…heralding the end of the working week and my new Friday theme begins today.
I’ve done something similar in the past about those supporting characters in a novel who just keep shy of the main limelight but I believe they really deserve a bit of exposure. Therefore, in order to promote those impressive supportive secondary characters, which virtually all stories that I’ve read require, they will have my Friday blog slots from now until the end of March. I'll be joined by lots of supportive secondary characters penned by my guest author friends from next week onward till the end of March, so please keep popping in and enjoy those who don't quite get the star spots of the books they appear in.
It was hard for me to choose which of my characters to begin the series with since I’m quite partial to a good few but the toss of the coin has gone to my lovely Ruaridh in my humorous contemporary mystery Take Me Now.
Ruaridh as the father of the main male character, Nairn Malcolm, was a joy to create. At the outset of writing the novel my intention was that it would be a fairly simple romantic comedy mystery and for any kind of romance there’s generally a need for a rival for the heroine’s attention.
To suit the domestic situation my hero and heroine find themselves in, I didn’t want another younger character invading the castle. To make my situation work for Aela as the interviewee for a job at the restored island castle, I needed another man familiar with the house and familiar with Nairn Malcolm who was interviewing Aela for a job.
Who better than Nairn’s very likeable, footloose and fancy free, father! The image below is probably just about right for how I see Ruaridh. I popped in my usual images for Aela and Nairn- I hope you like them,too!
Here’s a long extract introducing Ruaridh:
Aela peered at the clock again, memories of the evening before slamming in. She had intended to check on Nairn during the night, but it was well past the time for that.
Bacon was crackling and crisping under the grill. She was finishing the last of a stack of pancakes, having found some maple syrup in one of the well-stocked cupboards, when she became aware of someone entering the kitchen.
“Well, isn’t this a sight for sore eyes, lass.” Ruaridh’s voice boomed in the near silence. “It’s about time someone as beautiful as you made something smelling so good in this kitchen.”
“What? No blonde bunnies cooking for your son?” The tart comment slipped out.
Ruaridh’s chuckle was infectious. “Och, no, Aela. Nairn’s blonde bunnies wouldn’t have a clue about which end of a wooden spoon to use.”
She gurgled along with him as he came over to the cooker and inspected her gelling pancakes, the current batch blowing bubbles, just ready for turning.
“Nairn’s lady-friends aren’t Scottish island mentality. They’re more inclined to baking themselves in the sun at his Corsican villa than whipping up a batch of pancakes.”
Mentally filing away the snippet of information, she avoided further banter about Nairn’s women friends. “Well, this is no culinary feast, but there’s plenty if you haven’t eaten yet.”
“You’re tactful, too,” Ruaridh praised before he asked for an update on Nairn.
Aela’s hearty laugh pealed out. “Nope. I’m not too good at tact, but I know when to keep my mouth shut which isn’t exactly the same thing. It’s just the two of us again. Your son sure likes the land of nod.”
Bacon slices and a stack of pancakes were placed in front of Ruaridh before she sat down with a full plate for herself. His chuckling continued as he complimented her on her cooking initiative.
“I hope you don’t mind me doing this. You did say to make myself at home, and making breakfast seemed fair since you cooked for me last night.”
Ruaridh answered around a mouthful of syrupy pancake. “No problem at all, lass. Glad to have you on board.”
“On board what?” Nairn’s question had their heads whipping around. It was obvious neither Aela Cameron nor Ruaridh had heard the whisper of the wheelchair, but his enquiry interrupted their conversation.
“On board the company flagship, of course. Morning, Nairn. I see the long sleep improved your temper.”
His father continued to eat, his mumbles coming around mouthfuls of bacon, his sarcastic wisecrack accompanied by a wink first for Aela, and then one for him. A reaction typical of Ruaridh. What the hell did he mean? Company flagship? He must have given the woman a job, but he remembered not a blasted thing about it, and now his father and Aela Cameron were tucking into food at his kitchen table. He snagged Aela’s gaze. Her molasses-rich eyes were twinkling, but not at him. Ruaridh was the source of her good spirits.
How Nairn looked
before his bike spill!
“Good morning, Miss Cameron.” Turning to Ruaridh he ensured his voice was saccharine sweet. “Morning, father.”
“Oh, my word, lass. Do you hear that?” Ruaridh laid his hand theatrically over his heart. “Somebody in this room must have got out of the wrong side of the bed.”
Aela Cameron laughed again. The woman was far too flippant. Something about disrespect niggled at Nairn. He was sure he’d felt it the day before, as well as finding her too inclined to laugh at the state he was in. None of the banter shared with Ruaridh made him feel any better. Even the cosy sight of them sitting at his table aggravated him. It had been his father’s hearty laugh and a gentler tinkle of female amusement that had wakened him. Though he couldn’t hear what they’d been saying, it was obvious Ruaridh and Aela were getting along very well.
With a scrubbed face and still drying hair hanging straight down her back - a black shimmer trailing almost to her waist - the woman was striking. No doubt she’d ensnared Ruaridh’s attention from the sound of the charm oozing out of his father. The thought of his old man flirting with Aela Cameron held no appeal. At fifty-seven, Ruaridh was very popular with the local ladies even though he’d never shown signs of wanting to remarry after the divorce to Nairn’s mother more than a decade ago. Yet Nairn knew Ruaridh was more than capable of acquiring a new woman, or wife, if he were to choose.
“Would you like breakfast, Mr. Malcolm? I’ve made plenty.”
She’d made herself at home in his kitchen? Bloody hell! Had he given her a job as his cook as well? She’d soon learn he cooked for himself when he was home, though, maybe not right now since his injuries were a damned nuisance. He swallowed his pride, with difficulty.
“I would. Thank you, Miss Cameron.”
Aela jumped up and removed a chair to make room for his wheelchair, her movements efficient.
“So you’re making use of the chariot then? Just think, Nairn, with a bit of practice you’ll be doing wheelies on the quay side, and you’ll have forgotten your stookies.” Ruaridh’s chuckled comments were interspersed by pauses, as he mowed his way through his plateful.
Nairn made no initial comment, Aela cutting pancakes and bacon into small pieces before placing the plate in front of him. Did she think he was incapable of feeding himself? Annoyance stirred again as he focused on his father’s remarks and grins but much as he tried, he couldn’t quite suppress the twitch at his mouth because his father often managed to make awkward situations light hearted. “Thanks for fetching it. Wheeling around, strangely enough, is much easier on the ribs.”
“All joking aside, how do you feel this morning, Nairn?” Ruaridh flicked open the syrup bottle, added some to the residue of his pancakes then waved it, asking a silent question.
After receiving a liberal sprinkling of tawny maple syrup over his breakfast, Nairn picked up his fork with his less than expert left hand. “The headache and disorientation have finally gone, thank God.” He deliberately sought out Aela’s eyes. Eyes he thought were maybe hiding something? “Miss Cameron will be delighted to know, like a good boy, I’ll take the painkillers on a regular basis till the ribs heal and not be stupidly macho about it.”
He watched Aela suppress a grin, didn’t break a smile himself, but he remembered more of her barbed words of the previous afternoon – because what he’d just stated was a sanitised version. There was no hint of remorse or embarrassment in her expression as she attacked her stack of pancakes with enthusiasm. He’d expected his comment to ruffle her, but there wasn’t a hint of discomfort showing.
A bit of pancake was shuffled around before he managed to spear it properly. He just caught Aela Cameron’s full blown beam in his peripheral vision as he lifted the fork to his mouth. She was laughing at him again, looking as though she knew something he didn’t, but he’d turn the tables on that soon enough. Only good manners prevented him from throwing her right out on her ass. Out of his kitchen. Out of his castle. He gulped over a mouthful. Out of his jobs. Out of reach of…Ruaridh…who was behaving as though Aela Cameron belonged at his table, as if she’d been a fixture for ages.
Ruaridh must have asked the woman to stay overnight.
The sweetness of the syrupy pancake was suddenly sickening. What had happened before she’d gone to bed in the apartment? The pile of pancake and bacon pieces slowly found their way to his mouth as he deliberated how to achieve her expulsion, because the woman was a thorn in his already aching flesh. He laid down his fork to fumble for the napkin Aela had set beside his plate and used it to mop the sweat from his brow. The room was so damned hot now he wished he’d not squirmed his way into his towelling robe. Maybe he was running a temperature? When he looked at his table companions it seemed he was the only one to feel the excessive heat.
The meal progressed, Ruaridh and Aela dominating the conversation. Ruaridh chattered about sights to see down in the town of
Aela responded she’d been delighted with her short foray down to the harbour.
Nairn found Aela’s voice husky - not a figment of his imagination, and just
what he remembered from his erotic early-morning dream. Replies he gave were
minimal as he concentrated on attacking his food, making sure it reached his
mouth and not the floor. Mariskay
“No, lass, I’ll tidy up.” Ruaridh intervened as Aela started to clear the table when all three of them had finished. “Nairn will want to formalize your job, now.”
“Formalize her job?” His comment spat out along with a bit of pancake. He tried to interpret the statement as Ruaridh continued to stack the dishes.
“Aela needs to get started on the backlog of your calls as soon as possible, Nairn. You know how your inquiries build up.”
“Your timely reminder is duly noted, Father. Since you’re so up to date with my business, maybe you should be the one to formalize Miss Cameron’s job?” He knew Ruaridh’s sigh was for effect…and as a blatant prod since his father’s expression and body-language indicated he was being obtuse.
“Nairn. Appropriate documents weren’t ready yesterday. You only dealt in the verbal. Do I have to remind you that you were not compos mentis? Aela needs to sign her contract.”
“Her contract?” Nairn stared, a tense silence lingering. Ruaridh muttered as he stacked the dishwasher. He glared at Ruaridh’s obdurate back because his father was up to something, though he didn’t know what.
Aela, he was gratified to see, gaped at both of them.
He blasted his father to hell and damnation along with a few curses well-aimed at himself as he acknowledged what must be done to salvage the mess he appeared to have made. Wheeling himself out of the kitchen, he snapped, “Miss Cameron. Come to the office, please.”
Aela didn’t immediately follow him. He could hear her tight voice speaking with Ruaridh as he bowled along the corridor.
I'm looking forward to meeting some more secondary supporting characters next week. Tune in to the historical one Jennifer Wilson has for us!
(ps I've read the book she's highlighting and what she's sending on is perfect!)