Midweek Tease: Another Taste of Hello Again

MWTease15Good morning. It’s a cool foggy day to end the month of November, but in keeping with the philosophy of shop until you drop, today is the last day for my Cyber Monday sale.

Thank you Angelica and all the other lovely ladies who make this blog possible. I have two 99 cent deals than end today. One of them is for my suspense/romance, Secrets and Lies, https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Lies-Hearts-Braden-Book-ebook/dp/B0184FUC5U

The other is for my paranormal/romance/suspence, Hello Again,  https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Again-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01FGN88I6

This morning’s tease comes from Hello Again:

helloagain-ebook-smallFor 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?

Here’s your tease:

“In about ten minutes, and don’t look at me like that. I know what’s on your mind, sexy lady, but it’ll have to wait until I get back. Can you imagine the ribbing I’d get if Phil and the boys catch me with my pants down? They should be here shortly, and we have to be in Pembroke by eight to meet up with the rest of the seventy bikers involved. This is one of the largest Ride to Conquer Cancer events in the province. We’ve even got a police escort, but, it’ll be our last ride together this year, so you can stop worrying about me hitting black ice or whatever other disaster you can imagine. Jim has his surgery on Tuesday, and he’ll be out of commission, so we’ve agreed to park the bikes until he can ride with us again. Sort of like showing solidarity for what he’s going through. We might even shave our heads … we’ll see. Some of the new chemotherapy treatments don’t result in hair loss—not that he has a lot to begin with.”

“Wow. When did you decide that?” she asked surprised and strangely relieved, wishing this ride were canceled, too. He and that bike had been inseparable since she’d given it to him when he’d return from his deployment six months ago, and while she knew he was safer here than he’d been in the Afghan desert, she couldn’t stop worrying. Her dad thought he’d been safe, too.

“At the pre-ride meeting on Thursday. I meant to tell you when I got home, but you had other things on your mind than talking.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

Reaching up, he caressed her breasts, slightly larger and more tender now that she was expecting.

“I figure it’ll give you lots of time to get the bike into storage before the bad weather hits.”

“Bad weather? It’s only the beginning of October,” Charley said, lightheartedly. “Let’s hope it holds out until Mid-November at least.”

“Amen. If we decide to keep your car, it’s going to need new tires, and we can’t fit that into the budget until I get my back pay at the end of the month. That money’s going to have to stretch a long way. What are you going to do today?”

She relaxed against him, enjoying the feel of his hands on her body.

“The usual Saturday stuff. Groceries, laundry, and whether we decide to trade her in or not, Matilda needs an oil change. I talked to Steve at the motor pool, and he’s letting me use one of the bays this afternoon. I want to go have a look at the washer-dryer the Willis’s have for sale, too. I don’t mind taking our clothes to the laundromat, but once the baby gets here, it’ll be a different story.”

“I know, and I hope we’ll have enough at the end of the month to cover that, too. I don’t want you carrying hampers full of laundry in the snow, and while I’ll try to be around to help…”

“I know, when duty calls, it hollers, Sergeant. I’ll be fine. I don’t know why I’m so moody.”

 

The sound of motorcycle engines drew her gaze to the window again. Four Harleys pulled up in front of the house. The riders, all soldiers from the same unit who’d served together in Afghanistan, were close friends.

“The Four Amigos are here,” she said needlessly, turning to face him after setting her coffee mug down. She encircled his neck with her arms, pulled herself as close to him as his leathers would allow. “Promise me you’ll be careful.”

“Always. I have far too much to lose to do anything stupid. Now, it’s your turn to promise me you’ll take it easy today.”

“I will.”

She raised her mouth to his, and he kissed her, the feel of his lips on hers as magical this time as it had been the first time they’d kissed. She opened to him, inviting him in, and drank deeply from him, almost as if she thought she’d never feed from him this way again. His ardor matched hers, but he pulled away too quickly.

“Talk about getting my motor running,” he said, leaning his forehead against hers. Slowly releasing her, he reached for his leather jacket and his old helmet. “Keep my place.” He winked. “I’ll pick up where I left off tonight.”

Want more? Available in ebook or paperback. https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Again-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01FGN88I6

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

#MidWeekTease November 30, 2016


 

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word ISLAND

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Welcome back to Tuesday Tales. This is a blog hop where we share our wip with you the readers. There aren’t too many weeks of Wedding Bell Blues left before it goes to the publisher, but this morning you’re invited to a wedding!

red-hibiscusMJ stared at the face in the mirror. The makeup artist had deepened the slight tan she’d acquired so that she looked less pale and had pulled her loose curls up behind her left ear, securing them with a sprig of island greenery complete with a beautiful, red gumamela, better known as a double-petal hibiscus, behind her left ear. A matching bouquet would complement the look.

“I’d originally chosen white based on the picture your mother showed me. It’s a good thing the manager gave us a head’s up,” Kate said, fussing with the hair ornament. “Given the color of your hair, white would’ve washed you out under the lights. Red works much better. How are you feeling?”

“Nervous, scared—no make that terrified. Didn’t I read somewhere that the camera adds ten pounds?” she tried to joke but wasn’t sure she’d pulled it off.

“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” Kate said. “You look fantastic, and that gown was made for you. Honestly, you’re the most beautiful bride I’ve seen in a long time.”

“Seriously? I’ve watched more than a few episodes of the show, and Mr. Rich has gorgeous women on it almost every day.”

“Yeah, but I don’t work at the studio. I freelance.” She chuckled. “I go with Louis when he’s on location. For me this is a part-time gig, but I love it.”

Giles stepped into the room, the curtain, swishing closed behind him.

“Wow! Kate, you’ve done it again, not that this one needed much work.”

“That’s for sure,” the girl said shaking her head. “I added a little color, and of course waterproofed it as the boss requested.”

“Fantastic job as always. Well, Ms. Summers are you ready to become Mrs. Davis?”

MJ smiled and nodded. She would be thrilled to be Mrs. Davis if the words passing between them meant what they said. She stood and wobbled on her feet, as if the world had somehow tilted on its axis. Maybe she shouldn’t have had that third glass of champagne.

“Kate, better follow along just in case,” Giles said.

In case of what? Her headpiece wasn’t going anywhere and Kate had said the makeup was waterproof. What were they planning to do? Toss her into the ocean when the ceremony was over? She was warm enough right now, that might actually feel good, but the gown wouldn’t do well.

“Shall we?” Giles offered her his arm. “As soon as you step through the curtain, you’ll be on camera, and while you aren’t miked, there are quite a few out there to pick up ambient sound. Paul’s microphone will pick up your exchange of vows or whatever the French call this noce civil’s answers. You do say something, right?”

“Yes, but it isn’t much. Basically he speaks and we tell him we understand. Monsieur St. Louis went through it all with us earlier this morning when we signed the marriage contract.”

“Good. After that’s finished, the padre will perform a typical American vow exchange—”

“Padre?” she asked, feeling the Earth start to spin again. “Padre as in church official? I thought this was just a civil ceremony. No one said anything about a priest or a minister.”

“I thought someone had told you. Mr. Rich pulled a few strings with the military and the French government. While the marriage vows exchanged here tonight won’t be binding in France, the military chaplain from Puerto Rico will perform a marriage ceremony that the United States government will honor and accept.”

“Why?” The word was the only one she could think of.

“Louis talked to your mother, and we found out your legal wedding wasn’t going to be held until Thanksgiving. That would be rather anticlimactic for the show, so he’s making it happen now. Basically, Mr. Rich has a lot of clout, and a real wedding is so much more satisfying for the millions of viewers out there. Congratulations. Don’t look so stunned. This is a dream come true, right?”

MJ swallowed the lump in her throat. Hadn’t she known something else would go wrong? This was a comedy of errors, and it was all aimed at her. Fate? Quimbois Magic? Murphy’s Law? Whatever was responsible—and it could well be all three. Clutching the chair instead of reaching for Giles’s arm, she exhaled slowly, feeling the tension moving into her chest.

I will not have an asthma attack in front of millions of people.

“Does Paul know about the padre?” she asked, grateful her voice worked and that she’d used her inhaler earlier.

And the hits just keep on coming!

“He does, and he’s thrilled.”

Liar! He’s probably as upset and terrified as I am and hiding it, which is what I have to do.

There was no backing out of this now. Pasting a smile on her face, the one she reserved for the “Oh my God, shoot me now,” moments in her life, she stepped away from the chair, wishing the earth would open up and swallow her. Where was a sinkhole, earthquake, or volcanic eruption when you needed one?

“My mother will be disappointed. Waiting until Thanksgiving so she could be there is the reason Paul and I didn’t elope,” she answered, wondering if her argument could sway them just a bit and make them forget about the second part of the ceremony. Of course, if she had any backbone, she would say no, enough is enough, but if Paul was determined to do this … It didn’t really matter in the long run. A divorce was probably easier to get than an annulment. Besides, once this charade ended, she would have to leave Watertown, just as she’d left Stilton, so if the diocese decided to nullify her contract, she’d have to find another job, too.

As the poem Marmion said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave. When first we practice to deceive!”

Giles put his hand over hers on his arm.

“We knew you’d feel that way, so…”

The curtain opened, and MJ blinked at the lights shining on her, almost blinding her. Almost…

“Mama?” she whispered, wondering if the champagne was making her hallucinate, grateful Giles was holding her; otherwise, she would fall flat on her ass. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you think I’m doing?” Mama said and laughed. “My only daughter is getting married. I’m here to give you away.” She blinked her eyes, trying to stem the tears, but the shine gave her away. Your father would be so proud right now.”

MJ gazed into her mother’s face registering three things simultaneously. Mama wore a beautiful, pale green gown, one she could never have afforded in a hundred years. With emerald and crystal jewelry, her Mediterranean heritage was more pronounced than ever. Her hair, peppered with gray the last time she’d seen her—had that really only been five days ago?—had been colored a deep, rich brown, and cut and styled expertly, which made her look younger and brought out the deep brown of her eyes. She hadn’t seen Mama looking this happy since Papa died. There was no way MJ could tell the truth now. No way could she hurt the woman who’d done so much for her all through the years.  Like it or not, she was in this for the long run. She and Paul would have to make the best of it because she would not break Mama’s heart again.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she said, feeling her own eyes start to tear. “Where are you staying?”

“As much as I’d love to stay on the island, I’m sleeping on the treasure hunting ship tonight and flying back to New York in the morning. The one thing you don’t need on your honeymoon is your mother. But I brought you something.” She opened her small purse and pulled out a linen handkerchief, embroidered with pale blue forget-me-nots. “Tuck it inside your bag. My grandmother gave me this when I married your father. It’s your turn to have it.”

“Then I need it on me,” MJ said, tucking the tiny linen square, a family good luck piece, inside her bra.

“Mrs. Stevens? They’re ready for us.”

“Yes, of course.” Mama put her arm through MJ’s just as the traditional music started.

MJ looked up and saw Paul step up onto the small stage with the sunset in the background and gasped. She’d never seen him in uniform before.

Smiling, she and Mama walked toward him. If she lived to be a hundred, she would never forget the look of joy and pride on his face. She would make this marriage work because she believed in forever and happily ever after.

If there is some Quimbois magic at work here, please make it last.

That’s it for this week. Please take the time to check out the other selections on  Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: From the Word BREAD

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning! Welcome to yet another Tuesday Tales. Today, we are working with the word BREAD. I’m back to Wedding Bell Blues, and we’re just about to have an evening beach wedding, that’s going to be a whole lot more real than either the bride or the  groom had anticipated. So, sit back and relax. We’re  getting ready for showtime.

Paul sat back, warming to his topic. He described growing up in Stilton and spending time at his best friend’s home. He had good memories of those days, and that feeling of contentment was what he’d hoped to recapture once more. Having MJ in his life hadn’t been something he’d expected, but he wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. What he omitted was how lousy his own homelife had been, focusing on Mama and Papa Summers, Ron, and MJ.

“The day I left Stilton was one of the worst days of my life. Reconnecting with her through the pen pal program was something I didn’t expect, but I’ll be forever grateful for it. There were times back then when MJ drove me crazy, but I would’ve done anything for her. Now, it looks like I’ll finally get my chance.”

Louis Rich chuckled. “Well, I’ve seen your bride, and I can attest that tomboy has grown into a beautiful woman. I have to admit the way you reconnected was amazing, and judging the way your face lights up when you say her name, I’d say you’ve fallen hook line and sinker.”

Paul felt his face heat. He’d done a better job than he’d expected.

“Now, we still have a few minutes before I release you to meet you lovely bride, can you tell us a little about your service. From the bio I accessed, you were in the army ten years. How does it feel leaving that life behind?”

Paul swallowed. “I enjoyed my years in the service, protecting our country and its assets on foreign soil,” he said.

“What was your assignment overseas?”

“It might be easier to answer what wasn’t,” he said and laughed. “For the most part, I spent my time working with the military police, since I was a lawman before I enlisted, but on my last tour, I was assigned to the embassy in Kabul.”

“You decided to leave the service after that posting.”

Paul gritted his teeth and tried to smile. He didn’t want to talk about Kabul, not now, not ever.

“I did. I was injured during my last tour, and decided to get out while I was still more or less in one piece. I wouldn’t have been able to serve in the same way, and I’m not really cut out for a desk job.”

“Your record states you were ambushed on duty and that civilians with you were killed—a teacher from the local school and two Afghani children. Can you tell us about that?”

“I’m afraid I can’t,” he said, weighing his words carefully.

Irritation flashed in Louis Rich’s eyes. “Can’t or won’t?” he said.

“I can’t tell you what happened because I don’t remember it all,” he lied. “I was escorting the U.N. teacher and two of her students, and we were attacked by snipers. I was shot three times, passed out and that’s it. The first bullet hit me in the right shoulder, the second creased the left side of my head, while the third one blew out my knee. The memory loss is slight and confined to the events surrounding the ambush itself. Sorry.” He shrugged.

“I don’t suppose you could explain how escorting those civilians was part of your embassy responsibilities?”

“It wasn’t. The ambassador’s wife and Fiona Scott were friends. They visited the embassy at least once a week to collect bread, milk powder, and other non-perishable food for the girls at the school. That particular night, I was off-duty within the hour. The three had stayed for a meal, and the ambassador asked two of us to escort them back to the school. The streets of Kabul can be dangerous at night, especially for women and girls. That’s all I can tell you.”

“Thank you for your candor, Lieutenant. Now, what say we go and join your beautiful bride?”

Paul smiled and nodded. If he’d survived Kabul and this interview, what was a noce civil?

“I have another surprise for you first. Look who’s here to join in the festivities?”

The curtains parted and out walked Mama Summers.

Shocked and pleased, Paul stood and opened his arms to the woman who’d been more of a mother to him than his own.

“How did you manage this?” he asked, seconds before the reality struck him. “Does MJ know you’re here?”

Louis Rich chuckled. “Not yet, but Mrs. Summers is here to walk her daughter down the aisle.”

Paul smiled. MJ might’ve managed to avoid an asthma attack so far, but this might well put her over the edge.

That’s it for this week. Please take the time to check out the other selections on  Tuesday Tales

New Release: The Birth Pangs of Desert Deception

IMG_0535Good morning! It’s a foggy Saturday here in Cornwall. Today the temperature is supposed to rise to 60 degrees F, and tonight we’ll have our Santa Claus parade. Two of my grandchildren will be in the parade instead of watching it, and that will be a first.  They grow up so fast, it’s scary. One minute they’re newborn infants dependent on you for everything. The next thing you know, they’re all grown up.

That’s the way I feel about every book I write. They start as a jumble of ideas and slowly grow into viable plots, eventually emerging as complete novels. Since I started writing in November 2012, I’ve given birth to 16 novels, 2 novellas, 3 short stories and 3 episodes of a sci-fi story I intend to finish in 2017. Currently, I’m working on 4 novels–all at various stages of completion–which should be finished and available in 2017.

This morning, I want to talk a little about my latest book, Desert Deception, now available from any Amazon store. It’s the longest novel I’ve written to date, surpassing the 155,000 word mark, or 392 pages long if you will.  It’s enrolled in KDP, so if you are part of that you can download and read it for free.

Unlike the other 15 novels I’ve written, Desert Deception was a test-tube baby. The idea for the story started in a writing partnership with Misty Cail. Together, we wrote a novella, Grand Slam, and a novel, Coming Home, Book One of Taking a Chance on Love. Unfortunately, our writing partnership came to an end when our publisher was forced to close its doors. Misty and I divided the works between us and I got all the rights to Coming Home.

That book was a  contemporary romance that hinted at things to come in future books. Once it was mine again, I had a few constraints to work with. For one, the other romances, which would’ve been books in the series including the one we started when the partnership dissolved, weren’t mine to use–at least not as they’d been written, but as far as the other plot parts, I was able to run with them. I didn’t feel right simply doing a few edits, removing the elements I couldn’t use , adding a couple of things and releasing it. Instead, I decided to rewrite the novel and make it truly mine alone.Considering it was supposed to be a five book series. culminating with the suspense elements in the plot, I didn’t have an easy task ahead of me.

To that end, I took my petri dish full of words, extracted those I wanted to keep, scenes I’d created  or revised originally, and put them in a new test-tube where they changed again, multiplied, and grew. Names, locations and a number of other things changed. What I kept was the heroine’s occupation since it fit my revised plot well, as well as the hero’s secret identity as an author. I added family conflict, details about why Casey as she was now called fled Fortune, and all of the elements that made up the suspense part of the book.

The pregnancy for this book was longer and more difficult that any of the others I’d written. Rewriting a book is harder than writing it the first time, believe me. It’s taken me four long months to complete it, and several restarts as my internal editor went nuts. I tried to keep the book to 100,000 words, but I had too much information. When I shared that with my son, he said, “Mom, write the book you want to write, not the one you think you need to write.” And so I took his advice. I went back into the story and dropped my clues, tossed in my red herrings and all the twists and turns I usually put into a story. I will admit I was torn between what to keep, what to toss, so much so that I kept second-guessing myself. During the course of writing this book, I wrote thousands of words I eventually deleted. After tortuous hours of labor, I hit on what I hope is the right combination.

Desert Deception is a romance suspense, based in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Fires are burning, people are dying, kids are being framed, but why? Is it all about a mysterious gold mine  surrounded by legend, or is there more at play. What you see isn’t always what you think it is. Everyone has secrets, including the desert. Cassandra Stevens returns to Fortune, but what she finds in her hometown isn’t what she expected.

Here’s the blurb:desertdeception-600x960

Seeing is believing, or is it?

When high-powered Santa Fe attorney Casey Stevens reluctantly returns to Fortune for Gold Rush Days, she is drawn to Cole Walker Junior, but he is no longer the shy, quiet boy she recalls. Then again, Cole isn’t the only one who has changed. The town may be celebrating its past, but someone is trying to destroy its future. A hit and run accident leaves Fortune’s only lawyer in a coma, forcing Casey to choose between helping innocent people and running away once more. Can she face the demons of her past or will they destroy her this time?

Cole Warner has a secret identity, one he’s determined to protect at all costs. The police officer, volunteer firefighter, and part-time store owner, is also popular western novelist, CJ Coleson, who uses Fortune and its people as the inspiration for his books. Having Casey walk into his life turns it upside down. When someone starts using the murders in Cole’s books to stage a killing spree of their own, keeping his secret may be too costly, but admitting the truth could ruin any chance they have for a happily ever after.

As the bodies pile up and the buildings burn down, Casey and Cole have to work together to stop a madman with gold fever before more people die. The answer lies on Superstition Mountain or is it all a desert deception?

Desert Deception is available from any Amazon store.

Not sure if it’s for you? Amazon lets you read the first three chapters in the sample! Just click on the link and enjoy!

Midweek Tease: More Desert Deception

MWTease15Good morning! Welcome to Midweek Tease, the blog hop where authors share bits from published works. Now that we’ve passed the halfway point in the month it’s less than six weeks from Christmas, the stores and my neighborhood are filling up with yuletide decorations. I’m still in the desert finishing up my newest novel.Books make for great gifts whether it’s through an online gift certificate or a paperback . Sometimes, people need to escape the reality of their lives if only for a little while.

This morning, I give you another tease from Desert Deception, available in time for Christmas giving!

Seeing is believing, or is it?

When high-powered Santa Fe attorney Casey Stevens reluctantly returns to Fortune for Gold Rush Days, she is drawn to Cole Walker Junior, but he is no longer the shy, quiet boy she recalls. Then again, Cole isn’t the only one who has changed. The town may be celebrating its past, but someone is trying to destroy its future. A hit and run accident leaves Fortune’s only lawyer in a coma, forcing Casey to choose between helping innocent people and running away once more. Can she face the demons of her past or will they destroy her this time?

Cole Warner has a secret identity, one he’s determined to protect at all costs. The police officer, volunteer firefighter, and part-time store owner, is also popular western novelist, CJ Coleson, who uses Fortune and its people as the inspiration for his books. Having Casey walk into his life turns it upside down. When someone starts using the murders in Cole’s books to stage a killing spree of their own, keeping his secret may be too costly, but admitting the truth could ruin any chance they have for a happily ever after.

As the bodies pile up and the buildings burn down, Casey and Cole have to work together to stop a madman with gold fever before more people die. The answer lies on Superstition Mountain or is it all a desert deception?

desertdeception-600x960

“How often do you see Cole Walker?” she asked, deciding Randy might know something about Cole and his friend CJ. As much as she’d tried to put the enigmatic store proprietor out of her mind, she couldn’t quite do it. Those golden brown eyes of his kept coming back to her, and he’d had a starring role in her dreams the last two nights, much the way he had in her girlish fantasies fifteen years ago. Part of it had to be being around Jaxon and her biological clock, but she needed to turn that damn thing off before it got her into hot water.

“Every day when he and Noella are in town. They come in for coffee each morning.”

“Not Cole Senior, Cole Junior,” Casey said, a touch too sharply.

Randy frowned. “Cole Junior? I didn’t realize you two were friends.”

“We aren’t … exactly, but I was talking to him on Friday when I stopped by the emporium to see his father. I picked up the new CJ Coleson book, and he told me he knows him. Apparently they went to school together.”

“I don’t pay attention to gossip, but I haven’t heard that before. Cole really keeps to himself, so I don’t think he’d want that little tidbit getting around.”

Casey chuckled. “If he’s half as reclusive as CJ is, I can imagine letting me know that was a mistake. He also fessed up to the fact that CJ’s visited here once or twice. I wondered if you’d ever seen him hanging around with a stranger.”

“It sounds like you two had quite the tête à tête. As I said, Cole keeps to himself, so if he’s had company, I wouldn’t know about it. He came back a couple of years before I did. If he’s got any kind of social life, it’s a mystery to all of us. There hasn’t been anyone visiting him in the last year, not since Cookies and Cream opened its doors. I think he bought a cabin on Apache Lake, but I’m not sure. That could’ve been his father.”

Casey nodded, disappointed that her quest to know more about her mysterious author had hit another dead end, and annoyed with herself for hanging on every word Randy had uttered about Cole.

“He travels—goes back to El Paso or Dallas, where he worked before joining the Fortune Police Department—but that’s all I know,” Randy continued. “He doesn’t date, and believe me, it’s not because no one’s interested. A lawman and fireman combined in one? That’s yummy in any woman’s book. He’s been hit on more times than a punching bag. There are all kinds of theories about his celibacy, too—everything from an ex-wife who broke his heart to a dead lover he can’t forget. I heard his mother complaining to Mom that she doubts he’ll ever settle down.”

“Well, marriage isn’t for everyone, I guess,” she answered. Cole’s mother wasn’t the only one bemoaning the fact that her child hadn’t tied the knot. It had been one of the questions Mom had asked at supper last night, right before the “please pass the potatoes.”

“Not for me, either,” Randy agreed sadly, “I did it once, but … What do you plan to do with yourself Tuesday?”

“I don’t have any plans, why?”

“Selma Gomez, my employee, has a dentist appointment in Phoenix. Her daughter needs orthodontic work that can’t be done locally. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind pitching in for the day. It’s okay if you can’t, but it would save my neck. There’s really too much work for one person.”

“Sure, but if you’re that busy, you should consider getting more staff—maybe a part-timer.”

Casey smiled to mask the terror filling her. Working in the coffee shop would expose her to any of Fortune’s denizens who deemed to drop in—possibly some, if not all—of the ones she hoped to avoid.

“I’ve got a teenager starting next week. She’ll work after school and Saturdays. I appreciate you helping me out. Coming in? That new Sandra Bullock movie is on.”

“In a minute. I want to check out the stars. I don’t see them often in Santa Fe.”

“Okay. I’ll make the popcorn. It’ll be like old times.”

Casey smiled, the pleasant childhood memory easing her worries. “And we can eat it lying on blankets on the floor.”

“You’ve got it. By the way, Cole usually drops in for coffee and a muffin around one.” She winked and entered the house.

Great, now she thinks I’m interested in Cole.

But her sister couldn’t be more wrong. Cole was a means to an end, and that end was CJ Coleson.

Now please check out the rest of this week’s hot and delicious teases.

#MidWeekTease November 16, 2016


Tuesday Tales: From the Word TOWN and Desert Deception

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning! Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. If you’re hoping for another snippet from Wedding Bell Blues you’ll have to wait until next week. This morning, I bring you the opening pages from my newest novel, Desert Deception. This romance suspense novel  is almost 150,000 words long, my most ambitious work yet. This morning, I take you to sunny Arizona in a modern day western that has cowboys, horses, gold mines, and Harleys. What more could you possibly want? This week’s word is TOWN. Enjoy.

Desert Deception will be available for purchase later this week.

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Casey Stevens turned off the Apache Trail, also known as Highway 88, onto the Skansen Mine Road and headed into Fortune, slowing her hot pink and black Harley-Davidson motorcycle, careful to stay under the speed limit. Back in the day, there’d always been a deputy, hiding just up ahead behind the billboard or one of the abandoned buildings, waiting to nail some unsuspecting tourist who’d failed to slow down to the town’s ridiculously low speed limit. This might be her new toy’s first major road trip, but that didn’t mean she wanted a ticket as a souvenir.

The joys of the open road had stopped her from dwelling on her cases, but nothing could ease the disquiet she felt about returning to the town and the memories she’d avoided for fifteen years, and the closer she got to home, the more unsettled she became. Coming back to the scene of the crime, as it were, was a mistake, and she knew it. Nothing good would come of this, but Mom had insisted, and here she was.

The Bluetooth attached to her helmet buzzed startling her out of her reverie, providing further proof that leaving Santa Fe now had been a colossal error. Ken, the second chair on her current case, had called four times since she’d left her apartment this morning. Considering it was only a seven-hour-drive, that was three times too many.

Knowing she needed to answer the call, not wanting to ride while she was distracted, especially if they argued as they had two hours ago, Casey cautiously steered the bike onto the unpaved shoulder and stopped less than ten feet from the sign in front of her. Welcome to Fortune. Population: 26,847

“What are they counting, jackalopes?” she mumbled aloud. When she’d left, there hadn’t been fifteen thousand people in town. That had to be one hell of a population explosion.

The Bluetooth sounded again. Dismounting, she pulled off her helmet, shaking her head, sending her ponytail swaying back and forth. Pulling the smartphone out of the zippered pocket of her leather jacket, she answered the call. “Don’t worry about anything. I’m heading back. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Hello to you, too, Red,” a man said and chuckled. “Someone rattling your chain?”

Closing her eyes, she smothered a groan. “Hi, Ryan,” she said, recognizing the voice. “Sorry about that. I thought you were his highness calling again.”

Ryan chuckled. “Baby Boss giving you a hard time?”

“You could say that. He can’t seem to find anything. I swear he would lose his head if it wasn’t attached.” Pulling a bottle out of the insulated pouch in her tank bag, she squirted cold water into her mouth.

“Probably, but someone’s always picking up after him, so he’s never had to stand on his own two feet before. Now, where is it you’re headed back to on this lovely Friday afternoon?”

“Santa Fe,” she said huffing out the word. “This was a mistake. I don’t know what made me think that incompetent ass could manage anything as complicated as filing papers on his own.”

Ryan’s laughter filled her ears. “I can believe that, but you aren’t coming back here until your vacation is over.”

“I have to. I’ve worked too hard to see it all go down the toilet.” She wanted to stomp her foot, but what good would it do? Pacing up and down the soft shoulder, she fought to contain her annoyance.

“Listen, Cassandra,” Ryan said, using her full name, knowing it would irritate her.

“Bite me.”

“Love to, babe, but it didn’t work when we tried it before, and Sally would have my nuts for breakfast. Call Wanda. Wonder Woman can babysit Baby Boss for a few days. If you don’t want to stay the two weeks you’d planned, fine, but the woman I know is no coward.”

“But—”

“No buts,” he interrupted. “If I find you back in Santa Fe before Labor Day, I’ll personally drag you and your cute, little ass back to your mother’s house. And you know you can’t hide from me. I’m the best gumshoe in the business.”

“Damn you. Fine, but if I lose my job because of this, you’ll be supporting me.”

He chuckled. “I could start my own harem. Listen, before we get completely off-track, I called to tell you I found the guy who filled the order for the building supplies.”

“Get out of here! So is he going to help us or not?”

“Help, big time.”

“Where was he?

“Someone paid him to take an overseas vacation, but his mother and the fear of God convinced him to tell the truth.”

“And you didn’t help persuade him?” she asked, knowing he had probably scared the dickens out of the young man in question.

“Let’s just say I showed him the error of his ways, and before you ask, I didn’t lay a finger on him.” He laughed. “I didn’t have to. My bark is worse than my bite.”

“When you put it that way, this should be all we need to get the case thrown out. How can I ever thank you?”

“By enjoying your time with your family. Hell, go hiking in those spooky mountains of yours … who knows you might stumble on that missing gold mine.”

Casey laughed. “Like that’s ever going to happen. If no one’s found the Lost Dutchman by now, it doesn’t exist.”

“Well, the legend says the man had gold under his bed when he died.”

“Right, and the Apache claim the doorway to hell is there, too, but so far, no one’s found that either.”

“You know what they say: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Call me if things live down to your lowest expectations, and you need a laugh. Otherwise, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”

“I will, and thanks, Ryan. You always come through, don’t you?”

“What can I say? I’m gifted.”

That’s it for this week. Please take the time to check out the other selections on  Tuesday Tales

Midweek Tease: Coming Soon–Desert Deception

MWTease15Good morning.  I made a point of steering clear of making too many comments, endorsing too many posts, and even stating my opinions on yesterday’s US election. Today, some of my American friends are cheering while others sit back in shock and fear. Come 2017, the US will see Donald Trump take office as its 45th President. What will this mean for me and my country? I don’t know , but as it says in this morning’s National Post: “Canadians are obliged to have what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people.’ There simply is no alternative.”

Okay. Election comment over. As I prepare to release my newest book, Desert Deception, I thought a tease from it would be appropriate.

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Cole straightened the magazines and newspapers, trying to look busy while Casey browsed the bookshelves, unable to do anything but think about the woman a mere twenty feet away. Only two years older than she was, he remembered her—at least he recalled the girl she’d been—and the woman standing ten feet away from him had certainly changed.

She still had the peaches and cream complexion associated with her Irish ancestors, skin that could burn in the shade as he recalled, but her freckles weren’t as pronounced as they’d been. She’d dropped at least fifty pounds, and that carrot top she’d worn in tight braids against her head was now a fiery crown of flames. Her soda bottle bottom glasses were gone, no doubt replaced by laser eye surgery or contacts, but her expressive eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes green, but always with a touch of gold in them, were as familiar as ever. That was how he’d recognized her. Once he’d seen those eyes, he’d never been able to forget them.

How long had it been? She’d been sixteen, a senior at Fortune High, when he’d gone off to the University of Texas at El Paso, and while he’d come back that first summer, he’d been too busy helping Dad around the store to do much more than nod and say hello once in a while. He hadn’t grown into his body yet, and while the acne had improved, he’d still been too shy to ask any girl out. He’d fantasized doing so, and in his dreams she’d always said yes, but the reality was, he might as well have had elective mutism when it came to talking to her.

Those afternoons when he worked in the back unpacking boxes of reproductions and other souvenirs, he hid behind the bookshelves, closed his eyes, let her voice wrap around him, and listened to her sharing her dreams.

Casey, the shorter name suited her, exuded confidence and poise, and wasn’t afraid to take risks, as her motorcycle proved. It took a lot of self-assurance to stand in a courtroom and question witnesses let alone address the jury. Looking at her now, he tried to picture her in a staid business suit and failed. No, this new Casey would wear “look at me clothes” and do it with pizazz. She wouldn’t hide from the world ever again.

Despite his best effort, he was having a hard time controlling his body’s response to her, something that rarely happened to him. Taking a deep breath, he tore his eyes away from her leather-clad bottom, and returned to sorting the new shipment of books, trying to immerse himself in the jacket blurbs, but failing. He jumped when he heard her shout.

“Holy shit!”

Dropping the book he was holding, he pushed his way through the boxes of candles, books, and other items crowding the aisle to see what had upset her.

“What’s wrong?” He hurried to her side, worried that she’d somehow hurt herself. While it was true, the worse injury you could get from a book was a papercut, this close to the desert, unwanted insects and reptiles sometimes managed to sneak in. Last week, he’d returned a tarantula to the great outdoors. The big, hairy spiders might be harmless, but they scared the daylights out of the tourists.

“Nothing’s wrong, but you have all of CJ Coleson’s books shoved back here where no one can see them. They should be out front.”

The look of disgust on her face made him laugh.

“I take it you’re a fan.”

“Well, duh! Of course I’m a fan, isn’t everyone? He’s a great author even though he’s the Howard Hughes of writers—a total recluse. How come you have his latest book? It isn’t due out in paperback for another two weeks.”

Cole ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous gesture he made when he was caught off guard. “I know the author.” The white lie slid off his tongue before he could stop it.

“Get out of here! You know CJ Coleson?” she asked, excitement lighting up her face. “How?”

“We went to school together.” Another half-truth.

“In Texas?”

He nodded, hoping she would change the topic soon.

“Well, he’s Arizona born and bred, I’m sure of it. He’s either from around here, or he’s spent time here. Reading those books is like coming home—better even. Is that his real name?”

Turning away from her, he tried to think of an answer that would help him out of the quicksand in which he’d inadvertently stepped. The truth always came out, and usually at the worst possible moment. Sharing his secret with a virtual stranger wasn’t an option, but he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to let it go.

Want to read more? Check out my webpage for release date and details!

http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/

Now, please stop by and visit this week’s teasers!