Category: holiday


( motivational poster – Depositphotos )

Here in the U.S, we’re finishing up a three-day weekend today for Memorial Day. For some, even though it’s meant as a remembrance for service people who lost their lives at war, it’s still a working weekend, for others, it’s about kicking off summer, and for some, it’s a combination of all of those.

Where I am, we’re still under a stay-at-home order, which suits me fine, since the number of new cases of this virus are still holding pretty steady in my county. It was also grocery week, and I took advantage of delivery from one of the two places we shop, then headed to the other all masked up. I also spent this afternoon and evening doing some necessary gardening. My tomatoes are in, the weeds are out. I did, however, pick up too many tomatoes (I can’t even believe I’m typing that, there is no such thing as too many tomato plants, right?), so I shared with my neighbor, who doesn’t get out. Now she’ll also have fresh tomatoes in her garden in a couple of months.

Everyone does something different for pleasure–weeding is not one of those things for me, but a necessary evil so I can enjoy my tomatoes and fresh herbs all summer. For me, relaxation means family time, reading or writing, always music, and sometimes a favorite show or movie. Tonight’s show was After Life with Ricky Gervais. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but we laughed our way through An Idiot Abroad a couple of years ago, so when  friend talked about how much they loved this show, I added it to my Netflix list. There are parts that are depressing, appalling, just plain awful, hilarious, and some so sweet, they’ll break your heart. We finished the last couple episodes from the second season tonight, and I have a terrible headache from sobbing through them, but I can’t wait until the next season.

During the past couple of months, I know people have been doing a lot of different things for enjoyment, sometimes an old hobby, sometimes something new. What are you doing right now when you need a few minutes of you-time? Are you turning to something you already loved before this pandemic, or have you picked up something new to make you feel better?

I’m going to go get something for my headache before I call it a day, but before I go, I have a little snippet of Light the Way Home for you.

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

Nate schooled his expression to neutrality before turning around. Hayden’s chin jutted stubbornly, and his blue eyes narrowed. “I’m saying Lucie might be busy right now,” Nate said evenly. “Maybe we’ll see her outside tomorrow.”

“I can knock on the door.” His son crossed his arms on his chest, covering the spotted blue dog graphic. “She said we’d play later, and it’s later.”

“We can check, but, buddy, you have to promise not to be upset if she’s busy. Plus it’ll be suppertime soon, so we’ll be busy here, too.”

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

“Just don’t get your hopes up,” he said, trying to keep his tone from dropping in defeat.

Hayden bolted for the back door.

Nate followed more slowly, picking up his son’s jacket from the chair inside the door. By the time he reached the bottom step, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie spoke in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. When he cleared the lilac bushes, he expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop.

He was a little surprised to see the two of them walking into the middle of the neighboring yard while Lucie bounced the big yellow ball on one hand. Huh. He would’ve bet on her putting Hayden off. He paused at the open gate between the yards to watch them. They’d stopped, and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute. She nodded as she rose.

Hayden jogged backward a few steps, grinning, then held out both hands.

Lucie gave the ball another bounce before she tossed it to him.

His son caught it, giggling. “Too easy,” he shouted. He jumped once, then moved a few more steps away from her. “Ready?”

“Ready!” She leaned forward and held out her hands.

Nate wished he could see her expression.

Hayden lobbed the ball at her, and she caught it before it hit her in the face. He smiled and shook his head when his laughing son danced backward a couple more paces. “Throw it again!”

“You sure you can catch it so far away?” The tease in her voice made Nate relax. Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. Mindi and Harry trusted her, which meant she was okay.

But she seemed to be enjoying his son, genuinely enjoying him. Maybe she had nieces or nephews–she was comfortable, chatting with Hayden as they played catch.

He leaned on the fence to watch.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening.

Nate felt a little kick in his gut at the appealing image–pink cheeks, green eyes that tipped up at the outer corners, full lower lip dropping a tiny bit. Lucie Russo was pretty.

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

In case you’re looking for something new to read, the book title above is also a link to all your favorite booksellers where you can find it.

So what are you doing for enjoyment right now? When you need a few minutes of escape? I’d love to know.

 

( fresh chamomile with hearts -Depositphotos )

It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S, meant to celebrate all of the moms in our lives. For some right now, today is harder than usual, when we can’t be with our kids or our families. But we’re together in spirit, and will be together in real time again one of these days, after this wretched virus has been knocked back and it’s less dangerous to everyone for us to gather again.

I hope if you’re a mom that you had a lovely Mother’s Day and got to connect with your family one way or another.

We had a quiet day, which is nice, but I’m gearing up for about a month and a half of crazy-busy at the day-job again, so a little down-time now is a really good thing. A couple weeks into the crazy, I’ll be thrilled to get a few minutes of actual quiet and calm.

Before I go try to get in some reading time, I have a little story snippet for you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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

“I think I have a plan.”

Her heart thudded harder. “A plan?” For the amulet, or her?

“Yes. My cousin will only be delayed a day or so at most before he comes back.”

Her lungs worked a little faster.

“How well do you know your mountain?”

“Like the back of my hand.” Which was why she would have been able to hide from him two days ago without any problem, had her body cooperated.

“Is there somewhere we can go he won’t be able to track us?”

“We?”

“You’re going nowhere without me, Andrea.”

That was a problem. “There are a few places.” Including her cave behind the waterfall. But she didn’t think taking the Harvester there was really in her best interest.

“Somewhere protected?”

“Yes.” The cave definitely qualified.

He sat up, braced himself on one hand beside her shoulder. “How long will it take to get there from here?”

“Hiking?” She considered for a moment. If she took him the roundabout way, she could wear him out and lose him. Maybe. “A day.”

He inhaled deeply, and she imagined him pondering the idea. When he exhaled, he touched her temple, just brushing the edge of the sleep mask. “Are you safe now?”

She nodded, wishing just for a second that it wasn’t true.

His strong fingers eased the mask up and off, and she rubbed her eyes, blinking against the bright morning light. He helped her to an upright position. “We need supplies if this location will take us a day to hike to.”

Andi gave him a long stare, panic making her pulse race. What if she couldn’t lose him in the woods? “I have some things in the basement,” she said at last. “Water and food.” Also true.

He nodded, gaze fixed on hers, and she realized she must be a mess. Self-consciously, she lifted one hand to smooth down her hair. A hint of a smile touched one corner of his mouth, making her blush. “Why don’t you shower, and I’ll start a list. We should head out tomorrow at first light.”

Andi looked away and eased out of bed. She gathered clean clothes from her dresser and headed for the bathroom. Behind her, the Harvester still sat in bed, his bare chest visible over blankets that had fallen to his waist. She wondered if he was naked under her covers.

She shouldn’t care.

The bathroom had been straightened up again, she realized as she stripped off her sweats. Her vibrator was nowhere in sight, clean towels hung on the bar, and her hot water bottle lay empty on the sink.

How very thoughtful.

Her mouth twisted and she climbed into the shower, then slid the door shut harder than she needed to. When the water came on, she made it hotter than it needed to be too, to distract herself from how nice he was being. “Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly,” she muttered, soaping up her hands before sliding them along her arms, her torso.

The Harvester could be as nice as he wanted, as sexy as he wanted. But she wouldn’t forget why he was here.

She lifted her face into the spray, then turned so her head was soaked next.

Either she would escape him in her woods, or die trying.

Not much as far as plans went, but it was all she had at the moment.

After her shower, she didn’t protest the cuff he put on her to keep her in the bedroom while he got his own shower, which was considerably quicker than hers had been. And he’d left her his list to look at while she waited.

Water. Check.

Food. Check.

Camping supplies. She chewed on her lower lip for a few seconds. In the cave she had more than enough, but she didn’t really intend for him to get there with her. Perhaps he had some of his own in the backpack downstairs. But the pack wasn’t that big. No, he didn’t have those supplies.

“What are you thinking?” He stepped into the room, his inky hair gleaming blue-black and wet as he dragged his fingers through it.

She forced her gaze away from his hair and back to the pad on her knees. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a long trek.”

“You’re up to it, right?” Concern darkened his green eyes.

“I’ll be fine.” She’d get to her cave if she had to crawl there.

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

I am hoping to have this book back out in the world later this year, followed by the other two stories in the trilogy. In fact, I have a stack of pages from the second book, Protecting Medusa, on my desk right now, waiting for me to continue working on revisions. I think I may work on that for a while before I pick up my book to do some relaxation reading before I call it a day, early tonight.

And if you’re looking for a quick, light read while you’re safely at home, Light the Way Home is available at all your favorite booksellers.

I hope you all have a great week!

 

( Young woman reading book – Depositphotos )

I think right now, there is probably a lot of this going on, sitting somewhere comfy with a good book and a hot drink. Reading is a good way to get away from all the bad news around us right now, an excellent distraction from worry. For some of us, it’s the writing of those books that helps us to think about something else, something positive for a while.

For a lot of people, today would be a day for their religious celebrations and family time. For us, it is just a family day, so I’m missing seeing the boys for dinner. Some of the other people in our neighborhood don’t seem to care that it’s not a time for company or visiting, but for stopping the spread of this virus, and are just doing what they would normally do. It’s frustrating, because that behavior will just have us all stuck at home for even longer.

But my husband and I will still eat well today. I have veggies roasting right now that smell amazing, and we’ll throw some fish and sausage on the grill in a little while. And then I’ll go back to work on revisions for Medusa #2, Protecting Medusa.

Before I go back to dinner prep, I have a little snippet of story for you from Light the Way Home which is available now from all your favorite booksellers.

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

Nate set the juice glass down and crossed the floor to where she stood. “I need to know,” he said, bending to catch her soft mouth with his.

She made a startled sound, then set both of her hands flat on his chest, her lips parting.

He’d been right. She tasted sweet. He slid one hand into her loose hair, ignoring the slight dampness to tip her head so he could delve deeper.

She let him. God, she let him.

He pulled back, his heart knocking hard against his ribs. Lucie’s eyes opened slowly, and he noted the way they had darkened. “Tell me I’m being stupid.”

“Maybe we both are,” she said huskily, a faint smile curving her puffy lips. “I haven’t been stupid in a long time, and right now, I have no idea why.”

“Shit.” He dragged in a rough breath. “One of us should be smart, right?”

She shook her head. “I’m tired of being the smart one.” Her fingers slid up to his shoulders, cautiously, warm through his cotton shirt. “Being the smart one got me dumped with no warning, being smart left me jobless.” Her smile widened. “Though that got me here, so that’s something.”

Nate’s fingers tightened on her hip. When had he grabbed her hip? He loosened his grasp. “You’re not staying, so it wouldn’t be smart for us to do this. I’m not looking for a relationship. I have all I can handle with Hayden and my business.”

“Then this might be just exactly what we both need. Something temporary.” Her eyes rounded, and her smile faded. “I’ve never tried temporary until I came here.”

He’d never tried it. Not knowingly, anyway. “Maybe…” He broke off at the sound of running footsteps upstairs. “Slow down, buddy.”

Lucie startled, then stepped away, blushing.

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

So, instead of your usual Easter Sunday activities, what are you doing today? And what does the week ahead look like for you? I’ll be continuing my work-from-home for the day-job, and will keep plugging away at these revisions.

And if you are looking for a quick, light read and you haven’t picked up a copy yet, maybe you want to check out Light the Way Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Silhouette of kissing couple – Depositphotos )

We’ve had a couple of crazy weeks at the day-job, and it occurred to a few of us the other day that we go a long stretch from the end of year holidays (Thanksgiving/Yule/Christmas/New Year) until there is another ‘day off’ holiday. Not that there aren’t holidays–Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day–just that they don’t get work holidays. Our next one is Memorial Day. It’s a long stretch from January 1st until May 25th. I’m kind of glad I have vacation time to fit in all year long, though I’m still going from my long weekend last month until the end of March before my next long weekend. I didn’t plan that well, did I?

This week is Valentine’s Day, the holiday for romance. I have a couple of fun gifts for my husband, things he will appreciate (I hope), because they involve hobbies he enjoys. We won’t be out joining the other people cramming restaurants Friday evening, we don’t necessarily need to do that anymore. Honestly, this is grocery week, so that’s where I will be heading right after work on Friday, before I go home. But we do other things for one another that are more meaningful than a once-a-year holiday. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate a good Valentine’s Day box of chocolate, because I absolutely do–my husband knows where my favorite candy-maker is locally. I’m just saying that after so many years together, there are everyday things that are just as important.

I’m about to go work on some novella things, but I have a snippet of my fifth shifter story for you first.

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

Piper realized she was staring and dragged her gaze away from Joe’s wide chest, back to the book on her lap, flushing hotly. Holy shit.

He cleared his throat. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here.”

“It’s your house,” she mumbled. She heard a soft sound and hoped it was his shirt going on.

“And you’re a guest here.” He cleared his throat again.

She dared a peek and found him watching her, hands in the pockets of his low-slung jeans, a faded blue t-shirt stretched over his chest. “Don’t be silly. You should be able to do as you like in your own house. And we’re only here for a few more days.”

He exhaled roughly. “Really?”

“I spoke to someone this afternoon at a complex in Auburndale, near the office. They have a vacancy.”

“I’ll go with you to look at it.”

She frowned. “That isn’t necessary.”

His mouth flattened. “It is. Is it a shifter complex?”

Piper narrowed her eyes at him. “That doesn’t matter.”

Irritation sparked in his eyes. “It matters, Piper. You can’t take your child somewhere that’s not secure.”

She clamped her jaw shut. Telling him to butt out of her business would be stupid at this point. Without his concern, she’d be scrambling to feed Keely on tips and less than minimum wage hours at a seedy, dive diner. She forced herself to take a slow breath.

Joe sat on the low table in front of her, and she noted the softening of his mouth. “I just want to be sure you two are okay.”

“Why?” She blinked. She hadn’t meant to ask that.

“Because you don’t have anyone else to do it.”

She looked away, stung.

He touched her knee, and she slanted a wary glance at him. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Like I wouldn’t do it otherwise. If I’d realized sooner–”

Piper closed the book and got to her feet. “I’m not your responsibility, Joe. Not the annoying tag-along little sister.” She ignored the burn in her chest and turned away.

He caught her upper arm and swung her back as he stood. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Piper.”

She opened her own mouth to say…something. But she didn’t know what, and it didn’t matter–Joe kissed her. Kissed. Her. Hard, open-mouthed. For a second, she froze, and then realized she was kissing him back.

Stupid, Piper. 

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

What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Something romantic? Spontaneous? Casual?

 

 

 

 

( hands in form of heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, which means for the next two weeks, everything will be about pushing romance and gifts for your Valentine. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance and Valentine’s Day (and who doesn’t love a good gift?), but I feel like we should be doing this all year long? Not necessarily the gift part, but if you love someone, let them know, yes? Not just one day a year.

I’m not even talking about saying it constantly. How about some ‘actions speak louder than words’ behavior? A home-cooked meal, a ‘how was your day?’ and listening to the response, or even ‘be careful’ when the loved one is going somewhere. Yes, a gift wrapped in pretty paper is nice, but it isn’t everything.

My maternal grandparents were married for 46 years before my Grandma died, and my paternal grandparents were together 26 years before my Grandpa died. Longevity in romance is a beautiful thing. I never met my dad’s dad, but have heard stories about how much fun my grandparents had together. I knew my mom’s parents well, and they were inspiring. I never doubted that they loved one another, even if they were bickering. When I cleaned out the attic after my aunt died, I found very sweet notes in cards that my Pop-pop had written to my Grandma, reaffirming the affection we all witnessed as kids. That’s the sort of romance many people aspire to. It’s the sort of thing we love in our romance novels, even if we don’t necessarily believe that a gruff Alpha male is going to write love notes to the heroine of his story.

I’m not sure I’ve actually written a hero yet who would compose love notes to his heroine, but maybe I should put that on my to-do list. But for today, I’ll settle for wrapping up another round of revisions on this novella. Before I get to work on that, though, how about a story snippet from Hunting Medusa?

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

The sun sank faster behind his left shoulder. True to her word, Andrea had led him on a less meandering route away from their lunch stop, though at just as hasty a pace. Now, nearly two hours later, she was beginning to drag. Their travel this afternoon had led them along sheer rock faces, where they’d held on carefully to keep from tumbling down the mountainside, through thickets of close-set trees that blocked the sunlight, across clear, cool water winding its way down the mountain.

Now they were on fairly level ground, with only the faintest of trails to follow, and a stream tumbled over rocks far below them, its splashing faint from where they trekked. Ahead, Andrea’s pack still bobbed up and down with her steps, but he could see she was tiring. No, that wasn’t correct, he thought. She was exhausted, her shoulders drooping, her steps much slower, but she didn’t stop. She didn’t complain.

“Andrea.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him, and he could see the weariness in her eyes.

“We need to stop for the night.”

She shook her head. “He’s coming.”

He couldn’t deny it. “He isn’t going to get you.”

“Not if I keep moving.” She turned forward again.

He caught her backpack and forced her to stop. “Agaph, we need to rest.” He brushed one hand from her shoulder down her arm. “I won’t let him get you.”

Something flashed through her eyes, too fast for him to decipher, and she shook her head. “Not yet. The cave is only a little farther.”

He sighed as she swung away, trudging along. “How far?”

“Another mile or so.”

He frowned. In another mile, she’d be crawling. He walked faster for a moment, until he was on her heels. “Along the trail?”

She shook her head. “Behind the waterfall.”

He touched her swinging arm lightly. “Are you sure you can make it?”

She glared at him over her shoulder and kept going. Sped up for a few seconds before returning to her tired pace. “I can make it,” she said through gritted teeth.

Kallan smiled grimly. She was determined, his Medusa. Then he thought of the other hunter on their trail. He wouldn’t allow Stavros to have her. Andrea was his, and he’d protect her to the death.

As if she’d heard his musings, Andrea glanced back over her shoulder. “He won’t find the cave.”

He raised one eyebrow. If his cousin was really on their heels, he could find a cave.

“You couldn’t find it even with me, if I didn’t want you to. It’s protected.”

He pondered for several minutes as they walked, and then realized he could hear water that was louder than the stream below. The falls. “Can we go faster?” If Stavros had arrived early, he might already be in the forest, and on their trail. Kallan wanted to have her safely away before dark, when it would be harder for his cousin to track them. But he did wonder how the cave was protected exactly. That might prove problematic.

She squared her shoulders. “Of course.” She picked up her pace a little, and he smiled at her back.

Of course she could. She’d never admit weakness. Not to him. Not even to him. Maybe especially not to him.

Agaph.”

She stumbled, then righted herself, her wide, wary eyes turning back toward him.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Shock widened her eyes more. “What?”

He caught her upper arms. “I said I’m falling in love with you.”

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

Now I’m off to revise my (still title-less!) novella for the Common Elements Romance Project so I can get my book cover finished and my formatting set…so I can get you a release date!

What romantic inspirations do you have for this month?

 

 

( 2020 new year – Depositphotos )

Just a few days now until the new year starts. Are you all ready? It isn’t just a new year, but a whole new decade starts this week, so it seems like a bigger deal than just every other New Year’s Day, doesn’t it?

That said, I am still working on my writing goals for the year. I had second thoughts about my list last week, about what I think I can really accomplish in the new year, so I took another look at them and made some adjustments. My plan is to wrap those up today and reprint my bright goal sheets for my planner and my bulletin board. My other project for today is to whittle down my choices for my word of the year. I don’t think I’ll get the list down to one today, but I still have a couple of days to do that. Today I’ll be happy to get it into single digits.

So I can get back to new year plans, I have a little story snippet today from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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

She’d spent half the night staring up at the darkness and worrying that she’d chosen wrong. What if she’d imagined the interest? What if she’d just made a huge mistake?

Lucie had been at the kitchen table with the teapot for two hours already, and was contemplating heating water for more tea when the knock sounded at the back door at eight-thirty. Her breath caught. Time to face the music. She bundled her sweater tighter as she got to her feet and went to open the door.

“Hi, Lucie!” Hayden bounded into the room, dragging his teddy bear by one leg. “I had cereal for breakfast today. What did you eat?”

She smiled, turning to watch him even though she was aware of his father stepping into the house. “I didn’t have breakfast, just tea.”

The little boy frowned. “Grandma says breakfast is im…imp…important,” he said carefully. “You shoulda had some of my cereal.”

She stifled a chuckle. “Thanks, Hayden. I’ll make up for it later.”

Nate closed the door, and her urge to laugh vanished as she glanced back.

“Good morning.” She blushed.

His somber gaze locked on hers. “Good morning. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

She nodded. “Of course. We’ll be fine. I think we might bake cookies this morning. Or bread. Maybe both.” She shut her mouth to keep from chattering on stupidly.

The corner of his mouth twitched. “I’ll pop in when I finish staining these cabinets. You might be ready to get rid of him by then.”

She blinked.

“And maybe we could talk about last night,” he added in an undertone that made more heat rush to her face.

“Um…”

He grinned, and the dimple made her breath catch.

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

Are you still hashing out your 2020 goals, or are you ready for the new year to start?

 

( Photo on Trends Hype )

( family at feast – Depositphotos )

In the coming week or two, there will be lots of scenes like the one above all over the country and the world. We used to have large family holidays when I was growing up, with grandparents, sometimes aunts and uncles and cousins, too. Holidays are a lot easier for kids than for the adults, aren’t they? All the kids have to do is wait until the big day, though that seems interminable to a six-year-old, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas. Kids don’t see all the work leading up to the holiday, even if they “help” to decorate cookies. I remember cookie-baking days, and I’m sure we made even more work for my mom with our help decorating sand tarts and gingerbread men.

Over the years, our gatherings have grown smaller for holidays and birthdays. Siblings and cousins scatter for school and then jobs. Older family members are no longer with us. These days for holidays and birthdays, it is usually just the four of us. Small, cozy holidays are a lot different than long-ago holidays, but still a nice way to spend a day, with closest family gathered around the table for a good meal.

I have a little holiday snippet from my fourth tiger shifter story for you today.

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

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.

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

Now I have some eggnog cookies that need to be put into a cookie tin if the glaze has set, and some fudge that needs cut. Here’s hoping that your holidays this week, no matter which ones you celebrate, are wonderful and filled with family and friends you love. And I hope you all find a few moments of quiet to catch your breath, too!

 

( tea with Christmas Cookies – Depositphotos )

(Christmas Cookies – Depositphotos)

 

I should have gotten a lot more done this weekend. Except I’m currently trying to fight off some ick. I’ve been chugging tea all day, in hopes of making my throat feel better. It doesn’t. I had hot and sour soup for lunch. It didn’t help. I finally broke down and took some cold meds for the slight fever I had earlier in the afternoon.

I had big plans to figure out cookies to bake next weekend, and maybe start on the grocery list. Instead, what I’d really like to do is curl up in bed. If it was a different week, I might seriously consider taking off from the day-job, but we have a pretty busy couple of days coming up, so I’ll go to bed early tonight and medicate, and keep my germs to myself while we get through Tuesday. Then we’ll see.

I’m going to attempt to get something done this evening before my early bedtime, but before I do, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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

Andi realized before she opened her eyes that the Harvester was sleeping with his arm around her. It was why she was so warm.

She frowned and peered through her eyelashes. Early light shone in the window on the other side of the room. The last thing she remembered was racking her brain trying to figure out if the Harvester had any other special talents he hadn’t told her about besides the lock thing. Now she was beneath the sheet and blanket, and his body heat warmed the back of her even more.

She shifted slightly, and knew when he came fully awake.

“Good morning, Andrea.”

She didn’t answer, setting her jaw.

His fingers slid slowly over her belly as he withdrew his arm, and she ground her teeth against the surge of PMS-fueled desire, certain the caress was a deliberate tease. Not that she’d give in to her hormones again. Not with him.

“We have work to do today.”

She shut her eyes.

“I have something for you.”

Something soft brushed her cheek, and she realized it was the sleep mask. She jerked her head away.

“You did agree.” His tone was patient.

She glared at the dresser and watched a big gouge mark appear on the side.

“Ah, yes, definitely time for this.” He chuckled and slipped it over her head.

Andi kept her mouth shut, hoping she didn’t grind her molars to dust.

“Do you want to hear our plans for the day?”

She curled her fingers into a fist beneath the blankets, trying to tell herself it was best if she didn’t hit him again today. Not three days in a row.

“No? You’re not at all curious?” He adjusted the mask, then touched the short hair at her nape. “I have something I want you to see, but it will have to wait for a day or two now. Today, we’re going to figure out a place to go to avoid my cousin when he gets back from Ohio.”

She jerked her head in his direction before she could stop herself.

“Mm. Yes, it seems Cousin Stavros got orders from our great-uncle to follow my hot lead there instead of heading here to follow up on his own leads. That gives us a few days to decide what to do.”

She turned her head away again on the pillow, considering. She hadn’t actually seen the entire message he’d posted, just the part about being on her trail and that he would complete his assignment in the next few days. She hadn’t seen where he told them he was.

He patted her hip. “Come on. Time to get up.”

She sat up reluctantly, her mind awhirl. It was possible he had actually lied to his cousin. But why? Because he wanted the glory for himself? Because he wanted the amulet even more desperately? She couldn’t begin to guess at his reasoning.

His strong hands settled at her waist to lift her to her feet.

She stumbled, off-balance from her imposed blindness, and he steadied her against him.

She took a step back, bumping into the bed, and he chuckled.

“I don’t think you’ll make it down the stairs this way.”

“I’m fine,” she said stiffly, reaching out to push him away.

He flattened her hand on his chest so she could feel his strong heartbeat. “I meant with the handcuff.”

She clenched her jaw.

He undid the cuff, and she wondered idly if he’d used the key or his handy talent. Then he caught her wrist in his free hand and turned her.

She concentrated on getting out of the room without crashing into anything. Or into him. She made it down the stairs without incident, then sat when he gave her a gentle nudge into a chair at the kitchen table.

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Your obituary.”

He was silent for a few seconds, and she smiled, childishly pleased with herself.

“For a woman who’s just missed out on what was bound to be a very unpleasant encounter with Stavros, you don’t sound very grateful,” he said at last.

“One Harvester or another.” She shrugged.

His silence this time was more protracted, and tension filled the room.

She realized he may not just be thinking of his task, but of what had occurred between them already. She felt heat in her cheeks, suddenly grateful he was behind her.

Eventually, she heard him moving on the other side of the island, and she relaxed a little. Her belly twinged, and she stifled a sigh. Right on time. She stood up.

“Where are you going?”

“Bathroom.” She felt her way to the end of the table, mentally reviewing the space ahead of her. About fifteen steps to the half bath between the kitchen and living room, and no furniture in her path.

He didn’t argue, but his footsteps came nearer, and then his fingers caught her wrist.

“I can get there on my own.”

“I’m sure you can.” Nonetheless he guided her along the short hallway. “I’d hate for you to bump into anything and bruise yourself.” He released her at the doorway.

Andi didn’t flip him off as her first instinct suggested, but instead went into the smaller room and closed the door firmly—she hoped right in his face. She flipped the sleep mask up and glanced at her reflection in the mirror over the sink. Her spiky hair would have to wait. Right on cue, another cramp made her flatten one hand low on her belly.

A few minutes later—some aspirin washed down with a little water and her hair finger-combed—she hesitated for a few seconds, then tugged the sleep mask back down and fumbled for the doorknob. He might not still be standing outside the door, so if she walked back to the kitchen without the mask, he’d have time to turn away before she could do any damage to him. And he had held up his part of their bargain last night by producing the scissors she wanted.

Kallan met her at the door and guided her back to the table. “Do you need anything else?”

“The couch and a heating pad in about half an hour.” She sat. If he intended to wait on her, then he could really wait on her.

One of his hands brushed over the top of her head as he moved away. “I’ll see what I can do about that.”

She frowned. “And stop touching me.”

He muttered something she couldn’t quite hear, then banged a pan onto the stovetop.

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

Our nearly-19-year-old kitty seems to be having some issues, too, today. We could use some good thoughts while we wait for the vet to come take a look at her tomorrow.

Did you get everything done this weekend that you wanted? Or did you have other things get in your way? Have a good week!

 

 

 

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!