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Just when it looks like things at the day-job will settle down, they don’t. I’ve just finished two consecutive 50+ hour weeks at the day-job, and my brain is tired. We also had a big schedule change for mid-September, which means things will be insane again right through the day before my vacation starts. I’m kind of glad we aren’t going away for the whole week now, because all I’m going to want to do the first day is recuperate.

I have been sneaking in a little writing time, though, on days when I manage a lunch break, or before I dive into the work in the mornings again, so I’m making a little progress on this novella I’ve committed to for next year. (I’m also glad it is for next year, not this fall!) Since I worked again yesterday, then came home to dinner with all my guys for a change (yay!), today is about chores and catch-up, and when I get to that point, a little reading time and some writing, before I go to bed so I can start all over again tomorrow.

I hope you have all been finding more down-time than I’ve managed in the past two weeks. I know it’s back-to-school season, too, so there are plenty of things to accomplish for that successful transition. I kind of miss those days.

Before I go wrap up the last of my chores for the weekend, I have a little snippet of tiger shifter #4 to share with you today.

________________

“Just wondering how you’ve gone so long without them catching up before now.” He brushed his thumb at the side of her neck.

She finished chewing the briny olive slower than she needed to, debating with herself. Finally she swallowed and reached for another. “I’ve moved around a lot,” she said at last. “And evidently Edwin hired actual professionals this time, instead of sending pack-mates again.” When she slid a quick glance up, she could see Anton was pondering her words and judging her honesty.

“He’s already sent pack-mates after you?”

“Several times.” She lifted one shoulder. “I’m not dumb, but I haven’t made it that hard either, by using a fake name or anything.”

He didn’t speak, his green gaze too sharp.

She ate the second olive, wondering if he was thinking how stupid could one woman be.

“How many times before now?” he asked after several moments.

Laney counted in her head. Vegas, Tulsa, Cleveland, Indy, Williamsburg… “Six.” She smiled a little, thinking about Baltimore.

“What happened?”

She slid a sidelong glance at him, still smiling. “I don’t know what you mean.

Unexpectedly, he grinned, and her breath caught.

Wow. And she’d thought he was attractive before. This, though…

“What did you do to them?” His thumb rubbed a little circle against her skin. “I know you did something, from the look on your face.”

Laney took a shallow breath. The tiger wasn’t just smart and dangerous, he was gorgeous. “I might have sent gifts to his room while I disabled his car.”

“What kind of gifts?”

“Pizza and then a hooker, followed a little later by the cops.”

He laughed, and goose bumps rose on her skin. “I like it. Devious and clever. You should come work with me.”

She didn’t care how strong the wine was, her mouth was dry. She took a sip. “I have a job, thanks,” she murmured, her gaze stuck on his smile, which faded after her words.

“He probably found you that way.”

She nodded once, her own smile fading. “Probably.” And if Edwin had resorted to a pro, he would be able to find her that way again, no matter where she went, dammit. She wasn’t sure how much a fake identity would cost, but she had a feeling it would do more than dent her stash of emergency funds. Shit.

Anton picked up another salami roll. “Open.”

Automatically, she obeyed, though she wondered now how she could stay under the radar without having to spend a fortune on a new identity.

Until his thumb brushed her mouth. Heat flashed through her.

Her gaze shot to his face. His expression hadn’t changed, but she noticed his eyes were shadowed. She made herself concentrate on chewing, though she couldn’t look away. Finally, when she’d swallowed the last of the appetizer, she cleared her throat. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

His lips curved a little, but the smile didn’t come close to reaching his eyes. “When was the last time you were on a date?”

She blushed, finally forcing her gaze away. “A long time ago,” she murmured. “And he didn’t look at me like that.” Like she was the appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Anton chuckled as he picked up his glass. “Not a good date, then.”

________________

I hadn’t originally planned a story for Anton, but I discovered as I was writing the first two stories in the series that he needed one, too.  What do you think?

Now I’m off to finish the chores–ie, making my giant batch of salad so I have lunch and/or dinner for work the next few days, and the rest of the laundry, before I can do a little relaxing.

How are you winding down your summer? Relaxing, or super-busy?

( Photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

 

 

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I’d like to be counting down to my vacation week, but it’s still too far away for me to do that. So instead, I’m going to keep my head down and keep writing in my spare moments.  I actually can see the light at the end of the tunnel at the day-job. We have a new trainee starting this week, but it will be about a month before she’s ready to actually do the job, so we still have a few crazy weeks ahead before we can slow down and catch our breath. And right after that is my vacation week, and I have plenty of things on that to-do list already, aside from the trip to the beach.

 

Actually, I have a pretty huge to-do list in general.  I need to break that down into categories, like ‘do now’, ‘do by the end of the year’, and ‘do when you can’. I used to be much better about weekly to-do lists and goals, and need to get back into that. I used to break down the yearly goals I set to monthly, and then weekly, by day. Now I do my goals for the year and break them down by month, but the past two and a half years, plans kind of went to hell with all of the family things we had going on. I really have to get my brain back into list-mode. I love a good list, and checking things off when they’re completed–I do them at the day-job all the time, I’ve just gotten out of the habit in the rest of my life and I need to fix that.

Exercise used to be on my weekly lists, and that’s been off the radar for a long time–when I worked retail, I got plenty of exercise in during the work-day, but now I sit at a desk all day, which isn’t so good for the size of my behind. One of my teammates and I actually added a daily walk to our work calendar so we get up and move for at least ten minutes once a day (unless all hell has broken loose and we’re lucky to make it to the bathroom), and are adding a second one this week.

I used to have page goals on my weekly goals as well, which went a long way toward making the annual writing goals. I’m already plotting for my 2019 goals that I won’t set till December about how to get that figured in early so I make better progress again.  Right now, I’m still studying and researching things I need to know for jumping into the self-publishing pool (which, by the way, is a scary place!). There are a lot of things to know and do there, and since I’ve never done some of them before, I want to make sure I’m doing it right. Too many people put books out themselves who have clearly not done enough homework, and I don’t want to be one of them. I want the Medusa trilogy to go out into the world ready to fly. Some more in-depth study will be happening during my vacation week.

I am going to get some fun time in, along with all of the work. We have concert tickets for the end of the month for a group with some musicians my husband and I both like from their previous bands, so that will be an interesting evening. And next month, right before my vacation week, a friend and I are having a mini-retreat the day before the next Nora Roberts signing, and I can’t wait. We’ll head down the day before the signing, check into our hotel and spend the rest of the day writing, and then be at the signing the next morning.

Before I get back to weekend chores, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from the first tiger shifter story (which is still currently nameless).

________________

His father’s words stuck with him the rest of the night, and again the next day. Boyd was right. Dealing with Tessa would take all his attention.

Now if only he could cross paths with her.

He got lucky the next evening. India had left a note in the kitchen that Tessa was stopping by after work to pick up some books, just in case India wasn’t back from New York on time.

He grinned to himself as he made his way to where he knew she’d go when she arrived. India was, indeed, still in New York, so she wouldn’t be there to meet Tessa.

But he would.

He heard the front door, and her laughter reached his ears along with his brother Joe’s voice. Joe’s heavier footsteps continued up the stairs, and Tessa’s slower, lighter ones came along the hallway. To the library. To him.

Harley lounged in his chair, deliberately not letting her know he was there. How long would it take her to notice his presence?

She dallied for a few minutes in front of the shelves that housed the African cat books even though he knew she’d read all of them at least twice. He took the time to admire her toned legs beneath the hem of her khaki skirt. The shape of her hips as she leaned her weight on one leg. Then she meandered past the native plants of New England shelf, her fingers trailing along the spines as she went.

He imagined what her fingers would feel like sliding over his skin that way, and his body came to attention.

She stopped in front of the garden design area, head tilted. After a moment, she pulled a book out, then another, then several more, and lugged the whole stack to the wide worktable several steps away from him.

He held his breath.

She dropped the books loudly, and then froze when her gaze landed on him.

“Hello, little Tessa,” he said softly.

Panic flitted through her eyes, and her pulse beat madly in the hollow of her throat. “Harley.” It came out strangled.

“Planning a garden?” He stayed where he was, hoping she wouldn’t flee.

She lifted a shoulder jerkily. “Someday.”

He stifled his grin. She was still poised for flight. “What kind of garden?”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“What kind of garden?” he repeated evenly. “Formal, cottage? Something in between?”

A tiny frown line appeared between her eyebrows, as if she were trying to decide his intent. “Probably cottage style,” she said at last, dropping her gaze to the stack of books in front of her. “Formal gardens are pretty, but require more work than I have time for.” She glanced at him again, wariness clouding her eyes.

He leaned forward in his seat, watching her tense still more. The first hint of her arousal scented the air. “I haven’t seen you for a couple days, Tessa.” He pushed to his feet.

She swallowed hard, blushing. “I’ve been busy at work.”

Liar. “I thought maybe you were avoiding me.” He moved to the work table, standing opposite her so he could see the way her eyes darkened.

“Of course not,” she murmured, dropping her gaze to the books again.

“I’m glad to hear that, since I was hoping to kiss you again.”

Her gaze jumped to his face. “We agreed that wasn’t a good idea.”

Harley shook his head slowly, holding her gaze. “I never agreed to that.” He took a step toward the corner of the table, then another, until he rounded the table and stood beside her.

Tessa’s prey instincts were good. She was fairly quivering with the need to run. But she held her ground anyway. He touched her arm lightly with his knuckles and watched the goose bumps lift along her soft skin.

You said it would be a good idea not to kiss again, but I’d never agree to something like that when I know it’s a fat lie.”

Her eyes widened a little more. “I disagree.”

“Liar.” He slid his hand higher, until he could catch her warm nape against his palm.

She set her hands on his chest when he turned her. “Whatever happened to leaving siblings’ friends alone? Or not screwing with the humans?”

He’d been bending toward her and it was his turn to freeze. “That’s Adar’s opinion, Tessa. Not mine.” He pulled her slightly closer. Now it was his turn to lie. “And all I’m talking about is a little kissing.”

Her gaze landed on his lips and her tongue darted out at the corner of her mouth, almost too quickly for him to see.

Almost. He stifled a groan and bent to kiss her, quickly. Lightly. And again. Again. Until she opened her mouth, her fingers curling into his shirtfront.

Gotcha!

One kiss turned into two, into five, until he lost count. The taste of her was addicting.

________________

I hope you all get in some down-time this week.  Find a hammock and take a book along!

Young lady reading the book in the hammock on tropical beach at sunset

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

Now that party month is over, it’s back to nose-to-the-grindstone mode for me. Last month was also insanely busy at the day-job since we’re still short-handed, but I did manage to get some writing done. Have I mentioned the novella project I’m working on for next year? I’ve been working on that when I get a few minutes to break at the day-job, and just cranked out a few thousand words on that this afternoon. I’ll share more about that another day, though.

Anyway, things aren’t going to slow down at the day-job quite yet. We have a really heavy week coming up in two weeks, and then we have a new teammate starting to train, so maybe in a month things will lighten up for the rest of us a little bit. Just in time for my vacation week at the end of September. Plans for that have changed, no Maine this fall after all, but I am going to sneak off to the beach for a couple days. I’m disappointed not to be going to my favorite state this year, but I’ll have time to do some of the things I had planned to do on my vacation week last summer that never happened because instead I was working on my late aunt’s house. Not really what I was hoping for when I planned my vacation week, but necessary tasks. I may even give myself a head-start with some of those things by working on a couple of those projects on weekends in the next month or so, at least one day each weekend while I’m already doing my regular weekly household chores, so I can still have the other day to read, to write, and to relax just a little.

We still have projects at my aunt’s house, which is now my boys’ house. That makes me happy–I’ve been going to that house my entire life, because it belonged to my grandparents before it was my aunt’s. The boys are working on making it their own–we spent a weekend ripping up carpets last fall, and they’ve been painting and making other changes to suit them–but it’s still family, so I’m glad.  I have some outdoor projects to get to there before winter comes, but those aren’t high on my priority list right now.

Maybe Maine next year instead. In the meantime, I’m going to keep working on my writing and revising so I can get my Medusa stories out into the world, again for the first, and for the first time for the second and third books. Before I go find something for supper, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from Freeing Medusa, the third in the trilogy.

_________________

Katharine watched him, rather like she might look at a strange animal, he thought. “I don’t understand why you would do this,” she said finally. “You have a home and a job, your own business. A life.”

Hunter resisted the need to sigh, but only barely. “You’re not safe, and I’d never send anyone out alone when I could help keep them safe.”

“So you have a knight in shining armor complex.”

He glared at her. “I don’t. But I have a vocal conscience.”

She narrowed her own eyes. “Believe me when I tell you I’ll be fine.”

He shook his head. “No can do.”

She shoved to her feet.

“And I’ve promised your family I’ll keep you protected.”

She froze, looking poised to stomp away. “I don’t suppose you’ll feel any remorse for playing the family guilt card, do you?”

He smiled, knowing he’d just won another skirmish. “None.”

“Of course you don’t.” She shut her eyes for a second. “How about the guilt I’ll have if anything happens to you?”

“Not so much.” He settled deeper into his chair. “You still don’t trust me completely. I’m okay with that,” he continued when she shot a sidelong look at him. “I know I’m capable, and you will, too, eventually.”

“How many men have you killed?”

He blinked at her, then cleared his throat. “That I know of?”

Kat folded her arms on her chest, her gaze leveled on his face.

He considered for a moment not answering. Then he reconsidered. “Probably a couple dozen, minimum. Afghanistan, a few other places.” He shrugged, one-shouldered. “One in the line of duty as a cop.” He could still remember the look on that guy’s face–it broadcast the man’s intent even better than the weapon he’d held. “I would’ve put a bullet in that guy in your bedroom, Kat, if he’d made the tiniest move in your direction after I got there. He knew it, too. It’s why he went out the window.” Hunter dropped his foot back to the floor.

She still didn’t look convinced.

He pushed to his feet. “Are you angling to be restrained?” he asked lightly. “I do have handcuffs, you know.”

Her eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. “What? Of course not.” Still, color tinted her cheeks, and he imagined she was thinking about the possibility. “No,” she said more firmly, shifting her gaze away.

“You let me know when you change your mind.” He kept his tone light, moving toward her.

Kat glanced at him. “Don’t stalk me.”

He smiled. “Do I look like I’m trying to sneak?” He reached out and caught one of her wrists, pulling her closer despite her reluctance. “I was trying to be up-front. If I’d been sneaking just now, like that, you could send me back to basic training for a refresher.”

She gave a tug at her wrist, but he held on, just enough to keep her where she was. “Hunter.”

He let his smile widen. “I understand trusting me with your life is a lot different than trusting me with your body.” He enjoyed the color deepening in her cheeks. “But please try.”

She studied his face for a few long heartbeats. “You know it’s got nothing to do with you personally, right? I just don’t trust that many people,” she said finally.

“I know.” He leaned closer, bending to rest his forehead against hers. “Give it a try.”

She sighed. “I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try.”

His heart bounced harder in his chest. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

She rolled her eyes and gave him a shove, but he wrapped his other arm around her back, and her eyes widened a little. “Hunter–”

He kissed her, just a brush of his lips over hers, still holding her gaze. “Thank you.” And when he released her, he was gratified to see the way her eyes darkened.

________________

Now I’m off to find some supper and get in some reading time before I gear up for this crazy week at the day-job.  More studying of the things I need to do before I am ready to dive into the self-publishing pool.  Keep going, on whatever you’re working on this week!

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

 

 

Now that the big day has passed, I guess it’s time to wind down the festivities. There is only so much cake and ice cream one person can eat (or should eat, maybe, if they’re trying to be conscientious about getting healthier). Still, the month only has a few more days, so maybe we just downsize the intake of birthday cake…

( Photo on Foter.com )

I spent part of my birthday morning at the eye doctor for a very overdue exam, and just ordered new (and much stronger) glasses, but for fun, I followed it up with an hour on the massage table, and then the boys came over for dinner and cake, which made me happy. The hubby and I are winding down my birthday weekend with dinner at my favorite Asian restaurant tonight, before I buckle down to work again.  Work = the day-job and the writing job. That said, I’ll keep this post short and sweet for a change. I have a story snippet for you, from the third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa.

________________

Katharine bolted upright in bed, breathing hard, and Hunter shot upright, too, suddenly wide awake, and caught one of her flailing arms.

“Easy,” he murmured, “easy, Kat.” He set his other hand on her back.

She went suddenly still, her breath coming too quickly. “Sorry,” she managed after a moment. “Bad dream.”

“Lie down.” He loosened his hold on her wrist, gratified when she obeyed him, dropping back onto her pillow again. He eased down beside her, stroking his hand along her arm, lightly, from wrist to elbow and back. “What was the dream?”

She took a deep breath and held it for a moment, then let it out slowly. “Athena.”

Hunter exhaled, too. “You okay?”

He heard the movement her head made on the pillow as she shook it. “She’s angry.”

“You can tell that from a dream?”

“Not sure it’s just a dream, exactly,” she said softly. “Not this time.”

“What do you mean?” He let his fingers stay circled around her wrist, feeling the rush of her pulse beneath his forefinger.

“I know what a dream feels like.” She went silent for a moment again. “This wasn’t a dream. This is something else. She was with Aristotle, and She’s furious that I’m not dead.”

Hunter frowned in the dark, wishing he could see her eyes. “And?”

Another rustle of the blankets. Maybe a shrug, judging by the slight motion of her arm in his hold. “He’s afraid. That’s it.”

He smiled at the frustration he heard in her tone, but only for a second. An angry Goddess couldn’t be a good thing. Not when the Goddess in question had placed a curse on a family that had lasted for millennia. “Does She rely on them to do all the work as far as tracking the Medusa?”

Her breathing slowed a little. “I don’t know,” she said after a few seconds. “We could find out from Andi’s husband Kallan, I suppose.”

“You’d think a Goddess would be able to give them an unfair advantage in their hunt, wouldn’t you?”

Her pulse eased a bit under his fingers. “You would.” She sounded as if she were seriously thinking about it.

“It sounds like She doesn’t, though. I wonder why?” Hunter rubbed his thumb along the back of her hand.

If Athena wanted the Medusa dead so badly, one would think She’d give her Harvesters every advantage She could.

“Maybe She can’t?”

It was definitely a question, he noted. Her tone was uncertain, plain even in the dark.

Hunter lifted her hand to his mouth and brushed a quick kiss across the back of her fingers. “I don’t know, but we can try to figure it out in the morning. Can you go back to sleep?”

Her fingers tightened in his hold for a quick second before relaxing again. “I can try.”

He let their joined hands drop to the bed between them. “Try, honey.” He listened to her for a while, the tiny shifting motions as she settled back into the bed, her breathing slowing gradually. While his own brain raced.

Why wouldn’t Athena help Her Harvesters? Why would She expect them to do all the work on their own?

Maybe She couldn’t find the Medusa Herself.

He lay awake for hours, thinking about the possibilities and what they might mean for Katharine, until his brain finally shut down from sheer exhaustion.

He jerked awake again when Kat stretched in her sleep, and he realized he was wrapped around her, the soft curve of her ass snuggled into his groin, one of her breasts only inches from where his hand rested on her ribs. He shut his eyes for a second, allowing himself to savor the feel of her against him, just for another couple heartbeats before he eased away from her, putting a few much needed inches between her cotton-clad butt and his strengthening erection.

He took a slow breath, but all that got him was a bigger lungful of her scent. He rolled onto his back and slid one foot up to bend his leg. The sheet and blanket weren’t nearly as warm as Katharine.

She shifted beside him again, rolling first onto her back, then onto her side to face him.

Hunter stifled a groan when her hand landed on his abdomen and her leg brushed his. Her fingers flexed along his belly, and he covered her hand with his own to keep her from sliding her fingers any lower.

A sleepy sound escaped her as she snuggled closer again.

Torture. He shut his eyes. It was torture to have her fingers so close.

Her knee rubbed along his thigh, higher.

His heart pounded harder, drowning out the quiet voice of reason in his head that was attempting to remind him he could wait until she was ready for any more intimacy.

Her knee nudged at his erection, and the groan rumbled up from his throat this time. He slid away, until he could put one foot on the floor and get out of bed.

Kat’s hand moved across the blanket for a few seconds, as if she were searching for something, then stopped, and her breathing evened out again.

He shut his eyes for a heartbeat, then turned away to gather clean clothes and head for the shower. A cold shower.

________________

Okay, maybe one more cake, just to finish off the month.

I hope you all have a great week!

 

 

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

The fun we had planned for last week went off without a hitch, including going to the booksigning yesterday. It was so much fun to meet an author whose books I’ve loved for many years, and to see another I haven’t seen in a few years, and, of course, my idol, Nora. Plus we had amazing lunch afterward, and I brought home something inspirational, which is now sitting on the top of my desk, staring at me from above my monitor:

 Sometimes you need a little reminder, right? I’m thinking this should be my motto for the next year, from this birthday to the next one. What do you think?

We still have a few crazy days to get through at the day-job in the coming week, so I’ll be head down, nose to the grindstone for a couple days, and then will be able to breathe for a couple days heading into my birthday next weekend.  And speaking of next weekend, I think I might do a little party over on my Facebook page next weekend, too, to celebrate the big day. A little virtual cake and ice cream (No calories, so that is definitely on my diet plan!), maybe a few gifts to give away.  If you take a peek over there, I’ve got an event page set up, so you can join in the fun with me next Saturday, July 28, 2018.

In the meantime, I have a little story snippet to share with you from one of my shifter stories.  I had intended that Joe’s story would be the third and final in that series, but right now his is the fifth story, and there are a few other characters in the series who really need to have stories, so it looks like Joe might not be the last after all.

________________

Joe listened to Piper and Keely down the hall, the little girl’s tone tinged with a whine. He smiled. She didn’t want to go to bed, but he’d bet she’d be sound asleep in under ten minutes. Probably as soon as her head hit the pillow in her little pink bed–she’d had a long day with his nieces and nephews, playing all over his parents’ house. He wondered if she’d ever had so many playmates all at once before.

His smile faded a little. Keely had enjoyed herself much more than her mother had.

Piper hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, but she’d been polite. The wariness had never eased, though, not all afternoon and evening, no matter what his mother had said or done.

He wondered when she’d trusted anyone last, even just for casual contact. Maybe not in a couple of years. Probably not in a couple of years, he thought, shaking his head. Chris.

Joe listened. No sounds from the hallway now. Probably a good sign.

He paced to the first bookcase and stroked the spine of a history book with one forefinger, then turned at a whisper of sound.

Piper stood at the door, eyes still wary.

“Is she out?” he asked lightly

“Like a light.” She made no move to come into the room. “I think–”

“Sit down, Piper. She’ll be fine.”

She blinked.

“I promise. And you need to relax. Being on guard all the time must be exhausting.”

Something flashed in her eyes, but she looked away before he could identify it. “I was going to say I think I’ll find a book and a quiet corner to read, out of your way.”

He frowned. “You’re not in my way, Piper.”

She gave him a steady look for a few seconds. “I imagine you’re used to having your house to yourself.”

He shrugged. “But I spend most of my time at the office or my parents’, so I’m hardly ever alone.”

“And now you’re not even alone when you get home,” she said softly.

He huffed out a rough breath. “By my choice, pretty Piper.”

She flushed and looked away again, and he realized what he’d called her–he used to call her that when they were kids, usually when she was dirty or injured from some escapade the three off them had survived. Fuck.

“Sorry,” he muttered, shoving his hair away from his face. “I don’t know why I said that. Not that it isn’t true,” he added. Fuck, he needed to shut his mouth. “Find a book, find a comfortable seat. You’re not in my way, Piper. If I didn’t want you here, I wouldn’t have brought you here.”

She swallowed, her expression even more guarded. “Why did you bring us here, Joe?”

He studied her for a moment. “Sit down, Piper,” he said, more gently. “Please.”

She dropped onto the arm of the chair just inside the door, and he noted the stiff set of her shoulders and mouth.

He took a slow breath. “I brought you here because you needed somewhere to go. Somewhere safer than where you were.”

Her lips thinned into a flat line for a second for a second. “I am not a charity case, Joe Wentworth.”

He quelled the urge to smile at her careful tone, just on the verge of snotty. “No, you’re not, but let me help you anyway.”

Her brows dipped a little. Finally, she sniffed. “I’ll go to the office on Monday, to interview, but I don’t want to stay here any longer than absolutely necessary, so I’m going to look for a place and get out of your way as soon as I can.”

He didn’t protest that, just nodded once.

Suspicion clouded her eyes, as if she’d expected an argument.

Joe relaxed a little. “I was thinking about a piece of that cake Mom sent home. How about you?”

Piper’s eyes widened a little, and then she shook her head. “It’s too late for me, thanks.”

He didn’t argue that either, just straightened. “Find a book, Piper. Relax.” He passed her on his way out of the room, and resisted ruffling her hair. It had annoyed her when they were kids and would probably annoy her more now. He wondered absently if her hair was still as soft as it had been then.

The idea made him frown. He had no business wondering things like that.

He shook off the idea as he uncovered the chunk of cake they’d brought home and found a knife in the dishwasher. She should have some cake, too–she was too thin. He cut off a slender piece for her and a bigger piece for himself, then got a couple of forks and carried the cake back to the library, where Piper was kneeling in front of a bookshelf.

She frowned when she looked up, then blinked when he dropped to his knees beside her.

“It’s just a little piece.” He held out the plate.

For a moment, she stared at him, before her gaze dropped to the dessert. “It was good,” she murmured, reaching for the plate.

He stuck his fork into his own cake and lifted a big bite into his mouth.

Piper cut off a much smaller piece, chewing it slowly, her eyes closing briefly, as if she were savoring it.

Joe wondered when anyone had last taken care of her. Her brother wouldn’t have, he wasn’t the type. Keely’s father? He frowned. He didn’t even know who that was. Now didn’t seem the time to ask, though. Maybe another day.

Or he could dig up the info on his own–and kick the guy’s ass for leaving them to fend for themselves this way.

________________

Now I’m going to do a little reading, and some more writing. Oh, and I’ll have a guest blog post up at Delilah Devlin’s blog later this week, Friday, July 27th, so I hope you’ll visit me there, too.

Maybe a little more cake before I go…

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

 

I spent a couple hours today doing something that required no work and was totally fun–a local movie theater is running older movies for week-long stints this summer, and this week is one of my all-time favorites, The Princess Bride, and a wonderful little birthday gift to myself (even better, because I had a certificate, my friend and I spent less than $3 between us for our tickets and snacks!) in the middle of the month.

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

I’m dating myself, but I don’t care. I remember seeing this in the theater when it was first released, and I loved it. It is one of those movies now that my kids and husband hate to watch with me, because I recite lines along with the movie. Which is why I went with a friend today.  Haha! We recited lines together, along with other moviegoers in the theater.  I have the movie-release paperback in my book room, with Buttercup and Westley on the cover, and it’s been well-read, so the spine is very creased, and the covers battered. But it is a feel-good movie, and I will never not watch it given the opportunity.  It ticks all the boxes, just like for the little boy in the movie: adventure, sports, revenge, humor, and romance. My husband actually got me this shirt a few years ago…

( Photo by capsun on Foter.com / CC BY-ND ) I still love it (and wear it). I may even go back to the theater mid-week to see it one more time on the big screen. Hey, one of my co-workers has never seen it, so someone has to take her, right?

The day-job is still so insane, I don’t want to think about it till tomorrow morning when I get there, so I’ll delay it a little longer with a story excerpt for you, from the second Medusa manuscript.

________________

She watched him sit, her fingers curling into her palms to keep from reaching out for him. Ryder was temporary. She couldn’t have anything permanent. Clearing her throat, she forced her gaze away from him, sliding it around the room. His office had a second door, and she moved toward it.

It opened into an office almost exactly the same as Ryder’s though not on a corner.

“That’s Danny’s office. The door on the other side of his opens into Joel’s office, and his is another corner room,” Ryder said from behind her.

She nodded, closing the door again. “Why doesn’t Danny have a corner office?”

He grinned when she turned around. “He’s afraid of heights. Getting him to take any of the outside wall offices was a real battle.”

She smiled reluctantly. “Why not let him have an office without windows?”

“He’s a partner, he’s got to have a big office.”

She shook her head. “Men are so dumb sometimes,” she muttered, sliding her fingers over the empty shelf of the bookcase in his corner.

“I heard that.”

She didn’t reply, her mind turning possibilities. She sat in one of the two chairs facing his desk and crossed one leg over the other. “Nice place.”

“I think we’ve established that.” He rested his forearms on the edge of the desk. “Are you coming up with ideas?”

She nodded. “Yes. I’ll have to think about it for a while, though. And you’ll have to let me know what kind of style you prefer, what sort of info you want on the site.”

Ryder’s dark eyes studied her for a few moments. “Okay. Have you seen enough?”

“Yes.” She pushed to her feet, pausing when she felt a low twist in her gut suddenly, and all the fine hairs at her nape stood on end.

Someone was out there watching her.

She shifted her gaze to the two walls of windows, her heart beating up into her throat.

“What’s wrong?”

She shook her head. “I’m probably being stupid, but I feel like someone’s watching me.” A dangerous someone.

Ryder rose in a flash, his sharpened gaze shifting from one nearby building to another. There were far too many windows. “I don’t see anyone.”

Neither did she. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a Harvester out there watching her. Waiting.

“Let’s go.” He moved around the desk, taking her arm as they left his office.

Philomena’s breath wanted to come faster, and she had to force herself to breathe slowly, evenly.

Downstairs, they paused at the security desk just long enough for Ryder to murmur something to the security guard, and then they hit the sidewalk, walking quickly.

“If I tell you to run, can you find your way back to the truck?” he asked, his gaze darting all around them.

She tried to think. “Maybe.” Gods, how could they have found her?

He pressed a key into her hand. “Good. If I tell you to run, you go. Get back to the cabin and I’ll meet you there.”

“What about you?” She felt an irrational urge to run now. To get as far from here as she could.

“I’ll get there. But if I have to stay behind to deal with anything, I don’t want you to wait around for me.” His fingers tightened on her arm. “Your first priority is to get to safety.”

They were within sight of the truck when he swore under his breath. “We need to move, baby.” He started to run, and she picked up her own pace, her boots thumping faster on the sidewalk.

From behind them, she heard people shouting, “Hey, watch where you’re going, buddy!” and “Yo, asshole, that was my foot!”

A Harvester. And apparently, he didn’t care that they were on the street in a very big city with a large audience.

Philomena sucked in a quick breath and ignored the stitch in her side, moving faster when Ryder did. He unlocked the truck with his remote and pushed her in through the driver’s door.

“Get down.” He slid into his seat, almost on her heels, and started the truck.

She wedged herself into the space between the seat and the dashboard, closing her eyes for a second. Gods, please don’t let me die.

Ryder stomped on the gas pedal, whipping out into traffic to the sound of honking horns. He drove too quickly along the street, and she saw his mouth tighten when he glanced in the rearview mirror. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered, pressing harder on the accelerator.

Philomena closed her eyes again. She so wanted to see Jason one more time. Her chest ached.

“It’s Ryder.”

She opened her eyes to see him with his cell to his ear.

“I need a rental car waiting for me when we get back….No, I don’t care what kind….Thanks.” He tossed the phone onto the seat.

“How did he find me?”

“Lucky timing for him, I think.”

“What do you mean?”

“Kallan told me there are usually one or two Harvesters in the big cities along the east coast. I figured Philly is big enough we wouldn’t run into one or two people. My mistake.” His jaw tightened. “I’m sorry, baby.”

“What are you, psychic?” She shook her head. “Just drive, Ryder. I don’t want to die today.”

“I won’t let you.” He flashed her a cocky grin and whipped the truck around a sharp corner, and the tires squealed this time.

Philomena put her head down on her knees, hoping his assurance this time was justifiable.

He sped around a few more turns, still muttering curses under his breath, then she felt the truck gain a lot more speed. Highway.

She lifted her head far enough to see the close-set buildings dropping away as he merged onto the interstate. “How many red lights did you run back there?”

“Just a couple.” Strain bracketed his eyes even though he smiled again for her.

She put her head back down. “If I die today, make sure Jason knows I love him.”

“You’re not dying, Mena, today or any other day for a long, long time,” he snapped. “Bastard.”

Under her, the truck vibrated as it picked up more speed. “Promise me anyway.”

“Fine. But you can tell him yourself tonight.”

She smiled into her lap and took a deep breath. “Just drive, would you?”

His short laugh made her relax a tiny bit.

Until something pinged off the roof of the truck.

“Son of a bitch,” Ryder growled, accelerating still faster.

She tightened her arms around her knees. “Is he shooting at us?”

“Keep your head down.”

She stifled a cry when something hit the back window, and she heard glass cracking. She pressed her face harder against her legs.

Ryder whipped the car into another lane, speeding up again so the engine rumbled louder.

Philomena shut her eyes and prayed to all the Gods.

________________

No kissing parts in this one (which would make the little boy in The Princess Bride happy), but there are plenty in this story, just like there were in Hunting Medusa. I’m off to do a little reading before bedtime, but maybe some birthday cake for the week.  And I’d love to know what are some of your will-always-watch movies.

( Photo on Foter.com )

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

I think I mentioned last week that it is my birthday month. I don’t actually feel like celebrating, but I think maybe those are the times you probably need to do it anyway, right?  So I’m looking for reasons to celebrate all month long, every day–though I won’t be having cake every day, that isn’t on the diet.  Maybe this much cake for me this month…

( Photo by Theresa Thompson on Foter.com / CC BY )

Who else has a birthday this month? Are you celebrating, or are you feeling more ambivalent about it like me? We should celebrate together, all month long!

We’re having our first nice days (read: not hot as the second level of hell) in a couple of weeks right now, but I had to close up the house and turn on the air conditioner anyway, because it’s laundry day, and the hot air from the dryer vent blows right into two of our open windows, making the inside of the house too hot.  I’m kind of okay with that, since we’d have to turn it back on tomorrow anyhow, plus I spent most of yesterday outside doing garden stuff at my aunt’s house. Got a nice migraine to go with it from the very bright sun, too, which was not how I imagined the day going. But a large chunk of yard work is done. and I came home and took a nap and most of the headache was gone when I got up. Today, along with laundry, and food prep for the next few days, is writing day. I have my music on random play right now, but will have to change that to my ‘soundtrack’ for this novella (fun, beachy, summertime songs) when I finish up here.  And a different ‘soundtrack’ when I go back to revisions on Protecting Medusa. Right now, there is some really great Hans Zimmer movie music playing (if you haven’t listened to him, one of my faves is his soundtrack from Sherlock Holmes), and that always makes me happy.

Before I dig into my writing, I have a little snippet from Protecting Medusa for you.

________________

It seemed an eternity before she heard steady footsteps crunching in the snow leading to the backdoor, and she tensed even more, pain sliding up the back of her neck. Her breath escaped in a rush when she realized it was Ryder stepping inside, and she lowered her dagger to her side, eyes closing for a second. Thank you, Gods.

He shut the door and knelt in front of her, his face somber. “It’s all right.” He touched her cheek with cold fingers, and she shut her eyes again.

“Gone?” She opened her eyes and found his brown eyes hardened.

“Dead.”

She gasped, the room tilting sharply to one side.

“Either him or you, and I’d prefer him.” He helped her to her feet. “I’ve got to get rid of him.” He cupped her elbows in his hands for a moment while he studied her expression. “Drink some of that orange juice, baby. You look mighty pale.” He guided her back to her seat and pushed her into it, then took the dagger from her nerveless fingers.

While she picked up her glass in both hands, he tugged her skirt up far enough to reveal the soft leather sheath strapped to her thigh.

“Nice,” he murmured, then put her blade back into it and snapped it shut. His fingers, hard and a little rough, lingered against her skin, distracting her from her chaotic thoughts for a couple of seconds. He inhaled shakily, then pulled her skirt back into place, rising again. “Reset the alarm behind me, Mena. I’ll be back as soon as I can, and do not go anywhere without me.” He bent to kiss the top of her head, and then strode out the back door to his truck.

She rose to follow his order, still shocked, then stood there at the back door, staring out into the snow as the sound of his truck faded away. He’d killed someone to protect her.

The thought chilled her. Not necessarily that he’d killed someone. She imagined he’d killed before, during his time in the military and working for the intelligence agency. But to keep her safe… Someone who would have killed her given the opportunity. That was the chilling part.

The Harvesters had really found her.

She shivered, wrapping her arms around her waist and turning away from the door. Her mother and Jason were in danger with her here. Far more than she’d ever imagined.

Her chest tightened with fear. She needed to go somewhere else. Somewhere the Harvesters wouldn’t kill her family to get to her. Away.

She scraped her breakfast into the trash, her hands shaking so much she dropped her fork into the can, too. Her breath came too fast, making her dizzy. She picked up the fork, carrying it and her plate to the sink. She turned on the water, too hot, but she put her hands under it anyway, wincing before adjusting the temperature a little.

Where would she go?

Oh, Gods, how would she go? How could she not see Jason again? She bit her lip against the sting of tears in her eyes. She’d had him since Desi gave birth to him six years ago.

The phone rang, startling her, and she sniffed, grabbing a dish towel on her way to pick it up. “Hello?”

“Good, you’re still there.” Ryder.

She sniffled again. “I have to go.”

“Not without me.” His tone was hard. “That’s why I told you not to go anywhere without me. I knew you were going to get there.”

Philomena wiped the towel over her cheek. “It’s not safe for them if I’m here.”

“I know, baby,” he said, more gently. “But wait for me. We’ll do this together. I can keep you safe.”

She dropped into the chair he’d abandoned, staring at his half-eaten breakfast. “I can’t stay here.”

“Mena.”

She stuck his fork into the small mound of eggs on the plate, her mind spinning in too many directions, and her heart still pounded hard enough to drown out most of those thoughts, even if she could capture one.

“Mena.” His tone hardened again.

“What, Ryder?”

“Stay with me here.” He took a deep breath and released it. “I’ll be back at the house in maybe twenty minutes. My buddy will be there in the next hour or so. We have to stay for a little while, to get him settled. To say goodbye to Aggie and Jason temporarily. But we’ll go together, do you understand me?”

She picked up a forkful of eggs, trying to concentrate on his words and staring at the bright yellow of the eggs. “Together, huh?”

“Yes, together. You and me.”

She stuck the eggs into her mouth without thinking, and her stomach growled. She blinked, chewing slowly. With Ryder. She didn’t doubt he could keep her safe from the Harvesters. “Okay,” she said at last.

________________

Now I’m going to go write, but I think maybe the rest of you need some cake, too.

 

If your birthday is this week, have an extra helping, and happy birthday!

 

 

I’m talking about the weather–I don’t think there is such a thing as too hot when it comes to romance novels.

I should have taken a photo of our thermometer an hour ago when I went past it–99 degrees, and the sensor for it is in the shade, so I’m afraid to wonder what our backyard feels like directly in the sun. Fortunately, I don’t have to go outside today to find out–I should, because my tomatoes need to be tied up more on their stakes, but they can wait until it doesn’t feel like the first level of hell outside. I’ve been trying to space out the household chores for the weekend that are generating more heat.  My younger son’s birthday was mid-week, so we had his birthday dinner last night, and he wanted mac and cheese, which requires the oven. So the laundry waited until today, and I’m going to only do the really necessary stuff today, and then the other couple of loads that aren’t needed immediately over the next few days.

My other plans for this afternoon are to make a huge batch of salad so I don’t have to cook anything for a couple of days, work on a manuscript, and do some reading. While in our air-conditioned house, pretending it isn’t so miserable outside. Maybe I can pretend it’s winter instead.

That looks much better.

On the other hand, it is now my birthday month. So maybe I can hold off on the snow for a little longer and instead have cake and ice cream. Oh! Or just ice cream cake!

( Photo on Foter.com )

That looks amazing, and I might have to make one of those when the date is closer.

While I’m trying to find ways to pretend summer isn’t really here, I have a little snippet of the third Medusa to share with you.

________________

Hunter stuck close all afternoon, not giving her a chance to do anything foolish, as he was sure she was planning to do the first chance she got. He sat on the recliner while she curled into a corner of the sofa with her laptop. Every so often, her fingers would fly over the keyboard, then she would simply sit and scroll slowly over whatever it was she was reading.

For a while, he studied some papers he’d brought home the day before, then he moved on to his laptop, searching for Greek myths online. Eventually, she sighed, and leaned back in her seat.

“What’s wrong?” He lifted his gaze from his screen, away from a fascinating college paper someone had written about Perseus and Medusa, noting the faint frown lines on her forehead. Whatever it was, she was aggravated.

Her mouth tightened for a moment, before she blew out a quick breath. “My cousin’s husband.”

He set his laptop aside and rested his elbows on his knees. “What did he say?”

Her grey eyes were stormy when she lifted her gaze to meet his again. “He said he wants to talk to you.”

Hunter stifled the smile that wanted to spread over his face at her words. “Really?” He noted the slight narrowing of her eyes and realized he hadn’t kept the smile from his tone.

“I told him it’s not necessary.”

“I disagree.” He set his laptop on the coffee table and got up from his seat to join her on the sofa. “Which husband is this?”

“The security guy.” Katharine’s mouth tightened. “And it isn’t necessary. I’m not staying here indefinitely and putting you in danger, too.”

“I think that’s my choice to make.” He leaned over and looked at the screen on her laptop, where a short email had a telephone number after a signature. Hunter scooped his cell from the table and dialed the number, watching her expression darken still further. Right now, she could be as pissed off as she wanted.

She pushed to her feet and dropped her laptop onto the coffee table, pacing away from him in the direction of the fireplace.

“Hi, this is Hunter Phelps,” he said when a gruff male voice answered the line. “I’m with Katharine.”

There was a brief silence, and then he heard the other man sigh softly. “Did you have to wrestle the phone number out of her?”

He chuckled, watching her shoulders tense. “Not quite.”

“I’m Ryder Ware, married to Katharine’s cousin Mena. How did you get involved in this?”

“That’s kind of personal. Let’s just say I happened to be going to visit at just the right time to catch the Harvester entering her house.”

The other man muttered something under his breath. “Damn,” he said. “She didn’t say he’d gotten into the house.” He blew out a breath. “That’s bad, if they know where she lives. You can’t let her go back there.”

“Working on it.” He watched her scowl as she turned to pace back again, avoiding his gaze.

“Work harder. She’ll be stubborn and won’t make it easy for you.”

“I’ve noticed that.” He followed her back across the room, noting the flex of her muscles in the faded jeans she wore, her thighs strong as she strode across his living room. He smiled a little.

“Ah, that didn’t take long.”

“No.” He moved to stand in the doorway, blocking any attempt she might make to leave. “As soon as she felt better, actually.”

Katharine glared at him over her shoulder.

His smile widened.

“That sounds about right. She hasn’t made any actual attempt to go, has she?”

“Not yet.”

“Good. I’ll have Mena try to persuade her that staying with you right now is in her best interest.”

“She mentioned you have a security company.”

“Yes.” The other man’s voice sounded satisfied. “But there’s only so much even I can do against the Harvesters.”

Hunter’s smile faded. “That doesn’t sound good.”

Katharine shot him a frown as she dropped onto the sofa and picked up her laptop again.

“These people are determined, Hunter. They don’t stop, and there are thousands of them.”

He considered that. “Is there any way to know which ones are in the area?”

Ryder sighed. “No. There are permanent addresses, of course, many of them along the eastern seaboard, but they move all around on their hunt. Mena and Katharine’s cousin Andi had Harvesters from across the country hunting her in Maine years ago.”

Hunter didn’t like the sound of that. “That’ll make this a bit more challenging then.”

The other man laughed, humorlessly. “I think that’s an understatement. You need to keep her out of sight as much as possible. They have no way to connect her to you, do they?”

“No. I made sure we weren’t followed when we left her house, and this relationship is still pretty new.” He noted the way her shoulders stiffened at his words. He wondered if she were more annoyed by his refusal to let her leave on her own, or his characterization of them as having a relationship.

________________

I do love Hunter, and the third Medusa is set during the summertime, so I guess that is a good snippet for today. Now I’m off to get my salad stuff started so I can sit down with Nora and maybe a frozen beverage.

How are you staying cool this week?

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

 

 

I am ready for a break. I’m not going to get one for a while (my own fault, for scheduling my vacation in September), but I am definitely ready for one. Somewhere quiet, where I can sit to read and write without interruption. Maybe not the beach, at least not this time of year. But somewhere away.

I hate complaining about it, since it can’t be changed, but I am definitely feeling it this year, and my Maine week seems very far away at the moment while we’re insanely busy at the day-job.  My brain is tired, so not much writing happened this week. I haven’t even cooked in the past week (yay for prepared salads at the grocery store!). Since I did all the household chores yesterday, I’m thinking about doing some reading this afternoon, some for pleasure, and some for editing, just for a rest. And looking at next year’s calendar to better schedule time off at the day-job.

Before I go dig out my Stephen King from the in-progress reading stack, I have a little snippet from the manuscript I’ll look at later for you.

________________

When her mother’s car pulled into the driveway beside hers, she inhaled deeply, forcing some of the tension from her shoulders and neck. After three days of forced solitude, she wanted to see her family. Very much.

Jason burst through the back door. “Aunt Phila!”

She held out her arms, bracing when he flung himself at her. “Hi, baby.” She scooped him up, even though he really was getting too big for that. She kissed one of his cheeks, then his mouth, then his other cheek, while he giggled. It was their routine for whenever she’d been away. A kiss for each day they’d been apart.

He wrapped his arms around her neck, tight. “I missed you.”

“You know I missed you, too.” She caught sight of her mother coming in the back door and gave her a strained smile. Her mother lifted one eyebrow, and Philomena shook her head. “How was school today, buddy?” She set him back on his feet and unzipped his coat.

He shrugged out of his superhero backpack and his coat, bouncing the whole time. “You know the hamster in our room? Harvey? He got out of his cage during recess today, so we had to crawl around looking for him till Nita found him hiding under the bookcase in the back corner. Oh, and we got a new girl in our class today. Her name is Rose, and she has red hair and a million billion freckles on her face. And Eddie brought a picture of his new German Shepherd puppy with him. Eddie’s gonna train him to be a guard dog to keep bad guys away. He said I should come see him this weekend. Can I do that?”

Philomena relaxed a little more, listening to him while she finished dinner prep, nuking some frozen vegetables and setting the table.

When Jason came up for air, he frowned at the table. “Hey, how comes there’s four plates, Aunt Phila?”

Her spine stiffened a little, and she took a quick breath as she turned away from the stove.

“Because I came to visit, little guy,” Ryder said from the foot of the stairs.

“Daddy!” Jason shrieked and met his father halfway across the room.

Ryder’s grin was as big as Jason’s, and he swung his son around in a big hug while Jason clung tightly to him.

Philomena watched as they greeted one another, doing silly guy stuff, funny handshakes and high-fives, and hugging again, and her heart squeezed in her chest, painfully. She’d never seen such naked delight on her nephew’s face. Or imagined it in his father’s.

“What’s got you so uptight?” her mother asked quietly.

“You should have told me he was coming.” She kept her voice low, too, and shot a sharp glance at her mom.

Agatha Gregory smiled instead of looking abashed. “You needed to come see us anyway. I couldn’t tell him ‘no’ either.” She shrugged with one shoulder. “You’ll have to deal.”

Philomena opened her mouth to tell her mother what she thought of that idea, but Ryder crossed the floor to them, Jason at his side. “Supper’s ready, guys,” she said instead.

“Let me help.” Ryder winked at her.

“I’ve got it.” She moved around Ryder to the stove, shutting the burner off and scooping the beef mixture into a bowl to put on the table. When she turned around, he blocked her way, a dangerous look in his brown eyes. “I’m fine, Ryder,” she said stiffly.

“Yes, you are,” he breathed, leaning closer and cupping the bowl, his hands directly over hers, sending bolts of heat shooting up her arms. “But I’m going to help whether you like it or not.”

“Here. Take it.” She slid her fingers free and let him have the bowl. Somehow, though, she didn’t think he was just talking about supper preparation, and that made her very nervous.

_________________

Now I’m going to go pretend I’m reading on a beach, or a cabin porch overlooking a lake, like the one below. Do you have any tricks to get in some down-time when you have to stay home? I’d love some ideas.

( Photo by inkknife_2000 (9 million views) on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

 

 

 

It’s been a crazy week at the day-job: by the end of this week, there will be three of us doing the job of five on my team, because the other two are leaving for new adventures. It will be the first time since our team was formed last August that we’ve had any staffing changes. We do have someone new starting, but it will be a few weeks until he is trained and really ready to take on some of the work the other two are leaving behind, which means for a couple of weeks, things are going to be insane. Normally, I work with about a dozen people. Until the new guy is trained, I’m adding fifteen more to my list, and I have to say I’m freaking out a little. Even when he is ready to take on his own work, we’ll still have more than we started with, until the final spot on the team is filled again, and we don’t know when that will be.

I’ve been trying to ignore the new, longer list until it’s actually in effect, but it’s still sitting there on my desk, staring at me while I’m doing my normal work. And then yesterday, a helpful little voice in my head pointed out how much more time it is going to take me to deal with these things at the day-job, and boy, that’s really going to cut into the writing time.  Picture me beating my head on the nearest wall.

So I am setting my writing goals aside for the present (and trying not to freak out about that, too), and I am just going to write, revise, study in any free moments I get.  Like I normally do, only with less free moments, I suppose.  And now that I’ve thought about that, I’m kind of freaking out.

 

Nope, not going to freak out. I’m going to take a couple of deep breaths and think of something nice. Like going to see Nora Roberts, Linda Howard and Barbara Delinsky next month. That will be a fun booksigning. And even before that, we’ll have a birthday dinner here for my younger son, so there’ll be good food and family. Okay, I feel a little better.

Before I go get more writing time in, I have a little snippet of story for you, from the third Medusa.

________________

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.

“Katharine,” he said quietly.

“You should go, Hunter.” Her voice was choked, hushed.

He frowned, his gaze still on the snakes. They were in her hair. “Honey, there are snakes–”

“I know. You should go.” She sucked in a harsh breath, and the lump of her under the blankets contracted.

His frown deepened. That couldn’t be. The snakes were not just in her hair, they were her hair. His eyes widened, and his jaw dropped. “Honey, I think you’d better tell me.” His racing mind called up the other man’s words–“the Medusa.”

But those old myths weren’t real.

One of the dark snakes lifted its head from the pillow in his direction and hissed at him.

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Now I’m going to go write, but I could use some encouragement this week, to keep from any more freaking out.  What do you do when things are super-insane in your life?