Category: event


Hello, everyone! I am happy to say we have a returning guest this week, with a quick interview and a hot excerpt of her shiny new release, The Viscount’s Pet. Welcome back, Kryssie Fortune!

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Quick Fire Quiz:

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Definitely energize. I get bad tempered if I don’t do something to inch my writing forward every day.

 Ballpoint or fountain pen?

Ball point. I write in a notebook, type up, then read it through before moving on to the next chapter.

What time of the day is best for you as a writer? 

Anywhere, anytime. If I have a free moment I put pen to paper. A lot of my early writing was done on the bus on the way and from work.

Who are three of your favorite authors?

Kresley Cole, Georgette Heyer, and  currently J.S. Scott. The last one changes but I’ve loved the other two for years.  ,

Which book – of all the books you’ve written – do you like the best? 

Always the one I’m working on. I’m proud of Taken as Theirs because it was my first book to hit the top ten on its category. I love regency romance, and I love my latest very hot Regency romance. Georgette Heyer would be turning in her grave.

How do you research your locations?

Internet and visits. A lot of my books are set in Yorkshire, England. That’s my home county. For my Westhorpe Ridge series, I hounded friends in North Carolina to check details. For my current WIP I visited Lindisfarne in Northumberland to scout the island. (Any excuse for a weekend break with my husband.)

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Long Blurb

When her brother tries to force her into a marriage with a detestable baron, Julianna Halstead flees the family estate she has helped manage since the death of her parents. But as she makes her escape late at night, Juliana’s carelessness nearly results in her being trampled by a galloping horse, and the steed’s handsome rider takes it upon himself to correct her right then and there.

Though having her bottom bared and soundly spanked on the side of the road leaves Juliana blushing crimson, the punishment arouses her intensely and her body’s helpless response cannot be hidden. To make matters worse, the gentleman over whose lap she was so firmly chastised turns out to be none other than Viscount Stonehurst, someone she has known since childhood.

When Stonehurst learns of Juliana’s predicament, he decides to make her his bride. She will be no ordinary wife, however. She will be something much more shameful. But even as she is leashed, collared, and put on display in a cage wearing only a tail, then brought out to be used in ways no proper lady should enjoy, will Juliana come to love her new life as the viscount’s pet?

Publisher’s Note: The Viscount’s Pet is a stand-alone novel which shares the Regency-era setting of Wickedly Used and His Innocent Bride. It includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.

Excerpt (Hot):

The horse and rider appeared from nowhere.

Julianna sidestepped and dropped her bag. Her ankle twisted beneath her, and she tumbled to the ground. When the horseman tugged hard at the reins, the coal-black stallion reared, its forelegs pawed the air. She screamed and closed her eyes. Curled into a ball, she waited for its ebony hooves to pulverize her.

The rider swore, the horse whickering as it planted its feet in the dirt by her face. Tiny dust clouds rose from the road. She coughed and crablike, she scuttled to the fallen oak at the edge of the copse. The bracken smelled earthy, and the thick foliage cushioned her bruised ribs.

Her heart beat overtime when the horseman dismounted and stalked toward her. Wearing a black greatcoat and muffler, he towered over her. Grabbing her wrist, he hauled her upright.

Even in the evening twilight, his hair shone the same blue-black as a raven’s wing. His features were familiar, but she had no idea why. One glance at his steeply angled eyebrows and she wondered if he was the devil come to claim her.

Her brother would have grabbed her shoulders and shaken her until her head ached. That or hurled vile insults at her. Instead, the dark horseman’s eyes twinkled with good humor. She couldn’t decide if they were midnight blue or ebony black. Their mysterious depths and sloping eyebrows gave him a demonic air.

His high cheekbones were so sharp Michelangelo could have chiseled them from marble. There was a cleft in his square chin that she wanted to stroke. His broad, kissable lips made her want to lick and taste, but they were set in a stern, disapproving frown. If he smiled, his dark charisma would mesmerize any nocturnal creatures. Bats, foxes, and badgers would flock to his side.

His utter masculinity sent shudders along her spine. Devilish and terrifying, he emanated menace and danger. She should be shaking in fear, but he sparked wicked longings in her soul.

Untouched and innocent, she hated how her nipples pearled and damp heat creamed between her legs. She needed his lips pressed against hers and his hands on her body. For a woman who’d sworn never to marry, that scared her more than his fury. If not for his tight grip on her shoulders, she’d have run off into the night.

Her pulse still raced, but she buried her fear beneath a haughty manner. “Unhand me, sir. I’m late as it is.”

Rather than let go of her arm, he tugged her closer. He smelled of citrus fruits and freshly gathered mint. When her gaze meshed with his, lightning bolts sizzled between them. Head bent, he moved toward her. She puckered her lips in anticipation.

Blinking, he straightened abruptly. “I could have killed you, you little fool.”

Disappointment crushed her soul. Her ribs ached from Kit’s assault and her ankle throbbed from her fall. Sniffing back tears, she thought of her mother’s pampered cat and tried to out-stare him. “My apologies, sir. I should have been paying attention, not daydreaming along in the twilight. Since neither of us is hurt, we can go on our own ways.”

“Not until you’ve learned your lesson,” he snapped.

Pulling free from his hold, she rubbed her wrist. Nervous, she retreated toward her portmanteau, ready to grab it and run. Shooting forward, he hoisted her over his shoulder. The undignified position made her ribs throb. His hand splayed over her rear end, caressing and stroking it as he pinned her in place.

Five steps and he’d carried her back to the tree trunk. Once settled on it, he thrust her over his knee. “Naughty little girls who risk their lives deserve a spanking. And I’m just the man to give it to you.”

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Where to find Kryssie online:

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From time to time, we get to visit with a guest author, and today is one of those fun days! I have an interview with Alice Renaud, whose new story “The Sweetest Magic of All” is out now in the anthology Mystic Desire. (Isn’t that cover gorgeous?)

Let’s get right to our interview.

What is your best reading memory?

It’s a bit of a cliché for someone who write fantasy, I know, but I have to answer, discovering Tolkien’s books. First “The Hobbit,” then “The Lord of the Rings.” The Hobbit transported me to another world, full of adventure, poetry, and dragons. Oh, the mysterious door in the mountain, that can only be seen at a special time, by moonlight, when the thrush knocks… I was there, with the dwarves and the hobbit, holding my breath as the light fell on the keyhole!

What is the first book you ever wrote?

“The Salty Kingdom,” an epic fantasy with a wizard called Ariel and a mysterious land that the sea covers entirely once every thousand years. It never got published… but Ariel pops up again in the book I’m writing now, “Mermaids Marry in Green,” the third in my “Sea of Love” series. Ariel is relocated to London, younger, and a lot hotter! He is also mentioned in my story “The Sweetest Magic of All,” he is the hero’s brother.

What is your favorite thing about your current heroine?

Sapphire Seaborne, the heroine of my short story “The Sweetest Magic of All,” is a good girl, who discovers her naughty side at the same time as her magical powers. I like repressed heroines who throw off their shackles and grab life with both hands. It helps if there’s a sexy warlock to grab as well.

What does your travel bucket list look like?

I’d like to visit Jerusalem, watch whales, and go to Glastonbury, England’s biggest music festival. I haven’t given up hope to do all those things one day.

Also: don’t miss our great Halloween “Mystic Desire” book party on 31 October! There will be games, a chance to chat with the BVS authors who contributed to the anthology “Mystic Desire,” and many great prizes to be won!

Buy Links

Amazon

Books2Read

Blurb

Mystic Desire is a collection of brand new supernatural romance stories by award-winning BVS authors!

The Sweetest Magic of All by Alice Renaud:

When a sexy apprentice witch and a hot warlock go back in time to locate a magical amulet, they find more than they bargained for. It’s May Eve, the most magical night of the year, and normal rules don’t apply…

An Awareness of Evil – Dee S. Knight

Only two things stand between evil and a small girl: the visions of Amanda McMasters and Detective Brendan Gilchrist. Neither can afford to be wrong.

Bewitching the Wolf – Zia Westfield

The Witch, Alice Humphreys has poured her heart and soul into creating a magical B&B where guests experience the fantasy vacation of their dreams!  Brodie MacEwan has been sent to investigate the mysterious death of his uncle. He never expected to discover his soul mate in his dreams. But is the illusion real? Alice knows that there is something all too predatory about the Scotsman and he makes her body tingle in places it shouldn’t!

Calling All Angels – Lora Logan

Elijah Baker, an immortal tasked with fighting against demons that exist on earth, finds peace when he meets his new neighbor, Celeste. But when he realizes that their love comes with a cost, he is faced with choosing between his calling and a chance at true love.

Dream Catcher – Callie Carmen

Long ago, a medicine man had made a matched set of dream catchers as a wedding gift to protect the Chief’s daughter and her warrior husband. He had called upon the benevolent spirits to keep the two soul mates safe and in a loving, healthy marriage. It was foretold that if the two dream catchers were ever divided the new owners would be drawn together as soul mates. Was that possible?

Life Saving – Anne Krist

Saving lives isn’t just for adults. Sometimes the innocent magic of a child can do the job better.

Love from the Mist – Patricia Elliott

When Jace Warden learns that his brother plans to announce his engagement at a family get together, he flees to the other side of the world to escape the joyous celebration.

Or at least attempts to…  His plane never makes it, and he winds up trapped on an island. Little does he realize, he’s not alone; there’s a mischievous little entity milling about, and she wants to play.

Love Knows No Apocalypse – Patricia Elliott

Getting stranded in the middle of a storm was not Samantha Wheeler’s idea of an ideal situation, especially in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. But fighting zombies was the easy part; her heart, though, was a whole other matter. Thanks to a man named Steve Jones.

When they find themselves in danger, she has to decide what’s more important – dying for someone she loves or surviving.

Love that Binds – Carol Schoenig

On the outskirts of a small town where nothing grows, a young girl, Ianthee, is being bullied and accused of being a witch. Young Caleb, inexplicably drawn to Ianthee, comes to her rescue. Before they can explore their feelings, Caleb and his family disappear. What happened to him, and what part does a long-ago legend play in their lives?

Love’s Ghost – R.M. Olivia

“Sorry, babe. I know it hurts to hear.” John frowned.  I’ll make this brief. I spoke to the man in charge and he is giving me one last chance.”

“Come again?”

“I’m allowed to make love to my wife one last time before I have to cross over. So, are you ready for your husband? Are you ready for me, Ingrid?” He lifted my chin up and ran his thumb along my lips.  I felt a chill go down my spine. How could this be real? How could this be happening?

The Anniversary – Richard Savage

A cruel twist of fate wrenched Evelyn and Peter apart on their wedding anniversary. Evelyn’s life descends into darkness.  James enters her life giving her a chance of happiness. Evelyn discovers a piece of jewelry, that has the power to grant her time with Peter on their anniversary. She adores James, but needs Peter.  Can she ever really let Peter go, while there’s still a chance they can be together?

The Mortal Vampire – Suzanne Smith

Remy enjoys life as a vampire, never giving a thought to sucking every last drop of tasty blood out of his unfortunate victims and leaving them door nail dead. But his cold and carefree existence changes the day he crosses paths with the beautiful and mysterious mortal Angela.

Through the Veil – Jan Selbourne

A beautiful March day in 1875 ends in tragedy when the wagon carrying Helen and Marcus plunges down the mountainside. Generations pass before Rachel Finlay finds an old sepia photo of a man and woman. She knows them but she’s never met them and now, for the peace of mind she desperately craves, she goes back to where it began. In time, through the veil, knowing she may never return.

Unconditional Lust – Breanna Hayes

The massive, hideous merrow leader, Muruch, craves the taste of human flesh. Confined to the ocean, he feeds his horde with sailors from ships pulled into the maw of the Bermuda Triangle. When US Army Captain, Nurys Shaye, puts her life on the line to save him after being captured, his hunger for human flesh is shadowed by the desire for her body and her love. Will she be able to see past his appearance and trust him to break down her walls and teach her to feel?

 

Bio

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, “A Merman’s Choice,” was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, “Music for a Merman,” is on pre order now. Alice has also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All,” included in the BVS “Mystic Desire” anthology, on pre order now.

Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

Social Media Links:

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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

 

 

 

 

Yes, I know the Romance Writers of America annual conference is not until the end of July. But there are things that have to be done beforehand. Like travel arrangements. Like figuring out dining options. Like new business cards. Like scheduling meet-ups with writer friends and industry people. Like personal prep, like scheduling a salon appointment, finding comfortable-but-not-ugly shoes, what to wear, if-you-have-time-to-see-anything-outside-the-conference-hotel amusements. Probably way more than that, but that’s all I can think of right this second.

I may have fallen into some of these distractions in the past week or so. I have my train tickets for the trip. I have a list of restaurants for dinner during the week and certificates for several, so I have options (though to be fair, I have actually only added a few places to my existing list in the last week). I have my hair appointment set for the week before the conference.

My pretty new business cards are ordered. Yes, I do still have my old business cards, and plenty of them. But they have the cover for Hunting Medusa on them, and since that is currently not available, I wanted something different. I love those cards, but I don’t think they are the right thing for right now. My husband didn’t understand that logic, but I bet some of my writing friends will.

I have not yet had any success in the shoe-shopping even though I have dedicated a sizable chunk of time to the search, but I’ll persist.

And I have just begun to set up times to meet with writing friends, so that will also be on-going for the next two months.

The other big prep thing on my list (besides packing, and I’m so not there yet either) is figuring out which workshops I want to get to. That doesn’t sound like a big task, but trust me, it really is. I’ve got the workshop schedule printed out, and have been through it at least half a dozen times already. I start with just a read-through. Then I go back with a pen and mark things that sound interesting. The next run-through is with a yellow highlighter, to make the big wish-list. My most recent run-through was with a blue highlighter (after an in-between with orange), to narrow down the list further. I will still have to whittle it down a lot. There are some time-slots when there isn’t anything that sounds good to me, and others where every single workshop is something I want to go to. I find this almost always happens, no matter what the conference is, big or small. It’s okay. If there really isn’t anything in a time slot that will be useful for me, it’s a good time to catch my breath or meet up with a friend for a cup of tea, or maybe even to look at notes I took in a previous workshop. I learned a long time ago that I do need to take a break periodically. Even a three day conference is a lot if you don’t stop and take a break once in a while. Yes, the conference is work, but it should also be fun, and if you’re completely brain-dead and exhausted after the second day, the rest of it will be wasted. So I’ve learned to pace myself. And to order the workshop recordings for later, because even in the workshops you get to, there will be something you missed, or want to go back to.

Funnily enough, though, amid all of these non-writing things I have been doing in the past couple of weeks, I have also gotten a fair number of words written, which makes me super happy. I am wrapping up the novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, and trying desperately to come up with a title so I can order my cover (already found the perfect one!). I also took a mosey through a couple of my shifter stories and made some minor tweaks. I have a trilogy of novellas I wrote a number of years ago, too, that I looked at this week. With a little bit of updating, and some fine-tuning, I feel like I could probably release those in the not-so-distant future, which is exciting.

So, while I have strayed from the straight-ahead writing-only path in the last couple of weeks, I am still making forward progress on several fronts, so I don’t feel badly about the side-tracks. In fact, today, while I have laundry going, I am going back to the Common Elements novella and aiming to get a lot closer to ‘The End’. I may also watch the last episode of a Netflix series I’ve been loving so much I hate for it to end and then have to wait for an eon until the next season.

Before I go, I have a little story snippet for you, from the fifth shifter story.

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Joe set his jaw and nodded once, turning away.

Piper wrapped her arms over her middle, listening to his footsteps heading away from the library. She fought the urge to go after him. The disappointment in his eyes stung–knowing it was there because of her made guilt well up in her chest, burning.

She didn’t think it was unreasonable to want to do something without him looking over her shoulder.

As soon as she thought it, she groaned and covered her eyes. Of course she didn’t mean it that way. She was grateful he was keeping her and Keely safe, but she was so used to being on her own…

She blew out a hard breath and squared her shoulders. She owed him an apology.

She didn’t find him in the living room, or the kitchen, or even the bedroom, so she finally headed downstairs. She came to a stop in the open doorway of the workout room, her mouth going dry. His sweaty torso gleamed under the lights as he punched and kicked a heavy bag hung near the back wall–hard and fast, over and over.

He didn’t notice her for several minutes, so she took the time to marshal her thoughts, to note the anger and frustration in his expression, the way his eyes narrowed on his target, his jaw still tight. The sweat darkening his hair and sheening his skin.

She swallowed hard and collected herself, walking across the room.

Joe caught the bag in both hands and slid a glance at her, but didn’t speak, his breath coming still faster.

“I’m sorry, Joe.”

He blew out a rough breath and released the bag, turning toward her, but not looking at her.

Her chest hurt. “I didn’t mean that.”

He shrugged, examining his knuckles.

“Look at me please,” she whispered.

The disappointment still shadowed his eyes when he met her gaze, but the hurt sent sharper pain jabbing at her heart. “Oh, Joe, I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you. I didn’t mean it.”

He looked away again. “You’re allowed to tell me to go away.”

She took another step toward him. “I don’t want you to go away, Joe.” Her throat hurt looking at him, so beautiful and so guarded. “I don’t,” she repeated, taking another step that put her in arm’s reach. Cautiously, she stretched out her hand to brush his wrist. “I’m angry that Alden has been able to wreak havoc on my life even now. But, Joe, I don’t want you to go away. I am so happy to be here. So happy to be with you. I’m so sorry.” She slid her hand up his slick forearm, up to the tense muscles beyond. “If we could stay here for a month, I could prove that.”

He startled her by yanking her close, his hard hands on her upper arms.

But instead of fear, she felt a rush of something else–excitement.

“You don’t have to prove anything to me, Piper,” he ground out.

“Let me.” She leaned in and pressed a kiss in the center of his chest. Salt met her lips, and she brushed them against his skin again.

“Piper.”

She flattened her hand against his arm, feeling the way his muscles bunched under her touch. Smiling a little, she licked the same spot on his chest.

His breathing snagged, and his fingers tightened on her arms.

Piper nibbled across his skin to his nipple, and he growled. She licked it, just to hear him growl again.

“Pretty Piper, you’re playing with fire,” he rasped.

She tipped her head back a little and studied him–the fierce need glittering in his eyes, the muscle bunching at his jaw, the color staining his cheekbones. And still, he had himself reined in, under control–even if he was on the edge of losing that control. “Let me play with fire,” she whispered back.

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Now I’m off to write. I hope you all have a beautiful week!

Vintage pitcher of lemonade – Depositphotos

 

 

 

It’s the start of Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. Along with my normal weekend chores today, I started the bread bake for this week–I normally bake the bread we use for stuffing the turkey. Today the first loaf is done and cooling in the kitchen, and it smells really good. The other two will have to wait until Wednesday, when I’m off from the day-job so I can do kitchen things.

There are a lot of things I am thankful for, there always are. Just today, I can think of plenty. My family is healthy. We’re all well-fed. We have roofs over our heads, and jobs to keep us that way. My washer and dryer work, so all of the week’s laundry is just about finished at last. My bread machine still works after nearly twenty years (and me finding out, accidentally, today that the lid is removable, though it does now have a couple nicks in it), and makes scrumptious bread for us. I have a roomful of books to read. I still have time off to schedule at the day-job before the end of the year. The great 80s music that is playing from downstairs right now. I had an idea for a new story (or several stories?). So many things.

Before I go back to my Thanksgiving prep list to make sure I don’t miss anything this week, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from the fourth story in my shifter series.

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Laney looked like she might cry.

Anton tamped down the urge to smile.

“Oh,” she said after a few seconds, “you really shouldn’t have, Lareina.”

“Nonsense.” His aunt hugged her tight with one arm. “You’re family now. And they’ll look much better on you than sitting in a locked box.”

Laney’s gaze flicked to his, and he grinned at her.

“Put them on, dear.” His aunt winked at him. “Let’s see.”

Reluctantly, Laney took the earrings out of the box and fumbled them on.

“Perfect,” Lareina said firmly.

Laney murmured another thank-you, but he’d bet she was wishing for a way out.

“And they’ll go with Mom’s necklace,” he said helpfully.

Laney shot him a drop-dead look, which he ignored, crossing to sit on the arm of the loveseat beside her. He brushed her hair back to see the platinum and emerald dangling from her ear. “Very pretty.” He leaned down and feathered a kiss at her temple.

Exhaling a long breath, she turned to his aunt. “They’re lovely.”

Anton rubbed his hand in a small circle between her shoulder blades, feeling a little of the tension ease.

His aunt patted her knee. “Why don’t I refill your glass? I need to check the bread anyway.”

He waited until Lareina had bustled away with Laney’s half-empty wineglass, then he claimed the spot beside his mate. “What’s wrong?”

She met his gaze, then dropped hers after a moment. “It’s too much.”

He dragged in a slow breath. “It’s family.”

She swallowed. “But I’m–”

“My mate,” he said firmly, and her gaze snapped back up to his.

She clamped her teeth on her lower lip.

Anton set one hand at the back of her neck and leaned closer. “Merry Christmas, Laney,” he whispered.

She shut her eyes, but not before he caught a glimpse of tears.

Anton kissed her lightly, wondering if she would kiss him back. She did, but only for a moment then leaned away, blushing. He touched her jaw, holding her shiny gaze. “You okay?”

She nodded once, swallowing.

“It’s a lot,” he mused, “all of them.”

Laney shrugged, looking away. “Not so bad. There was always a houseful when I was at home.”

Of course. “How did you spend the last two Christmases?”

She nibbled at her lower lip for a second. “I worked the first one, and last year I spent the day at a homeless shelter, serving dinner. Less lonely, plus I got to remind myself things really weren’t so bad for me.” She shrugged once more.

Anton wished again that he’d done more damage to Shepley the other night. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer.

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Now I’ve got to finish this list so I can get some writing done before I call it a day! What are you thankful for this 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.

________________

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 )

 

( Photo by KatVitulano Photos on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

Here in the U.S, it’s the last day of Memorial Day weekend, and, for some of us, a three-day weekend. I had a to-do list for the weekend. Some of the things on it have been checked off, but others have not. Then again, there were things that I got accomplished that weren’t on my list, so I guess it evens out.

One of the things on my list was family time, and I got that, twice, which was nice. The boys came for lunch on Saturday, and then came again today, which coincided with a visit from in-laws, so it was more family than I’d anticipated.  It will probably have to hold me through next weekend, because I’ll be heading to Maryland with one or two reading/writing buddies on Saturday to see my idol Nora, as well as Robyn Carr, and some other ladies (maybe a gent or two? I’ve lost track of the authors-signing list), and then for some girl time afterward, which we haven’t done in ages. We try to get to Nora’s signings more regularly than we have in the last year, but it’s been a while.  Our routine is to get there early so we can be in the first group into the signing, and then we head off to a cute little town in West Virginia for lunch and a little shopping before we head home. It’s always a lot of fun, and I’m glad we’re going for this one.

I’ve been sneaking in a little prep work on a novella for a group project this past week.  I haven’t written anything short in a while, so it might be a challenge for me.  I do have some novellas tucked away in my ‘manuscripts to rework’ file, and I believe a few of them are actually pretty good. (One of the things on my writing to-do list for the year is to read through some older manuscripts to see what might be salvageable going forward. So far, some of the things I’ve looked at are probably things I can improve to publishable levels, and some will move into the ‘completed, but never going out into the world’ file. Ha!)

I have also gotten in a little writing time, in spite of the craziness at the day-job last week, which was a nice surprise.  I’m hoping to get some more this week, which would put me in a good place for my revised writing goals for the year.  Right now, though, I’m going to get in some reading time, but I have a little bit of story to share with you first, from one of those novellas I think I can probably fix up.

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Boone Thatcher froze in his tracks as he rounded the corner of the house. She was at it again. His heart pounded in his head until he couldn’t hear anything else.

Long, bare legs, braced on the rickety metal ladder.

He let his gaze slide up them, from her bare, paint-spattered toes, to her shapely calves, to slender thighs topped by fringey, cut-off shorts that only covered her ass by a few scant inches.

The blood rushing in his veins all dropped southward, to his groin, at the images his mind summoned up. Had been summoning up for months now. Made him want to loosen his already-undone tie to get some air in his lungs.

“Oh, hi, Boone.” Moira Dawley smiled brightly down at him, dripping paint from her narrow paintbrush onto the shrub beside her ladder. “I didn’t hear you.”

He swallowed, his mouth dry, and forced his gaze up from the curve of her bottom, past the faded white t-shirt with a hole near one hip, to her face, to brown eyes like melted chocolate. Dark and decadent. Eyes he wanted to drown in.

He jerked his wayward mind back from the brink. “Hi, Moira. I got your message.”

Her smile disappeared. “Oh.” Faint color touched her fair, freckled cheeks.

He frowned. Her message hadn’t hinted at anything bad.

She stuck her brush into the tray resting atop the shaky ladder and backed down.

Boone resisted the urge to catch her around the waist and lift her off. Each gentle sway of her hips was torture.

By the time she stepped onto the ground again, he struggled to breathe evenly. Sweat ran down his back under his dark uniform shirt, dampened his nape on the way.

Moira looked at him curiously. “You okay, Boone?”

He nodded. “Just a little warm.”

The curiosity became disbelief, then cleared. “Were you working out after your shift?”

He nodded again. Somehow, he didn’t think that one little lie was a very big deal. Not as big as if he told her the truth: his tongue was about to drag on the ground from the sight of her bare legs.

She smiled a little. “I made lemonade. Come on in.” She waved at him as she moved past, heading for the back door into her little house.

He shook himself mentally and followed her inside, then barely managed to swallow back a groan at the sight of her bent over in front of the refrigerator. Her shorts rode up so he got a fleeting glimpse of white lace panties.

He rested his forehead against the cool wall and shut his eyes. Shit, what did I do to deserve this torture?

“Oh, my. You must’ve really overdone it,” she said, patting his arm as she brushed by him.

Boone opened one eye to squint at her. She poured lemonade into two tall glasses, ice cubes clinking faintly, her movements efficient. When she turned around, holding out one of the glasses, he forced himself upright and took the glass. “Thanks.” The cool liquid soothed his parched throat.

Moira smiled again and returned the pitcher to the fridge. “Sit down.”

He sat, warily. Something in her face now served as a warning.

She sat, too, her fingers sliding along the sides of her own glass, and her gaze shuttered by long lashes.

“What’s wrong? You run out of red paint again?”

One corner of her mouth turned up at his teasing tone, and she shot him a measuring glance. “No, I think I’ve got enough paint for now.”

“So what is it?” He set his glass down and rubbed his sweaty hand on his thigh under the table. Why hadn’t he changed into shorts and a t-shirt before coming over? His uniform wasn’t made for panting over a woman. Hell, it wasn’t even designed for summertime use, really. Dark navy pants and a matching shirt with a tie. Someone out there really hated cops.

Boone frowned. “You make it sound like it’s something terrible.”

“It’s a little embarrassing.” She flashed him another quick look, faint color touching her cheekbones, then pushed to her feet.

His breathing hitched when she leaned on the edge of the counter, bracing herself with her hands on either side of her hips so her t-shirt pulled tighter over the swell of her breasts.

“It’s a relationship thing.”

His gaze swung back to hers. “What?” Much as he wanted it to be otherwise, the only relationship they had thus far was that of friends.

“I need some advice, and I don’t have any other men I can ask.” More color tinted her cheeks, and she dropped her gaze to the table in front of him.

Boone considered that. If she was asking him about another man, he wasn’t sure what he’d say. He knew he’d want to kill the guy, though.

She sighed and moved back to her seat, lacing her fingers to prop her chin on them, lifting her gaze back to his. In hers, he read uncertainty and determination in equal measures.

He waited.

Her throat worked as she swallowed, and she sat up straighter, laying her hands flat on the table on either side of her forgotten lemonade. “I need you to help me be sexier.”

Boone slumped back in his seat, all the air rushing from his lungs. Of all the things she could’ve asked him, he couldn’t think of one more impossible. “What?” he croaked.

________________

Do you have a slightly shorter work-week this week, too? Will that make it better or worse? While I’m dealing with the insanity tomorrow, I’d love to hear that I’m not alone!

 

 

I’ve just got a quick post this week. It’s been a long weekend, though it was wonderful to see family I see too infrequently, but I’m feeling a little blue, so I have a story snippet to share with you.  I’ll be working like crazy at the day-job this coming week, and trying hard to get my mind focused on that and on my writing, rather than our sad get-together over the weekend to say goodbye to my dad.

________________

It was one of those days when having the Medusa’s fabled power to turn people to stone would really come in handy.

Andrea Rosakis did not, however, have that ability, not this week, anyway. Even though she was the reigning Medusa.

She glared at the man on her back porch, wondering if he could ever understand how lucky he was she wasn’t suffering from PMS this week. And why wouldn’t he stop talking? Her fingers itched to slam the door.

“…if you just have five minutes, ma’am,” he concluded.

She narrowed her gaze on the vacuum beside him. “No, thank you.” And how the hell had he found her all the way out here? No one ever bothered to follow her rough, muddy driveway all the way to the top, even if they did ignore the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the foot of it. Not to mention the protective warding she had set at the boundaries of the entire property. Sure, it wasn’t the heavy artillery of protection spells, but no one else had ever gotten past it. This man however, had not only ignored the signs and the subtle “go away” protections, but managed the entire bumpy, muddy track into the woods and halfway up the mountain. Just to hear her say, “No.”

And he didn’t look discouraged. At all.

Andi almost wished she were PMSing this week, though it would be a real pain in the ass to have to get rid of a life-sized stone statue of a vacuum salesman.

Or maybe she could keep it. He was very pretty, even if he annoyed her. He was tall and broad, his inky black hair was a tad too long, and his bright green eyes held her attention. At least as stone, he’d be silent and still pretty. She gave herself a mental shake. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this—”

“When would be a better time?”

“Never.”

He did blink at that, but his smile never disappeared. “I’ll have to check my calendar.”

She snorted, then clapped her free hand over her mouth. Laughing would not discourage the man. “Look, I’m sure it’s a great vacuum, but I don’t need it. I don’t want to see how it works, and I’d like you to get off my property.”

His smile did fade a little bit. “Well, I suppose, if that’s what you really want.”

She quirked an eyebrow, trying not to smile again. He had the faintest hint of an accent, but she couldn’t place it. Not without hearing him talk some more, and she didn’t want to encourage that either, or he’d just keep trying to sell her an expensive vacuum she didn’t need.

“Maybe I could talk you into meeting me for coffee sometime then,” he said.

Her jaw dropped. The cute salesman was hitting on her. For half a second, she indulged the fantasy of a date with the hunk. A real date, maybe ending with a real kiss. Her pulse quickened. Then she remembered one good date led to more, and eventually, it led to guys running away from her, gibbering like idiots when PMS struck. She shut her mouth and ignored the regret burning in her middle. “Sorry, but no.”

“You’re a hard woman,” he said lightly, his bright gaze sliding down to her mouth. “I’ll leave my card in case you change your mind. About the coffee, that is.” He forced a small card into her hand and picked up his vacuum.

Andi stared after him as he strode off her porch. The bulky vacuum looked like it weighed nothing in his hand, swinging at his side on his way to the shiny, new truck parked behind her car.

When he took one hand from the steering wheel to wave at her, she stopped herself from lifting her hand in response. He turned the truck around and vanished down the drive into the trees. Frowning, she went back inside and shut the door, then locked it and re-armed the alarm. He’d tossed the vacuum into the bed of the truck. A very strong salesman.

Who didn’t seem to care the impending rain was going to damage his expensive vacuum.

She turned back to the door and stared out the narrow window beside it, her heart beating faster now with alarm. Maybe he didn’t realize. Or maybe he really hadn’t come here to sell her a vacuum.

She swallowed hard.

Aunt Celosia had always told the cousins stories of the Harvesters, the men who still hunted for the Medusa. Somehow, Andi had always thought they’d be more frightening. More obvious. Ugly men intent on murder.

If this vacuum salesman was a Harvester, he was sneaky. Of course, if he was a Harvester, he would be sneaky, as Perseus had been when he killed the first Medusa.

She was in a lot of trouble.

________________

 

I hope you all have a beautiful week, and if you love someone, tell them!

 

 

Hot Chocolate

How has the first week of your new year gone? As well as you’d hoped? Better? Not as well as you wanted?

I haven’t gotten as much writing-related work done this week as I would have liked, but I have been writing, in spite of the absolute craziness at my day-job–way more insanity than I anticipated, and the next week is probably going to be even busier.  I’ve also been working on getting a new-to-me computer set up in the home office, which is taking some time, since I have to move things onto it from my laptop and the old desktop computer, and some of those things take way too long–finding disks, trying to figure out how to install an older program that might need tweaking on a newer system…   Some of those are frustrating.

I also had to figure out if it made sense to me to participate in the very fun booksigning I’ve done the past couple of years, since I haven’t yet got Hunting Medusa ready for reissue, and settled on dates, etc. for the second and third books in the trilogy. I was disappointed to have to say no, but it doesn’t make sense to me to do it when I don’t have something new, so I’ll be bummed to miss this year, but then should be good for next year, because I am aiming to have at least the first two books in the trilogy out before the end of this year.

I know the weather has been in full-on winter mode in a lot of areas this week, but it has been extra-cold here.  I have had quite a lot of tea this week, and some very yummy hot chocolate to stay warm.  How about you? Lots of warm beverages while you’re reading?

I think I promised a little snippet of story for this week, didn’t I?  So how about a little taste of Hunting Medusa for those of you who haven’t read it yet (and those who haven’t read it in a while!)…

________________

Andrea rested her head on her folded arms on the kitchen table, only half listening to Kallan typing on his keyboard. She didn’t want to die just yet.

She knew for sure she didn’t want to be mutilated before she died.

But she didn’t look forward to killing the Harvester either.

She never should have had sex with him. She knew it. She’d known it beforehand.

And she should definitely not still want him.

When the phone rang, it was a relief. For a few seconds. Until she realized it was Thalia. “My cousin.” She didn’t think she needed to explain her mental caller I.D. to him.

Kallan held her gaze for a long moment. “Don’t try to let her know what’s going on,” he said at last. “I know where a lot of your cousins are located, and I’m not the only one.”

Her heart pounded harder at the implication, but she got to her feet and picked up the receiver. “Hello, Thalia. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Andi, but I think you need to get away for a while.”

She frowned, feeling Kallan’s presence behind her. Close behind her. Close enough to hear her conversation. “What do you mean?” His body heat teased her.

“The Harvesters are out and about. I’m afraid for you.”

Andi shut her eyes for a second, then opened them again when he put his hands on her shoulders. She shot him a glare and moved away, back toward the table. “I’m fine.”

“Please don’t ignore this, Andi. You know I’m hardly ever wrong.”

That was true. But she wondered if her cousin realized she was very often late with her flashes of intuition. Far too late in this case. “Okay. I’ll give it some thought, all right? Mom said something the other day about visiting.” Gods, had it only been two days ago? “And Aunt Lydia just called yesterday too. I could go to see either of them if anything seems odd.”

His hands settled on her shoulders again, massaging the tense muscles there.

She didn’t bother to shrug him off this time. He was persistent. “I could even come visit with you,” she teased, forcing a lightness into her tone.

Her cousin cleared her throat. “I actually have company right now,” she said after a moment, and Andi could almost see her blushing. “You remember I met someone in Athens last summer? Well, he’s come again to stay for a while.” Even over the phone, the emotion in Thalia’s voice was obvious.

One more cousin safe—none of the cousins who’d fallen in love ever had the curse land on their heads. A tiny bit of relief made her relax further under Kallan’s touch. “That’s terrific, Thalia. When do the rest of us get to meet him?”

“We’re talking dates,” the other woman said, a hint of a smile in her tone now. “I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“Good. And thanks for the warning. I miss you.”

“I miss you, too. I’ve got to go, Andi. Talk to you soon. But promise you’ll be careful. Danger is coming from more than one direction.”

She pushed the off button on the phone and shut her eyes, ignoring the slight sting in them. She was not envious of Thalia’s good fortune. She was just in an impossible situation here.

His warm breath brushed the top of her head a second before his lips. “That was good.”

She wanted to tell him to go screw himself. She wanted a weapon to swing at him. She wanted him to wrap his arms around her and carry her down onto the nearest flat surface.

Her eyes popped open. Damned hormones.

________________

Have a great week!

My shiny new cover art! isn’t it pretty?

I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve, and I’m still debating whether I’ll be awake at midnight to greet the new year.  I’m not going to be unhappy to kiss 2017 goodbye (or kick it in the pants on the way out, maybe!), since it was a rough year.  I have made up my mind that 2018 is going to rock…or else!

My plate is pretty full for the new year. Some of the things I didn’t get to do in the past year are on my new goal list–like figuring out how to get Hunting Medusa back out into the world, followed by the second and third books in the trilogy.  My writing goals for the year are a little daunting, to be honest, because I’ve never dipped my toes into the self-publishing pool before, and I think I will probably be doing that this year–it’s hard to persuade a publisher to take on a book that was already released by another publisher (not impossible, but not easy).

Guess it’s a good thing I have my shiny new planner ready to go tomorrow, all full of lists and steps and plenty of room for me to add notes and more steps once I figure out everything else I need to do along the way.  Are you a planner? Or do you wing it? I don’t make resolutions (though I should put ‘get healthier’ on my goals list for the year, it can’t hurt, right?), but always goals for the year.

How are you celebrating the new year? At home, quietly? Out with friends? Some other way? We’ve got a quiet night ahead, and now that I think about it, I’m actually going to see in the new year at midnight, maybe with a glass of something bubbly.  I can use the time between now and then to keep working on my planner, and maybe to sneak in a bit more reading before the year officially ends–I’m less than 100 pages to the end of the book out in the living room right now, and I can easily finish that in a few hours, too.

I hope you are all kicking off the new year with your own kind of fun, and that the new year kicks butt for you, too! I’ll see you in the new year, and I think we’ll sneak in a little story snippet next time, just to start things off on the right foot in 2018.