Look Who Dropped By Today: Elle Marlow

Nothing makes me happier than sharing my blog with established writers who produce quality books for your enjoyment. Such a writer is Elle Marlow, here today to introduce her new Christian Inspirational Action Adventure Romance, The Black Raven, White Dove.

The Blurb: 

Known as the Ice Pirate, Stefan Ice captains the Raven. A wicked ship filled with treasures and haunting secrets. What’s missing from the Raven’s coffers is revenge, what’s missing from Stefan’s life is love.

Bianca is the jewel in her father’s crown. When she is captured and bound on the Raven, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a feud between her father and the dark pirate. With every rock The Black Raven, White Doveof the ship, Stefan steals her heart and unravels their tangled and tragic past.

Bianca will need to rely on her faith and her heart to find God’s purpose for her life. Is with the legendary pirate?

Elle speaks candidly about the book.

The idea for Black Raven, White Dove was introduced to me by Captain Ice. His image came to mind, and even though he showed himself as a pirate, I could only see the goodness within.  A good man living a hard life deserves a love so powerful and pure, that the only woman for him would have to be a lovely girl he met as a child.  Bianca Paloma, aka, White Dove is only fragile on the outside.  Inside, she is a strong, capable woman who finds her greatest strength through her faith.  They make an unlikely pair as they navigate the Atlantic on the ship that is home to a slew of old sea dogs.  This book has some humor, some sadness, but it is really about finding one’s own worthiness and having a little faith that you are where you need to be.

This is my first Inspy romance.  I fell in love with the genre.  There will be more. Perhaps another pirate tale aboard the Raven?  We’ll see.

Get your copy today. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FGEJFJQ

I’m looking forward to reading mine!

Where to find Elle Marlow’s titles:

Visit her Amazon author page


Her Blog:


or find her on Twitter: ElleMarlowwrites/twitter

or Facebook: ElleMarlow5/Facebook

Take it from me, any Elle Marlow book is well worth the money!



Free Book May 17, 2016 The Price of Honor

quill Today, May 17, 2016, my historical romance, The Price of Honor, is free. To many, giving away books seems like a silly thing for a new author like myself to do, but it’s my way of thanking those of you who follow my blog for your support.

When I wrote this novel, I saw it as a way of introducing people to Canada’s history. I also thought it was a good way to remember my ancestors who came from France and chose to remain here in New France during volitile and dangerous times.

The ancestor in the story isn’t the heroine with royal blood in her veins. Rather he’s a composite of all the soldiers who served in the Carrignan Saliere regiment, and who opted to accept a land grant and remain in the colony. It’s meant as a tribute to the Filles Du Roi who chose to come to this new and fierce land to face hardships and found a colony that has persevered and endured for more than 400 years.

With the exception of the characters and the drama immediately surrounding them, the book is based on hi8storical data. Yes, there were many in France who wanted to colonny to fail so that they could have wider and less stringent hunting grounds. Conditions aboard Izzy’s ship were far better than they would’ve been, but every author takes some license.

I hope you’ll enjoy the story.

Susanne Ebook coverHere is a snippet from the first few pages to whet your interest:

Caen, France, April 15, 1668


Treason, murder, destitution! What more could fate possibly throw at her? Isabelle Gaudier, her ashen face a stark contrast to the unrelenting black she wore, stood stoically beside the family crypt as the door was resealed. The church and its cemetery were housed within the castle walls, mere steps from the governor’s lodge where she’d been raised.

Three months ago, Papa had stood with her less than ten paces from this very spot. He’d been healthy and strong, a man in his prime, fuelled by the fire of injustice, and yet in a short while, he’d wasted away. It didn’t make sense, but so little did these days. Perhaps if she hadn’t hidden herself away in shame and confusion in l’Abbaye Aux Dames, the convent on the other side of the town, she might have realized how sick he’d been.

She stepped to the right and stopped in front of the simple wooden cross marking Pierre’s grave—darling Pierre, her beloved husband. She traced his name gently with her trembling fingertips. They’d had so little time together. He’d been away so long and then, newly returned to France, he’d been accused of treason, disowned by his family, and murdered. Pierre wouldn’t have betrayed the king. She’d discover the truth, clear his name, and restore his honor. After uttering a prayer for his immortal soul and renewing her vow to see justice done, Isabelle turned to follow the mourners to the castle no longer her home.

How did this happen?

By the laws of aînesse intégrale, the rules specifying inheritance regardless of gender, as her father’s only surviving child, Caen should have been hers. Somehow Henriette had used her prenuptial agreement, which included an altered préciput, the legal clause governing a woman’s rights within the marriage, to change all that. She’d secured the estate for herself, and because Isabelle wouldn’t be twenty-five until August, she was now her guardian as well as the king. Why did Papa ever agreed to such a clause?

The bone-chilling spring rain fell relentlessly as if nature wept with her. Penniless, no husband, no home, no future. What’s going to happen to me?

Isabelle neared the house and saw the Chevalier d’Angrignon sending his coach to the stables and walking towards the front entrance where her step-mother stood waiting for him. She slowed her steps. Her nose crinkled with distaste. The king’s knights were supposed to be men of honor. She doubted this man knew what honor meant. He and Henriette had been in earnest discussion since his arrival shortly before the funeral service. He’d escorted a tall woman, heavily veiled, into the church, but she’d vanished. From the look on her step-mother’s face, the comtesse hadn’t expected him today.

Some guests had chosen to leave immediately after the service. No doubt, the woman had gotten in with someone else. Sophie had attended the funeral with the lodge servants as the comtesse had instructed. She wished her cousin were here with her now. It was unlikely she’d be able to avoid the two people she despised. She glared at the chevalier laughing at something Henriette had said.

Why is he here? It isn’t as if he and Papa were friends. Years ago, the chevalier had come to the château on behalf of the king to discuss the French West India Company, the trading consortium controlling all legal trade with the French colonies including the fur trade with New France. The company set prices and collected the king’s taxes while making a hefty profit for themselves. It had been a good investment for both, but, lately, there were rumors the company wasn’t doing well.

At the king’s request, her father had joined the company despite his feelings for the upstart d’Angrignon as he called him. The chevalier had visited the château from time to time, and notwithstanding their lack of friendship, the relationship had been amicable until he’d asked for Isabelle’s hand in marriage. Papa had used the excuse she was too young at the time, barely sixteen, but from that moment, the relationship between the men had been strained. The chevalier’s second wife had died in childbirth last year.

Many members of the court had come from Versailles to honor her father’s passing, including Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the king’s minister of finance. The funeral had all the makings of a weekend fête. Thank God the king had a cold and had chosen not to attend. Could the veiled woman have been the queen? Neither she nor Sophie had been required to put in an appearance at last night’s reception, a small concession from her step-mother who’d chosen to play her role of grieving widow. The loud laughter, so out of keeping with the sad occasion, had carried up to the family apartments.

Papa, darling Papa, did you know it would be like this? Why didn’t you send for me? I’d have come home. You didn’t give me the chance to say goodbye. Tears brimmed her eyes.

Download your free copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Price-Honor-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B00PWUB52A

Tuesday Tales:From the Word Save

Badge for TT - very small (1)Hello and welcome back to Tuesday Tales. Each week, a group of talented authors share a scene from their current work with you. I’m working on a contemporary romance called Wedding Bell Blues. This week’s word is SAVE:

MJ frowned, crossed to the phone, reached for the handset, and watched Paul step out onto the deck to give her some privacy.


“Madame Summers, I have an international call for you,” the operator said. “One moment.”

telephoneAn international call? God, it has to be Carla. What the hell am I going to tell her?

“MJ?” Carla’s worried voice came over the line.

“Yeah, it’s me? What’s up?”

“What’s up?” she screeched loudly, forcing MJ to pull the phone away from her ear. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” Carla continued, her indignation clear in her voice. “I’ve been worried sick.”

“Everything is fine, Carla,” she lied. “They have clocks here. It’s almost two. What’s the problem?”

“The problem? You’re on a tropical island alone and you ask me what the problem is? I’ll tell you what the problem is—you didn’t call. You promised you’d call the moment you checked in, and that would’ve been almost two hours ago according to the itinerary you gave me. I’ve been worried sick.”


She should never have given her that schedule. Only Carla would hold her to the exact time listed.

“You could’ve saved yourself some money. I didn’t call because I haven’t checked in,” she answered, trying to keep her voice light.

“Why not?”

“The rooms aren’t available until after four,” she fibbed, hoping Carla wouldn’t call her on it.

“So where are you? Why did it take so long for them to find you?”

“It’s a big resort. I’m just having a drink with a friend.”

“Male or female,” Carla asked, some of the irritation gone from her voice.

“Not that it matters, but male.”

“Get out of here. Are you telling me there are single men there?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” It wasn’t a lie. There was one.

“Is he there with you?”

“He is.” Well, he was sort of. “This place is absolutely gorgeous, everything I expected and so much more.” That was an understatement. “You should see the flowers. I’ve never seen dark pink orchids like the one on this table.” The flower, freshly cut and placed in a crystal vase looked like velvet—almost too beautiful to be real. “Listen, this is costing you a fortune. As soon as I get settled, I’ll message you on my tablet—”

“Not so fast. I’m paying for it so give me a few deets. Just answer yes or no. Is he good looking?”


“Is he rich?”

MJ looked around the room, knowing it would’ve cost more than the mid-range package she’d chosen, and he’d just bought a house. “Possibly.”

“What kind of answer is that? Never mind. And you’re sure he’s alone.”

“Oh, yes. He told me so. He bought the vacation from a friend, not realizing what kind of place it was.”

Carla laughed. “Then you must be manna from heaven, but girl, you’ve got a big problem.”

MJ dropped onto the bed. There was no way Carla could know about the reservation, so what else had gone wrong?

“What do you mean? Everything seems fine.” Another lie, but what choice did she have?

“You’ve got company coming.”

MJ’s blood ran cold. Had Mark and Melena announced they were coming here, too?

“Who?” she asked, grateful her voice sounded almost normal.

Lacorneille“I was watching Louis James Live this morning, and he had Antoine Leroux, the salvage diver, on his show.”

MJ bit her lip. Leroux? The name sounded familiar. “How does that affect me?”

“Your mom watches that show, doesn’t she?”

“Never misses an episode.”

“Well, the man’s on his way to Martinique to look for Lacorneille’s ship. He should arrive tomorrow. Louis James is going to air daily segments on the treasure hunt. According to Leroux, he’ll be spending time at that resort on Paradise Island. You’re screwed girl.”

The wheels in MJ’s head started turning. The last thing she needed was to end up in a background shot, because no matter how brief a glimpse it would be, Mama would recognize her, and so would Mark and Melena.

“I’ll have to make sure to stay out of their way. Thanks for the head’s up.”

pirateNow she realized why the pirate on the poster had looked familiar. He was Louis James, one of New York’s most popular morning show hosts. The poster must have advertised the televised treasure hunt.

Wonderful. Just frigging wonderful. But I’ll be fine. I’ll be gone before they get here.

And she would be. She just needed to convince Paul that she’d be safe on Martinique.

“I’ve got to go,” Carla said. “We’re going to Joel’s parents’ house for a barbecue. I’ll check the computer for your message later. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Believe me,” MJ said. “He’s a nice guy, but that’s not in the cards.”

“Too bad.”

MJ hung up the phone and drained the last of the rum in her glass. What else could go wrong?

That’s it. I’m off for some family vacation time and I’ll be back June 14. Until then, don’t forget to check out the other  Tuesday Tales

A to Z Challenge 2016: Reflecting on the Experience

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]Well, it’s been two weeks since the A to Z Challenge for 2016 ended, and I can honestly say this year was my best year ever. I admire the time and the commitment it must take to organize an event of this size, and I want to thank all of the organizers who did such an excellent job.

I learned a few tricks this year that made blogging easier. When I knew I had a conflict coming up, I blogged at night, setting the blog up for the next day. This prevented my “Oh damn, I didn’t blog today,” moments.

I also opted not to have a set theme, which allowed me to let the random thoughts that live in my head release at will. I did some shameless self-promotion, but I also promoted other writers. I wrote some deeply personal blogs as well as some general interest ones. All in all, my 26 entries were a good eclectic mix of who I am.

I followed some other bloggers and enjoyed their interesting and varied blogs. I actually managed to visit over 300 blogs–roughly ten per day–and found the visits motivating. During the time of the challenge I was also in an Amazon Kindle Scout campaign and got a few bloggers to support my book, which I really appreciated.

Thank you to  all who dropped by my blog, left a “like” or a comment, and of course those who’ve chosen to continue to follow me. Now, it’s back to work and let’s get ready for next year!

Here’s to the A to Z Chjallenge 2017. Please visit other reflections. http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2016/05/2016-to-z-challenge-reflections.html

No Kindle Scout Program, but Hello Again is Live!

SpringGood morning! It’s finally spring. The sun is shining, the temperature is well above 32 F,  the buds on the trees are becoming baby leaves or flowers, and my tulips and hyacinths are in bloom. Hooray! Of course, dandelion fluff and all matter of allergens fill the air, but my allergy medicine is working, so we won’t go there today!

Spring is a time for new beginnings. Baby birds stretch their tender wings and learn to fly, and that first step out of the nest–pushed otr not–has to be the greatest risk of all. I thought I’d take a risk like that with my latest book, Hello Again, by enrolling it in a Kindle Scout Campaign. I had nothing to lose and, beyond the cost involved in self-publishing any book, the money involved was minimal. What I wasn’t prepared for was the nerve racking, nail biting  need to promote, promote, promote. I have to thank fellow Scouter and author, Vincent Morrone who made me banners to help promote the book, which was basically in competition with his. Sadly, neither of our books were selected for the Kindle Scout program, but I’m thrilled with how well Hello Again  performed. Since I have a reasonably low social media presence, the fact that more than 730 people visited the campaign page thrills me. Thank you so very much for doing so.

dandelionIn some ways, there are times when I feel like the dandelion. Now, if you aren’t a lawn fanatic, don’t live where the plant grows in profusion, and are not a spring allergy sufferer, you see this as a beautiful wildflower rather than a weed. Dandelion greens are edible, and the rest of the plant–roots and all–are used for a variety of things ranging from natural medicine to wine. In some ways, I feel my Kindle Scout Campaignmade me a little bit like that dandelion.  LIke a weed, I was all over what little social media I maintain, begging, cajoling, enticing people to visit the site and nominate the book. To be fair, I did suggest they read the excerpt … but there was a good, helpful side to all of this. I’ve realized how tiny my social footprint is and will have to do something about that. I made new friends and entertained people I hadn’t met before through the A to Z Challenge in April. All in all, I discovered that some marketing strategies work better than others. Will I attempt another Kindle Scout campaign? I honestly don’t know. I have quite a few book ideas percolating in my ind. Being able to find “the” one is much harder than anyone thinks! I need to grow a tougher skin when it comes to pushing my work–that I understand–and I may have to spend more money on paid promotion. We’ll just have to see. For now, I will nurse and nurture my new book baby and hope for good sales.

HelloAgain-ebookSince I’d made contingency plans for Hello Again, once I got the notification that I hadn’t made the cut, I uploaded the book to Amazon. For the next ninety days at least, it will be available to read freely under the Kindle Unlimited program or to purchase where that option isn’t available. I’ll put out a paperback version of it before the end of the summer.

I suppose I could’ve sent the book to one of my regular publishers, but that would mean losing the cover which I absolutely love. As well, it would’ve delayed its release indefinitely. It might also mean revisions, rewrites, and plot changes to a story I adore just as it is. Maybe that’s wrong thinking, since editors and publishers are supposed to know more about what works than authors, but at some point an author has to stick up for his/her work, and this is it for me.

In the words of Billy Joel:

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for
Turn out the light
Don’t try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

Hello Again Cover Blurb:

For Charley Winters love means loss and pain. She’s spent the last five years struggling with her grief. Existing, not living. Drawn to Saskatchewan, she travels west take the job she’s always wanted. But life gets complicated when she’s rescued from a vicious tornado by her dead husband’s double, a man who makes her feel things she hasn’t in years. Add to that a native myth, a shaman, a green-eyed wolf, and her husband’s ghost … Can she lift a millennia old curse and find joy and love again?

You can pick up your copy from any Amazon retailer world-wide. I hope some of those 730 people will.

Again, a super huge hug to everyone. Thanks for believing in me.



Midweek Tease: Hello Again

MWTease15Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of the Midweek Tease brought to you by Angelica Dawson. Enjoy snippets from a variety of romance genres presented by talented authors. Since I’m on vacation for the next few weeks, I won’t be posting again until mid-June. By then, I hope summer arrives.

Today, I bring you a snippet from Hello Again, a paranormal, suspense romance, based loosely on a Sioux myth.Some of you may recognize the story from its recent Kindle Scout campaign. Unfortunately, it was not selected for a contract. The book is now published and available from Amazon in ebook format. The paperback will be out later this summer. This week, you get to meet the hero.

HelloAgain-ebookThe Blurb:

For Charley Winters love means loss and pain. She’s spent the last five years struggling with her grief. Existing, not living. Drawn to Saskatchewan, she travels west take the job she’s always wanted. But life gets complicated when she’s rescued from a vicious tornado by her dead husband’s double, a man who makes her feel things she hasn’t in years. Add to that a native myth, a shaman, a green-eyed wolf, and her husband’s ghost … Can she lift a millennia old curse and find joy and love again?

Your Tease:

“Murdock, I thought you were on vacation?” Greer, the dispatcher who usually covered his shift, asked.

“I was. I am. I should’ve gone north yesterday, but the guy I was supposed to go with couldn’t get the time off after all. So, since it’s just me … It’s hotter than Hades out there this morning, and it’s not even seven. I was going to go fishing, but even my tough old hide would burn to a crisp in this. Without air conditioning, I’d rather be here.”

“Tough old hide, my ass. You’ve got the sun-bronzed skin of a native god and the abs to match,” she said and chuckled. “Although why you do considering the sweet tooth you’ve developed this past year, is a mystery. But as far as the AC goes, don’t get too excited. There’s a big storm coming in, and we’ve had brown outs twice since I came on at seven last night. We had to turn down the AC so the lights would be bright enough to see. I hate that reduced power even more than a black out—at least then the emergency generator kicks in. I changed shifts with Kellerman, so I’m out of here in an hour. I’m heading to the cottage for the next ten days, where I intend to immerse myself in Lost Mountain Lake as long as I can. You’re welcome to join me.” She batted her eyes at him.

“Yeah, I’m sure that partner of yours would like that.”

“Well, if you change your mind … Lucy and I have a cord of wood that needs to be split and stacked.” She batted her eyes suggestively.

Bill laughed. “Ah ha! The truth comes out. You just want me for my muscles.”

“And they’re damn fine ones. A woman can appreciate roses even if she prefers lilacs.”

He shook his head. “I don’t think I’ve ever been called a rose before. It’s a little hot for that kind of work right now, but once the weather breaks, I’ll take a ride up there and do it for you. Might pitch a tent and do some fishing if that’s okay.”

“And I’ll fry that fish up for you just the way you like it. I’ll get Lucy to bake you a chocolate cake and throw in a case of beer if you’re going to stay.”

“Sounds like a plan. The way to this man’s muscles is definitely through his stomach. I’ll be in touch.”

He waved and headed down the hall.

Kathy Greer was at least twenty years older than he was and as committed to her life partner as he’d ever seen anyone. Lucy had suffered a stroke last winter, but was on the mend. Love was love regardless of gender. It pissed him off when people belittled it. He’d give anything to find the forever kind of love they had, but so far, it wasn’t in the cards for him.

He’d dated, had done the horizontal mambo with some delectable ladies, but he’d yet to find a woman who shared his interests, wouldn’t resent the demands of his job, and could look beyond his hazy background. He’d tried dating another officer, but between shift work and distance, since they couldn’t be in the same detachment, it had been more work than pleasure.

When it came right down to it, women wanted to know everything about their chosen mates, and most women would find it hard to accept the reality of a man who had no idea who his parents were or where he’d come from, let alone one whose job took as much time and involved the level of risk his did, as the scars on his chest and back pointed out.

The most excitement his libido had had in years had been the drug induced hallucinations of the gorgeous brunette he’d seen while he’d been in that coma last August. She might not have been real, but it had certainly felt that way. His body reacted to the memory. The imaginary sex had been out of this world, but it had been more than that—they’d shared a connection of some sort. It was as if he were reliving past life experiences, and since he didn’t buy that mumbo-jumbo…

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed meeting Hello Again’s hero. If you’re interested in the “rest of the story” as they say, get your copy from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Again-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01FGN88I6

Now, please take time to visit the rest of the week’s teasers.


Tuesday Tales, From a Word: HUG

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. This week, we are working on scenes using the word HUG as our prompt.

I’m continuing with my contemporary romance, Wedding Bell Blues. 

MJ’s gaze followed Paul as he moved around the bed to the top right side of the room where the eating area was located. There was a built-in wet bar, a small fridge, as well as a table and two chairs. On the counter sat a top-end, single brew, coffee maker. Crossing the floor, she stepped down into the sitting area, with its luxurious sofa and two matching overstuffed chairs, and gasped. What she’d thought a rug from the doorway was a thick Plexiglas floor. She looked down at a small reef around which flitted colorful fish.

tropical fish“Wow. This is fantastic.”

“Yeah, you should see it at night. It’s backlit. I must have spent an hour last night watching the fish play around the reef. I tried to figure out how many different species there were, but since I couldn’t identify them … I bought a book in the gift shop this morning. It’s on the table, next to that pamphlet about Captain Lacorneille and his treasure.”

She reached for the glass Paul handed her.

“My bed, I assume?” she asked, indicating the sofa.

“Yeah. I think it opens up to a bed, but I’m not sure. If it doesn’t, I’ll take the sofa, and you can have the bed.”

“Don’t be silly. It’s your room—your bed. Besides, you’re way too tall for it.” She lifted the cushion to see if it was a sofa bed—it wasn’t. Why would there be another bed in a room like this anyway?

“If you’re sure, but I don’t mind sleeping on the couch. Have you had time to call your husband? I’ll gladly talk to him and swear to behave myself. After all; we’re practically family.”

MJ scrambled for something to say, but her mind was blank.

Practically family? That’s a low blow.

Paul frowned. “MJ, where’s your husband?”

MJ looked at the glass floor once more wishing it would split open and swallow her.

“I don’t have one,” she said softly, knowing she had no option here but to tell the truth. “He cheated on me with another woman, and I cancelled the wedding. This should’ve been my honeymoon, my perfect vacation.” She burst into tears. “I’m such a fool.”

* *

Paul gaped at the woman weeping in front of him. What was it about women’s tears that made a man feel so useless?

“Aww, kid, the last thing I wanted to do was make you cry. I’m sorry,” he stammered, reaching for the glass she was holding. He set it and his beer on the table and pulled her into his arms. Of all the things he’d expected her to say, that was definitely not on the list.

“I’m so sorry, MJ. That sucks.”

He held her in his arms and let her cry. It wasn’t the first time he’d tried to console her. He’d done this once before, almost eighteen years ago, when tragedy had struck the Summers’s house for the first time, and the family dog had died. She’d been heart-broken and nothing had made her feel better. He’d held her, hugged her to him for what had seemed like ages, knowing what it was like to hurt like that. At fifteen, he’d had almost all his hopes and dreams broken, along with a few bones, by someone he’d loved. Eventually he’d given her a stuffed dog that had made her smile again. Somehow, he didn’t think a stuffy with a cheap cut-glass collar would help this time.

He held her close now, murmuring what he hoped were soothing words and praying he wasn’t making things worse. He rubbed small circles on her back. He was amazed at the way her body fit against his, almost exactly the way it had back then, as if their bodies had grown in proportion to one another, staying the same as they had that fateful day.

A good twenty minutes later, he noted her crying had eased, and she was sup-supping now. The worst of the tears might be over, but he didn’t think that was the last of them. He knew he should let go of her, but she felt good in his arms and didn’t seem in a hurry to move out of them. She brought out the white knight in him, she always had, and whereas he’d hidden those feelings years ago, he sensed she needed to know she mattered to someone now. He’d do whatever it took to save her from any more misery.

A few minutes later, she pushed herself away, picked up her glass, and took a mouthful. She looked back at him and even after her crying jag, she was still stunning.

“Sorry about the waterworks. I don’t usually cry. As Ron likes to say, I’m too cold-hearted for that, but I think coming here and ending up in this mess was the last straw. I wet your shirt.”

shirt“Don’t worry about it.” He pulled off the damp shirt and tossed it onto the chair. “I’ve got others. Want to tell me about it?”

She sniffled. “Not really. I wasn’t even going to tell you that, but I couldn’t think of a convincing lie. God, I’m such an idiot. Carla was right. My Irish-Greek temper will be the death of me. Look at the mess I’m in.”

“It can’t be that bad. This is a nice place.”

“Yeah, but it’s your place. At least you’ll only be stuck with me for the night. I’ll go with you in the morning and make my way back to the airport. That way I can get the next available seat back home.”

He frowned. “Why don’t you tell me what happened and maybe we can find a better solution. I don’t like the idea of leaving you alone on Martinique without a room or a plane ticket.”

“You sound like Carla. She was dead set against my coming here. I should’ve listened to her.”

“I can’t imagine your mother was too happy about it either.”

MJ’s cheeks reddened, and she looked guilty as hell. She couldn’t possibly have done what he suspected she had. No way would she be stupid enough to pull a stunt like that.

“You didn’t tell her you were coming here, did you? My God, MJ what were you thinking?”

“I’m a thirty-one-year-old woman. I don’t need my mother’s permission or anyone else’s to go on a vacation. I was thinking I’d relax and enjoy myself. Mama thinks I’m in Watertown.”

He stared at her. “Are you telling me no one knows you’re here?”

“Carla does,” she said, a hint of defiance in her voice. “But I swore her to secrecy.”

“Of all the bone-headed things to do. If your mother doesn’t hear from you for ten days, she’ll be worried sick. Didn’t you think of that?” He didn’t know why he was so angry, but he was.

“I’m not heartless,” she said defensively. “Of course I was going to call her. I just wasn’t going to tell her where I was.”

“Why the hell not?”

Her eyes brimmed with tears again, but he wouldn’t let her off the hook that easily.

“You know my mother, how protective she’s always been. Do you think she’d have let me come? I may be an adult but sometimes she still treats me like a child.”

“When you pull something like this, she has every right to.” He wanted to shake her. What she’d done could’ve been dangerous. He knew women traveled alone, but after what he’d seen in the past twelve years and what he’d learned as a police officer, scenarios of the kind of things that could’ve happened rushed through his mind.

She glared at him. “I should’ve moved out years ago, but after Papa died, she was so lost, and then Ron got married … If I’d told her what I planned to do, she’d have had my Uncle Nick lock me in the basement and called the priest over to pray for my soul.”

“Considering how things have turned out that might not have been such a bad idea.”

She looked as if he’d struck her.

“I’m sorry I bothered you,” she said coldly. “Maybe sleeping out in the lounge isn’t such a bad idea. I’ll get my things and get out of your way.”

He ran his empty hand through his short hair. “Stop. I’m sorry, MJ. I don’t even know why I’m so angry. I’m sure you had your reasons for doing what you did, but you’re in a hell of a mess now.”

“And you don’t think I know that?” she answered bitterly. “You may think you’re my big brother and can fix anything, but believe me, no one can fix this.”

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