Category: Writing life


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

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

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

________________

Laney looked like she might cry.

Anton tamped down the urge to smile.

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

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

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

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

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

“Perfect,” Lareina said firmly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She swallowed. “But I’m–”

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

She clamped her teeth on her lower lip.

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

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

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

She nodded once, swallowing.

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

 

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

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

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

________________

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

She blushed.

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

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

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

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

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

But she thought she might like it if he did.

“Are you tired?”

She thought about it. “Yes. And no.”

His lips curved slightly. “Really?”

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

He tilted his head. “For what?”

“For reminding me who I am here.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Andrea.”

She smiled. “Yes, Kallan?”

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

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

His breathing went ragged.

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

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

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

Agaph,” he rasped against her lips.

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

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

________________

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

So here is what is going to happen:

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

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

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

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

________________

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

“Your nephew is dead, Aristotle.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Goddess was gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

This past week has been a doozy. My little world has been just fine, exactly what I expected when I wrote here last weekend, busy at the beginning, with a little more breathing room toward the end, but the bigger world has been filled with all sorts of terrible news this week. Because I could use something upbeat, I thought others must need the same thing. So today, I’ve got a few happy pictures to share with you.

( Photo on Foter.com )

 

The ocean makes me happy, and I know some of my friends are happiest at the beach, too.

( Photo on Foter.com )

 

Tulips make me happy, too. They’re actually my favorite flower, and I carried pink tulips when I got married.

( Photo on Foter.com )

And pets make many of us happy, too.

( Photo by sayamindu on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

Right now, I’m happy that my family is safe and healthy, and that we have safe homes and good food to eat, jobs to pay for those things. I am also happy that I can write, and that I can share some of that with you, this week 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.

“What have you found?” she asked instead, keeping herself upright instead of relaxing further.

“Not a cursed thing.”

She blinked. She hadn’t really expected he’d tell her, but the resignation in his tone told her his reply was the truth. She inhaled unsteadily. “I guess you have to make up your mind then. You or me.”

“There has to be something else.” He sounded frustrated now, as if he were gritting his teeth, and his grip on her tightened marginally.

Andi shut her eyes. No matter how torn he seemed to be about his destined tasks, she had no doubt he’d do them eventually. And if not, she’d do what the Medusas had been doing for millennia and eliminate the threat to her. That was her destiny.

________________

Now, before I get back to some writing, I’m going to do something else that makes me happy–I have potatoes cooking to go with my fish for supper. Potatoes make me very happy, I could eat them every day.

I would love to know some things that make all of you happy. Maybe we can keep each other happy this week in a world that seems determined to do the opposite to us. What do you rely on to make you happy when you’re sad?

 

 

I am back from the New Jersey Romance Writers conference, full of ideas and inspiration, and so happy to have spent time with friends I haven’t seen in too long. Plus I’ve made a few new friends, too!

I have a longer to-do list in preparation for getting my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy out into the world, thanks to an indie publishing session I went to yesterday, and notes from other workshops that I want to go back to after I get through the next couple of crazy days at the day-job. I can’t wait to dive back into my shifters (hence the pretty tiger above). I’m also looking forward to listening to the recordings of sessions that happened simultaneously with some I attended (it would have been a very good weekend to have clones!), so I can see what I missed in the other panels. And I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference so I can see my long-distance friends again, though I hope that I’ll see some of them between now and then.

Besides the wonderful conference this weekend, it finally feels like fall here, so I am really a happy camper now.

Before I try to get myself ready for the day-job again, I have a little snippet of the novella I’m working on for release next November to share with you.

________________

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

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. She caught it before it hit her in the face and started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

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

“I think you lost something,” she said.

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

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled back and got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad butt.

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe you wanna play with me.”

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

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

________________

Now I have to get back to reality for a few days. How is your October looking this week?

 

( Photo by katerha on Foter.com / CC BY )

Finally! It finally feels like fall here in Pennsylvania the last few days, and I’m so happy about that. Even better, it looks like the fall weather is going to stick around all week. That will certainly make it easier for me to pack for the New Jersey Romance Writers conference later this week.

I’ve been taking a harder look at my first couple of shifter stories, and how I need to tighten up the over-reaching conflict for the series.  Going to have to do some more rewriting. It will make the stories better, and it’s a definite pitfall of being a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, rather than a plotter. My brain just doesn’t work that way, and I’ve tried more than once to plot out my stories.  I guess the good news is the only deadline I had for wrapping these up was my own, and not a publisher’s deadline. (Though I would rather have the publisher’s deadline, because I work better with real deadlines!)

Anyway, I will be spending some time working on making this series conflict stronger, but not until after I get back from the conference. We have an insanely busy week coming up at the day-job, and I’ll be out of the office for the conference for two of those five days. I’ll do my best not to feel guilty about that, but I am absolutely going to have a great time at the conference and attend some workshops bound to get my creative juices flowing. There is one on my must-list about self-publishing that will come in handy for my Medusa trilogy.

I’m also looking at my goals for this year with an eye to revising them (yes, again). There are some that are just not doable in the next two and a half months, but some things I can still accomplish that will put me closer to making more of my goals next year. Yes, I do start thinking about goals for the new year this early. I had a good chat with a writing friend yesterday that made me take a fresh look at some of my goals for the future, and I’m sure a few of the workshops on my list for this weekend will also give me ideas for refining and adjusting my goals, too.

( Photo by Glen Bowman on Foter.com / CC BY )

Before I go back to my notes for my shifter series, I have a little story snippet to share with you.

________________

India closed the file full of wedding pictures on her laptop and set the computer aside. Tessa and Harley had sent the rough shots as soon as they arrived from the photographer. Dozens of them, including one of her looking wistfully at her brother and new sister-in-law. She pushed to her feet and paced to the window.

Sighing, she reached up with one hand to unclip her hair from the neat twist she usually wore for work. That alleviated a tiny bit of the pressure in her head, but the rest was internal. She tossed the clip onto her desk and used both hands to rub at the base of her skull.

It had been a long week. Her uncle Adar had stormed into her office early Monday morning, growling about her treatment of his shiny new wife at the wedding reception, then a report she’d sent to Boris’s secretary had gone missing before lunchtime, and things had gone downhill from there.

Her only consolation right now was that she had one day left till the weekend. Of course, next week, she’d be stuck in Shifter Alliance Conference meetings in New York City all week. She stared down at the traffic and pedestrians on the street below, resting her forehead against the window. If she were going to New York to shop, that would be one thing, but with the conference schedule, she wouldn’t have time to wander the city on the hunt for any fabulous shopping opportunities or bargains.

She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. Work. She needed a vacation. Somewhere on a beach, with room service.

She straightened and returned to her desk. She needed to get through next week before she could think about time off. And right now, there was a scheduling report on her computer–she should have been looking at that instead of Harley and Tessa’s wedding pictures, since the report was due this afternoon.

She leaned forward in her chair and turned the computer back around, tapping the keys to bring up the report again. Rubbing her temple to ease the ache in her head, it took her a few minutes to refocus her attention on the screen. Work.

An hour later, she’d nearly finished compiling the report, when India felt eyes on her, making the fine hairs at the back of her neck prickle. She looked up, frowning. No one. She tapped her fingers on the desktop, shifting her gaze to the window.

And then she saw him, standing at the window across the street.

Her heart leaped into high gear, and she tried to slow it down, tried to convince herself it was just her imagination, just a little wishful thinking left over from the weekend. Her imagination.

Even though she knew it wasn’t.

Rory was here.

Heat flashed through her, molten, and left her shivering. If she tried to leave the office, her legs would never hold her.

She couldn’t see his face clearly from here, but she didn’t need to. She knew it almost as well as her own, even after all this time.

She shut her eyes and turned back to her desk.

Her phone rang, and she nearly jumped out of her chair. Laughing at herself, she picked it up. “Hello?”

“Hello, a rúnsearc.” The lilting Irish accent teased her ear, familiar, sexy.

She went still, except for her racing heart. “What do you want?” The question came out hoarse, but she couldn’t help it. Her imagination went wild. Memories, good and bad, flooded through her.

He chuckled, and arousal stirred in her belly, spreading outward. She knew what he wanted. “Have dinner with me,” he said after a second.

“No.” She was a little surprised she’d managed to sound like she meant that.

“You’d really make me wait until the meeting next week to have a meal together?”

India shut her eyes. He would be there. Dear Gods.

“India, a rúnsearc?”

“Why are you here?” She should have just repeated her refusal and hung up.

“Why do you think?”

To torture her, obviously. Every part of her wanted to go to him, even now. “Because you’re a glutton for punishment,” she muttered.

He laughed again. “For you? Of course.”

She’d meant herself, and she flushed, trying to ignore the slow, thick trickle of heat in her veins, the building throb in her belly.

“But the pleasure is so much better,” he whispered.

A moan tried to climb her throat, and she covered her mouth with her free hand to contain it.

“I know you remember, too. How good.”

His words had every part of her body on high alert. Of course she remembered.

“Have dinner with me. Please.”

“When?” She’d meant to say ‘no’ again. Really.

________________

I was on the verge of saying how much I love Rory, but then I realized I said the same thing about Harley. I meant it, too, about both of them. It’s true, I love them both, and all of the other heroes in my shifter series. Someday, I hope readers will feel the same way.

Now I’m going back to work, and I’m going to enjoy my fall weather all week long. I hope you all do the same!

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

 

 

( Photo by Kate#2112 on Foter.com / CC BY )

It looks like fall outside, with leaves falling and changing colors, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It was almost 90 degrees here today. I’m really ready for fall.

Things have been hectic since my vacation ended, and I’m already ready for my next time off–I have a conference to go to in less than two weeks, and will have a four-day weekend for that (which will be right in the middle of another crazy-busy week at the day-job, naturally).  I also didn’t get to see my sister due to an unavoidable change to her travel plans, so I’m bummed about that. Next trip, I suppose.

The good news right now is the extended weather forecast tells me it will actually feel like fall by the end of the week. I might get to wear long sleeves finally, not just in the office where the thermostat is set on Arctic-blast and we wear sweaters most of the year. That will help me figure out my conference packing, too. Of course, conference rooms are notoriously chilly, too, so sweaters will definitely be on the packing list.

I have to narrow down my workshop wish-list, too. There are a couple of blocks when there are 4-5 great workshops all at the same time, and I’ll have to figure out which 1 is an absolute must and then maybe get recordings of the others afterward so I can still listen to them. One of the best parts of the conference will be seeing writing friends (and hopefully making some new ones!) I haven’t seen in a while. The last few years kinda put a wrench in my usual conference-going, so I haven’t seen most of my writing buddies in a long time. This conference is one of my favorite October things every year, and I’m excited to be able to go back finally.

Before I get back to my re-read of this shifter manuscript, I have a little  snippet from the first shifter story to share with you.

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All he wanted when he got in the house was to find something to eat, perhaps a cold drink, and then to park himself in front of something mindless on the television for the rest of the evening. But when he walked into the otherwise silent house, the phone was ringing. No other cars were in the drive, which meant either he needed to answer it, or listen to it ring until the machine kicked in.

He debated for half a second: cold beer or ringing phone. It would take far less time to reach the telephone than it would to get to the refrigerator in the kitchen, and he’d be able to hear the phone the entire time. Sighing, he headed for the nearest phone just inside the library.

Harley smiled when he saw the name on the caller i.d. It was about time he got lucky. His evening was suddenly looking up. He snagged the phone from the cradle. “Hello, little Tessa.”

There was silence for a moment, and then he heard her inhale shakily. “I need to speak to India please.” Even her voice trembled.

Surely she wasn’t that upset by having him answer the phone. He must have startled her. “She’s not here.” He wasn’t sure he managed to keep the smugness from his tone.

Another shaky breath reached his ear. Then a sniffle.

On alert now, he frowned. “Tessa? What’s wrong, honey?”

“Someone broke into the house,” she whispered.

His heart pounded faster. He stuck his free hand into his pocket and grabbed the car keys. “Call the police, Tessa.” He strode out of the office toward the entry hall.

“I did. They’re here, but they won’t let me go inside. They said I won’t be able to stay here tonight.”

And he could hear in her tone that right now, she didn’t want to stay there. He stopped near the front door. “I’ll be right there. Are you okay? You didn’t walk in on whoever it was?”

“I’m fine.”

He resisted the need to snort his disbelief at that claim. He could hear in her voice that she was far from fine. “I’ll be there in just a couple of minutes, honey.” He pushed the off button on the phone and dropped it to the table beside the door on his way out.

It took him seven minutes and a lot of miles an hour over the speed limit to reach Tessa’s place, and he saw the flashing red lights on the police cars before he even got in view of the house. When he jerked his car to a stop at the end of her very crowded driveway, he saw her, standing outside the front door, arms wrapped over her middle. Shaking.

His protective instinct rose up with a growl as he shoved the door open and climbed out of the car. The cops had left her standing there alone. Unprotected.

Her front door had been smashed in, shattered. There was no need to use that much force, he thought as he strode nearer. Whoever did it had done so maliciously, simply to destroy it.

Tessa had been watching the proceedings inside her house, but she glanced over her shoulder then, her wide eyes dark with fear.

He held up his hands, though he knew she was aware he meant her no harm. “Hey,” he said softly.

Her lower lip quivered, just a little, and then she sank her teeth into it, to keep it still.

“Ah, Tessa.” He stepped nearer and tugged her against himself, feeling the shivers racing over her. He also noticed the way her spine stiffened in his embrace, but he held her securely anyway, rubbing one hand up her back, her soft work shirt warm under his touch. “It’ll be all right.”

She didn’t reply, just hid her face against his shoulder, her breath coming in quick bursts.

He was afraid she was going to cry.

He’d never seen Tessa cry, not in all the years he’d known her. Not when she’d been a scared little girl visiting his rowdy family for the first time. Never when she’d fallen and wound up with bloody knees or hands from some harebrained idea India had had during their play visits. Not when she went away to college on her own. Not even when she’d returned for first her grandma’s and then her aunt’s funerals.

This scared the hell out of him.

Then he noticed the scent, and all his senses went on alert.

Of course he could smell Tessa’s familiar scent, but nearby, he scented shifters. Not his family, not tigers, but something vaguely familiar.

Shifters had done this to Tessa’s house.

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Harley is one of my favorites (at the moment, anyway), and I really want to finish polishing his story so he and Tessa can meet the world (not sure when, exactly). Anyway, I’m going back to them.

So how is your fall so far? Actually fall, or is it still more like summer where you are, too?

(   Photo by RebeccaVC1 on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

 

 

( Photo by davidmulder61 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

I’m not quite to 0 days until vacation, but close…only 2 as I write this, Of course, they’re going to be two very long days involving overtime and bonus paid-time-off added to my month of September, but only two more days. Plus, for our extra long days, we’ll be fed at suppertime, which is nice, on top of the extra PTO just for this week’s extra hours. It is nice to be appreciated.

I’m pretty sure the first day of my vacation will be spent recovering from the past week, and I have an appointment on the second day (and probably another on the last day), but then I have my to-do list, and my oldest son’s birthday for the rest, and possibly a visit with my sister in there, too, depending on how much rain she ends up with from the hurricane and how much clean-up that causes.

One thing I do have on my list that I absolutely will get accomplished is writing. I want to put a big dent in the novella I’m working on for next year’s Common Elements project. Not sure if I’ve told you about that yet, but I will tell you more about it down the road.

I’ve also got to clean up here in my office. I need some work space cleared off, and haven’t had time to do that. It was on last year’s vacation week to-do list, before my vacation plans went to hell.  It’ll be easier to create when the clutter is put away where it belongs.

For now, though, I am going to start getting my things together for the next two days, and get to bed at a reasonable time so I’m well-rested and functional. Before I go, I have a little snippet of the first shifter story to share this week.

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When she made her way along the hall, her heart thundering in her ears, the low rumble of male voices grew louder. Tessa turned the corner and froze. The double doors to Boyd’s study were open wide, and the first person she saw was Harley.

His dark blazer fit snugly over his broad shoulders. The white shirt open at the neck exposed golden muscles.

Her mouth went dry at the sight of him. He was really taking her out to dinner. As a prelude to more. To be with her. Her heart stopped beating for a painful moment.

She couldn’t do this.
His gaze swung away from whatever he’d been looking at on the desk, and heat flared in the tawny depths when his gaze landed on her. He stepped around the desk, toward the hallway, and she resisted her sudden, desperate urge to flee under the very predatory expression on his face. He would only give chase if she did.

Not that she could run in these damned heels anyway.

He paused in the doorway, his amber gaze sliding down from her face to the neckline of her dress. Further. Then, just as slowly and trailing scorching heat all the way, back up to her face. “You look very nice, Tessa,” he murmured.

She realized the voices in the study had gone silent, and she slid along the wall a little, away from him.

A hint of a smile tugged at one corner of his mouth, and he mirrored the move.

She swallowed hard. “Thank you.” She couldn’t do any better than a ragged whisper.

“Are you ready?”

She stared into his eyes for a long moment, nervousness rising up to choke her, and then shook her head.

He raised one eyebrow.

She slid further along the wall, feeling her legs tremble as she side-stepped. Almost to the front door.

He stalked her to the door, the smile on his face growing with each measured step.

She fumbled behind her for the doorknob for several seconds. Surely by now he could hear her heart pounding against her ribs.

“Are you running away?” The question was almost a purr.

She finally closed her fingers around the knob. “Of c-course n-not.” Even her voice was shaking now. Fantastic. She tugged the door open and sidled out through the opening.

He continued to follow, backing her right up against one of the cars.

She hoped it was hers.

“You know it would be easier if you could see where you were going.”

If she turned and ran… A shudder ran through her, and it wasn’t all fear. Not even most of it. Too much anticipation flowed through her veins.

He took one last step toward her, pressing her flat between the car and himself.

Oh, my Gods. She shut her eyes for a second. Every inch of him was hard, and there were some inches pressing into her belly that were extra-hard.

“You’ve run before, Tessa,” he murmured, leaning down so his warm breath brushed her temple and cheek.

She swallowed, wishing for a little moisture in her dry mouth. It seemed every bit of liquid in her was pooling between her legs at the moment.

“You’ve walked away from me, turning your back on me. Presenting.”

She opened her mouth to protest that, knowing it would be a lie, but nothing came out.

He dragged his mouth over hers, lightly, sending a shocking jolt of heat rushing through her. “And now it’s time to do it for real.” He nipped at her lower lip. “Turn around, Tessa.” His hand cupped her hip.

She shook her head.

“You’ve been playing with fire.” His open mouth slid along her cheek. “I’ve enjoyed the play. Now it’s time to get serious.” His hand at her hip slipped between her ass and the side of the car. “Turn around.” He punctuated the command with a sharp nip at her earlobe.

“We have an audience,” she managed, her pulse racing so fast she wondered how long it would take before she either hyperventilated or passed out.

“Go away,” he called without turning around. The front door closed with a bang behind him. “Better?” He sucked her earlobe between his lips for a second.

She shook her head. “Picture windows,” she managed.

He squeezed her bottom, lifting her into the erection that scalded her through their clothing, and caught her mouth with his, deeper this time.

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Here’s to a great week for you all!

 

 

( Photo by Auntie K on Foter.com / CC BY )

Our weekend has been very wet again, but this time it was actually in the forecast, so I planned ahead, knowing what the next week and a half look like for me at the day-job: chores on Saturday, mental health break day on Sunday. I almost accomplished all the chores yesterday, but I definitely accomplished my mental health break today after wrapping up the last couple of chores. I watched a couple of movies, read a favorite author and relaxed. It was a good day for it, too, since it rained pretty hard most of the day. It probably would have been a good day for a nap, too, but I had other things on my lazy Sunday to-do list. Tomorrow it’ll be back to the insanity at the day-job, with no break for about 9 days. Then it’s vacation week, and I will probably spend the entire first day doing nothing to recuperate.

Before I get my things together for tomorrow, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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She wouldn’t be able to come back to her house if she didn’t kill him, concern or no concern. He hadn’t needed to take such good care of her, though, in order to keep her alive. She frowned. He could have handcuffed her in the basement and tossed down bread and water. She pushed aside the brewing confusion—she had bigger problems right now than trying to figure out the Harvester’s motivation.

He steered her downstairs to the kitchen, and she didn’t argue when he pointed to one of the chairs at the table and went to work on breakfast.

Even if she did kill him, it sounded like his cousin was well on his way to finding her, which meant she still couldn’t come back to her house.

The thought made her a bit sad. She loved this house—alone in the woods, with the beautiful forest in summer, and a fantastic view of the valley below in the fall and winter. Even if she was lonely sometimes.

His laptop beeped from its spot on the counter, and he turned away from the stove to look at it. His expression hardened in a flash. “Damn.”

Andi didn’t like that look. “What?”

“Stavros.”

A shiver snaked its way up her spine, and she folded her arms over her chest. “Not so happy with you?”

“He’s already on his way back. He’ll be here by tonight.”

She shot to her feet. Dealing with one Harvester at a time was a challenge, but she couldn’t possibly handle two. Not now. Thalia’s words rang in her head. Danger is coming from more than one direction. Well, hell.

Kallan caught her gaze. “We can’t wait until tomorrow, Andrea.”

She shook her head, panic freezing her lungs, then swelling and rising into her throat so it nearly choked her.

“All right. Breakfast, and then we need to go.” He stirred something in the pot and then shut off the burner.

Andi didn’t want breakfast. She just wanted to move. Her stomach churned uneasily, and her head started to thump in time with her heart.

He put a bowl on the table in front of her and touched her shoulder. “You need to eat.”

She glanced down at the bowl, filled with steaming oatmeal, sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins, and felt a lump in her throat. “I’m not hungry.”

“You’ll need it later.” He pushed her shoulder gently, and she sank back onto the chair.

He sat beside her, tucking into his own breakfast.

After a moment, she picked up her spoon and stuck it into the oatmeal. He was right, damn him.

“Andrea.”

She looked up at his gentle tone.

“Will you trust me not to let him get you?”

How could she trust a man destined to kill her?

As if he read the question on her face, his jaw clenched. “I promise, agaph, he won’t kill you. I won’t let him.”

His vow rang out in the still room, and for some reason, it made her panic subside just a little. She let out a shaky breath and lifted some oatmeal to her mouth.

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Now I’m off to wrap up a couple little things before I call it a day. I hope you all have an easy week ahead!

 

( Photo by Dougtone on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

I actually can see the light at the end of the tunnel at long last, in more than one situation. My crazy work schedule has just under 3 weeks before my vacation (and I may get to visit with my sister that week, so yay!), and we’re starting to wind down the settlement of my aunt’s estate, finally. That will be a huge relief to wrap that up after all this time. But I’m starting this (short) work week with a horrible cold. One of my co-workers had it last week, and mine started Saturday. I’m just glad it waited till then, because we went out Friday night to see a band we like, and it would have sucked to be sick for that. I have to say, though, I’m not looking forward to working while feeling this way, especially when we’re so busy. But grown-ups have to suck it up, right?

I had big plans for the weekend, since it’s Labor Day, so an extra day off meant chores, reading, writing. Or just resting and generally being lazy and grumpy while blowing my nose non-stop instead. My head hurts too much to read, and I have been sneezing non-stop. I did think I might get to sleep a little later than usual this morning, but the company that has been replacing the roof and siding on my next door neighbor’s house actually came out to work today, bright and early, so no resting going on. I should get some earplugs maybe. I’ve given up on the cold medicine, because I didn’t notice any difference at all yesterday or last night, so I’ll just keep popping vitamin C tablets like a fiend, drinking soup and lots of tea, and go to bed early tonight.

I do want to get some reading done, though, before the weekend is over, so I think I’m going to give that another try shortly. But I also wanted to say hi, and drop in a little story snippet for the week, from the first tiger shifter story.

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

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

When pacing didn’t work, she went to the window. The small solar lights below lit up the shadowy gardens in places the moonlight didn’t reach.
Brighter lights shone in the pool, where a large shape moved through the water.

Harley. Her mouth went dry. Beautiful.

And naked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And kept her wide awake for hours.

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( Photo by out of ideas on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

Now I’m off to try to read a little before I call it a day. I’ll see you back here next weekend!