Tag Archive: Vacation


I’m home from the conference, the laundry is done, and I’ve even put away most of the things I carted home with me from New York, and now I have to go back to the day-job tomorrow even though I’d like to stay home and write some more. But we’re not there yet.

The conference was busy, jammed with people as you would expect when a writing conference is in NYC, the traditional home of publishing. Lots of great authors there, presenting workshops and signing books. I didn’t intend to bring a ton of books home, but somehow, my suitcase was packed as full as I could get it, and I still had more stuffed into a tote bag. It was quite a workout heaving my suitcase into the overhead on the train, and then wrestling it back down again when we reached my stop without giving myself (or my seat-mate) a concussion. I didn’t even bring all of the books home that I acquired–I sent a couple home with my roommate for her daughters. And I really was judicious when I went to the booksignings about how many authors I asked to sign books. Maybe they just multiplied once I got them back to our room.

We had a great view of Times Square from our room–if you wanted to be there to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve but didn’t want to be jammed into the streets with thousands of other people, you could see it from that room. Two women from my monthly writing group were also at the conference, and we had some really good meals while we were in the city. The first night I was there, I ate at a diner my husband and I stumbled on during our last visit, and while I was having supper, a group of NYC’s finest also came in for dinner. My writing group friends were disappointed that they missed it and wanted to make sure get to see it. One of them went back with me another night, and we were treated to the same nice view of the ‘Hot Cops’ as we called them. Our other friend was disappointed she missed that, but on our last night, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby and she got her own view of some of NYC’s ‘Hot Cops’.

I went to a fair number of workshops on indie publishing, and marketing/branding while I was at the conference, so I actually started playing around with some new headers for my social media pages. I could use some opinions on what I have so far, so I have a poll on my Facebook page, and created a separate poll here. I’d love if you took a look at these and let me know which one you prefer.

Before I have to start really thinking about work in the morning, I have a little story snippet from my first shifter manuscript to share with you while I get in a little more writing time.

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Tessa could not stop smiling after she hung up the phone. Amy had whooped when she shared the news. Her second stop was to see the tiger.

He sat when she came into the room, his golden gaze alert.

“Hi, buddy.” She dropped to the floor in the middle of the room, almost bouncing. “I found you a wonderful new home. They’re going to come and get you next week. You’re going to love it. They’ll build you a huge new enclosure. You’ll have more tiger friends. Maybe even a girlfriend.” Tessa grinned.

The cat tipped his head, watching her.

She stayed there until her boss arrived, and then she shared the news with him, too.

Joe arrived in the middle of it, and she excused herself to gather her things.

“Your place tonight?” he asked as they headed for the door.

“Um, not right now,” she said, feeling heat rush to her face. “I need to get some books from the library.” She had left the books there last night–she’d been a little distracted by another tiger. But she really wanted to share her good news with him.

Joe waited till she’d gone inside before he backed the jeep up and left again.

She went in, a little disappointed not to find him waiting in the library, or in any of the other rooms on the ground floor. Hands sweating, she headed up the steps.

Tessa swallowed hard, screwing up her nerve when she got to the door. After a few more seconds, she let out a shaky breath and knocked. Once.

Nothing.

She shut her eyes and knocked again, harder.

Still nothing.

After a couple seconds, she decided to bolt. As she turned away, a whisper of sound alerted her to someone on the stairs, and she flushed, pulse racing. Great, now someone else would know she’d gone to Harley’s suite.

Except it was Harley who rounded the corner. He paused for half a second when he saw her, then a hint of a smile touched his lips. “Hello, Tessa.”

The sexy rumble in his greeting made her catch her breath, and she struggled to suck in a little air before she cleared her throat. “Hi,” she managed, suddenly aware they were alone up here. Her brain flashed intimate images from last night, last weekend, and heat flashed through her.

“I didn’t expect to see you this evening.” He came to a stop about a foot away. Just near enough that the warm scent of him enveloped her, teasing her senses. “I thought you’d be working late again.”

She found her gaze caught on his mouth, and she forced it back up to his, trying very hard not to think of all the ways he’d used his mouth on her. Failing.

As if he knew what was going on in her head, Harley smiled a little more. “Tessa?”

She gave herself a mental shake, warmth expanding from her middle. “I found a home for the tiger this afternoon. A reserve that specializes in cats.”

“That’s great.” He tipped his head to one side, his golden gaze sliding over her face until she blushed again. “And you came looking for me,” he murmured, his eyes darkening.

She opened her mouth to speak, but had no idea what she’d meant to say. Her system seemed to be on Harley-overload–she was much too aware of him, the quiet sound of his breathing, the remembered feel of his hard fingers on her skin.

Her heartbeat sounded much too loud and fast in her ears.

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Before I forget, I have a guest blog post going live at Delilah Devlin’s blog on Friday, Aug. 2, and there is a giveaway, so maybe you want to pop over there and give it a look.

Now I’m going to write and pretend I get to stay home to do it every day. What are you doing this hot summer week?

 

 

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(Cake and ice-cream – Depositphotos)

I am still without internet at my house, so am crashing the Panera up the road from home once again so I can check in on everything that’s happening in my world and beyond. While I get ready to call our provider (again!) when I get home.

I’ve also been cursing Mother Nature for the ridiculously high temperatures this week. As I write this, our high temp at home today was officially 100 degrees. Much, much too hot for me. It looks like a slightly cooler start to next week, before it gets back up around 90. Good thing for me I’ll be inside the conference hotel all week for the annual Romance Writers of America conference.

I finished most of my packing earlier today. Now I just have a few things to tuck into my suitcase the morning I leave, and my tote bag to prep. I hope I didn’t forget to put anything on my ginormous list. I am really excited to get to NYC, not just for the conference, but because it means I also get to meet up with writer friends I haven’t seen in too long (and some I see fairly regularly) to catch up and talk shop.

I do need to finish whittling down my workshop list. I still have a couple of time slots I can’t make up my mind about. I’ll have to think about that tomorrow while I’m staying inside the air conditioning for one last extra-hot day to write. I might even polish my nails while I’m at it. I should also think about what kind of cheesecake I’m going to bring home with me next weekend for my birthday.

While I’m thinking about that, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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Kallan sank onto the hard chair at the table and buried his face in his hands. Tonight wasn’t working out at all as he’d imagined it might. Andrea had warned him that morning she wouldn’t forget what he’d done last night. A mirthless laugh rumbled up his chest. He should have realized Andrea wouldn’t completely surrender. She was a fighter, his Medusa.

He frowned. She wasn’t his Medusa. She wasn’t his anything. Perhaps a temporary lover. And ultimately, his target. His family’s enemy.

That didn’t mean he’d allow his cousin get to her, however.

With that thought in mind, he booted up the laptop, fingers tapping over the keyboard. Sure enough, Great-Uncle Ari had responded to Kallan’s earlier posting, with a command to Stavros to head in the same direction rather than to follow his own lead. None of the cousins ever disobeyed Aristotle Tassos, even now when they were adults and hunting on their own—not even Stavros, arrogant and brutal as he was.

Breathing a small sigh of relief, Kallan idly pulled up his favorite page of the mythologies, one with plenty of photos of ancient artifacts to go along with the stories. Artifacts which had never been seen publicly, items that had instead passed down through generations of Harvesters. Currently, Cousin Demitrios was the keeper of the private collection, though word among the cousins was he wanted to get back in on the hunt and turn the curatorship over to his brother Vasily. That was up to Great-Uncle Ari, and the old bastard never rushed a decision.

He scrolled through several pages until he got to the photo he was searching for. A large urn decorated in great detail, including a scene depicting the very beautiful Medusa about to be slain by Perseus. The first Medusa was gorgeous, with wide eyes and a generous figure. The spitting, hissing snakes atop her head didn’t detract at all from her beauty.

He looked up at the ceiling. There was only silence from Andrea’s bedroom. He wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

He glanced again at the urn. Perhaps she should see it.

To what purpose, though? The voice in his head sounded very like Ari.

He frowned and picked up the computer, then headed for the steps and ignored the imaginary voice.

The light was still on in the bedroom, and Andrea sat just where he’d left her, her shoulders slumped.

Something in his chest tightened. He reminded himself she’d set this in motion, but he still felt a pang of guilt.

He cleared his throat. “I have something you should see.”

She didn’t move, didn’t jump, didn’t give any indication she’d heard him.

Kallan’s frown deepened as he crossed the room to her.

She was sleeping. Sitting there exactly where he’d left her, with tear stains on her cheeks.

Goddess, he felt even worse. He put the laptop on her dresser and turned back to the bed so he could ease her down into a more comfortable position. Certainly more comfortable than sleeping sitting up. She didn’t wake, just burrowed into the pillow, making an indistinct sound of protest.

For a moment, he watched her, trying to figure out why his chest ached and failing. He gave himself a shake and returned to the computer, then shut it down before he kicked off his shoes and stretched out behind her on the bed, careful not to disturb her. She’d had a rough enough day.

He smiled to himself at that and shut his eyes. They both needed some sleep to deal with what was coming.

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Now I’m going to venture back out into the heat and head home to my own a/c and do a little reading before I call it a day. What will you be doing this week while I’m filling my brain with new information at the conference and visiting with writing friends?

 

 

Raspberry tart – Depositphotos

Yes, it’s July, which means party month, right? Cake for everyone, I think, though we’ll start small. Doesn’t that look yummy? I’ve actually been dreaming of Junior’s Cheesecake for my birthday, and as it happens, since the national Romance Writers of America conference is in New York this year, I will be there on my birthday, so that wish is coming true. I’ll actually be traveling home that day, but will be able to pop across the street from the conference hotel before I head to the train station and get my cake. I can’t wait!

And speaking of the conference, I spent some time last night trying to narrow down my workshop choices and printing out handouts that go with some of them. Which led to the demise of my black ink cartridge, so I have to run out and pick up ink this morning instead of spending all day writing as I had hoped. So this is going to be a short post. I have a little story snippet to share with you from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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Lucie didn’t argue when Nate refused her help with the dishes. Her insides were still shaky from the realization that he was attracted to her.

“I’ll see you in the mornin’, Lucie!” Hayden shouted, hopping on one foot.

She smiled as she put her sweater on. “Yes, you will, buddy.” They’d already decided that Hayden would join her after breakfast so Nate could cram in a few hours of work before he headed to the hospital to see his dad and try to get his mother to come home to sleep in her own bed rather than the less-than-ideal pull-out chair-bed in his dad’s hospital room.

She wasn’t sure that was a battle he would win, but she could absolutely understand his concern.

Hayden gave her a quick hug and then ran back to his book in the living room.

“I really do appreciate this, Lucie,” Nate said from where he stood at the sink.

“It’s nothing, Nate,” she said lightly. “Keeps me from having to spend endless hours on the job search sites and getting more depressed than I already am.” She kept her head down as she buttoned her sweater up to her chin.

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone made her look up, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his brown eyes made her curl her fingers around the edges of her sweater to keep from reaching out.

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help, or needing it, for that matter.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit, hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, she was in trouble. She took a slow breath. “I’ll see you in the morning then.” She inched toward the door.

A hint of awareness darkened his eyes, but he stayed where he was. “Good night, Lucie.”

She took two more steps and cleared the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard his footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled around. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, and there was no disguising the desire in his eyes this time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she felt a quick rush of excitement that she tried to squash as he stepped into the mud room. She held her breath as he took another step. One more. Until he stood a foot away from her, and her breath rushed out.

He studied her face for a long moment, and she wondered what he saw, what he was looking for. Impulsively, she moved closer to him, noting the way his eyes widened just a little, and she stretched up to brush a kiss on his mouth, then stepped back.

“Good night, Nate,” she whispered, reaching behind her for the doorknob.

His dark gaze followed her out the door, and she turned away, feeling a smile curve her lips.

Well, that was nice. She could deal with the repercussions another day, and, for now, be reminded she was still alive.

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Now I’m off to get some ink, and then I can spend at least the afternoon writing. While I think some more about birthday cakes. What kind of cake do you like for your birthday?

Biscuit cake with strawberries – 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 )

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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 )