Author Jessica Calla stopped by to give us an in depth look into her story The One She left Behind featured in the Craving One Night anthology.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Time seems to creep along, but then in a flash, it’s gone. Even though we lose all those precious moments, it’s fascinating to me to think about the things we remember and hold on to, that can take us right back to a particular moment, like a time machine.
I love second chance romances. For Ashley and Anthony, I wanted to write a story that showed the two of them being inseparable as kids, then letting each other go. Twenty years later, they meet up at their high school reunion, after having been married to other people and living their own lives. Still though, they always held each other close in their hearts. As soon as they see each other at the reunion, the memories invade and take them back twenty years to when they said goodbye.
For Anthony and Ashley’s journey, I wanted to explore the idea of “the right love at the
wrong time,” (yes, those are Barry Manilow lyrics—Google Somewhere Down the Road
and don’t judge!) with a little twist. Even though they were separated for twenty years,
their love story played out exactly the way it was supposed to. So for Anthony and
Ashley, the song lyrics would be: “the right love in the right time.”
I hope you enjoy the story.
Excerpt from The One She Left Behind
Anthony had followed her career, searching her name every day for the past twenty years. Her talent for photography had been obvious from the day they got their first phones, then the day she got her first real camera. He had no doubt that she’d make her life into whatever she wanted. I’m going to use this camera to see the world, she used to say. It’s my passport out of here.
Not him. He loved his town and the people in it so much that he’d never left. He’d been hired by the Cliffville Board of Education the day he graduated college with his Physical Education degree, and spent the past fifteen years as a gym teacher roaming the halls where he and Ashley had grown up. He knew everyone, everything, about the North Jersey suburb, and he was happy that Kelsey would grow up the same way he did.
Ashley, though, was never meant to be tied down. The day Wally walked into homeroom,
Ashley blushed at the sight of him. When he told the class about California and his love of travel, Anthony knew she’d found another ticket out.
“Peru? Wow.” Then, thinking out loud, he said, “I can’t imagine.”
No matter how perfect she felt in his arms, he couldn’t compete with Peru, or baby elephants, or whatever else she’d experienced in her life. Instead of getting into it, he winked at her. “But we’re both here now. How about that?”
“How about that,” she repeated.
When she smiled, he relaxed again, and moved his mouth close to her ear. “Never thought I’d see you back in Cliffville.”
“I heard there was an open bar so…”
He laughed, and suddenly the twenty years they’d been apart felt like only two minutes. “Oh, but even without the open bar, it’s paradise. I know you’ve traveled the world, seen our entire planet. But Cliffville, New Jersey is where all the action is at.”
“Ha.” Ashley snorted. “It’s nice to imagine loving a place so much that you want to stay.”
Anthony gave her hand a squeeze. “It’s nice to imagine being brave enough to leave too.”
They spent the rest of the night on the dance floor, oblivious to the rest of the Class of ’98.
She felt like heaven in his arms. It had been a long time since he’d been with a woman, and Ashley wasn’t just any woman. She was Ashley. His Ash.
He didn’t want to let her go when the band finished their last song and the dance floor cleared, so Anthony said the same word he’d said to her twenty years earlier, the day she’d left Cliffville: “Stay.”
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Interview with Author Jessica Calla
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I get really creeped out by… (I almost can’t even type it)… sexy fireman books. My dad was a fireman, and I’ve been around firehouses all my life, and … just no. Can I stop at that?
What’s the sexiest accent?
Definitely Italian! My husband’s family is from Italy and I love hearing them talk.
Italian has such a beautiful flow. Even the curse words sound pretty.
What is your favorite romance sub-genre to write and read?
I love reading contemporary city romances, I think because I grew up in a suburb
of New York City. But every once in a while, I get the urge to read a sweet, small
town country romance, usually with cowboys. Reading about ranchers and
rodeos does something for me. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, switching to a
small-town romance resets me somehow. Would I ever want to live on a ranch?
Big no. Although I rode a horse once, in Alaska on my honeymoon! I was scared
to death and cried to get off.
Do you prefer reading traditional paperback/hard cover books or ebooks? Why?
For fiction, I love-love-love my Kindle Paperwhite. I prefer the Kindle itself to the
Kindle app, so I don’t get distracted by everything else on the phone, and focus
only on reading. Often, I read while pacing my house to get my steps in for my
daily Fitbit count. Reading makes the daily trek to 10,000 steps fly by! For non-
fiction, though, I prefer a hard copy. I like to make notes in the margins, highlight,
and be able to flip through the pages.
Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do?
I’m a lawyer by day, working for a government agency for the State of New
Jersey. Fun fact: I met my husband in law school. He sat in front of me as a 1L. I
didn’t know his first name for six months (the professors called us all by our last
names), but he had long hair and wore Doc Martens so I was smitten.
Tea or coffee? Coffee, black and strong!
Paperback/Hardcover or ebook? Ebook for fiction, Paperback for non-fiction
Vampire or shifter? Vampire #TeamEdward #TeamDamon
Cop or fireman? Cop! My dad was a fireman so that’s just creepy to me.
Snow or sunny skies? SUN
Beach or mountain ski resort? BEACH
Coke or Pepsi? COKE (Please is this even a real question?)
HEA or a more realistic ending? HEAs or make me cry. Realistic, meh.
Chick flick or action movie? Chick Flick
City or country? City
More beautiful: Sunset or sunrise? Sunset!
Car or plane? Car
iPhone or Android? iPhone. Apple everything in my house!
Mac or PC? See above: MAC
Kindle or Nook? Kindle (Paperwhite)
Listen to audiobook or read? Read. I lose focus when listening to books.
Ocean/Lake or pool? Ocean.
Eggs or pancakes? I CANNOT DECIDE DON’T MAKE ME.
Shower or bath? Shower. Bath? Ick.
Cable or satellite? As much as I hate to say it, Cable. Don’t get me started.
Handwrite or type? Type.
Introvert or extrovert? Introvert.
Morning person or night owl? Night owl.
Camping or luxury hotel? Hotel please!
Passion Flix or Hallmark? Passionflix, unless it’s Christmastime!
To learn more about the amazing Jessica Calla, visit her website at http://www.jessicacalla.com/
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