Thirty-five-year-old Hadley returns to her rural hometown, fresh from heartbreak in L.A., to write a play about a woman’s last moment of innocence, but when a hot, young rock-star wannabe she uses as fodder outsmarts her, she needs to decide if innocence is more important than believing in herself…
Title: Babe in the Woods
Author: Jude Hopkins
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Women's Fiction
It’s September 1995, the first year of the rest of HADLEY TODD’S life. After a decade in Los Angeles, trying and failing to launch her career as a playwright, Hadley has returned to her hometown in rural New York to write and to be closer to her lonely, ailing father–not that he always welcomes the help. Between looking after him and teaching Shakespeare to teenage malcontents at the local high school, Hadley is determined to produce a masterpiece before 36. She even joins a writing group, thinking the structure will keep her focused. Hadley hopes to channel her recent heartbreak from being dumped in L.A. into writing a play about the last moment of a woman’s innocence, a play that an agent friend in Hollywood has promised to produce. But she struggles with writer’s block and seeks inspiration.
Enter TREY HARDING, a young, handsome sports reporter for a local radio station who covers sports at the high school where Hadley teaches. Trey reminds Hadley of her L.A. ex and is the perfect spark to touch off her imagination. Trey has two girlfriends who work at the school, giving Hadley a great perch from which to watch and write down their interactions. The fact that Trey is an aspiring rock star and she has L.A. record biz connections makes the alliance perfect. She dangles promises of music biz glory while watching his moves. But after they both go to Hollywood, Hadley learns that believing in herself is all the inspiration she needs.
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She gazed into his face, his high color, those light eyes comprising both shades of teal and blue at once. If he kisses me again, I won’t stop him this time.
“Listen,” he said while taking her right hand in his. “We shook these hands on a deal that said you’d introduce me to someone in the music biz, right?”
She nodded. His hand was smooth and dry. She ever-so-slightly tightened her fingers in his grip.
“Then let’s skip these so-called lessons. I’ve already made arrangements through a friend to get a demo made this weekend. So all you have to do is honor that handshake and arrange for me to meet your connection in Hollywood, OK? Just a name, a phone call to introduce me.”
Her play would fail with no inspiration. And stuck with carrying out the worst part of the deal! How did this happen?
“OK,” she said, but not in a commanding voice.
“Good,” he said. He released her hand, breaking what she worried might be the last physical connection she’d ever have with him.
He grabbed his guitar case and headed for the door.
“Wait!” she shouted at him, taking long strides to keep him from leaving. “One more thing. What about you?”
“What about me what?”
“You. Have you ever fallen in love?”
He winked at her. “All the time.”
She’d have the last word, something she realized was important to her. “I think it’s wrong, all these women you lead on. Don’t you? I mean, they may get attached, fall for you. But you seem to use them, to see what you can get out of them for your own purposes. I think that’s wrong, They’re human beings, after all. With feelings.”
He turned around, his eyes drained of any light. “They use me, too. It’s not like they’re not getting anything out of it.”
“What am I getting out of this?” she asked him, if not rhetorically.
He stood on one hip, a move that made him appear more rakish than usual. “I really don’t know, Miss Todd. I wondered that myself. I thought perhaps you were bored or intrigued. Or maybe you’re a control freak.” He took a step toward her so he was within half an inch of her face. “Or maybe you’re just like the rest and can’t resist me.”
Hadley stood her ground. “How do you know when it’s over? The moment when love, or lust, turns into something else. Something not as passionate?”
“I don’t think about it,” he said, returning her gaze. “It’s something that happens. Maybe it’s not one moment. It just is.”
He turned around and walked out of the room.
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