Tag Archive: to do list


(  Daffodil – Depositphotos )

It’s starting to feel more like spring here, so it looks like my hopes for at least one good snowstorm this season will be dashed. Again. But as busy as things are at the day-job right now, it wouldn’t matter, because I don’t have time to enjoy either snow or spring right now. At the moment, my last load of laundry is in the dryer, and I haven’t had time to sit long enough to even think about writing today. So I’m going to try to sneak in a few minutes at least before I call it a day.

I have a little snippet from Hunting Medusa for you this week.

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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.

 

Kallan wiped his sweaty hand down his jeans, hoping the shriek of the Medusa’s alarm shutting off hadn’t wakened her. He didn’t want her prepared for an attack. He’d prefer to kill her quickly and get the hell out. He could be back in Baltimore by supper tomorrow with the amulet in hand for Uncle Ari to destroy, ending the protective spell for the rest of the Medusa’s descendants.

He touched the doorknob, felt the locks disengage beneath his hand, then turned the handle and swung the door wide.

Silence greeted him, and he took that as a good sign. No creaking came from upstairs, as there would be if she’d wakened. Good. Nevertheless, he stepped inside cautiously, listening hard. He took another step after a few heartbeats, trying to remember just where the kitchen table and chairs stood from his limited view the day before.

He made it past the furniture and paused to listen again. Still nothing. He frowned. With the power off, the house was too quiet. Surely the sudden and complete silence would wake her, even if she hadn’t heard the brief noise of the alarm shutting down. He slid one foot forward on the smooth wooden floor, and suddenly she was there. Fiery pain shot up his left arm. He grunted, realized she’d stabbed him deeply. He swung his other hand up, managing to hit her on the side of the head.

She cried out but didn’t go down, swinging her blade again. He caught her wrist, but she managed to get another slice to his already-injured forearm before he yanked her arm behind her.

Her booted foot connected with his knee—hard—and he bit back a string of curses at the pain, but didn’t let her go. Why wasn’t she barefoot? If she’d been sleeping, she should be barefoot. His left arm was nearly useless, blood pumping steadily from his wounds, so he crowded her up against the nearest surface. The refrigerator. He shoved hard, hearing her moan when he twisted her arm a little more.

Her blade hit the floor between them. She kicked backward again, and her foot hit his knee from the other side this time.

“Dammit,” he muttered, flattening her between his body and the appliance’s cool metal surface. His arm burned, warm blood dripping from his fingers.

“Get off me, you murdering bastard,” she said, her words slurred slightly from her face being mashed into the refrigerator.

“Well now, that’s not very nice. Especially since I’ve never murdered anyone. Yet,” he added darkly, tightening his grip on her wrist. The bones in her arm were fragile and he was fully aware he could crush them, render her arm as useless as she had his. But he didn’t. He wasn’t Stavros.

“You’re not going to start with me, either, Harvester.”

Mouthy. He grinned at the back of her head. Even trapped and defenseless as she was now, she didn’t stop fighting, even verbally. He had to work to keep from laughing as she continued to threaten him. No one had warned him the Medusa would be talkative. Or soft, he realized when her bottom shifted back into his groin. He concentrated on breathing evenly when his nerve endings all came to life. He’d never imagined he might be aroused by the Medusa.

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Here’s hoping for a quick week for you all, and some writing time for me!

 

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It’s Sunday, and this week, that means family dinner. When the boys were little, we had family dinners daily. Then they got older and schedules changed, so dinner all together wasn’t something that could happen every day. Now they live on their own, so I decided this year that I wanted to make sure we had family dinner again, at least semi-regularly. Right now, I have a roast in the crock pot, and a giant pan of vegetables roasting in the oven, and both smell delicious. The boys will be here in a little while to eat and visit. And half the left-overs will go home with them, which makes me happy, since I know they don’t do a lot of cooking–the leftovers mean they’ll have something good for a couple of days. Yes, they’re young adults and on their own, but my job as Mom doesn’t stop just because they don’t live with me anymore. So I still worry, and if I can feed them once in a while, I will.

We used to have Sunday dinners every week when I was a kid. There were occasions when my dad wasn’t there, depending on his work shift that week. Some weeks, we had company…grandparents or aunts or cousins. Some weeks, we went to my closest grandma’s house an hour away for Sunday dinner. I miss regular family dinners. Some weeks I only get to cook once, depending on my schedule. This is one of those weeks, so I’m really looking forward to dinner, and to the left-overs we’ll all have for a couple of days.

As I’m writing this, I realize I have a strong family theme through a lot of my manuscripts. In my Medusa trilogy, the heroines are all part of the same family, my shifters are family, and in the novella I have due out this fall, there is a little family aspect as well. Interesting. I wouldn’t have considered family to be a recurring theme in my stories, especially considering how hot some of them are. Hm…

Before I go set the table for my Sunday dinner, I have a little snippet for you from my first shifter story.

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Harley caught a glimpse of his younger sister in the far corner of the room, at the center of a small crowd. Their cousins and her friends surrounded her, and his gaze caught on one sleek, dark head. Tessa Gardiner. He hadn’t seen her in a very long time. She looked tense despite her little smile at whatever India had just said. He grinned and raised his hand to greet her.

Her bright green eyes went blank, and then she turned, angling herself so she was still within the group but completely facing away from him.

He blinked. What the hell was that about? He frowned. Tessa had always liked him. She’d even had a crush on him for most of the time he’d known her, though he’d ignored it in favor of keeping the peace with his sister, and then, later, with the elders in his family even when his younger self might have considered at least dating her.

But this?

Turning her back on him was unacceptable. Though it was a damned fine back, he admitted, with the creamy skin of her shoulders and arms bared by the fitted blue dress that hugged her torso. He set his jaw and made his way through the crowd in her direction. Whatever he’d done to piss her off, surely he could make it up to her.

Or not. An hour later he continued to try to maneuver into her line of sight. Every time he thought he’d managed, she shifted yet again, further away from him. There were inevitable interruptions to his stalking with family greeting him and friends he hadn’t seen in a long time who kept stopping him along the way. By the time he’d made it to where she’d been originally, she and India were on the other side of the room in the middle of a different crowd. His sister seemed oblivious to Tessa’s blatant rudeness, her arm linked with her best friend’s.

He’d had enough of subtle, he decided, squaring his shoulders inside the hot blazer he wore. Tigers only did subtle or stalking for so long, and then they pounced. He strode across the room, now ignoring hailing family members along the way, until he reached their little group, nudging his way in until he stood behind Tessa. He could tell when she realized he was there, as her bare spine straightened and her shoulders squared. Tensed still more.

“Hello, little Tessa,” he murmured, leaning nearer. She smelled delicious, some spicy scent rubbed on her skin, and she looked very grown-up, despite the faint sprinkling of freckles dotting the bare skin he could see. Though, he mused, he had to admit, she and India were adults now and had been for a long time. But he still thought of her the same way he had when they’d first met. ‘Little Tessa’. He’d called her that for more than twenty years now.

She didn’t respond to his greeting.

He lifted an eyebrow. What the hell had he done to piss her off so badly? He set one hand on her shoulder, feeling, briefly, the warmth of her soft skin, before she jerked away, muttering something to India as she fled.

He stared after her, jaw sagging.

“Way to go, dumb ass,” India snapped.

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What are some themes you like to read about when you’re diving into a new romance novel? Reunion romances? Family ties? Revenge gone awry?

 

 

 

Today’s post will be short and sweet. I’m torn right now between watching the snow falling outside my window, and the writing I need to do, as well as cover shopping–I saw a great one last weekend, but it’s gone, so I have to keep looking. Sadly, we are only getting a few inches of snow through tonight, and the new snow we got Friday night was already gone by the end of the day yesterday, as was the snow from Thursday night. It isn’t looking good for me getting my one required big snowstorm for this winter, since we only have a few weeks of winter left. I might have to find a good winter movie to watch. Who has suggestions?

Before I get back to work, I have a little story snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

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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.

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Now I’m back to work on this manuscript and then some more cover art shopping. Wish me luck!

( Young couple in love – Depositphotos )

 

 

 

( Sticky notes too much To-do – Depositphotos )

My to-do list is a little bigger than that.  Probably more like this…

And that’s just the writing-related list. Today is actually the second day of my three-day-weekend, the first in a couple of months, and I haven’t finished nearly as much as I wanted. On the other hand, I have been working, it’s just taken longer to whittle away some of the things on the list. Who knew there were so many book cover designers I needed to look at? I didn’t. Holy cow. On the other hand, I have seen some beautiful covers. At this point, I guess I have to start narrowing down the designers still on my list.  Then I get to do the same thing with editors and formatters. While I’m still writing.

I knew diving into the self-publishing pool would be time-consuming. I did. I guess I just hadn’t quite admitted how time-consuming. The good news (for me) is this novella will be good practice for the Medusa trilogy. The better news is I have a lot of friends who’ve already done these things who can stop me from making any terrible mistakes along the way.

And hey! I’ve seen some very pretty cover images in the past two days, with very yummy heroes on them. There are worse ways to spend work time, you know.

Before I get back to it, I have a little snippet of story to share with you, from my second shifter story.

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“I was hoping to share dessert with you,” he teased, leaning closer so his warm breath brushed the top of her ear.

Heat burst in her middle at that. They’d shared many desserts, a long, long time ago. Damn him. “I can’t eat anything else.”

“Then maybe a walk.” He tipped his head to look at her, and she couldn’t look away.

“I need to go home.”

Instead of looking disappointed, Rory smiled, his bright eyes knowing. “Then I’ll walk you to your car, a rúnsearc.”

That was too easy. She frowned up at him, trying to figure out what was going on in his head.

He gave her nape a stroke, fingers and thumb coming together at her spine, that made her suck in a shaky breath. “Let’s go.” He reached into his pocket and took out some money, then pushed his chair back without releasing her. He held out his free hand.

If she took it… She tipped her head back to meet his gaze, unsurprised to see the heat flare in his eyes. Gathering her courage, she put her hand in his.

Rory pulled her to her feet, and into his arms.

She knew this was a mistake.

His hand slid down from her nape to the small of her back and settled, while his eyes darkened. “Come, a rúnsearc,” he said softly after a moment, his hand slipping away from her spine, though he kept his other hand wrapped tight around hers.

And she let him. Just for a minute.

Or until they got outside.

Or maybe, she thought when they stepped out into the warm evening, until they got to her car.

His hard fingers were relaxed around hers, but she knew if she tried to withdraw, they’d tighten quickly, like a trap on a rabbit.

She had no intention of withdrawing her hand from his. She wanted just this little while. This moment would have to hold her for a very long time again.

He let her lead the way, swinging their joined hands between them as they walked up the sidewalk toward where she had parked her car. She tried not to think beyond this moment. She couldn’t help trying to remember the last time they’d had a moment like this–awareness shimmering between them, mostly relaxed.

A long time ago.

Another lifetime, she thought.

Her steps slowed as they neared her car, and his fingers tightened just a tiny bit. She stopped walking at the side of the car.

Rory released her hand and set his hands on her waist, turning her to face him.

India let him, her pulse skipping. Just the end of a date, she told herself. Not her first date. No big deal.

Except this was Rory.

His bright gaze locked on hers, and one of his big hands lifted to cup her face as he took a step toward her, determination evident in the set of his jaw, hunger darkening his eyes.

Her heart shot into overdrive. “We shouldn’t.”

He didn’t pretend to misunderstand. “Oh, a rúnsearc, we should,” he said instead. “We’re quite overdue.” He bent and nudged her nose with his.

Even knowing what a terrible idea it was, she tipped her head back. If she kissed him, she’d only want more. She already wanted more, and he’d barely touched her.

His thumb slid beneath her lower lip, and her mouth tingled in anticipation. “Soon, my pretty mate,” he breathed, as if reading her mind.

The tingling spread, down her throat, to her chest, tightening her nipples still more. She pressed her thighs together against the arousal, and he groaned, catching her mouth with his.

India set her hands on his lapels to keep from falling down at the onslaught of sensation–it had been so long since she’d tasted him, yet the flavor of him hadn’t changed at all.

His lips teased hers with light kisses, feathered from one side of her mouth to the other and back again.

She slid one hand to his nape, through the silky curls there, and felt him shudder, half a second before his kiss deepened.

Open-mouthed, hot, his tongue gliding along her lower lip.

India heard her own whimper only vaguely.

Rory tasted so damn good–like a shot of good Irish whiskey that went straight to your head, fiery and potent.

When he lifted his head, only his hand at her back and her grip on his lapel kept her on her feet.

She realized they still stood on the sidewalk beside her car, traffic rushing past on the street, people strolling by–while she was on the verge of climaxing just from his kiss. She opened her eyes, inordinately pleased to realize he was equally aroused and distracted.

His erection burned against her belly, and his breath came too fast–maybe even faster than hers.

“Fuck,” he muttered, and hauled her close against him, his panting warming her scalp while his arms slid around her.

She shut her eyes again and smiled, allowing herself this indulgence. Who knew when it would happen again? Her smile faded.

Probably not for several more years.

His hand stroked up her spine again, beneath her hair, before coming to rest at her nape. “Come with me, India.”

Dammit. She swallowed hard, her eyes opening. “Why did you go there?”

“We should be together.”

She tipped her head back to look up at him–at five-ten, she wasn’t tiny, but he had at least seven inches on her height. He might look lanky, but she knew the expensive suit hid well-developed muscles. “It can’t happen.” She tried to lean away, but she didn’t get far.

“Are you going to make me pay for the rest of our lives?” Some of the heat in his eyes chilled. “For one stupid moment?”

India’s stomach dipped, as an old ache opened up in her chest and spread through her entire body. “Let go.”

He didn’t budge, even when she wedged her hands between them.

“Rory.”

“You’re my mate, India. How long can we live apart this way?”

The pain burned all the way to the backs of her eyes. “Your family needs you.”

“I need you.”

The stark declaration made her knees wobble. “I don’t think this is the place for–”

“It never is, and I’m tired.” His fingers tightened on her for a second. “I’m tired of pretending I don’t have a mate I want. I’m tired of waking up and rolling over and you’re not there beside me.”

India’s eyes burned. “Stop, Rory.”

“No, a rúnsearc, I won’t.”

She pushed at him, her breathing hitching. If he didn’t let go soon, the pain that kept expanding from her chest was going to start leaking from her eyes. “This isn’t fair,” she hissed.

He stepped forward again, so she was sandwiched between him and the car. “Stop, a rúnsearc. Breathe.” He tightened his hold on her again, until she felt his lapel against her cheek.

“I want you to let me go,” she got out around the hot lump in her throat.

“I can’t. Not anymore.”

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Now I’m going back to making the cover designer list shorter before I call it a day. What are you working on this week?

( Goals List – Depositphotos )

 

 

The story I’m working on is for a group project that will be released this fall. (And yes, it is past my self-imposed deadline, thanks for pointing that out.) I am really enjoying the heroine in this story, and the hero…well, he is pretty yummy. I love that they’re falling in love, in spite of all the very good reasons why they shouldn’t. I also love that they have a little matchmaking help from a couple of directions they wouldn’t have expected. I am getting a little anxious about wrapping it up, though, so I’m just going to leave you with a little story snippet for Valentine’s Day week, this time from my third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa, before I get back to the novella.

 

( Kissing – Depositphotos )

 

Katharine released a slow breath, forcing herself to relax her jaw, and reached up to shove the scarf off her eyes after the door clicked shut.

He’d even set her tote bag on the floor inside the door.

Tears stung her eyes at that unexpected kindness.

She was overreacting, she knew. Partly due to her overloaded hormones. Partly because she was so angry that she’d been unable to defend herself against the Harvester since she’d felt safe enough in her house to take the damned painkiller.

She’d been the Medusa for six years now, and with her alarm system in place, she’d felt confident enough there after all this time…

She shut her eyes for a second, her fingers curling into fists at her sides.

None of this was Hunter’s fault. All he’d done was save her life, not sic the Harvester on her when she was vulnerable.

That she was ultimately responsible for her near-death experience made her angrier. At herself. Hunter just happened to be within firing range.

“Katharine? You okay?”

“Fine,” she said shortly. “I’m fine.” She took a long, deep breath, then released it.

When she’d finished washing her hands, she fumbled the blindfold back down over her eyes and reached for the doorknob, groping empty air.

“Coming in,” he said, and she dropped her hand back to her side. “Okay?”

“Yes.” His hard fingers slid over hers. “Thank you, Hunter.”

He pulled her along with him, thirteen paces to the bed.

“For saving my life earlier.”

“Not a problem.” He made her sit, then she felt his fingers on her shoelaces. “Nice blade,” he said mildly, easing her boot from her foot.

She swallowed. “If I hadn’t taken that pill earlier, I could have used it. Or just turned him to stone.”

“Well, you won’t need the dagger here. Not now. I have a state of the art security system, and nobody followed us from your place, so you’re safe here.” He took her other boot off. “You want to get out of the jeans and back into a nightshirt? Something more comfortable for you?”

Katharine hesitated, biting her lip. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her naked already. Up close and personal. “Yes,” she whispered.

“Okay. I’ll go grab the rest of your stuff from the garage. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Ha, ha.” Still, she smiled a little, listening to his footsteps on the stairs, the sound fading as he walked away from the entry hall. The room smelled like Hunter, she mused as she sat there on the edge of his bed. That same musky, spicy scent that had set her body humming Friday night.

She almost wished it were Friday night again.

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Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this week? Do you and your other half do something special to mark the day, or is it just another Thursday?

 

 

( Hands Heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, so you know what that means? Valentine’s Day, the official day of sweethearts everywhere. I enjoy Valentine’s Day as much as the next person, but I’m a romantic, so I feel like love shouldn’t only be celebrated one day a year. I’m sure I’m not alone in that belief–look how many romance readers and writers there are out in the world.

Rather than lecture about not celebrating love all year long, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of my weekly post where we have the story excerpt. This week, it comes from the first story in my tiger shifter series.

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Even the next day, Harley’s words stuck with her. She ignored his calls to her cell phone late in the morning and shortly after lunch while she sorted through old files. Finally, when he called a third time, she gathered up her purse and headed out, telling Amy she needed to run some errands.

She needed a distraction from the circling of her thoughts and from work, and it just so happened she was out of food at her house. A trip into the village was just as good a way as any to distract her.

She drove from work into town, making a mental list as she went and deliberately not thinking about Harley or Ezra. Finding a good parking space along one of the main streets, she put her purse strap over her shoulder and set off. She took her time, pausing to look in store windows as she went. She detoured into the tiny flower shop when some bright daisies and gladiolus caught her eye. The arrangement would brighten up her very empty home. She apologized when she bumped into a tall, blondish man in a black t-shirt on her way to the exit. He murmured something unintelligible and went back to looking at the roses in the cooler.

Next, she headed to the grocery store for some soda and a piece of fish to broil for dinner. After that, she continued on her leisurely way, admiring some hanging plant pots outside the hardware store, browsing the magazines at the bookstore, and then heading to the market. She picked up a basket, intent on finding some fresh vegetables to go with her fish for supper. Maybe some squash and tomatoes. She added both to her basket and picked her way along the row of bins, admiring the selection. Someday, she’d have a garden of her own to grow these things in. She smiled to herself, imagining that for a moment.

Tessa glanced up when she caught some small motion from the corner of her eye and realized that the big, rangy man with the dirty blond hair that she’d seen in the flower shop was picking his way along the produce bins in her direction, casually. A little too casually.

Her heart started to beat faster. The flower shop was several blocks away, and she’d left the car parked on that side of the square.

Maybe she was being paranoid.

The man stopped, picking up some oranges and very determinedly not looking in her direction.

She set down the basket she’d filled, and she walked away from the produce bins to the street corner. From the corner of her eye, she saw him look up and take a step toward her.

This was bad.

Without waiting for the stoplight to change, she ran out into the street, glancing back to find him striding after her confidently. Several cars honked their horns at her, but she didn’t stop running and heard the squeal of brakes. A loud thump sounded somewhere behind her, but she didn’t turn to see what had caused it. Her chest ached already, but she kept going, pushing her way through other pedestrians. When she reached the end of the next block, she dared a glance back over her shoulder. She didn’t see him, but she didn’t slow down, panting as she whipped around the corner and started to backtrack toward her car, her flowers flapping and her grocery bag thumping along her hip.

By the time she reached the car, she was lagging, her breath coming much too quickly, and sweat rolled down the back of her neck, soaking her shirt beneath the strap of her purse. She fumbled in the pocket on the outside of her purse for the car keys, glancing back over her shoulder to be sure the big man hadn’t figured out the direction she’d taken. Evidently, he had not. She jammed the key in the lock and yanked the door open. As she slid into the driver’s seat, her breath caught.

He had found her.

She jerked the door shut as he pounded toward the car from the opposite direction she’d just taken. She fumbled to get the key in the ignition, aware that her panting was growing faster again.

He was getting closer.

She hit the button to lock the doors on the car and finally slid the key into the ignition, turning it hard. The engine turned over, and she whimpered in relief.

But he was there now, grabbing for her door handle. And he looked as if he might have had a collision with one of those cars she’d dodged a few blocks away. Blood oozed down the side of his face, and his black shirt was torn across the back.

She yanked the gear shift into drive and stomped on the gas pedal.

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Now I’m going to go have dinner with my husband, but I’d love to hear your thoughts this week about the whole Valentine’s Day phenomenon: do you rely on the holiday or spread the joy all year?

 

 

 

 

It’s been a gloomy afternoon here, though it looks now like the clouds are lightening a little. Just in time for sunset. But my house smells amazing: there is double-chocolate bread in the bread machine, and just about ready, and a hearty vegetable soup in a giant pot on the stove, so it’s not a bad way to end the day. Plus…writing time!

I’m working this month on the novella I committed to for this fall. There is lighthouse in the story, and I’ve been looking for a while for just the right one. I haven’t found it, so am merging a couple different ones in my head to come up with the perfect one for the setting–an island in Maine, where the lighthouse stands about three stories high and overlooks a rocky cliff and narrow, rocky beach beneath. The lighthouse adjoins to a house with a workshop attached, and the hero and his young son live there.  This one is close, though the island is much too small, and the lighthouse not quite tall enough, but it is pretty.

(Depositphotos.com – Nubble Light)

I expected the day-job to be quieter than it was last week, so I’m not sure that bodes well for the next two weeks, when it was scheduled to be busy. That’s my long-winded way of saying I have to get back to my writing so I can finish this novella by the end of the week. Before I go, I have a little story snippet to share with you from the second Medusa story in my trilogy.

________________

Philomena parked beside her mother’s house. She was the first one home, and she needed to get dinner on in a hurry. Once Jason got in, there’d be no time.

She went in the back door, balancing a grocery bag while she reset the alarm system, then hit the light switch with her elbow as she continued on into the kitchen.

She took her mother’s cast iron skillet from its hook over the counter and put it on the stove, turning the heat up high and dropping in the ground beef before she took her coat off. While the meat began to sizzle, she left out the other things she’d need for supper, then put away the rest of the groceries.

She rolled up her sleeves and dug a spatula out of the utensil drawer, but stopped when she heard something creak upstairs. She waited, then shook her head. It was an old farmhouse. It made noise sometimes.

She stirred the beef in the pan, adding chopped onions she’d picked up at the store–not because she was lazy but because she’d known she needed to get dinner together quickly after three days away and with an excitable six-year-old on his way home.

The sound came again. She set the spatula on the spoon rest and turned the flame under her pan down to low, then tugged up the hem of her long skirt to pull her dagger from its leather sheath on her thigh.

A loud thud reached her ears, and her heart beat a little faster.

Dear Gods, someone was in the house.

She crept up the back steps, keeping to the edges where she knew her weight wouldn’t make the stairs creak, the handle of her knife comforting in her sweat-damp hand.

More thumping, and now she heard water running.

She frowned as she got to the top of the steps, wincing when she heard something hit the porcelain bathtub followed by muffled cursing.

She stuck her head around the corner, but the partially-closed bathroom door at the other end of the hall was in her way. All she could see were shadows.

Two people? In her mother’s bathroom? She wished she’d grabbed the phone on her way up so she could call the police. No, she should’ve called first, then come upstairs. Too late now.

More thumping and a crash.

Her jaw clenched, and she stepped up into the hallway, her pulse pounding loudly in her ears.

“I’ve called the police,” she lied, moving slowly along the hall. Frigid air drifted toward her. Either the bathroom window was open, or something was seriously wrong with the furnace vents on the second floor. She frowned, holding tighter to her knife.

She caught a flash of something dark going out the window, and her eyes widened. That was quite a drop to the ground, even with the snow piled up below from all the big storms they’d already had this winter.

When a naked man with a gun went to the window, looking out to see where the other man had gone, she froze in the middle of the hall, her dagger shoulder high.

Naked.

She swallowed, and then he turned around, and her lungs stopped working.

________________

What did you do today to make a gloomy January Sunday better at your house?

 

 

( Hot Chocolate – Depositphotos)

Another week, another non-snowstorm. We got off to a good start with the snow in November, but Mother Nature has been slacking since then, at least in my neck of the woods. I shouldn’t complain, I guess, but it’s winter, and you know I like winter to be, well, wintry. I was ready to indulge in some adult hot chocolate tonight and watch the snow, but the forecasters botched the forecast once again. Instead of 5-8 inches of snow (Friday morning’s forecast), we’re currently getting a mix of snow, sleet and rain, which will turn to all rain in a couple of hours, before the temperatures plummet and freeze everything tomorrow. The good news is I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow, except here into my office to write.

So it is good I’m feeling inspired tonight. I spent a large chunk of the afternoon at a friend’s bookstore with another friend who was doing a booksigning, and a friend who used to be one of my romance regulars when I started working at Waldenbooks, many years ago. We talked books and writing and authors and everything else under the sun for several hours, and it was lovely. We also decided we need to get back to our monthly writing sessions–we use to meet a a friend’s house one night a month for supper and writing. It was a lot of fun, and we were pretty productive, but the friend who hosted has moved away, and we haven’t done it in about a year. But we’re going to start up again, which makes me happy for several reasons. Meeting with like-minded friends is another motivator when it comes to writing. Yes, we’ll do some chatting, and we’ll still have dinner, but we’ll also be productive, which is a really good thing. We used to track our word count when we met, though I don’t know that we’ll do that in our new incarnation. We’ll figure it out. But this is another way for us to be accountable to ourselves for our writing goals and productivity. And hey, more words on the page is a very good thing. I’m looking forward to this.

I’m also excited because we are going to paint my office. When we bought our house almost 18 years ago, we moved our office furniture right in and didn’t paint. (We actually didn’t paint anywhere in the house until after we’d moved in.) But with desks for both me and my husband in the room, there was nowhere for us to shift furniture to do anything in this room, so we didn’t. But my hubby has moved his desk and office for his business into the basement, leaving this room on the main living level to me. Right now, the room is half empty, so the plan is to primer and paint the open half, then move my things over and do the rest. I even settled on a very pretty color this afternoon while with my friends, so I am feeling more inspired for this project. The paint won’t be the only thing different in the room either. I’ve been wanting a double-monitor set-up on my desk (I’ve gotten spoiled at my day-job with two monitors to work on), and my desk right now isn’t meant to accommodate two monitors, so I am looking at desks, or at least another table that I can set up so I have an L-shaped workspace where I can set up my second monitor. And if we wind up doing the latter, I’ll be able to keep the hutch on my current desk, which is good, because it is well-used, filled with reference books, and pretty things for me to look at while I’m at my desk.

So while I’m feeling inspired, I’m hoping for a lot of new words on pages tomorrow. I’m finishing the laundry tonight so I can spend tomorrow writing. I didn’t get any of that done last weekend, because we were moving furniture into the basement.  So the to-do list for Sunday is short: wash dishes, roast vegetables, and write.

Before I go switch more laundry around, I have a quick story snippet to share with you from my third shifter story.

________________

“Tell me about the dream,” he said when she was completely boneless in his embrace.

She shifted, suddenly not so relaxed. “I’m sure it was just because of that woman being taken earlier,” she said after a few seconds.

Boris tightened his arm around her. “Tell me.”

She shook her head. “It was just a dream.”

“What happened?” He slid his hand down to the little bulge of their baby and covered it.

Vivi went still at the movement.

“Vivi.”

She inhaled slowly. “It’s stupid.”

“Tell me anyway.” He rubbed his hand over her belly. Too early to feel the baby moving, but he imagined the baby still inside, kicking and shifting anyway.

“I was driving somewhere, no place I recognized, and the baby was in the backseat. It was bright and sunny, and then suddenly it wasn’t. It was raining and dark, and another car forced us off the road. We crashed.” He heard her swallow. “And we were surrounded by strangers. Shifters. They dragged me out of the car.” Each word had her muscles tensing more and more.

He waited, but she didn’t continue. “Sweetheart?” He kissed the top of her ear. “What happened next?”

“You were there, too, and got the baby out of the car.”

He frowned.

“You were angry, and you told them to take me.” She whispered it in a rush.

He shut his eyes.

“You said they could have me.”

“Oh, sweetheart.” He tightened his hold on her. “I told you I won’t let anything happen to you or the baby. I meant that.”

She shuddered. “I know. It was just a dream.”

He realized they were no longer bonded, and he rolled her to her back, then to face him. “Nothing is going to happen, and I certainly wouldn’t let anyone take you.” He brushed a kiss on her mouth and tasted tears. “Come here.” He wrapped his arms tight around her, pressing one knee between hers, and she slid her leg over his. “I promise, Vivi.”

She ducked her chin lower and hid her face against his collarbone. “It was just a dream.”

One that bothered her more than she’d admit, he realized. He wondered who had abandoned her. Maybe now wasn’t the time to ask, though. He settled her so close he could have been buried inside her again, smoothing one hand over her hair, down her spine, over and over, until the tension gradually seeped out of her again. Until she settled back into sleep.

Boris stared into the dark for a long time, questions chasing each other in circles. Who had abandoned her? Why had she dreamed he’d tell rogues to take her?

Finally, scowling, he forced his mind to settle, to focus on breathing evenly, to enjoy the feel of the warm woman in his arms.

They had plenty of time for old hurts and secrets.

________________

So, who else is feeling inspired this week?  What are you going to do about it?

 

 

 

( Speedometer – Depositphotos.com )

One week down in the new year, fifty-one more to go.

This year, one of the things I am hoping for is keeping myself accountable with some writer friends. I reach my goals better when I have to be accountable to someone–whether it’s a real deadline, like a date a manuscript is due, or if it’s a deadline I’ve set for myself, if someone knows when I have said I need to be finished with something. A few of my friends like the accountability as well, so we’ve started off the year together.

The other aspect of this group is cheering each other on, which is always a nice bonus, especially on a day when you feel like you haven’t accomplished much, or enough, or what you have done is crap. Some days it might be crap, or maybe you did only dredge up a few hundred words instead of the larger number you wanted or needed, but at least it’s something, and something is better than nothing. You can fix something. Nothing, well, you can’t do anything with that. As my role model Nora Roberts says, you can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank page.

So how are you doing with your New Year’s goals or resolutions so far? Pretty good? Not so good? Maybe you need to round up a couple of friends to help each other out with your goals, too. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or formal. Maybe just text messages or emails. My writing friends’ group is a little bigger, so we actually have a group set up for ourselves, so we can chat comfortably. Find what will work best for you.

Before I get back to my writing, I have a little story snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

________________

“Give me your mouth, Andrea.”

She bent back to him blindly, sliding one hand into his hair to catch him, and the kiss this time was savage, all heat and reckless passion. When their hips shifted together now, the motion was instinctual, primitive, wild and fast. There was no Medusa, no Harvester. Simply man and woman. Mated. Fated.

And the pleasure was ten times more powerful than what she’d felt that morning. The explosion sent her into the abyss, tumbling freely, breathless.

Andi couldn’t stop shaking. Even minutes later, the trembling in her limbs wouldn’t stop. Aftershocks made her body tighten on his and his hips shifted against hers. He murmured into her hair, and she heard his wild heartbeat beneath her ear.

She wanted to stay right where she was.

It was the stupidest thing she’d ever wanted. Especially since freedom was not too far away. Just as far as her dresser, clean clothes, the door downstairs.

“Easy.” His lips grazed her forehead this time.

Her eyes burned, and she cursed her stupid hormones. She blinked hard and steeled herself. Lifted her hips away from his. Her breath hissed in as he groaned a protest. She felt cold suddenly.

Ignoring that, she clambered off the bed, searching for some piece of clothing to put on. She’d never felt so naked.

“Andrea.”

She ignored him too, moving to her dresser and taking out some clean clothes. She didn’t even notice what. With her stinging eyes, she couldn’t quite see the things she’d grabbed.

“Andrea.” His tone this time was harder, more insistent.

She glanced toward the bed.

“Don’t do this.”

“I have to.”

“It’s not safe.”

She forced a laugh. “Yeah, you’re so concerned for my safety. Does it really matter which one of you kills me? As long as it gets done?” She jerked on panties, then jeans before wrestling with a bra.

Kallan sat up, gripping the headboard with his cuffed hand. “Stavros won’t be as concerned with how he kills you, or how he gets the amulet.”

Andi swallowed as she yanked on her shirt, then froze when he put his free hand over the cuff on his wrist. She heard the unmistakable sound of it releasing before it jangled to the pillow.

Impossible.

He got to his feet, his green eyes dangerous now.

She dashed toward the door. She only made it halfway before he caught her, ripping one of the belt loops on her jeans in the process. She fought, striking whatever she could reach and wishing she’d at least gotten shoes on so she could do some real damage since he was still naked.

But the Harvester was stronger than she was, and he simply held on until she wore herself out.

Andi finally stopped struggling, her head drooping, breath coming hard again, but with far less satisfaction this time.

He carried her back to the bed and snapped her wrist into the handcuff, his mouth set in a hard line. “I have another set, if I need both of your hands out of commission,” he ground out.

She didn’t bother to answer, struggling still to catch her breath. And against more of the unexpected tears. Damned hormones.

He sat down beside her, hands braced on his hair-spattered knees. “I thought we were going to each do a little trusting,” he said finally.

She looked at the wall to her left, rather than at him. “I saw the handcuffs and I had to try.”

“Was it worth it?”

A scalding tear rushed down her cheek, making her glad she’d turned her face away.

“I know you weren’t faking,” he whispered, leaning nearer. “You can’t fake that.”

She bit her lip, swallowing around the giant lump in her throat.

“And neither was I.”

She barely kept herself from turning to look at him, but the shock still made her body jerk.

He rose and drifted a kiss on the top of her head. “Try to get some sleep.”

Behind her, she heard him gathering his clothing before he padded into the bathroom next door. The water ran briefly, and a few minutes later, she heard him slowly go downstairs.

She lifted her free hand at last to swipe at the tears on her face, closing her eyes.

She should have known this would turn out badly. Who knew the Harvester could undo locks without keys?

Her eyes flew open. What other abilities did he have that she didn’t know about yet?

Gods help her.

________________

Let me know how you’re doing with your goals for the new year!

 

 

(Depositphotos)

Today officially winds down the winter holiday week here, and we wrapped up our week with our usual family New Year’s dinner. Tomorrow, it’s back to work. I have my writing goals nailed down for the year and have made sure I’m going to be accountable for working toward them with some writer friends. Now we get to the fun part–balancing the writing plans with real life.

I actually spent some time today looking at my day-job schedule for the year to see where I’ll have down-time there to work on other things. Oh, the day-job schedule rarely stays the same from the beginning of the year to the end–people take vacations so the rest of us on the team help out, or something changes on the schedule at the last minute, you all know what I mean. But I have a game-plan, which is a good start. Of course, I also realized that not only is my busiest sales rep scheduled for the week in July when I’ll be in New York City for the annual Romance Writers of America conference, but several others are scheduled that week as well. I do feel bad about leaving that for someone else to handle, but since RWA’s conference only comes to NYC every four years, I don’t feel bad enough to take the conference off my schedule.

I’ve added my goals and dates to my pretty new 2019 planner, which is already in my work tote bag (with my current work-in-progress), so I will be seeing those goals every day. They’re posted on my bulletin board here in my home office, staring at me every time I sit here at my desk. And I’ve shared them with a small group of writer friends so I am not the only one who knows about my plans.

Before I call it a day, I have some writing to do, but I have a little story snippet to share with you first, from the second story in my shifter series.

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The elevator came to a smooth stop on the conference level, and Rory used his grip on her hand to steer India from the car.

She strode beside him, then realized if anyone came out and saw them there would be questions. She tugged on her hand.

He shot her a sidelong glance.

“Let go.”

Reluctance flattened his mouth a little, but he did as she asked before they reached the meeting room. She preceded him inside, her gaze sweeping over the occupants–the Russian from Chicago was still there, along with the bear from Washington, and her father.

Adar hurried in a moment later, and heat crawled up her throat. If her uncle had caught her with Rory, he would have had a stroke. And a screaming fit. No wonder half of his kids didn’t speak to him, and the other half were miserable.

A few other envoys returned momentarily, and India relaxed a little. Back to business.

Her father cleared his throat once everyone had reclaimed their seats. “We need to decide what our next step is with these rogues,” he began. “Our sources suggest their growing numbers are in preparation for a bigger, wider-spread attack than last time.”

“What do you suggest? Attack first? Try to negotiate with them? Arrange a union between our groups and theirs as a show of good faith?” the Russian asked.

Adar leaned forward. “India would be perfect.”

Before she could protest, Rory growled.

Adar either didn’t notice or just ignored him. “She’d be a perfect candidate,” he continued, and she narrowed her eyes at him. “She’s diplomatic and able to take care of herself–”

“You are not giving my mate to anyone, old man,” Rory growled, shoving to his feet.

India’s eyes widened, then she shut them for a second. Shit.

Adar gaped at Rory for a moment, then narrowed his eyes. “She is not your mate, wolf, or have you forgotten?”

Rory leaned over the table. “I have forgotten nothing, including my mate.” He held Adar’s gaze, a dangerous glint in his eyes.

Damn him. She could not believe he’d just blurted that out. After all this time… Her pulse quickened.

Her uncle pushed to his feet, slowly. “You won’t have her.”

“She is mine already.”

“Stop it,” she said, at the same time as her father.

Adar looked at her, anger turning his cheekbones ruddy. “You had better not–”

She swallowed back her own growl, though she couldn’t do anything about the anger she knew he would see in her eyes.

“Enough,” Boyd shouted, rising as Rory reached over the table for her uncle. “Adar, you need to stop interfering. Their mating is none of your business.”

She blinked. Then glared at Rory and Adar.

“Can we get back to the issue of these rogues?” Boyd asked gruffly.

India fumed for the next hour, though she found it harder to concentrate on the discussion when everyone in the room kept sneaking furtive glances at her and Rory.

Boyd put both hands up finally, when the discussion had degenerated to random, shitty ideas or accusations of stupidity. “Ladies and gentlemen, I think we need to take a break. Let’s reconvene in the morning, when we’ve all had some time to think about this, all right?” He looked around the room, holding gazes and waiting for nods of agreement. “Great. I’m sure we’ll come up with a workable solution to deal with these rogues.”

India pushed to her feet. Steam must be coming out of her ears by now. Adar rose and started toward her.

“Adar.”

She glanced over when her father spoke again.

Her uncle’s mouth pinched, then he turned to face his brother.

“You will mind your own business,” Boyd repeated, giving his brother a hard stare.

Adar scowled, but nodded finally and changed direction, heading out the door.

She let out a slow breath.

Boyd held her gaze for a second, then looked at Rory. “I think you two need to hash this out privately.”

“Of course.” Rory nodded and rounded the table.

She blinked at his hand wrapping around her arm, then frowned up at him.

“Let’s go, a rúnsearc,” he said softly.

She opted not to protest while her father watched them.

“I’ll see you in the morning, India,” Boyd said.

Rory ushered her from the meeting room, and she let him. Until they were in the hall.

Then she tugged on her arm.

Rory’s fingers tightened. “Don’t make me put you over my shoulder,” he said in a low rumble.

India’s eye widened. “You have got to be kidding me.” Though she remembered a time or two when he’d carried her off somewhere, over his shoulder. Usually shortly before he– Don’t go there, India.

“Even though everyone knows now, I’m sure there will still be plenty of speculation on why we haven’t been together. You can feed it, or let them wonder.” He kept his grip on her arm all the way into the elevator.

She shut her mouth when several of the delegates joined them on the elevator, eying them curiously. She caught and held the gaze of one of the Russian tigers, until he finally flushed and looked away. Damned nosy busybodies.

She kept a bland expression on her face while more people crowded in the car, though she finally realized her father had called Rory earlier to tell him about the rogues.

He already knew.

________________

Now I’m off to do some writing before bedtime. I wish you all a very happy new year!

2019 goals banner – Depositphotos