Cupid’s Arrow Hits its Target: Adventures in Love

Yesterday, I introduced the first anthology from The Solstice Publishing Valentine’s Day Extravaganza, First Love. Today I’m featuring Adventures in Love, which contains Forever and Always, my novella. Some of you may find the first few pages similar since it grew out of a Tuesday Tales Christmas story, but it’s been refined and is now part of this wonderful second anthology.

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Solstice Publishing began 2016 by winning the 2015 Preditors & Editors Poll for Best Print/Electronic Book Publisher. Our authors are now going to show you why we’re the top in this field.p&E win

Summer Solstice Publishing is proud to present Adventures in Love and a bonus short story, Valentine for a Spy, for Valentine’s Day this year.triple heart

 

Check out the trailer:

https://youtu.be/Ln_guFJXyXs

Adventures in Love

From a western gal in pursuit of the local sheriff to a single mom running a cooking show with her small children, romance blossoms in many situations. These wonderful stories prove that love is for all ages.

A.A. Schenna, Alex Pilalis, Donna Alice Patton, EB Sullivan, Heidi Renee Mason, Johnny Gunn, Susan Lynn Solomon, Mark Newhouse, and Susanne Matthews delight romantics on this special holiday with their tales of love.

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BH2F7E8

Here is an excerpt from Forever and Always. (Photograph courtesy of Mohamed Said and Unsplash)

photo-1446476012059-4f9c278d54d5

All Brandi has ever known is ballet. From her earliest years, her time was spent honing her skills, vying to be the best, setting aside everything else that mattered in life to make it to the stage. Then, at the top of her career, she lost her dancing partner and her ability to dance to a drunk driver in an ice storm.

She’s strong, she’s tough, she’ll recover from this, but will she? She’s always lived for the dance. She is a ballerina, but once a dancer can’t dance, what’s left? Who’s left?

Finding herself won’t be easy and she may need help from others including the man she’s loved almost as long as she’s love the dance, but will she let them in?

The excerpt:

She remembered Jarrett Sullivan all too well—him and the gorgeous blonde who’d clung to him like Velcro at the wedding and had shot invisible daggers at her from behind venom-filled eyes. But that memory wasn’t the one she cherished deep in her heart.

Jarrett, a grade ahead of her, had been her hero. She’d never forget the boy who’d carried her books home when she’d had her hands full, the one who’d stood up to the bullies who teased her about her hair color and her small stature; the only one who’d asked her to dance at the sixth grade graduation dance, firmly entrenching himself in her heart. But, three years later when she’d moved from middle school and entered high school, the captain of the football team had changed. He still spoke to her, asked her how things were going, but he teased her, calling her names, not realizing how much the loss of his caring concern and friendship had hurt—Hey, Scotch; Saw you dance last night, Bourbon; Looking good, Gin; Did you finish that math assignment, Vodka?; and of course his painful, off-key rendition of The Four Season’s Sherry—he’d called her by the name of every alcoholic beverage but her own, except at the wedding when they’d danced for the second time in eleven years.

You’ve grown into a beautiful woman, Brandi. His words echoed in her head, but then Pavel had claimed her and the blonde bombshell had whisked him away. Now, Pavel was dead as was her career as a ballerina. Her last performance had been as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’d never even finished the run—the freezing rain had seen to that.

“I don’t know. I get nervous in any car, and it’s just worse at night….”

“Brandi Alexandra Jameson, I just knew you’d pull a stunt like this, and I won’t let you ruin this party for me.”

Yeah, it’s all about you, Jane. What about me? What about my pain?

“It’s three o’clock, now,” her sister continued. “He’ll be there to pick you up at five. I suggest you get your ass in gear. He’s got orders to carry you out kicking and screaming if he has to.”

“He wouldn’t dare. I’m not ten anymore. You’re not the boss of me, your majesty, even if you think you are,” she cried, defiantly, tears welling up in her eyes. “You’re not being fair.”

“Fair has nothing to do with this. You may not be ten, but you’re acting like a child, and I for one am fed up with your little pity party. You need to put this behind you before you drown in your own sorrows. It’s for your own good, and Mom and Dad agree, so unless you want to end up here in your pajamas, or worse, get dressed.”

She winced as Jane ended the call with a satisfactory slam of the phone, something impossible to do with a cellphone, and stuck out her tongue, the childish gesture of defiance making her feel better momentarily but, knowing Jane, she’d make good on her threat.

“Damn! I should’ve stayed in Toronto,” she said, aloud, her voice echoing in the empty house.

Letting out a deep sigh, she stared at the phone. She had two choices here, neither one of which appealed to her. She could dig in her heels and refuse to budge, although she was certain that wouldn’t stop Jarrett from carrying out the queen’s orders. As she recalled, he still had more muscles in his shoulders than Pavel, her best friend and fellow dancer, ever had. The alternative was to give in, graciously, and make an appearance. The broken doll on display for all to gawk at. Surely, they would lose interest in a has-been and she could find a plant to hide behind. She’d stay for an hour, two at most, and then get a cab back to the house. It wasn’t a huge rebellion, but it would send a message. She was taking charge of her life whether her family liked it or not. Wearily, moving as if she were on the way to her own execution, Brandi climbed the stairs, remodeled so that the continuous flight now consisted of three easy-to-climb levels, and headed for the bathroom. She would soak in the tub and then do her hair and get dressed.

But I’m not going to enjoy myself, not for one minute.

Hope you enjoyed this quick taste of Forever and Always.

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As an added Valentine’s day bonus, Author M.H. Newhouse presents Valentine for a Spy!

downloadHe is handsome, sexy and totally clueless, but is he a spy? A first date goes terribly awry in this humorous adventure of romance and suspicion, by multi-award winner, Mark H. Newhouse, author of The Ectos Ghost Doctor Series.

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BHDLJBW

 

 

 

Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: First Love

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and to help you celebrate, Solstice Publishing has come out with three anthologies to whet your romantic appetite.

The Solstice Publishing Valentine’s Day Extravaganza

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Solstice Publishing began 2016 by winning the 2015 Preditors & Editors Poll for Best Print/Electronic Book Publisher. Our authors are now going to show you why we’re the top in this field.

p&E win

Summer Solstice Publishing is proud to present not one but three anthologies and a short story for Valentine’s Day this year.

Check out the trailer! https://youtu.be/MfkgXNzHc-I

First Love Cover

That magic moment for a teen. The realization that the person you’ve liked is a little more than a friend. Chance meetings. Old friendships. Even a social media post. These can all lead to that first love.

colorful heartsAuthors M.A. Cortez, Gloria Weber, Vanayssa Somers, Margaret Egrot, Josie Montano, K.C. Sprayberry, Pauline Prentiss, and Mya O’Malley bring you tales of teens in the throes of their first romance.

Available from:

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BH43NXS

Here’s a wonderful Valentine’s Day Bonus for the foodie in all of us.

 

Sweets_For_My_Sweet__35595.1454598942.1280.1280

Download your free copy today: http://solsticepublishing.com/sweets-for-my-sweet/

Midweek Tease: The White Iris

MWTease15Welcome to February and this week’s edition of the Midweek Tease, courtesy of Angelica Dawson. What’s the weather like where you are? While one of the Canadian weather predicting groundhogs died a few days ago, the others have predicted an early spring. Since we really haven’t had winter yet–at least not in the way we did last year and the years before, I have a feeling these next six weeks may be interesting.

Next Monday my last book in the Harvester Series will be released.

 Book One, The White Carnation, begins the hunt for a serial killer kidnapping pregnant women, murdering them, and then vanishing with the newborn infants. But there is much more to the crime than the detectives on the case can possibly imagine.

Book Two, The White Lily, continues the hunt, but the Harvester is angry, determined to reclaim what he sees as his, not caring how many have to die for him to achieve his goal.

The White IrisIn Book Three, The White Iris,

Time’s running out for Special Agent Trevor Clark and his FBI task force. They’re no closer to uncovering the identity of the Prophet, a dangerous serial killer who has been murdering new mothers and vanishing with their infants. If Trevor can’t unlock the clues, the killer’s threats to unleash what the FBI suspects is biological warfare could mean death for all of them. His only recourse is to swallow his pride and reach out to his former fiancée, the CDC’s renowned virologist, Dr. Julie Swift.

Two years ago, Julie ended their engagement after Trevor abandoned her when she needed him most. Now, faced with the possibility of the greatest epidemic since the Spanish flu, she has to put her faith and her safety, as well as that of countless others, into the hands of a man she doesn’t trust. Can they set aside their differences to stop the Prophet, and in doing so, will they find the love they lost?

From the streets of Boston to the wilds of Alaska, this thrilling conclusion to the Harvester Series takes several turns you won’t see coming!

Sensuality Level: Sensual

http://www.amazon.com/White-Iris-Harvester-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01AOH6LCE

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01AOH6LCE

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-white-iris-susanne-matthews/1123273304?ean=9781440591259

http://www.crimsonromance.com/romantic-suspense-novels/the-white-iris/

Here’s this week’s tease.

“Ellie, I’m telling you, there are two virus samples missing,” Julie whispered into her phone. “I came down here to secure a new specimen, and they’re gone. I checked the sign-out sheet. No one’s working with them. They should be here.”

“Be reasonable, Jules, there’s absolutely no way two virus samples can walk out of the CDC, and you know it, especially since we got that terrorist alert from the FBI two weeks ago. It would be easier to carry a gold ingot out of Fort Knox. It wouldn’t be the first time someone skipped protocol because they were in a hurry. Hell, we’ve both done it. It’s probably one of your own team members. Look, I’ll be back within the hour, and Brad should be back by then, too. If you feel this strongly about it, take it to him. Someone needs their knuckles rapped. I’ll back you up.”

“But I can’t go to him,” Julie wailed. “I’m logged in here under your name.”

“My name?” Ellie yelled loudly enough that Julie pulled the phone away from her ear. “Why on earth are you logged in under my name? How is that even possible?”

“When you left my office to go to the dentist, you grabbed my badge instead of yours. They were side by side on my desk. I didn’t realize it until that Ebola specimen arrived, and I had to sign for it. I couldn’t just leave it lying around. I expected to be in and out without a problem. This is what happens when I act on impulse.”

“Breathe, Julie. Exactly what’s missing?”

“Two influenza A samples: an H1N1 derivative, not the one the team and I used for this year’s vaccine, and an H5N1. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“For Pete’s sake, settle down. The FBI directive was a heads-up, not an imminent threat warning. Brad’s been like a cat on a hot tin roof for the last couple of weeks, ever since you two met with Trevor. What the hell did he tell you?

“Nothing that has any bearing on this,” Julie said, hoping Ellie couldn’t hear the lie in her voice. “You’re right. I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“Not you. If there’s one thing you don’t do, it’s jump to conclusions, so if this scares you, I’ll tell Brad I found them missing. Take a picture, and I’ll show it to him. Good enough?”

Julie sighed. “Yes, thanks. See you in an hour or so.”

 

Please stop by and visit the rest of today’s teasers.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word STOLEN

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. This week, the word is stolen.

Continuing with Hello Again, things are about to get tricky for Charley and Shirley.

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)Moving to the bags on the floor by the door, Charley undid the straps and opened the bag. As Shirley had predicted, everything smelled skunky the way clothes did when you washed and forgot to take them out of the machine to dry them. That smell never seemed to go away, even after you rewashed the clothing—especially the towels. They were the worst.

Wrinkling her nose at the unpleasant smell, she pulled underwear, T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and jeans out of one bag. From the other she removed shoes, long sleeved sweaters, slacks and socks.

“Damn! The bag with my dress clothes is missing,” Charley said. “Even if I get the job in Saskatoon, I’ve hardly got anything decent to wear to school.”

“I don’t know where you’re going, but it won’t be to Saskatoon.”

Charley’s spirit hit rock bottom. If Shirley said she wasn’t going to get that job, she believed her.

But what am I going to do?

“Stop pouting and help me strip the beds,” Shirley said. “I told you everything will work out. Have faith.”

“Faith’s a lot easier to have when you’ve got a job, a car, and a sturdy roof over your head. At the moment, I’m oh for three.” She sighed. “Why are we stripping the beds?”

“Because it’s Wednesday. I always wash my sheets on Wednesdays,” Shirley answered matter of factly. “I see no reason not to do them today, especially since you’re here to help. With that wind, they’ll dry in no time. Besides, your clothes will stink up the place if we don’t wash them now.”

“What wind?”

The air couldn’t be more still if it tried. It was hot, heavy, and humid outside.

“You’ll see. Now, toss your clothes in that basket and follow me.

“Where?”

“Outside to do the wash,” she said. “You seem a little slow today. Maybe I should look at your head again.”

Visions of scrubbing all her garments by hand flooded Charley, but she dutifully followed the woman outside to the storage shed without another word.

My head’s just fine. She’s the one not making sense.

Guilt flooded her. Being judgmental and nosy like this wasn’t like her. Maybe she did have a concussion.

Shirley walked into the corner and turned on the light revealing what Charley considered an antique.

“We’re going to do all this laundry in that?”

That was a wringer washer, the kind she’d only seen in museums or in old television movies, like the Ma and Pa Kettle marathons she and Mike used to watch.

“I used to wash by hand, but this is much more convenient.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

“You know, there are easier ways to do this now.”

“I know, but this works well, and I have nothing else to do today but wait for the storm.”

Charley frowned. If doing laundry like this kept her mind off the coming storm then she was all for it.

Shirley pulled the machine over to the taps Charley hadn’t noticed and she hurried over to help her, surprised when the washer rolled easily into place. While the machine’s tub filled, Shirley opened a folding bench and placed two galvanized steel tubs on them.

“What do you do in the winter?” she asked.

“The same, but I usually use racks inside the house to finish the drying. Look around, Charley. This shed is used year round. It’s heated. I may talk to my ancestors, but I don’t live like them.”

“I didn’t mean to insult you,” Charley said, horrified that she might’ve done so, especially after Shirley had been so kind to her.

“I know that. You and Bill have kind hearts. That’s why the spirits chose you.”

Unable to stop herself, Charley erupted into laughter when Shirley tossed a laundry pod into the washer.

Shirley must’ve seen the irony of it because she laughed and shrugged.

“What can I say? I like the smell.”

The first thing into the washing machine were the whites, which included the sheets.

While they washed, Shirley used a hose to fill each of the tubs. Into the first, she added another modern convenience—fabric softener. In the last tub, the water stayed clear.

Four hours later, Charley stretched her stiff shoulders and back. Washing clothes, especially with a wringer washer was hard work, far more difficult than tossing the clothes in the washing machine she and Mike had owned.

While Shirley had a few personal items to wash, Bill’s uniform needed to be cleaned, as had the items she’d been able to salvage from the suitcase.

As Shirley had predicted a strong wind had come up as soon as the first load was ready to dry. Hanging the clothes had been quite a challenge, but taking down the sheets had been far more difficult. Now, the beds were remade with sheets that smelled of flowers, fresh air, and sunshine.

The washer and tubs had been emptied, thanks to a series of hoses that had led away from the shed and into the ground on the far side of the house. Shirley took down the last of the items on the line, folding them carefully and placing them in the basket. Surprisingly, the wind had stopped the moment the last load of laundry was dry.

The spirits work, no doubt.

Living at the Claymore Academy, her laundry had been done by the locals haired to look after the day-to-day needs of the staff and students. Unless you specified something was to be air dried, it all went into the massive dryers and arrived back in her room ‘fluffed and folded”, one of the perks of the job.

Something else I’m going to have to do for myself now.

Glancing up at the western sky, Charley noted the dark clouds had stolen the sun, hiding it from view. If it were possible, the air was more humid, and she noticed how much harder it seemed for Shirley to breathe.

Would Bill make it back before the storm? She hoped so.

Shirley stopped what she was doing, and stood still, almost as if she were sniffing the air the way Charley had seen prairie dogs do. Within seconds, the older woman resumed her task, moving much faster than she had.

Something’s wrong.

The sensation punched Charley in the gut.

Shirley picked up the basket of clean laundry and carried it to the house, puffing harder than she had all day.

“We’ve got unwanted company coming,” Shirley said, stepping into the house. “Bill won’t get back in time. He’s got an emergency of his own to deal with. Help me secure the house. I’ll get the outside shutters. You get the inside ones.”

Charley swallowed her fear and followed Shirley’s instructions, removing items from the sod house’s deep window ledges and closing the indoor shutters and bolting them deep into the woodwork beneath the windows. As the light from outside disappeared one window at a time, the soddy grew dark inside.

Shirley stepped inside, closed the two heavy doors, both front and back and dropped steel bars into the brackets.

“No one’s getting in here now. Come on. She lifted the rug and opened a trap door Charley hadn’t noticed.

“Grab the rifle and that ammunition. We’ll be safe down there until Bill arrives.”

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

A New Way to Get Published: Melinda De Ross and the Job Blower

booksGood morning. As they say in the real estate world, it’s a buyer’s market. Each day, hundreds of new books are published, and readers can pick and choose what they’d like to read next. With the popularity and ease of electronic readers, they don’t even have to go out to find something new to read,. It’s delivered to them electronically within seconds of pressing  “buy now” and voila! Grab your coffee and go.

Even if the reader is a “book in my hand” type of person, they can order online from a number of distributors. Easy peasy.

And the prices? Well, there are hundreds of books available free each day, others for ninety-nine cents or less.  Hard for an author to make a living off his or her writing at that price, so sales become a numbers game.

As an author in the 21st century, you know the challenges of trying to get the promotion and expossure you need to make it as a writer. There are thousands of new authors out there looking for that one book that will propel them to literary stardom–think  Harry Potter or the Fifty Shades series–authors who came out of obscurity and made millions.

Amazon is without a doubt a major force in the reader/author world, but few people realize that in addition to selling books, Amazon is a royalty-paying publisher. One of the ways you can get published by Amazon is through their new Kindle Scout Program. Click on the link to find out what you have to do to have a manuscript accepted. 

My very good friend, Melinda De Ross  has taken the plunge and submitted a book to be considered for publication by Amazon and Kindle Scout.  So Melinda, how can we help you?

Thanks, Susanne.

TJB KS teaser1I am delighted to present to you my latest novel, THE JOB BLOWER, which is currently participating in a Kindle Scout publishing campaign. If I get enough nominations, my book will be published by Kindle Press and each of the people who nominated it will receive a free copy and a formal invitation from Kindle Press to review this book.

I know how busy all of you are, but I have a huge favor to ask of you: please stop by my campaign page and take a look at my new book. If you like what you see, please help me fulfill my dream of being published by Kindle Press by clicking the NOMINATE button. This will only take a few seconds of your time, seconds which are extremely precious to me.

This is the link of my Kindle Scout page: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/X1GNP7P02G4B

I thank all of you in advance for your help and kindness!

That sounds easy enough. What can you tell us about The Job Blower?

CTHE JOB BLOWERamilla Jackson is an ordinary young woman with an extraordinary knack for attracting disaster. When she is fired from her job as a secretary at a law firm, she realizes she has no idea what she wants to do next. Every job she does land ends up tragi-comically.

But when she meets the drop-dead-gorgeous journalist, Carter Evans, her life seems to brighten. Until she discovers that he hides some very deep and painful scars.

It remains to be seen if she will be able to help him heal and, in the process, find her own path in life. That is, if she manages to overcome her accident prone nature, which gets her into serious trouble…

THE JOB BLOWER is a lighthearted, laugh-out-loud Romantic Comedy, the kind of book that you will keep in your bookshelf and reread to brighten your days and spice up your nights.

So, there it is. I read the excerpt online and loved it–laughed out loud just as she predicted. Now, it’s up to the public to provide enough nominations for the book to be published. I nominated it. I hope you will too!

 

 

 

Midweek Tease:The White Iris

MWTease15Good morning. Welcome to this week’s edition of Midweek Tease, brought to you thanks to Angelica Dawson.

Mother Nature appears top be as erratic as ever. Parts of the American East Coast got lambasted with snow last week, while we have very little here north of them in Eastern Ontario.

This week, I’d like to share an excerpt with you from the last of the Harvester Series book, up from pre-order now and available form all major ebook retailers on February 8, 2016. The story started with The White Carnation, continued with The White Lily, and ends with The White Iris.

While the books are all connected, they can be read individually, bur readinng from the first book to the last is best.

The Harvester Series begins with Book One, The White Carnation, and the search for a serial killer, kidnapping and murdering new mothers and vanishing with their infants. It’s also a second chance at love story for Rob and Faye, as old wounds are mended in their search for the truth. What they find has consequences of its own. Discovering there is a mole in the investigation leads them closer, but it’s far from what they expected. In Book Two, The White Lily,  you’ll meet two new members for the investigative team. Lilith has her own reasons for wanting to stay out of it, but when children go missing, their caregivers brutally murdered, she plunges into the case, doing her best to deal with demons of her own. She’s joined by Jacob, a former cult member with an axe to grind of his own. The puzzle pieces grow in number as the Prophet, the unknown entity controlling everything through his harvesters, sets down ultimatums.  Jacob and Lilith are drawn to one another, sharing more than the other team members can imagine. Clues pile up, and after Lilith’s worst nightmare occurs, another part of the Prophet’s organization comes tumbling down, but the man himself eludes them once more. In Book Three, The White Iris, time’s running out for team leader Trevor Clark. If the prophet success in his plans, millions could die. He has to be stopped and the team needs a new member to help do that. Enter Dr. Julie Swift, a virologist with the knowledge he needsto stop this maniac once and for all.

The White IrisAbout the Book:

Time’s running out for Special Agent Trevor Clark and his FBI task force. They’re no closer to uncovering the identity of the Prophet, a dangerous serial killer who has been murdering new mothers and vanishing with their infants. If Trevor can’t unlock the clues, the killer’s threats to unleash what the FBI suspects is biological warfare could mean death for all of them. His only recourse is to swallow his pride and reach out to his former fiancée, the CDC’s renowned virologist, Dr. Julie Swift.

Two years ago, Julie ended their engagement after Trevor abandoned her when she needed him most. Now, faced with the possibility of the greatest epidemic since the Spanish flu, she has to put her faith and her safety, as well as that of countless others, into the hands of a man she doesn’t trust. Can they set aside their differences to stop the Prophet, and in doing so, will they find the love they lost?

From the streets of Boston to the wilds of Alaska, this thrilling conclusion to the Harvester Series takes several turns you won’t see coming!

This Week’s Tease:

Stretching her neck and rolling her shoulders, Dr. E.J. Swift, Julie to friends and family, eased her stiff muscles. As a virologist, she studied pathogens that invaded the body, altering cells, sometimes for only a few days, but at others for a lifetime. Curing a viral disease was good; eliminating and preventing it, even better.

Leaning back in her office chair, she released the clip that held up her long, auburn hair and ran her hands through the messy, tumbling curls, rubbing the sore spot at the back of her head.

I should get it all cut off. It spends more time yanked up and tied than down.

Reaching for the mouse, she scrolled to the top of the document she’d just finished, and sighed. This brief had taken forever to complete—not that it was complicated, but she felt unsettled today, the way she had when she’d suffered a case of the heebie-jeebies prior to those vicious Colorado snowstorms of her youth.

As if there’s a storm anywhere near here.

The last thing she should be doing this gorgeous late July afternoon was sitting in an office, writing an information brief on the effectiveness of last year’s flu vaccine, but her cousin Ellie was up to her elbows in virulent mosquitoes and the prospect of an afternoon at the pool alone, waiting for Ellie to finish for the day, didn’t appeal. Julie had gone up there on Wednesday night, and the newest creep in 3B had hit on her endlessly. That apartment belonged to some export company, and the tenants changed regularly—all of them the same basic version of jerk. When she’d finally told him she wasn’t interested, the muscle-bound asshole had made a nasty comment before moving on to the new woman in 4C.

And she’s welcome to him.

It wasn’t that Bozo-Bob wasn’t attractive. Julie simply wasn’t interested. He reminded her too much of Trevor, her ex-fiancé, who’d trampled her heart to bits.

Face it, girl. Everyone reminds you of Trevor.

In the two years since their breakup, they hadn’t spoken, not even after she’d returned the sapphire engagement ring he’d given her and asked him to contact her so they could discuss what had gone wrong between them. She knew he’d received the ring and the message because he’d signed for the package, but he hadn’t called.

Trevor knew she needed to compartmentalize—talk things to death, as he put it—but that was just the way she was. If a new recipe for lasagna required a three-paragraph analysis and review, why wouldn’t a failed relationship? You needed to know what went wrong to avoid making the same mistake. Every good researcher knew that.

Hell, she couldn’t even bring herself to cut her damn hair without making a pros and cons list, shifting points from one side to the other, and evaluating everything in the light of her hypothesis. Everything was about process. If you did things in the proper order, you succeeded—if you didn’t, you failed.

Try as she might, she couldn’t close that chapter of her life, which was ridiculous because Trevor certainly had.

She wasn’t ready to move on—not from Ellie, not from this job in Atlanta, nor unfortunately from Trevor. Their relationship was unfinished, like her wedding gown, still hanging in her closet, the seams only basted, the hem undone. Why had she hung on to it?

God almighty. She hadn’t asked him to betray his country; all she’d wanted was the truth. She’d needed him, more than she’d ever needed anyone, and he’d let her down.

What the hell’s wrong with me today?

Please take time to vist the rest of today’s teasers.

 

Tuesday Tales: From the Word: WOOD

Badge for TT - very small (1)Winter is definitely upon us. Temperatures have dropped, and while there isn’t much snow where I am, some of you have had quite a bit dumped on you recently. Stay warm, and stay healthy. Shovelling snow can be dangerous and frost bite can have long-lasting painful consequences.

Welcome to this week’s posting of Tuesday Tales.  Today we continue with Hello Again, my paranormal suspense romance.

Without further ado,

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)Bill followed the path of destruction carved through the wheat, flax, corn, and oat fields, astonished by the destructive power of these tornadoes. He’d seen the aftermath of bad storms in the past, but never anything like this. Not even the last tornado magnet, mobile home parks that seemed to attract nature’s beasts and almost always meant at least one dead, had yielded this level of ruin. Barns and houses were reduced to matchsticks, pieces of wood so small it was hard to believe they’d been planks and 2X4’s, cars, tractors, and even 3500 pound combines tossed around and left on their tops or sides like abandoned toys, and whatever trees had been planted were now uprooted or missing, the gaping hole in what remained of the lawn the sole witness to their existence. At each demolished homestead he passed, he got down off the horse and looked around, calling out for survivors, but the only sounds that greeted him were the incessant buzz of blow flies or the call of carrion birds scavenging the bloated bodies of cattle and horses as well as other animals who’d been unable to escape the raging monsters.

He paused beside the carcass of a dog, but what was left of the family pet likely didn’t have an unbroken bone in its body. Thoughts that this could’ve happened to Charley made his stomach roil, and he vomited beside the animal, feeling more wretched by the moment. So far, he hadn’t seen any human bodies, but with this amount of destruction it was impossible to believe the people who’d lived here had escaped unharmed. He prayed they’d been elsewhere when the storm hit.

Here and there, he saw the remnants of the lives of those the tornado had visited, a broken doll, a bicycle wrapped around what was left of a fence post, a child’s mangled wagon. What was even more disturbing were the things left behind unscathed. Mere steps from a ruined field, the oil donkey nodded as if nothing untoward had happened. Next to a destroyed house was an umbrella type clothes line, the sheets, no longer a pristine white, flapping in the breeze. A stand of sunflowers stood sentinel-like along a fence while everything around them was uprooted and dead.

As Bill continued toward Sintaluta, he began to see people cleaning up the yards where the buildings had been spared. He stopped at one house where the only evidence of the storm were broken branches and leaves littering the front yard. A young boy who couldn’t be more than five ran toward the horse.

“Keegan, get back here,” a woman called from the edge of the veranda. “What did I tell you about strangers?”

“It’s okay, ma’am,” Bill said, dismounting and pulling out his identification. He’d thought of putting on his uniform, but not only was the shirt a little ripe, it was filthy. Shirley had offered to wash it for him this morning. “I was at Shirley Smoke’s house when the twister hit. Was anyone injured here?”

“Mavis Rousseau, Sergeant,” she said wiping her hands on her apron and examining the badge and ID Bill held in his left hand. “We got lucky. My mother called and told us it was on its way, so we headed for the storm cellar. If you’ve come from Shirley’s, you’ve seen some of the damage, especially John Francais’s farm. His would’ve been the last one you passed.”

“Yes. Not much left, that’s for sure. There’s a big, black dog in the yard.”

“Not theirs. Not ours.” She indicated the collie standing inside the screen door. “They’ve got a golden lab, but he’s with them. They went down to Standing Rock in South Dakota for his wife’s mother’s birthday. As soon as the lines are up or the cell signal comes back, we’ll call. Hell of a thing to come home to.”

Bill sent up a silent prayer that they’d be able to pick up the pieces and start again. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development would help, but it would take time to build a house and barn and restock the animals, although depending on where they were when the twisters hit, much of the man’s herd might’ve been spared.

“That’s good news. I’m on my way into Sintaluta. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Yes, if you could let my parents know we’re okay, I’d be much obliged. Luke and Marie Clovier. Emile will know where to find them. My husband, Sam’s out trying to round up the animals, see how much of our crops we’ve lost. He says things look better east of here, but no telling where those other twisters landed.” She pointed to the western sky. “Looks like we’ve got more bad weather on the way.”

“Yeah. Shirley told me to be back by late afternoon.”

Mavis laughed. “Good to know. If Shirley’s giving you that time frame, then that means I’ve got plenty of time to get food and water ready and restock the storm cellar. Come on, Keegan. We’ve got work to do.” She reached for her son’s hand and pulled him toward the house.

Bill mounted the horse.

“Be careful, Sergeant,” she called. “There may be a few bulls on the loose, and they’re likely to be madder than hell, especially if they were breeding. Sam says he saw motorcycle tracks in the dirt. Don’t know anyone nearby who rides a bike, either. Heard some boys gave Shirley a rough time. Hope to hell it’s not them. We’re going to have enough trouble without a gang of bikers hassling us.”

Bill frowned. “I’ll keep my eyes open.”

She crossed the rest of the yard, almost dragging the boy who still stared at the horse.

Bill glanced down at his watch and noted it was after ten. He had at least another hour to Sintaluta. According to Shirley, Emile would expect him by noon. Must be nice to have two-way spirit communication like that. Hopefully Mavis was right and there were no ugly surprises between here and the council building. If those tire tracks belonged to the Madre Diablo gang, angry bulls could easily be the least of his problems. He needed to get back to the farm sooner rather than later.

Staring west, Bill watched the dark clouds on the horizon, torn between his duty as an RCMP officer and his gut feeling as a man. He wanted to go back to Charley right now, but he needed to do what he could to check in and make sure everything and everyone was safe. Duty won. Reluctantly turning east, he urged the horse to a slow gallop.

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

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