Rhett Butler. Womanizing, domineering, you name the ‘ing’ and he probably fits the bill. But, I really love this character. I’ve watched Gone with the Wind a hundred times over the years and every time, his character rises up above the rest—yes even above Scarlett’s.
Rhett is not perfect. Far from it. However, there’s something there, an inner strength, as well as a vulnerability that draws me to him. I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, and especially now as I write my own stories because I’m always wanting to recreate Rhett for the modern woman. I think what really gets me is that his vulnerability is his love for Scarlett. It’s the one thing he can’t control, even though he knows it will hurt him in the end. This once-in-a-lifetime love is truly compelling to watch (or read). Heart wrenching, it’s what keeps me up at night polishing, editing, and agonizing over scenes to ensure I can have that emotion in my stories.
Enter Mitch McKenna, the alpha-hero in my upcoming debut Unexpectedly You, out August 26, 2013 with Carina Press. Mitch, like Rhett, is charming— when he wants to be, chivalrous—if forced, funny—even if his humor is at his own expense, and annoyingly hot—to the dismay of Emma, his reluctant heroine. They don’t know it yet during this opening scene, but these two will have less than a week to play nice or risk losing everything they’ve been working so hard to achieve. See if you can recognize a little bit o’ Rhett in Mitch.
Inch by inch, Mitch McKenna turned, nudging his sunglasses down to his nose to take in Emma LeFleur from the top of her messed-up bed hair down to the pink furry balls that peeked beneath her flannel pajama pants. He clenched his teeth to keep a sneer off, triggering a sharp pain in his jaw. The woman would reduce any man into wearing a mouth guard.
She’d picked up his project plans from the ground and held them out to him.
Cursing under his breath, he took the muddied papers and tucked them under his armpit. “Thank you,” he said grudgingly.
“Do you have any idea what time it is?”
Here we go again.
“We have a noise ordinance in our town, and you are most definitely violating it.”
He deliberately curled his lips into what he now hoped was a sneer. “Then file a petition to stop me. Wait, you did—and lost.” He turned his back.
“Fine. I’ll just call the police.”
“You mean Officer Landis? The same Officer Landis I had breakfast with this morning?”
His slow drawl stiffened her spine. She wheeled around and narrowed her eyes. “You had breakfast with Brandon?”
“That’s right.” He gave her a pointed look, knowing without a doubt that she was single-handedly responsible for the early morning visit with the rookie peace officer. “Apparently someone had plastered my mug shot around town, warning people about my intentions.”
Her cheeks turned a shade lighter than her cranberry-red hair. “How unfortunate for you.”
He continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “I told Officer Landis that this bordered on harassment and slander, and when we find out who is responsible, he offered to arrest them.” He enunciated the last three words to ensure it got through her thick head of hair. Though he doubted anything could penetrate the mass of curls.
Her expression remained neutral. “I can’t imagine why anyone would want to nail your head to the wall.”
A bark of laughter erupted from the group of men behind him.
Her gaze shifted and she frowned. “You and your men jolted me out of bed at the crack of dawn. Do you even care?”
He shot her an exasperated look. “Look around, lady. This is a commercial zone we’re talking about. Not residential.”
“I live here, so that makes it residential.”
He looked past her at the enormous paw-shaped welcome sign displaying Paws on the Beach, the business she ran out of her converted garage. He arched his brows. “Your sign there says otherwise.”
“Unlike you, I’m respectful of my neighbors. That’s why we don’t open until eleven.”
He rubbed his jaw in annoyance. “Yeah? And how’s that working for you? Maybe if you opened earlier and closed later you’d start to see a profit. Now if you don’t mind, I have work to do.”
“I do mind.” She pointed to the excavator his men were preparing to use. “What is that thing for?”
He adjusted his sunglasses so she could no longer see his expression. “Not that it’s any of your business, but it’s to pull up the grass.”
“Pull up the grass,” she repeated, aghast. “You can’t do that. That plot of grass is our dog park.”
“Wrong. This here—” he spread his arms out wide, “—is where the parking lot will be, and right behind it will be my three-story personal residence.” He had the satisfaction of seeing her already pink complexion get even pinker.
“What do you mean?”
He grinned. “I mean, we’re going to be neighbors.”
“You c-can’t be serious,” she said, her eyes almost crossed.
“Just try me,” he drawled.
*Image courtesy of Warner Home Video. All rights reserved.