I don’t usually have an exact birthday for my characters, unless it’s important for some reason. Colin (Hugged By An Angel) is the only character I set an exact birth date for, since it has a special meaning in the story. His birthday is on March 21st, as you may have guessed and because of the date, her mother used to call him ‘her little spring bud’. This plays a special part at a certain point in the story (can’t say more – spoiler alert!).
I celebrated his 30th birthday in the book, so I thought I’d share an excerpt for those who have yet to read the book. Enjoy!
* * *
“You’re not bailing out of the big celebrations, are you?” Chris asked her, and Kathleen gave him a quizzical look. “Why, you mean Colin didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what?” she asked, confused, staring at him, then at me, then at him again.
“Chris, please…” I tried to cut in, but he didn’t let me.
“It’s Colin’s birthday! He’s turning thirty today!”
I glared at Chris, who grinned in response.
“Thank you, Chris. You sure know how to keep a secret, buddy.”
Kathleen gasped in surprise and her face lit up.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” she said, giving me a scolding glance. “This is a milestone; of course we’ve got to celebrate!”
There, exactly what I didn’t want: a birthday celebration in my hometown with my childhood friend. This would only be a painful reminder of how special my birthdays had been before my parents died, how special they made it for me every single year. If Chris wanted me to feel miserable for the rest of the night he’d done it just right.
I hadn’t celebrated a birthday in ages; I’d barely let Gran make a cake for my eighteenth, and only then because she’d looked sad when I’d told her I didn’t want to celebrate. I’d always celebrated my birthday with my family and when I lost them I stopped celebrating; I didn’t want the old memories to resurface, and I didn’t want to create new ones. And here I was now, with Chris and Kathleen both looking forward to celebrating my birthday. It was the last thing I wanted.
“So can I tell Melissa you’re coming to dinner, then?” Chris asked with a grin.
Kathleen nodded vehemently and looked at me with a broad smile. I couldn’t find the heart to spoil the fun for her. Whatever had made her sad had temporarily been forgotten, and I loved seeing the smile back on her face.
I’d do it for her. I was an adult now, and I’d been a master at disguising my sorrow for fourteen years; one more night wouldn’t kill me. If I could make her happy and see her smile like that I was ready to make the effort.
I shrugged. “Do I have a choice?” I asked rhetorically and she smiled, shaking her head. Finally the elevator doors opened again, and I felt relieved as I stepped inside and said goodbye to Chris at last.
As soon as we were alone in the elevator she tugged at my sleeve and I stared down at her, feigning exasperation.
“What?” I asked in a huff, but when she gave me one of those sweet and sexy smiles my heart melted and, once again, I forgot why I was upset.
“Why didn’t you tell me it’s your birthday?” she asked, her big blue eyes staring at me with a hurt look. I couldn’t bear to see that look and know I was the cause so I crouched down and took her hands in mine, kissing her palms.
“I don’t like celebrations,” I said, not wanting to say more—or the real reason, for that matter. “I don’t really care that much about birthdays. I’m sorry I upset you, babe.”
She locked eyes with me, and once again the words came without permission. She had a mesmerizing stare; I didn’t know how she did it, but every time she looked at me like that I was totally incapable of lying.
“My birthdays were different before my parents died,” I said, and I felt her hands squeeze mine. “My parents always made it a special day, and I’ve never wanted to celebrate without them.”
“I’m sorry, Colin,” she said, sounding more apologetic than ever. It made me feel awful. “We don’t have to go, if you don’t want. It’s fine, we can do something else. We can watch a movie or something.”
I shook my head. “No, it’s okay. If we don’t go tonight Chris will never leave me alone.”
She giggled, knowing I was right. She’d come to know my friend pretty well by now, and she knew he didn’t like to take no for an answer.
The elevator doors opened and I pushed her out and into the taxi. I’d do it for her, just to see her happy and make that sadness leave her eyes.