Maryanne Torres is a compassionate nurse who fails at relationships. After a string of losers, she swears off premarital sex, hoping to land a marrying type of man.
Lucas Knight, a law-school dropout, moves to California to train for the Ironman Triathlon. He's smart, sweet, and everything Maryanne wants in a man, but their relationship suffers from his dedication to the sport. Seeking consolation in the arms of a handsome preacher's son, Maryanne attends a church party where she is raped.
Maryanne is pregnant from the rape and plans to abort. But the identity of her rapist is hidden in her baby's DNA. Lucas asks Maryanne to seek alternatives and pledges to support her through the pregnancy. When Lucas becomes the prime suspect, Maryanne must clear his name and make a life changing decision.
The rapist has other ideas. In order to destroy the evidence, he offers Maryanne an illegal offshore abortion. With Maryanne's life in danger, Lucas races to save her and her baby. However, Maryanne hides a secret that threatens to tear them apart forever.
A 99,000-word women's fiction, HIDDEN UNDER HER HEART deals with the consequences of rape and abortion.
First off, thank you both for coming. I really enjoyed the story and I'm anxious to find out more about how this relationship came about. Why don't you tell me how you two met and how long ago it was?
Lucas: I think we met at Pescadero State Beach about a month ago when I first moved to California.
Rachelle: Yes, and you were surprised how warm it was for a winter day.
Lucas: You Californians think it’s cold when the temperature’s below 50.
Rachelle: It was windy, you’ll have to admit. But can’t beat the scenery.
Lucas: The waves were so foamy, crashing off those rocks. Love it, and California.
I have to admit, I love the California coastline the few times I've been there myself. Enough about the scenery. What was your first impression of each other?
Rachelle: I saw a nice young man who offered me an arm when we climbed down the rocky path to the beach and thought, what a gentleman.
Lucas: My mother always taught me manners. Once I found out you were a writer, I made a wish. I thought it’d be neat to be the hero in a real novel.
Rachelle: Little did he know.
Chantel: Ha, ha. Fiction isn't all it's cracked up to be. So, what does Lucas do that annoys you the most?
Rachelle: Ah… he’s such a sweetie, but he definitely keeps you on your toes, don’t you, Lucas?
Chantel: In what way?
Rachelle: Practical jokes and pranks. He knew better than to try that CPR scene on me, but he’s got me checking for Saran wrap on my toilet seats and sniffing for Icy Hot before applying toothpaste. I can’t believe you got Maryanne with that baby powder in the blower dryer one.
Lucas: Ha, ha, you should have seen the video.
Rachelle: And she’s still with you? I would have replaced your contact solution with vinegar.
Lucas: *rubs eyes* What? She told me I had an eye infection!
Chantel and Rachelle: *laughs*
Chantel: Lucas, if you could say just one thing to Rachelle, what would it be?
Lucas: Even though you put me through a lot of pain, I believe I am a better person, more willing to understand a person first before barging in with my opinion. I love Maryanne more than anything in this world, and I absolutely cherish her and her little girl. I used to run from my problems, but they will never see me walking away again.
Chantel: That's very sweet. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened between you two?
Lucas: The physical details Rachelle put in when my ex-girlfriend tried to seduce me. I’m a normal man, and it took a lot of willpower to step back.
Chantel: Well, the important thing was you exercised your willpower. Rachelle, what do you feel the worst about doing to Lucas?
Rachelle: The intense agony Lucas experienced after seeing the rape video. The feeling that the woman he loved was destroyed coupled with the guilt of not being there for her and having pushed her away. It’s hard to imagine how anyone would react to seeing that visual. I was amazed at his fortitude to go to her with the intention of cheering her up and showing her that she’s a worthwhile and valuable person.
Chantel: If the characters aren't tortured, you're not doing your job as a writer though. :-) Do you think you two will meet again in the future?
Lucas: Rachelle promised me walk-on roles in the future. I’ll need to be there to support my training partner go through his horrific adventure. I hope I can be a help to him.
Rachelle: Definitely. Lucas, you’re a wonderful friend and possibly the sweetest, most romantic male character I’ve worked with so far. Many readers tell me to send a Lucas their way, and one of my readers said after all her troubles with the Barry’s of the world, she finally found her Lucas.
I certainly think Lucas is great! So glad to hear we can expect to see a bit more of him in the future. Thank you both for being here!
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She has over thirty years of writing experience and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment.
Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.
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Happy reading, my friends! Have a fantastic Friday!