As I promised yesterday, I went and dug deep to find you Seth and Meg’s earliest sightings in the Hearts and Minds series. They both show up early in Saint and Scholar, though not together. Because that’s the “sweetest” book in the series, you won’t need to shield your screen for these. (I know. Boo.)
First up, a Seth sighting. To set the scene: the hero, Grant, is a graduate TA and is stepping out of a classroom only to bump into the brick wall known as Seth. (If your memory’s any good, you’ll remember Seth had more on his face than his head in these days.)
From Chapter One
Grant nearly jumped out of his Pumas the moment he pulled the door handle. His friend Seth, a bald, red-bearded ogre of a rugby player stood just on the other side with his fist raised, ready to knock.
“Jesus!” he hissed, pushing the big man back and pulling the door closed. He put a hand on Seth’s shoulder and herded him toward the fire stairs. “What are you doing here?” he asked once they were out of earshot of the students and on the way down to the second floor.
“We’re going to the club tonight and need a driver,” Seth said.
“Hell no.” They turned the landing. “If I keep messing around with you and Curt, I’ll be on some kind of international no-fly list. I need to fly out of this country next week, so I’d like to keep my shenanigans down to a bare minimum. You’ve still got another year here. Or more. What is your status with that dissertation?”
“It’s not the dissertation. My advisor has disappeared. Went poof! So you’re taking the job?”
Grant brandished his paperwork at Seth as he pulled the door open. “Faxing them now. Dropping the hardcopies in the mail as soon as Courtney finishes her exam.”
“Courtney is cute.”
“Oh, you know her?”
“Yes, sometimes when I’m bored I sit out on the wall and watch the kids file out of your class. She winked at me once. I think she’s a whore. Anyhow, girls in the physics department are much uglier than usual this year. I scout wherever I can.”
“Way to be inappropriate, bud.”
“Can’t get any if I don’t try.”
“Well, Curt doesn’t try and he seems to do okay.”
“He’s got the accent.”
“I’ve got the same accent.”
“His is better.”
Grant blew out an exasperated breath and Seth followed him down the hall into the office. They both waved at the perky receptionist as they walked past her desk toward the copy room. Once situated in front of the fax machine, Seth returned to his more pressing matter.
“Well, your imminent departure is all the more reason for you to go out with us, yes? A last harrumph?”
Grant cringed and continued stabbing at the machine’s keypad. Seth was an international student, like Grant and Curt, but hailed from “Mother Russia.” He was studying astrophysics and had plans to join the Russian space program at some point…if it still existed by the time he finished his damn dissertation. Seth regularly botched his colloquialisms and Grant had the never-ending chore of educating him on the intricacies of casual language. “Last hurrah, you mean.”
Poor Seth. He started out a bit of a caricature, but then, I started bonding with the guy.
Next up, we see Meg in the club Seth alluded to…but the two don’t actually cross paths.
To set the scene, the heroine–Carla–is a bit of a hermit. She’s agreed to let her friends drag her out to the nightclub, and Meg is one of those friends.
From Chapter Four
Sharon kissed both of Carla’s cheeks continental style and slid an arm around her waist as soon as she’d paid her way in and had the bouncer check her purse for weapons. “Come on in. Megan’s holding a table for us,” she yelled over the house music.
“Oh, Meg’s here?”
Sharon giggled. “I know, right? Her hubby’s out of town. We would never have gotten her out, otherwise. Don’t say anything about her weight, okay?” She said that last part in an almost whisper, bending in close to Carla’s ear and making Carla’s eyes water with the scent of her new perfume. Carla crinkled her nose at the overly floral scent, a far cry from Sharon’s usual fruity mist. She took one more deep inhale just to be sure it was Sharon and not some passerby. The fragrance smelled like something her grandmother would wear. She coughed and straightened up.
At the bar, she availed herself of a double whiskey sour. The bartender was extra busy, fielding orders while simultaneously trying to maintain polite conversations with some boisterous male patrons on the bar stools. A few lushes at the tables just beyond were shouting out crude comments at the busy employee, but their distance made them easier to ignore. Carla itched to tell them to shut up. Catcalling was one of her biggest pet peeves, but she held her tongue. She didn’t want to start an altercation with a bunch of drunks and end up carted handcuffed into one of the police stations she worked with. It had happened before. She winced, recalling how a woman had made a rude comment about the way her ass looked in her jeans. Carla, drunker than she’d ever been in life, had thrown her drink in her face.
Carla stood on her toes and looked into the sea of tables to spot the miniscule Meg, and sipped her drink as she thought about how that heckler had ended up a victim of the Gill Right Hook. The members of that particular police department had razzed her about it for six months.
Ah, there she is.
“What’s wrong with her weight?” Carla asked while stuffing a five-dollar bill into the bartender’s tip vase and receiving a wink from her in thanks.
“Well, nothing labor and delivery can’t fix. She’s pregnant, and she thinks it’s a secret. Better not to discuss it.”
“That’s weird. I mean, the silence part, not the pregnancy part.”
“I’m sure Spike put her up to it. I don’t see him as the paternal sort. His fans might be turned off by it.”
That sure puts Spike into perspective, huh?
Now, we don’t see Meg in Calculated Exposure (although she’s mentioned in passing), but we do see Seth.
Here’s just a teensy snippet from Erica’s point of view that shows her meeting Seth for the first time.
From Chapter Thirteen
She put her fist up to the door before she could talk herself out of it. She was way too good at talking herself out of shit.
The door sprang inward in seconds. “Come on, we’re not being that loud.” The owner of that deep, heavily-accented voice was a man holding the knob with one hand and a beer in the other.
Her eyes widened as she took in the man’s bulk. He was big. Six-three, maybe six-four, and definitely not skinny. He could probably bench press a Buick. His hair was unequivocally red, not auburn. Not strawberry blond. Red. But for a redhead, he was somewhat dark-complexioned. Not tan, but pretty close as if there was a hint of something in his ancestry not quite European. He was nice to look at in a scary, giant, Soviet Bloc kind of way.
“Well, hello. You’re not the neighbor,” he rumbled.
Erica shook her head. “No.”
“Who is it?” asked a man with a brogue who was certainly not her Irishman. Grant. It was Grant’s voice.
“I don’t know,” the man in the doorway called back. “She’s pretty. Must be selling something.”
She laughed. “I’m not selling anything.”
“Hold it, I know that laugh. Back off, Seth.”
“Damn it,” Seth murmured around the neck of his beer bottle. He walked away from the door mumbling something about lucky Irishmen getting all the good ones.
The great thing about series is that as long as you’re still building in the world, you never have to say goodbye to the characters you’ve dragged kicking and screaming through a bunch of books! In fact, you’ll see them again in On the Ropes–Stephen’s story. They’re family, after all.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back with some character dossiers–everything you need to know about Seth and Meg in a nutshell.
Don’t forget to keep rocking those tour stops, and see what bloggers are saying about my big red Russian (oh, and, you know. win stuff.)