Tag Archive: Vacation


 

That’s what I was doing yesterday, making a couple batches of cookies for the boys, who’ll be here a little later for dinner. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday. For those who simply celebrate a family day, like we do here, I hope you also have a wonderful day. Our group this year is smaller than it used to be, but just as well-loved. Either way, make sure you eat lots of cookies!

 

Festive holiday table setting – Depositphotos

 

 

 

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reading book by fireplace – Depositphotos

Technically, today was a warm one for December in Pennsylvania, but it was wet and gloomy all day, so even though the temps were above normal, it was still a very good day to stay inside and read with a hot beverage at hand, and it looks like it’s going to cool down a lot around here, so definitely reading by the fire weather now.

I realized last weekend I have a lot of short work weeks coming up again. It seems like that time of year at the day-job: I worked only 2 days Thanksgiving week, and left early one day last week. This week, I have Monday and Friday off, but then I have two full work-weeks in a row, before two more short weeks. Two of my days this weekend were spent partially up at the boys’ place, working more on clearing out their basement so they can set it up the way they want now that the old walls and ceiling panels full of 30+ years of cigarette smoke are gone. For a brief moment, the basement looked like it did when I was a kid visiting my grandparents–a wide open space where we could play on rainy vacation days, maybe roller skating (until we were tall enough to hit our heads on the duct work), or just running around playing like kids do. Then a new wall started to go up, in a new spot. When they’re finished, there will be a nice-sized music room for their drums and guitars, and probably my electric keyboard which they used to borrow when they still lived at home.

It makes me happy that my boys are now in a house I’ve spent my whole life visiting. They’re making changes to it, as they should, making it their own. Visiting now makes me think of visits long ago, with my parents and siblings. We used to spend a week with my grandparents each summer, two of us at a time–I have five younger siblings, so that would have been a lot for my grandparents all at once. Some years, we spent Thanksgiving there, and I remember there always being a houseful of guests for dinner, including my great-grandma (my Pop-pop’s mother) and usually a friend of hers, sometimes my aunt would be there with a friend. From our house to theirs was a three hour drive, and it always seemed to take forever to get there. Kid time is different from adult time. Even then, I was a reader, though. Some visits, the weather was too wet for us to play outside, so we might clamber up into the attic to the store of books and toys my grandma kept there. The books kept me entertained, as my books now do.

Though we haven’t emptied it completely, there aren’t any more books or toys up in the attic. And everyone in my family now is too tall to roller-skate in the basement without knocking themselves unconscious on the duct work, but we still love being there, and I love that the house is still in the family for a fourth generation.

I have a little story snippet to share with you today, from the first story in my shifter series, with a little reminiscing on the part of the heroine Tessa.

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Eight years ago…

Tessa bit her lip. How had she managed to get caught in the library when Boris brought his latest girlfriend in for a quickie? At least, she hoped it was just a quickie.

The other woman moaned and made high, breathy sounds while Boris grunted. Tessa squeezed her eyes shut tighter and tried to find something to distract her.

“Oh, baby, that’s so hot,” Boris growled.

Tessa stifled her own aggravated sound and settled back into her corner, resting her head on her knees. At least she’d been in the farthest corner when the pair stumbled into the big room, clothing already half-undone. They didn’t realize she was there. Boris would eventually, though. She hoped he ignored her presence and didn’t make a big deal about it.

Something touched her bare toe, and she jumped, barely keeping in a shriek of surprise. Her gaze landed on Harley, who wore a wicked grin as he eased down on to the floor beside her.

Her heart beat way too fast now, from the scare a little, but more from his presence.

“You into watching, Tessa?” he breathed.

She shook her head, feeling heat rush to her face. “I was here first.” She held up the books in her hand. The sounds from the other pair grew louder.

Harley shook his head. “He knows better.” He glanced in the direction of his brother.

Tessa shut her eyes again when his thigh brushed against hers as he shifted beside her. Her best friend’s older brother. She’d had a crush on him since she was seven. She’d hoped it would have faded by now, especially since she hadn’t seen him in nearly a year.

But no, her heart started beating faster as it always did when he was in the vicinity. That he was pressed up against her side from thigh to shoulder made it that much worse.

If she were still dressed, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But she’d stripped off her jeans and sweater a couple hours ago and put on her nightshirt and robe for the trek downstairs to the library after India had passed out from sheer exhaustion.

“Oh, Boris, harder,” the girl whined.

Tessa covered her face with her free hand.

Harley’s shoulder shook against hers, and she knew he was laughing, both at her embarrassment and his brother’s slutty girlfriend. “Knowing Boris, this won’t take long,” he whispered near her ear.

That only made her want to laugh, and the effort to keep her laughter contained made her shoulders shake, too, brushing against his.

Still, it seemed an eternity before Boris and his girl of the moment both groaned loudly, their ragged breathing echoing around the big room. Then, as if he’d suddenly realized they weren’t alone, Boris growled. “Come on. We need to get out of here,” he muttered.

Quiet shushing noises meant they were adjusting their clothing, and then soft, quick footsteps left the library.

Tessa let out the breath she’d been holding and pushed to her feet hurriedly, ignoring the cooler air brushing against her side where Harley’s warmth had been only seconds earlier.

“Good night, little Tessa.”

She froze. Little Tessa. He’d been calling her that since she was seven, when they’d met. Apparently he still only saw her as his younger sister’s best friend even though she was an adult now.

She swallowed back the disappointment and managed a wave as she hurried out of the library.

When she got back to India’s suite, her friend was still sound asleep, and Tessa dropped her books onto the low table by the balcony, her interest in reading gone for the night. It seemed there was no way to make Harley see her differently.

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While I’m reminiscing, I wonder if any of you are getting in any good reading now that December is settling in and feels more like winter this week. Let me know if something really great comes out of your to-be-read pile! I’ll be writing between chores on my extra days off, but I am aiming to make some reading time, too!

hot chocolate with books – Depositphotos 

 

 

 

I am back from the New Jersey Romance Writers conference, full of ideas and inspiration, and so happy to have spent time with friends I haven’t seen in too long. Plus I’ve made a few new friends, too!

I have a longer to-do list in preparation for getting my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy out into the world, thanks to an indie publishing session I went to yesterday, and notes from other workshops that I want to go back to after I get through the next couple of crazy days at the day-job. I can’t wait to dive back into my shifters (hence the pretty tiger above). I’m also looking forward to listening to the recordings of sessions that happened simultaneously with some I attended (it would have been a very good weekend to have clones!), so I can see what I missed in the other panels. And I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference so I can see my long-distance friends again, though I hope that I’ll see some of them between now and then.

Besides the wonderful conference this weekend, it finally feels like fall here, so I am really a happy camper now.

Before I try to get myself ready for the day-job again, I have a little snippet of the novella I’m working on for release next November to share with you.

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Lucie had been on the island for almost two weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the bright blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. She caught it before it hit her in the face and started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, and she adjusted her direction a tiny bit, so she came to a stop and looked directly down onto a blond head with tousled, curly hair.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him so easily.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled back and got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad butt.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he was three or four, and now that she was seeing him at closer range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me ‘n’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.”

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we could play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

The deep voice got her attention, and the little boy’s, just before a tall, sandy-haired man rounded the back corner of the next-door house.

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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Now I have to get back to reality for a few days. How is your October looking this week?

 

( Photo by davidmulder61 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

I’m not quite to 0 days until vacation, but close…only 2 as I write this, Of course, they’re going to be two very long days involving overtime and bonus paid-time-off added to my month of September, but only two more days. Plus, for our extra long days, we’ll be fed at suppertime, which is nice, on top of the extra PTO just for this week’s extra hours. It is nice to be appreciated.

I’m pretty sure the first day of my vacation will be spent recovering from the past week, and I have an appointment on the second day (and probably another on the last day), but then I have my to-do list, and my oldest son’s birthday for the rest, and possibly a visit with my sister in there, too, depending on how much rain she ends up with from the hurricane and how much clean-up that causes.

One thing I do have on my list that I absolutely will get accomplished is writing. I want to put a big dent in the novella I’m working on for next year’s Common Elements project. Not sure if I’ve told you about that yet, but I will tell you more about it down the road.

I’ve also got to clean up here in my office. I need some work space cleared off, and haven’t had time to do that. It was on last year’s vacation week to-do list, before my vacation plans went to hell.  It’ll be easier to create when the clutter is put away where it belongs.

For now, though, I am going to start getting my things together for the next two days, and get to bed at a reasonable time so I’m well-rested and functional. Before I go, I have a little snippet of the first shifter story to share this week.

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When she made her way along the hall, her heart thundering in her ears, the low rumble of male voices grew louder. Tessa turned the corner and froze. The double doors to Boyd’s study were open wide, and the first person she saw was Harley.

His dark blazer fit snugly over his broad shoulders. The white shirt open at the neck exposed golden muscles.

Her mouth went dry at the sight of him. He was really taking her out to dinner. As a prelude to more. To be with her. Her heart stopped beating for a painful moment.

She couldn’t do this.
His gaze swung away from whatever he’d been looking at on the desk, and heat flared in the tawny depths when his gaze landed on her. He stepped around the desk, toward the hallway, and she resisted her sudden, desperate urge to flee under the very predatory expression on his face. He would only give chase if she did.

Not that she could run in these damned heels anyway.

He paused in the doorway, his amber gaze sliding down from her face to the neckline of her dress. Further. Then, just as slowly and trailing scorching heat all the way, back up to her face. “You look very nice, Tessa,” he murmured.

She realized the voices in the study had gone silent, and she slid along the wall a little, away from him.

A hint of a smile tugged at one corner of his mouth, and he mirrored the move.

She swallowed hard. “Thank you.” She couldn’t do any better than a ragged whisper.

“Are you ready?”

She stared into his eyes for a long moment, nervousness rising up to choke her, and then shook her head.

He raised one eyebrow.

She slid further along the wall, feeling her legs tremble as she side-stepped. Almost to the front door.

He stalked her to the door, the smile on his face growing with each measured step.

She fumbled behind her for the doorknob for several seconds. Surely by now he could hear her heart pounding against her ribs.

“Are you running away?” The question was almost a purr.

She finally closed her fingers around the knob. “Of c-course n-not.” Even her voice was shaking now. Fantastic. She tugged the door open and sidled out through the opening.

He continued to follow, backing her right up against one of the cars.

She hoped it was hers.

“You know it would be easier if you could see where you were going.”

If she turned and ran… A shudder ran through her, and it wasn’t all fear. Not even most of it. Too much anticipation flowed through her veins.

He took one last step toward her, pressing her flat between the car and himself.

Oh, my Gods. She shut her eyes for a second. Every inch of him was hard, and there were some inches pressing into her belly that were extra-hard.

“You’ve run before, Tessa,” he murmured, leaning down so his warm breath brushed her temple and cheek.

She swallowed, wishing for a little moisture in her dry mouth. It seemed every bit of liquid in her was pooling between her legs at the moment.

“You’ve walked away from me, turning your back on me. Presenting.”

She opened her mouth to protest that, knowing it would be a lie, but nothing came out.

He dragged his mouth over hers, lightly, sending a shocking jolt of heat rushing through her. “And now it’s time to do it for real.” He nipped at her lower lip. “Turn around, Tessa.” His hand cupped her hip.

She shook her head.

“You’ve been playing with fire.” His open mouth slid along her cheek. “I’ve enjoyed the play. Now it’s time to get serious.” His hand at her hip slipped between her ass and the side of the car. “Turn around.” He punctuated the command with a sharp nip at her earlobe.

“We have an audience,” she managed, her pulse racing so fast she wondered how long it would take before she either hyperventilated or passed out.

“Go away,” he called without turning around. The front door closed with a bang behind him. “Better?” He sucked her earlobe between his lips for a second.

She shook her head. “Picture windows,” she managed.

He squeezed her bottom, lifting her into the erection that scalded her through their clothing, and caught her mouth with his, deeper this time.

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Here’s to a great week for you all!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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 )