Friday’s Feature: Cover Art Contest

Year of the dog, 2018Good morning! Happy Chinese New Year.  It’s the start of the Year of the Dog. Hopefully, this puppy has good things awaiting us. (Image courtesy of Getty)

As most of you know from the news, this year has been a tragic one for those in the United States with its 30th mass shooting of the year occurring this week in a Florida school, the nineteenth such tragedy since the start of 2018. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.

On a more positive note, the Olympic games are underway in South Korea, and while Homan’s team id struggling to win its first game in Curling, we’re in fourth place overall with 13 medals and a lot more to come. Go Canada!

WBB final cover

Today, I’m posting because I need your help! The beautiful cover of Wedding Bell Blues, designed by Romanian cover artist Melinda De Ross had made it to the third round in February’s All Author Cover Contest.  To move on the round four, I need your votes!  It doesn’t cost anything to vote.  Just follow the link and vote. Voted before? You can vote again if the VOTE link shows. One vote PER ROUND!

Can you please take a moment to help out a friend?



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Throwback Thursday: Where Were You in 1967?

half faceI named my blog, Living the Dream, because becoming a published author has always been a dream of mine. No, I haven’t become a New York Times bestselling author–I haven’t any idea how to break that glass ceiling, but I have had the marvellous sensation that comes from the holding books I’ve written in my hands. I’ve felt the pride from reading good reviews and having people tell me how much they enjoyed my stories. Those are priceless moments, and with each new manuscript I start, just like an artist who begins a portrait, I hope the end product will please my readers and maybe even make them think.

The new manuscript  I’m working on, Same Time Next Year,  is a stretch for me, but in some ways it’s liberating, since it allows me to be myself and enjoy my craft. Twyla is an author who’s writing her memoirs, opening up about her past. Through her, you can glimpse some of my own writing process. This is a book within a book with some of my own memories and a whole lot of imagination tossed together to create what I hope will be a poignant story about love lost in youth and recovered fifty years later. I’m banking on the fact that the story will strike a chord with readers. (Yes, there’s S E X in this one)

scan0011I met my husband and fell in love in 1969. We were married in 1971, and we’re still together, but not everyone who was a part of a couple back then is today. Sadly, some have died,  others simply broke up, many divorced, while a few were torn apart by outside forces over which they had little or no control.

Since I’ve started this story, I’ve been reminded that the so-called “good old days” weren’t perfect. While there were some good aspects to them, there were also a lot of negatives. Racism, social snobbery, domestic violence, sexual harassment, lack of equality and rights for women, and homophobia were alive and well. As I recall the time when I was 17, like my character was, I remember how limited my options and opportunities were, and how ill-prepared I was for the reality of life as a woman.


The story is set both today and in 1967, and I’ve had a great time listening to the music of the sixties. Back then, I did my homework to the sound of my transistor radio and the icons of the day–The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, The Mamas and the Papas, Elvis. I could go on and on. As I write, I select songs from 1965, 1966, or early 1967 to set my character’s mood. Right now, she’s listening to “A Groovy Kind of Love” by the Mindbenders.  Why don’t you listen in?

deck 2Same Time Next Year is a second chance at love story written as book within a book. One section is the poignant story of a girl becoming a woman and losing the man she loves, while the second section is that of a lonely woman, returning to the scene of her despair, searching for answers. Think, The Notebook, if Allie’s parents had succeeded in keeping Noah away.

Here’s the premise of the story.  If you want to read more, check out my recent Tuesday Tales posts.

Why had he abandoned her?

For three short weeks, Twyla Lancaster was the fairy tale princess who’d found her prince. Unfortunately, reality ripped them apart. Now, fifty years later, she needs to know why the only man she’s ever loved broke his promises. As she writes her memoir and learns more about that summer, she realizes things were not what they seemed.

Hormones raced, promises were made, but Twyla left Michael Morrison high and dry ,and within weeks, married someone else. Grieving the loss of his parents and her betrayal, he turned his back on love, focusing on his military career. Now, goaded by his sister, he agrees to attend a wedding  and reunion, knowing Twyla will be there. It’s time to find out why she lied to him all those years ago.

The moment the star-crossed lovers see one another, love blooms between them, but when Michael discovers Twyla’s secret, he is devastated and walks out on her. Will love be enough to erase the hurt of fifty years lost?

Where were you in 1967?





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Midweek Tease: It’s Valentine’s Day!


pexels-photo-302515.jpegHappy Valentine’s Day! This is the day set aside each year to honor and treat our loved ones. May you have the best Valentine’s Day ever. Mine started early with a gorgeous card. I’m truly blessed.

In honor of today, it’s fitting to focus on a love scene. Mine will be a lot tamer than many you’ll find here, but love is love and anyone lucky enough to find it is always a winner!

MWTease15Welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease. We have a full house this week with lots of tantalizing teases to tempt you. This blog is open. If you would like to join in, contact me and I’ll provide the information you need to get started.

This week’s tease comes from Wedding Bell Blues. It’s short and sweet, and absolutely perfect for the day.


“Congratulations,” Lucette said when MJ stepped up to the bar. “May I see the ring?”

MJ extended her hand.

Magnifique. It matches your eyes.”

“Glad to see you’re feeling better. What matches your eyes?” Lindsay asked, coming over to stand beside her.

“My ring,” MJ said. “I’ve agreed to marry Paul.”

She blinked. “You what?” The woman’s voice rose two octaves.

MJ flashed her ring and removed her glasses.

“You’re right; it does, and it’s gorgeous!” Lindsay exclaimed.

“Congratulations,” said Noel, reaching out to shake his hand. “I’m glad you guys worked things out. Lindsay was really worried.”

“Paul will never let anything happen to me,” she answered, knowing it was the truth. “Would you like to help us celebrate?”

Lindsay nodded, a huge grin on her face. “Damn right. I know there’s a story here, and I want to hear it all.”

“Two more glasses, Lucette,” Paul said. “We’ll sit over there.”

Champagne in hand, they returned to the table where she and Paul had sat earlier. At Lindsay’s insistence, between them they managed to tell her the story they’d concocted, adding details as the questions arose.

“This time, she said yes,” Paul finished, reached for her hand, his eyes fixed on hers, and planted a kiss in the palm of it. “I intend to spend the rest of my life convincing her she made the right choice.”

Want to read more? Wedding Bell Blues is available in both ebook and paperback from most online retailers including:


Now, remember, this is a blog hop. Please check out the rest of today’s teasers! There’s something for everyone!

#MidWeekTease February 14, 2018

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Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

New TT imageWelcome back to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the weekly blog post where a select group of writers share their current work in progress with you.  Each week, we are given a prompt to incorporate into our work. Once a month, it’s a picture and a 300 word limit. Take a moment to examine our new page banner. Each of those book titles represents a novel that was born here and went on to be published.

Life is slowly returning to normal around here, well as normal as it can be. As far as Same Time Next Year, Michael is in makeover mode. This is picture prompt week. Enjoy!

Suit“Holy shit, Michael Morrison in my store,” a man, dressed in a blousy, turquoise silk shirt and enough gold chains at his neck to make Mr. T envious, came from behind the counter. He looked so much like Elvis that people stopped him on the street just to get selfies with him. “Who died?”

“Very funny, Pete,” he grumbled. “I need a suit. I’m going back east for a wedding and would prefer not to look twenty years out of sync with the rest of the world.”

Pete nodded. “Just twenty years? That’s being generous, old boy. Lydia’s the one who usually comes in and picks out your clothes. She gave you khakis for Christmas. Do they still fit?”

Had he gained that much weight? Maybe he’d up his workout to three times a week.

“Yeah. I didn’t even have to shorten them. So, what’s a distinguished gentleman my age wearing these days—and you’d better not say that.” He pointed to a mannequin in a purple plaid suit, the pants as tight as the leggings Lydia bought for her granddaughters.

The store owner threw back his head and laughed.

“As luscious as your body is, I don’t think your legs are cut out for the skinny look,” he agreed. “I’ve got some nice, no wrinkle stuff here. I suggest we go with black or charcoal, like the one James is wearing.” He pointed to the man slipping the business card into his pocket. “Either one will suit that silver fox look of yours, and I would go with the blue shirt, too.”

“Quit flirting with me,” Michael grumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’ll tell Lucas you were hitting on me, and your husband will tear a strip off of you.”

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

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Friday’s Featured Author: Chele Pedersen Smith

OstrichCirqueDreamsThe nicest things often happen when you least expect them to!  Good morning and welcome back to Living the Dream’s Friday’s Featured Author. Today my guest is an author I met while on vacation. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Chele and her aunt at a Jungle Fantasy dinner aboard the NCL’s Breakaway a week ago. How I miss the sun and and the heat.

Meet Chele, pronounced shell, Pedersen Smith. Chele enjoys the wild ride of writing off the cuff, nestled in the breakfast nook overlooking a woodsy view with her golden retriever and a mug of decaf– if it’s not waiting under the brewer for hours, forgotten as usual. Add snow and writing chocolate: Perfect!

selfportrait CheleFortunate to grow up a Navy brat, she has enjoyed living in the exotic likes of Hawaii, California, and Florida but one of her favorite places has always been Waukegan, Illinois where she got the seasons back, graduated high school, fell in love with Chicago sports, wrote for the college paper, was pursued by a Green Phantom, and married a sailor. Even though she now roots for New England teams, she still holds a fondness for those windy city jerseys.

FrenemyLines_CVR_SMLAfter sensible careers in health care, she finally let her dream as an author take center stage when her first published novel, Behind Frenemy Lines, hit the market in January 2017. Taking a leap of faith, she dropped out of dental hygiene school and is now in the middle of a professional writing degree.

Writing has always been a part of her life. In sixth grade, she and best friend Debby won a school hobby contest with their April and Cherry mystery booklets.
In junior high and beyond high school, Chele began scribbling a Sherri Whitman teen mystery series as well as writing for the high school paper, West Side Story , in 1981-82. She also jumped into a reporter gig for the College of Lake County paper, The Chronicle, in 1984.

PearlyGatesPhone_CVR_SMLWhile married life happened with children and jobs, she kept her skills sharpened with family newsletters and writing anecdotal spiritual nonfiction, which became her second published book, The Pearly Gates Phone Company.
Currently a journalism and second-year creative writing student, her stories and poems now appear in the college literary magazine as well as the college paper.

While romance and mystery are her favorite genres, Chele also writes realistic and speculative fiction, short stories, poems, and creative nonfiction.
A rom-com novella, a sequel to Behind Frenemy Lines, and a romance mystery featuring the Green Phantom are all in the works.

You can stay in touch with Chele, as I plan to do by following her links.

(Twitter) @cpsmithbooks


Want to know more about her books? Check them out too!

Best of luck, Chele. It was wonderful meeting you!


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Midweek Tease: Wedding Bell Blues

MWTease15Good morning! I’ve been MIA for some time, first dealing with a family emergency and then taking a much needed vacation in the sunny, warm south. I’m back from a 14-day cruise in the Western Caribbean and it’s time to get back to work. By the way, the water is just as beautiful as I knew it would be.

Mid-January, Wedding Bell Blues, my contemporary/paranormal/fantasy/suspense/funny novel was released. Today, I would like to bring you an excerpt from it. I’ve teased from this book before.

Here’s the blurb:

WBB final coverRomance, mermaids, cursed treasure, and more.

MJ’s having a bad year. She’s canceled her wedding, but refuses to give up the honeymoon. When she arrives on Paradise Island, she discovers her ex has changed the reservation. Stranded, she has to rely on her first love, a man who sees her as his kid sister, for help. When Paul discovers the man behind her plight is the bully who made his own teen years hell, he gets MJ to agree to pretend to be his fiancée. Reluctantly, she agrees. Add in mermaids, treasure hunters, and Quimbois magic, and anything can happen—even falling in love.

Here’s the set-up. MJ’s on her way to Paradise Island. How does Mother Nature greet her?

With rain, of course. Enjoy!

MJ stood at the railing of the resort’s passenger ferry letting the drizzle soak her. She rolled her eyes. With her luck, she would probably catch pneumonia, spend the next ten days in bed, and listen to Mama and Carla’s “I told you so” for the rest of her life.

Sighing, she shook her head. This was the twenty-first century. Despite Carla’s dire predictions, lots of women traveled alone and had wonderful trips, coming home intact with all their eggs and organs right where they were supposed to be, without any danger of being sacrificed to volcanoes, zombified in voodoo ceremonies, or kidnapped by pirates—although if a Captain Jack Sparrow lookalike wanted to take her captive, she might surrender.

Last evening, on what should’ve been her wedding night, she’d consoled herself with room service and a large bottle of wine. After opening at least three dozen messages from friends and cousins showing the lucky couple, she’d flung her cellphone across the room, shattering it. Eventually, she’d realized that had been a mistake and had contacted Carla.

Fine. I’ll let your mother know you dropped your phone, but you’ve got to keep that Greek-Irish temper of yours in check, MJ. It’s going to get you in trouble.

Staring out at the water, she huffed out a heavy breath. Somewhere out there, the man of her dreams waited for her. All she had to do was find him. She removed her glasses. There was so much mist on them, she couldn’t see through them anyway.

A vision of Paul the way he’d looked last Saturday, half-naked, his body slick with perspiration, filled her mind, obliterating the stormy seas. He’d looked good, but she would die before she threw herself at him. A girl could only take so much rejection, and she wasn’t going to grovel to any man ever again—not even men who looked like Greek gods.

The ship bucked the waves as it slowly crossed the distance between Martinique and Paradise Island. Ten miles seemed a lot longer by boat than by car. Her stomach roiled. She hated flying and had taken her medication, but with more turbulence than usual, it had been the worst flight of her life. While she didn’t usually get seasick, it seemed this boat ride would prove the exception. If she were going to toss her cookies, not that she had any since there hadn’t been a crumb to eat on the plane, she would rather do it overboard than in the crowded lounge.

Pursing her lips, she looked out at the horizon, but with the rain and without her lenses, there was nothing to see.

“Are you alright, miss?” The deep voice startled her.

She turned around. She didn’t need her glasses to tell her this was the bearded crewman who’d checked her ticket when she’d boarded, the one with the nasty scar on his cheek. What had Carla said? Kidnapped by pirates?

The man leaned against the gunwale beside her and exhaled a plume of smoke she realized came from cannabis, not tobacco.

“It’s dangerous for a landlubber to be up here alone in this weather.”

MJ smiled, her lips compressed.

“I’m not feeling too well. I’ll probably vomit all over myself shortly, and it seemed like a good idea to do it here rather than in there.”

He chuckled. “How considerate of you since I would be the one to clean the mess. Have a drag. It’ll settle your stomach.” He turned and offered her the joint.

“No, thanks,” she said, looking up at him. “I don’t … you know.”

He stared at her, mumbled something she didn’t understand, moving closer to her, invading her space.

Had she insulted him?

She tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry.

“No problem. Your kind rarely does.”

Her kind? What did he have her pegged as? Some prissy, tight-assed bitch?

“Jack Crowder,” he offered his empty hand.

“MJ Summers.” She reached for it, her hand limp in his. Why the hell had she given her real name? Probably because it was plastered all over her luggage.

“You’ve got gorgeous eyes, MJ Summers,” he said. “They remind me of these waters on a calm, sunny day. Beautiful and mysterious. A man could drown in eyes like yours.”

MJ’s cheeks heated.

Give me a break.

“Thanks,” she said. “Nothing special about them—they run in the family.”

She really needed to corral this imagination of hers. The man was flirting with her. Why was that so hard to believe? Hadn’t she hoped for a single man here? It wouldn’t be the first time her dreams didn’t turn out the way she wanted them to. She put her glasses on and smiled, her mouth lifted to the left.

He grinned, lifting his hand to push her hair back behind her ear.

It took everything in her not to bolt.

“I’ll bet they do.”

Please visit all of the other midweek teasers.

Want to read more of Wedding Bell Blues? It’s available, in ebook and paperback, from most online retailers.

#MidWeekTease February 7, 2018

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Tuesday Tales: From a Word ANGRY

Badge for TTWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. If you are a regular reader, you know that each week, I post an excerpt from a work in progress. To date, three of my published works got their start here: Hello Again, Forever and Always, and my latest novel, Wedding Bell Blues.

Currently, I’m working on a woman’s fiction piece called, Same Time Next Year. Since I’ve been away on vacation in the sunny south–14 days on a cruise ship in the Western Caribbean, pictures to come–I’ve gone back a bit to the last post to set the story.  As a reminder, this is a novel within a novel, as a 67 year-old woman recalls her first love, hoping to discover what went so wrong fifty years ago. The past is written in the first person point of view, while the present is third person and includes the hero’s viewpoint, too. You can read all the entries by looking at the log and selecting the Tuesday Tales posts each month. This week’s entry is a little long, and I apologize for that.

Tuesday Tales are written based on a prompt–either a picture or a word. This week, we have the word ANGRY.


Twyla sat down in front of her laptop and pulled up her music files, choosing “Somethin’ Stupid,” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and letting the soft melody wrap her in its warmth. It was hard to believe a father and a daughter could’ve sung such a powerful love song. She and her father certainly couldn’t have. Sighing deeply, she opened the document she’d left during the night and began to type.

Chapter Two

I’d only been at The Captain’s Inn for a week, but my world had shrunk to this place and Michael. From the time I got up in the morning, the idea of being with him consumed me. The world seemed more alive. Even the colorful flowers delivered to the inn every morning had a fresher scent, no longer reminding me of funeral parlors and over-perfumed replacement teachers.

For the first time, the controversial novel of my teens made sense. I understood how Connie must’ve felt about seeing Oliver, pining for him when he wasn’t around. I wasn’t Lady Chatterley, but I felt her ache and pain. While I didn’t have a wheelchair-bound husband who was impotent, Michael and I had our own differences, issues that in retrospect proved to be insurmountable.

lockDuring the day while Michael worked, I ran errands for my mother and her friends, sometimes babysitting younger children, but most often, I simply sat on one of the picnic tables biding my time. If there were no boats waiting to move through the lock, he sat with me. Occasionally, Mavis would show up, give me the evil eye, and leave again, but generally, he was my idol, and I was his groupie. Some of the other summer students cracked jokes about his shadow, but I didn’t care. As long as Michael wanted me there, nothing else mattered.

Most days, we listened to music on my transistor radio and sipped soft drinks—nobody drank bottled water back then.

I cherished every second we spent together, hanging on his words as if they were pearls of wisdom. I loved the sound of his voice. He didn’t have his father’s Irish accent, but there was a lilt to it, a cadence so very different from the sounds of New Jersey that it beguiled me. No matter what he said, I listened, my eyes fixed on him as he told me about himself and his family, one so very different from my own that we could’ve been born on different planets.

When Michael had been accepted into RMC, his father, a new Canadian fresh from the Emerald Isle as he used to say, had been proud of him, so unlike the anger that had enveloped my father when Ethan had enlisted. Now that Michael had finished his education, he would have to serve five years in the army as an officer, not a grunt as Ethan called himself, and while I knew Michael would face danger just as my brother did, his future sounded so romantic and exciting, like something out of the past. He wouldn’t just be a soldier—no! He would be a member of something greater than himself or even his country. He would be part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. I envied him as I’m sure Ethan would have, knowing he would’ve given anything for Father’s support.

I shared a little of my life with Michael, not wanting to dwell on our differences—working class Irish Catholic was a far cry from my father’s privileged Protestant forefathers who’d come over on the Mayflower. At the time, I didn’t realize we were as poor as church mice, father having sunk all of his money and most of Mother’s into Studebaker stock. We still lived as if we were rolling in dough, and until the bottom fell out of my world, I expected that to continue.

My musings ended when Michael finished tying down the lock doors and walked over to me, a smug smile on his face.

“How’d you like to blow this place for a couple of hours?” he asked, raising my chin with his index finger, my gaze drawn to his.

I smiled. “I would love to. Where do you want to go? Swimming?”

“I was thinking of someplace a bit more private. How about you show me that place you’re always talking about, you know that small pond on the road to Sand Lake. I have to be back by four, but that gives us a couple of hours, and I would love to be somewhere where we could be alone. I feel like I’m dating you inside a fishbowl.”

I laughed. “It’s not that bad.”

I trembled with anticipation, not knowing what to expect. Maybe he would kiss me, I mean really kiss me, like the French kisses Mary-Louise and her friends described, the ones that would fill me with the wicked needs that had led Lady Chatterley to betray her marital vows.

Under Mavis’s scowl, we got a couple of drinks from the store, a chocolate bar, and a bag of chips, and borrowed two of the resort’s bicycles. Since Michael had been coming to the area for more than fifteen years, he probably knew it as well as I did, but I believed my secret pond was mine alone.

fallWhen we reached it some twenty minutes later, it wasn’t nearly as private as I thought it would be, and all my hopes for my own secret tryst evaporated. We stood on the rock escarpment and sadness filled me. Someone had built a cottage below us. Children played in the water, their laughter shattering the peace and quiet I’d adored.

We spread towels on the grass and sat, side by side, eating the snack we’d brought with us. To this day, I can’t eat the nougat and chocolate bar without remembering that afternoon. After a while, the children went inside, and if I didn’t look down, I could pretend we were truly alone, away from prying eyes.

Michael put his arm around me. “It isn’t so bad here. We can see and hear them, but I doubt they can see us up here.” He tilted my chin toward him. “I’ve waited a week to do this. Jersey, you take my breath away.”

He bent his head and his lips captured mine. At first, the kiss was soft and gentle, but then, it was as if something exploded inside me, and I wanted more. I opened my mouth, not realizing that was the invitation he needed for the kiss I’d hoped for. When his tongue entered my mouth, fire started in my belly and worked its way down. Somehow, I was now on my back, his body partially covering mine that throbbed and ached in places I didn’t even know could behave that way. I needed something else—what exactly, I didn’t know—but before he could give it to me, the sound of a car horn forced us apart. We jumped up so quickly, it was amazing we didn’t get whiplash.

“God, Twyla, what you do to me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get carried away. I’ve never felt about another girl the way I do about you.”

That was the moment when I understood what the song playing on the radio beside us meant, and the something stupid blurted out of me.

“I love you, Michael,” I said, my breath catching as my heartbeat thundered in my ears. “I’ve never been in love before. In fact, I’ve never even kissed anyone … like that … I feel happy and excited and sick to my stomach all at once. I didn’t know I could ever feel this way.”

Michael smiled. “Neither did I,” he said, looking around, making sure our audience was gone before kissing me again.

This time, my body burned. Within seconds, we were on the ground again, his mouth on mine driving me to madness. He moved his hands along my sides where he cupped the edge of my breasts, sending delicious shivers running up and down my spine. No wonder Connie had been willing to throw everything away for Oliver’s touch. As his hands moved along my body reaching the apex of my thighs, I cursed the clothes that kept his flesh from mine. If he’d wanted to strip me naked and take me on the grass, I wouldn’t have argued with him.

But Michael was a bit more clear headed than I was. Pulling his hands and his mouth away, he smiled down at me.

view 1“We can’t do this here. Not now, rushed like this. I know a much better place. We need to get back, but tomorrow, after my shift, I’ll take you where we can be alone without worrying about anyone seeing us. We can even go skinny dipping.”

My face had to be as red as my hair, but I grinned at him. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what skinny dipping involved, although I thought it might mean swimming in your underwear, but, whatever it was, I wasn’t going to let him see how clueless I was. He and Mavis probably skinny dipped all the time.

Michael kissed me again, just a quick peck that left me unsatisfied and then helped me stand. I rearranged my clothes, my own touch making me ache for his hands on me once more.


Twyla looked away, her body burning at the memory. How naïve she’d been, but if Michael walked in that door this minute, she would be putty in his hands just as she’d been that July afternoon. No one had ever touched her but him. He hadn’t coerced her. She’d been a willing participant. But he hadn’t repeated the words she’d said—there had been no “I love you” on his lips that day. Had there ever been?

Glancing down at her watch, she saw that it was almost three. Saving her work, she turned off the computer and stood. It was time to go and meet Nessa, time to discover what had gone so wrong all those years ago. What was it they said? The truth will set you free?

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

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