Meet the Character ~ Stephanie Harris

Unseen Motives is now in the hands of beta readers. Barring any major glitches, only a few weeks remain until the release date. Today I’m excited to introduce you to the protagonist, Stephanie Harris. She agreed to talk with me, but first I’ll tell you a bit about her background.

Stephanie is in her mid-thirties, unmarried, but divorced. She lived in the small town of Driscoll Lake until her first year of high school. She is a best-selling author of several mystery and suspense novels.

Before becoming a full-time novelist, she worked as a journalist for a popular travel magazine. During that time, she visited lots of exotic locations around the world but now lives in Denver, Colorado.

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? However, Stephanie’s life wasn’t always so good. She was only fourteen when her father died of an apparent suicide. Police said he killed himself after murdering Madelyn Cameron Denton, owner of Driscoll Lake’s major employer, Cameron Manufacturing.

After her father’s death and a subsequent scandal involving embezzled money, Stephanie and her mother moved away from Driscoll Lake. Twenty years later, she returned for the funeral of her great-aunt, Helen.

Stephanie agreed to meet me at Rosa’s—a popular taqueria. I arrived ten minutes early to find her already there, sitting at a table near the back, facing the door. After exchanging pleasantries, we ordered our food. I chose a fajita taco. Stephanie ordered a burrito.

“You have to try Rosa’s guacamole,” she said. “It’s the best.”

“Lunch is on me. I’ll order guacamole and chips as an appetizer.”

We made small talk while waiting for our meal. I discovered we had several things in common. We both like Mexican food, iced tea with a lime rather than lemon, and not to mention both of us grew up in a small Texas town.

Stephanie seemed distracted—almost nervous. She kept looking around the room, paying particular attention as people entered the restaurant. Being a writer myself, I often observe others as models for characters. Many times, I’ve overheard conversations that generated story ideas.

However, I couldn’t help but believe there was another reason for Stephanie’s apparent apprehension.

She must have read my mind. “Sorry,” she said. “Didn’t mean to ignore you.”

“That’s okay. I’m also a writer and therefore a people watcher.”

“It’s not that.” She lowered her voice. “I think someone doesn’t want me here.”

“In Driscoll Lake? Why?”

“Well, I—” She paused when the server brought our guacamole.

I scooped some onto a plate and took a bite, savoring the taste of avocado combined with purple onion, tomatoes, and cilantro. Without a doubt, it was the best I had eaten since several years ago in Santa Fe. “This is delicious,” I said.

“Told you,” Stephanie placed a guacamole-covered chip in her mouth.

She seemed to relax somewhat. I almost regretted having to ask the reason for her jitteriness. Still, I wanted to know. “Why do you think someone doesn’t want you around?”

“Well, when I first arrived, I found a note that more or less told me to watch my back. I have found two more since then.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

“No. At first, I thought it might be a prank—maybe someone who had read one of my novels. However, the other night I received an anonymous phone call.”

“Why would someone care if you’re in Driscoll Lake?”

“Not sure, but it could because of my father. You know all about that.”

I nodded my head.

“Anyway, a few days after I arrived, I found something that indicates he may have been innocent. It could be someone doesn’t want me to know the truth.”

“If you know something that can prove his innocence why not go to the police?”

“Not enough evidence, but I’ve decided to stay here a while longer and do my own investigation. I won’t allow anyone to scare me away.”

“Don’t you think you should at least tell the police about the threats?”

“I’m still not certain someone isn’t playing games with me. Besides, I don’t want to trouble Matt.”

“Matt? Who is he?”

“He’s the police chief. We were in school together before I moved away.” She smiled. “Don’t tell anyone, but I had a crush on him back then.”

“I gather you still have feelings for him. Couldn’t help but notice the way your eyes lit up when you mentioned his name.”

She shrugged—a slight grin on her face. “Maybe.”

When the rest of our food arrived, I sensed she no longer wanted to talk about her father. Stephanie is a strong, determined woman who won’t give up easy.

We chatted about writing, the weather, and commiserated about the intense Texas heat. When the meal was over, she thanked me for lunch and apologizing for having to leave.

“I’m in the middle of a novel. Have a deadline for the first draft. Hope you understand.”

“Of course.”

I couldn’t help but notice the man who watched her leave the restaurant. I had an uneasy feeling about him.

Tell someone about the threats, Stephanie. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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