Mid Week Tease: Saying Goodbye to Coming Home

MWTease15Well, it seems the hits just keep on coming. Sadly, one of my publishers Secret Cravings Publishing has ceased publication as of September 1st. What does that mean for me? Well, the book I expected to be released in October sits in limbo, as does Echoes of the Past, but I intend to republish that one myself within a few weeks. But it means the end of two books–Grand Slam and Coming Home, published under the co-writing name of Misty Matthews. While Grand Slam was only with SCP, this is Coming Home’s second publication and I’m not sure three times lucky works here.

I suppose every virtually unknown author like myself should expect these kind of things, but I loved that book and I think if people had given it a chance, they would’ve too. It was supposed to be the first in a five book series, so those dreams are dust as well.

So, as it sinks into the sunset, here’s one last taste of Coming Home.

As quickly as he could, he walked away from Table Rock and deeper into the desert, using the powerful lamp to search the unfamiliar ground ahead of him. The last thing he needed was to get injured. Calling her name repeatedly, he figured he was attracting attention to himself since the animals could sense fear, but he didn’t care. This was an area he rarely traveled, but the ground was firm and the cacti few and far between. It was rocky, with large outcrops, which provided excellent hiding places for predators.Swallowing his near-panic, he trudged on. He needed to find her soon to get her out of here with every inch of that beautiful body of hers intact.

Connor continued to call her name, stopping each time he did, listening for her answer. When he heard her faint reply, his heart, which had been pounding its way out of his chest, slowed, and he veered in that direction, walking as quickly as he could.

“Alana, sweetheart, where are you?” Connor yelled. Hearing nothing, he took a calming breath, and called out to her again. This time there was a faint call in response.

“Honey, I’m here, but I can’t pinpoint your light. Can you flash it around so I know where you are?” Forcing himself to stay calm, he turned full circle trying to catch a glimpse of light, but saw nothing. She had to be around here. If he could hear her, why couldn’t he see her?

“Can you see my light? Do you know where I am? Please, Connor, for the love of God, see me.”

He heard the panic in her voice.

“Not yet, but don’t worry. I may be in a depression or you could be behind a rock. Keep moving your light around and take small steps in front of you. Something may be blocking the light.”

“Okay.”

Hoping his hunch was correct, Connor walked forward, silently praying he was getting closer to the frightened woman and not farther away. Every few steps, he’d spin and call out to her. Her voice was getting louder, but from what direction? He needed to keep her talking.

“What did you do today before going for a ride?”

“I helped out at Melody’s shop,” she answered defensively, but her voice was getting louder.

“See anyone you knew?”

“Lots of people, including Melissa James.”

Connor whistled. “That witch? I’ll bet she didn’t have anything good to say. She never does. So, who else did you see?”

She rattled off the names of people they’d known in school, and after what seemed like hours, but was no more than a few minutes, Connor spotted her light.

“I see you, Alana. Stop moving now. I’m almost there.”

Sprinting toward the faint light, he thanked whoever was listening for letting him find her. He was only a few feet away from scooping her up in his arms, swearing he’d never let her go, when he spotted it and froze. His breath stalled as he saw his worst nightmare come into view.There, on the edge of her feeble light, downwind and behind her, the eye shine of a large puma captured his attention.

No other desert predator evoked mixed feelings in Connor the way the puma did. Although the big cat inhabited the desert, it tended to stay at higher elevations where the deer and wild horses were plentiful. What had dragged this fellow out of his usual habitat? Knowing the animal considered Alana a source of nourishment, after all the noise they’d been making, scared him. This had to be one very hungry cat. If it had become a man-eater, it would have to be destroyed. If it hurt Alana, Connor would hunt it down and kill it himself.

Puma were lazy hunters, preferring to lie in ambush, until their prey moved close enough for them to leap on it. This animal was biding its time, waiting patiently for Alana to step within range. Connor swore he could see it lick its chops. If he were any closer to it, he’d probably hear the big cat purr. Connor resumed moving toward Alana, eyes glued on the shining orbs in the distance.

“Alana, stay exactly where you are. Whatever you do, don’t move.” If she started to run, the cat would be on her in seconds. The fact she stood still probably had the animal confused.

“What? Why?” Ignoring his words, she walked toward him. The animal stood and matched her steps, slowly decreasing the distance between it and its meal.

“Alana, stop! For God’s sake, don’t move another foot,” he pleaded, barely able to keep the terror out of his voice.

Slowly, never taking his eyes off the creature, he bent and picked up a loose rock about the size of a baseball. Back in high school, he’d had a good pitching arm. With any luck, he hadn’t lost his touch. A rock wasn’t much of a weapon against a one hundred and eighty pound killer, but it was all he had. He’d never been this scared in his life, and he knew by now the animal had scented his fear too. The thought of the feline jumping on Alana, sinking its razor sharp teeth and claws into her neck almost had his knees buckling under him. Show no fear! I won’t let her get hurt even if I have to wrestle that damn cat myself.

“Alana, I’m coming,” he yelled loudly, flashing the full force of the LED into the animal’s face causing its eyes to shine an eerie yellow in the bright light.

The animal stood its ground and bared its teeth, emitting a low growl that made the hair on the back of Connor’s neck stand on end. Stopping suddenly, he put the lamp at his feet and fired the rock at the animal, landing the stone with a heavy thump right beside the beast’s feet and sending sand up into the animal’s face. With an angry snarl, the puma turned into the desert and disappeared into the night.

Now that the predator was gone, he picked up the light and focused it on Alana noting the terror in her eyes, but she’d done as he’d asked. Moving the last few feet to her side, he gathered her trembling body in his arms, grateful to feel her there.

“It’s okay.” He pressed a kiss into her hair. “You’re safe now.”

The floodgates opened and she cried, no longer able to control the emotions pulling at her. Damn. If he could he’d be crying too, but one of them had to stay strong and get them the hell out of here. Holding her tightly, he murmured words of comfort. When his breathing returned to normal, and her crying jag abated, he eased her away from him.

“Feeling better now?” he asked, not releasing her completely, but holding her, knowing how close he’d come to losing her.

“Why do people assume a person feels better after they’ve cried?” she answered. “I don’t feel better, Connor. I’m terrified. What the hell was behind me? A bobcat? I heard that growl! It was so close…”

“A puma.” He couldn’t mask the fear in his voice.

“Oh my God,” she whispered. Her knees buckled, and if he hadn’t been holding her, she’d have crumpled to the ground.

Connor held her tightly, giving her a minute to gather her senses. She had to be able to move under her own steam for them to get out of here. Just because the cat had run off didn’t mean he couldn’t come back. It depended on how hungry he was. The stars were out now, and he looked up to find Polaris the North Star. It always pointed north, and north was where Table Rock was. If the puma didn’t come back, there were still other dangers. The sooner he got her out of the desert the better.

Don’t forget to drop by and visit the rest of this week’s teasers.

Tuesday Tales: Hello Again. This Week’s Word: Hardy

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning and welcome to the September 1st edition of Tuesday Tales. This week’s word is hardy. Each week a few incredibly talented writers allow me to join them in presenting a snippet of a work in progress based on a specific word. I started Hello Again back in June. so feel free to go back through the posts if you want to refresh your memory or this is your first time visiting.

When I left you last, Shirley and Bill were riding otu the tornado inside her sod home.

tornado damage“Who needs me?” Bill asked, furrowing his brow, confused by her words.

“The woman in my vision,” Shirley answered, as she struggled to stand. “We have to get to her before the third twister. Hurry.”

Third twister? Mother of God what the hell kind of storm is this?

“If you saw a woman in trouble, why didn’t you tell me about her before the first tornado hit?” He couldn’t believe there’d been two in spite of what she said. He didn’t set a lot of store in psychics, but he’d heard rumors about some of the Nakota seers. Somethings were meant to be taken on faith, and as a medicine woman, Shirley Smoke’s visions fell into that category.

“I didn’t see her until a few minutes ago. The spirits don’t reveal everything at once,” she said, panting in her effort to get upright. “I’m theirs to command, not the other way around. Now, are you going to let that woman die while you flap your gums at me?”

The word die propelled Bill into action. Shirley had been right about the storm and his arrival, and since he hadn’t been the one scheduled to make the visit, even that aspect of her clairvoyant event made sense. He wouldn’t argue with her now. If she was right, someone’s life was in danger, and if she was wrong, he’d take the opportunity to run her into Regina and have someone look at her chest. The wheezing had worsened, and if the air was as full of dust as it had been after the last tornado…

Putting on his cap, he helped her up off the stool. Despite her size, the woman was frail, and he was afraid pulling her up like this might leave a mark on her arm.

“Which way do we go?” he asked, stepping out of the room, leading her through the house, and opening the front door.

Stunned, he stared at the destruction all around them. On the far right, a small section of the tin roof had been ripped away, proving how close the twister had come to them. They could easily have been killed, crushed under the weight of the sod walls.

As if Shirley could read his mind, she shook her head. “We weren’t in any danger. That’s just the corner over the drying porch, see?” She moved farther to her left to allow him to see the open area beyond the wall where various bundles of herbs hung. The incongruity of it hit him. How could they have been spared?

“I can get to it from my bedroom,” Shirley continued. “I like to sit out there at night, listening to the sounds and watching the stars. I feel close to my ancestors when I do.”

She shook her head and moved farther away from the house into the surprisingly thick, hot, humid air. After a storm like this, the humidity vanished, and the temperature usually dropped.

The old woman mumbled to herself as she walked slowly but steadily toward his car, parked exactly where he’d left it, covered in dirt and grass, but looking none the worse for the wear.

“I’ll have the boys come and fix it as soon as they have time. Lots of people have suffered far more damage than this.” She shook her head. “I knew the barn would go.”

There was nothing left of the structure, not even the rubble he’d have expected from a demolished building. Surprisingly, the old privy stood sentinel-like amid the chaos. Shirley reached the vehicle and got in on the passenger side.

“Hurry up, sergeant,” she called before closing the door. “We’ve only got an hour at best, and she’s a good ten miles down the road. That’s her car.”

Bill followed her pointing finger to a red mass of twisted metal he hadn’t noticed, sitting in what was left of the wheat field across the road from her house. If someone had been thrown from that car … Getting in behind the wheel, he started the engine, used the windshield wipers to clear the dirt off the glass so that he could see, and pulled onto the service road.

“Turn left at the highway,” Shirley said. “She’s in a ditch on your side. There’s a tree pinning her down, and the runoff will fill the trench with water at any minute.”

The conviction in her voice moved him as nothing else could. He stepped on the gas. Beside the road, a few hardy tufts of wheat had escaped the tornadoes’ paths, but there had to be thousands of dollars’ worth of damaged crops, ruined machinery, and broken utility poles.

In the distance, he saw a tree blocking the road. From here, he’d guess it was an Assiniboine poplar, but there weren’t any of those for miles around. Stopping the car, he turned to the woman beside him.

“Stay here.”

He hurried across the road. As soon as he stepped to the edge of the soft shoulder, he saw the bruised and bleeding hands holding the pillow over her head.

“Miss?” he asked, but got no response. Jumping into the ditch, he noted the water came up over his feet. He reached down, and lifted the pillow from her head.

She was lying on her stomach, but she’d turned her face to the right, no doubt to make it easier to breathe. He reached down and touched her throat, letting out the gush of air he’d been holding when he felt a strong, steady pulse there.

“Well, don’t just stand there,” Shirley said. “Get her out of there. We’ve got to get back to the house.”

“I thought I told you to stay in the car.”

“You did, but you’re going to need these.” Shirley reached into the voluminous pockets on the dress she wore and handed him a pair of garden sheers. “Now, get that off her so we can get out of here. And before you say something stupid about not moving her, she ain’t got anything broken. The cut on her leg will heal and she’ll be fine—as long as we get back to the house before the next twister.”

Bill reached for the sheers and moved to the woman’s feet, snipped away the branches, and lifted the surprisingly heavy log off her legs, moving it far enough aside to be able to lift her out of the ditch. Turning her on her side, he scooped her out of the mud and water.

Her eyes fluttered open. Glazed with shock and pain, the beautiful, gray orbs widened.

“Mike?” she whispered.

Her lids closed, and she was unconscious again.

Carrying her back to the vehicle, surprised to see Shirley seated there already, he gently placed his new passenger on the backseat, and then got behind the wheel once more.

“Quickly,” Shirley said. We’ve got no time to lose.”

Making a three-point turn, Bill stepped on the gas, hoping to outrun the storm.

That’s it for this week. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales

Look Who Dropped By Today: V.L. Locey

Good morning, I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned for the last one in August. For many of you, the children are back in school, but in these parts, school doesn’t start until after Labor Day.

And with September, while thoughts are still focused on Major League Baseball–Go Jays, go– for many people it’s time to think hockey once more. My guest today is V. L. Locey.  Clean Sweep, Book #1 of the Venom series, is a 4 Flames M/F Erotic Hockey Romance

Goal post and net in a hockey arena.

Blurb:

Fiery, flame-haired Jane Bratkowski is catapulted from a small college town to Philadelphia to become head coach of a new women’s hockey team, The Venom. It’s a life-changing opportunity, a dream come true until – in a cruel twist of fate that could turn into a nightmare – she comes face to face with her ex-husband Tore Ahlberg, the Wildcats’ head of European Scouting.

Suddenly, Jane’s faced with more challenges than she bargained for: Will she let him distract her — and derail her big chance to coach pro hockey? Can she build a team of relatively inexperienced, irrepressible young women into champions? Can she and Tore triumph over the gut-wrenching tragedy that ripped them apart — or will the shocking truth of their passionate past threaten to destroy them once again?

Excerpt:

“Morning, Jane.” Tore looked much better than he had last night. He was dry for one thing. Nicely shaved, showered, and nattily dressed. In addition, he seemed to have recovered from the shock of seeing his ex-wife. “I see your hair still makes you look like Storsjöodjuret when you wake up.”

Shit balls. My hair. I wrinkled my nose at his reference to some Swedish lake monster he used to compare my tresses to. How he came up with such a thing, I have no idea. Unless this monster had Brillo Pad red hair, it never made any sense to me why he called me that. At one time, I must have found it cute. Confusing? Yes, but mostly endearing. This morning I found it less than amusing.

“I wouldn`t go casting lake monsters if I were you. You’re not looking too great yourself.” I lied. He looked superb. The years had been kind to him, giving him lovely laugh lines that added to his sex appeal. “Your tie is ugly. I need to get dressed and—”

“And make your hair drop to its knees in subjugation,” he murmured by rote as he inspected his dark blue tie. It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him how, or why, he remembered so much from our years of wedded bliss. Instead, I marched into the bathroom, Pomeranians in hand, then shut the door on him, his tie, and those damned recollections of a time best left in the past.

I washed my face then set to work on detangling. I accomplished this with snarling expletives aimed at long dead ancestors. The boys were restless. I laid down my hairbrush then snuck over to the door. I couldn`t hear my ex on the other side. I cracked the door just enough to peer through. Tore was standing at the sliding glass door. He still cut a fine figure from the back even though he was now in his early fifties. Wide shoulders, lean waist, long legs. The sun made his straw-colored blonde hair look like spun gold. It was time to stop, Jane. I had thought to ask him to walk the dogs but after that Rumpelstiltskin moment, perhaps a brisk walk would do me good. I closed the door quietly. Ten minutes later I stepped out, face freshly scrubbed, hair beaten into submission, and dogs in dire need.

“I have to get dressed,” I told Tore when he turned from the city to look at me.

“You want me to leave?” I nodded. “We were married, Jane. Unless you have done some alterations, there is nothing I have not seen before.”

I felt a slight flush rushing up behind the freckles on my cheeks. “There have been no alterations. Go wait on the patio. I mean it, Tore. Don`t give me that stupid look. Go.”

“Stupid look? I have a stupid look?” he asked, a definite twinkle in his eye. A sharp comment was resting on my tongue. I swallowed it back to be nice. It was only seven am. Even ex-husbands deserve a small kindness from time to time.

“Either you step outside now or I hand the boys to you and you can walk them. Pick an option, Tore, but make it fast. Tiny bladders can only be held so long.”

I held the dogs out to the man. They both growled. He threw a look at the twins then went outside. Smart man. I placed the boys on the bed then hurried over to draw the drapes shut with a slap. I should leave his tall ass out there. Maybe that would dispel his usual laid-back attitude about things. Fire and ice, that captured us well. I slipped into the same clothes I had worn yesterday. I know, it is a shitty way to arrive at work your first day, but I hadn`t packed for the trip. Sometimes I get ahead of myself. When I opened the slider, Tore rushed back in, gave me a long perusal but kept his lips firmly sealed.

“I know. I`ll buy something on the way to the Houseman and change.” I spun from him, snapped the dogs onto their leashes then headed to the door. Tore hustled past to open the door for me. I gave him one distrustful look as I passed. He merely smiled genially.

“We’re not going to the Houseman. The Wildcats have a morning skate so we have to go to the Trenton stadium to get our first look at the new team,” he explained as we jogged to the elevator. Rupert and Roscoe were pulling like huskies. We stopped to wait at the elevator.

“Does she do things like this often?” I inquired as I watched the numbers above the door slowly climbing.

“The boss? Well, I’m not real sure.” I quit watching numbers to give my ex a puzzled look. “Colton left her the team and all his business assets when he died. So far she seems to be kind of prone to snapping decisions.”

“Snap decisions.”

“Yeah, snap decisions. You knew what I meant. Why do you always have to correct me?”

“Sorry.” I meant it. I was. It was a thing that I did that drove him nuts. His English was quite good, as were the several other languages he spoke. Don`t equate hockey player with dumb jock for either sex. And please, do not assume that all of us vagina owners who play ice hockey secretly wish to own penises. I like to think with the head on my shoulders. “Old habits and all,” I offered as a form as apology. I even threw in a shoulder shrug. Thankfully, the bell sounded for our floor.

Buy Links:

Amazon-http://tinyurl.com/qzfpp5v
Secret Cravings Store-http://tinyurl.com/oyb4teu
Bookstrand-http://www.bookstrand.com/clean-sweet
Kobo-https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/clean-sweep-5

Vicki at Wedding

Author Bio:

 

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, two dogs, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and three Jersey steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

I love to meet new friends and fans! You can find me at-

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/VL-Locey/124405447678452

Twitter- https://twitter.com/vllocey

Pinterest-http://www.pinterest.com/vllocey/

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807700.V_L_Locey

My blog- http://thoughtsfromayodelinggoatherder.blogspot.com/

tsú – https://www.tsu.co/vllocey

Secret Cravings Backlist Books and Upcoming Releases

Pink Pucks & Power Plays (Book One of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

A Most Unlikely Countess (Book Two of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

O Captain! My Captain! (Book Three of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

Reality Check (Book Four of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

Language of Love (Book Five of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

Final Shifts (Book Six of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

Clean Sweep (Book One of the Venom series)

Tumble Dry

 Torquere Press Backlist and Upcoming Releases

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse (Part of the He Loves Me For My Brainssss anthology)

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 2: It Came From Birmingham

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 3: He’s a Lumberjack and He`s Undead

Love of the Hunter

Goaltender`s Penalty

All I Want for Christmas – A Toms & Tabbies Tale

Early to Rise – A Toms & Tabbies Tale

 Every Sunday at One (Part of the 2013 Charity Sip Anthology)

 Night of the Jackal

An Erie Halloween

An Erie Operetta

Back to the Garden (Also part of the Mythologically Torqued Anthology)

Coming soon . . . Life is a Stevie Wonder Song

Ellora`s Cave Backlist and Upcoming Releases

Bound, Boarded and Bagged

Two Man Advantage

Coming soon . . . Shutdown Pair and Game Misconduct

Mid Week Tease Better Late Than Never

MWTease15Hello everyone. It’s late in the day to be posting, but I ran into some technical difficulties I thought I’d post a snippet from All For Love today. Thanks to Sandra Bunino and Siobhan Muir for getting things back on track.

Here’s the blurb. 

To overcome your fear, you must first face it.

Someone is out to destroy Greg Simmons and everyone he has ever loved. After an accident leaves his teenage daughter depressed and distraught, Greg will do anything to make her happy again, including hiring a bodyguard to protect her.

Olivia Marshall lost both her fiancé and her cousin in a deadly avalanche. She has vowed never to set foot on a ski hill again. But now, working as a bodyguard with Anderson Security, Olivia must face her greatest fears to save Greg and his daughter.

Something about Olivia’s determination strikes a chord in Greg, but will she be the salvation he needs, or will he be her destruction?

Here’s the tease:

ALL-FOR-LOVEKINDLE-NOOK (1)The sounds of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March filled the room and the crowd applauded as Olivia and Greg walked down the red carpet to stand in what she hoped would be a short receiving line. She was an emotional mess. She understood everything Greg had said and done was part of the charade. Dear Lord, help me here. I know this is just to protect Sheena, but at the moment, I wish it were real. .

Olivia stood beside Greg, plastic smile firmly in place, as she accepted good wishes and felicitations from the assembled guests. Other than her family, those present consisted of staff from Fantasies and More, Robertson Enterprises, and Marshall Security as well as the girls she’d met at the gym she attended, and Yuri. She shook hands and exchanged air kisses with them, feeling like a fraud the entire time. Her father was acting as if she’d won an Olympic gold, and knowing how he’d feel when he learned the truth ate at her. She couldn’t wait for this to be over. What she’d always imagined would be her dream wedding was quickly becoming a nightmare. After the last guest went through the line, Greg bent down and whispered in her ear.

“Glad that’s over. I’m starving, and I need a drink. Is the food any good here?”

She burst out laughing, the tension slipping off like a cloak. “Thanks for the dose of reality. I’ll bet Jim’s starving too. The food’s excellent although I have no idea what’s on the menu tonight. I’ll warn you if they try to sneak in any mushrooms or snails. From the decor, I’ll assume it will be Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes. It should all be fairly recognizable.”

“I hope so.” Greg made a face. “I’m not ready for grilled beetles and chilled monkey brains à la Indiana Jones.”

“Eww!” Olivia made a face and chortled. “I think we’re safe. Knowing Veronica, it’ll probably resemble Greek or Turkish cuisine. It won’t be so bad—meat, rice, fruit, bread—stuff like that.  They’ll be something sweet for dessert too beyond that gorgeous wedding cake. It’s too pretty to cut.” The cake was shaped like a white and gold oriental rug with figures she recognized as Aladdin and Jasmine sitting on it. Well, they were characters from the Arabian Nights after all.

Greg smiled, reached for two flutes of champagne and offered one to her.  He touched his glass to hers. “Tae th’ oncom o’ a grand adventure,” he whispered just loud enough for her to hear. He sipped his wine. “Shall we?”

Olivia moved with him to the head of the long table set aside for the bride and groom. Greg pulled out her chair for her, and she sat. “Thank you.” She sipped nervously from her champagne glass. Greg was playing his part well—too well.

The delicate wine’s bubbles tickled her palate. She’d had champagne before, but it hadn’t been this flavorful. She was about to comment when she noticed the red crystal bowl filled with powdered squares. She gasped with pleasure. “Turkish Delight. The candy’s always been one of my favorites. Veronica’s thought of everything.”

Greg reached for one. “Seriously?” He eyed the white cube, popped it into his mouth, and made a face. “Tastes like perfume. You like this stuff? Really?”

She giggled. “I love it. It’s one of my weaknesses. With my nut allergy, there aren’t a lot of things I can have, and I’m not into sweets. These are perfect.”

“I guess I’d better learn to like it.” He reached for another square and popped it in his mouth, chewed, and made a face. “Nope. Tastes like soap, and I’d know. Growing up, I had my mouth washed with it enough times to recognize its flavor.”

She tried not to laugh at the faces he was making. “It’s an acquired taste. It’s even better dipped in chocolate.” She remembered he’d said he loved chocolate.

“Now, that would definitely improve it.”

The staff began serving the meal and, as she’d expected, the food was delicious. Her father and brother insisted on making toasts, and despite the no speeches rule, her father managed to slip in more than one embarrassing anecdote from her childhood. Jack gave a speech full of anecdotes about Greg, all of them false she assumed, but the crowd loved it.

Greg stood. “I’m supposed to offer a toast to my lovely bride, but between Jim and Ian, I’m a little worried. I knew she could be armed and dangerous. She herself told me she sleeps with a gun under her pillow. I’ll have to make sure it’s not loaded if we argue” The crowd laughed.

She remembered exactly when she’d made that statement and felt heat suffuse her cheeks.

“To Olivia, the fire in your hair can’t compare to the fire in my heart when it comes to you.” He raised his glass and then kissed her.

Olivia puffed out a breath and stood. She’d hoped to avoid all this, and Jack had agreed to the no speeches idea. When had it gotten away from her? Every aspect of this wedding was more real than she wanted.  She raised her glass to Greg, determined to say something that would convey her feelings and be one hundred percent true.

“When we first met, I thought you were insufferable. The last thing I saw myself being was your wife.”

People laughed, and Greg furrowed his brow. She saw concern on Jack’s face and it made her smile broadly.

“I’ve since learned that although you might be a little full of yourself at times, you are a kind, caring, and considerate man. I’m proud to be embarking on this journey with you. To the future, may it be everything we hope it will be.” She raised her glass and took a drink. Greg stood and took her in his arms.

“You’re full of surprises,” he said loud enough for the rest of the guests to hear. “It’s going to be an interesting and enjoyable journey.”

They have lots of excitement in store!  Want to read more? Amazon

Now, please check out the rest of this week’s teasers.

Tuesday Tales: Hello Again.

Badge for TT - very small (1)Hello and welcome to another edition of Tuesday tales. Each week a group of talented authors get together and using a word or picture prompt create something special and unique. I’m writing a novel this way–one section at a time. Here is the next section of Hello Again. This week’s word is buzz.

two tornadoes“Listen to me, Shirley,” Bill said, trying to calm the feisty, old woman and get her to put down the shotgun she kept poking in his face. “Emile sent me out here to talk to you about that biker gang. You aren’t in any trouble, I swear, but you can’t go around threatening an RCMP officer with a weapon like this.”

“The hell I can’t,” she said, with just enough bravado to make him agree with her. “But, I ain’t threatening you, sergeant.” Her voice was wheezy in the heavy, humid air, but she lowered her shotgun. “I welcome all my visitors this way. An old woman living alone can’t be too careful. Just because you’re driving a fancy police car,” she continued, emphasizing the po, “doesn’t mean you’re who you say you are. Besides, this damn thing isn’t loaded. I emptied both barrels into the air to scare those thieving hoodlums away, but I can’t find the box of shells to reload it. Hadn’t used the thing in years. Glad it worked and didn’t blow my fool head off, but those bikers took the calf and ripped up my garden something awful.”

Bill looked around the small farm. Shirley’s home, a modernized, one story, sod house, built using large, thick rectangles of prairie grass, covered with wheat-colored stucco for durability, blended seamlessly into the landscape. The tin roof was flat, and someone had painted the metal to prevent corrosion and eliminate glare. The front of the house boasted three windows set deeply into the thick walls. He’d seen a few of these soddies when he’d been stationed near Lloydminster. They were well-insulated and inexpensive, and from the wires running to it, he knew she had electricity, but the small shack on one side and the water pump on the other side of the house suggested she didn’t have running water. The last building was a dilapidated barn that looked ready to fall in on itself.

On the side of the house closest to the pump stood what was left of her vegetable garden. The remaining stalks of corn were broken, the squash plants trampled. Green tomatoes mixed with ripening ones on the ground and half the root vegetables had been torn out. This food had probably been intended to supplement her winter diet, and now, most of it was ruined. Anger burned in his stomach. This place was isolated. Where were the members of her family? What the hell was wrong with the tribal council? Shirley Smoke had been a chief’s wife. She deserved some respect

Tamping down his ire, he smiled. “You could’ve been seriously hurt,” he continued. Unloaded or not, he didn’t like having a weapon pointed in his face.

“I was protecting my land and my property,” she said grudgingly. “That calf and those vegetables were supposed to feed me through the winter. Now what am I going to do?”

“I know you get money from Indian Affairs, Shirley, so don’t play that card with me…”

“Ain’t much left from that check after I pay my bills each month. Damn electricity and phone cost the earth, and with the price of food… there just ain’t enough to go around. I get a small widow’s pension, too, but …”

“What about your children and grandchildren? Can’t they help out?”

“My daughter ran off thirty five years ago. I don’t know where she went or where she is. I thought she’d come back—call at least—but …”

Bill swallowed awkwardly. He’d talk to Emile. Surely the council could do something. They had a brand new senior’s residence in Sintaluta, and they could appeal to Indian Affairs for whatever extra Shirley’s pensions didn’t cover. Hell, he was 34. Shirley’s runaway daughter could’ve been his mother, but the blanket found with him hadn’t been Nakota design.

“You should’ve called 9-1-1 and someone would’ve come out here right away. Cattle rustling is a crime as is the destruction of property. We’d have arrested them on the spot.”

Fat raindrops dropped on his cap. He’d been so involved with Shirley that he’d forgotten the storm. He looked behind him. The heavy, black clouds were almost upon them.

“No time to talk about what I should’ve done now. Come inside,” she said. “We’ll be safe in the house.”

Following her inside, his eyes bulged in surprise. Shirley had converted half of the living space into a makeshift stable. Two cows, one calf, and a handful of chickens were behind a wire wall. While it didn’t smell as badly as he’d expected it to, it couldn’t be a healthy arrangement.

“Shirley, you can’t keep your animals inside like this,” he began.

The old woman laughed, and he noticed how labored her breathing was. “My ancestors did, and it didn’t hurt them none, but it’s only for the storm. The twisters will take the barn, but the pigs will be fine. I couldn’t afford to lose any more stock.”

“What twisters?”

“The ones we’ll have shortly. I may be old, but my visions are never wrong.”

“Didn’t your visions warn you about the motorcycle gang?”

She shook her head. “The spirits never send me visions unless I can help someone else.” She moved over to the far side of the room. “I knew someone was coming this morning. I just didn’t know who.”

The staccato of raindrops on the roof sounded like a roomful of Flamenco dancers. The noise stopped, only to be replaced by the buzz of a million bees.

“In here,” Shirley said, pointing to the door beside her.

Knowing the wind could blow out the panes of glass at any second, he hurried into what he thought was a storage closet. Instead, he gaped at the modern, windowless bathroom. Shirley had brought in a chair.

“Sit,” she said. “This one won’t last long.”

Closing the door, she sat on the stool beside the bathtub, wrapped her arms around herself and began to chant in the Nakota language.

Praying. I hope to hell someone’s listening to her.

The room plunged into darkness as the buzz grew stronger until it sounded like a hundred motorcycles. He heard the scream of nails ripped from wood, and then, silence, so profound it was deafening.

Shirley stood. “Let’s go. We don’t have much time. She needs you.”

That’s it for this week. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales

I’ve Done It! Eloisia Is Here

fireworksGood morning and happy Friday. For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to September because that was when the new television series kicked off. How many of you remember the summer we all waited with baited breath to find out “Who Killed JR?” the first time? Wondering what would happen next, whether or not he was dead, kept Dallas alive throughout the summer months.

As much as they are frustrating, I love television programs that never quite end in 30 or 60 minutes. I enjoy the way the characters and the plot develop. Think of Bones and Castle. One murder may be solved in the show, but the relationship changes and grows as the series goes on. One of my favorite television programs at the moment is Arrow, It took the entire season for Oliver to win the battle against Ra’s Al Gul, but did he really win or has he simply bought himself more trouble?

My husband loves sci-fi, and so do I. My love affair with the genre started in 1965 with Lost In Space, and then grew with the original Star Trek in 1966.  I’ve seen every episode of Buck Rogers,  Babylon 5, Star Trek, and all it’s spin offs, Stargate and its companion show, Battlestar Galactica, Andromeda, and Firefly. I’ve seen the Star Wars movies and John Carter, as well as a host of others. I especially enjoyed television’s Earth 2,but that series, like Firefly was over before it’s time.  I’ve read countless novels about space and thought maybe I could turn my hand at one of those, too. But I wanted to combine my two pleasures.

Before I go any farther, I want to pay special homage to my very good friend and author Danielle Doolittle, owner of www.doelledesigns.wix.com/doelledesigns for the beautiful cover for Eloisia. 

What I did was create Eloisia, a spaceship, lost in space, with terrorists aboard willing to do whatever it takes to sabotage and destroy the mission. I based her captain, Colonel James Striker on a combination of Jim Kirk, from Star Trek–the old and new combined, Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, John Sheridan from  Babylon 5, and Han Solo from Star Wars. The romantic lead–and we know there has to be one, is Darla Edison, a shape shifting telepath, smuggled aboard the ship with her infant brother. Other significant members of the crew include Melissa Magregor, better known as Mags,  Chief Engineer, and  Alpha, the ship’s android brain capable of running the vessel and downloading her consciousness into a temporary robotic body–think, the android on the Green Lantern cartoon series, Andromeda, Seven of Nine, HAL, and Data all rolled into one. You’ll also meet  Clint Mathers, the Chief Medical Officer, and Cassie Connors, his nurse. The first episode rounds out the command crew with Cruz, the navigator, whose job is to figure out where the hell they are.

Since all of my ideas would be too much for a book, and knowing people don’t have as much time to read as they did, I’ve opted to write it as a serial. That gives me more Point of View  freedom, since I can have multiple viewpoints depending on the episode I’m in and still go back to the main characters, just like they do in television episodes. Every four to 6 weeks, a new episode will come out with the some of the same characters, and introducing a few new ones who, like the guys in the red shirt on Star Trek, won’t necessarily be back for an encore. I’ll bring in the saboteurs as necessary, put the ship and her passengers in danger, and encounter new races, new civilizations that will make life interesting for those aboard Eloisia. Each episode will take the story farther, and hopefully end on a cliffhanger that will bring the reader back for more. How many episodes? I don’;t know. It’ll depend on the readers and the crew of Eloisia.

So, there you have it. Readers will either love or hate the idea, but I had to give it a try. EloisiaFinal250x400Here’s the Prologue to catch your interest. I hope you’ll board the Eloisia with me and find out what’s out there!

Eloisia: Episode One Stowaway

Prologue

By the late twenty-fifth century, humans had all but destroyed Earth. Its stores of minerals had long since been depleted, its atmosphere so badly polluted that because of global warming, sections of the planet were dead, uninhabitable. Cities were overcrowded, disease and crime rampant among the masses who had lost all hope, all faith. Doomsayers constantly called for repentance, blaming technology and the decadent lifestyle of the earlier millennia for their suffering. Millions flock to their doors, bringing with them riches beyond imagining. No one expected the planet to support life much longer.

In their never-ending quest to prevent this disaster, politicians set aside old grudges, and with the science community, built space stations, places where humanity might continue. During such construction, engineers discovered a strange metal encased in the moon’s core. Lunar mining for the rare compound, a longer-lasting iron-like mineral that added incredible strength and durability to all metal-based alloys, especially those necessary for the construction of spaceships, was costly but well worth it. With stronger, faster ships, they set out to explore the galaxy and found the hope they’d lost.

Within a hundred years, some of those early ships returned, and humanity discovered it was not alone. Contact with the first of many aliens brought about health and prosperity not only for humans, but for Earth. With the help of their new allies and their technology, disease, hunger, poverty, and damage to the atmosphere were eliminated. The planet was gradually restored to its ancestral beauty, sections reclaimed, and animals and plants thought to be extinct brought back from the brink.

But not everyone was happy with the way things had gone. In the mid-twenty-sixth century, religious dissidents, fearing their loss of control over the disenchanted masses and the income it provided, tried to prevent the transformation of earthbound humans to space traveling entities. Calling space exploration and involvement with other species the devil’s work, the Children of Earth, a fanatic offshoot of the Doomsday theologies of the previous century, had condemned space travel, off-world exploration, genetic manipulation, and contact between species. They decried what they saw as humanity’s fall from grace by refusing to remain on the planet they’d been given and snubbing the laws of nature in favor of alien pleasures and technology. They revived the old, archaic fears of those different from them. They sabotaged space stations, the construction of new spaceships, destroyed genetics labs, power plants, and attacked and killed alien visitors to earth. Hunted by both human and alien authorities, Elias, the cult leader was eventually captured and brought to trial for his crimes. Because all life was sacred, he and his followers were found guilty and exiled to one of the newly restored areas of the planet. Swearing revenge, Elias and those who chose to stay with him, eschewed all alien-influenced technologies. Basking in their new-found hope for the future, humanity forgot all about the Children of Earth.

By the onset of the third millennium, they’d returned to their planet in droves. Earth’s atmosphere was pristine, its oceans teeming with life once more; rivers, lakes, and streams were so clear and unpolluted you could drink from them. Educational and technological advances ensured there was no poverty, no hunger, and thanks to genetic engineering and reproductive technology, overpopulation, like so many social ills of the previous millennium, was a thing of the past. Psychic research helped those gifted individuals develop the natural talents and abilities shunned by their backward ancestors. Birth defects and disease were eliminated, and humans, whether pure or part-alien, could expect to live long productive lives.

Members of the Intergalactic Peace Council, Terrans as they were known throughout the galaxy, were thriving. The last thing anyone ever imagined was that a group of fanatics, would bring about the end of time. Crazed members of the Children of Earth, the cult most believed extinct for more than three hundred years, had decided to take matters into their own hands and prove to humans, once and for all, that aliens and their technology were dangerous.

Infiltrating the lunar mining camps, they’d detonated a matter/antimatter bomb deep in the mine closest to the Tycho Crater, creating a cascade of explosions that had blown the back side off the moon. Because of its altered mass and weight, the celestial body that had hung above the Earth for millennia, moving through its orbit every twenty-eight days without fail, slipped its path and slowly began its inevitable journey toward impact with the planet.

Unaware of the extent of the damage his actions had cause and blaming the mutants, genetically enhanced humans and alien-human mixes, the new Elias revived the old fears and beliefs, and reacting to fear and warmongering, some people began to turn on others of their own species and their alien allies. Genetically enhanced humans were hunted like animals, alien-human children butchered, labs and technology centers destroyed. Claiming they were now on the creator’s intended path, Elias encouraged his followers to greater crimes in the name of purity and humanity. But, within months, the truth was obvious. He and his followers hadn’t saved humanity. Not as familiar as they should have been with the destruction they’d unleashed, they’d brought about Armageddon.

Earth scientists and their alien counterparts, trying to avert the disaster, managed to slow the rate of descent, but collision was inevitable. Plan after plan failed, leaving “abandon ship” as the only alternative. With the constant earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, super storms, and tidal waves, like rats deserting a sinking ship, humans scrambled for off-world transportation and placement. But the Children of Earth weren’t finished. In his mania, the new Elias proclaimed the creator had decreed that if the Earth was to die, then so should all of its species. Hoping for a reward in the afterlife, the zealots made sure the creator’s wishes were carried out. A man or woman truly convinced of their righteousness is all but impossible to stop.

Ship after ship, filled with both humans and aliens, were destroyed by the terrorists. Those lucky enough to escape Earth’s gravity made it to overflowing space stations, Martian colonies bursting at the seams, and alien planets capable of sustaining human life. Soon, in an effort to protect their own people, many species closed their planets to Terran refugees, frightened that the harbingers of death, the Children of Earth, might be hidden among them. No one could really blame them. Looking out for number one had become the order of the day.

Yet, some refused to allow humanity to vanish. In secrecy, the Intergalactic Peace Council built five ark-like explorer ships on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. From the planet, space stations and colonies, they selected three thousand of humanity’s best, and loaded them, 300 genetically matched pairs of humans, including any children they might have, onto each vessel along with everything they would need to establish a new Earth. The chosen would travel in cryogenic stasis, much as their first space-going ancestors had done, for 1,000 months, the time it would take to reach a galaxy far beyond their own, searching for a planet where humanity could live and thrive once more. With seeds and embryos of Earth’s flora and fauna, each ship would chart a separate course, and it was hoped that one of them would succeed in re-establishing life as they knew it. If they found a home, they were to send a beacon back to the Milky Way Galaxy, and let those left behind know their fate.

Within a few years, as predicted, the moon crashed into the earth. All life was destroyed, and it was necessary to blast the few remaining chunks of the planet into space dust for the sake of the rest of the galaxy. Those few Terrans, living in exile, watched and waited as calendars counted down the months and years. When the thousandth month came, they turned their eyes to the sky waiting for a sign, any sign, but there was nothing. Without word from the ark ships, the last humans gave up hope and allowed themselves to be absorbed by other species. The new Elias had won.

Eloisia: Episode One Stowaway is a quick read , 72 pages, or 15,000 words depending how you measure such things. It’s available exclusively from Amazon. Plans are in place to have a paperback copy available soon

Until later, have spaceship, will travel!

Mid Week Tease: Eloisia, Episode One, Stowaway

MWTease15Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Mid Week tease. I’m late posting this morning, but Eloisia, Episode One, Stowaway is finished and ready to upload to Amazon.  I hope to get it up and running by the end of the week.

Things have been crazy around here, but I’m hoping they’ll settle down soon.

Thanks to Sandra Bunino, for providing this weekly platform for all of our efforts.

Today, I want to share the last little bit of Episode One with you and my gorgeous cover, courtesy of Danielle Doolittle.

Without further ado, here is Eloisia, Episode One, Stowaway.EloisiaFinal250x400

The tweet beneath his skin indicated an incoming message. He tapped audio.

“Striker,” he said aloud.

“Captain, it’s Lewis with team five. We have a problem in Cargo Bay 49.

“What kind of problem?” he asked, praying it wasn’t another stowaway.

“We’ve found six bodies, sir.

Striker frowned. “Say again?”

“We’ve found six bodies in a storage compartment—been here a while, Colonel.

“I’m on my way.” He turned to Ames. “You three are with me.” He pressed his communicator. “Clint. We’ve got six bodies in Cargo Bay 49. Meet me there.” He touched the com link to end the conversation.

“Gentlemen, if you’ll wait outside…”

“Yes, Colonel,” they answered as one, and moved toward the door.

Darla sat on the sofa where she’d dropped after hearing about the bodies. “Is there anything I can do?” she asked.

“Not really, not now. Clint will know how long they’ve been dead. That might even tell us how long we’ve been in space. If you don’t want to sleep, I can have Alpha take you through the crew manifest—at least for the 42 we’ve revived so far. I’m assuming our saboteur is one of the Children of Earth, so you may want to look through the full manifest for those who originated on the planet. You’ll have to use the com link on my desk. I’ll see to it Clint implants one in you tomorrow.”

“Be careful.”

He smiled at her. “I always am.” He opened the door. “Let’s go.”

Striker led the marines to the transport tube and then into an anti-gravity vehicle. Cargo Bay 49 was at the farthest end of the ship. He was surprised to see the doctor was already there when they arrived.

“What did you do, fly?”

“No, I transported here from Sick Bay.”

“I didn’t think of that. I forgot this vessel has internal transport capabilities. Have you been inside?” he asked.

“I have. They’ve been dead for some time. They were all shot with an old-style projectile weapon, and placed in the storage locker. They must’ve been in there two or three weeks before the cargo bay decompressed. Putrefaction was in full swing, but the lack of atmosphere stopped it. It started again when life support was activated.”

“Can you identify them?”

“Not the way they are, but while the flesh is a mess, the bones are in great shape. Once I have a face, I can compare them to the manifest, but Jim, we didn’t have six empty cryobeds. There was only one in the children’s pod. My guess is that whoever killed these guys, took their cryotubes.”

“Are you telling me I have six traitors aboard instead of one?”

“I’m just saying it’s a possibility.”

Striker stepped into the room, noting it was several degrees warmer in here than it should be.

“They’re in here,” Lewis said, indicating the large storage bin. “The smell led us to it.”

“This place is like a sonic shower on high,” Striker asked, trying not to gag. “Why?”

“Don’t know, sir, but engineering is sending someone to check it out. We pressurized all of the cargo bays together when we got those search orders. It’s been heating up all day.”

“And when it heats up, decomp starts again,” Clint said, standing beside him. “My guess would be that, when they stuffed the bodies into that storage bin, they cranked up the heat to speed up the breakdown. I’ll have the bodies transported, box and all to autopsy and see if I can figure out when they died. Once the temperature is back to normal, the ship can purify the air. For my money, Jim, there’s a reason these guys were killed and left here. What’s significant about this bay, other than the fact it’s at the extreme end of the ship?”

“Lewis?” Striker asked.

“I don’t know, Colonel. We expected to find the place empty. The contents manifest is blank.”

Striker looked around the room, stacked floor to ceiling with crates. The damn place certainly wasn’t empty. He hoped to hell there weren’t any more bodies in them. Six potential traitors aboard were more than enough.

“Get some masks, and then I want every one of the crates, barrels, and boxes in this place opened. Ames, you and your team help them. No one else comes into this area without my express authorization.”

The storage bin and Clint Mathers glowed, indicating they were transporting back to Sick Bay. He hoped Clint would be able to identify the cadavers, but the odds were whoever had killed them had altered the manifest. The problem was, he was the only one supposedly with the ability to do that, and he was sure he hadn’t—at least he hoped he hadn’t.

“I’m going back to my cabin. Oh, make sure you look for an old gun or rifle. That could be the murder weapon.”

He left the cargo bay and headed back to his cabin. The possibility of a terrorist unit, not a lone wolf, scared the bejesus out of him. He’d recognized the standard issue coveralls all the ships’ passengers had worn those first two weeks. Clint had said they’d been dead two or three weeks before decompression. That fit. Someone has snuck aboard the ship, probably in that cargo container, killed the six people, and then taken their place. How had they known who to kill?

He hurried back to his cabin, pleased to see Darla awake, sitting at the computer console, examining the manifest as he’d requested. She turned at his arrival.

“You’re upset. Your thoughts are jumbled. What did you find?”

“Six bodies. They were killed shortly after we left Io, but they are badly decomposed, so it may take a while to identify them, if we do.”

“I see. There’s something you want from me,” she said. “I can sense it, but you’re hesitant.”

“Darla, someone altered the crew manifest. You saw me do it in the transport tube. I’m supposed to be the only one who can. I need you to scan my mind and make sure I’m not the one who sabotaged the ship and murdered those people.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” she whispered, and he saw she was shocked by the words he’d spoken.

“But you said the person who’d sabotaged the ship could’ve been telepathically ordered to do so. I need to know it wasn’t me.”

“And if it was?”

“I need to know I don’t have anything else planned. If I do, God help us all.

To be continued…

Now, please check out the rest of this week’s teases.

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