Last night, I finally found the last piece of the puzzle that is the paperback for Everything She Ever Wanted!
I absolutely love this final cover. No kidding, but blood, sweat, and tears made this cover happen though I’ll spare you the gory details and focus on how perfect it is for the character of Dax Drexel, the hero who happens to be a master craftsman specializing in Japanese joinery.
Want to read an excerpt? This is from Dax’s point of view.
The piece of cherry wood in front of me is receiving the brunt of my emotions, the Japanese hand planer sending long strips of paper-thin wood unfurling to the ground. The wood is useless now, actually, and if I keep on going, I’ll have nothing left but the planing table in front of me.
“Hi. Is it okay if I come in?”
Harlow’s voice snaps me out of my thoughts, and I turn to see her standing by the door, barefoot and wearing a blue sleeveless top and loose cotton pants. Her hair is secured in a ponytail though a few strands frame her oval face.
“You’re always welcome in here.”
“I just got off the phone, and I think I’ve got everything settled on my end. They’ll call me as soon as they find out what the judge decides,” Harlow continues as she stops in front of me. “So, can you show me how this works?”
“Sure,” I say as I beckon for her to stand between me and the table. I smell a trace of rose oil in her hair, and it grounds me back to the warm feel of her body pressing lightly against mine, all other thoughts pushed away. As I guide her movements, one hand along the top and the side of the planer and the other hand on the opposite side, I find myself enclosing her body with my own.
Just show her how to do it. Don’t think of anything else.
I rest one hand on top of her hands and the other on her far shoulder and take a deep breath. “Ready for your first lesson in hand planing, the Japanese way?”
She nods. I love the feel of her hair brushing over my arms, but I force my focus on my hand covering hers, and slowly, I guide her hand, so she pulls the planer towards her. It takes some strength and I feel the muscles of her back tighten as she leans back into it, guiding the planer till it reaches the end of the cherry wood. Then we repeat the process again.
“American hand planes are usually pushed away from the body, but Japanese ones, like this, a hira kanna, is pulled towards you. It allows you to use your core muscles in addition to your arms to smoothen wood like this.”
I guide her body with my own, and with each motion, a thin strip of wood flutters in the air and on the third pass, she stops to catch one with one hand and studies it. “It’s so thin, like paper.”
“A human hair is about 100 microns across, and a droplet of water, maybe ten microns in diameter. Yet some of the best hand planers can create a wood shaving like this that’s only three microns thick, even thinner than a red blood cell,” I say, my gaze fixed on her profile. “The one you’re holding is probably about ten or fifteen microns.”
“You love what you do. You have such passion for it,” she says softly. “To others, it’s nothing but a piece of wood, but to you…”
“It can be a cabinet, a table, a support beam that will last for centuries,” I say. “It’s a combination of instrument and skill, and a passion for simplicity. None of my creations use nails or screws or glue, just joints—well, except for our bath tubs which require glue. I spend more time sharpening the blade for this hira kanna than actually using it, but when I do, the results are always worth the time and effort of preparing the blade.”
As I speak, I’m acutely aware of how close Harlow’s face is to mine, if not closer than it was earlier. I force myself to make light of things, not wanting it to go where I really want it to go, which would take us right into her bedroom. So I shrug and grin like I’m not, at that moment, fighting the urge to kiss her. “Just like your preparation to be a surgeon. So many years of training just to, I don’t know, slice into a kidney or something.”
Harlow chuckles and I feel the stress leave her body just then. But as she turns her head to look at me, I feel my resolve melting. Shit, this is trouble right here, and all I need to do is let go of the hira kanna and wrap my arms around her.
Focus, Dax. Focus. F-O-C-U-S.
But all focus disappears when Harlow slips her hands from underneath mine, and as she runs the fingers of one hand up my forearm and the other strokes my beard, all my resolve fades away. And when her lips touch mine ever so faintly, suddenly, all focus on anything else but her is gone. Completely and utterly gone.
You can read the first four chapters and preorder your copy of Everything She Ever Wanted here.