himself was untimely killed in a car accident. “He loved her very much and he loved us.”
“I know,” Kasey agreed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “But what if Ben isn't like Dad?” she whispered, dread clutched in her throat. What if Ben really was a drifter like he seemed?
Tears pricked Abbie's eyes. “Honey, only you would know the answer to that.”
Inspiration: Many years ago I was driving home from work on Valentine's evening. It was rainy and around eleven PM or so. In the middle of the residential road was a cellophane bouquet of red roses, complete with ferns and baby breath. It looked to be in fine condition. My mind turned over all sorts of scenarios of why it was lying on a rainy street so late at night. Lover's quarrel? On Valentine's---that seemed so sad.The next day, while returning to work, I saw they were gone. The unanswered question stayed with me for several years.
Around the same time, I had been experiencing some physical limitations and my frustration was an all time high. To cope, it was suggested I write about it, beyond my journal. So I created a heroine and gave her a disease with physical limitations that impeded in her daily life. Then I added a love interest to challenge her. The memories of the roses in the road resurfaced and became a pivotal part of the story, This all began as therapy, with no intention of publication.
A few friends read it and said I had to share it with others. When Melange Books was taking submissions for Valentine's stories for an anthology, I sent it in. I was sure surprised when they wrote back offering to publish it as a a free standing title. I suppose, in retrospect, it all came together--the mysterious roses and my illness--to offer help to others who endeavor to live a normal life despite daily challenges.
Bio: Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who likes to pen romances with a twist. Love stories blended as inspirational, with paranormal, suspense or time travel--or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so Ryan came by the writing gene honestly.
Her hobbies include poetry, bird watching, houseplants and gardening, gathering with friends, hiking in the forest, painting canvas and ceramics, and working wiggly word find puzzles, mah johngg or chess. She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. She often daydreams of the shore and frequently uses water as settings in her stories.