Mid Week Tease.More Secrest and Lies

MWTease15Hi there. Hope your week is going well. We had our first dusting of snow yesterday, which means I need to get into the Christmas spirit soon. It’s a cloudy cold day in Eastern Ontario, but really not as cold as it usually is at this time of year, so I thought I’d give you all a tatst of onr of the things that made my heroine’s blood boil.

Secrets and Lies is Book Four of the Hearts of Braden series, eight books, written by eight different authors, about a small town in Iowa. There are recurring characters, but each book is stand alone.

Secrets&LiesFinaleBookMediumBurb for Secrets and Lies, Book Four, Hearts of Braden Series.

DEA agent, Emily Shepherd, is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff, and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.

Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory, if lonely, until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There’s a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe, may be harder than he thinks.

Love is breaking out in Braden, Iowa. Follow all the romance with this collection of stories. Secrets and Lies is part of the Hearts of Braden Series, a multi-author series Secrets and Lies stands alone for your reading enjoyment, but the story doesn’t need to end there.

Today’s tease:

“You’re ten o’clock appointment is here,” Mary announced as soon as Jackson answered the phone.

“Thanks. Give me five minutes and send him in. How does he look?”

The secretary chuckled. “Mighty fine.” She hung up.

Jackson frowned at the phone before replacing it in the cradle and went into the small washroom attached to his office to comb his hair and straightened his tie. He’d forgotten to call Quinn last week about the haircut, but she’d agreed to fit him in later today. Satisfied that he looked like a man in authority even if his black hair had started to curl at the nape, he returned to the office and stood by the door waiting for Mary’s knock.

He’d been going over the information on the teachers he’d be interviewing this morning, and while some of his problems had been solved, others remained. With less than a week before the start of the new school year, he was worried. There’d been no other applicants for the math-science position, and he hoped this Micah Thomas would do. The man’s credentials were impeccable, too good in fact, and that alone made Jackson suspicious. Someone with that kind of accreditation could get a job anywhere. Why settle for Braden? He was proud of his school, but he was a realist. Graduates like that usually ended up either in fancier state schools or private industry where the money was substantially higher than the BCR school board paid. For someone raised in Braden, like he had been, working for the local school board was a way to give a little back to the community, but according to the documentation, Micah came from Des Moines, via Dallas, El Paso, and San Diego, and had no reason to want to come here.

Mary knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

Pushing open the door, a smug smile in place, Mary stated, “Micah Thomas to see you, sir.”

It took Jackson less than a second to figure out what was behind his secretary’s unusual behavior. Instead of the studious, young man he’d expected, given the credentials he’d examined, Micah was an attractive blonde in her late twenties that some of the youngest kids would probably mistake for a real-live Barbie doll. She was as far away from Mrs. Beardsley, his own math-science teacher, as one could get, and for the second time, he wondered why the hell she’d applied for the job.

“Ms. Thomas,” he greeted, as he smiled and offered her his hand, hoping his shock wasn’t noticeable. “Welcome to BCR. Thank you so much for coming in on such short notice.”

She smiled showing off perfect, small, white teeth. “My pleasure. I’d anticipated having to do replacement work again this year, so I was surprised to find a full-time position like this one available.” Shaking his hand firmly, she handed him a brown envelope. “These are the references you requested.”

He reached for it and put it on his desk unopened. “Thank you. I’ll look them over after. Please sit down.”

Indicating the chair on the right, he sat beside her instead of going behind the desk as he normally would’ve. The lady was easy on the eyes, and he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. There were three bachelors on staff, four if he included himself, and hiring her might be courting trouble, but since she was the only applicant, he didn’t have a whole lot of choice. They would all be preening like peacocks within the month. It dawned on him that her appearance could very well be what was keeping her from being hired by the big boys. Sexual harassment wasn’t just a buzz word anymore.

“Your credentials are impressive,” he said hoping he didn’t sound condescending. “You did well on your state certification Praxis II subject test in both math and science, so I can’t find fault in any of that. I see you graduated from Michigan State seven years ago, and since then, you’ve taught in Michigan, Texas, and most recently in San Diego. Braden would be a rather substantial change for you, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, it will, but this place has a lot to offer. After I graduated, I wanted to travel and interim contracts give me the ability to come and go as I pleased, but I’ve had my fill of short term jobs. I’m looking forward to the smaller class sizes here, and while I’ll miss some of the advantages of the bigger city, I think it’s time I settled down. I thought I’d found that in my last school, but it didn’t work out.”

He tried not to frown, but her answer had made him more wary than satisfied. He hoped she would give him more than that since he wasn’t sure how deeply he could probe. If she’d been involved in any kind of scandal, the board wouldn’t endorse her no matter how high her grade point average had been.

“I’ve just ended a long-term relationship, and I didn’t want to stay there with all the bad memories,” she said, as if she’d read his mind.

He swore there were unshed tears glistening in her eyes, making them look even more attractive than they had.

“Especially when his new girlfriend works there,” she added.

He nodded and pursed his lips, knowing only too well, how a situation like that could affect staff morale, especially if some sided with one party while the others didn’t.

“Math-science teachers are in demand everywhere. There must’ve been another school in California that could’ve used your services.” Moving from a city of over a million to Braden, population one thousand, and that was on a good day, made no sense to him, broken relationship or not. Plus, after the sun and warmth of southern California, why on earth would she want to be in Iowa? As he watched her expressive face, he could’ve sworn he saw annoyance quickly veiled there.

“I needed to make a clean break. I’m sure you can appreciate that,” she answered with just the right amount of frost in her voice to make him uncomfortable. “But I haven’t moved to Braden. My aunt and uncle live in Colchester, and I’m staying with them.”

“Of course, because this is a district school, it’s the only one in the area,” he said nodding. So mind your own business and quit speculating.

There was nothing suspicious about wanting to go to family when you were aching. He’d done it, and her words reminded him how much he still missed Uncle Jack. It was the reason he had spent more time riding or working in the school this summer and less attending to the improvements he’d planned for the homestead. There didn’t seem to be much reason to fix the place up when he was the only one going to live there.

“Let me set the record straight, Mr. Harris. I didn’t come here to find a husband. I love teaching, and I just happen to be good at science and math. I want to do my job, help the school improve its SAT scores, and be left alone to lick my wounds.”

“Understood,” he replied, feeling properly chastised. She might not look like Mrs. Beardsley, but she’d certainly put him in his place just as effectively as the sixty-year-old woman had done twenty years ago. “Let’s talk about the position.”


Secrets and Lies is exclusive to Amazon

Now, please take time to visit all the other awesome Mid Week Teasers.


Tuesday Tales: Hello Again. This week’s word: NASTY

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning and welcome to another instalment of Tuesday Tales. If this is your first visit, I’m so glad you dropped by. Tuesday Tales is a weekly blog hop. Several authors post a snippet from a work in progress, not a published piece, based on a word or picture prompt. I started Hello Again back in June as my contribution to the blog. I asked my good friend, Danielle Doolittle, for a cover, and she created a masterpiece. I hope you enjoy watching Charley, Bill, and Shirley grow. Today, you’ll get your first glimpse of Raoul.

I love the regular feedback I get from the other authors as well as those not part of the blog hop itself, so please feel free to comment.

This past week has been a difficult one for all of us as we grapple with world events, trying to understand what is impossible to comprehend, and move on, suppressing the fear that would stop us from living our lives the way we want to. My American friends will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday–we celebrate in October in Canada– and as they sit down with their families and friends, I wish them all a great day, filled with peace, happiness,  love, tons of food, and last but not least, parades and football.

This week’s word prompt is NASTY. Enjoy.

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)Bill shifted slightly, slowly easing a sleeping Charley off his shoulder and onto the pillow. It had taken her a long time to stop crying, and while he’d wanted to say something to make her feel better, he knew those words weren’t his to say. He didn’t have the right to mouth the platitudes he’d hated when they were offered to him. They didn’t help; he knew it, and so did she.

He was all too familiar with the nasty pain of misplaced guilt. For months after the shooting, he’d had a hard time reconciling the fact that he’d survived what had turned out to be a drug bust that hadn’t taken any drugs off the street. If he’d gotten there sooner or had followed procedure and waited for back-up, he might not have been caught with his guard down like that, but the shrink and his lieutenant insisted the boy would’ve met the same end as his parents. Maria and Roberto Ruis had been executed—a bullet to the back of the head at close range. No doubt, the killers believed the boy was already dead, like him, and that had saved them from similar fates.

Raoul, whose lower left leg had been shattered by the bullet, had a prosthesis that would grow with him, and a trust fund that would ease his way, but that would never be enough to assuage Bill’s guilt. He’d become a regular visitor at the foster home, which he could see was a good one. He and Raoul were friends, visiting first in the hospital after he’d come out of the coma, and then later, when the child had been placed with the Browns. He took on the role of big brother, taking Raoul out each weekend, providing respite for Jillian Brown the foster mother, but now that she was pregnant with her second child, she wouldn’t be able to keep Raoul much longer. He’d filled out adoption papers last month, but as the woman at the agency had said, a man alone wanting a three year old boy would have to be carefully vetted and then … even with their history, it was a crap shoot as to whether or not he’d get custody. The fact that the child was Special Needs, would make it even more complex.

Bill would do whatever he could to spare Raoul growing up in the foster system, belonging, yet not belonging. If the twister had hit Regina, he hoped to hell that section of the city had been spared. He needed the Browns to keep the boy as long as they could.

Bill had been lucky. The Andersons had treated him well and kept him the entire time. Even after he’d aged out, he’d stayed with them until he finished school and was on his own, but he knew a lot of the kids got bounced from family to family. He’d met the lost and disenchanted on the streets of Regina and in the interrogation rooms at the precinct.

If he were married, legally or common law, it would make a big difference. Having Shirley living with him would help, but he seriously doubted the octogenarian would give up her home to move into a condo in Regina, and why would she? It wasn’t as if they were related or anything. If he thought he’d get Raoul, he’d buy a house, one equipped for a handicapped child, but right now, that was just a pipe dream.

Before he could even consider taking the boy home, Bill had to deal with the as yet unidentified killers. There was always a chance Raoul would recognize the men if he saw them again—the child psychologist had mentioned that while the memory of what happened might be repressed now, it could come out at any time. Raoul might only be three, but if he could identify the man who’d shot Bill, then he was a liability to the gang.

It was true the Madre Diablo gang had moved on and out of the east end of Regina, but sooner or later, unless he could stop Santana, they’d be back. While he couldn’t prove that the assholes wreaking havoc around here were the same ones who’d murdered the Ruises, his gut said he was right. In the meantime, they were terrorizing people like Shirley and other isolated ranchers, taking what they wanted, and not giving a damn about the destruction they left behind. It was a miracle no one else had been killed during their little joyriding period.

Bill stood, convinced Charley would stay asleep. He sincerely hoped she’d get some rest now. Pulling up the thin blanket on the bed, he covered her, and before he could stop himself, he bent down and placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

Why the hell did I do that?

After a stop in the bathroom, he returned to the couch Shirley had made into a bed for him and stretched out once more. It was barely past midnight. The night was eerily silent, too quiet for a man used to the city. There were no sirens, no sounds of various engines and screeching tires, no people talking under his window. He listened, waiting for the cry of an owl or some other night creature, but he heard nothing.

The sofa was a trifle short, but he’d slept in worse beds. With the animals out of the house, the lingering aromas of fresh bread and pine scented cleaner were all that remained, but the fragrance that held him in thrall was the bouquet of the shampoo Charley had used that clung to his skin where she’d wept against him. She’d felt so familiar in his arms, and as sleep embraced him, her lingering scent sent him back in time to the dreams he’d had last year, the ones that had felt more like memories than dreams.

“She’s yours, now,” a voice similar to his own echoed in his head. “You have to take care of the three of them. I chose you. Don’t let me down.”

Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales

Reviews By Sue: Reckless and Ruined (The Chicago War Book 2)

Good morning. Some of you may be waking up to snow, sleet,  or rain, but here we have wind, the perfect backdrop for a review about Mafia action in the windy city. Reckless and Ruined, The Chicago War Book 2, has everything a lover of the genre could want and more.

51LKI-ic5uL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Play dirty. It’s the only way to win in a war.

Alessa Trentini follows the rules, or so it seems on the outside. A certain Conti has always been able to sway her inner rebel and keep her out of trouble, but even Adriano won’t be able to get her out of her brother’s mess. In a war, no woman is safe if her hand in marriage can advance her family in the world of the mafia. But mistakes of the past have a way of slipping into the present and Alessa will soon learn that even the most shameful of secrets can get her everything she wants.

Adriano Conti’s loyalties are torn as he’s forced to stand at his father’s side while Riley uses his wife’s murder as a way to get higher. Blood comes first and then the Outfit. The one thing he doesn’t question in the war between the families is Alessa Trentini and even that doesn’t seem possible when he’s forced to watch Alessa be used as another man’s pawn. Adriano has his own role to play to get what he wants.

The families in the Outfit have never been more divided than they are now. Blood continues to spill as revenge takes center stage and more lives are lost. But every man in the family is fighting for something different and no one’s intentions can be trusted. Playing a dirty game might be the only way to stay alive. 61wFOyVqGkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Even if that means ruining it all.

**Please Note: Reckless should not be read before Deathless & Divided. This novel is NOT considered a standalone in the series as part of the timeline runs concurrent with the first book in the series, Deathless & Divided.


My Review: 5 stars

Reckless and Ruined is an outstanding example of how a mafia family series should be written–murder, mayhem, backstabbing, manipulation, curelty, and in the end survival or death–balanced by love that will not surrender, will not give up, and will thrive despite all the obstacles tossed at it.

As a woman, Alessa Trentini is a pawn in her family’s violent world, a woman to be used to cement an alliance, even if her heart belongs to another. As a member of a warring family, fighting got top spot,  Adriano Conti must side with his father–even when he doubts the man’s honesty, sincerity, and motivation. What he can’t do is stay away from Alessa, the woman he loves.

While their are charcters to love in this story, there are also those to despise, and belive me Dean, Joel, and Riley topped my list.

Within the first few pages, I was struck by the Romeo and Juliet aspect of the story–fighting and feuding on the streets, car bombs, drive bys–and if you saw the 1996  Leonardo Di Caprio version, you’ll get where I’m coming from. The good news is that despite everything standing  in their way–and belive me they face A LOT of chanllenges–instead of wimping out and giving in to despair and dying, this Romeo and Juliet watch the bodies drop around them as they move slowly and steadily walking over the corpses on their way to a HFN, which I hope witll be a HEA in the next books.

Bethany Kris’ ability as a writer is to be commended as she crafts a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Well done!

Pick up your copy today. Amazon


Look Who Dropped By Today: V.L. Locey

I always love the opportunity to invite friends to visit Living the Dream. Today is no exception. Please welcome V.L. Locey, here to tell you about Clean Sweep, the first book in her Venom Series.cleansweep


TITLE – Clean Sweep
SERIES – Venom Series
AUTHOR – V.L. Locey
GENRE – Erotic Hockey Romance
PUBLICATION DATE – Sept.26, 2015
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 155 pages/57,500
PUBLISHER – Gone Writing Publishing
COVER ARTIST – Reverie Design



Clean Sweep - New CoverFiery, 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?





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.



Author Photo - VL LoceyV.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.



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Look Who Dropped By Today: Beverly Ovalle

Good morning. Today’s guest needs no introduction. Please welcome my good friend Bev Ovalle, here to tell us about her new book, Love Me Forever, LMF CassPublished Sept 19, 2015

Tired of being in the baby sister zone, Abby is determined to make this wounded Marine realize that she is grown up and all woman.



Staff Sergeant Liam McGregor doesn’t know what hit him. Sent home to recuperate from an IED blast, Liam is stuck in a wheelchair and is sentenced to surgery and physical therapy before he can walk again.

A physical therapist, Abby Worth has loved Liam McGregor since she first noticed boys. It’s too bad he’s her brother’s best friend. She has always been firmly put in the baby sister zone no matter how hard she tried to catch his eye.

Liam sees Abby and when she goes home with him doesn’t know how he can keep his hands off of her. She’s now old enough to touch and the fire in his blood and the combination of pain killers make him lose control. Abby can’t help but take what she’s always wanted.

Together they have to overcome their fear of being left behind to grab what they have always wanted-each other.

LMF teaser 1Excerpt:

He looked around as much as he could without moving his head. His eyes widened as he realized he was in the hospital. He recognized a couple of the doctors, so he knew he was still in Afghanistan. Liam closed his eyes against the throbbing pain and tried to remember what happened.

All he could remember was laughing and joking with his team. Then he woke up here. He shifted and bit back a scream of agony. Whatever happened he must’ve been right in the middle of it. Panting he lay back and tried to relax. If his memory didn’t come back, someone would be sure to tell him what happened.

Liam knew they had been going on a run, delivering supplies from one FOB to another. He lay there, head throbbing and pain radiating up from both legs and his shoulders. Wiggling his fingers sent pain up his arms, his left thigh hot and burning. Any movement sent spikes of pain throughout his body. His chest was tight, stomach roiling, and he was afraid to look down. He didn’t want to see if he was missing a limb. Liam had heard that even if you lost one you could still feel it. He swore he could wiggle his toes, could feel his leg. The pain and the cramping shooting down his calf. He didn’t want to look, anxious at what he would find.

Eyes closed and denying what he knew was a good possibility, Liam listened to the world around him. Groans and constant beeping from machines filtered to his ears. Even through his closed lids he could tell it was daylight, the light shining through the delicate skin. He heard feet come close and reluctantly opened his eyes.

“How are we doing today, McGregor?” Liam could hear the scribbling of the doctor’s pen as he made notations.

“Not sure, Doc.”

“Explain. What aren’t you sure about, Marine?”

Liam had to clear his throat. It was hard to talk through the dryness.

“I don’t remember what happened.” He turned his head toward the doc despite the ache in his neck. “How bad am I, Doc?”

“Besides the amnesia, which should only be temporary, you had a concussion.” Liam realized that would be why he remembered being constantly woken up, feeling overwhelmed with pain only to drift off again. “You were hit with shrapnel from head to toe. You had evidently turned away from the blast point just before it went off. Your back was protected by your body armor. Your legs and arms took the brunt of the damage.”


Beverly Ovalle3Beverly Ovalle dabbled with writing on and off for years when her best friend finally dared her to submit a story to a writing contest. Beverly decided she had nothing to lose and since she’d always wanted to be an author sent it in and agonized for months waiting to hear back. Contract in hand she has never looked back.

Beverly has been obsessed with dragons and romance since she was a young girl, collecting dragon books and reading everything she could find on them even down to the care of real life dragons. She’s always been slightly panicked that the world as we know it will end, so has prepped for it, haunting survivalist pages and prepper projects she felt she needed in the event SHTF.

An avid fan of all romance, Beverly’s goal is to share her love of the written word and write the hot and erotic romances that she enjoys. She writes what she loves to read and it was only a matter of time before her obsessions crept into her writing for her to share. She hopes you enjoy her tales as much as she loves writing them.

A Navy Veteran, Beverly has traveled around the world and the United States enabling her to bring her settings to life, meeting and marrying her husband of twenty five years along the way for her own romance. Reading romances since the fourth grade she’s followed as the genre changed and spread into the vast cornucopia of romance offered today.

Contact Links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BeverlyOvalleAuthor

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Website: www.beverlyovalle.com

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Blog:  http://SSLYblog.wordpress.com



Mid Week Tease: Secrets and Lies

MWTease15Wow! WordPress changed stuff again. It totally blows my mind when they do sh** like that. I don’t react to change as well as I should.

It’s another lovely, sunny but cold day in Eastern Ontario. In the words of an old song, “It’s a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack.” We have dandelions growing on the lawns and people are still cutting their grass. This is supposed to be the end of autumn, not the beginning of spring.

This week, I’d like to introduce you all to my newest release. Secrets and Lies is Book Four of the Hearts of Braden series, eight books written by eight different authors about a small town in Iowa. There are recurring characters, but each book is stand alone.

Secrets&LiesFinaleBookMediumBurb for Secrets and Lies, Book Four, Hearts of Braden Series.

DEA agent, Emily Shepherd, is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff, and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.

Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory, if lonely, until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There’s a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe, may be harder than he thinks.

Love is breaking out in Braden, Iowa. Follow all the romance with this collection of stories. Secrets and Lies is part of the Hearts of Braden Series, a multi-author series Secrets and Lies stands alone for your reading enjoyment, but the story doesn’t need to end there.

Excerpt from the opening chapter:

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me the truth, Kyle? I had a right to know.”

Emily Jacobson Shepherd sat in one of the hard chairs across from Kyle Kavanagh’s desk, fervently wishing she’d opted to stand, although by now that would probably be torture, too. She’d run the gamut of emotions these past eighteen months, but nothing matched her current fury.

“Damn it, Emily. I didn’t know for sure until they recovered the bodies in Mexico. We thought he’d died in that blast, too,” he said running his hand through his sparse ginger hair. “Information to the contrary started trickling in about a year ago, but it was just speculation. Even my source inside the cartel wasn’t positive. Since I wasn’t sure you’d ever be able to come back, let alone want to do so, I figured letting you think he was dead would help you heal and move on.”

The Chef was alive! She tried to get her head around Kyle’s revelation and was still too stunned to fully appreciate all that those four little words implied. The bastard wasn’t one of the unidentified corpses they’d found in the warehouse. Kyle had suspected the truth for almost a year, and yet he’d let her go on believing her enemy was gone. Knowing that monster was still out there, praying on the innocent and luckless, would’ve helped her get back on her feet sooner. Instead, she’d wallowed in months of self-pity, regretting the losses she’d suffered, and feeling cheated because her nemesis would never pay for the crimes he’d committed. Death in that explosion would’ve been the easy way out for him. She wanted him to suffer, like she had, like she did now.

“You don’t have the right to decide what I need or don’t need. It was my life he ruined.”

The Chef had forfeited his men the way a chess player sacrificed his pawns. Those poor buggers probably hadn’t realized they were the equivalent of the guys in the red shirts on Star Trek. Alex had loved the sci-fi series and always joked that the extras in the red shirts should get danger pay since they were sure to die within the first few minutes of the episode—that was unless of course they were engineers. Like the Enterprise’s Montgomery Scott, the Chef always managed to make it out in one piece. Despite his age and educational background, Alex had been superstitious and had refused to wear red shirts, citing the precedent, and yet wearing a blue shirt hadn’t saved him or the other men who’d walked into the trap with him. By some miracle, she’d survived, but look at the price she’d paid. This was her chance to get even, to get the justice she wanted for the man she’d loved. Who was she kidding? She wanted revenge, plain and simple, but Kyle was vacillating, and she didn’t like it one damn bit. He owed her.

“This is my case, has always been my case, and now that I’m back, I should be the one to follow through on it.”

She was so angry with the agent-in-charge of the El Paso Division of the DEA that she was shaking, and gripped her hands together to hide it. How dare he presume she could ever go on not knowing the truth? A slip of the tongue from a visiting agent and friend had changed everything and given her a reason to live again. Badgering her doctor, she’d convinced him to let her return to full duties. The days and nights of feeling sorry for herself were over. Her life had purpose again, and that goal was to put the Chef out of business once and for all.

“Despite what you’ve heard, we don’t know exactly where he is, but we know where he’s been. We’ve got someone on the inside now, and our informant says he’s on the move. I’ll see what I can do about getting you reassigned to the case, but Emily, it isn’t up to me alone. The brass has to sign off on this, and given the situation, I’m not sure they will.”

“Then you need to convince them I’m the best person for the job. I’m not an idiot, Kyle,” she said, frustration giving her voice an unnecessary edge. “I’m a frigging bionic woman now. People with artificial limbs like mine return to their regular jobs every day. Soldiers go back into the field, and it’s time I did, too. It’s taken me more than a year to accept what happened to me, and I’ll be damned if I let it steal any more of my life. I’m either a DEA agent returned to full duty or I’m not, and you’ll have my resignation on your desk as fast as I can print and sign it, but let me assure you, I will find him even if I have to do it on my own and spend every last cent I have tracking him down.”

Secrets and Lies is available from Amazon

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Tuesday Tales: Hello Again This Week’s Prompt: CUP

Badge for TT - very small (1)Hello and welcome back to Tuesday Tales. The world is a sadder place this week after the events that rocked Paris on the weekend, and I have to believe the people who planned these terrible crimes will be caught and punished before any other terrible things happen.

This week, I continue with Hello Again, I love my new cover and it’s filling me with inspiration. The word of the week is CUP.

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)And, without further ado:

Charley put down the spoon she still held, tilted her head to the side as she often did when she was contemplating something that didn’t make sense, and stared into the familiar Irish-green eyes she remembered so well. This was all surreal. He looked like Mike, sounded like Mike, even had that good-guy streak a mile wide like Mike, but he wasn’t Mike, and her heart knew it. She just had to keep telling herself that.

“Let me get this straight,” Charley said, excitement building in her despite the fact that the last classic engine she’d rebuilt had led to heartbreak. “You’ll give me a car and if I can fix it I can keep it? What kind is it?”

“It’s a 1971 Chevrolet Impala, 454 cu in 7.4 L Turbo-Jet V8. It belonged to my foster father. It’s been up on blocks in a buddy’s garage for the last six years. It hasn’t been driven in more than fifteen years, so a lot of the parts are probably seized. If you can get in road worthy, you’ve got wheels. That car of yours couldn’t be much younger.”

“Matilda was a 1985 model, Japanese, and as temperamental as you could get.”

“You gave an Australian name to a Japanese car? Why”

“I didn’t name her after an Australian. I named her after Matilda Junkbottom, the smart robot in Dr. Snuggles, one of my favorite television programs growing up. Matilda was cool, just like that car.” She yawned, and sipped again from the cup Shirley had given her. Reality set it. “I appreciate the offer, but I don’t have any tools left, and even if I could fix it, I doubt I can afford the parts right now, but I’ll hold you to this. Once I get settled, I’ll figure a way to make it work. Reconstructing old engines is my favorite part of the job.”

Bill chuckled. “I’ve got tools, Ms. Winters, and you’re welcome to use them, but it’s a two and a half hour drive from Saskatoon to Regina, and while the weather’s good most of the time, you don’t want to get caught out on the highway in a blizzard. I’ve got a friend with a flatbed tow truck. Would the school let you keep the car there to work on it? If you’re teaching mechanics, you might even be able to use it.”

Charley smiled. “I think you should call me Charley. Ms. Winters seems a little formal considering our circumstances. That’s a wonderful idea. You know, that’s the kind of thing Mike would’ve come up with. He was a great problem solver.”

“You really loved him a lot, didn’t you?”

“I did,” she said, feeling a tear run down the side of her face. She swiped at it with the back of her hand. “We didn’t have near enough time together.”

“How long’s he been gone?”

“A little more than five years.”

“Was he killed in Afghanistan?” he asked, pointing to the dog tags she never removed.

They hung at the neckline of the oversized gown, and she reached for them, gripping them, trying to hold onto what she knew she’d lost.

“You’d think that’s where he’d have been in danger, but it wasn’t there. I had nightmares about snipers and roadside bombs, but in the end he died here, because of me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Mike was a motor pool mechanic. That’s what drew us together. We met at university, but it was out love for tinkering with cars that drew us together. Mike always wanted a motorcycle, but with student loans and just starting out, we couldn’t afford one. I found an old 1980 Harley Davidson FXS-80 Lowrider Shovelhead and got it for a song and I gave it to him as a wedding present. He gave me a full set of mechanic’s tools. It was a match made in heaven.”

“I’ll bet it was. It isn’t easy to find someone who understands and enjoys the same things you do.”

Three months after the wedding, he was deployed and I spent the sixteen months he was away rebuilding and restoring that bike. When he got back, it was already for him. I used to convince myself that nothing bad would happen to him as long as I worked on that bike. Shortly after he got back, one of his closest friends was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Paul was scheduled to start treatments the following week, so the Five Amigos, as they called themselves, decided they’d take one last ride together.” She sniffled. “A drunk driver fell asleep at the wheel and crossed into their lane. Mike and Paul were slammed into the face of the escarpment. The three others were badly injured—one will never walk again. The drunk escaped without a scratch. He’s serving a sentence for vehicular manslaughter.”

“I’m so sorry,” Bill said, “but I don’t see why you think you’re to blame.”

“Don’t you?” She raised the cup to her lips once more. “He wouldn’t have had a motorcycle if I hadn’t restored that one. I put him on that bike and he died because of me.” She swiped at the tears on her face. “I’m really tired. Would you carry me back to bed, please?”

“Of course,” he said, standing and picking her up. He carried her into the room and placed her gently on the bed. “Good night, Charley.”

“Goodnight, Bill and thanks again for rescuing me.”

“My pleasure,” he said and left the room.

Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales


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