When my husband and I finally returned to central Florida after twenty years of moving about the country, I have to admit, I envisioned the whole town turning out to greet us.
I quickly squelched such utterly foolish ideas. I'd settle for a banner strung across the front door, I told myself.
I could practically taste my mom's fried chicken and the made-from-scratch banana pudding she'd serve for dessert. I imagined Dad taking the tarp off the old Chevy I'd left in the barn. By the time I got home, he'd have it road-worthy again.
But once again, I'd let my imagination get away from me.
In the first place, there was no barn. No Chevy, either. And since Mom had spent five of the last twenty years moving from place-to-place with my family, if I wanted my favorite meal, I'd have to fix it myself. Or, more likely, pick it up at the grocery store.
Once reality sunk in, I realized that coming home is rarely what we imagine. In my mind, everything I'd left behind had stayed the same while I was "out there" exploring the great big world (or moving from one mundane job to another). But my parents, sister, cousins and friends hadn't exactly been sitting around waiting for me. They'd moved on with their lives, too. I didn't fit as neatly back into the scheme of things as I thought I would. I had some adjusting to do.
In the Rancher's Homecoming series, the next three books I'm writing for Harlequin American, Seth and Doris's five sons come back home to the Circle P, the setting for Rancher's Son.
But, they make many of the same discoveries I made when I finally moved back "home."
Things are different on the ranch they left behind. There's a new cook in the kitchen and, not only does she make a mean fried chicken, she looks mighty fine while she's doing it. The neighbor's daughter, the one all the boys loved to tease so much, has exchanged her tomboy looks for quiet sophistication. The nearby town has grown, and the owner of the new music store on the corner has every cowboy within fifty miles strumming a guitar.
Yes, things have changed. And I'm having a lot of fun seeing how these rugged ranchers react to the changes that have taken place on the Circle P in the years they've been away. I hope you will, too, when the Rancher's Homecoming series reaches store shelves next year.