Category: Birthday Celebration


I’m home from the conference, the laundry is done, and I’ve even put away most of the things I carted home with me from New York, and now I have to go back to the day-job tomorrow even though I’d like to stay home and write some more. But we’re not there yet.

The conference was busy, jammed with people as you would expect when a writing conference is in NYC, the traditional home of publishing. Lots of great authors there, presenting workshops and signing books. I didn’t intend to bring a ton of books home, but somehow, my suitcase was packed as full as I could get it, and I still had more stuffed into a tote bag. It was quite a workout heaving my suitcase into the overhead on the train, and then wrestling it back down again when we reached my stop without giving myself (or my seat-mate) a concussion. I didn’t even bring all of the books home that I acquired–I sent a couple home with my roommate for her daughters. And I really was judicious when I went to the booksignings about how many authors I asked to sign books. Maybe they just multiplied once I got them back to our room.

We had a great view of Times Square from our room–if you wanted to be there to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve but didn’t want to be jammed into the streets with thousands of other people, you could see it from that room. Two women from my monthly writing group were also at the conference, and we had some really good meals while we were in the city. The first night I was there, I ate at a diner my husband and I stumbled on during our last visit, and while I was having supper, a group of NYC’s finest also came in for dinner. My writing group friends were disappointed that they missed it and wanted to make sure get to see it. One of them went back with me another night, and we were treated to the same nice view of the ‘Hot Cops’ as we called them. Our other friend was disappointed she missed that, but on our last night, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby and she got her own view of some of NYC’s ‘Hot Cops’.

I went to a fair number of workshops on indie publishing, and marketing/branding while I was at the conference, so I actually started playing around with some new headers for my social media pages. I could use some opinions on what I have so far, so I have a poll on my Facebook page, and created a separate poll here. I’d love if you took a look at these and let me know which one you prefer.

Before I have to start really thinking about work in the morning, I have a little story snippet from my first shifter manuscript to share with you while I get in a little more writing time.

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Tessa could not stop smiling after she hung up the phone. Amy had whooped when she shared the news. Her second stop was to see the tiger.

He sat when she came into the room, his golden gaze alert.

“Hi, buddy.” She dropped to the floor in the middle of the room, almost bouncing. “I found you a wonderful new home. They’re going to come and get you next week. You’re going to love it. They’ll build you a huge new enclosure. You’ll have more tiger friends. Maybe even a girlfriend.” Tessa grinned.

The cat tipped his head, watching her.

She stayed there until her boss arrived, and then she shared the news with him, too.

Joe arrived in the middle of it, and she excused herself to gather her things.

“Your place tonight?” he asked as they headed for the door.

“Um, not right now,” she said, feeling heat rush to her face. “I need to get some books from the library.” She had left the books there last night–she’d been a little distracted by another tiger. But she really wanted to share her good news with him.

Joe waited till she’d gone inside before he backed the jeep up and left again.

She went in, a little disappointed not to find him waiting in the library, or in any of the other rooms on the ground floor. Hands sweating, she headed up the steps.

Tessa swallowed hard, screwing up her nerve when she got to the door. After a few more seconds, she let out a shaky breath and knocked. Once.

Nothing.

She shut her eyes and knocked again, harder.

Still nothing.

After a couple seconds, she decided to bolt. As she turned away, a whisper of sound alerted her to someone on the stairs, and she flushed, pulse racing. Great, now someone else would know she’d gone to Harley’s suite.

Except it was Harley who rounded the corner. He paused for half a second when he saw her, then a hint of a smile touched his lips. “Hello, Tessa.”

The sexy rumble in his greeting made her catch her breath, and she struggled to suck in a little air before she cleared her throat. “Hi,” she managed, suddenly aware they were alone up here. Her brain flashed intimate images from last night, last weekend, and heat flashed through her.

“I didn’t expect to see you this evening.” He came to a stop about a foot away. Just near enough that the warm scent of him enveloped her, teasing her senses. “I thought you’d be working late again.”

She found her gaze caught on his mouth, and she forced it back up to his, trying very hard not to think of all the ways he’d used his mouth on her. Failing.

As if he knew what was going on in her head, Harley smiled a little more. “Tessa?”

She gave herself a mental shake, warmth expanding from her middle. “I found a home for the tiger this afternoon. A reserve that specializes in cats.”

“That’s great.” He tipped his head to one side, his golden gaze sliding over her face until she blushed again. “And you came looking for me,” he murmured, his eyes darkening.

She opened her mouth to speak, but had no idea what she’d meant to say. Her system seemed to be on Harley-overload–she was much too aware of him, the quiet sound of his breathing, the remembered feel of his hard fingers on her skin.

Her heartbeat sounded much too loud and fast in her ears.

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Before I forget, I have a guest blog post going live at Delilah Devlin’s blog on Friday, Aug. 2, and there is a giveaway, so maybe you want to pop over there and give it a look.

Now I’m going to write and pretend I get to stay home to do it every day. What are you doing this hot summer week?

 

 

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(Cake and ice-cream – Depositphotos)

I am still without internet at my house, so am crashing the Panera up the road from home once again so I can check in on everything that’s happening in my world and beyond. While I get ready to call our provider (again!) when I get home.

I’ve also been cursing Mother Nature for the ridiculously high temperatures this week. As I write this, our high temp at home today was officially 100 degrees. Much, much too hot for me. It looks like a slightly cooler start to next week, before it gets back up around 90. Good thing for me I’ll be inside the conference hotel all week for the annual Romance Writers of America conference.

I finished most of my packing earlier today. Now I just have a few things to tuck into my suitcase the morning I leave, and my tote bag to prep. I hope I didn’t forget to put anything on my ginormous list. I am really excited to get to NYC, not just for the conference, but because it means I also get to meet up with writer friends I haven’t seen in too long (and some I see fairly regularly) to catch up and talk shop.

I do need to finish whittling down my workshop list. I still have a couple of time slots I can’t make up my mind about. I’ll have to think about that tomorrow while I’m staying inside the air conditioning for one last extra-hot day to write. I might even polish my nails while I’m at it. I should also think about what kind of cheesecake I’m going to bring home with me next weekend for my birthday.

While I’m thinking about that, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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Kallan sank onto the hard chair at the table and buried his face in his hands. Tonight wasn’t working out at all as he’d imagined it might. Andrea had warned him that morning she wouldn’t forget what he’d done last night. A mirthless laugh rumbled up his chest. He should have realized Andrea wouldn’t completely surrender. She was a fighter, his Medusa.

He frowned. She wasn’t his Medusa. She wasn’t his anything. Perhaps a temporary lover. And ultimately, his target. His family’s enemy.

That didn’t mean he’d allow his cousin get to her, however.

With that thought in mind, he booted up the laptop, fingers tapping over the keyboard. Sure enough, Great-Uncle Ari had responded to Kallan’s earlier posting, with a command to Stavros to head in the same direction rather than to follow his own lead. None of the cousins ever disobeyed Aristotle Tassos, even now when they were adults and hunting on their own—not even Stavros, arrogant and brutal as he was.

Breathing a small sigh of relief, Kallan idly pulled up his favorite page of the mythologies, one with plenty of photos of ancient artifacts to go along with the stories. Artifacts which had never been seen publicly, items that had instead passed down through generations of Harvesters. Currently, Cousin Demitrios was the keeper of the private collection, though word among the cousins was he wanted to get back in on the hunt and turn the curatorship over to his brother Vasily. That was up to Great-Uncle Ari, and the old bastard never rushed a decision.

He scrolled through several pages until he got to the photo he was searching for. A large urn decorated in great detail, including a scene depicting the very beautiful Medusa about to be slain by Perseus. The first Medusa was gorgeous, with wide eyes and a generous figure. The spitting, hissing snakes atop her head didn’t detract at all from her beauty.

He looked up at the ceiling. There was only silence from Andrea’s bedroom. He wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

He glanced again at the urn. Perhaps she should see it.

To what purpose, though? The voice in his head sounded very like Ari.

He frowned and picked up the computer, then headed for the steps and ignored the imaginary voice.

The light was still on in the bedroom, and Andrea sat just where he’d left her, her shoulders slumped.

Something in his chest tightened. He reminded himself she’d set this in motion, but he still felt a pang of guilt.

He cleared his throat. “I have something you should see.”

She didn’t move, didn’t jump, didn’t give any indication she’d heard him.

Kallan’s frown deepened as he crossed the room to her.

She was sleeping. Sitting there exactly where he’d left her, with tear stains on her cheeks.

Goddess, he felt even worse. He put the laptop on her dresser and turned back to the bed so he could ease her down into a more comfortable position. Certainly more comfortable than sleeping sitting up. She didn’t wake, just burrowed into the pillow, making an indistinct sound of protest.

For a moment, he watched her, trying to figure out why his chest ached and failing. He gave himself a shake and returned to the computer, then shut it down before he kicked off his shoes and stretched out behind her on the bed, careful not to disturb her. She’d had a rough enough day.

He smiled to himself at that and shut his eyes. They both needed some sleep to deal with what was coming.

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Now I’m going to venture back out into the heat and head home to my own a/c and do a little reading before I call it a day. What will you be doing this week while I’m filling my brain with new information at the conference and visiting with writing friends?

 

 

Today will be a super-fast post. Our internet has been down at home since Friday evening, and there is no end in sight, so I took a quick drive up the road to Panera to check on things.

I have been writing today–easier to be undistracted (except by the flashing DSL light on the router) when there is no access to anything else. I’ve also started packing for my trip next week. Not clothing yet, but other essentials. I’ve also picked up some snacks to take along, and some local chocolate for my out-of-state roommate.

Hopefully our internet will be fixed soon, and I’ll have a longer post for you, with a story snippet. What do you do when you lose access to something you rely on? A small freak-out? Major meltdown?

 

 

Raspberry tart – Depositphotos

Yes, it’s July, which means party month, right? Cake for everyone, I think, though we’ll start small. Doesn’t that look yummy? I’ve actually been dreaming of Junior’s Cheesecake for my birthday, and as it happens, since the national Romance Writers of America conference is in New York this year, I will be there on my birthday, so that wish is coming true. I’ll actually be traveling home that day, but will be able to pop across the street from the conference hotel before I head to the train station and get my cake. I can’t wait!

And speaking of the conference, I spent some time last night trying to narrow down my workshop choices and printing out handouts that go with some of them. Which led to the demise of my black ink cartridge, so I have to run out and pick up ink this morning instead of spending all day writing as I had hoped. So this is going to be a short post. I have a little story snippet to share with you from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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Lucie didn’t argue when Nate refused her help with the dishes. Her insides were still shaky 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, buddy.” They’d already decided that 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 to sleep in her own bed rather than the less-than-ideal pull-out chair-bed in his dad’s hospital room.

She wasn’t sure that was a battle he would win, but she could absolutely understand 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 the 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 made her look up, 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, or needing it, for that matter.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit, hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, she was in 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 and cleared the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard his footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled around. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, and there was no disguising the 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 from her, 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 widened just a little, and she stretched up to brush a kiss on his mouth, then stepped back.

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

His dark gaze followed her out the door, and she turned away, feeling a smile curve her lips.

Well, that was nice. She could deal with the repercussions another day, and, for now, be reminded she was still alive.

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Now I’m off to get some ink, and then I can spend at least the afternoon writing. While I think some more about birthday cakes. What kind of cake do you like for your birthday?

Biscuit cake with strawberries – Depositphotos

 

 

 

 

Now that the big day has passed, I guess it’s time to wind down the festivities. There is only so much cake and ice cream one person can eat (or should eat, maybe, if they’re trying to be conscientious about getting healthier). Still, the month only has a few more days, so maybe we just downsize the intake of birthday cake…

( Photo on Foter.com )

I spent part of my birthday morning at the eye doctor for a very overdue exam, and just ordered new (and much stronger) glasses, but for fun, I followed it up with an hour on the massage table, and then the boys came over for dinner and cake, which made me happy. The hubby and I are winding down my birthday weekend with dinner at my favorite Asian restaurant tonight, before I buckle down to work again.  Work = the day-job and the writing job. That said, I’ll keep this post short and sweet for a change. I have a story snippet for you, from the third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa.

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Katharine bolted upright in bed, breathing hard, and Hunter shot upright, too, suddenly wide awake, and caught one of her flailing arms.

“Easy,” he murmured, “easy, Kat.” He set his other hand on her back.

She went suddenly still, her breath coming too quickly. “Sorry,” she managed after a moment. “Bad dream.”

“Lie down.” He loosened his hold on her wrist, gratified when she obeyed him, dropping back onto her pillow again. He eased down beside her, stroking his hand along her arm, lightly, from wrist to elbow and back. “What was the dream?”

She took a deep breath and held it for a moment, then let it out slowly. “Athena.”

Hunter exhaled, too. “You okay?”

He heard the movement her head made on the pillow as she shook it. “She’s angry.”

“You can tell that from a dream?”

“Not sure it’s just a dream, exactly,” she said softly. “Not this time.”

“What do you mean?” He let his fingers stay circled around her wrist, feeling the rush of her pulse beneath his forefinger.

“I know what a dream feels like.” She went silent for a moment again. “This wasn’t a dream. This is something else. She was with Aristotle, and She’s furious that I’m not dead.”

Hunter frowned in the dark, wishing he could see her eyes. “And?”

Another rustle of the blankets. Maybe a shrug, judging by the slight motion of her arm in his hold. “He’s afraid. That’s it.”

He smiled at the frustration he heard in her tone, but only for a second. An angry Goddess couldn’t be a good thing. Not when the Goddess in question had placed a curse on a family that had lasted for millennia. “Does She rely on them to do all the work as far as tracking the Medusa?”

Her breathing slowed a little. “I don’t know,” she said after a few seconds. “We could find out from Andi’s husband Kallan, I suppose.”

“You’d think a Goddess would be able to give them an unfair advantage in their hunt, wouldn’t you?”

Her pulse eased a bit under his fingers. “You would.” She sounded as if she were seriously thinking about it.

“It sounds like She doesn’t, though. I wonder why?” Hunter rubbed his thumb along the back of her hand.

If Athena wanted the Medusa dead so badly, one would think She’d give her Harvesters every advantage She could.

“Maybe She can’t?”

It was definitely a question, he noted. Her tone was uncertain, plain even in the dark.

Hunter lifted her hand to his mouth and brushed a quick kiss across the back of her fingers. “I don’t know, but we can try to figure it out in the morning. Can you go back to sleep?”

Her fingers tightened in his hold for a quick second before relaxing again. “I can try.”

He let their joined hands drop to the bed between them. “Try, honey.” He listened to her for a while, the tiny shifting motions as she settled back into the bed, her breathing slowing gradually. While his own brain raced.

Why wouldn’t Athena help Her Harvesters? Why would She expect them to do all the work on their own?

Maybe She couldn’t find the Medusa Herself.

He lay awake for hours, thinking about the possibilities and what they might mean for Katharine, until his brain finally shut down from sheer exhaustion.

He jerked awake again when Kat stretched in her sleep, and he realized he was wrapped around her, the soft curve of her ass snuggled into his groin, one of her breasts only inches from where his hand rested on her ribs. He shut his eyes for a second, allowing himself to savor the feel of her against him, just for another couple heartbeats before he eased away from her, putting a few much needed inches between her cotton-clad butt and his strengthening erection.

He took a slow breath, but all that got him was a bigger lungful of her scent. He rolled onto his back and slid one foot up to bend his leg. The sheet and blanket weren’t nearly as warm as Katharine.

She shifted beside him again, rolling first onto her back, then onto her side to face him.

Hunter stifled a groan when her hand landed on his abdomen and her leg brushed his. Her fingers flexed along his belly, and he covered her hand with his own to keep her from sliding her fingers any lower.

A sleepy sound escaped her as she snuggled closer again.

Torture. He shut his eyes. It was torture to have her fingers so close.

Her knee rubbed along his thigh, higher.

His heart pounded harder, drowning out the quiet voice of reason in his head that was attempting to remind him he could wait until she was ready for any more intimacy.

Her knee nudged at his erection, and the groan rumbled up from his throat this time. He slid away, until he could put one foot on the floor and get out of bed.

Kat’s hand moved across the blanket for a few seconds, as if she were searching for something, then stopped, and her breathing evened out again.

He shut his eyes for a heartbeat, then turned away to gather clean clothes and head for the shower. A cold shower.

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Okay, maybe one more cake, just to finish off the month.

I hope you all have a great week!

 

 

( Photo by Fays cakes on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

The fun we had planned for last week went off without a hitch, including going to the booksigning yesterday. It was so much fun to meet an author whose books I’ve loved for many years, and to see another I haven’t seen in a few years, and, of course, my idol, Nora. Plus we had amazing lunch afterward, and I brought home something inspirational, which is now sitting on the top of my desk, staring at me from above my monitor:

 Sometimes you need a little reminder, right? I’m thinking this should be my motto for the next year, from this birthday to the next one. What do you think?

We still have a few crazy days to get through at the day-job in the coming week, so I’ll be head down, nose to the grindstone for a couple days, and then will be able to breathe for a couple days heading into my birthday next weekend.  And speaking of next weekend, I think I might do a little party over on my Facebook page next weekend, too, to celebrate the big day. A little virtual cake and ice cream (No calories, so that is definitely on my diet plan!), maybe a few gifts to give away.  If you take a peek over there, I’ve got an event page set up, so you can join in the fun with me next Saturday, July 28, 2018.

In the meantime, I have a little story snippet to share with you from one of my shifter stories.  I had intended that Joe’s story would be the third and final in that series, but right now his is the fifth story, and there are a few other characters in the series who really need to have stories, so it looks like Joe might not be the last after all.

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Joe listened to Piper and Keely down the hall, the little girl’s tone tinged with a whine. He smiled. She didn’t want to go to bed, but he’d bet she’d be sound asleep in under ten minutes. Probably as soon as her head hit the pillow in her little pink bed–she’d had a long day with his nieces and nephews, playing all over his parents’ house. He wondered if she’d ever had so many playmates all at once before.

His smile faded a little. Keely had enjoyed herself much more than her mother had.

Piper hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, but she’d been polite. The wariness had never eased, though, not all afternoon and evening, no matter what his mother had said or done.

He wondered when she’d trusted anyone last, even just for casual contact. Maybe not in a couple of years. Probably not in a couple of years, he thought, shaking his head. Chris.

Joe listened. No sounds from the hallway now. Probably a good sign.

He paced to the first bookcase and stroked the spine of a history book with one forefinger, then turned at a whisper of sound.

Piper stood at the door, eyes still wary.

“Is she out?” he asked lightly

“Like a light.” She made no move to come into the room. “I think–”

“Sit down, Piper. She’ll be fine.”

She blinked.

“I promise. And you need to relax. Being on guard all the time must be exhausting.”

Something flashed in her eyes, but she looked away before he could identify it. “I was going to say I think I’ll find a book and a quiet corner to read, out of your way.”

He frowned. “You’re not in my way, Piper.”

She gave him a steady look for a few seconds. “I imagine you’re used to having your house to yourself.”

He shrugged. “But I spend most of my time at the office or my parents’, so I’m hardly ever alone.”

“And now you’re not even alone when you get home,” she said softly.

He huffed out a rough breath. “By my choice, pretty Piper.”

She flushed and looked away again, and he realized what he’d called her–he used to call her that when they were kids, usually when she was dirty or injured from some escapade the three off them had survived. Fuck.

“Sorry,” he muttered, shoving his hair away from his face. “I don’t know why I said that. Not that it isn’t true,” he added. Fuck, he needed to shut his mouth. “Find a book, find a comfortable seat. You’re not in my way, Piper. If I didn’t want you here, I wouldn’t have brought you here.”

She swallowed, her expression even more guarded. “Why did you bring us here, Joe?”

He studied her for a moment. “Sit down, Piper,” he said, more gently. “Please.”

She dropped onto the arm of the chair just inside the door, and he noted the stiff set of her shoulders and mouth.

He took a slow breath. “I brought you here because you needed somewhere to go. Somewhere safer than where you were.”

Her lips thinned into a flat line for a second for a second. “I am not a charity case, Joe Wentworth.”

He quelled the urge to smile at her careful tone, just on the verge of snotty. “No, you’re not, but let me help you anyway.”

Her brows dipped a little. Finally, she sniffed. “I’ll go to the office on Monday, to interview, but I don’t want to stay here any longer than absolutely necessary, so I’m going to look for a place and get out of your way as soon as I can.”

He didn’t protest that, just nodded once.

Suspicion clouded her eyes, as if she’d expected an argument.

Joe relaxed a little. “I was thinking about a piece of that cake Mom sent home. How about you?”

Piper’s eyes widened a little, and then she shook her head. “It’s too late for me, thanks.”

He didn’t argue that either, just straightened. “Find a book, Piper. Relax.” He passed her on his way out of the room, and resisted ruffling her hair. It had annoyed her when they were kids and would probably annoy her more now. He wondered absently if her hair was still as soft as it had been then.

The idea made him frown. He had no business wondering things like that.

He shook off the idea as he uncovered the chunk of cake they’d brought home and found a knife in the dishwasher. She should have some cake, too–she was too thin. He cut off a slender piece for her and a bigger piece for himself, then got a couple of forks and carried the cake back to the library, where Piper was kneeling in front of a bookshelf.

She frowned when she looked up, then blinked when he dropped to his knees beside her.

“It’s just a little piece.” He held out the plate.

For a moment, she stared at him, before her gaze dropped to the dessert. “It was good,” she murmured, reaching for the plate.

He stuck his fork into his own cake and lifted a big bite into his mouth.

Piper cut off a much smaller piece, chewing it slowly, her eyes closing briefly, as if she were savoring it.

Joe wondered when anyone had last taken care of her. Her brother wouldn’t have, he wasn’t the type. Keely’s father? He frowned. He didn’t even know who that was. Now didn’t seem the time to ask, though. Maybe another day.

Or he could dig up the info on his own–and kick the guy’s ass for leaving them to fend for themselves this way.

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Now I’m going to do a little reading, and some more writing. Oh, and I’ll have a guest blog post up at Delilah Devlin’s blog later this week, Friday, July 27th, so I hope you’ll visit me there, too.

Maybe a little more cake before I go…

( Photo by bochalla on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

 

I spent a couple hours today doing something that required no work and was totally fun–a local movie theater is running older movies for week-long stints this summer, and this week is one of my all-time favorites, The Princess Bride, and a wonderful little birthday gift to myself (even better, because I had a certificate, my friend and I spent less than $3 between us for our tickets and snacks!) in the middle of the month.

( Photo by fguillen on Foter.com / CC BY )

I’m dating myself, but I don’t care. I remember seeing this in the theater when it was first released, and I loved it. It is one of those movies now that my kids and husband hate to watch with me, because I recite lines along with the movie. Which is why I went with a friend today.  Haha! We recited lines together, along with other moviegoers in the theater.  I have the movie-release paperback in my book room, with Buttercup and Westley on the cover, and it’s been well-read, so the spine is very creased, and the covers battered. But it is a feel-good movie, and I will never not watch it given the opportunity.  It ticks all the boxes, just like for the little boy in the movie: adventure, sports, revenge, humor, and romance. My husband actually got me this shirt a few years ago…

( Photo by capsun on Foter.com / CC BY-ND ) I still love it (and wear it). I may even go back to the theater mid-week to see it one more time on the big screen. Hey, one of my co-workers has never seen it, so someone has to take her, right?

The day-job is still so insane, I don’t want to think about it till tomorrow morning when I get there, so I’ll delay it a little longer with a story excerpt for you, from the second Medusa manuscript.

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She watched him sit, her fingers curling into her palms to keep from reaching out for him. Ryder was temporary. She couldn’t have anything permanent. Clearing her throat, she forced her gaze away from him, sliding it around the room. His office had a second door, and she moved toward it.

It opened into an office almost exactly the same as Ryder’s though not on a corner.

“That’s Danny’s office. The door on the other side of his opens into Joel’s office, and his is another corner room,” Ryder said from behind her.

She nodded, closing the door again. “Why doesn’t Danny have a corner office?”

He grinned when she turned around. “He’s afraid of heights. Getting him to take any of the outside wall offices was a real battle.”

She smiled reluctantly. “Why not let him have an office without windows?”

“He’s a partner, he’s got to have a big office.”

She shook her head. “Men are so dumb sometimes,” she muttered, sliding her fingers over the empty shelf of the bookcase in his corner.

“I heard that.”

She didn’t reply, her mind turning possibilities. She sat in one of the two chairs facing his desk and crossed one leg over the other. “Nice place.”

“I think we’ve established that.” He rested his forearms on the edge of the desk. “Are you coming up with ideas?”

She nodded. “Yes. I’ll have to think about it for a while, though. And you’ll have to let me know what kind of style you prefer, what sort of info you want on the site.”

Ryder’s dark eyes studied her for a few moments. “Okay. Have you seen enough?”

“Yes.” She pushed to her feet, pausing when she felt a low twist in her gut suddenly, and all the fine hairs at her nape stood on end.

Someone was out there watching her.

She shifted her gaze to the two walls of windows, her heart beating up into her throat.

“What’s wrong?”

She shook her head. “I’m probably being stupid, but I feel like someone’s watching me.” A dangerous someone.

Ryder rose in a flash, his sharpened gaze shifting from one nearby building to another. There were far too many windows. “I don’t see anyone.”

Neither did she. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a Harvester out there watching her. Waiting.

“Let’s go.” He moved around the desk, taking her arm as they left his office.

Philomena’s breath wanted to come faster, and she had to force herself to breathe slowly, evenly.

Downstairs, they paused at the security desk just long enough for Ryder to murmur something to the security guard, and then they hit the sidewalk, walking quickly.

“If I tell you to run, can you find your way back to the truck?” he asked, his gaze darting all around them.

She tried to think. “Maybe.” Gods, how could they have found her?

He pressed a key into her hand. “Good. If I tell you to run, you go. Get back to the cabin and I’ll meet you there.”

“What about you?” She felt an irrational urge to run now. To get as far from here as she could.

“I’ll get there. But if I have to stay behind to deal with anything, I don’t want you to wait around for me.” His fingers tightened on her arm. “Your first priority is to get to safety.”

They were within sight of the truck when he swore under his breath. “We need to move, baby.” He started to run, and she picked up her own pace, her boots thumping faster on the sidewalk.

From behind them, she heard people shouting, “Hey, watch where you’re going, buddy!” and “Yo, asshole, that was my foot!”

A Harvester. And apparently, he didn’t care that they were on the street in a very big city with a large audience.

Philomena sucked in a quick breath and ignored the stitch in her side, moving faster when Ryder did. He unlocked the truck with his remote and pushed her in through the driver’s door.

“Get down.” He slid into his seat, almost on her heels, and started the truck.

She wedged herself into the space between the seat and the dashboard, closing her eyes for a second. Gods, please don’t let me die.

Ryder stomped on the gas pedal, whipping out into traffic to the sound of honking horns. He drove too quickly along the street, and she saw his mouth tighten when he glanced in the rearview mirror. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered, pressing harder on the accelerator.

Philomena closed her eyes again. She so wanted to see Jason one more time. Her chest ached.

“It’s Ryder.”

She opened her eyes to see him with his cell to his ear.

“I need a rental car waiting for me when we get back….No, I don’t care what kind….Thanks.” He tossed the phone onto the seat.

“How did he find me?”

“Lucky timing for him, I think.”

“What do you mean?”

“Kallan told me there are usually one or two Harvesters in the big cities along the east coast. I figured Philly is big enough we wouldn’t run into one or two people. My mistake.” His jaw tightened. “I’m sorry, baby.”

“What are you, psychic?” She shook her head. “Just drive, Ryder. I don’t want to die today.”

“I won’t let you.” He flashed her a cocky grin and whipped the truck around a sharp corner, and the tires squealed this time.

Philomena put her head down on her knees, hoping his assurance this time was justifiable.

He sped around a few more turns, still muttering curses under his breath, then she felt the truck gain a lot more speed. Highway.

She lifted her head far enough to see the close-set buildings dropping away as he merged onto the interstate. “How many red lights did you run back there?”

“Just a couple.” Strain bracketed his eyes even though he smiled again for her.

She put her head back down. “If I die today, make sure Jason knows I love him.”

“You’re not dying, Mena, today or any other day for a long, long time,” he snapped. “Bastard.”

Under her, the truck vibrated as it picked up more speed. “Promise me anyway.”

“Fine. But you can tell him yourself tonight.”

She smiled into her lap and took a deep breath. “Just drive, would you?”

His short laugh made her relax a tiny bit.

Until something pinged off the roof of the truck.

“Son of a bitch,” Ryder growled, accelerating still faster.

She tightened her arms around her knees. “Is he shooting at us?”

“Keep your head down.”

She stifled a cry when something hit the back window, and she heard glass cracking. She pressed her face harder against her legs.

Ryder whipped the car into another lane, speeding up again so the engine rumbled louder.

Philomena shut her eyes and prayed to all the Gods.

________________

No kissing parts in this one (which would make the little boy in The Princess Bride happy), but there are plenty in this story, just like there were in Hunting Medusa. I’m off to do a little reading before bedtime, but maybe some birthday cake for the week.  And I’d love to know what are some of your will-always-watch movies.

( Photo on Foter.com )

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

I think I mentioned last week that it is my birthday month. I don’t actually feel like celebrating, but I think maybe those are the times you probably need to do it anyway, right?  So I’m looking for reasons to celebrate all month long, every day–though I won’t be having cake every day, that isn’t on the diet.  Maybe this much cake for me this month…

( Photo by Theresa Thompson on Foter.com / CC BY )

Who else has a birthday this month? Are you celebrating, or are you feeling more ambivalent about it like me? We should celebrate together, all month long!

We’re having our first nice days (read: not hot as the second level of hell) in a couple of weeks right now, but I had to close up the house and turn on the air conditioner anyway, because it’s laundry day, and the hot air from the dryer vent blows right into two of our open windows, making the inside of the house too hot.  I’m kind of okay with that, since we’d have to turn it back on tomorrow anyhow, plus I spent most of yesterday outside doing garden stuff at my aunt’s house. Got a nice migraine to go with it from the very bright sun, too, which was not how I imagined the day going. But a large chunk of yard work is done. and I came home and took a nap and most of the headache was gone when I got up. Today, along with laundry, and food prep for the next few days, is writing day. I have my music on random play right now, but will have to change that to my ‘soundtrack’ for this novella (fun, beachy, summertime songs) when I finish up here.  And a different ‘soundtrack’ when I go back to revisions on Protecting Medusa. Right now, there is some really great Hans Zimmer movie music playing (if you haven’t listened to him, one of my faves is his soundtrack from Sherlock Holmes), and that always makes me happy.

Before I dig into my writing, I have a little snippet from Protecting Medusa for you.

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It seemed an eternity before she heard steady footsteps crunching in the snow leading to the backdoor, and she tensed even more, pain sliding up the back of her neck. Her breath escaped in a rush when she realized it was Ryder stepping inside, and she lowered her dagger to her side, eyes closing for a second. Thank you, Gods.

He shut the door and knelt in front of her, his face somber. “It’s all right.” He touched her cheek with cold fingers, and she shut her eyes again.

“Gone?” She opened her eyes and found his brown eyes hardened.

“Dead.”

She gasped, the room tilting sharply to one side.

“Either him or you, and I’d prefer him.” He helped her to her feet. “I’ve got to get rid of him.” He cupped her elbows in his hands for a moment while he studied her expression. “Drink some of that orange juice, baby. You look mighty pale.” He guided her back to her seat and pushed her into it, then took the dagger from her nerveless fingers.

While she picked up her glass in both hands, he tugged her skirt up far enough to reveal the soft leather sheath strapped to her thigh.

“Nice,” he murmured, then put her blade back into it and snapped it shut. His fingers, hard and a little rough, lingered against her skin, distracting her from her chaotic thoughts for a couple of seconds. He inhaled shakily, then pulled her skirt back into place, rising again. “Reset the alarm behind me, Mena. I’ll be back as soon as I can, and do not go anywhere without me.” He bent to kiss the top of her head, and then strode out the back door to his truck.

She rose to follow his order, still shocked, then stood there at the back door, staring out into the snow as the sound of his truck faded away. He’d killed someone to protect her.

The thought chilled her. Not necessarily that he’d killed someone. She imagined he’d killed before, during his time in the military and working for the intelligence agency. But to keep her safe… Someone who would have killed her given the opportunity. That was the chilling part.

The Harvesters had really found her.

She shivered, wrapping her arms around her waist and turning away from the door. Her mother and Jason were in danger with her here. Far more than she’d ever imagined.

Her chest tightened with fear. She needed to go somewhere else. Somewhere the Harvesters wouldn’t kill her family to get to her. Away.

She scraped her breakfast into the trash, her hands shaking so much she dropped her fork into the can, too. Her breath came too fast, making her dizzy. She picked up the fork, carrying it and her plate to the sink. She turned on the water, too hot, but she put her hands under it anyway, wincing before adjusting the temperature a little.

Where would she go?

Oh, Gods, how would she go? How could she not see Jason again? She bit her lip against the sting of tears in her eyes. She’d had him since Desi gave birth to him six years ago.

The phone rang, startling her, and she sniffed, grabbing a dish towel on her way to pick it up. “Hello?”

“Good, you’re still there.” Ryder.

She sniffled again. “I have to go.”

“Not without me.” His tone was hard. “That’s why I told you not to go anywhere without me. I knew you were going to get there.”

Philomena wiped the towel over her cheek. “It’s not safe for them if I’m here.”

“I know, baby,” he said, more gently. “But wait for me. We’ll do this together. I can keep you safe.”

She dropped into the chair he’d abandoned, staring at his half-eaten breakfast. “I can’t stay here.”

“Mena.”

She stuck his fork into the small mound of eggs on the plate, her mind spinning in too many directions, and her heart still pounded hard enough to drown out most of those thoughts, even if she could capture one.

“Mena.” His tone hardened again.

“What, Ryder?”

“Stay with me here.” He took a deep breath and released it. “I’ll be back at the house in maybe twenty minutes. My buddy will be there in the next hour or so. We have to stay for a little while, to get him settled. To say goodbye to Aggie and Jason temporarily. But we’ll go together, do you understand me?”

She picked up a forkful of eggs, trying to concentrate on his words and staring at the bright yellow of the eggs. “Together, huh?”

“Yes, together. You and me.”

She stuck the eggs into her mouth without thinking, and her stomach growled. She blinked, chewing slowly. With Ryder. She didn’t doubt he could keep her safe from the Harvesters. “Okay,” she said at last.

________________

Now I’m going to go write, but I think maybe the rest of you need some cake, too.

 

If your birthday is this week, have an extra helping, and happy birthday!

 

 

I’m talking about the weather–I don’t think there is such a thing as too hot when it comes to romance novels.

I should have taken a photo of our thermometer an hour ago when I went past it–99 degrees, and the sensor for it is in the shade, so I’m afraid to wonder what our backyard feels like directly in the sun. Fortunately, I don’t have to go outside today to find out–I should, because my tomatoes need to be tied up more on their stakes, but they can wait until it doesn’t feel like the first level of hell outside. I’ve been trying to space out the household chores for the weekend that are generating more heat.  My younger son’s birthday was mid-week, so we had his birthday dinner last night, and he wanted mac and cheese, which requires the oven. So the laundry waited until today, and I’m going to only do the really necessary stuff today, and then the other couple of loads that aren’t needed immediately over the next few days.

My other plans for this afternoon are to make a huge batch of salad so I don’t have to cook anything for a couple of days, work on a manuscript, and do some reading. While in our air-conditioned house, pretending it isn’t so miserable outside. Maybe I can pretend it’s winter instead.

That looks much better.

On the other hand, it is now my birthday month. So maybe I can hold off on the snow for a little longer and instead have cake and ice cream. Oh! Or just ice cream cake!

( Photo on Foter.com )

That looks amazing, and I might have to make one of those when the date is closer.

While I’m trying to find ways to pretend summer isn’t really here, I have a little snippet of the third Medusa to share with you.

________________

Hunter stuck close all afternoon, not giving her a chance to do anything foolish, as he was sure she was planning to do the first chance she got. He sat on the recliner while she curled into a corner of the sofa with her laptop. Every so often, her fingers would fly over the keyboard, then she would simply sit and scroll slowly over whatever it was she was reading.

For a while, he studied some papers he’d brought home the day before, then he moved on to his laptop, searching for Greek myths online. Eventually, she sighed, and leaned back in her seat.

“What’s wrong?” He lifted his gaze from his screen, away from a fascinating college paper someone had written about Perseus and Medusa, noting the faint frown lines on her forehead. Whatever it was, she was aggravated.

Her mouth tightened for a moment, before she blew out a quick breath. “My cousin’s husband.”

He set his laptop aside and rested his elbows on his knees. “What did he say?”

Her grey eyes were stormy when she lifted her gaze to meet his again. “He said he wants to talk to you.”

Hunter stifled the smile that wanted to spread over his face at her words. “Really?” He noted the slight narrowing of her eyes and realized he hadn’t kept the smile from his tone.

“I told him it’s not necessary.”

“I disagree.” He set his laptop on the coffee table and got up from his seat to join her on the sofa. “Which husband is this?”

“The security guy.” Katharine’s mouth tightened. “And it isn’t necessary. I’m not staying here indefinitely and putting you in danger, too.”

“I think that’s my choice to make.” He leaned over and looked at the screen on her laptop, where a short email had a telephone number after a signature. Hunter scooped his cell from the table and dialed the number, watching her expression darken still further. Right now, she could be as pissed off as she wanted.

She pushed to her feet and dropped her laptop onto the coffee table, pacing away from him in the direction of the fireplace.

“Hi, this is Hunter Phelps,” he said when a gruff male voice answered the line. “I’m with Katharine.”

There was a brief silence, and then he heard the other man sigh softly. “Did you have to wrestle the phone number out of her?”

He chuckled, watching her shoulders tense. “Not quite.”

“I’m Ryder Ware, married to Katharine’s cousin Mena. How did you get involved in this?”

“That’s kind of personal. Let’s just say I happened to be going to visit at just the right time to catch the Harvester entering her house.”

The other man muttered something under his breath. “Damn,” he said. “She didn’t say he’d gotten into the house.” He blew out a breath. “That’s bad, if they know where she lives. You can’t let her go back there.”

“Working on it.” He watched her scowl as she turned to pace back again, avoiding his gaze.

“Work harder. She’ll be stubborn and won’t make it easy for you.”

“I’ve noticed that.” He followed her back across the room, noting the flex of her muscles in the faded jeans she wore, her thighs strong as she strode across his living room. He smiled a little.

“Ah, that didn’t take long.”

“No.” He moved to stand in the doorway, blocking any attempt she might make to leave. “As soon as she felt better, actually.”

Katharine glared at him over her shoulder.

His smile widened.

“That sounds about right. She hasn’t made any actual attempt to go, has she?”

“Not yet.”

“Good. I’ll have Mena try to persuade her that staying with you right now is in her best interest.”

“She mentioned you have a security company.”

“Yes.” The other man’s voice sounded satisfied. “But there’s only so much even I can do against the Harvesters.”

Hunter’s smile faded. “That doesn’t sound good.”

Katharine shot him a frown as she dropped onto the sofa and picked up her laptop again.

“These people are determined, Hunter. They don’t stop, and there are thousands of them.”

He considered that. “Is there any way to know which ones are in the area?”

Ryder sighed. “No. There are permanent addresses, of course, many of them along the eastern seaboard, but they move all around on their hunt. Mena and Katharine’s cousin Andi had Harvesters from across the country hunting her in Maine years ago.”

Hunter didn’t like the sound of that. “That’ll make this a bit more challenging then.”

The other man laughed, humorlessly. “I think that’s an understatement. You need to keep her out of sight as much as possible. They have no way to connect her to you, do they?”

“No. I made sure we weren’t followed when we left her house, and this relationship is still pretty new.” He noted the way her shoulders stiffened at his words. He wondered if she were more annoyed by his refusal to let her leave on her own, or his characterization of them as having a relationship.

________________

I do love Hunter, and the third Medusa is set during the summertime, so I guess that is a good snippet for today. Now I’m off to get my salad stuff started so I can sit down with Nora and maybe a frozen beverage.

How are you staying cool this week?

( Photo by alexbrn on Foter.com / CC BY )

 

 

( Photo credit: Foter.com )

We are officially into my birthday month now, so the party is on!  I’m not counting anymore, but this one is a big one, which means lots of celebrating this year.  Cake and balloons and probably a new tattoo, too.

How do you mark a big birthday?  Something casual or understated?  Or a giant blow-out party?

I’m going to start the party with a snippet of story for you.  Maybe a little snippet from the shifter story I’m hoping to finish this weekend?

________________

Then she realized he’d asked her a question, and her cheeks flamed hot again.  She dragged her gaze back up, expecting him to be smirking.  Then she realized he’d asked her a question, and her cheeks flamed hot again.  She dragged her gaze back up, expecting him to be smirking.

But he wasn’t, just watching her with those somber green eyes.   “I’m not hungry,” she managed.

He nodded, then turned away again.

She heard his light steps on the stairs, and she dropped flat onto the pillow behind her, eyes shutting.  Holy shit, she needed to get herself together.  She wondered if she could get dressed and go across the hall to the guest room.  Then frowned.  What was wrong with her?  A gorgeous man who had been very pleasant company earlier had just made her brain melt down.  If she got dressed and went down to sleep in his guest room, he think he’d done something wrong.

And he had definitely done everything very right.  She totally understood what the fuss was all about.  She hadn’t before.  Self-induced orgasms were nothing like that.  At least hers weren’t.  totally understood what the fuss was all about.  She hadn’t before.  Self-induced orgasms were nothing like that.  At least hers weren’t.

Anton reappeared, water bottles in hand.  She swallowed and pushed herself upright, then fumbled for the rumpled sheet.

He caught her wrist before she found the edge.  “Are you getting modest now?”  One of his eyebrows quirked up a little.

“Too late for that, I guess,” she muttered, taking the water bottle he offered.

“Oh, much,” he agreed, uncapping his water while she took a drink.  “I’ve already seen it all.”

She choked on her first sip of water, and he patted her helpfully on the back, then sat down facing her on the side of the bed.   She wiped at her watering eyes a moment later.  “That wasn’t nice.”

“Sorry.”

She gave his unrepentant expression a narrow-eyed stare, then she shook her head and took another careful sip.  “You know,” she started, cautiously, “I can go back to the guest room.  I mean, you said last night you don’t bring anyone home, so I don’t want this to be weird for you.”

His green eyes went to slits.  “What?”

________________

So tell me.  How do you celebrate milestone birthdays?  I really want to know.  Especially if you’ve come up with something I should have on my list for this month.