When you read this post, my husband and I will be traveling, and I probably won’t be able to respond to comments until we stop somewhere for the night. The picture above was taken while we were visiting Spokane, Washington, for a family reunion. Two of my brothers still live in Spokane, the other in Texas, while I live in Arizona. The photo shows the view from some property north of Spokane that my youngest brother owns. We recently sold our property in the area, and we saw where the new owner has begun preparing the land for a house. The reunion was fun, and it was good to meet great nieces and nephews that I had never met before.
I gave this blog post the title of “Memories” because visiting Spokane brings up memories of my time in high school. Things have changed a lot in Spokane since those years. That school building no longer exists. They have a new high school and middle schools now, and houses and businesses have been built in areas that used to be woods and fields.
The first series of books I wrote for Harlequin Love Inspired were set in a fictional town near Spokane, and my characters visit Spokane in books one and three. The three books have new covers and new titles, as I have reissued them. In the first book, the hero has a house that he is building on property much like the photo above.
The characters visit Riverfront Park, which is a central part of downtown Spokane. It was once the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. Although I wasn’t living in Spokane then, I visited my mother who lived there at the time, and we went to the fair together. Here is the US Pavilion from the fair as it looks today.
During Christmas time, the Pavilion is lit with Christmas lights. The bridge over the Spokane River is lined with lights. Lights are everywhere throughout the park.
In my latest book, Hometown Hero, my characters are doing charitable work as they give away twelve dogs during December. I needed twelve places where they would go to give away the dogs. I’ve lived in eleven states, and those states seemed like a good place for the giveaways. I chose Baltimore as the twelfth place because my older daughter lives there.
One of those twelve places was Spokane. So once again, I had my characters visit Riverfront Park, this time in winter with the place full of brightly colored lights. My heroine is an ice skater, so she’s excited to find this in the park. This was something new for me that didn’t exist during my last visit several years ago. During my research I found videos on Youtube of people skating here. So this is a new memory.
In winter the skate ribbon is filled with ice and ice skaters. My heroine rents a pair of skates and takes a few trips around the ribbon until the hero finds her there. He isn’t interested in skating, but he takes her on another kind of ride.
Here is an excerpt from Hometown Hero when they take a ride on the carousel. You can see the tiger that the heroine suggests the hero ride.
“Do you know where you’re going?”
“Back to the hotel.”
Maisey shook her head. “This isn’t the way I came.”
“Then you’ll see something new on the way back.”
“Okay. I hope you know where you’re going.”
Zach gazed at her in the dim light. “Trust me. I know exactly where I’m going. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.”
“Okay.” Maisey was sure Zach wouldn’t steer her wrong, but she didn’t trust herself. Why did he have to show up and make her heart do enough jumps and spins to win a skating competition? His accolades did nothing but generate a greater attraction to him.
“You don’t sound too sure.”
“I believe you. After all, you were the backup plan to rescue me from the bad guys.”
“Only the backup?”
“Yeah. I was going to call a ride-hailing service first.”
Zach pounded his chest with one hand. “That wounds me that I was only the backup.”
Maisey chuckled. “I hardly think you’re wounded, but if you are, I’m sure you’ll get over it very quickly.”
“So callous. Here I’m hurting and you dismiss it as nothing.”
Maisey let out a half laugh and half sigh. “You’re really overdoing the sympathy card.”
“Okay. I know where I stand. Second fiddle.” He squinted as he looked at her. “I’m not used to being the backup, but I’ll learn to live with that designation.”
Maisey walked beside him. If only he knew that he wasn’t the backup in her heart. He had first place there. What a mess she was! What would happen if she just blurted out that she loved him? That was the last thing she should do. Such a confession would ruin everything and make him feel more than uncomfortable.
As they walked together down the trail, Maisey had the temptation to reach over and take his hand. She stuck her hand in the pocket of her jacket to keep from doing just that.
“Do you see the building up ahead?”
Maisey nodded. “What’s in the building?”
“A historic carousel.” He grinned at her. “You want to ride it?”
“This isn’t just a merry-go-round. This is a one-of-a-kind carousel.”
“How do you know?”
“Phil told me about it and said I should check it out when he sent me to look for you.”
Maisey wasn’t sure she liked that Phil sent Zach after her. Did everyone think she couldn’t take care of herself? “Why would he do that?”
“He wanted to make sure you were back to go out to dinner. He’s taking us to a very nice steakhouse.” Zach glanced her way. “You wouldn’t want to miss that.”
“I suppose not.”
“So are you game for a ride?”
“As long as you ride, too.”
“Count me in.” Zach grinned. “All I have to do is ride a wooden horse, not try to stand up on two skinny blades on a slippery surface.”
“But you do have to get on the horse.” Maisey gave him an impish smile.
“Are you trying to say I’m not very agile?”
Maisey feigned innocence. “Did I say anything like that?”
Zach gave her a wry smile. “You didn’t have to. I read between the lines.”
Maisey shrugged. “Believe what you’d like.”
“I won’t take offense, but I’ll show you I can still swing this bum leg over a horse.”
“I’ll be watching.” Maisey knew that was for sure. She loved to watch everything he did.
Zach bought the tickets for the ride over Maisey’s protest that she could buy her own ticket, but when this trip was over, she could at least say Zach Dawson bought her a ride on a carousel. He had her going around in circles in her mind anyway. She might as well make it for real.
“Choose your horse.”
“Wow! This is amazing. The horses are beautiful.”
“You could ride the tiger.”
Maisey shook her head. “Oh no, I have to ride a white horse.”
“Why a white horse?”
“Because the good guy always rides a white horse.”
“I thought the good guy wore a white hat.” Zach chuckled.
Maisey pretended to think. “Maybe both a white horse and a white hat.”
“But you don’t have a white hat.”
Maisey wrinkled her nose as she patted the stocking cap on her head. “My stocking cap is off white. Does that count?”
“Okay. Just for today. Good guys can wear off-white hats.”
Maisey laughed as she walked around looking for the perfect horse. “Here’s mine. I love the blue saddle.”
“So do you want me to ride in front of you, in back of you, or beside you?” Zach leaned on the horse next to the one Maisey had chosen.
“You might as well take that one. It suits you.” Maisey put her foot in the stirrup and hoisted herself onto her wooden steed.
“You did that very well.”
“Thank you. I chose a very-well-behaved horse.” Maisey eyed Zach as she waited for him to get on. “Your turn.”
“You think I’m going to fall off?”
Maisey grasped the brass pole. “I’m waiting to find out.”
Zach laughed. “I may not be as graceful as you, but I can still get on a horse without falling off.”
“I’m waiting. You’re going to still be standing there when the carousel starts.”
Zach hopped onto his horse with ease, then sat there and grinned at her as the carousel started and the organ music sounded.
While the carousel made its circular journey, Maisey gazed out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the clock tower, the pavilion lights, and the Christmas lights twinkling from trees throughout the park. It was a true winter wonderland. Every once in a while she glanced over at Zach and found him staring at her.
He waved. “I’m still on my horse.”
“I had no doubt you could stay on once you got up there.”
Zach gave her a bemused smile. “Be kind to me. I’m a lot older than you.”
“Respect my elders. Okay.” Maisey didn’t know whether it was good or bad that Zach mentioned their age difference. Did he still think she was a kid?
When the carousel came to a stop, Maisey’s horse was very high and way off the floor. Could she get off without falling? Here she’d teased Zach about getting onto his horse, and she was having trouble getting off hers.
“Up in the air over there.” Zach studied her as he dismounted. “If you’re nice to me, I might consider giving you a hand.”
Maisey put her foot in the stirrup. “Just like you got on, I can get off. I’m not twelve.”
“I don’t bite.” Zach stepped closer and held out his hand for her to take. “I’m just here to give you an assist.”
Her heart raced as she stared at him. She put her gloved hand in his and jumped off the horse. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. And, Maisey, I don’t think you’re twelve. I think you’re a grown woman who loves the Lord, loves people, and loves life. Don’t change.”
Maisey couldn’t find her voice. She swallowed hard as she nodded and fell into step beside him as they left the carousel. While he’d been looking down at her, Maisey had resisted the urge to throw her arms around him. She’d pretend that what he’d said didn’t matter. That it didn’t make her love him more. He didn’t see her that way, and she told herself that was for the best. When this was over and they went their separate ways, she would have fond memories and nothing more.
So my heroine is making memories of her own. I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane with me. You can find out more about these books by clicking on the book memes.
Are there places that bring fun memories to mind? I will give away an ebook copy of one of the books mentioned in this blog post, winner’s choice. I will draw the winning name on July 27, 2022.
“Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.”