When Reed and I meet for his interview, it’s early June, after one of his baseball games. Watching Reed play baseball is a real treat. Reed is a fierce competitor and he’s extremely athletic. I have the added bonus of seeing him in his baseball uniform. After his game, I watch him exit the baseball dugout and he takes off his cap, which reveals a mass of silky, dark brown hair. He has a sheen of sweat across his brow. Reed runs his fingers through his hair and slips his cap in his back pocket and I find that I’m holding my breath. Reed is gorgeous in a six-foot-three, rock-hard body. It’s evident he works out with weights, as I watch his muscles flex, as he strides toward me.
Reed eyes lock onto mine and I feel my spine tingle. Then, he smiles and waves. Reed has a little cockiness in that grin and he oozes self-confidence. But I also get a real sense of his friendliness and warmth. With lashes that would make Jennifer Lawrence jealous.
Reed: Hi D.J.! (I silently sigh) Where do you want me? (I can think of a few places…)
D.J.: Bleachers work for you?
We walk over to the bleachers and there’s a group of teenage girls hovering behind the bleachers, giggling and pointing. I take out my note pad and pen.
D.J. (I toss glance over my shoulder.) Fans?
Reed: (Laughs and shrugs) I guess.
D.F. Where are you from Reed?
Reed: Oh, no foreplay. Just kidding. (He grins and I blush) I’m from East Tennessee. My dad’s family has lived in Knoxville for three generations. My mom’s family is from Sevierville, Tennessee. My grandparents have a small farm in the mountains that’s close to the Cherokee National Forrest. I’ve had high friends ask me why I didn’t go to the Big Orange. The reason is simple: I received a full-ride scholarship from Middle Tennessee State University.
D.J. What do you want from life?
Reed: Ah, the life question. I guess I want what most folks want: happiness, love and success. I have dated many beautiful women. I love them all. But, what I really want is to fall in love and marry the woman of my dreams. Life is over in a blink. I want to look back when I’m 80 and have few regrets.
D.J. Could you describe yourself to me?
Reed: (he prepares to count off his points on his fingers and I try to loosen up) One, I’m a senior at MTSU. And two, I like to work out and play sports. (He places his hands on his knees and leans forward toward me) Any sport really, but my favorite sport is baseball. I’m playing on an adult men’s baseball team this summer called the Rockies. And I love to win. I work hard so I can play harder.
D.J. So, what do you do to chill out? And what do you do with your friends that you don’t normally don’t do with your family?
Reed: (He leans in really close and nudges my shoulder and then winks) Not sure if I can really answer that one, in this interview anyway, but I do love to party. I rarely drink around my family. My family only drinks on special occasions. Whereas my friends and I party every chance we can get! As a matter of fact, my friend, Brent, and I are heading out to a party in Everglade tonight. The Rockies team manager, George, has a little sister I’ve been dying to check out. I hear she’s a real spitfire! (He leans back against the bleachers and uses his elbows to prop up his weight)
D.J. So, you’re known for your love life around campus. You stated earlier that you wanted to fall in love with the woman of your dreams. Do you think you will fall in love at first sight or do you think you will fall in love with the right person over time?
(Reed takes a moment to think about my question before he replies and then raises his left brow.)
Reed: (He says, with a little bite of nastiness) I guess I do have somewhat of a reputation with the ladies. But I can tell you, with all honesty, they seek me out, not the other way around. (And then I get a sense of sadness from his reply. Reed takes a deep breath and tries to relax) I guess, I’m a little skeptical on the whole concept of love. There are many ways to love a woman. (He stares at me and my heart skips a beat.) I would like to think I could fall in love at first sight. Both of my parents say I’ll know my true love the moment I see her. They’re still in love after 25 years and I believe what they have is real love. So, I guess I have the hope of actually falling in love. I’m just not holding my breath.
D.J. How would you describe your true love or as you stated, the woman of your dreams?
Reed: (Reed’s laughter is back in his eyes as he slaps the side of his knee and then shakes his head at my question) And here, I thought you were interviewing me about playing baseball. If I didn’t know any better, D.J., I’d think you’re just interviewing me for a date. (I feel my face turn fifty shades of red) Okay, let’s see…. She’d have to be a stone-cold fox. (He chuckles again) The woman of my dreams has to laugh at my jokes. Okay, okay, I’m only half joking. I do love to laugh and I would want the woman of my dreams to have a sense of humor, too.
I love music, so she would have to dig my tunes. She also has to give as good as she gets. (He pins me another look with his beautiful brown eyes) If and when I ever fall in love, it will be for life. I expect my true love to share that same philosophy.
D.J. That’s it, Reed. Thanks for taking time to talk to me.
(Reed leans down close to my ear and I smell a trace of sweat and Aramis and my pulse races. He kisses me softly on the cheek.)
Reed: It’s been a real pleasure, Ms. Jones
D.J. (I smile) The pleasure has been all mine.
Ditch Lane Diaries
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: D.F. Jones
Date of Publication: July 25, 2015
Number of pages: 173
Word Count: 61,570
Cover Artist: Amanda Northcutt, Jones Media
Ruby’s Choice is a coming of age story set in the late 1970’s in Middle Tennessee with a splash of paranormal which will blossom in the second and third books of the series.
Ever since Ruby discovered an amber-encased spider web in the Campbell Ridge Cave, she has had dreams of births, deaths and glimpses into the future.
Ruby’s shift is coming to a close at Everglade General Store. As she stacks the last row of bath soap, Ruby recalls the delicious dream she had the night before. In the dream, a gorgeous guy is kissing a tickle spot, just behind her left earlobe, sending shivers up her spine. If only that dream could come true, instead of the one where a state trooper gives her a seventy-five dollar speeding ticket!
Ruby snaps back to reality when she hears the store’s front door bells chime. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say the frickin’ Adonis from her sexy dream just walked through the door.
Reed Jackson and Brent Brown introduce themselves to Ruby as members of the local baseball team her brother, George, manages. Brent mentions they specifically came out to the store to meet George’s hot, little sister. Ruby is slightly confused when she hears Reed murmur Tap It under his breath, but then she remembers the rumor going around campus about Reed and Brent’s dating game, where the two best friends compete to have a girl profess undying love to one of them. And Tap It is a winner takes all—all of what, though, Ruby has no clue. Ruby decides that she’ll play along, but according to her rules. She’ll suss out if either of these players is worthy of her love and respect.
One thing is for sure, Ruby is no pawn.
Who will be Ruby’s Choice?
Available at Amazon
Ca m p b e l l Ri d g e Ca v e 1972
RUBY, ANNA AND SANDY HAD their backpacks filled with water, extra flashlights and batteries for spelunking the cave on Campbell Ridge. Ruby had discovered the entrance of the cave with her brother, George, five years ago, when they were looking for Indian arrowheads. George had told her never under any circumstances to go inside of the cave. But today, Ruby and her best friends, Anna and Sandy, were looking for new adventures.
The girls were deep inside the cave, surrounded by complete darkness with only their flashlights to illuminate the interior walls. The limestone cave had beautiful rock formations, crystals and stalactites. The cave underground had seemed alien, almost unworldly. The air smelled of the dank earth, and the only sound was running water from the stream that ran through the cave.
Ruby was forced to climb over a boulder on her belly to squeeze through a narrow pass. The boulder opened up into a hidden room. Ruby was still hanging onto the rock when she yelled back at the girls, “Hey, guys, you have to see this!” And then she slid down the rock into the room.
Anna and Sandy scrambled up and over the boulder, shining their lights into the hidden room. Anna slid down the boulder and entered with Sandy right behind her. The hidden room was roughly the size of a bedroom. “Holy cow, there are ancient drawing’s on the wall.”
Thousands of years of groundwater had caused the rocks on one side of the cave to drop down forming large stalactites the size of a pickup truck. The large drawings revealed intricate details of each person etched in the stone wall. Sandy inspected the drawings closer as she walked down the length of the wall. “It’s a story. I read about ancient drawings like these in one of my National Geographic magazines. This is far out.”
Ruby tripped over a small rock, dropping her flashlight. The light on the ground lit the far left corner, revealing a massive figure carved in the stone. “Geez Louise! This dude looks like a freaking astronaut. Look at his helmet!”
Anna bumped into Ruby, nearly making them both fall down. She held onto Ruby’s shoulder and said, “That’s some spooky shit.”
Anna walked past Sandy to the next group of drawings. “Here’s the same dude again. He’s holding a totem and there are three people kneeling before him. This looks like a ritual or rite of passage.”
Sandy sat down on a rock, mesmerized by what they had discovered. She flashed her light toward Ruby and Anna as they traced their fingers over the different drawings. Sandy asked, “Do you think we should tell our parents or teachers?”
Anna and Ruby walked over sit to on the ground next to Sandy. Ruby’s light fused with Sandy’s as Anna’s light circled around to the other parts of the room. There was only one wall dedicated to the drawings. Anna replied, “I don’t think so. A tribe sealed this room for some reason. We should leave. I’ve got a weird feeling, like we’re being watched.”
Sandy stood, tipping over the rock she had been sitting on, causing her flashlight to point downward. “Hey, look, something’s under this rock. Bring your lights over here.” Anna and Sandy shined their lights over the place where the rock had been, as Ruby knelt down, reached in and pulled out the object.
The girls plopped back down on the hard ground, staring wide-‐ eyed at the totem. Ruby’s voice trembled. “It’s the totem in the drawing, the same one the deity is handing over to the people kneeling on the ground. I know this sounds weird, but this thing is pulsing in my hands.”
Sandy reached over to pluck the totem out of Ruby’s hand. The totem was around six inches tall, made out of crystal and quartz with piercing sapphire eyes. The detailed carvings made the image of the face appear real, smooth as glass to the touch, as though sculpted by a master artisan, and no matter which way they turned the totem, it seemed to be watching them. “It’s a smaller version of the big guy in the corner. He is looking at me.”
Sandy handed the totem to Anna, who turned it over in her hands. “I see what you mean. This little dude is shooting energy to my fingertips. We need to place this thing back where we found it and get the hell out of Dodge. I have the creeps in here.”
Ruby took the totem and put it back in the hole. In another part of the cave, Ruby could hear rocks falling. “We need to get out of here because the cave is shifting.” The girls rolled the boulder back in place and made a hasty exit.
Outside in the daylight, they sat on a rock ledge, out of breath and speechless. Ruby opened her backpack and pulled out an amber-‐ encased spider web. “Well, shut the front door, what the heck? Look y’all, it’s a spider web inside a piece of amber?”
Anna found an amethyst stone in her pocket, and Sandy opened her thermos finding a hiddenite stone. Anna shook her head in bewilderment. “Well, I’m pretty sure these stones weren’t with us before we went inside the cave. If I wasn’t so dad blame scared, I’d take this back inside the cave, right now.”
Sandy stared at her stone and then spoke quietly. “I don’t want to spook you any further, but holding this stone gave me a vision of the deity who gave us the stones. In the vision, he is relaying that we’re to keep the stones on our person at all times. He will reveal to us in time what it means and we aren’t supposed to talk about this again until he reveals it to Ruby in a dream.”
The girls looked at each other wide-‐eyed, holding their stones in eerie silence. They never uttered a single word about the totem or the stones again—until years later.
About the Author:
D.F. Jones is a native of Middle Tennessee and is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. After college she landed a job with the ABC Affiliate in Nashville as a broadcast consultant. She opened her advertising agency in 1998. After years of writing creative for other people through her media company, she decided to write something for herself. It turned into her debut novel, Ruby’s Choice. If you love to read and get immersed into the characters of a book, then you will catch a small drift of how incredible it is to write your own characters and breathe them into life.