Tag Archive: shapeshifter


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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I heard that.”

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

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

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

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

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

Someone was out there watching her.

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

“What’s wrong?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s Ryder.”

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

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

“How did he find me?”

“Lucky timing for him, I think.”

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His short laugh made her relax a tiny bit.

Until something pinged off the roof of the truck.

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

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

“Keep your head down.”

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

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

Philomena shut her eyes and prayed to all the Gods.

________________

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

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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.

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

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

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

“Dead.”

She gasped, the room tilting sharply to one side.

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

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

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

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

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

The Harvesters had really found her.

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

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

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

Where would she go?

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

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

“Good, you’re still there.” Ryder.

She sniffled again. “I have to go.”

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

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

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

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

“Mena.”

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

“Mena.” His tone hardened again.

“What, Ryder?”

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

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

“Yes, together. You and me.”

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

________________

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

That looks much better.

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

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

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

________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I told him it’s not necessary.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ah, that didn’t take long.”

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

Katharine glared at him over her shoulder.

His smile widened.

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

“Not yet.”

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

“She mentioned you have a security company.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

How are you staying cool this week?

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

 

 

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

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

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

________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let me help.” Ryder winked at her.

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

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

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

_________________

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

________________

Hunter had to do more digging to find Katharine than he’d guessed would be necessary. It took him several hours and finally a phone call to a friend at the DOT to get her mailing and street addresses. By then it was too late to call or show up at her door unannounced. But he headed there in the morning after checking in at the office to see what Mary Ann had on tap for him. Luckily, he had a couple hours free before he had to meet with a new client.

He debated getting her a gift certificate for a lingerie store to take along, to replace the underwear he’d destroyed, then decided that might be a little much, considering he was still virtually a stranger.

Instead, he picked up a fistful of daisies and drove across town to the address his buddy had given him last night. A neat little one story white house with an attached garage. Two narrow flowerbeds flanked the two steps to the front door.

And a tall guy in black shoved open a window at the side of the house as Hunter eased his car along the street.

Heart pounding faster, he didn’t stop in front of her house as he’d intended, but down the street several houses, and the way the homes were spaced on her street, it was far enough that the guy wouldn’t hear him and automatically assume he was coming to Katharine’s. He left the daisies on the seat and sprinted back to her house, through her neighbors’ yards. He peered around the corner of her house. The side window was open, and there was no sign of the man. He was inside.

Hunter’s pulse quickened even more. No time to call the cops. He stepped up to the front door, noting the alarm company sticker in the front window. He didn’t want to do damage to her door, though, or alert the intruder to his entry, so he pulled a pick out of his pocket and jiggled it carefully in the lock until the latch gave. Then he stepped inside, holding his breath while hoping the alarm would take a few seconds before it went off.

There was silence through the little house. Maybe she hadn’t set the alarm. He shut the door with no sound. Then he heard a low voice.

Good thing he hadn’t given up carrying. He whipped his gun out as he crept through the living room, past the empty kitchen and an office. He stopped when he got to the open door of the bedroom, leveling his gun on the dark man standing over her bed with a wicked-looking, slightly curved blade in his hand. In the open collar of his shirt, a gold pendant gleamed around his neck, something too small for Hunter to see exactly what it was. A few feet from there, the curtain fluttered in the breeze coming through the open window.

“Drop it,” he said evenly, hoping Katharine stayed right where she was, lumped beneath her blankets.

The guy jumped, startled, clearly so absorbed in his own plans that he hadn’t paid any attention to the rest of the house. Good thing for Hunter, and for Katharine. Bad thing for the intruder.

From the corner of his eyes, Hunter saw movement on the pillow, but he couldn’t take his gaze off the intruder to see what it was. He just hoped she stayed in her spot on the opposite side of the bed long enough for him to deal with this asshole.

“Do you really want to stop me?” the other man said in heavily accented English. “From killing this monster?”

“No monsters here, buddy. Drop the knife. Now.” He jerked his gun a little, indicating the rocking chair in front of the closet where the knife wouldn’t be easily reachable again. More movement on the pillow, and this time, it looked like a couple of snakes in his peripheral vision. Couldn’t be. He kept his gaze on the other man. “Do it.”

The other man’s dark eyes narrowed, mouth tightening, his expression furious. “It is my duty to kill the Medusa.”

Hunter cocked his weapon. “If you don’t drop your weapon now, buddy, I’m going to put a very large hole in you. One you will not recover from.”

The dark guy muttered something Hunter couldn’t understand, something foreign, and, after a few more seconds, tossed the blade away, but not where Hunter had indicated. Instead, he threw it over the bed so it stuck in the plaster wall beside the mirror attached to her dresser. When Hunter glanced away from him to be certain that the dagger hadn’t done any damage to Katharine, the intruder leaped out the open window.

“Dammit,” he muttered, striding to the window in time to see the back of the other guy vanishing around the neighbor’s back porch a few dozen yards away. He pulled his head back in and froze.

Those were snakes on the pillow, several of them.

“Katharine,” he said quietly.

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

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

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

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

But those old myths weren’t real.

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

________________

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?

 

 

 

Our weekends this spring have been pretty crappy, weather-wise. I actually had to do my gardening on a week night, after the day-job, to get it done when the weather was nicer. My husband has been unhappy about it, because he’d like to be outside doing things, like fishing, or the annual mini-golf tournament he and the boys do. I’m actually okay staying indoors, since I can write, or read between household chores, but it would be nice to see the sun once in a while. I know when summer really gets here, I’ll be quite happy to stay indoors, and will venture out only for absolutely necessary things, like picking tomatoes for my salad, or herbs to put on something I’m making for dinner.  Or to admire the flowers.

But now that I’m done mulching and planting the summer’s herbs, I can turn my attention back to writing, and my revised goal list for the year. At the top of that list is continuing to do my homework for self-publishing so I can re-release Hunting Medusa, and then follow up with the other two books in the series. I want to do it right, not half-assed, and there are a lot of things I haven’t had to do before. Like the formatting, cover art, uploading to booksellers, and so on…

While I’m studying and cramming like it’s finals week, I have a little story snippet to share with you from the second Medusa.

________________

The man had some nerve.

Philomena glared into the skillet and dragged the spatula through the eggs vigorously. Too vigorously, as she heard the spatula scrape the side of the pan. Letting out a shaky breath, she tried to push Ryder out of her head for a few minutes.

She’d called her mother when she came downstairs, just to be sure Aggie and Jason were all right. Her mother had assured her they were fine. Jason was watching his favorite Saturday morning cartoon in his pajamas before he had breakfast. Philomena felt a little better at that knowledge.

Her gaze slid to the window over the sink. She saw the roof of Ryder’s pick-up truck parked behind her car in the driveway, and beyond that, the woods that lay between her mother’s house and her own. Only a couple miles of distance, not far enough when the Harvester came back.

She stirred the eggs at a more normal pace now. Sure, she’d known when the curse fell on her eight years ago that the Harvesters were a serious threat. But somehow, she’d hoped after all this time that they wouldn’t find her.

She shivered, thinking how lucky they were that Ryder had been waiting for the Harvester yesterday. Otherwise, her mother and Jason might have arrived to find her dead in the kitchen. She touched the top of her dagger handle through her skirt. She knew how to wield it, but who knew how the Harvester was armed.

She’d have to ask Ryder.

Her pulse quickened. Back to him.

He was showering. She knew because she heard the water running, and it didn’t take much effort on her part to imagine him standing beneath the streaming water. After all, she’d gotten a terrific view of his naked body last evening.

Heat pulsed in her middle at the memory, then more when she thought of later.

She shook her head. No, that was a mistake. She turned the burner off and covered the pan, then pushed the bread down into the toaster.

The water shut off in the next room, and she swallowed, trying not to let her brain go there again. She busied herself with getting plates and silverware out, took some butter and jelly from the fridge, and poured orange juice into two glasses, all the while thinking of website coding.

When he emerged from the guest room, his hair was towel-dried, though still damp, making the blond look darker against his head. He wore a soft black t-shirt over clean jeans. She jerked her gaze back to his face in time to see that grin disappear.

She narrowed her eyes, but kept her mouth shut and dished up breakfast.

He waited until she had eggs in her mouth before he spoke. “What work do you have going right now?”

She forced the eggs down and chased them with a quick swallow of juice. “I’m nearly done with a big site, then I have a few smaller ones waiting. Regular maintenance on others.”

“You can work on them away from home, right?”

She glared at him. “I’m not leaving.”

He raised one dark blond eyebrow. “I don’t remember asking you.”

She set her fork down. “Just because I made a mistake and slept with you does not give you permission to make decisions for me. Also, you are no longer in the military, and not my commanding officer. And, FYI, I will not be sleeping with you again.”

He laughed. “There wasn’t much sleeping going on, the way I remember it.”

Heat scorched her face, and Philomena growled, curling her fingers into fists on the table. “I am not looking for a relationship, and even if I were, you wouldn’t be at the top of my wish list.” Good Gods, no.

Ryder took a drink of juice, though she couldn’t understand how, with that miserable grin still spread over his face. “You, Mena, are afraid to be in a relationship with a man who’s stronger than you are.”

She blinked at him in shock, her heart pounding a little faster. “What?” How could a man she’d managed to avoid for so long know so much about the way her brain worked?

“I’ve seen your ‘dates’, Mena. Bunch of pansies, not a spine in the whole lot of them. You pick men who won’t argue when you decide you’re done with them.” He lifted his fork again. “That isn’t going to work with me.” He scooped up more eggs.

Her mouth was dry, but she refused to pick up her glass and let him know he’d hit the mark with his assessment of her. “How long have you been spying on me?” she asked instead.

He shook his head, swallowing his eggs. “Just trying to make sure you were safe, Mena. Can’t have you bringing danger home to Jason.”

That was low, and she shot him a fierce glare. “I have never dated anyone who was a danger to Jason,” she ground out.

“I know.” His grin was still smug, and she wanted to smack it off his face. “You’ve never dated anyone who was a threat to your remaining single either.”

She shoved away from the table, her chair screeching along the floor with the sudden movement. “My dating is none of your business.” She jolted to her feet and spun away.

“You haven’t dated anyone who would present any sort of challenge to you,” he continued from behind her when she walked the few steps to the sink. “Is it because you’re really that afraid, or because you were just waiting for the right man to come along?”

She shook her head, anger and fear clogging her throat, and gripped the edge of the sink so hard her knuckles were white. There was no ‘right man’ for her. Not for the Medusa.

Behind her, his chair scraped over the floor. “I’m not a spineless wonder like any of those guys,” he said, his booted footsteps drawing nearer. “And I’ve been waiting a very long time, so I’m not going to go away quietly.”

Philomena shut her eyes.

His big hands settled on her shoulders. “But I promise I’ll never hurt you, Mena,” he whispered, too close to her ear.

She jabbed her elbow into his ribs, hard, surprising him into releasing her. She slid away along the counter. “But I might hurt you.” She patted the hilt of her dagger through her skirt as she faced him. “You know I’m armed, right?”

He rubbed his side where she’d elbowed him, still grinning. “Bring it, baby.”

Her jaw dropped, and he laughed. Just as suddenly, his smile vanished.

“Get down.”

“What?” She frowned.

He pushed her down to a crouch, then moved through the doorway of the guest room, grabbing his gun from the open bag on the bed.

Her heart jumped up into her throat at the sight of it.

“We have company,” he breathed, peering through the narrow space she’d made when she parted the living room curtains earlier to let some of the morning light in.

She fumbled her skirt out of her way and unsheathed her dagger, wrapping her fingers tightly around the hilt. It felt good against her palm, but her hand shook. Two days in a row was a little much.

“Hang onto that.” He stepped to the alarm panel and shut the system off, then eased out the back door, his posture cautious.

Philomena shut her eyes. Oh Gods, don’t let the Harvester hurt him. She could never forgive herself if something happened to him because of her. Jason would be heartbroken. She opened her eyes and took a quick breath. She couldn’t be sitting here in the middle of the floor if Ryder wasn’t the one to come walking back through the door. She crawled to a spot behind the door, where she could see anyone coming in through the crack between door and frame.

And waited.

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.

________________

While I go back to studying more self-publishing topics, I’d love to hear what you’re doing this month. I’m going to hope for a few moments like the one below, peaceful and beautiful.

 

Someone at the day-job told me last week that I should have more fun. It made me pause for a moment.  I do have a pretty well-developed sense of responsibility about my work, both at the day-job and my writing, and, to be honest, I’m kind of proud of that at the day-job since I’ve seen plenty of others in my adult life who don’t feel responsible about their work, at all.

But I have to also admit that I am tired. I pointed out to my husband last fall that we haven’t taken a vacation in years. I have taken vacation days in the last few years, but generally, those days have been for doing something. And with all of the things going on in my family the past two years, that is understandable. I think I’ve reached the point where I need a day off to do nothing, though. Or maybe a few more days to do something fun. Maybe not kids-blowing-bubbles-fun, but something I enjoy.  More reading time, more time for the flowers and herbs in the garden.

I used to get to more booksignings to meet or see authors I like, but those have kind-of gone by the wayside in the last two years. I used to go to Maryland regularly to see my favorite author Nora Roberts at booksignings, but I realized a few weeks ago, it’s been over a year since I got there. So a friend and I got up very early yesterday morning and drove two hours into the mountains of Maryland to do just that, hoping all the while that the bad weather in the forecast would hold off until later. It did, and we had a good day, sitting in the bakery for a little while, chatting with authors, shopping down the street (I found a great mug for my morning tea!), and then having lunch at a favorite restaurant nearby after we’d gotten our books signed. Now I have my new Nora and a favorite Robyn Carr book signed, and I’ve decided that I’ll be heading back down for more signings this year, because I miss them.

Before I go curl up on the loveseat with one of my new books, I have a little story snippet from Hunting Medusa to share with you.

________________

Something had moved outside.

Something too tall to be one of the does that frequented the clearing each evening, though not tall enough for the bull moose who came occasionally. Just the right size for a sneaky Harvester posing as a vacuum salesman.

She thumbed off the phone and sat up straighter, her other hand coming to rest on the dagger across her knees. For a long moment, she didn’t see anything. Then a dark shape slid between the trees, a few yards nearer to the house.

Her heart hammered against her ribs and she curled her fingers around the dagger hilt. That was no animal. At least not of the wild variety. No, this was a two-legged animal, and she had the terrible feeling this one really was a Harvester, no matter what her mother had said yesterday.

Let him try, she thought, setting the phone back on its base. He’d find this Medusa wasn’t going down quietly. She only wished she were PMSing so she could take him out without too much effort. Or mess. If only he’d waited just a few more days to make his move…

She stifled a hysterical giggle at that last thought, glad she’d listened to her instincts this evening.

The shape disappeared again in the dark trees, and she held her breath. Then he reappeared for a few seconds, much closer to the house this time. Her pulse pounded in her ears. He was determined. And now out of her line of vision.

A loud, sharp beep indicated her alarm system had shut down, and was accompanied by the sound of every appliance in the house also turning off. He’d killed her power at the junction box outside.

Bastard.

Andi got to her feet, then tried to decide which door he’d come in. She heard the soft sound of a footfall on the back porch. She crossed into the kitchen, not needing to feel her way around the furniture, and positioned herself beside the refrigerator. He wouldn’t make it far into the house, and then he was hers.

________________

Who else has a hard time taking down-time? What do you do for fun when you do find a little down-time?

I’m thinking that would be a sure way to enjoy some down-time.  What do you think?

 

 

( 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!

 

 

I’ve just got a quick post this week. It’s been a long weekend, though it was wonderful to see family I see too infrequently, but I’m feeling a little blue, so I have a story snippet to share with you.  I’ll be working like crazy at the day-job this coming week, and trying hard to get my mind focused on that and on my writing, rather than our sad get-together over the weekend to say goodbye to my dad.

________________

It was one of those days when having the Medusa’s fabled power to turn people to stone would really come in handy.

Andrea Rosakis did not, however, have that ability, not this week, anyway. Even though she was the reigning Medusa.

She glared at the man on her back porch, wondering if he could ever understand how lucky he was she wasn’t suffering from PMS this week. And why wouldn’t he stop talking? Her fingers itched to slam the door.

“…if you just have five minutes, ma’am,” he concluded.

She narrowed her gaze on the vacuum beside him. “No, thank you.” And how the hell had he found her all the way out here? No one ever bothered to follow her rough, muddy driveway all the way to the top, even if they did ignore the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the foot of it. Not to mention the protective warding she had set at the boundaries of the entire property. Sure, it wasn’t the heavy artillery of protection spells, but no one else had ever gotten past it. This man however, had not only ignored the signs and the subtle “go away” protections, but managed the entire bumpy, muddy track into the woods and halfway up the mountain. Just to hear her say, “No.”

And he didn’t look discouraged. At all.

Andi almost wished she were PMSing this week, though it would be a real pain in the ass to have to get rid of a life-sized stone statue of a vacuum salesman.

Or maybe she could keep it. He was very pretty, even if he annoyed her. He was tall and broad, his inky black hair was a tad too long, and his bright green eyes held her attention. At least as stone, he’d be silent and still pretty. She gave herself a mental shake. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this—”

“When would be a better time?”

“Never.”

He did blink at that, but his smile never disappeared. “I’ll have to check my calendar.”

She snorted, then clapped her free hand over her mouth. Laughing would not discourage the man. “Look, I’m sure it’s a great vacuum, but I don’t need it. I don’t want to see how it works, and I’d like you to get off my property.”

His smile did fade a little bit. “Well, I suppose, if that’s what you really want.”

She quirked an eyebrow, trying not to smile again. He had the faintest hint of an accent, but she couldn’t place it. Not without hearing him talk some more, and she didn’t want to encourage that either, or he’d just keep trying to sell her an expensive vacuum she didn’t need.

“Maybe I could talk you into meeting me for coffee sometime then,” he said.

Her jaw dropped. The cute salesman was hitting on her. For half a second, she indulged the fantasy of a date with the hunk. A real date, maybe ending with a real kiss. Her pulse quickened. Then she remembered one good date led to more, and eventually, it led to guys running away from her, gibbering like idiots when PMS struck. She shut her mouth and ignored the regret burning in her middle. “Sorry, but no.”

“You’re a hard woman,” he said lightly, his bright gaze sliding down to her mouth. “I’ll leave my card in case you change your mind. About the coffee, that is.” He forced a small card into her hand and picked up his vacuum.

Andi stared after him as he strode off her porch. The bulky vacuum looked like it weighed nothing in his hand, swinging at his side on his way to the shiny, new truck parked behind her car.

When he took one hand from the steering wheel to wave at her, she stopped herself from lifting her hand in response. He turned the truck around and vanished down the drive into the trees. Frowning, she went back inside and shut the door, then locked it and re-armed the alarm. He’d tossed the vacuum into the bed of the truck. A very strong salesman.

Who didn’t seem to care the impending rain was going to damage his expensive vacuum.

She turned back to the door and stared out the narrow window beside it, her heart beating faster now with alarm. Maybe he didn’t realize. Or maybe he really hadn’t come here to sell her a vacuum.

She swallowed hard.

Aunt Celosia had always told the cousins stories of the Harvesters, the men who still hunted for the Medusa. Somehow, Andi had always thought they’d be more frightening. More obvious. Ugly men intent on murder.

If this vacuum salesman was a Harvester, he was sneaky. Of course, if he was a Harvester, he would be sneaky, as Perseus had been when he killed the first Medusa.

She was in a lot of trouble.

________________

 

I hope you all have a beautiful week, and if you love someone, tell them!

 

 

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 )