Category: holiday


 

 

My to-do list isn’t quite as bad as the poor woman above, but it feels like it some days. I’m winding down a mini-vacation right now, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly enough for as many days as I’ve been home.

To be fair, my time off was over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I spent the day before and the day of in the kitchen for a large chunk of the day, and washing dishes for days. I did wrap up a small project yesterday that I started a couple weeks ago. Today, I’ve cleared a bunch of things out of my in-boxes, but not much else, though I am heading back to Revision-land shortly. That leaves tomorrow, my last day before I head back to the day-job, to get the laundry done, and try to knock out something else from my to-do list. I’m not sure what yet. I’ll have to give it some thought.

Before I lose myself in revisions again, though, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from Hunting Medusa.

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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.

His hands slid down her sides and wrapped around her, settling her back against his chest as if he’d read her mind. She hoped he didn’t have that ability.

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I think before I call it a day today, I am going to take a little time to make a list of my to-dos, the musts and the would-be-nices. That will make it easier to prioritize the next few weeks before the new year starts.

Who else needs to get a lot done in the next few weeks? Do you have a game plan to do everything? I can always use some new ideas, if you’re willing to share.

 

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. I’ve spent some of the past two days in the kitchen–my final loaf of sage and onion bread is baking in my bread machine right now for the stuffing we’ll eat on Thursday and the house smells so good right now. I almost hate to wait four days to sample the bread. But I will, and I’ll be grateful for it on Thanksgiving.

We don’t always think about the good things in our lives, the things we have that others envy because they don’t have them. I’ve been trying to be more aware of all of the positive in my life, all of the people and things I have in my life that are worth some gratitude. Family, good friends, a home, a job I like, food to eat. The list is long.

I grumble like many others about household chores, like dish washing, but those dirty dishes mean we ate. Or the laundry, but those dirty clothes mean we have plenty of clothing. Bill paying, but those utility bills mean we have a roof over our heads. It’s all a matter of perspective. Some days, it’s harder to frame those things positively. But I’m working on it.

This week, I am thankful for my family and the dinner we’ll share on Thursday. I will be thankful for Thanksgiving dinners past, spent with extended family I don’t see much anymore, or who are no longer with us–I am thankful we had time together when they were still here.

I am thankful for the season’s first snowfall earlier today, even though the sun came out and melted all of it away–I got to watch it come down, big, fat, wet snowflakes that piled up quickly and made the neighborhood look like winter, just for a little while. I’m thankful I get to write the stories I love, for my friends who also write and get me.

I can keep going, but I’ll stop here. I have a little story snippet to share with you, from my fourth shifter story.

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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 her gaze 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’m going to go find something for dinner that doesn’t involve leftovers to take up space in the refrigerator (the turkey is taking up a lot of space there right now), and then I’m going back to my revisions.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving week? I would love to know!

 

( reading book by fireplace – Depositphotos )

It’s November, and it finally feels like fall here. We had a couple nights in a row now with temps around freezing. I was happy to set the clocks back last night, not just for regaining the hour we lost in the spring, but because it wasn’t dark when I got up this morning. I love fall, but I absolutely hate getting up in the dark. I know other people hate that it’s dark earlier in the evening, but I don’t care about that. I find it exceedingly hard to get up in the dark. At the end of the work day, I don’t care if the sun’s already set: the day is over. Getting moving in the dark is a much bigger challenge.

November is also National Novel Writing Month. I can’t join in NaNo this year–we have our busiest week of the year coming up in two weeks, and I’ll be lucky to see daylight at all that week–but I know a lot of other people are already hard at work on their new books. Best of luck getting your 50,000 words written in the next twenty-seven days!

My goals for the month are not that grand. I am aiming to get through the busy weeks at the day-job, get this novella formatted, and manage all the normal day-to-day tasks, plus we have Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the month, which means I need to figure out the menu. That alone is a pretty big task. Yes, we have some of the same things every year–the turkey, the stuffing (which means making the bread for the stuffing first), the mashed potatoes and gravy, the corn pudding, the cranberry relish–but dessert is usually something different from year to year, and since I no longer eat any meat besides fish, I have to decide if I want some protein on my own plate, or if I’ll just enjoy all the sides. I’m leaning toward that right now, but I’m not positive yet. It’s too early. The past couple of years, I’ve taken off the day before Thanksgiving, so I can get some prep work done, which is a huge help. I can get cranberry relish and dessert out of the way, plus if we are having another bread or rolls with our meal, I can take care of that, too. My aim this year is to spend a lot less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. It’s annoying to spend the entire holiday working in the kitchen, so I have to work out my game plan ahead of time–can I do some more prep on the weekend prior? Probably. I just have to figure out what.

So…Thanksgiving meal planning, manuscript formatting, day-job insanity, and normal every-day. That’s my game plan for this month, with the hope that I can get some other writing and/or rewriting in along the way.

I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. She’d worked into the night after the vacuum salesman’s appearance, until she couldn’t see straight to continue with her beading. Then she’d sunk into the bubble bath long enough to be nearly asleep. Today, she’d repeated everything but the bubble bath. Plus she’d driven into town to ship the big order she’d finished early.

Now she sat in the dark beside the front window, watching the forest. Waiting. Trying to convince herself nothing was coming. No one.

When the phone rang, she jumped about two feet in the air, barely keeping in a shriek. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath, forcing herself to laugh weakly as she picked up the receiver. “Hello, Aunt Lydia.” She didn’t need caller I.D. to know when one of her cousins or aunts was on the phone.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, my dear,” came the quavering voice. “I just wanted to touch base with you. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you.”

Her slightly psychic great-aunt must have spoken to Andi’s mother. “I know. I’ve been busy working.” She thought of the small stack of boxed beaded bracelets sitting on her desk upstairs for another customer whose order wasn’t even due for a month and a half.

“You’re aware you could do that here, too, right?”

Andi smiled in the darkness. “I know. I’m not feeling much like company right now.”

“You don’t have to visit your parents, you know.”

Her laugh escaped before she could stop it. “That isn’t very nice of you, Aunt Lydia.”

“Maybe I’m getting selfish in my old age.” Her great-aunt chuckled. “But I’d like to see you.”

“Maybe in a few months.”

The older woman sighed. “All right. But I wanted you to know I was thinking of you. I love you.”

Andi felt her eyes sting a little. “I love you too.”

“Your mother knows she wasn’t there for you eight years ago, Andrea. Perhaps it’s time to let her be there for you now.”

Andi’s eyes dried. “I need to go, Aunt Lydia.”

“Of course, dear. I hope you’ll come soon.”

She looked back at the window and murmured, “Maybe. I’ve got to go, Aunt Lydia.”

Something had moved outside.

Something too tall to be one of the does that frequented the clearing each evening, though not tall enough for the bull moose who came occasionally. Just the right size for a sneaky Harvester posing as a vacuum salesman.

She thumbed off the phone and sat up straighter, her other hand coming to rest on the dagger across her knees. For a long moment, she didn’t see anything. Then a dark shape slid between the trees, a few yards nearer to the house.

Her heart hammered against her ribs and she curled her fingers around the dagger hilt. That was no animal. At least not of the wild variety. No, this was a two-legged animal, and she had the terrible feeling this one really was a Harvester, no matter what her mother had said yesterday.

Let him try, she thought, setting the phone back on its base. He’d find this Medusa wasn’t going down quietly. She only wished she were PMSing so she could take him out without too much effort. Or mess. If only he’d waited just a few more days to make his move…

She stifled a hysterical giggle at that last thought, glad she’d listened to her instincts this evening.

The shape disappeared again in the dark trees, and she held her breath. Then he reappeared for a few seconds, much closer to the house this time. Her pulse pounded in her ears. He was determined. And now out of her line of vision.

A loud, sharp beep indicated her alarm system had shut down, and was accompanied by the sound of every appliance in the house also turning off. He’d killed her power at the junction box outside.

Bastard.

Andi got to her feet, then tried to decide which door he’d come in. She heard the soft sound of a footfall on the back porch. She crossed into the kitchen, not needing to feel her way around the furniture, and positioned herself beside the refrigerator. He wouldn’t make it far into the house, and then he was hers.

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Now, I think before I get back to my rewrites, I’m going to spend a few minutes looking at the pretty first quarter moon hanging outside my window. What are your goals this month?

 

( decor with pumpkins – Depositphotos )

I can remember quiet weekends even though we rarely have them. When my boys were in school, I worked retail, so there was no such thing as quiet weekends, because normally, I would be at work. When they were younger, I was home, so weekends were a normal day for me. These days, they’re in their own place, and I have weekends off, though there are errands and chores that don’t get done during the week. So occasionally, I like a weekend when I can stay home, maybe do laundry and cook once. Those weekends are few and far between–I don’t see one in my near future. Next weekend, I have somewhere to be one day, same the following weekend…the weekend after that will be day-job overtime one day and something fun the next, so possibly the following weekend, which is Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. I’ll be ready for a break by then, I think.

While I’m daydreaming about a lazy weekend with plenty of time for reading and writing, I’ve got a few more chores to wrap up before I can call it a day. I have a little snippet of story for you, from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh no!” She caught it before it hit her in the face and started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

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

“I think you lost something,” she said.

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

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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

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What do you do when you have a weekend with no to-do list? I have plenty of ideas of my own, but am always open to more. Meanwhile, I might want to pretend I’m back at the beach, like last weekend for our writing retreat.

 

 

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

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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!

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(field of daisy flowers- Depositphotos) 

The summer weather appears to be settling in here to stay. It’s been hot and sticky all week, with a slight break after last night’s thunderstorms–only upper 80s today, and a little less humid with the wind blowing all day. The next week looks more like last week, hot and humid, so I’ll be staying inside as much as possible, even on the holiday Thursday. I’ll leave the grilling to my husband and stay indoors.

I had my weekend planned out: we had birthday dinner plans for my younger son for yesterday, and I intended to write today. Neither day went according to plan. I had the requested mac and cheese ready to go in the oven for yesterday’s dinner, only to discover the oven had not heated up at all. So we had to pack everything up and take it to the boys’ house and have dinner there instead of here. Today was going to be my writing day, except I wound up hanging out with the boys for a while again and then doing some unplanned chores. Best laid plans…

That’s okay. I just took a little stroll around outside to take a look at the gardens, though, since it’s cooled down. I am going to have tomatoes coming out of my ears in a few weeks. I planted seven different kinds of tomatoes and discovered a few weeks ago that a ‘volunteer’ had also sprouted from last year’s tomatoes. Two of the new plants aren’t doing very well. The other five and the volunteer are going to have a billion tomatoes. I’ve been picking cherry tomatoes for a few weeks now, which is nice, but there are plants on the other five plants as well. I can’t wait! I’m not a summer fan, but the best thing about the season for me is all of the fresh produce, the veggies and fruits. So good! Nothing that comes from the grocery store out of season is even close (I’m looking at you, tomatoes!). I have plans for some of those fresh veggies for our holiday dinner this week, and maybe a little of season 3 of Stranger Things while we’re at it.

But since I am off-schedule for the weekend, I really need to get a little writing done this evening, so I’ve got a short snippet from the first shifter story to share with you.

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India had given her more than one speculative glance during the evening, but thankfully, she hadn’t asked the questions Tessa knew were on her mind. It was late when they returned to the house, so Tessa didn’t argue about spending the night–the house was quiet when they went inside, and she hoped everyone was already sleeping. Or at least, that Harley was. Remembering what she’d let him do earlier kept her awake far later that night.

How could she be so weak?

She wanted to settle into bed after India went into her suite, but her brain wouldn’t stop circling back to what she’d done earlier. She paced the room for a few minutes, trying to force her mind to clear.

When pacing didn’t work, she went to the window. The small solar lights below lit up the shadowy gardens in places the moonlight didn’t reach.

Brighter lights shone in the pool, where a large shape moved through the water.

Harley. Her mouth went dry. Beautiful.

And naked.

Tessa swallowed hard, watching his powerful strokes through the water, strong arms and legs propelling him quickly from one end of the pool to the other.

It was a very pretty sight, she mused, admiring the play of his muscles, his sleek, wet skin. Her cheeks heated.

He stopped suddenly at the near end of the pool, lifting his head to look up at her.

Caught. The warmth in her cheeks spread to the rest of her.

He couldn’t see her. She’d turned off the bedroom light when India had gone to bed.

But she knew he knew she was there, even though he resumed swimming his laps, a little slower now.

And when he climbed the steps at the shallow end of the pool a few minutes later, she covered her mouth with one hand. Whoa!

Harley, naked, was an incredible sight. And wet, naked, aroused Harley made her knees weak.

He picked up a towel from one of the chairs nearby, and rubbed his back briskly, as he turned his face up toward her window. She backed away, heart pounding. He did not know she was there. He couldn’t.

She crawled into bed and curled into a ball in the center of the mattress, but no matter how tight she closed her eyes, she couldn’t stop seeing him emerging from the pool, water sluicing down his body, his erection jutting out in front of him.

That would have mortified her teenage self, and her adult self was more than a little embarrassed to have been gawking.

But wow… That would fuel plenty of fantasies in the future.

And kept her wide awake for hours.

================

Now I’m off to write. How are you spending this first, hot week of summer?

 

 

 

Goal Target – Depositphotos

 

It’s Sunday, the laundry’s half done, and the house is quiet (aside from noisy cat, who thinks she needs fed every time I walk from one room to another). That means writing time, so this will be short and sweet.

It’s also Father’s Day. My husband is spending part of the day with the boys, doing guy stuff and having a great time. And i have been thinking about my dad.  I miss him.

Before I get back to my writing, I have a little story snippet for you, from the second of my tiger shifter stories.

===============

Vivi made conversation with the boys, but Berdine kept her distance. She gave Boris several pouty, teary-eyed glances, but when he beckoned her, she went instead to talk to her cousin.

He sighed, but let her alone for now. He could have a discussion with her later. Bryce clambered into his lap, and Boris gave him a hug. “How’re you doing, buddy?”

“I’m good, Daddy. I’m glad I’m not gonna be the baby no more.”

“You never said anything about being the youngest.”

“There hasta be a mommy for a baby.”

Boris hid his wince at the stab of pain near his heart. “And a daddy,” he pointed out.

Bryce grinned. “But the daddy can’t have the baby, silly.”

Boris hugged his son again. “Of course, how could I forget?” None of his four youngest had talked much lately about their mother’s abandonment.

Bryce squeezed his arms around Boris’s neck, then pushed away. “I like her, but what should I call her?”

Good question. “Maybe you should ask Vivi,” he said, watching her laugh at something Bo had said.

“Good idea.” Bryce scrambled to his feet and raced over to join his brothers and Vivi.

Boyd appeared in the family room doorway before Boris had decided whether to join them or collect Berdine. He pushed to his feet and headed toward his father instead.

Boyd tipped his head toward the hallway, and Boris nodded, following the older man to his office. He closed the door behind him while his father dropped onto the nearest chair.

“You just found out, didn’t you?”

Boris sat beside him. “Yes, yesterday.” He met his father’s gaze.

“A mate?”

Heat climbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t plan it.”

Clearly.

It was written in his father’s expression, though he didn’t say it. Finally, Boyd sighed and looked away. “Make sure she understands the danger.”

“We’ve already had that conversation. I think it’s the only reason I got her here.”

“Losing your touch, son?” Boyd teased gruffly as he got to his feet.

Boris laughed. “I am out of practice, I guess.”

“Brush up then. I like Vivi.” He patted Boris’s shoulder. “I’m going to go visit with her.”

Boris stuck his hands in his pockets as he followed his father back to the noisy family room, pondering the unspoken warning.

================

I’m going back to my writing, and maybe try to sneak in some reading time, too before the weekend is over. How are you spending your weekend?

 

 

I know Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. is the unofficial start to the summer season. Only it actually feels like summer at my house. Here we are, for the second weekend in a row, sweating our butts off because it’s too hot for this time of year, and the a/c is not yet fixed. Turns out the motor we were told to order was not the right size, and the one we actually need is on back-order. Ugh. First I thought, hey, no problem, I’ll just catch up on the magazines that came this week, and the Sunday paper, do a couple of chores and some writing until the thunderstorms in our forecast get here and cool it down.

( thermometer with hot temperature – Depositphotos )

It was a good plan. Except we haven’t gotten any of those storms allegedly headed our way, and it is almost 90. Windows are open, but that just lets more hot air in, and it doesn’t move well through the house because of the layout of the windows–except for the kitchen and the front door, no windows on the back of the house align with any on the front of the house. None. So the fans don’t help either. So I’ve mostly spent my afternoon hot and cranky while weeding out the week’s magazines and the paper, and not written a single word because I can’t get in the right mind-set. And not done my chores either, because they involve hot water. Nope.

So before I go hunt down a couple of sugar-free popsicles, I have a little story snippet for you, this time from Hunting Medusa.

________________

Andi kept up her steady pace as they trekked farther into the forest. The sounds of the birds and chattering squirrels kept them company, as they had for the past two hours. He didn’t try to carry on a conversation with her while they walked. He was clearly accustomed to physical activity.

Which meant she’d have a harder time than she’d anticipated in ditching him.

Not that she’d imagined it would be easy.

Nothing could possibly be easy about this. Her luck clearly didn’t run in that direction.

She paused to take a sip of water from the bottle she’d tucked into the side of her backpack, and he stopped beside her. Warmth spread up her spine, and she frowned into the bottle she held. Stop it. He was not potential mate material, no matter how happy her hormones were when he was near.

“All right?” He took a quick drink from his own water, his arm brushing hers as he did so.

She shifted her weight onto her other foot, away from him. “Fine.”

He met her gaze.

Her pulse skipped.

“I know you don’t want to trust me, but you can. On this, you can.”

It sounded like a vow, she thought, panic making her heart beat faster. She didn’t want to believe him.

But on this one thing, she realized she did. Of course she did. Even though she hadn’t wanted to, she’d trusted him not to kill her after they’d made their bargain for the scissors. He’d earned it.

She swallowed, her mouth dry, and lifted her water bottle to her lips again, giving herself a distraction from the intensity in his green eyes.

He sighed, then took another drink.

Andi closed her eyes briefly, girding herself, and capped her bottle. The next stretch would be more of a challenge. Maybe this would be where her luck changed.

Or not.

Two hours later, she panted softly, her heart pounding hard as she put one hand on the nearest tree trunk and dropped her head to pour the rest of her lukewarm water over the back of her neck.

Straight up the side of the mountain, and he was still not doing more than breathing hard, the bastard.

She felt her backpack shift, and glanced to the side.

“Getting you another drink.” He tugged a bottle out and then rezipped her pack.

She mumbled her thanks and chugged down half the bottle in one go. Then turned in time to see his throat working as he swallowed the last of his bottle. His skin glistened with sweat, muscles beneath shifting and making her want to touch. With her fingers, her tongue.

She inhaled slowly and looked away again. It seemed she was stuck with him. At least for now.

He touched her arm, and she lifted her gaze. “Do you want a break?”

She shook her head. “Not if we want to get there before dark.”

He frowned. “What if I think you need a break?”

Andi felt a little surge of annoyance. “You’re not my father.”

“Thank Goddess,” he muttered, brushing away a drop of perspiration from her temple.

She blushed.

“Andrea, I’m just trying to point out, and obviously badly, you had a really rough day yesterday, and maybe you should take it a little easier than you have so far today.”

“I’m sorry.” She took a drink from the fresh bottle. “I haven’t had to run for my life before, and I’m not used to requiring help, and apparently, neither is sitting well.”

Kallan smiled a little, and his fingers slid down to the corner of her mouth. “Apology accepted.” He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose lightly, startling her.

She resisted the urge to shift her head so their mouths would meet. Instead, she put her bottles away and adjusted her pack on her shoulders. “The next leg should be easier.”

He gave her a knowing smile, but kept his mouth shut.

And she found herself smiling back.

Stupid.

But her smile didn’t fade as quickly this time.

As she walked, more slowly now, she let her mind drift to what it would be like to actually have a real relationship again. If she could ignore the fact he’d come to kill her, there were other aspects of the past few days she could get used to. Like having someone to talk to who didn’t think she was a complete nutcase. Like having someone who not only believed in the myths that shaped her life, but had also been influenced by them. Like the smoking-hot sex.

She fanned herself a little.

“You all right?”

Heat climbed her throat. “Still cooling down from that last segment,” she called back over her shoulder. “Jackass,” she added under her breath.

She resolved to think of nothing but getting to safety for now. Getting distracted by wishing for things she knew she could never have wouldn’t keep her safe from Kallan’s cousin.

Andi froze in mid-stride, her heart thundering in her chest suddenly, and it wasn’t from exertion this time. Her gaze stuck on the dark, shiny creature lying across their path, and her pulse pounded in her ears.

His hands landed on her shoulders. “What?”

“S-snake,” she whispered.

“Are you kidding?” He moved to stand beside her, and looked into her face. “You’re serious,” he said after a couple seconds, a grin tugging at his mouth. He glanced to the trail ahead and started to laugh. “It’s only a garter snake.”

Andi ground her teeth together, heat climbing her neck to her face, but not in a good way now. Just because that damned Athena had cursed her to sprout snakes on her head every month didn’t mean she liked them.

He laughed until she wanted to hit him. Or better yet, turn him to stone. Too bad she wasn’t PMSing anymore.

Not looking at Kallan, she folded her arms and waited for the snake to finish slithering across the path.

Still chuckling, he gestured to the trail ahead. “All clear.”

She hated him. Sticking her chin in the air, she marched past him, barely resisting the urge to smack him as she went. She consoled herself with that mental image for a few minutes, of punching him square in the nose. Or mouth. Maybe knocking the smug grin off his face. Drawing blood would be good. She curled her fingers into fists at her sides as she went, only vaguely aware of him close on her heels.

After a while, though, she grew more aware of his nearness, as the forest darkened around them. His heat was within reach, if she stopped and stretched out her arm. Not that she would. Especially not now.

________________

Now that I’m reading that, I think it would have been better if I grabbed a winter scene from the second in the Medusa trilogy, or maybe from one of the shifter stories, to cool things down. Well, too late now.

How are you staying cool on this long weekend? Or are you where it is too cool and you’d rather it was warmer?

 

 

 

( chocolate cheesecake – Dreamstime )

It is Mother’s Day here today. I’ve already had a visit from and meal with my boys, which was lovely. I also know I’m lucky that happens, and that not every mom is that lucky, so I am extra-appreciative for my own kids, and that they’re close enough to get here regularly.

I have a little story snippet from my first tiger shifter story to share with you today.

________________

Harley tapped on the door before he turned the knob. “Mom?”

“In the kitchen, Harley.”

He moved inside, noting the drawn curtains in the living room and dining room. But bright sunlight came from the end of the hallway, and when he got to the archway, he saw his mother working at the wide island, rolling out a piece of dough.

“Hi, honey.” She smiled up at him while he stepped fully into the room. “How are you?”

He bent to kiss her cheek. “Okay. What are you making?”

“Chicken pot pie. I got hungry for it weeks ago, but it was too hot for the oven. Sit. I’ll get you some lemonade.”

He sat on one of the stools across from her. “I’m good, Mom.”

“So what brings you here today? Playing hooky?” She wrapped the dough carefully around her rolling pin to transfer it to her baking dish.

“Kind of.” He leaned his elbows on the counter.

“And you’re here and not stalking Tessa?” She slanted him a teasing glance.

Heat climbed the back of his neck. “Something like that.” He rubbed one hand along the side of his face.

One of her brows lifted. “What did you do?”

He frowned, ignoring the twinge of guilt in his belly. “Why does it have to be me?”

She smiled, a secretive, knowing smile. “Men are all very alike in some ways.”

“You know, if a man said that about women, we’d be called chauvinistic.”

Her smile widened. “What did you do, Harley?”

He stifled the impulse to squirm on his seat. “I might have pulled a caveman. But I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Ah, an accidental caveman.” She didn’t look at him, instead chopping several potatoes swiftly, though her mouth twitched at the corners, as if she were stifling impulses of her own.

Harley sighed. “I wanted to take her away this weekend, but I should have gone about it differently. Then I went to her office earlier to take her for a long lunch. She told me to leave.”

“Because you demanded she just drop everything?” His mother’s tone was innocent, but her eyes gleamed with laughter.

“Something like that.” He sighed.

“Well, you’d do better to be there, trying to make things right with Tessa than sitting here in my kitchen, moping.”

“Easier said than done.”

“Did you come for sympathy or advice? Hand me the parsley.”

He handed over the cluster of green leaves. “Yes.”

She didn’t restrain her laugh this time. “Honey, you did this to yourself, so it’s difficult to muster up much sympathy. As for advice, well, I don’t think you really need that either. You know what you need to do.”

He watched her smooth, quick motions as she chopped the herbs into her chicken and vegetables. She was right. But he’d run out of patience, waiting to see if Tessa would admit to her feelings, would talk about a future with him. Instead, she kept talking about her new job, and he’d lost his grip on his patience.

His mother tapped his wrist, and he glanced over to see her holding a cookie.

“It’s not quite the same as a bloody knee or a fat lip, but cookies make everything better.”

He took it, smiling in spite of himself. “Not everything, you know.” He bit into it–chunks of chocolate and pieces of walnut. “Mm. I could be wrong.”

She laughed again and put another round piece of dough on top of her potpie. “Why don’t you bring Tessa by for dinner? If I don’t have company, this will be here forever.”

“If I can get her to speak to me again, I will.” He polished off the rest of the cookie. “Are there more of these?”

His mother put the baking dish in the oven. “Yes, but your issue isn’t dire enough for two.” She straightened up. “Go find Tessa and fix things, then let me know about dinner.”

“Can there be cookies for dessert?” He pushed off the stool.

“No. I’ve got something better for dessert.” She tilted her head so he could kiss her cheek. “I love you, Harley.”

“I know, Mom. I love you, too.” He gave her a quick hug, too. “I’ll call you later.”

She smiled, and he left the kitchen, thinking.

It wasn’t a matter of ‘finding’ Tessa. He knew exactly where she was. It was more a matter of finding the right way to apologize to her. He should be almost an expert at it by now.

He steered the car toward the zoo, his stomach tightening the closer he got. Nervousness. He’d never been nervous about a woman before Tessa. He knew she had feelings for him, but it seemed she had no intention of admitting to them.

That stung, but he’d deal with it. Eventually, she’d let her guard down. But right now, he needed to make sure she knew how truly sorry he was about that morning.

Flowers? Maybe not for this.

He frowned as he thought. Maybe if he crawled and begged, he mused darkly.

Then the sign at the next crossroad made him slam on the brakes and execute a quick turn. The gift shop at the stables had exactly what he needed.

          #          #          #

When Harley strode into her office wearing donkey ears, Tessa laughed before she knew she meant to, then clapped her hand over her mouth, trying to muster up a glare.

He plopped down beside her desk on his knees, and she gaped at him. “I acted like an ass this morning,” he began, making her swallow back another laugh, “and I am sorrier than you can imagine. Please forgive me, Tessa.”

She still felt the urge to laugh, to at least snicker at how ridiculous he looked, but another part of her recognized what a big deal it was that he’d come here like this. She wondered if he’d signed in at the reception desk wearing the ears.

And he waited, not looking the least bit embarrassed about the tall grey ears he’d put on. Jackass, indeed.

Tessa sighed. “Oh, Harley.”

He held her gaze, patient, though worry lurked in the depths of his golden eyes.

How could she not? “Yes.”

He grabbed her arm first, then, when she tipped forward in her seat, her waist, to pull her into his arms, burying his face in her throat. “I am so sorry, honey.”

One of his fake ears rubbed against her nose, and she reached to move it out of her face. The entire headband came off, and she chuckled. “Where on earth did you find those?”

“Don’t lose it,” he mumbled, his lips brushing her collarbone, “I might need them again.”

________________

Now I’m off to spend some time writing. I hope you’re all doing something you love today, too!

 

 

 

 

( Light at the end of the tunnel –  Depositphotos )

Just two more days of the crazy-busy at the day-job, and then I can catch my breath. Let my brain be functional again for writing. I can’t wait. Plus I have a writing night to look forward to on Thursday, followed by a 3-day weekend, which will be for garden chores at the boys’ and maybe a few things here. And writing. I would like to spend a little time moving my desk, too, so we can get the rest of the painting out of the way. I’m still trying to decide if I actually need the second monitor set up or not. If I set it up, I need either a new desk, or a small desk I can set beside my current desk, to make my own L desk.

While it would be nice to have the two-screen set-up I have at the day-job, I’m not sure it’s actually necessary here in my home office. Plus if I don’t do that, then I have room to put a bookcase and maybe a chair in here. That is a very tempting option–who doesn’t want a place to sit and read? And I will always need another bookcase (then I could clear up some of the messy stacks in my book room, lol). I’ve actually already scoped out a couple of bookcases that would work, though I haven’t seen a chair yet that I love that doesn’t cost a fortune. We’ll see.

It is an absolutely gorgeous day here today. I should be doing some yard work today, but today is family dinner day, so the boys will be here a little later. At the moment, I have some peppers pickling to go into a salsa for the steak hubs will throw on the grill later for himself and the boys, and I should get started on the salsa itself (and figure out exactly what I’m doing with the salmon I’ll be eating). But before I go back to work in the kitchen, I have a little story snippet for you, from the third book in my Medusa trilogy.

_______________

Hunter had to do more digging to find Katharine than he’d guessed would be necessary. It took him several hours and finally a phone call to a friend at the DOT to get her mailing and street addresses. By then it was too late to call or show up at her door unannounced. But he headed there in the morning after checking in at the office to see what Mary Ann had on tap for him. Luckily, he had a couple hours free before he had to meet with a new client.

He debated getting her a gift certificate for a lingerie store to take along, to replace the underwear he’d destroyed, then decided that might be a little much, considering he was still virtually a stranger.

Instead, he picked up a fistful of daisies and drove across town to the address his buddy had given him last night. A neat little one story white house with an attached garage. Two narrow flowerbeds flanked the two steps to the front door.

And a tall guy in black shoved open a window at the side of the house as Hunter eased his car along the street.

Heart pounding faster, he didn’t stop in front of her house as he’d intended, but down the street several houses, and the way the homes were spaced on her street, it was far enough that the guy wouldn’t hear him and automatically assume he was coming to Katharine’s. He left the daisies on the seat and sprinted back to her house, through her neighbors’ yards. He peered around the corner of her house. The side window was open, and there was no sign of the man. He was inside.

Hunter’s pulse quickened even more. No time to call the cops. He stepped up to the front door, noting the alarm company sticker in the front window. He didn’t want to do damage to her door, though, or alert the intruder to his entry, so he pulled a pick out of his pocket and jiggled it carefully in the lock until the latch gave. Then he stepped inside, holding his breath while hoping the alarm would take a few seconds before it went off.

There was silence through the little house. Maybe she hadn’t set the alarm. He shut the door with no sound. Then he heard a low voice.

Good thing he hadn’t given up carrying. He whipped his gun out as he crept through the living room, past the empty kitchen and an office. He stopped when he got to the open door of the bedroom, leveling his gun on the dark man standing over her bed with a wicked-looking, slightly curved blade in his hand. In the open collar of his shirt, a gold pendant gleamed around his neck, something too small for Hunter to see exactly what it was. A few feet from there, the curtain fluttered in the breeze coming through the open window.

“Drop it,” he said evenly, hoping Katharine stayed right where she was, lumped beneath her blankets.

The guy jumped, startled, clearly so absorbed in his own plans that he hadn’t paid any attention to the rest of the house. Good thing for Hunter, and for Katharine. Bad thing for the intruder.

From the corner of his eyes, Hunter saw movement on the pillow, but he couldn’t take his gaze off the intruder to see what it was. He just hoped she stayed in her spot on the opposite side of the bed long enough for him to deal with this asshole.

“Do you really want to stop me?” the other man said in heavily accented English. “From killing this monster?”

“No monsters here, buddy. Drop the knife. Now.” He jerked his gun a little, indicating the rocking chair in front of the closet where the knife wouldn’t be easily reachable again. More movement on the pillow, and this time, it looked like a couple of snakes in his peripheral vision. Couldn’t be. He kept his gaze on the other man. “Do it.”

The other man’s dark eyes narrowed, mouth tightening, his expression furious. “It is my duty to kill the Medusa.”

Hunter cocked his weapon. “If you don’t drop your weapon now, buddy, I’m going to put a very large hole in you. One you will not recover from.”

The dark guy muttered something Hunter couldn’t understand, something foreign, and, after a few more seconds, tossed the blade away, but not where Hunter had indicated. Instead, he threw it over the bed so it stuck in the plaster wall beside the mirror attached to her dresser. When Hunter glanced away from him to be certain that the dagger hadn’t done any damage to Katharine, the intruder leaped out the open window.

“Dammit,” he muttered, striding to the window in time to see the back of the other guy vanishing around the neighbor’s back porch a few dozen yards away. He pulled his head back in and froze.

Those were snakes on the pillow, several of them.

________________

Now I’m going to get back to work in the kitchen so dinner will be ready when the boys get here. How are you spending this beautiful spring day?