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It’s the last day of my extra-long weekend, and it looks more like fall here now, with most of the trees showing colors other than green, finally! Though there are some trees that seem to have skipped the color change and gone right to drop-all-the-leaves. Halloween is less than a week away, and my biggest excitement for it is that it is also a blue moon this year. I’m just hoping the weather is nice enough to see it, maybe set up the telescope in the back yard to do a little stargazing. Might be too chilly for that, though, we’ll see.

We haven’t done too much for Halloween for a long time, mostly since the boys were little, besides hand out candy, and haven’t done that regularly in recent years either, depending on what day of the week trick or treat falls–some of those long busy work days meant I wasn’t even home in time for trick or treat. There were a few years when they were littler that hubs would set up a display outside for trick or treat night and dress up to hand out candy while I walked the boys in our neighborhood. I’ve never been a big costume person, so I don’t miss dressing up. The last couple of years, there aren’t as many kids in the neighborhood anymore, so less trick or treaters have come knocking when we did hand out candy. Last I heard, our township is planning on trick or treat this week, but I have to wonder how many parents will trust that it’s safe this year for their kids. If our boys were still little, I probably would not since our state’s numbers have been on the rise for weeks. I decided some time ago that this isn’t a good year for me to be handing out candy, even though I am going to be home, which is a little sad. I like seeing the costumes, but I also like being healthy. I also don’t want to share any germs with my next door neighbor, who is older and vulnerable and who I check in on fairly regularly.

So I think I’ll curl up with some fun movies instead, like Practical Magic or The Witches of Eastwick, or even some Stephen King movies, and that can be my trick or treat night treat. Do you have favorite seasonal movies you pull out to watch this time of year? Scary? Funny? In between?

I have a little snippet from my latest paranormal romance, Light the Way Home, for you today.

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Lucie laughed in all the right places as Hayden chattered around bites of his meal, and Nate realized he was staring.

She was pretty. Her green eyes crinkled at the corners as she smiled across the table, briefly. His gaze slid to her mouth for a moment. Tempting.

He jerked his attention back to his meal. He had no time for tempting. Or for anything, really. There was enough on his plate–his son, his cabinet-making business. And now he’d spend more time running back and forth to his parents’ once his dad got sprung from the hospital, until Max was mobile.

His gaze landed on her again, in spite of his best intentions, and she met it, her smile softening.

Fuck him.

Her eyes widened, darkening, and her smile faded. Awareness shifted her expression, and she dropped her gaze to her plate.

At least one of them had enough sense to know that would be stupid.

He took a quick drink from his glass and stuffed a piece of chicken into his mouth.

“Daddy, is Grandpa comin’ home soon?”

Saved by his son. “Maybe in a couple days,” he said after he swallowed his food. “But he broke his leg when he fell off the ladder, remember? So he’s going to be in a wheelchair for a few weeks.”

His son bit off a big chunk of meat from his chicken leg. “Does it hurt?”

“Yes, it does.”

“Maybe he wants my bunny.”

Nate smiled at that. “Maybe. I can ask him tomorrow.”

“Does that mean I get to play with Lucie again?”

He winced at his son’s excited tone.

“It sounds like it,” she said, not sounding unhappy.

He glanced over at her, noting her genuine smile at Hayden. “Lucie,” he started.

She looked over at him and raised one eyebrow, eloquently daring him to offer another option.

He didn’t have one, so he cleared his throat. “Thank you.”

Her smile reappeared, and Hayden cheered.

He should be grateful he had someone to help instead of trying to find ways to discourage her from assisting. Just because he was attracted to her didn’t mean he had no self-control.

Of course he did. And he would damn well exercise it.

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If you haven’t read it yet and enjoy a little light paranormal romance, Light the Way Home is available at all of your favorite booksellers, and if you click on the title, the link will take you right where you want to go.

I’ve been working this month on revising the second book in my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy, plus working a little more on the story for the first of the shifter books that I did some revisions in last month. Today, though, on a grey, rainy Sunday, I’m taking a break from them to work out some ideas for a story to go with a gorgeous cover I found while I have potato soup cooking in the slow cooker.

What are you doing on this last Sunday in October? Reading? Chores? Something else?

 

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to get through the next two days of crazy-busy at the day-job, and then I have a five day weekend. I’ve started working on my to-do list for the weekend already. At the moment, it’s just a couple of specifics and some vague, over-these-days-this-needs-to-happen. My plan is to get the specifics out of the way first, like the oil change on my car, dropping my ballot at the county elections office, a little more headstone cleaning at the cemetery where my grandparents are buried while the weather is nice enough, some garden clean-up at the boys’. That’s just the first day. Except for groceries, the rest of the list is all things to do here at home. That is my plan: get most of the errands out of the way the first day, then groceries on the usual Friday, and the rest can be divided among the rest of my four days. Stuff like the regular laundry and weekend cooking, working on some clear-out in my book room, and writing things.

I’m actually pretty pleased with my continuing accountability goals. The little group of us who kept going this month after the big group in September have been chatting regularly, and I have already finished my big goal for this month. Thinking about that, maybe I shouldn’t say my ‘big goal’. The secondary goal is not as hands-on time consuming, but probably just as much mental time, because it involves figuring out how I can make a part of last month’s story stronger, and once I have figured out the how, then I have to weave that through the rest of the story.

While I’m working on that (and dinner and the last load of this week’s laundry), I have a little story snippet from the third shifter story in the series I am working on.

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Boris had Veda reschedule his last two meetings for the afternoon. He’d go pick up the kids at school and relax for a change. Assuming he remembered how to do that.

He could certainly give it his best shot.

Or at least try, since he suspected there would be a full house tonight. It was Friday, plus with Harley and Tessa back from Maryland, they’d spent a lot of time in the main house. And now India and Rory were there, too.

If everyone was home, that might not be as relaxing as he’d hoped, and it was going to be another month or two before the work was done at his house.

He sighed and headed for the elevator. It didn’t matter. He was leaving work early, dammit.

The drive from the office to Baron’s school took fifteen minutes on a good day, so on a busy Friday afternoon, it took twenty-seven. Not counting the three additional minutes it took to find a place to park.

He climbed out of the car and waited until a shiny mini-van sped by with no regard for the other parents and children in the parking lot before he crossed, weaving around parents leading their children out–parents who had taken into account the Friday traffic and arrived early. He checked in at the security gate, and then entered the school grounds. Pandemonium. Children running around, shouting, laughing, parents calling for their kids, teachers attempting to corral some rowdies.

Knowing his son, he wouldn’t have hurried out in the first rush. Baron dawdled.

A screech to his left had him turning in time to see a little red-haired girl leap onto her father’s back.

Boris turned to search for Baron, and a flutter of green caught his eye–a loose blouse on a curvy brunette.

Then she pivoted, laughing at the small girl holding her hand, and Bori’s heartbeat quickened–Vivi.

The breeze caught a school identification tag hung around her neck and her blouse again, this time, pressing the garment tight to her, and revealing the unmistakable curve of her belly. Her pregnant belly. It was small, but he knew what that curve meant.

And it was just about the right size…

Vivi’s smile faded as her head came up, and she sniffed the air delicately. Her gaze swung over the crowd of children, and locked on his face. All of the color faded from her cheeks, and her eyes widened.

He watched the child beside her tug on her hand, and Vivi bent back to her for a second, then, reluctance lining her face, released the girl, who leaped into another woman’s arms. Vivi straightened slowly, and he strode through the throng of kids toward her.

Alarm darkened her eyes, and she glanced around, as if thinking of fleeing.

Not a chance.

Three more strides put him in front of her. Her shoulders set, and her wary gaze crawled up to his face.

“Vivi, how nice to see you,” he said softly. He leaned closer and sniffed–the same delicious, earthy scent he remembered, along with a fainter undertone of his own familiar scent. His baby.

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I realized this morning that this time last year, one of my buddies and I were at the beach for our writing retreat this weekend. I’ll have to daydream about the beach for now. Or maybe come up with a beach story to give myself a mental fix. Hm, I do have a pretty book cover begging for a story. But in the meantime, maybe just one of my pics from last year’s retreat to hold me over. Maybe if you need a beach fix, too, this will help.

 

 

It’s grey and dreary here, and we’re expecting rain later. It looks like fall, with leaves in the neighborhood starting to change colors (or in some cases, just fall off of their trees, like my neighbor’s). I’m looking forward to more color on the trees in the next week or two, though the temps have stayed pretty nice. Today, I have plans to throw some veggies in the oven to roast while I do some household chores to get us through the week, plus get through at least another chapter of revisions. Just a regular Sunday afternoon here.

Before I get started on that to-do list I have a little story snippet for you from Light the Way Home.

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Lucie didn’t argue when Nate refused her help with the dishes. Her insides still quivered from the realization that he was attracted to her.

“I’ll see you in the mornin’, Lucie!” Hayden shouted, hopping on one foot.

She smiled as she put her sweater on. “Yes, you will.” They’d already decided Hayden would join her after breakfast so Nate could cram in a few hours of work before he headed to the hospital to see his dad–and try to get his mother to come home rather than sleep on the less-than-ideal pull-out chair-bed in his dad’s hospital room again.

She wasn’t sure that was a battle he would win, but she understood his concern.

Hayden gave her a quick hug and then ran back to his book in the living room.

“I really do appreciate this, Lucie,” Nate said from where he stood at the sink.

“It’s nothing, Nate,” she said lightly. “Keeps me from having to spend endless hours on job search sites and getting more depressed than I already am.” She kept her head down as she buttoned her sweater up to her chin.

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone snared her attention, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his brown eyes made her curl her fingers around the edges of her sweater to keep from reaching out.

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit–hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, that was trouble. She took a slow breath. “I’ll see you in the morning then.” She inched toward the door.

A hint of awareness darkened his eyes, but he stayed where he was. “Good night, Lucie.”

She took two more steps, clearing the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, undisguised desire in his eyes this time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she felt a quick rush of excitement that she tried to squash as he stepped into the mud room. She held her breath as he took another step. One more. Until he stood a foot away, and her breath rushed out.

He studied her face for a long moment, and she wondered what he saw, what he was looking for. Impulsively, she moved closer to him, noting the way his eyes rounded, and she stretched up to brush a kiss on his mouth, lingered for a second, then stepped back.

“Good night, Nate,” she whispered, reaching behind her for the doorknob.

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The day-job is ramping up this week, so I’m trying to get ahead on my revision goals for the month in case I have a few days when the day-job takes up writing time in the next ten days. But I’m also counting down to my extra long weekend after we get through this busy stretch. Then I have plans for long writing/revising stretches, as well as a couple of chores from my rotating, never-ending to-do list. Maybe a family dinner with the boys that weekend, too.

What are you doing this week? Reading something great? Fall chores? Slogging through the day-job? If you’re looking for something new to read and haven’t already snagged a copy, Light the Way Home is a quick, light read and available from all your favorite booksellers. Clicking on the title will take you where you need to go. Until next weekend, I hope you all have a lovely fall week where you are!

 

I had an entire post written (after fighting with the new plug-in WP installed for my blog site without asking me) and now it’s gone. So I’m going to start fresh and keep the cursing to myself. But I do hate when sites update things without warning or asking users beforehand. So annoying. Like going to the grocery store and discovering they’ve completely rearranged everything.

I can never decide if spring or fall is my favorite season, and in each one, I think that’s the one. Right now, I’m thinking it’s fall. The beautiful cool days, chilly nights. Flowers still blooming, and leaves thinking about changing colors. I’ve started drinking lots of tea again. Normally, I drink it year round, at least my breakfast tea, but this summer, from about late July through most of August, it was so hot and miserable here that even with our a/c running 24/7, I didn’t want my hot breakfast tea. Now, though, it’s tea all day, and a couple weeks ago when we had a few really chilly days, I even broke out the hot chocolate. I ordered more tea from one of my favorite places recently, too, but I am going to have to order their seasonal teas soon to make sure they have some left. I’ve left it too late some years and not gotten my favorites, so lesson learned.

My September accountability challenge went great. So great, that some friends and I have set up our own for the rest of the year so we can keep the momentum going. I am so glad it isn’t just me who needs someone else asking, how many pages did you do today? This month’s project is the second Medusa story, Protecting Medusa, and I have a snippet below.

 

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Philomena let him seat her at a corner booth in the bright, busy diner he found and didn’t protest when he told the waitress they both wanted the dinner special. She just kept thinking of her mother and Jason and the danger they were in because of her. Because if she didn’t think about that, she’d be thinking instead of the coming night and the monstrous bed in the tiny cabin she was about to share with Ryder. And that was unsafe territory after the past twenty-four hours, just as dangerous as the Harvesters, but in a much different manner.

“You’re thinking way too hard about this, Mena,” he said softly, stroking the back of her hand where it lay on the table.

She glanced up from her mound of mashed potatoes, aware of the warmth climbing her arm from where he touched her. “How can I not?”

“Danny will make sure they’re safe.” His low voice was soothing, though it sent shivers up her spine for far different reasons. “They’ll be getting ready to travel tomorrow, then hit the road the following day.”

“Jason should be in school.” She didn’t let herself think of the other thing.

He smiled, setting his hand more securely over hers. “It’ll be fine, baby. I promise.”

She set her fork down. “You shouldn’t make promises like that. You can’t know for sure.”

His dark eyes went serious in a flash. “I will keep the two of you safe, Mena.”

Her stomach twisted at his words. “You should worry about keeping Jason safe first.”

“And how do you think he’d feel if I let something happen to you?” His grip on her hand tightened.

She looked away, swallowing. She didn’t want to think about the possibility.

“For all intents and purposes, you’re his mother, Mena. You’ve raised him since he was born. No–” he held up his other hand when she opened her mouth to protest– “just because she gave birth to him and sends him a birthday card if she thinks of it, that means nothing. Desi is a lousy mother, but you aren’t, and Jason knows it. He’d be devastated if I let something happen to you.” He shot her a hard glance. “And even if I didn’t want you so bad my zipper’s about to burst, I’d need to keep you safe just because you’re family.”

His argument didn’t make her feel better. “So you have control issues and a knight in shining armor complex,” she said, lifting one shoulder.

He tugged on her hand, regaining her attention. “I may work well in protector mode, Mena, but I’m no knight in shining armor.” He held her gaze this time, his own heated. “Having a sheet of solid metal between us is my idea of torture.”

“Ryder, it’s sex,” she said, keeping her voice low, pleased when it didn’t shake. “Good chemistry doesn’t mean you should put your life in danger. Not when you have a child to think about.” Still, the warmth from his fingers around hers had spread, all the way up her arm, to her face, her breasts, into her belly, lower.

His jaw hardened. “I don’t think there’s another woman I’ve ever made love to before you, or a woman I’ve slept with that I’d ever risk my life for. Just you,” he whispered.

His words made her breath catch. Too scary. Too soon. Too impossible. And, in her experience, a big fat lie. She tugged at her hand, but he refused to let go, his dark gaze searching her face. Her heart pounded crazily, and she wanted to go. Needed to go. Somewhere. Anywhere, as long it wasn’t this close to a man who’d just made such a claim. Her pulse tripped over itself in its haste.

“You should eat a little more of your supper,” he said at last, his tone gruff. “I plan to exhaust you into oblivion on our heart-shaped bed when we get back to the cabin.”

Just like that, the fear was obliterated by the explosion of heat in her core. For years, she’d managed not to let any man too close. They couldn’t be trusted to keep their word. She’d learned it when her father abandoned them when Desi was two. She’d relearned it in high school when her true love decided he’d rather sleep with her wild younger sister than date Philomena, who wouldn’t put out.

And now Ryder had bulldozed his way into her life and her bed. At least she knew better now than to believe pretty words.

But her mouth went dry with the images her brain summoned up at his words, and she lifted her water glass with her free hand, ignoring the slight tremor of her fingers to take a quick drink.

“I realized earlier you’ve seen all of me, but I haven’t seen you yet,” he continued, his eyes growing darker as he spoke. “So we need a big fire in the fireplace, and all the lights on.”

Philomena shut her eyes against those images, but it didn’t work. She remembered all too well the ways he’d touched her last night, first outside and then later, in her bed.

She thanked all the Gods she wasn’t getting ready to PMS, or her wild hormones would have her leaping over the table to get at him now.

“Then I can spread you out on the bed and take my time with you. The way I should have last night. Taste every inch of that pretty body, tease you to the brink and back again.”

Her breathing hitched, and she realized she was shaking. With desire. Lust. Need. For Ryder. Apparently men weren’t the only ones with big brain-little brain issues.

“I could almost lay you on this table now and take you,” he rasped, “I’m so hard. But I’m going to take very, very good care of you tonight.” His thumb slid along the outside of hers, slowly. “It’s going to be so good, Mena.”

She swallowed back a tiny moan when he nudged her knee under the table with his, and she forced her eyes to open. She tried to focus her gaze on the plate of half-eaten food in front of her, but he kept stroking her hand, and her imagination kept supplying her with other places and ways he could touch her.

“Are you wet for me, Mena?” he whispered, leaning nearer.

She couldn’t stop herself from meeting his gaze this time, and she swallowed hard at the dangerous expression on his face. Predatory. Hungry. She wouldn’t admit it, not here, but her panties were drenched.

“Wet enough for me to slide deep?”

Her breath rushed past her lips. How did he know? Or did he know his words would have just that effect on her?

“Let’s go.” He freed her hand and took out his wallet, tossing some money on the table, then pushed to his feet and grabbed their coats.

She got to her feet, willing her knees to hold her up when they wobbled. He helped her into her coat and then guided her out into the cold night, one big hand low on her back to steer her to the truck.

She wasn’t going to stop him, she realized.

Or herself.

Dangerous or not, she was going to indulge just a little.

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I wanted to have the Medusa trilogy out ages ago, and am disappointed that I haven’t gotten them finished and ready yet. Next month, I’ll work on finishing the third, Freeing Medusa, and then I can start thinking about things like edits and cover art, and formatting and release dates. Not there yet, but hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be closer.

If you need something quick and light now, though, Light the Way Home is available at all your favorite booksellers, and if you click the title, it will take you there. Hot single dad, lighthouse with a ghost, and a heroine who is on a temporary hideaway. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d love it you checked it out.

I hope you all have a wonderful, happy week!

 

 

We’re winding down September with a family birthday dinner today (and start October with another next weekend!), hence the cupcake.  It’s been kind of a busy month for me: crazy-busy weeks at the day-job, a few family birthdays to celebrate, the 30-day accountability challenge (which has been going amazingly well! I’m really excited about the progress I’ve made.), ticking a couple of to-do items from my perpetual list, plus the Fall into These Great Reads Bookathon. Speaking of which, you still have a few days left to enter the giveaways if you haven’t yet.

Since I’m just about to order the birthday boy’s requested mac and cheese pizza (and a nice Greek salad for me), and I still have accountability challenge work to do today, I have a quick story snippet for you from Light the Way Home.

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Lucie had been on Mac’s Light Island for almost three weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the grey-blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, so she adjusted her direction a tiny bit and came to a stop looking directly down onto a tousled blond head.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him already.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled as he got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad knees.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he might be four, but now at close range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me an’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.” Guileless blue eyes locked on her face.

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

The deep voice got her attention–and the boy’s–just before a tall, sandy-haired man rounded the back corner of the next-door house.

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

He frowned when he saw them, but his stride never slowed, just changed direction, toward them at the fence. “Hayden, we have to go to Grandma’s.” He stopped close to the boy. “You were supposed to stay on the porch.” His brown gaze lifted to her face. “I’m Nate Baxter.” He stuck his right hand out. “Sorry if Hayden bothered you.”

She reached across the fence slowly, trying not to gawk at her hot neighbor. “Lucie Russo. And he wasn’t bothering me, we were just making a date to play ball.” She met his palm and gave a firm shake, pretending not to notice how warm his callused fingers were around hers. Or how wide his shoulders were in the dark flannel shirt.

His brows dipped a little more as he looked from the ball in her hand down to his son. “That isn’t nec–”

“I like to play, so it’s no problem,” she said smoothly, tugging her hand free. “But since you have to go, too,” she continued, dropping her gaze to Hayden, “we can do this later, okay?” She held out the ball with a smile.

He grinned as he took it. “Okay. Thanks, Lucie.”

She winked, waving as he ran toward his house.

Leaving her with his father, who still didn’t look happy.

“You’re house-sitting?”

She forced her lips to keep holding the smile. “Sort of. I’m calling it doing a favor for a friend while I have a break.”

One of his eyebrows inched up. “A break?”

“My employer relocated my job far away, so I have some free time to help Mindi and Harry while I figure out my next move.” Holding the smile now became a real challenge. She hadn’t expected to need a back-up for her practical life plan.

He made a small sound, but didn’t speak for a moment, his brown eyes staying on her face. “Sorry to hear that,” he said finally. “You don’t really have to play with Hayden later.”

“I try hard not to break promises,” she said before he could go any further. “You can check my references with Mindi and Harry if you like.”

A ghost of a smile curved his mouth at last. “If they trust you to take care of their place, I already know you’re trustworthy.”

Lucie swallowed, noting the dimple in his right cheek.

“But I don’t want him to intrude if you need to spend your time on a job search.”

“I haven’t quite reached that part of my break yet. I think I’ve only reached the shock stage so far.” She smiled, pleased with the light, joking tone she’d pulled off. “When I get to acceptance, then I’ll have to polish up my résumé.”

One of his eyebrows lifted. “Seems like you might be more interested in playing ball in the denial phase, don’t you think?”

Lucie laughed at his unexpected tease. “I’ll probably need more when I move from bargaining to depression.”

Nate smiled, too, and the dimple deepened. “I’m sure Hayden can help you through, if you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all.” She didn’t. Having some company might be a good way to stop her brooding.

“Dad! I’m ready!”

Lucie smiled again at his wince.

“I think that bellow is my cue,” he said with a crooked grin.

“It was nice to meet you both.” She waved and took another step back.

He strode to his house, and she allowed herself to observe–broad shoulders, narrow waist in faded jeans, nice butt, strong legs.

She jerked her attention away from her hot-temporary–neighbor. Not where she needed to focus. She took a quick breath and turned to her car parked beside the house. Groceries and mail. That was her purpose this morning. A ferry trip to the mainland, brief contact with the real world, and then back to the island to lick her wounds some more.

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Before I go pick up the birthday pizza, just a reminder that Light the Way Home is available at all your favorite booksellers, and if you click the title, it will take you right where you want to go to pick up a copy.

What has your September been like? Crazy busy and productive, or a little more relaxed?

 

 

 

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was taking part in this fun book event, and my post will be up this week, on Wednesday, 9/23 (fun coincidence, that is my oldest son’s birthday!). I’m really excited about this. Celebrate Autumn all month long at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s second annual Fall Into These Great Reads Bookathon. 47 books, 34 authors. So much fun! I have a link to the general promo page here, but will have the direct link to my post on Wednesday and will share on my Facebook page. Hopefully you’ve been checking out the new posts daily, though, and have entered the giveaway. There are gift cards up for grabs to some big bookseller websites, and the hostess will be doing the drawing on October 1st, so make you get entered before the end of September!

I passed the midway point of the accountability challenge I joined for the month and my tiger shifter revisions are rolling right along, though the past couple of days it’s been a little slower going because the section I’m working on needs complete rewrites, not just fixing the crap that is already on those pages. I’m so glad I joined it. I feel like I’m making good progress for the first time in ages, and it feels really good.

So, since I’m working on tiger shifters, I have a little snippet from the third story in this series for you today.

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Vivi stifled her sigh of relief when she sank onto the stool beside Carol. After being on her feet all day, sitting down might not be a good idea–she didn’t want to get back up, and it had only been fifteen seconds since her butt hit the seat.

Carol slid a martini glass toward her. “Here you go. I don’t know how you do it.”

“Do what?” She picked up the glass and took a sip. “Mm.” Something with berries.

“Keep a smile on your face all day, between the kids, the parents, the donors. And in those shoes,” Carol teased. “I had flats on all day, and my feet are killing me. Yours must be aching.”

“They are. Which is why this one drink is it for me. Then I’m going home and put my feet up.” Vivi sighed and glanced around. The lounge and restaurant were filling fast, and the hum of conversation grew steadily. “Don’t you have a date tonight?”

Carol grinned. “He’ll be here soon.”

“Which is why we met here.” Vivi shook her head. “Of course.”

“I don’t know why you won’t let me fix you up–”

Before her friend could continue, Vivi held up her hand. “No. We’ve had this conversation. I’m good right now.”

Carol’s eyes narrowed a little. “You ruin all my fun.”

“I highly doubt that.”

Carol laughed.

Vivi relaxed a little. She’d managed to head off that conversation for a change. Good.

“Carol.”

She glanced up at the deep voice behind her, and her co-worker’s smile turned sultry.

“Dan.” She tipped her face up so he could brush a kiss on her cheek. “This is Vivi.”

He nodded, but his gaze went right back to Carol’s face.

“Vivi, do you want to join us?”

“No, thanks. You guys go ahead. Enjoy.” That meant she wouldn’t have any reason to feel guilty about not even finishing her drink before she headed home to put her feet up for the rest of the evening.

Someone brushed against her shoulder, and Vivi turned to see a man settling onto the stool beside her. “Sorry,” he said, glancing over, then away.
Then his pale blue gaze swung back to her face, and she couldn’t look away.

Holy hotness!

Even though she couldn’t pull her gaze away from his sky-blue eyes, she still noticed his rumpled white-blond hair brushed back from his face, the sharp angles of his cheekbones, and the width of his shoulders beneath a red polo shirt.

Wowza.

Vivi swallowed and dragged her gaze away finally. It landed on her drink, and she picked it up, taking a sip to wet her dry lips.

A tiger.

She needed to get away before her hormones got any happier. She put the glass down on the bar and sat back in her seat.

“Don’t let me chase you away,” the blonde said, his voice a low rumble that made her stomach clench.

She glanced toward him, but didn’t meet his eyes. “You’re not. I’ve just had a long day, and it’s time to go.”

“Without any supper?” He turned on his stool a little to face her.

Oh Gods. Vivi couldn’t help the flush burning her cheeks. The red shirt stretched over a broad, muscled chest, and it took her a few seconds to force her gaze up to his.

At least his mouth wasn’t curved in a smirk. Though if he’d been smirking or appeared as if he knew exactly what was going on in her head, she’d have found it easier to get off of the stool. “I didn’t actually come in for supper, just a drink with a friend.” She inched to her right.

“Have dinner with me.”

She froze. “What makes you think I’d be a good dinner companion?” she asked after a second.

His mouth relaxed a little, as if he might be on the verge of a smile. “Just a hunch. I’m sure you’re a far better dinner companion than I am. Sorry I bothered you.” He picked up his glass and took a sip of the golden liquid in it.

Vivi studied his profile for a few moments. There was something familiar about it. And something very appealing about him, aside from the face. Especially that, aside from not pushing her to stay, there was something lonely about him. “You know, telling a woman what a terrible date you are isn’t really the right approach. Probably going to bring your success rate down a little.”

He finally smiled, a slow, wide grin that revealed dimples.

Gods, she was a sucker for dimples, dammit.

He met her gaze again and stuck out his right hand. “I’m Boris.”

“Vivi.” She tamped down the little voice in the back of her head shrieking this was a Bad Idea. When his warm fingers wrapped around her hand, she shivered.

“Vivi, would you have dinner with me? You can give me some pointers on how this should work.”

“What the hell.” She was certain she’d regret this later, but it had been a long time…

His grin widened.

“I don’t think we’re going to get a table here on a Saturday, though,” she said, tugging her hand free. The place was packed, and more people were waiting.

“How do you feel about Baker’s, down the block?”

“I hear it’s good.” Her fingers still tingled from their handshake.

He fished some money from his pocket and put it on the bar beside his glass, then rose and held out his hand. “Shall we?”

She could still change her mind. “Sure.” She put her hand on his and eased off the stool. Even on her wedge-heeled sandals, he towered over her, and she wasn’t petite. She tipped her head back to look up at him–just in time to catch his gaze sliding up from her chest. Vivi felt the flush following his gaze up her throat to her face.

His eyes darkened when they met hers, and her pulse quickened. One corner of his mouth inched up, just a tiny bit. “Are you good to walk down the street in those shoes?”

“Now that I got to sit for a little while, I’m fine.” She thought she’d be forgiven for that fib. They’d be sitting again soon. She could ignore the aching a little longer.

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I have two insanely busy days at the day-job to kick off my week this week, and then (hopefully!) a quieter day Wednesday before I have a four-day weekend. We’ll be celebrating with birthday dinner and cake for my oldest, and I’ll keep working on my revisions for the first tiger shifter, plus a couple of appointments, and hopefully I can knock out some household chores from my long-term to-do list.

What are your plans for this week that includes the first day of autumn on Tuesday?

 

But it doesn’t feel like summer anymore either. Finally! There are some gorgeous days in the weather forecast for us for the next week, and I’m so excited. Today was one of them. Sunny, but not hot like just a couple weeks ago. I’m liking this weather. I wish summer was more like this than the 90-100+ degree temps we had all season this year.

Today, I’m doing a quick fly-by because I’m working on revisions on that first tiger shifter story, and I really want to get some extra pages in since I think the day-job will be crazy busy again this week, so I have a quick story snippet for you from Light the Way Home (if you click on the title, it will take you to your choice of bookstores!).

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Lucie had been on Mac’s Light Island for almost three weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the grey-blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, so she adjusted her direction a tiny bit and came to a stop looking directly down onto a tousled blond head.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him already.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled as he got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad knees.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he might be four, but now at close range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me an’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.” Guileless blue eyes locked on her face.

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

The deep voice got her attention–and the boy’s–just before a tall, sandy-haired man rounded the back corner of the next-door house.

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

He frowned when he saw them, but his stride never slowed, just changed direction, toward them at the fence. “Hayden, we have to go to Grandma’s.” He stopped close to the boy. “You were supposed to stay on the porch.” His brown gaze lifted to her face. “I’m Nate Baxter.” He stuck his right hand out. “Sorry if Hayden bothered you.”

She reached across the fence slowly, trying not to gawk at her hot neighbor. “Lucie Russo. And he wasn’t bothering me, we were just making a date to play ball.” She met his palm and gave a firm shake, pretending not to notice how warm his callused fingers were around hers. Or how wide his shoulders were in the dark flannel shirt.

His brows dipped a little more as he looked from the ball in her hand down to his son. “That isn’t nec–”

“I like to play, so it’s no problem,” she said smoothly, tugging her hand free. “But since you have to go, too,” she continued, dropping her gaze to Hayden, “we can do this later, okay?” She held out the ball with a smile.

He grinned as he took it. “Okay. Thanks, Lucie.”

She winked, waving as he ran toward his house.

Leaving her with his father, who still didn’t look happy.

“You’re house-sitting?”

She forced her lips to keep holding the smile. “Sort of. I’m calling it doing a favor for a friend while I have a break.”

One of his eyebrows inched up. “A break?”

“My employer relocated my job far away, so I have some free time to help Mindi and Harry while I figure out my next move.” Holding the smile now became a real challenge. She hadn’t expected to need a back-up for her practical life plan.

He made a small sound, but didn’t speak for a moment, his brown eyes staying on her face. “Sorry to hear that,” he said finally. “You don’t really have to play with Hayden later.”

“I try hard not to break promises,” she said before he could go any further. “You can check my references with Mindi and Harry if you like.”

A ghost of a smile curved his mouth at last. “If they trust you to take care of their place, I already know you’re trustworthy.”

Lucie swallowed, noting the dimple in his right cheek.

“But I don’t want him to intrude if you need to spend your time on a job search.”

“I haven’t quite reached that part of my break yet. I think I’ve only reached the shock stage so far.” She smiled, pleased with the light, joking tone she’d pulled off. “When I get to acceptance, then I’ll have to polish up my résumé.”

One of his eyebrows lifted. “Seems like you might be more interested in playing ball in the denial phase, don’t you think?”

Lucie laughed at his unexpected tease. “I’ll probably need more when I move from bargaining to depression.”

Nate smiled, too, and the dimple deepened. “I’m sure Hayden can help you through, if you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all.” She didn’t. Having some company might be a good way to stop her brooding.

“Dad! I’m ready!”

Lucie smiled again at his wince.

“I think that bellow is my cue,” he said with a crooked grin.

“It was nice to meet you both.” She waved and took another step back.

He strode to his house, and she allowed herself to observe–broad shoulders, narrow waist in faded jeans, nice butt, strong legs.

She jerked her attention away from her hot-temporary–neighbor. Not where she needed to focus. She took a quick breath and turned to her car parked beside the house. Groceries and mail. That was her purpose this morning. A ferry trip to the mainland, brief contact with the real world, and then back to the island to lick her wounds some more.

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While I’m working hard on revisions and at the day-job this week, I’ll still be enjoying our much more moderate weather. What is the weather like where you are this week? And what are you working on?

 

 

We’re finishing up a holiday weekend here, though I think I did as much work this weekend as if there wasn’t an extra day off. But it was necessary, and I’m glad it’s done. I had a lot of mulch delivered to the boys’ midweek, and then spent Saturday and Sunday mulching flower beds around the house and planting a few things as well. We had a hard time guesstimating the amount of mulch we needed, so we wound up with extra, so the good news is we won’t need to mulch next year. And the new flowers look good, plus they’re all perennials, so they’ll come back in the spring. The only thing I still want to do is take some of the tiger lilies from my garden up and plant them there–my aunt gave them to me eons ago when we lived at our old house, and I moved them here when we bought this house, so I think it’s only fitting that some of them should go home again. I’ll do that later this month, I think, when I have a couple vacation days scheduled. Then we can put the gardens there to bed for the season.

I have a couple of other things to look forward to this month. First up is this:

I’m taking part in this awesome event! Here are the official details:

Calling all readers! Have you read all your beach reads over the summer and looking for new books to dive into this month? We’re celebrating books from all genres at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s third annual Fall Into These Great Reads Bookathon. 47 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

 

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, Light the Way Home, will be featured on September 23, 2020. Wait until you read what inspired to write my featured book plus what I love about Fall/Autumn. You won’t want to miss it.

 

Bookmark this event and tell your friends: www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/bookpromos/categories/fall-into-these-great-reads

 

The other thing I am excited about this month is an accountability challenge I joined. This has been a rough year, not just for me, but for a lot of other people with goals to meet and little enthusiasm for working on them with all of the stress that abounds right now. This invitation came at a perfect time for me, and I am working on revisions on the first of my shifter books this month for the challenge. I have to say, I’m actually making pretty good progress so far, and I intend to keep it that way.

On that note, I have a little snippet from that book for you…

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Amy stuck her head around the office door about two-thirty. “Knock, knock. I’ve brought you a visitor.”

Tessa’s breath caught and her burgeoning smile froze as Harley strolled into the room. “Hi,” she managed.

He smiled and dropped into one of the chairs in front of her desk. “How’s your day going?”

“O-okay.” She sat back in her chair, taking a slow breath.

“I have some news to share with you.” His smile faded a little.

She tipped her head to one side. “What news?”

“Dad sent me, actually. The break-in at your house was done by members of the local coyote pack.”

Tessa frowned. “What?”

“Coyotes. They’re unhappy with our family, and they targeted you.”

She watched him for a moment as she pondered his claim. “Why would they do that?”

He shrugged. “You’re like family. Dad wants you to stay at the compound until he can make sure things are settled.”

Tessa stared over her desk at Harley. “Absolutely not.”

His jaw clenched. “It’s for your safety, Tessa.”

“I have my own home, and, thanks to you, a shiny new alarm system to keep me safe.”

“That alarm isn’t designed for this sort of thing. It’s really mostly to frighten away any casual thief, or to let you know when there’s trouble so you can call for help. But, Tessa, that help isn’t instantaneous. It takes more than a few minutes for us to get to you, and longer for the police, depending on where in the county they’re patrolling when the call comes in.” A muscle in his jaw ticked. “The coyotes aren’t going to be frightened by your alarm system. By the time anyone gets to you, they could have hurt you or worse.”

“I appreciate your concern, Harley,” she said, keeping her tone even, which was a challenge since she was now as annoyed as he was. “But I’m not defenseless, and anybody who tries to put his hands on me won’t go away unmarked.”

He growled. “I think you’re underestimating just how determined they are.”

“I’m not going to change my mind. Staying at the compound is unnecessary.”

He was silent for a moment, his golden eyes narrowed. “Fine. Then you’re getting a babysitter.”

“Oh, for Gods’ sakes.” She shot to her feet. “I am not a child, Harley, and you are not my father.”

A grim smile curved his lips as he pushed to his own feet. “Good thing, or you’d be over my knee.”

Tessa’s heart beat faster at that idea, and heat burned her cheeks.

Harley’s expression shifted to something dangerous. Predatory.

Her mouth went dry. “You need to leave now, Harley.”

He shook his head. “No. While I am not your father, mine has given this order. If you won’t stay at the house, someone will escort you everywhere.”

Her mouth dropped open. “Boyd? Are you kidding?”

“I wouldn’t joke about something like this.”

“You can’t sit here all day. I’m at work. Nothing is going to happen to me here. And you need to be at your own job.”

He just lifted one eyebrow and sank further into the chair.

“Insanity.” Tessa picked up the phone from her desk and punched in the number to the Wentworths’ office–she called India often enough to know the number by heart. “Yes, Boyd Wentworth, please.”

Harley was grinning when she glanced over again, resting one ankle on his other knee.

“It isn’t funny, Harley. I’m not a child, and I do not need–”

“You’re holding for Mr. Wentworth?”

“Yes, I–”

“I’m sorry, he’s offsite in meetings the rest of the day. Could someone else help you? Harley, maybe?”

“No, he can’t.”

“Could I take a message then?”

“Yes, please tell him Tessa Gardiner called and it’s important that he call me back immediately.”

Harley snickered, and she shot him another glare.

“I’ll make sure he gets the message.”

Tessa put the phone down far more gently than she’d have liked, and then took a deep breath. Unbelievable.

“I could’ve told you Dad’s out of the office.”

A painful throb pulsed in her head, and she closed her eyes for a second. “Shut up, Harley,” she ground out.

To her surprise, he did, though the obnoxious, know-it-all grin didn’t fade.

“I do not need a babysitter. I especially do not need a babysitter when I’m at work.” She let out a frustrated little huff of breath.

“You persuade Dad of that, and I’ll be happy to go.”

She thought her head might explode. “I’d be happy to do that, if I could reach him.”

“Then I guess you’re stuck with me.” He sounded far too cheerful.

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What are you doing this week? Taking the holiday to relax or get chores done? Or working, working, working? Reading?

Light the Way Home is available at your favorite booksellers, in case you need something new to keep you busy this week. Hope you all have a great week!

 

These guys love my fennel plants all summer. When I have dill planted, they love that, too, and since the plants get so big, I don’t mind sharing. When I snapped this picture the other evening, this guy had two friends also snacking on the same fennel plant. Two of the caterpillars were pretty sizable, like, soon time to cocoon and change into butterflies, and the the third was about half their size, so he had some time to go before his changeover.

Aside from the caterpillars nibbling all over it, the fennel is starting to look like the season is ending. Other plants in my garden are also getting that same look, the past-my-prime-so-pick-me-now look. The summer-long heat wave looks like it’s finally broken, too. The weather today is beautiful after our brush with Hurricane Laura the last two days, and the next week looks pretty great, as far as temperatures go. I think we are going to be able to keep the a/c off and the windows open, which will be lovely at night. It’ll also be good for next weekend, the Labor Day holiday here in the U.S, when I finish doing the mulching in the boys’ backyard.

Today, though, is family dinner day. The boys are coming up early to fix one of my car windows–it stopped going up and down the other night, of course when it was halfway down–and then we’re going to throw some sausages and fish on the grill to go with a macaroni salad and a lentil salad I made yesterday in the middle of a big downpour from the hurricane’s remnants. Before I put the finishing touches on the lentil salad, I have a little snippet for you today from Light the Way Home.

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Lucie breathed a sigh of relief as she leaned against the inside of the closed front door. That was too much. She’d only been hiding out like a hermit on the island for three weeks, and already she felt shell-shocked after a few hours with the general public. Holy cow. Now she understood why her friends lived on an island.

Gathering herself, she pushed off the door and carried her bags to the kitchen. Time for a cup of tea and a nap, to recover from the real world. Maybe she’d even drink her tea under the awning out back and nap to the sound of the ocean over the bluff while the weather was nice-ish.

The idea made her smile, and she moved more quickly to put away her purchases. In fifteen minutes, she carried her steaming mug of blackberry tea and a fleece blanket down the back steps to the patio. She’d used the very comfy lounger under the green awning on several warmish mornings to enjoy her breakfast tea at sunrise.

She sank onto it now, setting her mug on the attached side table so she could wrap the blanket around herself. Then she sat back and released a slow breath, her gaze seeking out the blue of the ocean, beyond the spot where the yard became rock.

Just watching the rolling waves relaxed her, the shifting blues, whites and greys. Lucie reached for her tea and caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of her eye, so she looked up at the lighthouse.

The hot neighbor must be doing double-duty today, cleaning windows at the top of the tall structure. She’d heard the power tools from his cabinet-making business nearly every day, but she hadn’t considered that he’d have to care for the connected lighthouse, too.

She watched him stretch to reach the side of a wide pane, then saw the head and shoulders of another man, steadying his ladder. Huh. Maybe his dad. She’d noticed an older couple arrive several times, and the man looked a lot like Nate. Good thing he had help up there. The lighthouse was about five stories high, and a tumble down from the top level would do a lot of damage to a man.

She picked up her mug and turned her gaze back to the ocean. Her trip to the mainland had been productive, even if it had overloaded her system. She had enough groceries now for the next couple of weeks, some new books to read, and she’d stopped at the post office on her way back from the ferry. She could sort out the junk from the actual mail later, maybe over supper. For now a little soothing ocean music to settle her nerves after the unexpected crush of people on the mainland.

Somehow she’d lost track of the days and driven off the ferry into Friday traffic. Judging by the number of people everywhere, a lot of folks were extending their weekends by one day, or otherwise playing hooky to run errands. Too much noise, too many people, every place she’d gone.

She sipped from the mug. It was weird how she’d adjusted to the quiet on the island so quickly–she’d expected to be restless out here. Her job had been in the city, as well as her apartment, which she’d sub-let when she left. It had been years since she’d even lived in a small town.

She’d only been half-joking when she mentioned her grief stages to hot-dad Nate earlier. But she needed to seriously start figuring out what to do with herself when she had to rejoin the real world for longer than a couple of hours at a time. Mindi and Harry would want their house back when their cruise ended, which meant she needed to have her shit–and a plan–together by then.

She took another sip of her tea, then glanced over at the sound of a child’s voice, followed by a lower rumble.

Hayden ran into his backyard, chattering a mile a minute, then turned to watch an older man coming after him, more slowly. Grandpa.

Lucie frowned, looking up at the lighthouse. Nate must’ve had another helper.

The childish chatter faded away, and she realized her tea was nearly empty. That meant it was time to think about supper prep. And possibly a foray online to do a cursory search of job sites for ideas. Wrinkling her nose, she got to her feet and finished the last swallow of tea. As she turned to go inside, Nate emerged from the lighthouse’s side door, swiping one hand down the side of his jeans. He glanced over and waved at her. She waved back, continuing to the house.

Half an hour later, while sauteeing garlic and onion for soup, she realized he’d exited the lighthouse alone. No helper. Odd.

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What are you doing on this beautiful Sunday afternoon? Hopefully something that lets you enjoy a fine late summer day. And if you need something to read today, the book title above the excerpt, or the one below will take you to your bookstore of choice to grab a copy of Light the Way Home.

I’m going to try to sneak in a little writing time later, after the boys have taken their leftovers home with them. What are your plans for the week?

 

 

This looks like a normal vacation, right? Especially when you’re a kid. I kind of wish that was this year’s vacation. Maybe next year.

In reality, my vacation is a ‘working vacation’ this time, with some tasks on my to-do list getting checked off–like some of the garden work I needed to do at the boys’ house, and some purging here at our house. I still have more garden work to to do at the boys’, but I am going to wait until it cools down a bit here, like my long weekends in the next two months. Then I can put the gardens to bed before winter gets here. But right now, the Rose of Sharon bushes and my aunt’s butterfly bush are going strong, with bumblebees and butterflies fighting over the best flowers. Frankly, the flowering shrubs make me happy, too.

I have two more days of vacation left. On the last one, I’ve got a trip to the local farmer’s market on the agenda for first thing in the morning, before it gets too crowded or too hot, then I can spend the rest of my last day of vacation working on revisions (again!). Tomorrow, I am aiming to work on another chore from my to-do list in the morning, and then maybe some reading and writing the rest of the day. Break up the work with fun things.

Today was partly chores–we ran up to the boys’ again to clean up the garden and yard debris, and now that I have a bean salad chilling in the fridge, I have a date with some dirty dishes before I sit down with the Sunday paper. Before I go wash dishes, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi tugged uselessly at her wrist, but his arm didn’t move from his side. “Hey, Harvester.”

The obnoxious grin slid off his face. “Stop calling me that.”

“It’s your name.”

He glared at her, then folded his arms over his chest, dragging hers along and forcing her to half roll toward him again.

She yanked away but he put his other hand over her wrist.

“Go to sleep.”

She shot him a disbelieving glance. “I’m sorry. I’m not used to sleeping in handcuffs. Or with all the lights on. And I’m not tired.” That last sounded rather childish, she admitted to herself, but the man had nerve.

He observed her for a long moment, until she wanted to squirm under his scrutiny. Then another slow grin started at one corner of his mouth, gradually curving his full lower lip all the way to the opposite corner. “I bet I can fix that.”

“I don’t think so.” She leaned as far away as her trapped arm allowed.

He moved fast, flipping her on top of him before she realized his intent.

Andi blinked, then felt her heart pound faster. The Harvester had muscles on his muscles.

Not the best time to be noticing that, perhaps.

She watched him warily as he shifted under her, settled her close, then stretched their cuffed wrists away from their sides. She put her free hand on his shoulder and pushed herself up a little. “What are you doing?”

“Getting you tired.” His other hand slid up her spine to the nape of her neck, where his fingers started massaging the tight muscles.

“Stop it.” She shifted her head to one side, then the other, but his strong fingers continued exactly what they’d been doing. She frowned down at him.

He smiled innocently.

“That doesn’t work for me.” It did feel good, though. Not that she’d tell him.

Kallan’s bright gaze slid down from her eyes to her mouth, almost like an actual touch on her lips.

She swallowed. “Don’t even think about it.”

“Too late,” he murmured, using his grip at her nape to bring her closer.

Andi sucked in a startled breath when he brushed his mouth along hers. “You’re sick.”

It was his turn to blink. “What?”

“You’re here to kill me, right?”

His brows dipped into a frown.

“You’re not supposed to be…screwing me too.” She blushed.

His frown disappeared. “I’m not trying to screw you. Just kiss you, Andrea.”

Her mouth dropped open in shock.

“Well, that makes it much easier,” he said softly, lifting his head to catch her lips.

His kiss wasn’t what she’d expected. Not that she’d been imagining it. Not really. His lips were warm and soft on hers, not demanding or ruthless—although she was certain he possessed both qualities, and probably far worse, knowing his gene pool. His kiss was more an exploration. A gentle caress.

And for a moment, she decided, she could enjoy it. It had been a very long time since a man had kissed her.

She shivered when he nipped at her lower lip, then heard a soft sound escape her throat when his warm tongue soothed the bitten spot. At her nape, his fingers still moved gently, and the friction sent unexpected heat rushing down her spine and into her belly.

Gods, it had been so long. She leaned into his caress, just a little.

And his kiss shifted into something a lot more demanding.

Hot desire exploded in her middle, reaching out to all her extremities—to her face, tightening her nipples and making her press them into his chest.

The hand she’d had propped on his shoulder slid up to his hair.

She knew this was a really bad idea. The man was an assassin. Her assassin.

But his kiss…

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What are you doing on this hot summer Sunday? Chores or something fun? Whatever it is, I hope you’ve had a great weekend, and have an even better new week!