From the moment Jimmy first introduced himself, in HOPE OF HEAVEN, I knew he would get his own story, and it would have to be something pretty intense. What I never expected was for him to fall head-over-heels for the Promethean kids’ resident bad-girl-with-a-cause, Leanne Branson. But once he did, it really clicked, and this just made sense.
This is the opening for the story…
“Missing” –Excerpt from A WAY HOME (Project Prometheus) —
Icy mid-Autumn rain spattered the edge of the porch and kicked up to land in misty droplets on his jean-clad legs. Appropriate. James Richard Talladay — Jimmy to his family, and J.R. to anyone else who mattered – stared out at the misty, rain-drenched day rolling over Burn Cleary farm, and tried to shake off the unsettling feeling clinging to him.
Something wasn’t right.
If only he could put his finger on the feeling.
He could hear his parents in the house behind him, bickering good-naturedly about his mother’s most recent project. Hope Talladay always had some project at hand, and recently, she’d taken on some research on ancient funerary rites, for a Promethean team hunting down grave robbers in Cambodia. She’d been talking about going there, and his father was none-too-keen on the idea. J.R. smothered a quiet laugh, already aware his mother would win, in the end. Peter Talladay could refuse his wife nothing, when it came down to it, and their love formed the core of what J.R. wanted for himself, someday. He wanted that kind of love.
A smile tucked up one corner of his mouth, though the melancholy of the day determined to wrap itself around him. His sister Claire called him a hopeless romantic. She told him he was too full of Irish blarney, always with that teasing twinkle in her iridescent eyes.
He heard the screen door open and close behind him, then the squeak of the weather-swollen wood.
“You’re sure quiet, today.”
He turned to offer Claire a warm smile, and shook his head as he accepted the coffee mug she held out to him. At just shy of sixteen, Claire already had the wizened eyes their father swore came from their grandmother, Sinead. She just knew things. Clair rarely asked questions she didn’t already know the answer to.
“I’m feeling…” He shrugged helplessly.
“Restless?” Claire raised a knowing brow, even as she reached to push back strands of dark hair from her face. She had their father’s dark hair and mother’s changeling eyes, while he favored his mother’s wavy auburn hair and dove grey eyes Hope claimed came from his grandmother’s family. Claire touched a hand, warm from her own mug, to his chilled arm. “Jimmy, you know they’re doing their best.”
He winced. He should have known she’d get right to the heart of what bothered him most, recently. Leanne was missing. Again. The bloody woman made a habit of taking off at the first sign of trouble, and forced everyone else to turn their lives on end to track her down. If he didn’t know better – if he thought she ever gave him an instant’s thought – he’d swear she was daring him to come find her.
Leanne Branson kept him wrapped in knots, from the very first time he met her. At first, he didn’t like her very much. The then-thirteen-year-old Leanne had been smart-mouthed, demanding, and overbearing in a way he, at fourteen, found bloody annoying. Until he realized how brilliant – and how lonely – Leanne really was. She didn’t fit in with the other Promethean kids. She wanted something different from life than they did, and her parents didn’t encourage her. Tom was convinced she needed guarding – though from someone else or herself, J.R. was never sure – and Stasia was appalled that her daughter wanted to go crawl around in a muddy pit, somewhere. They loved her, sure, but they didn’t know how to support her, and the rest of the kids – with the exception of Daria Raleigh – just thought Leanne was a pain. So she determinedly lived up to that image.
And the more he got to know her, the more J.R. got to like the real Leanne. It didn’t take much to stumble right from like to puppy love.
And that should have been where it stayed. Friends, a crush… nothing more. But he was having a hard time keeping to that very wise decision. Every time Leanne took off, he was terrified she wasn’t coming back, or that she would fall head-over-heels for some thug who didn’t deserve her. He dreaded that day, but he couldn’t do a damned thing about it. Leanne never so much as glanced his way with more than a friendly smile.
And now she was missing. Again. No one knew where she was, and that twisted in his gut like a python with a death grip.
“I know,” he answered his sister, his gaze fixed out into the fog as he sipped his coffee. “I just wish I knew where she was.”
Claire sighed, and rested her cheek against his bicep. “Then go find her, Jimmy. Go bring her home.”