The story behind the story: Pink Neon Dreams

The Making of Pink Neon by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Bíonn dhá insint ar scéal agus dhá leagan déag ar amhrán

            My favorite Irish proverb says there are at least two versions of every story and a dozen version of every song.  As a writer and author I agree.  When I first began my upcoming new release, a contemporary romance from Evernight Publishing, titled Pink Neon Dreams, I had a beginning and I thought I knew how it would take shape and form. An earlier edition, titled Pink Neon has gone the way of the dinosaur and risen, stronger, better, edited with a finer hand, and emerged as a proverbial phoenix from the fire.  So, yes, there are two versions of this story but the newest, the one out on May 7, is the better.
 The novel begins with a woman driving a vintage fire engine red GTO over the hills and curves in the Ozarks, a woman too exotic to be a native with her dark skin and corn-rowed braids.  She’s brave, though, and bold as she comes to start over, to begin again in a different place in order to realize her dreams.  Here’s the blurb and when I have the cover, I’ll share it too.

Cecily Brown lands in Branson, Missouri after a divorce to start over.  She plans to make her long standing dreams of owning a boutique called ‘Pink Neon’ come true and forget the decade she spent trapped in a hellish marriage to millionaire jeweler Willard Bradford VI.  But, her ex-husband managed to get murdered on the steps of his mansion but Cecily doesn’t care. Her old life is history and she’s eager to move forward with the grand opening of her boutique. Her first customer at Pink Neon is a man, dark and mysterious and their attraction is intense. So is their first date which ends in intimacy and soon, she’s all but inseparable from Daniel Padilla.  Life’s good until Padilla admits he’s an FBI agent sent to check Cecily out. She reacts with anger but as she learns she’s become the FBI’s favorite suspect, she has to trust Daniel if she can trust anyone at all. As the investigation heats up, she ends up heading south with him to Texas, as she and her FBI lover try to discover who the real killer might be. But danger lurks and it’s going to get rough before they straighten things out….if they can

            So Pink Neon grew from a story about one woman seeking a new life and a fresh start to a romance between two seemingly unlikely people but it works.  I built it page by page, scene by scene.
Here’s a little taste to whet your appetite:

Tell her, you bastard.  Just spit it on out and handle her reaction.  She’s going to be pissed but better now than after you make love again.  He struggled to find a way to say it so it wouldn’t seem so damn bad or make him out a villain.  Daniel wanted to make her understand why he’d kept silent about it until now.  Somehow he needed to spin it so she wouldn’t hate him.
Deep in thought, he didn’t speak for a few minutes, longer than he thought because Cecily leaned over and shook his shoulder.  He inhaled her sweet, rich perfume and wanted to kiss her first.  The wine he’d drunk sent dizzy spirals though his head when he moved.
“Daniel?” she inquired. “Is something wrong? You zoned out on me.”
Her concern made it harder, but he looked up. “Cecily, I need to tell you something before we go any farther.  I should’ve told you up front, but I didn’t know it’d be like this between us.”
She frowned and made a furrow between her eyes. “Whatever it is, just tell me.  How bad can it be?”
“Try not to hate me, okay?”
“You’re starting to scare me, sugar.”
“All right, I’ll just say it straight out – I’m an FBI agent out of the Kansas City office. They sent me here to check you out.”
  Her amazing eyes turned to onyx. “For what?”
“Your ex-husband’s murder and the theft of two million dollars in jewels.”
The words hung between them, almost tangible enough to touch.  Daniel watched as the information sank into her consciousness and saw the terrible knowledge change the expression on her face.  A minute passed, then two, maybe three. “You think I did it?” she said.
“No,” Daniel said. “I know you didn’t.”
Cecily stood up and stood still.  She reminded him of the eerie calm before a tornado slams out of the sky or the pause prior to a thunderstorm unleashing fury from the heavens.  An almost pagan fear of the unknown seized his chest and he tensed, his earlier relaxation gone.
“How?” she asked.
Aware what he said might well either save his ass or trash it, Daniel came to his feet and faced her. “Everything I’ve come to know about you tells me you didn’t kill him and you wouldn’t.  You’re a hell of a lot more straightforward than that, and I know you didn’t take the jewels.  And my gut says so, too, for whatever it’s worth.”
“Uh-huh,” she said with her usual bravado, but he saw the tears glinting in her eyes. “Right.  Want to explain why it took so long to mention your career, G-man?”
He couldn’t.  But he tried. “I don’t know.  I was afraid you’d be pissed at me.”
“Yeah, I am,” Cecily cried in a voice sharp with the lilt of the Chicago neighborhood she’d called home. “That’s why you choked, on the fishing pier, isn’t it? You didn’t want to tell me.”
“That’s true, I didn’t because I already knew how attracted I was to you,” Daniel said.  It sounded lame even to him. 
“So how do I know any of this is real?” she asked.  A tear slipped from her eye to trail down her cheek. He wanted to wipe it away, but he didn’t dare touch her, not now. “Maybe it’s just all some bullshit FBI tactics to get me to confide in you.”
Her accusation hit him with force and Daniel knew, reeling, he cared very much for this woman.  Hell, maybe he loved her.  He’d never been one to believe in ‘love at first sight’ but he couldn’t deny the powerful attraction he’d felt from the second he saw Cecily.  Nor could he explain the closeness he felt to her or why he’d confided things he never spoke about.
“It’s not, querida,” he said. “It’s real, realer than anything I’ve felt in years.  I’ve been dead inside, but you revived me.  Believe me.  I don’t lie.”
Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Except when you don’t mention who the hell you are and what you’re doing.”
She nailed him to the wall with the truth. Daniel felt the sting of it. “Cecily, listen to me.”
“I can’t,” she said. “Not this minute.  I can’t breathe.  I need to think.”

            You can find more out about me on my Facebook author page:
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Pink Neon like my other titles will be available at Evernight Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand, Smashwords, and All Romance Ebooks.


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