Category: Inspiration


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.

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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?

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Joe set his jaw and nodded once, turning away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sorry, Joe.”

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

Her chest hurt. “I didn’t mean that.”

He shrugged, examining his knuckles.

“Look at me please,” she whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Piper.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vintage pitcher of lemonade – Depositphotos

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

 

( Vintage pitcher of lemonade )

It feels like summer here this weekend, and I am not happy about that. Not at all, especially since our spring so far has consisted mostly of rain, rain, and more rain, with some chilly days in between. I’m not surprised, this is, after all, Pennsylvania, but I am disappointed. And worried this year will be like last year, with record rain (we’re already ahead of last year in this neck of the woods with precipitation), and hot weather in between. None of us enjoyed last summer, except maybe the water birds that live around the pond near my day-job office. This weekend has been even more unbearable, because we’re waiting for a new motor for our central air conditioning unit, so the inside temp right now is 84 degrees (down from 86 earlier when it was 89 outside). It’s actually a few degrees cooler outside since clouds started bubbling up. I was hoping for a good, cooling thunderstorm, but it doesn’t seem like I’m getting that wish granted. Sleeping will be a challenge tonight.

The good news is that by the time it gets this warm again next weekend, the new a/c motor will be installed and I can stay comfortable while I write. Or, rather, I can stay comfortable while I write after getting home from some day-job OT. And I will definitely appreciate the a/c being functional. I don’t know how my sister puts up with the hot and humid weather down South where she lives.

Right now, I’m taking a short break from writing, but am getting ready to dive back in. Before I go, I have a little snippet of story to share with you from my fifth shifter manuscript.

_________________

Piper swallowed hard as she nodded. “Thank you,” she managed. She got to her feet and pretended not to notice the slight hesitation before the older woman shook her outstretched hand.

She walked out of the office, listening to the panicked beat of her pulse in her ears. No job, no rent, no food, no prospects. She ducked out of the cold, misty rain under the battered metal awning of a café and took a slow breath.

She’d be fine. She would find something. Soon. She took another deep breath and let it slowly out. Some of her panic dissipated. Or she could pretend it had. She tucked her coat tighter under her chin, then paused when the faded orange and black window sign caught her eye.

Help wanted. She looked inside the dusty window, into the dingy restaurant. She’d never waited tables before, but if it meant Keely had a roof over her head and food to eat, Piper could do anything.

Gathering her nerve, she pushed the door open. Pocked linoleum squeaked under her wet shoes, and she looked around. It was worse than it had appeared from outside–peeling vinyl stools at the old-fashioned counter and orange bench seats even more faded than the window sign bracketed the booths along the wall.

An older woman emerged from a dented silver swinging door, balancing two plates and a coffee pot. “Sit anywhere. I’ll be with you in a second,” she said as she hustled past.

Piper opened her mouth to speak, then shut it. Instead, she perched on the edge of the first stool at the counter, heart drumming against her ribs.

The other woman breezed to a stop beside her a few seconds later. “What can I get you?”

“I saw the sign in the window.”

The waitress’s eyebrows went up. “Really?” She studied Piper for a moment. “Well, Dave won’t be in till Friday. You’ll have to come back then.”

Two days. “Okay,” she said. “What time will he be in?”

The waitress’s mouth thinned a little. “Probably not till after the breakfast rush. You wait tables before?”

“No, but I learn fast.”

The other woman’s gaze slid over her again, slower, before landing on her face. “It’s part time, pay’s shit.” Sympathy softened her tone as she named a figure.

Piper tried to hide her dismay at the low number. “I need the job,” she whispered.

“Then come back Friday to see Dave.” She patted Piper’s arm and disappeared into the kitchen again.

Piper pushed to her feet and straightened her shoulders. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d had a job she didn’t like, but she’d do just about anything to keep food in her daughter’s belly and a roof over her head. Waiting tables in a crummy diner wasn’t the worst possibility.

“Hey, hon!”

She turned back from the door to face the waitress, who held out a brown paper lunch bag. “Oh, but–”

“Take it.” The older woman smiled a little. “I hope you find something better.”

Piper’s eyes burned as she took the warm bag. “Thank you.”

The waitress patted her arm again. “It’s nothin’. Eat it while it’s hot.” She bustled away to a table crowded with several old men.

Piper cradled the bag to her chest and went out into the chilly mist again, before she started to cry. She hadn’t done that in a long time, and she didn’t have time now for the indulgence. Instead she inhaled the scent of meatloaf and spices from the bag and straightened her spine. She had to find a job.

By the time she trudged up the cracked cement steps of her apartment building two hours later, the bag was cold, and so were her fingers and nose. No respectable shifter business would hire her, thanks to her stupid brother, and none of the human businesses she’d ventured into were interested in her either.

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Funny how that is story #5 when I started out planning only 3, and this one was supposed to be the third. Anyway, I’m back to my other project while I hope the thunder starting to rumble nearby is bringing a good breeze to cool things down. And, failing that, maybe have a little ice cream.

( Close up of ice cream – Depositphotos )

 

 

( 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.

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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!

 

 

 

That is my goal for the week, to be writing if I’m not working. I need to make some better progress toward my writing goals for this year, so I’m putting it out there into the world so I have to be more accountable to someone besides myself.

I need to wrap up this novella this week, one way or another. And come up with a title, which I am terrible at. I do think I’ve found the cover art, though, so at least that’s something. And I’m using the pic below as inspiration to get to ‘The End’ this week.

 

( Romantic couple at sunset – Depositphotos )

Before I get back to work, how about a little snippet of story? Maybe from something else I’m behind on, like my third shifter story?

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The drive from the office to Baron’s school took fifteen minutes on a good day, so on a busy Friday afternoon, it took twenty-seven. Not counting the three additional minutes it took to find a place to park.

He climbed out of the car and waited until a shiny mini-van sped by with no regard for the other parents and children in the parking lot before he crossed, weaving around parents leading their children out–parents who had taken into account the Friday traffic and arrived early. He checked in at the security gate, and then entered the school grounds. Pandemonium. Children running around, shouting, laughing, parents calling for their kids, teachers attempting to corral some rowdies.

Knowing his son, he wouldn’t have hurried out in the first rush. Baron dawdled.

A screech to his left had him turning in time to see a little red-haired girl leap onto her father’s back.

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

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

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

And it was just about the right size…

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

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

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

Not a chance.

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

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

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So what are you working on this week, that you need some additional motivation or accountability to complete? Let me know, and I can cheer you on, too.

( Dream Plan Work Make it Happen – Depositphotos )

 

 

My three-day-weekend is wrapping up with solo writing time, the same way it started on Thursday evening only with my monthly writing group. Mother Nature didn’t like my Friday plans to move peonies, so my boys dug them up for me while I was having dinner and writing with friends, which gave us a head-start on Saturday’s excavation project. Now there is a pot of peonies on my side porch, with the pussy willows I’ve been rooting since I clipped them last month. Now I’m working on white lilacs from my aunt’s lilac bush. I also picked up a couple more shrubs to add to the back of the yard, a forsythia and a Scotch broom. I used to have one at our old house, and I loved it. I didn’t actually intend to pick up shrubs the other day when I stopped at the nursery, just the potting soil and root solution. But I thought, well, why not look while I’m here and get some ideas? Then I discovered the shrubs were on sale. What could I do? I still have some butterfly bushes to add to the collection, but that can wait for now. Our shrub garden across the back of the yard will have things blooming from early in the season all the way through the summer, which is going to be much nicer to look at than the neighbors.

We did have a productive day at the boys’ yesterday, getting the raised bed behind the garage pulled out and leveled. I think the next project there will be the new patio, and then furniture shopping for a table set for eating out when the weather is nice. And since the boys took care of my peony project Thursday night, that left Friday for errands for me, which meant writing time today. Not a bad end to the weekend, though of course now I want more writing time. I guess I might need to schedule another long weekend, maybe one without two-plus days of projects so there’s more time for writing.

I’m going to go get a little more writing done before I call it a night, so I can be ready to go back to the day-job in the morning, but I have a little story snippet to share with you from the novella that I will be releasing later this year as part of the Common Elements Romance Project.

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Lucie didn’t argue when Nate refused her help with the dishes. Her insides were still shaky from the realization that he was attracted to her.

“I’ll see you in the mornin’, Lucie!” Hayden shouted, hopping on one foot.

She smiled as she put her sweater on. “Yes, you will, buddy.” They’d already decided that Hayden would join her after breakfast so Nate could cram in a few hours of work before he headed to the hospital to see his dad and try to get his mother to come home to sleep in her own bed rather than the less-than-ideal pull-out chair-bed in his dad’s hospital room.

She wasn’t sure that was a battle he would win, but she could absolutely understand his concern.

Hayden gave her a quick hug and then ran back to his book in the living room.

“I really do appreciate this, Lucie,” Nate said from where he stood at the sink.

“It’s nothing, Nate,” she said lightly. “Keeps me from having to spend endless hours on the job search sites and getting more depressed than I already am.” She kept her head down as she buttoned her sweater up to her chin.

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone made her look up, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his green eyes made her curl her fingers around the edges of her sweater to keep from reaching out.

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help, or needing it, for that matter.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit, hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, she was in trouble. She took a slow breath. “I’ll see you in the morning then.” She inched toward the door.

A hint of awareness darkened his eyes, but he stayed where he was. “Good night, Lucie.”

She took two more steps and cleared the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard his footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled around. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, and there was no disguising the desire in his eyes this time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she felt a quick rush of excitement that she tried to squash as he stepped into the mud room. She held her breath as he took another step. One more. Until he stood a foot away from her, and her breath rushed out.

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I’m aiming to get back to daily writing this week. Wish me luck! What are you working on this week, a new goal or an ongoing goal? I’d love to cheer you on.

 

 

 

( 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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

 

( 2019 goals banner )

Usually I wait until mid-year to start thinking about whether or not I need to rearrange or rethink my writing goals for the year. Or, occasionally, if there are major life issues going on, I might do it earlier, like last year. Right now, it’s the day-job craziness that has me looking at my goals for the year. We’ve been short-handed for a while now at work, plus the normal schedule is busy. Right now, it’s insanely busy, and my brain is fried, so there hasn’t been much writing going on lately. Which means I need to take a long look at my goals for the year and figure out what is still doable.

We are supposed to be getting some help in two weeks, but the schedule there isn’t going to change, it’ll just be that the work is redistributed a tad. It will be nice to go back to having just my regular workload again, because my brain will be a little more functional for other things. Until then, though, we just suck it up and get the work done.

Speaking of work, the yard work continues. The peonies I want to move at my grandparents’ house are finally coming up so I can see where they are, so now I have my work cut out for me once we get through the next two weeks at the day-job: moving two clumps of peonies to new beds there, and bringing another home with me to plant here. There might even be another small clump for the neighbor who also loves them. I’ll dig up and move some of the daffodils, too, and then the flower bed behind the garage will go away to make way for a parking spot and a bit more lawn.

I think the peonies I bring home will become part of the new border we’re planning at the back of our yard. The power company cut down a giant tree from the neighbor’s yard behind us, and now we can see for a couple of blocks from the windows on the back of our house. Not cool. Plus all the birds and other critters who made their homes in that tree have gone away, which makes me unhappy. So we have plans to put in some flowering shrubs along the back of the yard to make the view better again, and to give the birds new homes. I took some cuttings from the giant pussy willow bush at my grandparents’ house–which originally came from the house we lived in when the boys were small–and have been working on rooting them so I can include them in the border. I’ll put some butterfly bushes in, and a forsythia, and (after it gets done blooming next month) move my lilac bush. Probably a few other things, too, but we haven’t decided on those yet.

Anyway, I am going to try to get some sleep before starting another very long week (6 straight days ahead!). I’ll have a story snippet for you next week. Are any of you resetting your goals for the year yet?

 

 

It felt much more like spring the past two days, but we have some of that April rain coming this week that means we will hopefully have more flowers on the way, too. My lilac has a lot of buds on it, and my wild lilies are poking their heads up through the mulch, too.

And I’ve been busy at the day-job again. I got a little bit of writing in today, which makes me happy, though it will probably be the last I get in until next weekend. Unless there is overtime necessary again, which might mean no new words on pages for a few more days after that. But I’m going to hope that isn’t the case.

In the meantime, I have a quick story snippet to share with you from my first tiger shifter story.

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He hadn’t imagined the evening would end in a fight. Harley stared at the door that had nearly taken off his nose ten seconds ago as she slammed it in his face–and then locked it for good measure.

It was probably a good thing the other bedrooms along the hallway were empty tonight, or he’d never hear the end of this.

He tapped lightly on the door. “Tessa?”

Complete silence.

He strained to hear any movement, but the same soundproofing that allowed him to make her scream in pleasure prevented him from hearing her moving around, so she’d evidently moved away from the door already.

“Honey, I’m sorry I acted like an ass.” He leaned against the wall beside the door.

Still nothing.

“You know I’m not going anywhere, right? I could kick the door open, but then everyone else will be able to hear and see everything until I fix it, so I won’t do that. But I’m going to stay right here until you let me apologize to your face. And won’t that be fun when everyone else gets home.”

The silence was making his chest hurt.

He put his back against the door and sank to the floor. “You looked gorgeous in that dress. I shouldn’t have gone all caveman.”

The lock snicked behind his head, and he barely sat up in time to avoid falling backward when Tessa yanked the door open. He twisted to look up at her over his shoulder.

She was pale but dry-eyed. “Go to bed, Harley. I can’t sleep with you out here talking.”

She was still in the pretty dress, though she’d taken off her sandals, so clearly, she hadn’t been attempting to sleep yet. “I don’t want to go to bed.” Not alone. “I want to apologize to you.”

She glared at him. “You want sex.”

Ouch. “With you? Always. But that’s not what I’m talking about.” He shoved to his feet and turned to fully face her.”

She took two steps backward, and he froze. “I shouldn’t have acted like that earlier. You’re not my possession. But I didn’t like Alec flirting with you. It was all I could do not to cut in when you were dancing with Dad, and I know nothing’s going on there.”

Her expression turned wary.

“I want you, Tessa. I won’t lie about that. I’ve never been jealous over a woman before, and I’m not sure of the rules here. This is new territory for me.”

She glanced away, blinking, her eyes glittering.

“Honey, I’m not trying to make you cry.” He hesitated, then lifted one hand to brush her arm.

She stepped into him, sliding her hands around his waist, and hid her face against his throat.

Harley gathered her close, his pulse erratic. “I’m sorry, honey. Don’t cry.”

“I’m not.”

Of course she was. His shirt grew damp under her face. He felt even worse. He’d never realized just how complicated a serious relationship would be, how tricky the steps.

But he wasn’t letting her go.

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Has spring gotten to where you are yet? If it has, are you getting a little free time to enjoy it?