Archive for February, 2018


It’s been a busy week here, which is good. No time for thinking, and then exhausted by the end of the day.  But I did get a lovely present from my brother yesterday–a flash drive full of old pictures.   Some of them I remembered, some I didn’t, but most of them made me smile, at least a little, including this one.

 

 

The house where I grew up was one we rented.  It had an enormous yard, front and back, with more acreage that was wooded. There was also a giant barn, and the landlord’s horse.  I used to ride that horse with my dad quite a lot, sometimes just in the yard, but often up onto the wooded ridge beyond our yard and the horse’s fenced-in field.  Seeing this picture definitely made me smile.

I’ve also been writing.  I was actually a little surprised by that this week, but a few paragraphs in the morning before starting my workday, and then again on my lunch breaks. Another way to keep my brain busy, I suppose, but I’ll take it. I’m only about a quarter of the way into this fifth tiger shifter story, and I’d hoped to be working on revisions/rewrites on something else at this stage of the month.  Then again, that’s why I try to leave myself some wiggle room when I’m planning my writing goals every year–for the things that come up that you just can’t plan for.

So I think once I get through this crazy week and next week at the day-job, I need to revisit my writing goals for this year so I can make some tweaks. I also need to start scanning old pictures that I have–from my own albums, and from both my grandparents and my aunt, so can share those with my family, because I’m sure I have some that they don’t yet. That will be a long-term project, though, because I have a lot of photos.  I hope my scanner holds up for all of them.

For now, I am going back to my writing, but have a little snippet of Medusa #3 to share with you for the week.

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Finally, Hunter sat back in his chair when he’d polished off his own lunch. “Okay. Hit me.”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“Give me your best argument.”

That wasn’t what she’d expected. She frowned again, pushing her empty plate aside and resting her forearms on the edge of the table. “I shouldn’t need to convince you,” she said after a moment. “You saw him. You heard how determined he is. And there are more just like him. Lots more.” She brushed her fingers absently over the smooth surface of the table. “My best bet right now is to hook up with one of my cousins or their husbands who’ve dealt with the Harvesters before. Then you’ll be safe.”

“That’s the best you can muster?”

Katharine glared at him, more annoyed when he just continued to smile at her. Only half a day ago, that look would have killed him. Now, it didn’t even make her feel better to know that. “I shouldn’t have to convince you that you’re unsafe as long as you’re with me.”

He shrugged. “I’m not the Medusa. They’re not interested in me.”

That was true.

She shook her head. “That doesn’t matter. My cousin Philomena, who was the Medusa before me, had Harvesters target her family to try to reach her.”

He shrugged again. “I’m not family. They have no way to connect me to you.”

“Except for the one who saw you Monday.”

“But he doesn’t know who I am. I didn’t introduce myself while I was holding him at gunpoint.”

Her pulse quickened. “That doesn’t mean he didn’t wait around to see you leave so he could follow you or try to track you down.”

Hunter shook his head. “Didn’t follow. And he definitely didn’t stick around after I made him ditch his knife.”

Her frustration level jumped up. He wasn’t understanding. Why wasn’t he understanding?

Why did it matter? She was an adult and could do what she wanted.

“Don’t even think it.” His tone was mild, but there was something in his eyes that made her hesitate.

“I am not going to stay here and put you in danger,” she said finally, working to keep the edge out of her voice. “I’m going to call my cousin and get a little advice from her husband, and then get out of your hair.”

Hunter’s smile disappeared. “No.”

She covered her face with her hands.

“I’ll talk to your cousin’s husband and see what he thinks, but you’re not going off on your own.”

She dropped her hands. “I can defend myself just fine, at least for the next four weeks,” she pointed out.

“I’m sure you can. But I’d rather keep you where I can see you.”

“Why?”

His expression softened a little. “I already know how to deal with this guy. And I’ve already gotten you to safety. Oh, and I have the new code to your alarm system for you, not that you can go back there.” He dug a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it across the table.

Katharine sighed. “You’re going to be difficult about this, aren’t you?” She took the paper and unfolded it, staring blankly for a few seconds at the numbers. She swallowed, wishing her brain was functioning a little more quickly. Evidently, the residual effects of three days of painkillers hadn’t yet gone away.

“You’d better believe it.” He set one hand over hers on the table, his fingers warm. “I’m in this thing now, Kat, and you’re going to find it hard to shake me.”

That’s what she was afraid of. She looked away, her gaze catching on the fruit plate. The green of the grapes contrasted sharply with the whitish flesh of the apple slices.

“So,” he said at last, giving her fingers a squeeze, “which cousin are you calling? Didn’t you say there are two now who used to be the Medusa?”

Katharine rested her face on her other hand, shutting her eyes, then sighed. “Yes. Andi’s husband is the one who was a Harvester, and Phila’s husband owns a security firm.”

“Really?”

She opened her eyes to find his gaze had sharpened.

“Yes.”

“Then I’m going to want to talk to him. I’m sure between the two of us, we can come up with something nearly foolproof to keep you safe.”

She shook her head slowly, noting the stubborn set of his jaw. “You’re serious.”

“As a heart attack.”

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Before I go, I wanted to say thank you to the very kind notes after last week’s blog post. I appreciate them all, and all of you for thinking of me and my family.

 

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It has been a rough week here.  I got word last Monday that my dad’s cancer was back and all the doctors could do was pain management at this stage.  He’d known for some time that he was sick again, but he had made up his mind he wasn’t going to have more surgery or go through chemo again, and he kept his secret as long as he could, stubborn man.

The only good part of this week was getting to visit with family and other loved ones.  The loss is too awful, though, and it will be a long time before we are even a little bit better.  We’ll get together again in a few months, when the weather is nicer.  My dad adamantly did not want a service, just cremated so his ashes could be sprinkled.  So he won’t have a service, and his ashes are going to be sprinkled in a couple places that were meaningful to him, but we’ll also get together at the cemetery where much of my dad’s family is buried, and we’ll say goodbye to him there.

My brain is not in the right mindset to write at the moment. I’ve opened several story files and scrolled through them, but I don’t have words to add to them right now.

So instead, I’m going to share a snippet from my third shifter story with you and think about some supper.

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“Hey, what’s up with Mom and Dad?”

He squeezed his eyes shut. “I don’t know. Not sure I want to know.”

Harley laughed. “I’m pretty sure she spent the night last night.”

Boris groaned. “Why did you go there?” He turned around and glared at his brother.

Harley grinned and shrugged. “I’m not any more excited to be speculating about that end of things myself, but it’s fun to make you uncomfortable.”

“Because we’re still ten and sixteen?”

“Occasionally.” His brother sobered a little. “A baby, huh?”

Boris thought he hid his wince. “Yes.” He didn’t really want to have this conversation any more than the one about their parents.

His brother studied him for a few seconds. “Well, thanks for hanging with Callie,” he said finally.

Relief flooded his system. “No problem.” He pivoted and strode from the room.

The treehouse. He imagined it filled with his children and the three women, and he smiled reluctantly. That was going to be a sight.

Only he saw a small blond head bent over the arm of a chair just inside the library. Berdine.

He turned in there instead of continuing toward the French doors. “Hey,” he said softly.

Her head shot up, and she swiped the back of her hand across one cheek before she glared at him.

He scooped her off the chair, then sat on the seat with her on his lap. “Are you okay, baby?”

“Fine.”

He hid a grin. He’d heard that enough from women in his lifetime to know it was a big fat lie when uttered in that tone. “How come you’re in here all by yourself?”

“You were busy with Callie, and I didn’t want to hear baby stories.”

“I hear everyone else is out in the treehouses.” He rubbed her stiff little spine.

“I didn’t want to.”

He studied her profile, her mouth all pinched up in annoyance, the remaining moisture on her lashes. “I didn’t realize you would be so upset about a new baby,” he said after a few seconds.

“I don’t care about a baby.” She slanted him another glare.

“So it’s just Vivi you don’t like.”

Her mouth pursed a little more. “I don’t need a new mom. I have a mom.”

“Yes, you do.” He didn’t point out that Marigold hadn’t seen any of them, or even bothered to speak to them in well over a year, since way before the divorce had been finalized. “Vivi isn’t here to take your mom’s place, Berdine.”

His daughter sucked in an unsteady breath. “But she’s your mate.” She looked up, her blue eyes full of fresh tears. “Mom was never your mate. Why not?” She sobbed once. “If she was your mate, she would have stayed, right?” Tears rolled down her face.

“Oh, baby, I don’t think so,” he murmured, gathering her close.

She cried into the front of his shirt, and he was a little surprised she didn’t try to move away.

He hugged her close, stroking her back, brushing her hair away from her face. He’d never considered for a minute that any of his kids would be this upset about Vivi.

Finally, she sniffed, wiping her face with both hands, trying to ease away.

Boris held on, smoothing his other hand down her wet cheek.

“Why is she your mate?” she asked again without looking at him.

He didn’t want to tell her about the danger, which they all sheltered the kids from, or that he hadn’t even asked Vivi first. “It was just the right time,” he said at last. “You liked her at school, right?”

Her lower lip stuck out when she looked up at him. “That was different. A teacher isn’t a mom.”

“Well, a lot of teachers are moms, you know,” he pointed out. “But Vivi doesn’t want to take your mom’s place. And she’s not used to this craziness. You might try being nice to her–this bunch is pretty scary.”

Berdine huffed out a breath, giving him a doubtful glance. “Yeah, right.”

“No, really. She’s been on her own a long time, and there are a lot of us. That’s a big change.” He winked at her.

She still didn’t appear convinced, but at least she’d stopped crying.

“Give her a chance, okay?”

She heaved a sigh. “Fine. I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ask.” He bent and kissed her head, then her cheek. “You know I love you, right?”

“I know.” She started to slide off his lap, then turned back to look up at him again. “Mommy’s okay, isn’t she?”

He swallowed. “She was last time I heard from her.” Which was a long time ago.

“So she’s busy.”

“Probably.” Telling his eight-year-old daughter that her mother was a selfish bitch wouldn’t be helpful, so he kept that to himself.

She nodded. “I love you, too, Daddy.” She smiled as she slid to her feet and headed for the door.

________________

While I spend my week looking for something positive, why don’t you tell me what is making you happy this week? I might not be the only one who needs a little cheer.

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

We’re heading into Valentine’s Day this week, so it seems like a perfect week to talk about romance, in our books and in real life. I regularly see posts on social media asking about the book that hooked someone on romance novels, and I always feel a little guilty because I don’t remember the first romance I ever read.  Other people can name their first, so why can’t I?  Probably because I was such a voracious reader when I was in school.

When I was much younger, it just about killed me to only be allowed to borrow two books at a time from the public library.  I would wind up reading them over and over during the week.  When I got to the high school (ours included grades seven through twelve), one of my favorite things was joining the library club and working in the library each week during one of my study halls for six years. Not only did I get to play in the books, but eventually, I got first dibs on anything new coming in, before it went out for anyone else to borrow.  I would go home on Friday afternoons with as many books as I could carry, and have read through most of them by the time I went back to school on Monday (at least until I was old enough for a job).  I remember the first time I read Gone With the Wind–that was one of those Friday books I borrowed, and by the time I went back to school Monday morning, I had read it twice, though I wasn’t happy with the ending.  I worked my way through most of the school library by the time I graduated, non-fiction and fiction, and every kind of fiction…classics, mysteries, romances, science fiction. You name it, I read it. I didn’t discriminate.

But we were talking about romances.  I have no idea what the first one was that I read.  My mom read them, along with lots of other books–that’s where I got my reading bug, from her and her parents–and I read a lot of her books that I wasn’t supposed to be reading at age thirteen.  Lots of steamy stories, romance and otherwise, but the romances were my favorite. I was always hooked on a happy ending.  If it didn’t end well, I wasn’t satisfied.  We had an assignment in English class around eighth or ninth grade to rewrite the ending of a classic story–mine was to rework the end of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so Ichabod and Katrina lived happily ever after.

Did I read Kathleen Woodiwiss? Of course.  But was she first? I have no idea. Judith McNaught? Maybe.  Johanna Lindsey? Who knows? And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’ve read a lot of great romances in my life, and I know I couldn’t list them all. There are simply too many, and I enjoyed them all, no matter which one came first.

I was trying to decide if I’ve read any Valentine’s Day romances lately and having a hard time thinking of one I read recently. Which led me to wonder if I have written any yet. The answer to that is definitely not, though I do have some stories that take place over the winter.  And you know what? For today, that’s close enough for me, so I have a steamy little snippet from Medusa #2 for you.

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The heavy weight of Ryder’s arm settled on her shoulder. “They’ll be fine for tonight,” he murmured near her ear.

Philomena nodded, biting her lower lip. They had to be. If anything happened to them, it was on her head.

“And I have to go.” He stepped away and picked up his own coat from the hook behind the door.

She grabbed the nearest jacket, which was too light for the brisk winter night, but she pulled it on anyway, then walked outside with him. “You’re going to be careful, aren’t you?”

“I’m always careful.” He shot her a bad boy grin that had her heart racing as they made their way along the sidewalk to the front of the house, where she saw his pick-up truck parked out front beside the mailbox now.

“Nothing can happen to you, Ryder. You have Jason to worry about.”

He kept walking.

“Are you listening to me?” She glared up at him when he came to a stop beside the truck.

He put his arm around her shoulders again. “Are you more worried about Jason? Or me?”

She blinked. “I’m worried about what will happen to Jason if something happens to you.” He smelled really good. Her pounding heart sped up even more. He was too close. She needed to distract herself again. “You know Desi is a lousy parent. Might as well not even be a parent.”

“What if something did happen to me? Would you miss me?” He bent nearer, his mouth almost grazing her temple.

She tried to concentrate on his words, but the awareness rushing through her made that difficult. And dammit, she couldn’t even blame it on pre-PMS hormones.

“Would you be upset if I were hurt?” His open mouth slid down her cheek, hot, damp. Tempting.

Desire raced along her veins. Under her sweater, her nipples tightened in anticipation.

“Mena?” He licked the corner of her mouth.

She gasped, and he swooped in, covering her open mouth with his, pressing her back against the side of the truck, his warmth more than making up for the cold metal at her back.

He was aroused again. Or still. When his hips rocked into hers, the heavy erection against her belly made her panties even wetter.

Shocked by her reaction, she still couldn’t resist, lifting into his kiss.

“Wrap your legs around me, Mena,” he whispered against her lips.

She forced her eyes open, trying hard to distract herself from the temptation of Ryder.

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Now I am going back to work. I have rewrites waiting for me.

At the risk of making someone else crazy, do you remember the first romance novel you ever read?

(  Photo on Foter.com )

( Photo on Foter.com )

It’s February, and a lot of people automatically think ‘Valentine’s Day’. Now I may be a bit biased, being a romance novel writer and reader–okay, I’m a lot biased–but I think romance shouldn’t be limited to just one month of the year.  I’m guessing lots of you feel the same way.  I’m not complaining about flowers, or sparkly jewelry, or chocolates (especially from my favorite local candy maker!) on Valentine’s Day, but it makes me a little sad that there seem to be so many people who do only think about making romantic gestures on occasions like this.  As if the rest of the year doesn’t count. As if they only feel it necessary to make sure their significant other realizes they’re loved at Valentine’s Day.

I’m not suggesting everyone feels this way. I know a lot of people who make romantic gestures all year round.  I just feel like maybe sometimes we forget, and we should make more effort to remind ourselves and our S.O.s that we care.

( Photo on Foter.com ) A little breakfast in bed once in a while, maybe? Help folding the fifty gazillion loads of laundry? I know there are a lot of ways we can do that, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt for us to have more ideas, so I’d love to hear some of yours, or maybe some way your S.O. surprised you and reminded you they love you.

And in the meantime, I have a little snippet of one of my tiger shifters. Anton is shopping with his new mate for a formal event, and he’s about to do something sweet for her.

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Laney paused inside for a second, looking around to get her bearings, then headed directly for the back half of the store.

Anton frowned at the displays around him at the front of the shop–some very pretty things there, from what he could see. He ambled after her, noting the way she skipped right past the sparkling and shiny gowns on mannequins and wall displays before she started to dig through a tall round rack. He turned around, still frowning at all of the things they’d passed by.

Including a dark green gown the same color as her eyes had been in bed last night. He stepped closer. Shoulder straps an inch or so wide, with a neckline that didn’t dip down too far to be decent, and a skirt closer to the slim end of the range than some of the full-on Cinderella gowns nearby. He flipped through the hangers until he thought he’d chosen the right size, then moseyed back to join her.

She had pulled a slim black gown from the rack and was studying it, a frown furrowing her brow. After a moment, she put it back on the rack.

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked.

She glanced up. “Cut too low.” Her gaze flicked to the gown he held. “Too much.” She went back to the rack beside him, flipping through hangers.

One of his eyebrows rose. “What?”

She sighed, then glanced toward the front of the store where the saleswoman was still occupied at the cash desk. “I don’t shop the front of the store, because they always put the most expensive gowns there.”

“I like this one. It matches your eyes.” He held it forward.

She met his gaze again, not looking at the dress. “My eyes are hazel.”

“Sometimes,” he agreed, “but they’re this color when we’re in bed.”

Her cheeks went red, and she cast a horrified glance around to be sure no one was close enough to hear him. “Anton,” she whispered.

He smiled. “You have to at least try it on.”

Laney shut her eyes for a moment. “Fine, but I’m not getting it.” She tugged another black gown from the rack to study while avoiding his gaze.

If the green fit her, he was buying it, he decided as she rummaged through the gowns on the next rack.

The saleswoman finished up with her other customer as Laney added a purple dress to the black and red gowns he held with his own choice.
“I can take these to the fitting room for you,” the older woman said, reaching for the dresses.

“I’m actually ready to head back,” Laney said with a polite smile.

Anton trailed after them, then dropped onto the overstuffed armchair in the waiting area. Laney shut her fitting room door, and he listened to the soft rustling of her clothing behind it–first her coat, then the sweater and tank, her wool pants. In his head, he imagined each piece coming off. He wondered which gown she’d try first.

He found out a minute later when she emerged in the purple. He kept his mouth shut as she crossed to the big mirrors, but her wrinkled nose told him exactly what she thought.

The color was pretty on her, but the dress had an odd, angled neckline, and the ‘sleeves’ barely covered her shoulders.

Before the saleswoman had made it back to them, Laney was already on her way back into the smaller room. The older woman’s mouth pursed a little.

Anton shrugged when she looked at him, and she smiled.

When Laney came back out, it was in the green gown he’d chosen. He had picked the right size–it hugged her torso perfectly before the skirt belled out a tiny bit and swept to the floor.

“Oh, you look beautiful in that,” the older woman said. “And it doesn’t even need alteration.”

Laney met his gaze in the mirror, and she didn’t look happy that she looked so good in the dress. Anton wondered just how expensive it was. He let his gaze wander lower, to the pretty hint of cleavage the dress framed, then he met her gaze again with a little smile.

She blushed and murmured something to the saleswoman, then hurried back into the smaller room.

The other black gown fit well, too, though she looked appalled at the cleavage exposed in this one. The red was okay, he thought, but it covered everything, with sleeves that went almost to her elbows, a swingy skirt, and a squared off neckline sitting just an inch or two beneath her collarbones.

He didn’t eavesdrop on her short conversation with the saleswoman, but got up and stretched. This might be the shortest gown-shopping trip in the history of womankind.

The saleswoman took the black, green and purple gowns from Laney, who retreated into the smaller room. Anton frowned when she put the green gown on a small rack with the purple. He shook his head, and she caught him, her mouth opening.

He pressed one finger to his lips, and she shut her mouth, understanding him perfectly. She retrieved the green dress and nodded to the front of the shop, smiling.

The woman hung both the black and the green gowns on a hook at the cash desk. “That’s a nice gift. She looked beautiful in the green.”

“Yes, she did.” He withdrew his wallet from his pocket while she punched some numbers into the small computer on the counter. He didn’t even wince when she gave him the total, just handed over his card.

By the time Laney arrived at the front of the shop, he had the garment bag holding both gowns slung over his shoulder. She frowned, but glanced at the older woman and kept her protest to herself. “Thank you,” she murmured, nodding to the older woman, who winked at Anton when he turned Laney toward the door.

“Shoes next?” he asked when they got outside.

“You didn’t have to buy my dress,” she said, looking up at him. “I have money.”

“Call it a gift.” He unlocked the car and hung the gowns from the hook in the backseat. She hadn’t noticed there were two hangers.

Yet.

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Don’t forget to tell me the romantic little things you and your S.O. do when it isn’t Valentine’s Day, while I go back to work on Medusa #2!