Tag Archive: holiday


( 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!

 

 

Advertisements

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 )

 

 

 

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.

________________

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?

 

 

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

Here in the U.S, it’s the last day of Memorial Day weekend, and, for some of us, a three-day weekend. I had a to-do list for the weekend. Some of the things on it have been checked off, but others have not. Then again, there were things that I got accomplished that weren’t on my list, so I guess it evens out.

One of the things on my list was family time, and I got that, twice, which was nice. The boys came for lunch on Saturday, and then came again today, which coincided with a visit from in-laws, so it was more family than I’d anticipated.  It will probably have to hold me through next weekend, because I’ll be heading to Maryland with one or two reading/writing buddies on Saturday to see my idol Nora, as well as Robyn Carr, and some other ladies (maybe a gent or two? I’ve lost track of the authors-signing list), and then for some girl time afterward, which we haven’t done in ages. We try to get to Nora’s signings more regularly than we have in the last year, but it’s been a while.  Our routine is to get there early so we can be in the first group into the signing, and then we head off to a cute little town in West Virginia for lunch and a little shopping before we head home. It’s always a lot of fun, and I’m glad we’re going for this one.

I’ve been sneaking in a little prep work on a novella for a group project this past week.  I haven’t written anything short in a while, so it might be a challenge for me.  I do have some novellas tucked away in my ‘manuscripts to rework’ file, and I believe a few of them are actually pretty good. (One of the things on my writing to-do list for the year is to read through some older manuscripts to see what might be salvageable going forward. So far, some of the things I’ve looked at are probably things I can improve to publishable levels, and some will move into the ‘completed, but never going out into the world’ file. Ha!)

I have also gotten in a little writing time, in spite of the craziness at the day-job last week, which was a nice surprise.  I’m hoping to get some more this week, which would put me in a good place for my revised writing goals for the year.  Right now, though, I’m going to get in some reading time, but I have a little bit of story to share with you first, from one of those novellas I think I can probably fix up.

________________

Boone Thatcher froze in his tracks as he rounded the corner of the house. She was at it again. His heart pounded in his head until he couldn’t hear anything else.

Long, bare legs, braced on the rickety metal ladder.

He let his gaze slide up them, from her bare, paint-spattered toes, to her shapely calves, to slender thighs topped by fringey, cut-off shorts that only covered her ass by a few scant inches.

The blood rushing in his veins all dropped southward, to his groin, at the images his mind summoned up. Had been summoning up for months now. Made him want to loosen his already-undone tie to get some air in his lungs.

“Oh, hi, Boone.” Moira Dawley smiled brightly down at him, dripping paint from her narrow paintbrush onto the shrub beside her ladder. “I didn’t hear you.”

He swallowed, his mouth dry, and forced his gaze up from the curve of her bottom, past the faded white t-shirt with a hole near one hip, to her face, to brown eyes like melted chocolate. Dark and decadent. Eyes he wanted to drown in.

He jerked his wayward mind back from the brink. “Hi, Moira. I got your message.”

Her smile disappeared. “Oh.” Faint color touched her fair, freckled cheeks.

He frowned. Her message hadn’t hinted at anything bad.

She stuck her brush into the tray resting atop the shaky ladder and backed down.

Boone resisted the urge to catch her around the waist and lift her off. Each gentle sway of her hips was torture.

By the time she stepped onto the ground again, he struggled to breathe evenly. Sweat ran down his back under his dark uniform shirt, dampened his nape on the way.

Moira looked at him curiously. “You okay, Boone?”

He nodded. “Just a little warm.”

The curiosity became disbelief, then cleared. “Were you working out after your shift?”

He nodded again. Somehow, he didn’t think that one little lie was a very big deal. Not as big as if he told her the truth: his tongue was about to drag on the ground from the sight of her bare legs.

She smiled a little. “I made lemonade. Come on in.” She waved at him as she moved past, heading for the back door into her little house.

He shook himself mentally and followed her inside, then barely managed to swallow back a groan at the sight of her bent over in front of the refrigerator. Her shorts rode up so he got a fleeting glimpse of white lace panties.

He rested his forehead against the cool wall and shut his eyes. Shit, what did I do to deserve this torture?

“Oh, my. You must’ve really overdone it,” she said, patting his arm as she brushed by him.

Boone opened one eye to squint at her. She poured lemonade into two tall glasses, ice cubes clinking faintly, her movements efficient. When she turned around, holding out one of the glasses, he forced himself upright and took the glass. “Thanks.” The cool liquid soothed his parched throat.

Moira smiled again and returned the pitcher to the fridge. “Sit down.”

He sat, warily. Something in her face now served as a warning.

She sat, too, her fingers sliding along the sides of her own glass, and her gaze shuttered by long lashes.

“What’s wrong? You run out of red paint again?”

One corner of her mouth turned up at his teasing tone, and she shot him a measuring glance. “No, I think I’ve got enough paint for now.”

“So what is it?” He set his glass down and rubbed his sweaty hand on his thigh under the table. Why hadn’t he changed into shorts and a t-shirt before coming over? His uniform wasn’t made for panting over a woman. Hell, it wasn’t even designed for summertime use, really. Dark navy pants and a matching shirt with a tie. Someone out there really hated cops.

Boone frowned. “You make it sound like it’s something terrible.”

“It’s a little embarrassing.” She flashed him another quick look, faint color touching her cheekbones, then pushed to her feet.

His breathing hitched when she leaned on the edge of the counter, bracing herself with her hands on either side of her hips so her t-shirt pulled tighter over the swell of her breasts.

“It’s a relationship thing.”

His gaze swung back to hers. “What?” Much as he wanted it to be otherwise, the only relationship they had thus far was that of friends.

“I need some advice, and I don’t have any other men I can ask.” More color tinted her cheeks, and she dropped her gaze to the table in front of him.

Boone considered that. If she was asking him about another man, he wasn’t sure what he’d say. He knew he’d want to kill the guy, though.

She sighed and moved back to her seat, lacing her fingers to prop her chin on them, lifting her gaze back to his. In hers, he read uncertainty and determination in equal measures.

He waited.

Her throat worked as she swallowed, and she sat up straighter, laying her hands flat on the table on either side of her forgotten lemonade. “I need you to help me be sexier.”

Boone slumped back in his seat, all the air rushing from his lungs. Of all the things she could’ve asked him, he couldn’t think of one more impossible. “What?” he croaked.

________________

Do you have a slightly shorter work-week this week, too? Will that make it better or worse? While I’m dealing with the insanity tomorrow, I’d love to hear that I’m not alone!

 

As I write this, Mother’s Day is winding down. Mine was quiet, and my guys got me some very thoughtful gifts (Chocolate from my favorite local candy shop, a nifty indoor basil kit, and Thor & Loki! It’s like my three guys know me or something.).  But I’ve been working, too, all weekend, though I feel like I haven’t gotten nearly enough accomplished. I bet a lot of moms feel that way quite often–all the household and family things that need to be done, and then if they’re lucky, maybe some time to do things for themselves.

One of the things I’ve been trying to cram into my schedule is tweaking my goals list for the year, yes, again.

 

 

With all of the real-life things that keep falling into my path, I’ve been mentally shifting priorities to accommodate, and I really need to put the adjustments on paper. And at this point in the year, It’s almost time to do the mid-year evaluation, to see if what remains on the list is still feasible or not, and adjust for that. I work best with a list that stares me in the face all the time, so I can keep my focus there and actually achieve what I want to get done.

Right now, it’s raining and has been on and off since yesterday afternoon. Overnight Friday night, too, and after the past few days, what I’d really like to do is crawl in bed with a good book and ignore anything else that looks like work for the day while I listen to the rain on the roof. But if I do that, I’ll feel very guilty, and that kind of ruins the enjoyment of the indulgence, doesn’t it?  So I may not give in to that impulse, but I am going to call it a day earlier than usual tonight. The next week at the day-job will be busy again, and then I have my family gathering next weekend, so I feel like I need to rest up tonight and get ready for the next seven days.

This week, I feel like maybe a little snippet from the second shifter story might be appropriate.

________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even though she knew it wasn’t.

He was here.

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

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

She shut her eyes and turned back to her desk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“India, a rúnsearc?”

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

“Why do you think?”

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

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

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

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

________________

I love India and Rory, though I am going to need to do some rewriting of their story before it’s fully ready for public consumption. But because I was jotting notes about them last night, I thought it might be fun to share a little snippet of their story.

Happy Mother’s Day, to anyone doing Mom’s work! And if you would, tell me how you sneak in a little down-time when things are crazy. I could use a couple of tips.

( Photo on Foter.com )

 

( 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.

________________

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.

 

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

We’re heading into Valentine’s Day this week, so it seems like a perfect week to talk about romance, in our books and in real life. I regularly see posts on social media asking about the book that hooked someone on romance novels, and I always feel a little guilty because I don’t remember the first romance I ever read.  Other people can name their first, so why can’t I?  Probably because I was such a voracious reader when I was in school.

When I was much younger, it just about killed me to only be allowed to borrow two books at a time from the public library.  I would wind up reading them over and over during the week.  When I got to the high school (ours included grades seven through twelve), one of my favorite things was joining the library club and working in the library each week during one of my study halls for six years. Not only did I get to play in the books, but eventually, I got first dibs on anything new coming in, before it went out for anyone else to borrow.  I would go home on Friday afternoons with as many books as I could carry, and have read through most of them by the time I went back to school on Monday (at least until I was old enough for a job).  I remember the first time I read Gone With the Wind–that was one of those Friday books I borrowed, and by the time I went back to school Monday morning, I had read it twice, though I wasn’t happy with the ending.  I worked my way through most of the school library by the time I graduated, non-fiction and fiction, and every kind of fiction…classics, mysteries, romances, science fiction. You name it, I read it. I didn’t discriminate.

But we were talking about romances.  I have no idea what the first one was that I read.  My mom read them, along with lots of other books–that’s where I got my reading bug, from her and her parents–and I read a lot of her books that I wasn’t supposed to be reading at age thirteen.  Lots of steamy stories, romance and otherwise, but the romances were my favorite. I was always hooked on a happy ending.  If it didn’t end well, I wasn’t satisfied.  We had an assignment in English class around eighth or ninth grade to rewrite the ending of a classic story–mine was to rework the end of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so Ichabod and Katrina lived happily ever after.

Did I read Kathleen Woodiwiss? Of course.  But was she first? I have no idea. Judith McNaught? Maybe.  Johanna Lindsey? Who knows? And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’ve read a lot of great romances in my life, and I know I couldn’t list them all. There are simply too many, and I enjoyed them all, no matter which one came first.

I was trying to decide if I’ve read any Valentine’s Day romances lately and having a hard time thinking of one I read recently. Which led me to wonder if I have written any yet. The answer to that is definitely not, though I do have some stories that take place over the winter.  And you know what? For today, that’s close enough for me, so I have a steamy little snippet from Medusa #2 for you.

________________

The heavy weight of Ryder’s arm settled on her shoulder. “They’ll be fine for tonight,” he murmured near her ear.

Philomena nodded, biting her lower lip. They had to be. If anything happened to them, it was on her head.

“And I have to go.” He stepped away and picked up his own coat from the hook behind the door.

She grabbed the nearest jacket, which was too light for the brisk winter night, but she pulled it on anyway, then walked outside with him. “You’re going to be careful, aren’t you?”

“I’m always careful.” He shot her a bad boy grin that had her heart racing as they made their way along the sidewalk to the front of the house, where she saw his pick-up truck parked out front beside the mailbox now.

“Nothing can happen to you, Ryder. You have Jason to worry about.”

He kept walking.

“Are you listening to me?” She glared up at him when he came to a stop beside the truck.

He put his arm around her shoulders again. “Are you more worried about Jason? Or me?”

She blinked. “I’m worried about what will happen to Jason if something happens to you.” He smelled really good. Her pounding heart sped up even more. He was too close. She needed to distract herself again. “You know Desi is a lousy parent. Might as well not even be a parent.”

“What if something did happen to me? Would you miss me?” He bent nearer, his mouth almost grazing her temple.

She tried to concentrate on his words, but the awareness rushing through her made that difficult. And dammit, she couldn’t even blame it on pre-PMS hormones.

“Would you be upset if I were hurt?” His open mouth slid down her cheek, hot, damp. Tempting.

Desire raced along her veins. Under her sweater, her nipples tightened in anticipation.

“Mena?” He licked the corner of her mouth.

She gasped, and he swooped in, covering her open mouth with his, pressing her back against the side of the truck, his warmth more than making up for the cold metal at her back.

He was aroused again. Or still. When his hips rocked into hers, the heavy erection against her belly made her panties even wetter.

Shocked by her reaction, she still couldn’t resist, lifting into his kiss.

“Wrap your legs around me, Mena,” he whispered against her lips.

She forced her eyes open, trying hard to distract herself from the temptation of Ryder.

________________

Now I am going back to work. I have rewrites waiting for me.

At the risk of making someone else crazy, do you remember the first romance novel you ever read?

(  Photo on Foter.com )

( Photo on Foter.com )

It’s February, and a lot of people automatically think ‘Valentine’s Day’. Now I may be a bit biased, being a romance novel writer and reader–okay, I’m a lot biased–but I think romance shouldn’t be limited to just one month of the year.  I’m guessing lots of you feel the same way.  I’m not complaining about flowers, or sparkly jewelry, or chocolates (especially from my favorite local candy maker!) on Valentine’s Day, but it makes me a little sad that there seem to be so many people who do only think about making romantic gestures on occasions like this.  As if the rest of the year doesn’t count. As if they only feel it necessary to make sure their significant other realizes they’re loved at Valentine’s Day.

I’m not suggesting everyone feels this way. I know a lot of people who make romantic gestures all year round.  I just feel like maybe sometimes we forget, and we should make more effort to remind ourselves and our S.O.s that we care.

( Photo on Foter.com ) A little breakfast in bed once in a while, maybe? Help folding the fifty gazillion loads of laundry? I know there are a lot of ways we can do that, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt for us to have more ideas, so I’d love to hear some of yours, or maybe some way your S.O. surprised you and reminded you they love you.

And in the meantime, I have a little snippet of one of my tiger shifters. Anton is shopping with his new mate for a formal event, and he’s about to do something sweet for her.

________________

Laney paused inside for a second, looking around to get her bearings, then headed directly for the back half of the store.

Anton frowned at the displays around him at the front of the shop–some very pretty things there, from what he could see. He ambled after her, noting the way she skipped right past the sparkling and shiny gowns on mannequins and wall displays before she started to dig through a tall round rack. He turned around, still frowning at all of the things they’d passed by.

Including a dark green gown the same color as her eyes had been in bed last night. He stepped closer. Shoulder straps an inch or so wide, with a neckline that didn’t dip down too far to be decent, and a skirt closer to the slim end of the range than some of the full-on Cinderella gowns nearby. He flipped through the hangers until he thought he’d chosen the right size, then moseyed back to join her.

She had pulled a slim black gown from the rack and was studying it, a frown furrowing her brow. After a moment, she put it back on the rack.

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked.

She glanced up. “Cut too low.” Her gaze flicked to the gown he held. “Too much.” She went back to the rack beside him, flipping through hangers.

One of his eyebrows rose. “What?”

She sighed, then glanced toward the front of the store where the saleswoman was still occupied at the cash desk. “I don’t shop the front of the store, because they always put the most expensive gowns there.”

“I like this one. It matches your eyes.” He held it forward.

She met his gaze again, not looking at the dress. “My eyes are hazel.”

“Sometimes,” he agreed, “but they’re this color when we’re in bed.”

Her cheeks went red, and she cast a horrified glance around to be sure no one was close enough to hear him. “Anton,” she whispered.

He smiled. “You have to at least try it on.”

Laney shut her eyes for a moment. “Fine, but I’m not getting it.” She tugged another black gown from the rack to study while avoiding his gaze.

If the green fit her, he was buying it, he decided as she rummaged through the gowns on the next rack.

The saleswoman finished up with her other customer as Laney added a purple dress to the black and red gowns he held with his own choice.
“I can take these to the fitting room for you,” the older woman said, reaching for the dresses.

“I’m actually ready to head back,” Laney said with a polite smile.

Anton trailed after them, then dropped onto the overstuffed armchair in the waiting area. Laney shut her fitting room door, and he listened to the soft rustling of her clothing behind it–first her coat, then the sweater and tank, her wool pants. In his head, he imagined each piece coming off. He wondered which gown she’d try first.

He found out a minute later when she emerged in the purple. He kept his mouth shut as she crossed to the big mirrors, but her wrinkled nose told him exactly what she thought.

The color was pretty on her, but the dress had an odd, angled neckline, and the ‘sleeves’ barely covered her shoulders.

Before the saleswoman had made it back to them, Laney was already on her way back into the smaller room. The older woman’s mouth pursed a little.

Anton shrugged when she looked at him, and she smiled.

When Laney came back out, it was in the green gown he’d chosen. He had picked the right size–it hugged her torso perfectly before the skirt belled out a tiny bit and swept to the floor.

“Oh, you look beautiful in that,” the older woman said. “And it doesn’t even need alteration.”

Laney met his gaze in the mirror, and she didn’t look happy that she looked so good in the dress. Anton wondered just how expensive it was. He let his gaze wander lower, to the pretty hint of cleavage the dress framed, then he met her gaze again with a little smile.

She blushed and murmured something to the saleswoman, then hurried back into the smaller room.

The other black gown fit well, too, though she looked appalled at the cleavage exposed in this one. The red was okay, he thought, but it covered everything, with sleeves that went almost to her elbows, a swingy skirt, and a squared off neckline sitting just an inch or two beneath her collarbones.

He didn’t eavesdrop on her short conversation with the saleswoman, but got up and stretched. This might be the shortest gown-shopping trip in the history of womankind.

The saleswoman took the black, green and purple gowns from Laney, who retreated into the smaller room. Anton frowned when she put the green gown on a small rack with the purple. He shook his head, and she caught him, her mouth opening.

He pressed one finger to his lips, and she shut her mouth, understanding him perfectly. She retrieved the green dress and nodded to the front of the shop, smiling.

The woman hung both the black and the green gowns on a hook at the cash desk. “That’s a nice gift. She looked beautiful in the green.”

“Yes, she did.” He withdrew his wallet from his pocket while she punched some numbers into the small computer on the counter. He didn’t even wince when she gave him the total, just handed over his card.

By the time Laney arrived at the front of the shop, he had the garment bag holding both gowns slung over his shoulder. She frowned, but glanced at the older woman and kept her protest to herself. “Thank you,” she murmured, nodding to the older woman, who winked at Anton when he turned Laney toward the door.

“Shoes next?” he asked when they got outside.

“You didn’t have to buy my dress,” she said, looking up at him. “I have money.”

“Call it a gift.” He unlocked the car and hung the gowns from the hook in the backseat. She hadn’t noticed there were two hangers.

Yet.

________________

Don’t forget to tell me the romantic little things you and your S.O. do when it isn’t Valentine’s Day, while I go back to work on Medusa #2!

 

Hot Chocolate

How has the first week of your new year gone? As well as you’d hoped? Better? Not as well as you wanted?

I haven’t gotten as much writing-related work done this week as I would have liked, but I have been writing, in spite of the absolute craziness at my day-job–way more insanity than I anticipated, and the next week is probably going to be even busier.  I’ve also been working on getting a new-to-me computer set up in the home office, which is taking some time, since I have to move things onto it from my laptop and the old desktop computer, and some of those things take way too long–finding disks, trying to figure out how to install an older program that might need tweaking on a newer system…   Some of those are frustrating.

I also had to figure out if it made sense to me to participate in the very fun booksigning I’ve done the past couple of years, since I haven’t yet got Hunting Medusa ready for reissue, and settled on dates, etc. for the second and third books in the trilogy. I was disappointed to have to say no, but it doesn’t make sense to me to do it when I don’t have something new, so I’ll be bummed to miss this year, but then should be good for next year, because I am aiming to have at least the first two books in the trilogy out before the end of this year.

I know the weather has been in full-on winter mode in a lot of areas this week, but it has been extra-cold here.  I have had quite a lot of tea this week, and some very yummy hot chocolate to stay warm.  How about you? Lots of warm beverages while you’re reading?

I think I promised a little snippet of story for this week, didn’t I?  So how about a little taste of Hunting Medusa for those of you who haven’t read it yet (and those who haven’t read it in a while!)…

________________

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.

________________

Have a great week!

My shiny new cover art! isn’t it pretty?

I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve, and I’m still debating whether I’ll be awake at midnight to greet the new year.  I’m not going to be unhappy to kiss 2017 goodbye (or kick it in the pants on the way out, maybe!), since it was a rough year.  I have made up my mind that 2018 is going to rock…or else!

My plate is pretty full for the new year. Some of the things I didn’t get to do in the past year are on my new goal list–like figuring out how to get Hunting Medusa back out into the world, followed by the second and third books in the trilogy.  My writing goals for the year are a little daunting, to be honest, because I’ve never dipped my toes into the self-publishing pool before, and I think I will probably be doing that this year–it’s hard to persuade a publisher to take on a book that was already released by another publisher (not impossible, but not easy).

Guess it’s a good thing I have my shiny new planner ready to go tomorrow, all full of lists and steps and plenty of room for me to add notes and more steps once I figure out everything else I need to do along the way.  Are you a planner? Or do you wing it? I don’t make resolutions (though I should put ‘get healthier’ on my goals list for the year, it can’t hurt, right?), but always goals for the year.

How are you celebrating the new year? At home, quietly? Out with friends? Some other way? We’ve got a quiet night ahead, and now that I think about it, I’m actually going to see in the new year at midnight, maybe with a glass of something bubbly.  I can use the time between now and then to keep working on my planner, and maybe to sneak in a bit more reading before the year officially ends–I’m less than 100 pages to the end of the book out in the living room right now, and I can easily finish that in a few hours, too.

I hope you are all kicking off the new year with your own kind of fun, and that the new year kicks butt for you, too! I’ll see you in the new year, and I think we’ll sneak in a little story snippet next time, just to start things off on the right foot in 2018.