I was talking to author Gail McHugh a handful of years ago. We were talking about what our towns were like and I remember her saying, “Adriana! Write a story about where you live. You have to!”
I laughed her off, sure she was crazy. Who would be interested in a small coal mining community in the middle of the MidWest, full of basic, everyday people with everyday problems?
Carrying her words around felt like a monkey on my back. I couldn’t shake them. Couldn’t get rid of the excitement in her voice. The idea popped up on a call I had with my friend Jen one day and she encouraged me to give it a try. So I did. And Written in the Scars was born.
Let me preface this by saying: if you don’t like angsty, emotional reads, this one isn’t for you. WITS, as I affectionately call the book, is about real life. Struggles. Love—but not first love. About love that goes wrong. About when you’re so in love with someone but it’s impossible to do “it” anymore. Some of you will know what I’m saying.
This book takes place in my favorite time of year. Fall in Indiana, both where I live and where WITS is set, is beautiful. When I first imaged really writing this book, the scene below is the only one I knew immediately. I’m sharing it with you today.
Written in the Scars is available now as a standalone novel on Amazon, Audible, and in Kindle Unlimited.
Gravel crunches outside and I look out the window. Ty’s truck is sitting behind my car and he’s climbing out.
My breath hitches in my throat. No matter how many times I’ve seen him in my life, he still makes it hard to breathe.
He doesn’t look towards the house. Instead, he walks around the back of his truck. I can hear him banging on something and the tailgate closing.
I wait, but he doesn’t come to the door. I wait still, but nothing.
Slipping on a pair of rubber boots, I head outside. My heart thumps in my chest in a mixture of excitement and dread. Seeing him is going to make tonight a long, lonely night.
Rounding the corner, I see him in the middle of the yard with a rake. There’s a pile next to him of old clothes and I stop in my tracks. He looks up, but keeps raking, a little hint of a smile on his lips. “How was your day?”
His shoulders flex under the brown thermal shirt as he works the rake back and forth. His thighs fill out his jeans, and I pray he doesn’t turn around because I don’t want to see his ass. Not in those jeans. Dear Lord.
“Cat got your tongue?” he teases, dropping the rake. He heads to the pile and grabs a pair of corduroy jeans we bought together at Goodwill almost ten years ago.
“What are you doing, Ty?”
“What do you think I’m doing?”
He ignores me and shoves leaves down the leg of the pants. I just watch with amazement that after everything that’s happening, he’s here. Doing this. Like we’ve done for the last decade. Together.
Finally, he looks up. “You gonna stand there or you gonna come over here and help me make this scarecrow?”
“I …” I’m speechless. I shouldn’t help him. I should make him leave. But I find myself walking across the lawn and grabbing the pants. I’m rewarded with a mega-watt smile.
“I think the rain that’s supposed to come this weekend will put an end to the scarecrow days. I figured we better get it up today before it’s too late,” he says, working on the second leg.
I watch him, my brows pulled together. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because it’s what we do,” he says, pulling rubber bands out of his pocket and fastening them around the leg holes.
“Ty,” I protest as he takes the pants from me and hands me the shirt. “You have to stop this.”
He rises and looks at me. Bits of broken leaves are splattered across his shirt and in his hair. I want to reach out and brush them off, touch his cheek, but I resist. Barely.
“You can’t come by here anymore and do these things. They aren’t our thing anymore.”
“We’ve been through this,” he mutters. His arms reach into the pile and he pulls up a heap of brown leaves, shoving them into the shirt with more force than necessary. I pull away.
He sighs, releasing a breath that sounds like he’s been holding forever. “I’m not letting you walk away from me. If I have to spend the next ten years winning you back, I will. I’m prepared to do that.”
The sincerity in his eyes causes my bottom lip to tremble. “I promised you for better or worse, until death do us part. This is the worse part. I’m aiming for the better now.”
“Ty …” The words are stolen by the look on his face.
“Even if it takes me until the death part, I’ll try. I love you, Elin. I’m going to remind you of that until you believe it.”
“It could take a long time,” I say, my words kissed by a sniffle. “I don’t think your patience would last very long.”
“Probably not. So you should just give in now,” he laughs, pulling his hand away from the side of my face.
He fills the shirt and then grabs a bale of straw and a pumpkin and builds the scarecrow by the road while I watch, lending a hand when I see he needs it.
There’s a calm between us, an ease rooted in a comfort between two people that has been built over a lifetime. This is something I won’t have with anyone else.
My cheeks heat as I realize he’s watching me. He grins and I grin back without thinking.
“What are we naming him this year?” he asks, tugging a hat over the top of the pumpkin.
“How about Docken?”
“Docken?” he laughs. “Where’d you get that?”
“A little girl in my class named her puppy that. It’s just the first thing I thought of,” I shrug.
“Docken it is. But take that off the potential baby name list. It definitely sounds like a dog’s name,” he laughs easily.
I look away.
“Hey,” he says, nudging me with his shoulder. “I was kidding. If you like it, it can stay on the list. Maybe a middle name.”
“We’re done here,” I say, changing the subject and taking a step away from him. “I’m going in. I have a lot of papers to grade.”
I look at him and can’t help but laugh. “You are not coming inside and helping me grade papers.”
“You love how I help grade papers,” he laughs, wiggling his eyebrows.
“You are not coming in and …”
“Eating your pussy? That’s how grading papers with me usually ends, and I do believe I get an A-plus.”
“Damn it, Ty!” I say, turning away so he doesn’t see my face. “Go home.”
“I am home, beautiful.”
I hate that I’m on the brink of breaking, that he makes me forget why I’m mad.
Heading into the house, I hear him toss his things into the truck. “Wanna go to dinner?” he asks.
“Nope,” I call out over my shoulder.
“Want me to make you dinner while you grade papers?”
“Want me to have you for dinner?”
I shake my head and turn to face him. My hand on my hip doesn’t take away from the smile on my face. “Ty? Enough.”
“That wasn’t a no.”
“You are impossible. I’m mad at you.”
“I figured that out. You can stop being mad now.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Then think of how much fun it’ll be being mad at me when I’m in the same house. You can be mean to me all day and night. It would be much more cathartic for you.”
My laugh dances out of my mouth before I can stop it.
“And think of the makeup sex when I convince you to stop being mad.” His eyes twinkle in the sunset. “But I’ll tell ya something, E. I don’t think I can wait very long to get inside you again.”
“Stop,” I breathe, watching him cut the distance between us in half.
As much as I want to fight it, it just feels like it would take way more energy than I have. Plus, I like the playful smile on his face and feeling the hole in my heart being filled a little.
Softening quicker than I anticipated, I choose to give in. Just for a little while. It’ll end in an argument, anyway.
“Can I take you to dinner?” he asks.
Before I can talk myself out of it, I throw my hands up in the air and head towards the house. “I’m going in to eat leftovers. You can come if you want.”
“Only if you come first,” he chuckles.
I hear his footsteps behind me, and I smile all the way to the back door.