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My lilac is blooming, and it smells so good right now. I always wish they lasted longer than they do, but I’ll be happy for the amazing scent while it lasts, and then be happy with the next flowers that bloom in my garden, just maybe not as happy as with these.

I keep thinking I’m making progress with my writing goals, and then non-writing life things keep cropping up. I will say I’ll be very happy when we have my aunt’s estate settled and no more ‘oh, by the way’ things come up.  I have been writing, though, just not as much as I want. This month, we have estate things to deal with, and my family is getting together in a couple of weeks to sprinkle my dad’s ashes.  It will be good to see everybody, but heartbreakingly sad at the same time, because we’ll be saying good-bye to my dad. Technically, we did that in February, but this makes it feel a lot more final.  Pretty soon we’ll also be placing my aunt’s ashes, too, in a spot she’d love–we’re moving my grandma’s rose bush to a new garden spot, and we’re going to “plant” my aunt with her.  Truth be told, I’m a little nervous about moving the rose bush–it’s been in that spot since before my grandma died in 1980, so I’m hoping it isn’t too unhappy with being moved to a place nearby.

It is almost time for me to be planting my tomatoes here, too.  Another week or so, and we’ll be past the point of freeze danger, so the tomatoes can go into the beds, and I’ll be looking forward to yummy, fresh tomatoes from the garden. I have lettuce to plant, too, enough to keep my salad bowls full for the summer, rotating through the season. I may have to fight the rabbits for my lettuce, but I think I should have enough for all of us.

I did a little more reading of old manuscripts, too, this week.  A couple will need a lot of work to be publishable down the road, but one that I’d forgotten about actually is much better than I remember it being, so it made me happy to add it to my list of things to work on (though that one will have to wait until next year).  It’s funny reading through some of these old stories.  I’ve got a lot of them, and obviously some are better than others, even before I start reworking them, but I realized I’ve done a lot of moving around, from genre to genre. I have a couple of time travels, a whole lot of short contemporary stories, and some longer contemporary stories, as well as the paranormal romances. I have on my writing to-do list for the year to dig through my idea notebook, too.  I haven’t looked at it in a long time, because I’ve been busy with other things, so it’s going to be fun to look at the things I have there, to see what I could work into an existing manuscript, or combine to create something new. Or just for entertainment, to see how far I’ve come since I started adding things to the notebook.

I’m about to go back to working on my shape-shifting tiger, inputting everything I wrote by hand at the day-job this week, but I think I need to toss in a little story snippet, maybe some from another of my tiger shifter stories. Just as an FYI, the hero in this story is one of the broodiest, with a terrible cursing habit, so be warned.

________________

Anton scowled at the laptop screen. Another fucking rogue group. He was sick of this shit.

He shoved to his feet and swung around to stare out the window. The bright sunlight made him squint, which annoyed him further. It was too early in the morning to be so bright. The snow on the ground didn’t help matters.

The tap at his office door had him clearing his frown before he turned around.

“Uncle Boyd.” He nodded.

The older man came in, his sharp blue gaze missing nothing. “You heard?”

Anton dipped his chin once in acknowledgment. “I just got the email from the council.”

The rogue uprising had been going on for several years now, and each time the security council thought they might have gotten the upper hand, the malcontents found some new recruits. He glanced at the open laptop on his desk. This time, it was a hyena attack in Egypt, where they shouldn’t even be. Fuckers.

Anton took a slow breath and clasped his hands behind him. “I’ll find out what I can, so we can go into the council meeting up to date.”

Boyd Wentworth smiled. “I know you will.” He didn’t leave, though, just tipped his head slightly to study Anton.

He kept his expression bland. “What’s up?” His uncle had something else on his mind, and he had the uneasy feeling it had nothing to do with rogue shifters.

“When did you last take a vacation?”

Anton frowned before he could stop himself. “What?”

Boyd smiled. “Time off. You haven’t had any in a while.”

“Too much to do.”

“You should take a couple days. At least a long weekend.”

He shook his head. “Depending on what happens at the meeting, we might be a lot busier again.”

The older man shrugged. “You haven’t had a break in longer than I can remember. Take the weekend, Thursday, Friday and Monday, do something not related to work. Find a pretty woman to have a drink. We can manage for a couple of days.”

Anton considered his uncle’s words. “Why?”

Boyd’s smile slipped a little. “I have a hunch things are going to heat up again, and if you don’t get a little down-time in soon, you probably won’t be able to for a long time.”

Interesting. “You’ve heard something more?”

The other man’s smile widened again. “Maybe. Just a rumor. I’ll talk to you about it after I confirm.”

He nodded. “Okay.”

“I mean it about the long weekend. Once we get the meeting out of the way this afternoon, you should be able to take that long weekend. That’s an order.”

Anton raised an eyebrow, but his uncle was turning away already. This probably wasn’t the best time to take a mini vacation, not with fresh trouble on the horizon.

That didn’t mean he couldn’t actually work, he mused, easing into his seat again, even if he wasn’t in the office. He could work from home.

Though finding a pretty woman for a drink was appealing. Or for one night. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a date, or even a quick fuck.

And now that he’d thought it, the idea grew more appealing.

He didn’t think his last casual sex partner was still on the market, though. Pretty sure she’d gotten married. A year or two ago, now that he really thought about it.

Plenty of other willing women, he was sure. He just needed to find the right one at the right moment.

But that was for later.  Right now, he had work to do, phone calls to make.

Rogues to start hunting down.

________________

I hope you all have a great week, with lots of good things blooming for you!

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

 

 

 

 

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Mother Nature can’t make up her mind here.  I know it’s Pennsylvania, but this is ridiculous by most standards.  Yesterday was almost 80 degrees, and I had the windows open while I was working, until a cold front blew in at about 50 miles an hour, and I had to close everything up. Today it’s in the 50s outside, and I had to put on socks. I did discover the other day that my little forsythia is blooming. Dad sent it home with me two falls ago, and I haven’t managed to get it planted before now, so I have to do that next week.

I haven’t gotten everything done that I intended today, but I did get some necessary things checked off my list, which makes me happy. Yesterday, too–that was all about chores, and today was supposed to be more writing. I still have time for that, but if an unplanned errand is cemented, that will kill the rest of my day.  I’ll know shortly, and I’m torn between hoping to get it over with and hoping to put it off a couple more days so I can write.

I did want to do some garden clean-up this weekend, too, but the early arrival of the wet weather yesterday made me delay that. Right now, it feels and looks more like March outside my window than late April.  Good for the story I’m working on, I guess, since it’s more winter-early spring than late spring, so I should try to keep that in mind for mood.

Before I get back to either my chores or my writing, how about a little story snippet? Maybe some Medusa today?

________________

“You tried to send him to Ohio?” She still stared at him, confusion in her blue eyes. “Don’t you think reinforcements would be a good thing for you?”

He shrugged. “Stavros has never been one to wait until he has all the information he needs for a job, and I’d prefer he went somewhere else right now. Unfortunately, he’s heading this way.”

Her cheeks paled, and she dropped her gaze to the frying pan before she stirred the food there.

“He’ll be here just in time for you to turn him to stone, if he’s being honest about his timing.”

“If?” She looked up, fear shadowing her bright eyes.

He rubbed at the back of his neck, hoping to dissipate some of the tension gathering there. “He isn’t always.” And that was far from the worst thing about his character.

“So now I have two killers after me.” She swallowed. “Fantastic.”

Kallan glared at her, even though he knew she had a point—he had come here to kill her. “Thanks.”

“I’m being honest, even if your cousin isn’t.” She lifted one shoulder in a shrug and set down the spatula.

The scent of their meal filled the space between them, but he ignored it for now. “How about some honesty from me? I’m known for not lying, which is why he’ll believe I’m in Ohio. I am not going to let him kill you.”

She snorted. “Until you get the amulet.”

He clenched his jaw harder and wondered how much more it would take to crack a tooth. He couldn’t even protest, as that was his ultimate goal—to collect the amulet that protected the Medusa’s offspring so the world could know them for the monsters they were. To make it easier for his cousins to find and eliminate them all.

Except Andrea wasn’t a monster.

And he wasn’t at all sure now that he could kill her. He never should have given in to the attraction between them.

He watched her pace the small area between the island and the sink. “I had an idea earlier,” he said after a few minutes.

She didn’t stop walking, only paused to stir their supper. “About what?”

“About you not turning me to stone.” He was fairly certain she wasn’t going to like it, but he had to bring it up.

She arched one eyebrow at him, silent for a moment. “Let’s hear it.”

“You have that sleep mask upstairs,” he started.

She shook her head before he’d even finished speaking. “No.”

“It would involve a little trust on your part,” he continued a little louder. “That I wouldn’t do anything to you while you were defenseless.”

Andrea kept shaking her head. “No.”

“What can I do to persuade you?”

She stopped walking and faced the sink, her head hanging as she braced herself on the edge of the counter.

He waited.

“There’s nothing.”

His heart sank a little. To protect her from his vicious cousin, he would agree to nearly anything. He tried not to think beyond that though, to the reason—whether it was because he still thought he should fulfill his destiny, or because he’d had sex with her. He just didn’t want Stavros to get his hands on her. That was enough for now. “There has to be something.”

 

She sighed, still staring into the sink. She unclenched her fingers from the edge of the counter, then traced a pattern on the surface.

“Andrea.” His tone was almost a singsong, with that faintest of accents. And it was nearer this time than the last time he’d spoken.

Andi ground her teeth together, counting to ten. It was stupid. She knew it was the start of PMS. She knew she was overreacting. Knowing didn’t make it better. She glared at the counter instead of Kallan. And counted ten more.

A small ding appeared in the granite. She shut her eyes. “I think you should go.”

He snorted, and it took every ounce of her willpower not to look up at him.

“Andrea.” His tone was low now, patient.

“Harvester.” Her own was not. Patient, that is. She almost felt like she could spit nails she was so angry. He was asking her to trust him when his sole intention in tracking her here was to kill her. And now he wanted her trust. She stared at the new divot in the granite.

His finger touched the ding. “Stress speeds up the process, I see,” he said mildly.

She nodded.

“What can I do to earn just that little bit of trust?” He slid his fingertip closer to her hand on the counter.

“I need a pair of scissors.” She didn’t know what had made her say it, but she did need them. Very badly. She knew she couldn’t trust him, and nothing he could do would change that. But she could pretend for the sake of getting the scissors.

He considered for a moment, his fingertip grazing the side of her hand. “Do you mind if I ask why?”

“I need a haircut.” Also true.

He bent nearer, his expression disbelieving. “A haircut?”

She nodded, trying to avoid his eyes.

His gaze slid to her hair, and she knew when he realized her reasoning. Awareness deepened the green of his eyes. “All right.”

________________

Now it’s off to a hot tiger shifter for a while.  Are you having spring or winter at your house today?

 

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

Yesterday, it was 85 degrees, and I spent half the day doing yard work at my aunt’s house and came home sunburned and sore. Today, the high temperature was 59, just after midnight, and it’s been cool and showery all day long. Spring must actually be here.

Today is a perfect day for staying inside and reading (or, in my case, writing). I did get in some reading time, between final tax prep and laundry, and I was so tired last night, that I actually slept in this morning, so I feel pretty good about my Sunday.  But now it’s Sunday evening, which means my brain starts thinking about the work-week ahead.  The day-job shouldn’t be too crazy this week (if things go as scheduled, anyway), which means I’ll get in more writing time than the past few weeks. The manual labor yesterday was good, since my brain was kind-of fried after the last week or two–we’ve been busy again, and I’ve been helping out another team in the office since my schedule was lighter.  But fried brain isn’t good for creative writing, so I didn’t get as much writing done as I would like.  But I’m starting the week with some new words on pages, so it’s already a good start to the new week.  But I was thinking the other day that I am ready for a long weekend, or at least an extra day off, sometime soon. I still have almost a week of time off to schedule (more than that if I count the 40 hours I am allowed to carry over into next year), and I am need of a break so much that I don’t even think I will feel the usual guilt that someone might have to cover my work.

Am I the only one who feels that way? That if I take a day off, or even part of one, that someone else might have to do my work, and then feel bad about it? I almost always feel guilty about having to rely on someone else when I am scheduled to be off.  I know it’s stupid, because I cover other people’s work often when they’re off.

So I’m going to shut off that stupid voice that tries to remind me someone else will have to deal with my work, and I’m going to look at the calendar when I get to work tomorrow and see what I can schedule soon.  But right now, I am going to switch more laundry around, and get back to my writing while my brain is still cooperating.

How about a little snippet from my first shifter story before I go?

________________

The day went too quickly. When she first had a chance to look at her watch, it was after lunchtime. Tessa intended to leave a little early so she could take a look at home and find out if she had any furniture left before the rental store closed for the night.

Amy stuck her head around the office door about two-thirty. “Knock, knock. I’ve brought you a visitor.”

Tessa’s breath caught and her burgeoning smile froze as Harley strolled into the room. “Hi,” she managed.

He smiled and dropped into one of the chairs in front of her desk. “How’s your day going?”

“O-okay.” She sat back in her chair, taking a slow breath.

“I have some news to share with you.” His smile faded a little.

She tipped her head to one side. “What news?”

“Dad sent me, actually. The break-in at your house was done by members of the local coyote pack.”

Tessa frowned. “What?”

“Coyotes. They’re unhappy with our family, and they targeted you.”

She watched him for a moment as she pondered his claim. “Why would they do that?”

He shrugged. “You’re like family. Dad wants you to stay at the compound until he can make sure things are settled.”

Tessa stared over her desk at Harley. “Absolutely not.”

His jaw clenched. “It’s for your safety, Tessa.”

“I have my own home, and, thanks to you, a shiny new alarm system to keep me safe.”

“That alarm isn’t designed for this sort of thing. It’s really mostly to frighten away any casual thief, or to let you know when there’s trouble so you can call for help. But, Tessa, that help isn’t instantaneous. It takes more than a few minutes for us to get to you, and longer for the police, depending on where in the county they’re patrolling when the call comes in.” A muscle in his jaw ticked. “The coyotes aren’t going to be frightened by your alarm system. By the time anyone gets to you, they could have hurt you or worse.”

“I appreciate your concern, Harley,” she said, keeping her tone even, which was a challenge since she was now as annoyed as he was. “But I’m not defenseless, and anybody who tries to put his hands on me won’t go away unmarked.”

He growled. “I think you’re underestimating just how determined they are.”

“I’m not going to change my mind. Staying at the compound is unnecessary.”

He was silent for a moment, his golden eyes narrowed. “Fine. Then you’re getting a babysitter.”

“Oh, for Gods’ sakes.” She shot to her feet. “I am not a child, Harley, and you are not my father.”

A grim smile curved his lips as he pushed to his own feet. “Good thing, or you’d be over my knee.”

Tessa’s heart beat faster at that idea, and heat burned her cheeks.

Harley’s expression shifted to something dangerous. Predatory.

________________

Are you doing anything relaxing this week, like playing hooky for a day, or planning an upcoming vacation? I’m going to devote a little time this week to narrowing down some of our Maine vacation plans for later this year. Have a great week!

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

 

 

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

We’re almost to the middle of April, yet it snowed here for much of the day. Not a real winter snow that accumulates on the ground, but enough to keep my less-busy co-workers from walking outside today.  I’m not as unhappy about it as others, though I didn’t get to see it until I finished for the day (late). It’s just enough to have to put your windshield wipers on delay to keep the window clear while you drive, but the ground is too warm for the snow, so it isn’t lasting, and it will change to rain this evening.

But it’s odd, after the non-winter we had, to be getting snow now, when the flowers are beginning to bloom.  I have a yard sale planned for next month, and now I’m wondering if it will be nice enough then to do that.  I’m sure it will, and I don’t intend to change the date now that I have all my help lined up, including my kids.  Plus I hate yard sales. I worked retail for so long, and my last retail job was so terrible, that I am not looking forward to this yard sale, but it has to be done, and it will clear out a lot of ‘someone else’s treasure’ stuff for my family.  It’s just a lot of prep and then a need for a lot of patience on the day. I can’t remember the last time I went to a yard sale, maybe when I was in college, with a friend. I prefer flea markets, but I suppose they’re mostly the same when it comes down to it, though I have made some nice finds at the flea market–pretty old vases, or kitchen utensils.

The heroine in the shifter story I’m writing at the moment has shopped flea markets and second-hand shops the past few years, but not for treasures, for necessity.  It’s been a long time since she had the budget flexibility to do any unnecessary shopping, but her new job has given her a little cushion.

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Joe caught her arm. “Where are you going?”

“The clearance section.”

His eyebrows went up a little.  “I thought you were looking for a new blouse.”

Piper flushed. “I am.” She looked away. “I can always find something in the clearance racks.”

“But you liked that blouse back there.” His eyes narrowed a little.

“It’s too much.” Heat spread from her cheeks to her throat, and it took all her self-control not to squirm under his gaze when the understanding dawned.

“Okay.”

She frowned now. That was too easy.  When he didn’t say anything else, she led the way to the sale racks, resolutely ignoring everything else they walked by. She wanted to turn around and tell him it wasn’t a big deal. The last time she’d needed something, she went to a thrift store and settled for someone else’s castoffs. She started to rifle through the shirts in her size, skipping over sweaters and colors she didn’t like. Piper paused, her hand on a blue blouse. Now that she thought about it, though, she didn’t remember the last time she’d bought anything for herself that hadn’t come from a second-hand store.

“What’s wrong?”

She startled, then glanced up at Joe. “Nothing. Just looking.” She pushed the hanger away and kept going. He’d always been too observant, even when they were kids and she’d been tagging along with him and her brother. Even when she hadn’t asked to be included, he always made sure to include here, most of the time over Chris’s protests.  Piper frowned and lifted a white blouse from the rack. Plain, button-down, and boring. For a second, she thought of the pretty blouse with the tucked front that she’d looked at earlier. This would do the job, and–she glanced at the sale tag–at a quarter of the price. It didn’t have to be pretty.

In under ten minutes, she’d collected half a dozen tops, two skirts, and a pair of navy pants, all from the clearance racks. With the things in her current wardrobe, this would bolster her work clothes enough for her to save her next several paychecks for rent. She had to start apartment-hunting. She hated being in the way at Joe’s.

“Is that all?” Joe’s mild tone distracted her from her dismal thoughts.

She made herself smile. “Yes, that will do.”

“Fastest shopper ever,” he teased as they turned toward the front of the store again. “I think you shop even faster than Tessa. Hell, you shop faster than I do. India would be horrified if she was here. She lives to shop, you know. This wouldn’t even be long enough for her to be warmed up.”

Piper shook her head. His sister could afford to shop to her heart’s content. Piper didn’t have that luxury, and she was okay with that reality. She had her daughter to think of.

________________

I’m going to go get a little writing in before I call it a night. So how do you feel about yard sales? Or flea markets? Love them? Hate them? On the fence? I’ll be spending my weekend doing more prep for ours, so wish me luck!

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

My last load of laundry is in the dryer, the dinner leftovers are put away (or sent home with the boys and some to the neighbor), and it’s finally time to relax. But I don’t feel very relaxed. I feel antsy and edgy.  I think it’s because there’s so much going on here–until we get through the yard sale next month, I don’t think I’m going to have much down-time (and have I mentioned how much I hate yard sales? I do, so this is my one and only. Ugh.). The yard sale isn’t my only non-writing project either, and the day-job is still insanely busy. But I did spend quite a bit of time in the last week working on my revised writing goals for the year. I still need to tweak, and to be realistic–if I’m going away on vacation for a week in September, chances aren’t good I’m going to get as much done as I think I should.  So I will work out the last of the kinks in that by mid-week and be ready to work on my April goals.

I’ve also been looking over Medusa #2, tweaking and making notes on things I want to polish up, and doing a casual read of Medusa #3.  Those won’t be so bad to complete. The harder work will come when I get to the point of formatting, covers, release dates… My mind spins just thinking about it.  So for now, I’m going to try to rein that in and stay focused on the stories. No need to freak myself out yet.

I did think earlier in the week how much I could use a vacation.  September is a long way off.  I may need a couple of long weekends between now and then if I’m going to make it that long until vacation.  But I do have Maine to look forward to.

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

It just seems so very far in the future right now.  I guess I should count myself lucky that I’ve got so much going on right now, that time should fly right by for a little while.

While I try to convince myself of that, I have a little snippet of my first shifter story to share with you this week.

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Upstairs, she pulled her tote out of the closet and started folding her clothes into it. Since the alarm was functional, she could go home tomorrow after work, instead of returning here to the compound, and right now, putting some distance between herself and Harley seemed like a very smart idea.

Of course, she reflected, she probably didn’t have any usable furniture left in her house. She hadn’t asked, though the trash bin in her driveway yesterday when Harley took her to pick up her car had been overflowing. Tessa frowned, putting the tote aside to think. She might need to rent some furniture until it was time to move.

She sat on the edge of the bed. Maybe a sleeping bag for tomorrow night, then she could see what she needed once she got home.

The tap on her door startled her, and she shoved upright again. “Yes?”

The door opened just a little, and Harley stuck his head around it. “Hey.”

“Harley.” She swallowed, feeling a blush creep up her throat to her face.

“Can I persuade you to join me for a walk in the rose garden?”

Tessa felt her pulse quicken. “Not a good idea.”

One of his eyebrows winged up. “Why not?”

“I have things to deal with tonight.”

One corner of his mouth tipped up, too. “You can’t take fifteen minutes for a walk?”

“Harley, we shouldn’t have kissed last night.” Much as she’d dreamed of that very thing for years.

His smile vanished.

“And it can’t happen again.”

He scowled at her. “Why not? We’re both adults.”

Her heart thumped against her ribs when he stepped into the room. “Because I’m not staying, and you are. Because you’re my best friend’s brother. Because–” she stopped talking when he took a step toward her.

“Because you’re afraid.”

Heat rushed to her face. “I am not.”

He smiled again, a dangerous curve of his lips. “You are.”

She frowned at him. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not happening again.”

“We’ll see.”

“Please leave my room, Harley.”

He winked at her.

“Not again. We can’t.” She pointed at the door.

He backed out of it, his amber gaze still on her face. “We’ll see.”

Tessa shoved the door shut and leaned against it, her pulse skipping. Why couldn’t Harley have wanted this years ago? Even if it was just for a summer fling?

She straightened. It didn’t matter. In a matter of weeks, she’d be gone.

________________

What will be occupying your time this week? Lots of work at your day-jobs? A break to read for hours? That last one sounds lovely and reminds me I am overdue for one of those breaks.

 

 

 

Not an actual picture of me, but a fair representation of this weekend. Only there should be more crumpled up papers.  I’m not trashing one of my stories, just revising my writing goals for the year now that I’ve survived the craziest week I’ve had in three years at the day-job.  And as I’m revising, I’m really glad I built in some padding for my original goals, though I had no idea how much of it I was going to need when things went south.

I think in the next day or two, I’ll have it fine-tuned and then I can get back to rewriting Medusa #2, which I was enjoying, right up until the start of crazy week.  And can I just tell you, in the midst of all the insanity, I finally got my snowstorm–on the two craziest days, of course.  It started snowing while we were in the office Tuesday, and I had to clear off my car before I could go home. Then I had to clear off even more to go to the office Wednesday morning.  And then, after almost 11 hours at work, I had to not just clear off more snow, but shovel the car out, since the maintenance guys had been plowing all day.  And now most of my 12″+ of snow is gone already.  Spring in Pennsylvania. I didn’t even get to take any pictures of it, and it was beautiful, no matter what my summer-loving friend says.

The timing of the storm was fun all the way around–we had tickets for a concert Tuesday night, so after I got done with the crazy at work, then we had to drive through the snow to dinner and the show, and it was totally worth it.  It was a nice reprieve before the extra-long Wednesday.

I have done some writing this week, on hot tiger shifter #5.  But I’ve been doing more rewriting on other things than new writing for poor Joe.  Fortunately, Joe is patient, so he’ll be ready when I get back to his story.  Which might be a little while, since I’ve reworked the writing goals for the rest of the year.  Poor Joe, but first up will be Medusas, and then tiger shifters.

And since I’m in Medusa-mode today, how about a little taste of Medusa #3?

________________

Katharine had had enough. Her skin was tingling with the need for release again, and her heart beat too fast. And she hadn’t seen any likely candidates. Even a desperate Medusa had standards.

Which meant it was time to go home and break out a couple more vibrators to get through tonight. Dammit.

She took another sip from her glass, smiling at Ramona from her post on the deck. Her friend danced enthusiastically with someone she’d greeted even more enthusiastically just a little while ago. She hated to interrupt, but it really was time to go home.

Katharine sighed and shifted her shoulders, trying to loosen up the tight muscles there, turning her gaze over the crowd one last time. Her breath caught in her chest.

He was gorgeous, in a rugged sort of way. His nose had been broken at least once, but it didn’t matter. A dimple dented his chin, and he had the brightest blue eyes she’d ever seen, black hair dipping over one of them. Even better, his green shirt stretched taut over strong shoulders and a wide chest, then tucked into a pair of jeans that fit nicely on narrow hips.

Her heart beat faster in anticipation.

Then he glanced up from his conversation with a shorter man whose arm was wrapped around an even shorter woman and caught her eye. A slow smile curved his mouth as his gaze slid down the front of her, then back up, making her skin warm in anticipation, lingering on her mouth.

Her lips tingled hopefully.

She took a drink from the cup she still held. Whatever frozen thing Ramona had given her was melting and slushy, but she could still taste the bite of alcohol as it hit her tongue.

He moved away from the couple he was with, toward her, and her temperature went up a couple more degrees. His long-legged stride was confident, though he didn’t rush.

No, damn him, he made her wait, pausing once, briefly, to greet someone along the way.

She tightened her grip on the stem of the plastic cup and took a quick breath.

He finally stopped about two steps away, and she could smell his cologne, something musky that made her pulse race even faster.

She felt her nipples tighten inside her vest.

“Hi.” The low tone of his voice raised goosebumps on her arms despite the warm evening air.

“Hi.” She put out her right hand. “I’m Katharine Vardos.”

He smiled again, that slow curve of his lips that made heat spread in her belly, from the inside out, until her panties were damp when she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

Then he wrapped his long, strong fingers around hers. “Hunter Phelps. Nice to meet you.”

Heat shot up her arm from where he held her hand, rising into her face. “Are you a friend of Ramona’s?” She left her hand in his, her brain already imagining his long fingers elsewhere on her body. The mental images made her breathing quicken.

He shook his head, sliding his thumb across the back of her hand. “My buddy Lance is, though.” His bright gaze dropped to her mouth again.

She inhaled slowly. “Are you a dancer, Hunter?” Blue eyes she could drown in, she thought when he met her gaze again.

“Occasionally,” he said, tightening his hold on her hand. “Was that an invitation?”

“Yes.” Oh, please let him say yes, she thought.

He set his beer bottle down on the deck railing, then took her cup and set it aside, too. “Let’s go.”

________________

Katharine and Hunter had some surprises for me when I was writing the first draft of their story, and I hope when the time comes that everyone else enjoys those as much as I did.

Before I go, I wonder how many of you have had to rearrange your plans already for the rest of the year? Surely I’m not alone in having something unexpected happen that pushed your goals off-track.  How are you managing with getting back on-track?

 

 

( Photo by MobilFunk7 on Foter.com / CC BY )

Here we go again.

I expected the past week to be smooth sailing after we got through our busy day on Tuesday at the day-job. I had a vacation day planned for Friday so I could have a long weekend (haven’t had one of those in months!). I had plans for the weekend. And then we had a major schedule shift at the day-job, which basically accelerated two weeks’ worth of work into five days. Yikes! I could have still taken my vacation day Friday, but I would have felt really bad about it, since Friday is one of two busy days in this five day stretch, and I hate leaving my work for others, even though we work as a team, so I rescheduled my day off for the next week.

We made it through Friday, smoother sailing than we expected, which was great. I still had some weekend goals–one errand I had planned on, the usual household chores, writing, all the usual things.  Then my one errand turned into most of Saturday, with three people to meet at different times, instead of one meeting. Needless to say, no chores got done yesterday.  But I am glad to have gotten the meetings out of the way. Not so glad to have to try to cram as much as possible into today, including one more unplanned but necessary errand, but I’m doing the best I can. Not everything is going to get done today, but some of the important chores–laundry, taxes–are checked off my list. I also feel like I’m getting a head-cold–you know that icky feeling you get when it’s just getting started, the itch in your sinuses and throat–so I’ve been popping vitamin C, chugging orange juice and tea. I’m about to put some leftover curry in the microwave and may add some more hot oil to it, just because I want to head off this ick so I can make it through the next four very accelerated days at the day-job without having to also deal with being sick. I just keep thinking, ‘I don’t have time for that.’ I know no one has time to be sick, and there is never a good time for it, but this is definitely not the week.  Besides the crazy work schedule, we have concert tickets one evening (in the middle of the work-crazy, of course), and a couple other appointments.

The upside is that I’ll have Friday off, so I’ll get my three-day weekend in this week.  I am not going to try to ‘catch up’ on the things I missed this weekend.  I am hoping to spend one of those three days doing nothing but reading and writing. That isn’t too unreasonable. I’ll still have the regular weekly things to do, and possibly by the weekend other things will pop up, but those are my aims for the weekend.

Now, though, I am heading off to get some writing time in.  Before I do, I have a little snippet from Hunting Medusa to share with you.

________________

Kallan Tassos sat at the foot of the mountain, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel of the rented truck. Getting to the Medusa had been a lot easier than he’d been led to believe. He wondered why.

She was also a lot prettier than he’d imagined.

Sure, he knew the original Medusa had been so beautiful and confident she’d angered a Goddess. But this one wasn’t what he’d expected. She had short, dark hair framing very expressive blue eyes. Somehow he’d imagined long, blonde hair for a woman whose hair turned into snakes. And cold eyes like those very reptiles. Maybe not with a mouth that made him wonder how she’d taste.

He frowned, tapping his fingers faster on the wheel. Someone had left out a lot of details in the legends. Or the reality had changed much in the generations since the last Harvester had done his duty in killing the monstrous Medusa.

He shook his head. No, his imagination was simply working overtime. And when he got home to Baltimore—or even when he went to Greece to visit Uncle Ari at the family’s ancestral home—he needed to find a willing woman, as it had clearly been too long if he was finding his quarry so attractive.

When his phone rang, he hesitated for a second at the name on the tiny screen. He finally thumbed the button after the third ring. “Stavros.”

“I hear you may have a promising lead. It is past time one of us killed this monster.” His cousin’s everyday accent thickened when he was excited, and judging by the way Greece flavored his words, he believed they were getting close.

“I’m sure one of us will,” Kallan said mildly, drumming his fingers on his knee.

“I keep imagining taking her head after all this time. Perhaps before I do, I can make her pay a little for her family’s existence.”

Kallan frowned. Stavros didn’t care who knew about his penchant for cruelty.

“Where are you now?”

Again he hesitated. He rarely lied, and never to his family. “Oklahoma. I’ve found some information on a young woman closely related to the last Medusa that perfectly fits our profile.” He didn’t feel bad about the lie, since he knew his cousin would be there within twenty-four hours if he told him where he really was and that he’d found the Medusa.

“Where are you heading?”

“Northeast.” He hoped Stavros would be satisfied with the vague answer for now. But he didn’t want his cousin breathing down his neck. Stavros had a vicious streak miles wide, had ever since they were children and just beginning to explore and use their individual talents in their hunt for the Medusa. Kallan could undo any lock with just a touch. Stavros could sense and undo any magical spell he found in his path. When they were teenagers, Kallan had seen him use his magical skill to kill innocent animals just because they were nearby. On occasion, he’d used any handy weapon or his bare hands, simply because he could. Kallan knew Stravros’s cruelty had intensified in recent years based on things not only Stavros had mentioned, but whispers from his other cousins. While he knew as well as everyone else in his family the sort of monster the Medusa was, he didn’t think it necessary to make her suffer the way Stavros would. Especially now that he’d met her.

“Ah. Well, I wish you luck in your hunt, Cousin. Goddess bless our quest.”

He repeated the mantra, then thumbed off the phone, thinking. Hopefully his cousin would take the lack of a specific answer to mean Kallan was simply searching and not really onto a solid lead. That would keep Stavros on his own hunt and out of Kallan’s way.

He smiled grimly, turning the key in the ignition. Now he had plans to finalize. Supplies to purchase. He put the truck in gear and steered the vehicle back toward Ellsworth.

Now that he’d found her, the Medusa would die by his hand.

________________

What does your week ahead look like? Crazy-busy? Or maybe a little down-time? I’d love to know!

 

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

This past week felt more like a normal week, though after Wednesday, I wasn’t nearly busy enough at the day-job. But I have projects to work on, there and at home. Like prepping for a few crazy-busy weeks coming up there, and writing and photo-scanning here at home.  We have a few big things left to wrap up with my aunt’s estate before I feel like I can relax.  Who knew settling an estate could take so long? (Don’t tell me if you did, I just wish I had known before now!)

So I have been making progress with the fifth (final??) shifter story when I’ve been on breaks at work. I had intended to write only three of them, with this hero being the last, but then one of his siblings needed a story, and one of his cousins.  I hesitate now to say this will be the last one, since I had other plans when I started writing the first one.  But at the moment, anyway, Joe will be the last of my shifters.  I need to revisit the first stories in the series, though, before I can do anything with them–one of the perils of not plotting before you write a book is that sometimes you get a few stories in and realize something that needs to happen earlier in the series. Too bad my brain doesn’t work the way it would need to for me to plot out my stories before I write them. I’ve only pulled that off once, with a synopsis worksheet from a writer-friend of mine. But mostly my brain just needs to tell the story as it goes, not figure it out beforehand, and I’m okay with that.

Since the first part of my year hasn’t gone according to plan (when does it ever?), I’ve dug out my writing goals for the year so I can make use of some of that wiggle room I built in to try to rearrange things so I can still accomplish some of the things I wanted to accomplish this year. One of the top priorities is my Medusa trilogy–re-releasing the first book and then sending the other two books out into the world, hopefully still later this year.

Right now, I’m about to go back to hot Joe the tiger shifter, but I think this week I’m going to share a little of the first Medusa with you.  I know some of you have read it, but a lot of you have not.  I hope you enjoy.

________________

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.

________________

This reminds me–I got to keep the cover for my first Medusa, which I love.  But one of the things on my writing goals for the year is to find a cover artist for the other two books in the trilogy. Which made me wonder if I really will need a whole new cover for Hunting Medusa as well, so the three look like they belong together? What do you think? Am I going to be able to find someone to design the second and third covers so they are similar to the first one, or am I going to have to redo that one, too?

 

 

( Photo by Un ragazzo chiamato Bi on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

The day-job has been just as busy as I expected this past week, and that will continue for the next couple of days, but I actually spent part of my weekend relaxing. Of course all the chores still had to be done, as well as work on my aunt’s estate, but I took yesterday afternoon to spend with a friend. We were way overdue, and both of us have had a crappy couple of weeks, so it was nice to just sit and talk, without having to try to figure anything out, and just hang out. Of course, we had a little wine and watched a movie full of pretty faces, which made it even nicer.  Easier to get back to chores today after that.

Today would have been my paternal grandma’s ninety-seventh birthday.  One of my aunts shared a picture earlier of my grandma with her five kids at her seventy-fifth birthday party. It was a little bit of a jolt to realize that only two of the people in the picture are still living, and more than a little sad, considering the loss of one was just a couple weeks ago.  But it led me to dig through a couple of other old pictures of my grandma, and I stumbled on one another of my aunts shared some time ago, of my grandparents when they were much younger.  The first time I saw it, I was surprised to realize I look like my grandma.  I’d never heard that from anyone when I was growing up–it was always, ‘wow, you look just like your mom’, which I did (the only difference between some of my childhood pics and my mom’s is that hers were black and white).  Evidently that changed somewhere along the way, but I’d never seen any pictures of my grandma when she was young until my aunt shared that one. As an added bonus, it included my grandpa, who died way before I was born.  Family was always a big deal when I was younger, and sometimes I miss having everyone closer, rather than spread out over most of the country.

This is just me meandering around to a story snippet to share with you, where family is also a big deal.  I debated which family to share today–Medusas or tiger shifters, and the tigers won today.  This little snippet is from the first story.

( Photo on Foter.com  )

________________

Tessa watched India dance with one of the groomsmen. The man was good-looking, dark blond hair, green eyes, nice physique, and he was obviously interested in India.

India, on the other hand, held herself stiffly in his arms, her mouth turned down at the corners, and her gaze slid from one spot to another, never meeting his.

Tessa wondered if India missed Jon, even though she’d never have brought him along for this. All these shifters in one room, and there was bound to be a display or two of shifting. Tessa had already seen several partial Shifts. It was only a matter of time before someone Shifted completely.

Harley lifted her hand to his lips. “You’re a million miles away, honey.”

She forced a little smile. “Sorry.”

Before he could speak, Boris appeared. “Come dance with me, Tessa.” He didn’t give either of them a chance to protest, but pulled her out of her seat and onto the dance floor.

“That dress is too pretty to sit all evening,” Boris said, smiling.

She shook her head. “I was good with the sitting.”

He grinned. “You just hate the heels.”

Tessa laughed. “You’re right.”

He spun her around until she laughed again.

* * *

Harley glared daggers at his brother for several minutes, and then his father cut in. Boris flashed an “I know something you don’t know” grin before returning to his wife’s side. Marigold didn’t look like she was enjoying herself, which surprised Harley. Mari was a social butterfly, and usually at an event like this, she’d be everywhere, whether she was wanted or not. Tonight, she’d been quiet and had mostly remained in her seat. Maybe she was still sick with whatever bug she’d had earlier in the week.

Harley turned his attention back to Tessa, and he watched his father laugh at something Tessa said as they danced around the crowded floor. When his cousin Alec cut in, Harley realized he’d clenched his fists.

It was just a dance.

He repeated that to himself several times as Alec flirted with her, making her blush and laugh. When Alec leaned closer to hear her speak, Harley’d had enough. He charged through the dancers to where they swayed together. “My turn,” he growled, shoving his cousin away from her.

Tessa’s eyes rounded and her mouth dropped open before color rushed to her face.

Alec raised one eyebrow. “Really?”

“Don’t make me kick your ass in front of the whole family.” Harley gave him a hard look for a long moment before Alec looked away.

“It was nice seeing you again, Tessa,” Alec said, moving away.

Harley pulled her into his arms.

She didn’t move with him, digging her heels in. “What was that?”

“Me rescuing you from Alec.” He finally gave up trying to move her, though he knew he could–but not without attracting more attention.

“I hadn’t realized I was in need of rescue.” Her words were as stiff as her body. “There was no need to make a scene.”

He realized some of his extended family were watching them closely. Too many of them. “I didn’t like him touching you,” he said after a moment.

She frowned up at him.

“I didn’t like him flirting with you.”

Her eyes narrowed.

“Not because I don’t trust you,” he said quickly. “But because I’m discovering I’m jealous.”

Her mouth dropped open. Then pink tinted her cheeks. “Harley–”

He bent and nudged her nose with his. “I didn’t say it was rational. But it’s how I feel. You’re mine.” He brushed his lips over hers, lightly, and held his breath.

Tessa sucked in a quick breath, and her eyes went shiny with tears.

He hoped that was a good thing.

________________

Before I go back to my writing, I have a question for you all. Is your family close, distance-wise? Or are you all spread out, too, making regular visits a challenge?

 

 

It’s been a busy week here, which is good. No time for thinking, and then exhausted by the end of the day.  But I did get a lovely present from my brother yesterday–a flash drive full of old pictures.   Some of them I remembered, some I didn’t, but most of them made me smile, at least a little, including this one.

 

 

The house where I grew up was one we rented.  It had an enormous yard, front and back, with more acreage that was wooded. There was also a giant barn, and the landlord’s horse.  I used to ride that horse with my dad quite a lot, sometimes just in the yard, but often up onto the wooded ridge beyond our yard and the horse’s fenced-in field.  Seeing this picture definitely made me smile.

I’ve also been writing.  I was actually a little surprised by that this week, but a few paragraphs in the morning before starting my workday, and then again on my lunch breaks. Another way to keep my brain busy, I suppose, but I’ll take it. I’m only about a quarter of the way into this fifth tiger shifter story, and I’d hoped to be working on revisions/rewrites on something else at this stage of the month.  Then again, that’s why I try to leave myself some wiggle room when I’m planning my writing goals every year–for the things that come up that you just can’t plan for.

So I think once I get through this crazy week and next week at the day-job, I need to revisit my writing goals for this year so I can make some tweaks. I also need to start scanning old pictures that I have–from my own albums, and from both my grandparents and my aunt, so can share those with my family, because I’m sure I have some that they don’t yet. That will be a long-term project, though, because I have a lot of photos.  I hope my scanner holds up for all of them.

For now, I am going back to my writing, but have a little snippet of Medusa #3 to share with you for the week.

________________

Finally, Hunter sat back in his chair when he’d polished off his own lunch. “Okay. Hit me.”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“Give me your best argument.”

That wasn’t what she’d expected. She frowned again, pushing her empty plate aside and resting her forearms on the edge of the table. “I shouldn’t need to convince you,” she said after a moment. “You saw him. You heard how determined he is. And there are more just like him. Lots more.” She brushed her fingers absently over the smooth surface of the table. “My best bet right now is to hook up with one of my cousins or their husbands who’ve dealt with the Harvesters before. Then you’ll be safe.”

“That’s the best you can muster?”

Katharine glared at him, more annoyed when he just continued to smile at her. Only half a day ago, that look would have killed him. Now, it didn’t even make her feel better to know that. “I shouldn’t have to convince you that you’re unsafe as long as you’re with me.”

He shrugged. “I’m not the Medusa. They’re not interested in me.”

That was true.

She shook her head. “That doesn’t matter. My cousin Philomena, who was the Medusa before me, had Harvesters target her family to try to reach her.”

He shrugged again. “I’m not family. They have no way to connect me to you.”

“Except for the one who saw you Monday.”

“But he doesn’t know who I am. I didn’t introduce myself while I was holding him at gunpoint.”

Her pulse quickened. “That doesn’t mean he didn’t wait around to see you leave so he could follow you or try to track you down.”

Hunter shook his head. “Didn’t follow. And he definitely didn’t stick around after I made him ditch his knife.”

Her frustration level jumped up. He wasn’t understanding. Why wasn’t he understanding?

Why did it matter? She was an adult and could do what she wanted.

“Don’t even think it.” His tone was mild, but there was something in his eyes that made her hesitate.

“I am not going to stay here and put you in danger,” she said finally, working to keep the edge out of her voice. “I’m going to call my cousin and get a little advice from her husband, and then get out of your hair.”

Hunter’s smile disappeared. “No.”

She covered her face with her hands.

“I’ll talk to your cousin’s husband and see what he thinks, but you’re not going off on your own.”

She dropped her hands. “I can defend myself just fine, at least for the next four weeks,” she pointed out.

“I’m sure you can. But I’d rather keep you where I can see you.”

“Why?”

His expression softened a little. “I already know how to deal with this guy. And I’ve already gotten you to safety. Oh, and I have the new code to your alarm system for you, not that you can go back there.” He dug a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it across the table.

Katharine sighed. “You’re going to be difficult about this, aren’t you?” She took the paper and unfolded it, staring blankly for a few seconds at the numbers. She swallowed, wishing her brain was functioning a little more quickly. Evidently, the residual effects of three days of painkillers hadn’t yet gone away.

“You’d better believe it.” He set one hand over hers on the table, his fingers warm. “I’m in this thing now, Kat, and you’re going to find it hard to shake me.”

That’s what she was afraid of. She looked away, her gaze catching on the fruit plate. The green of the grapes contrasted sharply with the whitish flesh of the apple slices.

“So,” he said at last, giving her fingers a squeeze, “which cousin are you calling? Didn’t you say there are two now who used to be the Medusa?”

Katharine rested her face on her other hand, shutting her eyes, then sighed. “Yes. Andi’s husband is the one who was a Harvester, and Phila’s husband owns a security firm.”

“Really?”

She opened her eyes to find his gaze had sharpened.

“Yes.”

“Then I’m going to want to talk to him. I’m sure between the two of us, we can come up with something nearly foolproof to keep you safe.”

She shook her head slowly, noting the stubborn set of his jaw. “You’re serious.”

“As a heart attack.”

________________

Before I go, I wanted to say thank you to the very kind notes after last week’s blog post. I appreciate them all, and all of you for thinking of me and my family.