Category: holiday


The story I’m working on is for a group project that will be released this fall. (And yes, it is past my self-imposed deadline, thanks for pointing that out.) I am really enjoying the heroine in this story, and the hero…well, he is pretty yummy. I love that they’re falling in love, in spite of all the very good reasons why they shouldn’t. I also love that they have a little matchmaking help from a couple of directions they wouldn’t have expected. I am getting a little anxious about wrapping it up, though, so I’m just going to leave you with a little story snippet for Valentine’s Day week, this time from my third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa, before I get back to the novella.

 

( Kissing – Depositphotos )

 

Katharine released a slow breath, forcing herself to relax her jaw, and reached up to shove the scarf off her eyes after the door clicked shut.

He’d even set her tote bag on the floor inside the door.

Tears stung her eyes at that unexpected kindness.

She was overreacting, she knew. Partly due to her overloaded hormones. Partly because she was so angry that she’d been unable to defend herself against the Harvester since she’d felt safe enough in her house to take the damned painkiller.

She’d been the Medusa for six years now, and with her alarm system in place, she’d felt confident enough there after all this time…

She shut her eyes for a second, her fingers curling into fists at her sides.

None of this was Hunter’s fault. All he’d done was save her life, not sic the Harvester on her when she was vulnerable.

That she was ultimately responsible for her near-death experience made her angrier. At herself. Hunter just happened to be within firing range.

“Katharine? You okay?”

“Fine,” she said shortly. “I’m fine.” She took a long, deep breath, then released it.

When she’d finished washing her hands, she fumbled the blindfold back down over her eyes and reached for the doorknob, groping empty air.

“Coming in,” he said, and she dropped her hand back to her side. “Okay?”

“Yes.” His hard fingers slid over hers. “Thank you, Hunter.”

He pulled her along with him, thirteen paces to the bed.

“For saving my life earlier.”

“Not a problem.” He made her sit, then she felt his fingers on her shoelaces. “Nice blade,” he said mildly, easing her boot from her foot.

She swallowed. “If I hadn’t taken that pill earlier, I could have used it. Or just turned him to stone.”

“Well, you won’t need the dagger here. Not now. I have a state of the art security system, and nobody followed us from your place, so you’re safe here.” He took her other boot off. “You want to get out of the jeans and back into a nightshirt? Something more comfortable for you?”

Katharine hesitated, biting her lip. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her naked already. Up close and personal. “Yes,” she whispered.

“Okay. I’ll go grab the rest of your stuff from the garage. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Ha, ha.” Still, she smiled a little, listening to his footsteps on the stairs, the sound fading as he walked away from the entry hall. The room smelled like Hunter, she mused as she sat there on the edge of his bed. That same musky, spicy scent that had set her body humming Friday night.

She almost wished it were Friday night again.

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Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this week? Do you and your other half do something special to mark the day, or is it just another Thursday?

 

 

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( Hands Heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, so you know what that means? Valentine’s Day, the official day of sweethearts everywhere. I enjoy Valentine’s Day as much as the next person, but I’m a romantic, so I feel like love shouldn’t only be celebrated one day a year. I’m sure I’m not alone in that belief–look how many romance readers and writers there are out in the world.

Rather than lecture about not celebrating love all year long, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of my weekly post where we have the story excerpt. This week, it comes from the first story in my tiger shifter series.

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Even the next day, Harley’s words stuck with her. She ignored his calls to her cell phone late in the morning and shortly after lunch while she sorted through old files. Finally, when he called a third time, she gathered up her purse and headed out, telling Amy she needed to run some errands.

She needed a distraction from the circling of her thoughts and from work, and it just so happened she was out of food at her house. A trip into the village was just as good a way as any to distract her.

She drove from work into town, making a mental list as she went and deliberately not thinking about Harley or Ezra. Finding a good parking space along one of the main streets, she put her purse strap over her shoulder and set off. She took her time, pausing to look in store windows as she went. She detoured into the tiny flower shop when some bright daisies and gladiolus caught her eye. The arrangement would brighten up her very empty home. She apologized when she bumped into a tall, blondish man in a black t-shirt on her way to the exit. He murmured something unintelligible and went back to looking at the roses in the cooler.

Next, she headed to the grocery store for some soda and a piece of fish to broil for dinner. After that, she continued on her leisurely way, admiring some hanging plant pots outside the hardware store, browsing the magazines at the bookstore, and then heading to the market. She picked up a basket, intent on finding some fresh vegetables to go with her fish for supper. Maybe some squash and tomatoes. She added both to her basket and picked her way along the row of bins, admiring the selection. Someday, she’d have a garden of her own to grow these things in. She smiled to herself, imagining that for a moment.

Tessa glanced up when she caught some small motion from the corner of her eye and realized that the big, rangy man with the dirty blond hair that she’d seen in the flower shop was picking his way along the produce bins in her direction, casually. A little too casually.

Her heart started to beat faster. The flower shop was several blocks away, and she’d left the car parked on that side of the square.

Maybe she was being paranoid.

The man stopped, picking up some oranges and very determinedly not looking in her direction.

She set down the basket she’d filled, and she walked away from the produce bins to the street corner. From the corner of her eye, she saw him look up and take a step toward her.

This was bad.

Without waiting for the stoplight to change, she ran out into the street, glancing back to find him striding after her confidently. Several cars honked their horns at her, but she didn’t stop running and heard the squeal of brakes. A loud thump sounded somewhere behind her, but she didn’t turn to see what had caused it. Her chest ached already, but she kept going, pushing her way through other pedestrians. When she reached the end of the next block, she dared a glance back over her shoulder. She didn’t see him, but she didn’t slow down, panting as she whipped around the corner and started to backtrack toward her car, her flowers flapping and her grocery bag thumping along her hip.

By the time she reached the car, she was lagging, her breath coming much too quickly, and sweat rolled down the back of her neck, soaking her shirt beneath the strap of her purse. She fumbled in the pocket on the outside of her purse for the car keys, glancing back over her shoulder to be sure the big man hadn’t figured out the direction she’d taken. Evidently, he had not. She jammed the key in the lock and yanked the door open. As she slid into the driver’s seat, her breath caught.

He had found her.

She jerked the door shut as he pounded toward the car from the opposite direction she’d just taken. She fumbled to get the key in the ignition, aware that her panting was growing faster again.

He was getting closer.

She hit the button to lock the doors on the car and finally slid the key into the ignition, turning it hard. The engine turned over, and she whimpered in relief.

But he was there now, grabbing for her door handle. And he looked as if he might have had a collision with one of those cars she’d dodged a few blocks away. Blood oozed down the side of his face, and his black shirt was torn across the back.

She yanked the gear shift into drive and stomped on the gas pedal.

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Now I’m going to go have dinner with my husband, but I’d love to hear your thoughts this week about the whole Valentine’s Day phenomenon: do you rely on the holiday or spread the joy all year?

 

 

 

 

(Depositphotos)

Today officially winds down the winter holiday week here, and we wrapped up our week with our usual family New Year’s dinner. Tomorrow, it’s back to work. I have my writing goals nailed down for the year and have made sure I’m going to be accountable for working toward them with some writer friends. Now we get to the fun part–balancing the writing plans with real life.

I actually spent some time today looking at my day-job schedule for the year to see where I’ll have down-time there to work on other things. Oh, the day-job schedule rarely stays the same from the beginning of the year to the end–people take vacations so the rest of us on the team help out, or something changes on the schedule at the last minute, you all know what I mean. But I have a game-plan, which is a good start. Of course, I also realized that not only is my busiest sales rep scheduled for the week in July when I’ll be in New York City for the annual Romance Writers of America conference, but several others are scheduled that week as well. I do feel bad about leaving that for someone else to handle, but since RWA’s conference only comes to NYC every four years, I don’t feel bad enough to take the conference off my schedule.

I’ve added my goals and dates to my pretty new 2019 planner, which is already in my work tote bag (with my current work-in-progress), so I will be seeing those goals every day. They’re posted on my bulletin board here in my home office, staring at me every time I sit here at my desk. And I’ve shared them with a small group of writer friends so I am not the only one who knows about my plans.

Before I call it a day, I have some writing to do, but I have a little story snippet to share with you first, from the second story in my shifter series.

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The elevator came to a smooth stop on the conference level, and Rory used his grip on her hand to steer India from the car.

She strode beside him, then realized if anyone came out and saw them there would be questions. She tugged on her hand.

He shot her a sidelong glance.

“Let go.”

Reluctance flattened his mouth a little, but he did as she asked before they reached the meeting room. She preceded him inside, her gaze sweeping over the occupants–the Russian from Chicago was still there, along with the bear from Washington, and her father.

Adar hurried in a moment later, and heat crawled up her throat. If her uncle had caught her with Rory, he would have had a stroke. And a screaming fit. No wonder half of his kids didn’t speak to him, and the other half were miserable.

A few other envoys returned momentarily, and India relaxed a little. Back to business.

Her father cleared his throat once everyone had reclaimed their seats. “We need to decide what our next step is with these rogues,” he began. “Our sources suggest their growing numbers are in preparation for a bigger, wider-spread attack than last time.”

“What do you suggest? Attack first? Try to negotiate with them? Arrange a union between our groups and theirs as a show of good faith?” the Russian asked.

Adar leaned forward. “India would be perfect.”

Before she could protest, Rory growled.

Adar either didn’t notice or just ignored him. “She’d be a perfect candidate,” he continued, and she narrowed her eyes at him. “She’s diplomatic and able to take care of herself–”

“You are not giving my mate to anyone, old man,” Rory growled, shoving to his feet.

India’s eyes widened, then she shut them for a second. Shit.

Adar gaped at Rory for a moment, then narrowed his eyes. “She is not your mate, wolf, or have you forgotten?”

Rory leaned over the table. “I have forgotten nothing, including my mate.” He held Adar’s gaze, a dangerous glint in his eyes.

Damn him. She could not believe he’d just blurted that out. After all this time… Her pulse quickened.

Her uncle pushed to his feet, slowly. “You won’t have her.”

“She is mine already.”

“Stop it,” she said, at the same time as her father.

Adar looked at her, anger turning his cheekbones ruddy. “You had better not–”

She swallowed back her own growl, though she couldn’t do anything about the anger she knew he would see in her eyes.

“Enough,” Boyd shouted, rising as Rory reached over the table for her uncle. “Adar, you need to stop interfering. Their mating is none of your business.”

She blinked. Then glared at Rory and Adar.

“Can we get back to the issue of these rogues?” Boyd asked gruffly.

India fumed for the next hour, though she found it harder to concentrate on the discussion when everyone in the room kept sneaking furtive glances at her and Rory.

Boyd put both hands up finally, when the discussion had degenerated to random, shitty ideas or accusations of stupidity. “Ladies and gentlemen, I think we need to take a break. Let’s reconvene in the morning, when we’ve all had some time to think about this, all right?” He looked around the room, holding gazes and waiting for nods of agreement. “Great. I’m sure we’ll come up with a workable solution to deal with these rogues.”

India pushed to her feet. Steam must be coming out of her ears by now. Adar rose and started toward her.

“Adar.”

She glanced over when her father spoke again.

Her uncle’s mouth pinched, then he turned to face his brother.

“You will mind your own business,” Boyd repeated, giving his brother a hard stare.

Adar scowled, but nodded finally and changed direction, heading out the door.

She let out a slow breath.

Boyd held her gaze for a second, then looked at Rory. “I think you two need to hash this out privately.”

“Of course.” Rory nodded and rounded the table.

She blinked at his hand wrapping around her arm, then frowned up at him.

“Let’s go, a rúnsearc,” he said softly.

She opted not to protest while her father watched them.

“I’ll see you in the morning, India,” Boyd said.

Rory ushered her from the meeting room, and she let him. Until they were in the hall.

Then she tugged on her arm.

Rory’s fingers tightened. “Don’t make me put you over my shoulder,” he said in a low rumble.

India’s eye widened. “You have got to be kidding me.” Though she remembered a time or two when he’d carried her off somewhere, over his shoulder. Usually shortly before he– Don’t go there, India.

“Even though everyone knows now, I’m sure there will still be plenty of speculation on why we haven’t been together. You can feed it, or let them wonder.” He kept his grip on her arm all the way into the elevator.

She shut her mouth when several of the delegates joined them on the elevator, eying them curiously. She caught and held the gaze of one of the Russian tigers, until he finally flushed and looked away. Damned nosy busybodies.

She kept a bland expression on her face while more people crowded in the car, though she finally realized her father had called Rory earlier to tell him about the rogues.

He already knew.

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Now I’m off to do some writing before bedtime. I wish you all a very happy new year!

2019 goals banner – Depositphotos

 

 

 

That’s what I was doing yesterday, making a couple batches of cookies for the boys, who’ll be here a little later for dinner. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday. For those who simply celebrate a family day, like we do here, I hope you also have a wonderful day. Our group this year is smaller than it used to be, but just as well-loved. Either way, make sure you eat lots of cookies!

 

Festive holiday table setting – Depositphotos

 

 

 

Yes, it’s that week. I’ve been thinking about my goals for next year for a while, in anticipation of the annual online goal-setting workshop Delilah Devlin does, and I think I have them settled finally.  Just the writing goals, that is. If you’ve been here a while, you know I don’t do resolutions for the new year, just writing goals, and sometimes a personal goal or two.

I don’t think my writing goals are too ambitious, but I won’t be slacking if I am going to make all of them happen. My goals the past two years weren’t too ambitious either, but it’s been a rough couple of years for our family, so I feel okay about the things that I have accomplished in the last two years (and am trying not to feel too bad about the ones I didn’t get done).

Dream, Plan, Work, Make it Happen-Depositphotos

 

Next up on my to-do list this month is figuring out a word of the year, one thing to focus on in the new year. I have some friends who have chosen a word of the year the past couple of years, and I had considered it for this year, but couldn’t settle on one–I know I have more than one area that I could improve on or focus on, which made it a bit too challenging to narrow down last December. This year I’m picking one. I haven’t decided which one yet, but will hopefully narrow down my list in the next week so I can whittle it down to one the next week. Have any of you tried this yet? What did you think?

Now I’m off to spend a little time with my husband before I call it a day, but before I go, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from my third shifter story.

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

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

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

And it was just about the right size…

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

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

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

Not a chance.

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

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

“Ah,…”

“Dad!” Baron’s cry diverted both of them. “I’m so glad to see you!” His son flung himself at Boris’s leg and hung on. “Hey, Ms. Todd.” Baron grinned up at her. “I didn’t know you knew my dad.”

Bright color rushed to her cheeks, and her smile was forced.

Boris ruffled his son’s hair. “I do know Ms. Todd,” he said, his gaze sliding down to her belly again. “In fact, she’s having dinner with me tonight.”

Her pointed chin jutted stubbornly, and he saw in her eyes the need to argue battle with her realization of their audience at her workplace.

Boris realized his shock had already dissipated–must be because of their proximity.

How could she have been so close all this time?

He caught himself looking at her belly again and dragged his gaze back to hers.

“You should come have dinner at our house, Ms. Todd,” Baron said, catching her hand. “It’s pizza night.”

Some of the color faded from her face again, and she swallowed hard. “That sounds delicious, Baron, but–”

“But we’re going out to dinner tonight, buddy,” Boris interrupted, “at a grown-up restaurant. Maybe next week she’ll join us for pizza night.” He noted her swallowing more several times, as if the notion of pizza made her want to throw up. “So I’ll pick you up at six-thirty,” he said, more gently than he might have if he hadn’t noticed her discomfort.

“Oh, but…” She stopped when she locked gazes with him again. “Fine.”

He grinned. She hadn’t pointed out that he didn’t know where she lived, probably because she knew it would be easy to find out. Or because she had other plans. He fixed her with ‘The Look’ as India and Tessa used to call it when they were kids. “You will be there,” he added, tone steely.

After a moment, she dipped her chin once, and he took that as agreement.

“Do you have your backpack?” he asked his son.

“Got it. Let’s go, Dad!” Baron wrapped his hand around Boris’s. “See ya next week, Ms. Todd!”

“Enjoy your pizza,” she said with a genuine smile.

Boris turned away reluctantly, noting the way the kids closed in around her again.

And his brain began to function a bit better as he buckled Baron into the car seat, as he listened to Bo and Berdine bicker over who would sit where.

Vivi was pregnant. With his baby.

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I hope you all have a great week with plenty of reading time!

 

 

Cup of tea, cookies, chocolate – Depositphotos

December seems to always be a busy month, whether it’s day-jobs, family obligations, or holidays. Seems like it might also be a good time to remind ourselves to take some short breaks to retain our sanity, doesn’t it?

When my boys were little, we did a lot of baking in December, way more than I do these days. I would venture a guess that we used to have at least a dozen different kinds of cookies at once, plus a cake or pie of some sort, breads, and occasionally candies.  I never did get my sand tarts as thin as my Grandma’s used to be, and I eventually gave up trying. I did persuade my other Grandma to share her recipe for the nut rolls she used to bake that I loved so much–those aren’t quite right either, but I’m still trying. These days, I may make two or three different kinds of cookies, max, mostly for the boys.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else would bake cookies for us, so we could enjoy them without all the work (and the clean-up!)? I haven’t managed to persuade the boys that baking is all that much fun (when they were littler, they mostly liked the cookies we rolled, cut out and then decorated, and it was messy), and there were a number of years when I was still working retail that I barely had time to make dinner, let alone multiple batches of cookies in December.  These days, my December day-job schedule isn’t quite that crazy, though busier this year than the past few. But it feels like there are still a million things to do.

Which is why I am thinking about a break, and I think you should all take a break, too. At least once a day, take a short break where you can sit down for five or ten minutes with the beverage of your choice (I have raspberry hot chocolate in my mug right now), maybe a book, maybe just enjoy the quiet, and relax, or try to. I’m trying to sneak in some relaxation time today between chores (only one more load of laundry to go!), like doing some reading for a friend, and doing some writing for me, and maybe later a bit of reading.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to sneak much of that in next weekend, because I’ll probably have to go in to the office for a couple of hours, but I will still make the attempt.

Before I get back to my chores, I have a little story snippet for you, from the fifth story in my shifter series.

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Joe blinked at the scowl on Piper Finnegan’s face when the door swung open. Somehow, he’d expected she might be happy to see him. Or hoped she would. He cleared his throat. “Hi, Piper.”

“What’s he done now?”

Wow, not even a hello. “Nothing that I know of. I came to see you.”

The wariness in her eyes didn’t dissipate, but she took a step back and gestured inside.

This might not be as easy as he’d assumed. He walked inside, noting the wispy blond hair and wary blue eye peering at him from behind the battered sofa. Her daughter. He smiled, and the eye and hair vanished. Bashful. Or afraid? His smile faded a little. “Am I interrupting anything?” He turned, noting that Piper relocked the door before she faced him.

“No, we were going to start making supper soon, though.”

Joe tamped down the urge to smile at her brusque tone, the not-so-subtle warning in her words. “You should sit, Piper.”

Her mouth tightened, but, after a few seconds, she came away from the door and perched on the edge of the sofa.

Joe dropped carefully on the battered armchair. Satisfied it was sturdier than it looked, he set his elbows on his knees and studied her. Dark smudges marred the fair skin beneath her eyes, and her shiny brown hair was scraped back away from her face into a knot, but wisps brushed her temples and ears. The white blouse she wore was creased, as if it had been bunched under some other garment all day, and her dark grey pants were wet at the bottom. He frowned.

Piper cleared her throat, and he met her gaze again. “Why are you here, Joe?”

He saw her daughter peek around the sofa again, but he kept his gaze on Piper’s face. “I just found out what’s been happening to you because of Chris.”

Her eyes widened a little, and she opened her mouth. A knock at the door made her shut it again, her jaw tightening slightly. “I’m sorry, I need to see who that is,” she murmured as she got to her feet again.

Joe waited while she went to the door, smiling at the little girl who peeked around the edge of the chair at him, solemn and wide-eyed.

“Hey, Piper, just wanted to let you know I got the rent money. You sure you don’t wanna do a trade instead? Keep your money?”

Joe’s attention snapped to the man at the open door–human, maybe forty-ish, slightly paunchy with tumbled brown hair that fell into his eyes, eyes that crawled over Piper’s chest.

“I’m sure,” she said politely, though her fingers tightened on the door.

The man tsked. “Baby, you should reconsider. I gotta lotta people who’d like a nice apartment like this.”

Joe’s eyebrows shot up, as he considered the scratched bare wood floor and the painted metal kitchen cabinets that had to be from the seventies. ‘A nice apartment’? The guy must be high.

Piper swallowed. “I’m sure,” she repeated.

“You an’ that cute little girl–”

Joe shoved to his feet, and the other man’s gaze finally shifted from Piper’s chest to Joe’s face, surprise widening his eyes a little.

“Oh, hey, man. Didn’ know I was poaching.”

Joe glared at him, but when he opened his mouth, he saw Piper shake her head, just a little. He swallowed back his first thought, searched for something else that wouldn’t be out of line, but–

“Or maybe you wanna share?”

His fists clenched, and he took three long strides toward the door and Piper.

The other man held up both hands in surrender. “Or not. Didn’ mean any harm.” He backed up a step, glancing at Piper. “Hey, your boyfriend isn’t stayin’ here, is he?”

“No, and neither is she. Give her rent money back,” Joe growled.

Piper’s eyes widened, and she opened her mouth.

“Now,” Joe said.

The other man’s shoulders dipped a little. “Shit, all right, man. Gimme a minute.” He took another step back.

“I’ll go along.” Joe looked at Piper. “I’ll be right back.” He held her gaze and read the worry mingled with the resignation. It would do for now. He followed the super back the dingy hallway, fishing his phone out of his pocket as they went. He thumbed it on and chose a number from his contacts.

The other man fumbled open a door, revealing a living room with toys and clothing scattered around the floor and on the ratty furniture.

“I need a hand,” Joe said into his phone when his cousin answered.

Anton cleared his throat. “Where are you?”

Alarm widened the landlord’s eyes as Joe recited the address. “Hey, I’ve got the money, man.”

Joe resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Apartment 1D,” he added. “We’re moving someone out.”

The other man didn’t look any happier, but he turned to a small wooden box on the battered kitchen table, opening it and taking out a white envelope. Joe crossed the dingy linoleum and took the envelope. Cash. Gods. And too much for this dump, judging by the feel of it.

He glared at the other man. “Someone should tell your wife about you.” He turned away, only slightly gratified by the cowed silence behind him.

The door to Piper’s apartment was closed, so he knocked again. She opened it right away, as if she’d been standing there waiting. He handed her the envelope as he entered the room. “I can help you pack.”

She lifted wide, worried eyes to his face. “Where do you think we have to go, Joe?”

“You let me worry about that for tonight.” He saw her daughter peeking at him again from behind the chair, and he smiled. “Where should we start?”

Piper sighed, shoulders slumping. “Why don’t you let me do this?”

“It’ll go faster if I help, and one of my cousins will be here soon to give us a hand.”

Distress clouded her eyes. “That isn’t necessary.”

He winked at her. “Mostly it’s to be sure that moron doesn’t give us any trouble. Come on, Piper, let’s go pack.” He glanced over his shoulder to make sure she’d latched the deadbolt.

Defeated, she moved around the rocking chair toward the open doorway on the other side of the room.

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Now it’s back to chores for me since my hot chocolate is gone, but I hope you make time for a little break, too. Let me know how that goes for you this week!

Tea, books & heart cookies – Depositphotos

 

 

reading book by fireplace – Depositphotos

Technically, today was a warm one for December in Pennsylvania, but it was wet and gloomy all day, so even though the temps were above normal, it was still a very good day to stay inside and read with a hot beverage at hand, and it looks like it’s going to cool down a lot around here, so definitely reading by the fire weather now.

I realized last weekend I have a lot of short work weeks coming up again. It seems like that time of year at the day-job: I worked only 2 days Thanksgiving week, and left early one day last week. This week, I have Monday and Friday off, but then I have two full work-weeks in a row, before two more short weeks. Two of my days this weekend were spent partially up at the boys’ place, working more on clearing out their basement so they can set it up the way they want now that the old walls and ceiling panels full of 30+ years of cigarette smoke are gone. For a brief moment, the basement looked like it did when I was a kid visiting my grandparents–a wide open space where we could play on rainy vacation days, maybe roller skating (until we were tall enough to hit our heads on the duct work), or just running around playing like kids do. Then a new wall started to go up, in a new spot. When they’re finished, there will be a nice-sized music room for their drums and guitars, and probably my electric keyboard which they used to borrow when they still lived at home.

It makes me happy that my boys are now in a house I’ve spent my whole life visiting. They’re making changes to it, as they should, making it their own. Visiting now makes me think of visits long ago, with my parents and siblings. We used to spend a week with my grandparents each summer, two of us at a time–I have five younger siblings, so that would have been a lot for my grandparents all at once. Some years, we spent Thanksgiving there, and I remember there always being a houseful of guests for dinner, including my great-grandma (my Pop-pop’s mother) and usually a friend of hers, sometimes my aunt would be there with a friend. From our house to theirs was a three hour drive, and it always seemed to take forever to get there. Kid time is different from adult time. Even then, I was a reader, though. Some visits, the weather was too wet for us to play outside, so we might clamber up into the attic to the store of books and toys my grandma kept there. The books kept me entertained, as my books now do.

Though we haven’t emptied it completely, there aren’t any more books or toys up in the attic. And everyone in my family now is too tall to roller-skate in the basement without knocking themselves unconscious on the duct work, but we still love being there, and I love that the house is still in the family for a fourth generation.

I have a little story snippet to share with you today, from the first story in my shifter series, with a little reminiscing on the part of the heroine Tessa.

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Eight years ago…

Tessa bit her lip. How had she managed to get caught in the library when Boris brought his latest girlfriend in for a quickie? At least, she hoped it was just a quickie.

The other woman moaned and made high, breathy sounds while Boris grunted. Tessa squeezed her eyes shut tighter and tried to find something to distract her.

“Oh, baby, that’s so hot,” Boris growled.

Tessa stifled her own aggravated sound and settled back into her corner, resting her head on her knees. At least she’d been in the farthest corner when the pair stumbled into the big room, clothing already half-undone. They didn’t realize she was there. Boris would eventually, though. She hoped he ignored her presence and didn’t make a big deal about it.

Something touched her bare toe, and she jumped, barely keeping in a shriek of surprise. Her gaze landed on Harley, who wore a wicked grin as he eased down on to the floor beside her.

Her heart beat way too fast now, from the scare a little, but more from his presence.

“You into watching, Tessa?” he breathed.

She shook her head, feeling heat rush to her face. “I was here first.” She held up the books in her hand. The sounds from the other pair grew louder.

Harley shook his head. “He knows better.” He glanced in the direction of his brother.

Tessa shut her eyes again when his thigh brushed against hers as he shifted beside her. Her best friend’s older brother. She’d had a crush on him since she was seven. She’d hoped it would have faded by now, especially since she hadn’t seen him in nearly a year.

But no, her heart started beating faster as it always did when he was in the vicinity. That he was pressed up against her side from thigh to shoulder made it that much worse.

If she were still dressed, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But she’d stripped off her jeans and sweater a couple hours ago and put on her nightshirt and robe for the trek downstairs to the library after India had passed out from sheer exhaustion.

“Oh, Boris, harder,” the girl whined.

Tessa covered her face with her free hand.

Harley’s shoulder shook against hers, and she knew he was laughing, both at her embarrassment and his brother’s slutty girlfriend. “Knowing Boris, this won’t take long,” he whispered near her ear.

That only made her want to laugh, and the effort to keep her laughter contained made her shoulders shake, too, brushing against his.

Still, it seemed an eternity before Boris and his girl of the moment both groaned loudly, their ragged breathing echoing around the big room. Then, as if he’d suddenly realized they weren’t alone, Boris growled. “Come on. We need to get out of here,” he muttered.

Quiet shushing noises meant they were adjusting their clothing, and then soft, quick footsteps left the library.

Tessa let out the breath she’d been holding and pushed to her feet hurriedly, ignoring the cooler air brushing against her side where Harley’s warmth had been only seconds earlier.

“Good night, little Tessa.”

She froze. Little Tessa. He’d been calling her that since she was seven, when they’d met. Apparently he still only saw her as his younger sister’s best friend even though she was an adult now.

She swallowed back the disappointment and managed a wave as she hurried out of the library.

When she got back to India’s suite, her friend was still sound asleep, and Tessa dropped her books onto the low table by the balcony, her interest in reading gone for the night. It seemed there was no way to make Harley see her differently.

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While I’m reminiscing, I wonder if any of you are getting in any good reading now that December is settling in and feels more like winter this week. Let me know if something really great comes out of your to-be-read pile! I’ll be writing between chores on my extra days off, but I am aiming to make some reading time, too!

hot chocolate with books – 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?

 

The picture above is one I took at my dad’s a few years ago in the fall.  It was slightly earlier than November, but right now here, we have some trees that are still holding onto green leaves, some that are totally bare (thanks to a fall storm system the past two days), and some with a few fall colors holding on, kind of like in that photo.  And it’s chilly here today, though not as cold as yesterday, when the wind was blowing non-stop and the actual high temperature was about forty degrees, so there was wind-chill to factor in, too.

It’s a good day to stay inside. For some, that means chores. I did those yesterday after I finished my errands, so I would have today to write. The trouble is, there are always more chores. Plus I have to figure out what we’re going to be eating for Thanksgiving dinner in a week and a half, because my schedule at the day-job is going to be pretty crazy the next ten days. Of course there’ll be turkey and stuffing (I’ll make the sage and onion bread for that myself), mashed potatoes and gravy, corn pudding, and homemade cranberry sauce…all of our usuals. But I still have to figure out a dessert (no pumpkin pie!), a dinner bread, and maybe a fish dish for me since I don’t eat turkey anymore. We’ll see how things go next weekend–I’ll probably be working at least one day next weekend to get through the beginning of Thanksgiving week a little easier, so that will limit what I can accomplish besides laundry so we have clean clothes for work. If you have ideas for dessert, I’d love to hear them.

Now I’m going to dive back into my novella. My normal write-before-work-starts and lunchtime writing sessions have gone by the wayside the last week or so. I was lucky to be able to get to eat anything at all nearly every day last week, and I’m not counting on too many lunch breaks in the next seven days at the day-job either. Before I go, I have a little snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

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Slowly, Andi walked back down the hallway until she reached the end. The door was glossy, dark wood, and she touched it lightly before putting the key into the lock. It took a little effort to get it to turn, and then she swung the door open onto a big, bright room dominated by an enormous bed.

She blushed.

“Hey.” Kallan’s greeting was soft, but still made her jump. “Nice.”

She stepped aside so he could carry in their suitcase and backpacks.

He dropped them in front of the open closet and pushed the room door shut, then latched it and fastened the chain. “Now, let’s see.” He turned back to her, his eyes bright with intent.

Andi stood on the spot, part of her wanting to run from the overwhelming need rushing through her, and the other part wanting to let him have his way with her.

She’d been reading too many of the older, early romance novels, if she was having thoughts like that, she mused, hearing her pulse pound in her ears. No one said things like “have his way with her”.

But she thought she might like it if he did.

“Are you tired?”

She thought about it. “Yes. And no.”

His lips curved slightly. “Really?”

“Thank you.” Before her brain was useless, she needed to remind herself of one more thing.

He tilted his head. “For what?”

“For reminding me who I am here.”

His expression cleared. “It would have been really hard to explain to that lovely old lady why the name on your passport doesn’t match the name you gave her.” He smiled, squaring his shoulders. “Did you want to take that walk on the shore now?”

She shook her head. “No. Let’s go to bed.” Her tone was husky, even to her own ears, and his eyes darkened in response.

“So you are tired, after all.” He tugged his shirt free of his jeans, whipped it over his head and took a step toward her.

Her gaze slid down over his chest, lingering, then back up to his face. “Not exactly.” She yanked off her own shirt, gratified to see his stunned expression when the garment went flying across the room. She took a step toward him then, and it was his turn to swallow, hard.

She put her hands on his chest, skimmed lightly over the muscles there, before detouring to his sides, then up to his shoulders.

“Andrea.”

She smiled. “Yes, Kallan?”

His throat worked, and she heard his breath catch when she rubbed her palms down over his hard little nipples. “What are you doing?”

“Touching.” She stretched up to drift a kiss on his parted lips, then dragged her open mouth along his stubbled jaw to his throat. Under her hands, his heart pounded faster. “Tasting.” She nipped at his shoulder next, then flicked her tongue over the same spot.

His breathing went ragged.

“Are you tired, Kallan?” She leaned closer to press her aching breasts against his chest, and stifled a sigh of relief.

He captured her waist and lifted her to him, his mouth demanding when it caught hers. Along her belly, she felt his arousal, hard and hot. Her own body echoed the latter, dampening her panties.

She slid one arm around his neck, tangling her fingers in his loose hair while the kiss went on and on.

Agaph,” he rasped against her lips.

In reply, she wrapped her legs around his waist, making him groan when she rocked into him. “Tell me what that means,” she breathed.

“Love.” One of his hands slid down under her, holding her more securely. Temptingly close to where she wanted him to touch, but not near enough.

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I hope you’re all staying toasty on this chilly November day. I may make some soup again today. Probably not pumpkin, though that looks really good, doesn’t it?

If you have dessert ideas for Thanksgiving, I’d love to hear them. Hope you all have a great week!

 

 

 

 

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

It’s officially November now, and the weather really does feel like fall finally. And I’ve taken yet another look at my goals for the year, starting with the original goals from January, and then the revised goals, and the revised-again goals. And you know what I’ve decided? I’m tired of life getting in the way of my writing goals the last few years.

So here is what is going to happen:

I am going to give myself a break for the next two months.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing. It just means I am not going to stress anymore over the list of goals that are staring accusingly at me from the bulletin board beside my desk. It means I will keep writing. I will participate in the goal-setting workshop that I love in December and set my goals for 2019. I will read every chance I get. And I will be ready to kick some goal ass starting in January.

I am going to set good, realistic goals for next year, not that I haven’t set realistic goals the past few years, it’s just that life has thrown me a few serious curveballs. And next year, nothing is going to stop me from reaching them. I have been working on a novella for a Common Elements project for release in November 2019, and I’m excited about that story. I am going to get my Medusa back out into the world, and her two cousins will follow. Lots of writing things are on my mind, and I’ll fine-tune them next month during the workshop.

Before I get back to my weekly household chores, I have a little story snippet to share with you from the second Medusa book, Protecting Medusa.

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Aristotle Tassos dropped to his knees beside his desk, bowing his head. “My Lady,” he murmured, his heart pounding faster.

“Your nephew is dead, Aristotle.”

His head jerked up, and he stifled the urge to blanch under the steely grey gaze of Athena. “My nephew?” He had a terrible feeling he knew to which nephew She referred this time.

“Yes. That fool Nestor. He was killed at the Medusa’s home.” She glared down at him. “Why did he not kill her before they killed him?”

Ari swallowed, his mouth dry. Another dead nephew. Beneath his knees, the plush carpet was not plush enough. “I’m sorry, My Lady. I know he intended to–”

“Intended to.” Her lip curled with distaste. “It seems to me that all the Tassos family is able to do these days is intend to do their job.” The tall woman in the flowing white gown folded Her arms over Her chest. “I grow weary of the lack of results.”

He bowed his head under Her furious gaze. “I am so sorry, My Lady. I vow to you, we will kill that monster for You.” He shut his eyes.

“Perhaps I should remind you then,” she said after a moment, “that there are repercussions if this task is not carried out, Aristotle. I will take out my frustration with your family on you if this monster is not killed.”

He bowed lower. “I promise, it will be done.” He tried to slow his too-quick breathing.

When there was only silence in response to his words, he dared to lift his head a few inches.

The Goddess was gone.

He struggled to his feet and braced himself on the edge of his desk, his heart pounding too quickly. He concentrated on breathing evenly, trying to make his pulse slow down. Perspiration dripped into his right eye, and he brushed it away, noting the way his fingers shook.

He moved carefully around the desk to his chair and dropped into it, then fumbled in the top right drawer until he found a pill box, popping a small white tablet into his mouth and swallowing it. After a moment, his heartbeat began to drop back into a more regular rhythm.

In a few more minutes, he felt better, though worry still pulsed along his veins. He’d done all he could over the years to teach his nephews the importance of fulfilling this task for the Goddess. Surely it couldn’t be so difficult now that there were so many modern technologies at their fingertips. Not to mention the special abilities the Goddess had gifted them with.

He sat up straighter in his chair, setting his jaw. They would do this job, by the Goddess, and he would make certain of it.

He glared at the photo on the front of his desk, an old black and white picture of a young man. “You fool, Iphis. Look what you have brought us to.

The Goddess would kill you all over if She knew what you’d done. All these years later, and I am still cleaning up your mess.”

He reached for the phone on the corner of his desk.

These boys would come to heel, and they would do it now.

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Are any of you thinking about your goals for next year? Are they ambitious enough? I’m aiming high, how about you?

( Photo by xJason.Rogersx on Foter.com / CC BY )