Tuesday Tales: From the Word Track

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning and welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. If this is your first visit, this is a weekly private blog hop written for your enjoyment by a group of talented authors. Each week, we use a word in our current work in process and invite you to read and share your opinion on it. Anyone can comment on a particular post, so don’t be shy. All feedback is appreciated! Once a month, our prompt is a picture and a 300 word limit is imposed. Most of the other post will vary in length by 1500 words is usually the max.

This week’s word is Track and I’ll be posting from Wedding Bell Blues. Enjoy!

MJ smiled weakly at Paul, hoping he hadn’t noticed the way his kiss had stunned her. Before she could think of anything to say, Mama pulled her into her arms, almost smothering her against her ample bosom. Releasing her just a bit, she grinned through the tears of joy running down her cheeks, adding an additional layer to the guilt MJ bore.

“I’m so happy for you, agapiménos,” her mother said, speaking Greek the way she always did when she was overwhelmed, kissing her first on one cheek and then the other. “I told you when he left that if it was meant to be, he would be back, and here he is. Papa would’ve been so proud.” She reached up and kissed Paul on each cheek, too. “He loved you like a son and worried about you after you left. Now, he’s at peace, knowing you’re back where you belong.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Summers. That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” Paul responded, his voice clogged with emotion.

Mama stood between them and put an arm through each of theirs.

“No more Mrs. Summers. Call me Mama, like you used to do. I wish Ron could’ve been here, but I know he’s watching.” She sighed, her eyes still bright from her tears. “Our family is complete. Now, I can’t wait for more grandbabies to fuss over.”

MJ gasped, knowing her cheeks flamed. “Mama!”

Paul burst out laughing. “Slow down, Mama. We haven’t even started the honeymoon yet. You need to give us some time as a couple before we become a family.”

Mama narrowed her eyes. “Not too long. She isn’t getting any younger and neither are you.”

“Please, Mama,” MJ begged, hoping the microphones weren’t still picking up every word. “I’m not that old, and neither is Paul.”

“Well done, you two,” Louis Rich interrupted the disastrous conversation. “We need to borrow you all for some publicity shots before you get into the carriage for the ride back to the main building. Mrs. Summers, you’ll ride back with me. That’ll give the newlyweds a few minutes alone. I think we surprised the hell out of them. Let’s give it time to sink in, shall we?”

“Of course,” Mama said, letting go of their arms and stepping toward Mr. Rich.

“Here,” he handed them each a flute of champagne from the tray the waiter beside him held. “Let me be the first to toast the new bride and groom.” He raised his glass. “Congratulations.”

MJ sipped from her flute. How much wine had she had? She really needed to watch herself and keep her wits about her. There were television cameras everywhere.

Paul leaned down and whispered in her ear. “Are you okay? You look scared to death.”

“Maybe just a little,” she murmured. “I feel like a goldfish in a bowl with everyone looking at me and no place to hide.”

“You don’t have to hide, not now, not ever. As long as you’re with me, you’ll be safe.”

The conviction in his voice was unmistakable.

“Excuse me, sir. I’d like to remove your mike.”

“Is it still on?” she asked horrified that everything Mama said might have been heard by the television audience.

“No, it went dead after the ceremony. The reception room’s been miked already, so this won’t be needed.”

Paul nodded.

“We’ll give Joe a few seconds to collect his equipment, and we’ll move over there. The photographer is waiting.” Mr. Rich turned to Mama. “Mrs. Summers, if you could join us too? We’ll have a few mother-daughter shots taken for you.”

As soon as the technician removed the last of Paul’s wires, he held out his arm to her and winked.

“Shall we, Mrs. Davis?”

MJ finished the champagne in her glass, hoping it would give her the strength to make it through the rest of the evening, and praying she wouldn’t fall flat on her face later. She chuckled sheepishly.

“Mrs. Davis. That will take some getting used to.”

“You can always keep Summers or use Summers-Davis,” he offered. “I won’t mind.”

“She’ll do no such thing,” Mama cut in, horrified by the idea. “A married woman takes her husband’s name.”

“Mama, it’s the twenty-first century,” MJ interjected. “If I want to be married to Paul and keep my last name or even hyphenate it, I can. That’s between Paul and me.”

Keeping Summers might be for the best since she wouldn’t have to change any of her identification. If she took Davis, then once they filed for divorce she would have to change it all back.

“Actually, I’m planning to keep my maiden for my professional career. If someone calls me Mrs. Davis, I won’t go ballistic, but for now, unless the school board has some objection, I’ll remain Ms. Summers.”

Mama screwed up her face, the action warning of a “talk” to come, but she stayed silent.

Within a minute or so, they reached the area Louis Rich had selected for the photo shoot and Kate waited to freshen her makeup.

After what felt like an hour, the photographer signaled an end to the shoot. MJ’s face hurt from smiling so much, and she was certain the spots from the flashbulbs dancing before her eyes would never go away.

“That’s it for now,” Louis Rich said, coming to stand beside them. “Your driver has instructions to take the long way back to the main building to give you two time to talk. There will be a few official task back there, including the official acceptance of the sponsor gifts, the banquet,  and the cutting of the cake. After the first dance, we’ll wrap up for the night. Tomorrow is all yours—enjoy the peace and quiet. The treasure hunt starts the following morning, and a camera crew will join you to keep track of your progress. I’ll be back at the end of the week to wrap everything up. By the way, we’ll be leaving early since I need to be in the New York studio by six, so you’ll have to say goodbye to your mother after the dance, too.”

“I don’t really know how to thank you for everything,” Paul said. “Neither Marilyn nor I expected any of this.” He held out his hand.

Louis Rich shook it. “The pleasure was all mine. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of attending a wedding where the couple fits so well together. Maybe we can do a follow-up special when that first baby is born.” He winked.

MJ fought to keep the panic off her face, and then calm filled her. There would be no follow-up for the birth of a child, and unless Mr. Rich decided to publicize their divorce, this would be the end of their involvement with him.

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

 

 

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Midweek Tease:Romance in New England and The White Carnation

Good day. Welcome to this week’s Midweek tease.Thanks again to Angelica Dawson for keeping this blog hop going week after week. There are extremely varied and talented novelists who participate each week, so when you finish reading my post, hop over to check out theirs. Some of them are a little racy, but all are well-written.

Today, I bring you a tease from the latest bundle put out by Simon and Schuster and the Crimson Romance e-book imprint, Romance in New England. My book in the bundle is The White Carnation, book 1 of the Harvester Saga. My book is a romance suspense novel.

romance-in-new-england-bundle-cover

Love blooms along the picturesque New England coastline in these seven romantic tales. From small-town sweetness to fast-paced action, this value-priced digital bundle offers swoon-worthy seductions for every reader.

Always My Hero: Ryan Pettridge left Scallop Shores, Maine, a hometown hero with a full scholarship to UCLA and an NFL destiny. But a freak accident stole his dreams, and the all-star athlete returned home to take over the family hardware store. When he comes face to face with his former flame, Bree Adams, it’s clear they still can’t resist each other. But will their difficult past be too much to overcome, or can Bree prove to Ryan once and for all that he has always been a hero in her eyes?

One Day’s Loving: Mae Alden likes her quiet life—she’s certainly not cut out to defy convention like her sisters. But everything changes when Boston attorney James Collins reads her father’s will and Mae must choose between who she is and the marriage everyone expects. Could James himself offer the answer to both?

The White Carnation: The last person disgraced Boston Examiner reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when an old friend is murdered, he’s assigned the case. Can they set their troubled past aside and work together, or will the Harvester serial killer and his cult followers reap another prize?

The Way You Love Me: When self-confident surgeon Melanie Sweet volunteers her skills in war-torn Kazakhstan, ex-Navy SEAL and security expert Jake McCabe is secretly assigned to protect her. Their attraction is intense as they team up to rescue an orphaned child and escape back to Boston. But Melanie has her own past that’s about to threaten their relationship, too. Will secrets and lies prove stronger than their chance at love?

Love Is in the Air: When Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Jim Cromwell and airline pilot Captain Sophie Berg are hurt in a drive-by shooting, their bond is palpable, even though he suspects she’s the head of the Maine drug smuggling ring he’s sworn to bring down. Then she’s kidnapped, and Jim must decide whether to believe his head or his heart.

The Bride’s Curse: In Bar Harbor, Maine, three brides in a row return a gorgeous vintage wedding dress to Kelly Andrews’s Wedding Bliss store, claiming it’s cursed. Kelly thinks it’s nonsense, but these returns are bad for business, so she’d better get to the bottom of the problem. Researching the gown, she meets Brett Atwell, the handsome nephew of the dress’s original owner, and a mischievous spirit sends the two of them on a goose chase for a groom who went missing decades ago. Will love get its due at long last?

The Rebel’s Own: In high school, a cruel prank left shy Kennedy Bailey pregnant and alone. Now grown-up and gorgeous, she won’t let anything stop her from saving her five-year-old son’s life when he’s diagnosed with leukemia. Even if it means confronting his father, Boston Rebels quarterback Ryan Carville, who just wants a second chance to show he’s a man worth loving.

Sensuality Level: Sensual

 This week’s tease:

“Tom,” Rob yelled across the bullpen as he ended the call. “Forget supper and grab a candy bar. Let’s go. We’ve got a possible homicide in Beacon Hill.”

He lifted the phone handset on his desk and pushed two buttons. “It’s Halliday, badge number two three seven six. I need a bus at seventeen thirty-seven Marlborough. Send a black and white and a forensic team as well. The crime scene’s on the third floor. There’s a witness there, Faye Lewis. She found the body.” He hung up.

He grabbed his Sig Sauer from the bottom drawer, placed it in his shoulder holster, and picked up his trench coat from the back of his chair. “Faye. Christ, how much worse can this week get? Thank God it’s Friday.”

“I heard that.” Tom Adams approached the desk, dragging on his coat. “How long’s it been?”

“Since I’ve seen her? Fourteen months, three weeks, and six days—but who’s counting?”

He glared at his partner, daring him to comment, but the man was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. Rob tossed him the keys. “You drive.”

“You must be rattled,” Tom said, pressing the button for the garage on the elevator panel. “The last time you let me drive, you had the flu and couldn’t keep your eyes open. So what gives? I find it hard to believe the prospect of seeing the lovely Ms. Lewis is the only thing to blame.”

“It’s Pierce and the Harvester. I don’t get it. The three of us have been working our asses off on that case for over a year now, and we’ve gotten nowhere. Pierce thinks maybe the Harvester moved on or found a better method of disposal—hell of a thing if he has. While you were in court today, I’ve been staring at those pictures again, and there’s something about them—something that’s important, but I just can’t see it. It’s as if my brain refuses to cooperate.”

“If the Harvester’s moved on, he’ll be Pierce’s problem and not necessarily ours. We’ve got a backlog of cases to investigate. The Harvester isn’t the only sick son of a bitch in Boston. We did our job just fine before Pierce came along. I don’t like him. You can’t trust a man who doesn’t know how to iron a shirt,” Tom stated blandly as the elevator doors opened.

Rob laughed at his partner and punched his arm. “That maxim probably includes us, tough guy. Fiona irons yours, and I have mine laundered. I’ll admit the guy’s strange and won’t make the cover of GQ, but he gets the job done.”

“I know. I don’t have to like him, I just have to work with him, but there’s something about him that rubs me the wrong way. He’s a cocky bastard. So who are we going to see?”

“Lucy Green. She was Faye’s friend’s mother. The woman was as nice as they come. I met her at our engagement party. She lived in one of the brownstones on Marlborough—not high society, but close. This is the last thing I need on my plate.”

“Like my father used to say, you’re in it up to your eyeballs, and then someone dumps another load of shit on you.”

“Do all of your dad’s sayings revolve around crap?”

“Probably.” Tom chuckled. “My old man worked on Boston’s sewage system. What do you expect?”

Rob shook his head. The blaring siren did nothing to stop his mind from going into overdrive. The last time he’d seen Faye, they’d had a hell of an argument, and she’d thrown her diamond ring in his face. He fingered the small scar on his chin where the stone had cut him.

Want to read more? You can get The White Carnation and the other six novels in this series for less than a US dollar.

Now, please visit the rest of today’s blogs.

#MidWeekTease January 25, 2017

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Cover Reveal Day!

Cover Reveal: Naomi by Mya O’Malley

We are proud to present the cover for Naomi by Mya O’Malley, scheduled to release on March 30th! This paranormal romance is the sequel to Maggie, which Mya released in August 2016.

Naomi by Mya O’Malley

Naomi has a knack for attracting attention from ethereal beings—whether she wants it or not. Newly engaged to her sexy neighbor, Bryce, she has little time to celebrate and plan for her upcoming wedding, because no sooner does she wrap up a heartbreaking cold case than she finds herself right back where she started, searching for answers alongside ghostly spirits.

This time, however, Naomi learns that things are not what they seem as a man from her past quickly becomes her worst nightmare. If she’s not careful, this man might crush her hopes and dreams forever as he proves to be her most difficult opponent yet.

Still, Naomi tries to focus on her relationship with Bryce. Can it withstand head games and cruel intentions? Naomi makes it her mission to keep Bryce and his daughter safe from harm, but will true love be tough enough to withstand her adversaries?

Naomi must keep her eyes wide open and question everything— and everyone—in order to survive.

Excerpt:

Memories of the not so distant past slammed Naomi. Images of Ryan and Maggie . . .

Maggie.

The ghost that had all but consumed her. Maggie had reached out to Naomi, demanding peace. Naomi admitted to herself that she had become obsessed at that time in her life. Preoccupied with putting both Maggie and Ryan to rest. Luckily, Bryce was loyal and patient to the core during the first hectic months of their new relationship.

What would he say now, knowing that a spirit was back? Knowing that this time it wasn’t the sweet spirit of a girl named Maggie or a quirky, kindhearted man that needed her help?

This time it was worse, far worse.

This time the spirit was unsettled, tortured—and to make matters even daunting . . .

He was her ex-boyfriend.

Author Bio: Mya O’Malley

Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter, and three stepdaughters. The family also consists of their boxer, Destiny, and their ragdoll cat, Colby.

Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been writing stories and poetry since she was a child. A romantic at heart, she loves to craft stories with unforgettable characters. In her free time, Mya reads just about anything she can get her hands on. She also likes to travel, and has visited several Caribbean islands, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Links:

Website ** Amazon ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Goodreads ** Newsletter

Tuesday Tales : From a Picture

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning and welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. Each week, a group of talented authors share with you from the current manuscripts.  Usually, we work from a word prompt but the week we have a picture and that limits us to 300 words!

pancakesWhile I have a few works on the go right now, I’m taking you back to Paradise Island with MJ and Paul and Wedding Bell Blues. Last time we were here, the lovely couple were about to go through with a mock wedding, but like everything else that’s happened on this island, things don’t turn out quite the way they were planned. Everyone loves a wedding! So without any ado, let’s get that show on the road.

“Do you Marilyn take this man, Paul, to be your loving husband?” the official asked.

MJ swallowed the lump in her throat, prayed the earth wasn’t going to open up and swallow her whole after all, and croaked out an answer, grateful there hadn’t been an obey line in there.

“I do.”

Paul smiled down at her, the glow on his face too genuine to be false. Moments earlier, he’d repeated his vows loudly, without hesitation. She had to be dreaming, and yet she wasn’t.

Beside her, Cindy held her bouquet and beamed. Rick, as Best Man, had done his job well, and the beautiful wedding band designed to complement her engagement ring now adorned her finger.

“In as much as you, Marilyn, and you, Paul, have openly declared your desire to be united in marriage, have joined hands, given and accepted a ring, and stated your vows, by the powers vested in me by God, the United States of America, and with the special permission of the secretary of state for Overseas Departments and Territories, and the minister of the interior of France, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Paul pulled her into his arms and bent his head. “Looks like we’ve pulled it off, kid,” he whispered seconds before his lips captured hers.

The kiss should’ve been a quick peck, a formality to seal the deal, but instead, the heat from his mouth had her melting like butter on a stack of pancakes. If he wasn’t holding her, she would be a puddle on the sand. He raised his head and smiled once more.

“Hello, Mrs. Davis. As Sherlock would say, ‘The game’s afoot.’ We’ll be fine.”

Mother of God, what have I done?

Don’t forget to check out all the other on  Tuesday Tales

Midweek Tease: Desert Deception

mwtease15Good morning. Welcome to this week’ Midweek tease, a blog where a number of authors share excerpts from their novels. Some are tame, like mine, others are super-spicy, but there is something to tickle just about anyone’s fancy. This weekly treat is made possible by the lovely and talented Angelica Dawson. So, take a few minutes to read the offerings. Interested in reading more? Click on the links.

This week, I’m teasing from  Desert Deception, a modern western romance suspense novel.  Enjoy!

desertdeception-600x960Cole 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.

“He’s from Arizona and has spent considerable time in the area, but he uses a pen name. CJ and I are very close. I get advance copies of his books when his publisher releases them. Technically I’m not supposed to display them yet, so don’t go broadcasting it,” he answered, more sharply than he’d intended, hoping that would end her snooping.

“Who would I tell?” The look on her face told him she thought he was being ridiculous.

“I don’t know. Maybe some of your friends in New Mexico.” He’d put a little more heat into his voice than he’d needed, but he was dying here, sinking deeper and deeper by the minute.

She rolled her eyes and snorted. “Let me get right on that. I’ll tell them to drop everything, and drive almost seven hours to Fortune, Arizona, to buy a book they’ll be able to pick up at home in a matter of days.”

Sarcasm dripped from her voice again. He would hate to be on the stand if she was questioning him. She would rip a liar to shreds in seconds.

“I get it. My comment was a little over the top, but if you’re a fan, you know he doesn’t like the spotlight. I’m a little protective of our friendship.”

“A little protective? There are she-bears who could take lessons from you,” she scolded. “I know how close some of you frat buddies can be. Knowing you know my favorite author, and won’t tell me who he is, will probably drive me crazy, but I’ll let you off the hook—this time.”

He exhaled and relaxed, grateful for the temporary reprieve, knowing damn well she wouldn’t let the matter drop and would try to ferret out the secret sooner rather than later. His gaze still fixed on her, he watched as she picked up two books, including the CJ Coleson one not yet released.

Grinning at him, she walked back to the cash register. “Getting to read Black Widow early will do for now, but I’ll be back. When I am, I’ll get you to tell me all about the talented man behind Sheriff Tate Silvers.”

Knowing he would see her again, even if it were only to pry information out of him, pleased him more than he expected it to.

“Maybe I can convince you to get a book autographed for me.” She smiled sweetly. “After all, you and I are old friends, too … sort of.” She batted her eyelids rapidly.

Chuckling, he stepped behind the counter to conceal the evidence of his lust.

“I’ll see what I can do.” He hoped he’d managed to hide the way she’d affected him. “Are you ready to check out?”

Instead of answering, she stared at him as if she could somehow see into his soul. He could see how that might intimidate a reluctant witness. At last, she handed him the books and her credit card.

 

MidWeekTease January 18, 2017

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Winter Kiss Blog Tour: Welcome Darlene Fredette

Today, Living the Dream welcomes fellow author, Darlene Fredette and her new novel: Winter’s Kiss.

Please note that the  Winter’s Kiss new release blog tour includes giveaways. There will be a giveaway for visitors who leave a comment on any stop during the tour, and additional giveaways for visitors who leave a comment on Darlene’s own blog.

 

wk-booktourTitle: Winter’s Kiss
Release Date: January 15, 2017

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Genre: Contemporary
Rating: Sweet (PG)
Keywords: sweet, romance, winter, snow, family.
Average Page Count: 112

winters-kiss-coverTag line and back cover blurb:

Return to beautiful Redford Falls: a woman who knows what she wants and a man who knows what he needs.

Nothing thaws the chill faster than a warm winter kiss.

She’s been on a flight from hell for over eight hours, lost four hours of daylight, and arrived in temperatures twenty degrees lower than accustomed to. Disliking winter for a reason she refuses to discuss, Danielle Lerato would rather be anywhere than in Redford Falls. She needs to get the job done and return home before getting caught up in the small town’s charm…and the arms of the handsome, brown-eyed restaurant owner.

Andrew Haley’s first encounter with the buttery blonde didn’t go so well, and he well-remembers the chill of the glass of water she dumped over his head. Now, two years later, a raging storm drops Danielle back into his life. She’s determined to leave, but he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her to fall in love with Redford Falls…and him.

 

Short Excerpt:

Danielle probably looked a hideous mess. Her hair had come loose from the clip on the top of her head. Sleep masked her eyes. She wanted nothing more than to wash her face and sterilize her hands from the airborne germs she encountered on the plane. “I’ve been on the flight from hell for over eight hours. I’ve lost four hours of daylight, and the temperature here is twenty degrees lower than where I live.” She pulled the straps of her leather jacket tight around her waist. “I have to rent a car and drive two hours to a small town where, if I blink I’ll miss it.” She waved a pointed finger in the air for dramatic effect. “I’d rather be anywhere but here.”

Bio:

Darlene resides on the East Coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab. When not working on her next book, she enjoys spending time with her family. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loves to develop the many stories swimming in her head. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners.

Contact links:

Web: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/

Blog: http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarleneLF

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/DarleneFredette/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/DarleneLF

 Purchase Links: 

http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781489236159

On my Escape page, click on the ‘BUY EBOOK’ button to find purchase links to Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and more!

http://www.millsandboon.com.au/product/9781489236159

 

 

 

Tuesday Tales: Candy Kayne’s Christmas

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning and welcome to this week’s instalment of Tuesday Tales, a blog where a select group of authors share with you from their w.i.p. Today, I present to you the last taste you’ll get of Candy Kayne’s Christmas. This story has been upgraded and will become a whole novel to be released later this year, most likely in time for Christmas 2017 under the title, Kissing Cousins. I had so much fun working with this that I decided I needed to add more to it to deal with all the wonderful, crazy plot twists my muse gave me. I want to thank everyone who takes the time each week to comment on my efforts. It’s always good to know I’m not boring you. Next week, we’ll return to Wedding Bell Blues.

This week’s word is TRAIN.

Enjoy.

“Go home? With you? Like hell I will! Not that it matters to you,” Candace answered defiantly, too upset by his words to take into account that they were airing their dirty family laundry in front of a virtual stranger. “I am home. This has been home to the New York Kaynes for one hundred and forty years. If the family didn’t want Ezekiel then, what makes you think I want them now?”

“It’s a beautiful place, one I hope to make my own home in a few weeks, but you’re wrong. No everyone turned their backs on Ezekiel. Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to meet the rest of the family or are you just as mule-headed as old Tobias? It’s time to get to know your roots.”

She laughed so hard, she snorted. “That’s rich. Exactly which roots would that be? I married a man who traced his bloodline back to the Mayflower. When I wanted to start a family, he insisted on DNA testing. I was surprised, but it was all the rage at the time, and I naively went along with it. I knew it would reveal my Irish-French-Native-American bloodline, that’s never been a secret, but I wasn’t prepared for the other bombshell, and neither was Judson.” The memory brought with it all the pain she’d endured at the time.

Bill stood there silently, letting her rant, and that was a good thing since she would probably smack him if he dared to interrupt her now.

“My husband was so upset,” she continued, knowing she should shut up, but unable to. “He accused me of lying about my ancestry. The doctor insisted that it didn’t change anything and that 17 percent of all Americans have mixed blood, but that hadn’t mattered to my purist husband, and I doubt it’ll affect whoever it is who sent you to find me. For the record, dear cousin,” she continued, sarcasm dripping off her tongue along with whatever cold germs she still harbored. “I’m 39 percent British Isles, 24 percent French, and 17 percent Native American, as expected, but I hadn’t anticipated the 17 percent Senegambia, with 3 percent uncertain tacked on for good measure. That 20 percent, which incidentally leads back to where most American slaves were ripped from their homes, was the killing blow to my marriage. Judson moved out and filed for divorce. It seems irreconcilable differences covers a multitude of sins including bigotry and racism. I’ll bet the current patriarch of the high and mighty Georgia Kaynes won’t be too happy to be related to me now.”

Bill raised his eyebrows momentarily and then shrugged. “I doubt Grandpa will care about your infamous 20 percent. You think your ex-husband is racist? I think you’re just as bigoted as he was. Where do you think those Senegambia genes came from?”

She frowned, confused by his acceptance of what had been the most painful event in her life. “I assumed it was Agnes, the woman from Louisiana Ezekiel married. There are a few Creole in the area who escaped from the south at the onset of the war, some light enough to pass for white. She must’ve been one of those. She was an only child, so we’ll never know. My grandfather’s wife was part Mohawk from the Syracuse area. I never knew what her other parts were. It didn’t matter when I was a child, and it doesn’t matter to me now.”

“Louisiana wasn’t the only place where rich masters coerced female slaves. Some of the paler children born to those helpless women were often passed off as legitimate sons by wealthy plantation owners whose wives failed to produce the necessary healthy heirs. As that doctor said, 17 percent of all Americans carry mixed blood. Who’s to say that 20 percent didn’t come from old Tobias himself?” He stopped talking for a minute and eyed her up and down. “So, are you going to cut off your nose to spite your face, or will you give me a chance to explain myself?”

Humbled and embarrassed, Candace nodded. “Fine. If I’m going to get up on my soapbox, I should have the decency to listen to your argument first, but tell me, is this whole resort thing just a Ponzi scheme, or some other fool way to get me to agree with you?”

“If you’re asking me if the resort plans are blackmail, then the answer is no. If you’re impugning my character and accusing me of being some kind of shyster, then the answer is a resounding no,” he answered, defiance and determination in his voice. “I came up here a couple of years ago and fell in love with the place. That was before I even knew you existed. I thought it would be a good place to raise my son. When I found out about you, it gave me a chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do. First and foremost, I’m a father and then a businessman, with too many years invested in the family company to blow their track record of success on a losing proposition. Reconnecting with you was the original reason for my visit, but everything I’ve done this week, what I’ve said to the people of Willow Grove and the contracts I’ve signed are real, and I intend to follow through on them. I have your contract in my bag. You’re the one who brushed me off, remember?”

Candace looked away. She’d barely heard another word after “raise my son here.” Of course he was married. Why wouldn’t he be? And he was family—a cousin for God’s sake. What was wrong with her?

“In that case, maybe we should move this upstairs.” She glanced down at his feet and remorse filled her. Talk about boorish manners. “And you must be wet right through. Follow me. I’ll let you change into something dry.” Turning to Sally, she smiled, trying to ignore the curiosity on her friend’s face. “I don’t expect we’ll be too busy today, but call up if anyone comes in.”

“I will.”

No doubt she couldn’t wait to get on the phone and spread the news through town.

Ugh!

The price you paid for living in a small town was a rumor mill that moved at light speed. This would be all over Willow Grove before the snowstorm ended.

“This way.”

She pressed the button, and the wall opened to reveal the freight elevator.

“I live upstairs.”

“I’ll bet that cuts the commute down nicely,” he said, no doubt trying to lighten the leaden atmosphere.

“It does. I was living out on the North Road, and felt it was just too isolated at times. The Jessup place is a gorgeous house. You’re out of town a bit, but by no means secluded. Your wife will love it there.”

“My wife was killed three years ago,” he answered bluntly.

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbled, not sure how she felt. Killed could mean anything from a viral infection to murder. If she’d been sick, wouldn’t he have used a softer word? Pushing the button for the loft, she looked away.

Don’t think that makes any difference, her conscience warned. He’s still a blood relative.

The elevator doors opened and she stepped out.

“You can take off your wet coat and boots and leave them here. The boot tray is heated, so they should be dry by morning. If you’re really planning to stay here, you’re going to need better gear.”

He chuckled. “I figured that out earlier.”

He hung his coat on the hook and took off the shoe-boots.

“Follow me. I’ll show you the guest room. You can change into dry clothes.”

“I appreciate this, Candace. I’d planned to fly back to Georgia this afternoon. If I’d known the weather was going to be this bad…”

She laughed. Leave it to the tourists. “Around here we joke that if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour, and see what happens.” She shook her head. “Don’t feel too badly. This is worse than expected.”

“So were you really sick, or did you just blow me off?” he asked.

His eyes, the color of dark amber, were filled with curiosity, but she saw no anger there.

“Definitely sick,” she answered truthfully. She opened the door to the guest room. “Make yourself comfortable. Come back to the main area when you’re ready. I’ll make coffee. I suppose we need to talk.”

“We do.” He reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Will you read this while I get changed? It might explain some of why I’m here.”

“What is it?”

“Proof that everything isn’t as black and white, if you’ll pardon the expression, as you think. Not everyone rejected Ezekiel.”487500e3665d9d0ecdce4fbbac5b2a4b

She nodded, too the paper he held out and prepared to leave the room.

“By the way, watch out for my cats. Coal and Pearl like to ambush people. They’ll probably just come into the kitchen if I’m there, but…” She shrugged. “They’re into the climbing stage, and I haven’t been able to train them not to go up my pant legs.”

Candace hurried back into the sanctuary of the empty kitchen. Mechanically, she put on a fresh pot of coffee and then sat down the read the paper he’d given her, surprised when she saw the date. It was a photocopy of two separate messages.

 

August, 1875

God has answered my prayers. Hattie Lewis has brought me a letter from Ezekiel while Tobias is in Savannah. I can’t show it to him. Even after all this time, he refuses to discuss what happened. My heart aches to hold my son in my arms once more, but I must be content with his words. I may try to send him a letter. I know Hattie would mail it for me, but even as I write this, my health fails me. It is my deepest wish that someday the family can be reunited.

 

Mother,

It is my sincerest prayer that you will receive this letter. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Twin Oaks, but it is my deepest desire to return to my home one day. I trust this finds you well. I’ve married. Agnes’s parents came north from Louisiana after the war. My wife is of French ancestry, an aristocrat if my mother-in law is to be believed. We’ve become shopkeepers and are happy with our lot in life. God has blessed us with a son. Anthony Tobias has his mother’s coloring, but he’s got your green eyes. I wish you could see him.

Should you receive this and wish to correspond with me, you can send the letter to General Delivery, Willow Grove, New York.

Your loving son,

Ezekiel.

Ten minutes later, when Bill joined her in the kitchen, carrying Coal in one hand and Pearl in the other, she’d managed to dry her tears. No doubt her nose was still red.

“Yours?” he asked, having the good grace not to comment on her appearance.

“Yes. Where were they?” She reached for the kittens and put them on the floor next to the food bowls she’d filled, pleased her voice sounded almost normal. “That should keep them busy. Where did you get this?” She held up the sheet of paper.

“We found it when we were making renovations to the mansion. It was hidden beneath the floorboards in one of the bedrooms. We assume Eliza hid it there. She died the following month. If she didn’t answer the letter it wasn’t because she didn’t want to. It was because she couldn’t.”

Nodding, Candace poured coffee for them and set the mugs on the table.

“Are you hungry? I made some soup last week. I can heat some up.”

“I don’t want to be a bother.” He hesitated. “Can I call you Candy? I noticed some people do.”

She chewed her bottom lip. Few people had earned the right to use the short form of her name. Judson had hated it.

“As long as you don’t make fun of it, go ahead. It was my mother’s name. My dad called her Candy because she was the sweetest thing on this earth.” Her cheeks heated. It had been a long time since she remembered listening to her father talk about her mother.

“I think it suits you,” he said. “From what I can see, you’re the perfect blend of sweet and peppery.”

Candace stared into his gaze, examining all the nuances on his face, and burst out laughing.

“You almost had me there. Peppery? More like the hottest tabasco you’ve ever tasted. I’m nobody’s fool. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll go back to Georgia with you tomorrow, not for you or for any of the Georgia Kaynes but because of what I read in Ezekiel’s letter. He would’ve wanted me to do this. I don’t know if we’ll ever be kissing cousins, whatever that actually means, but since you plan on going ahead with the ski resort, the least I can do is meet you halfway. Now, do you want a bowl of soup or not?”

Bill smiled and years seemed to drop off his face. “I do. Thanks, Candy. You’re going to make an old man very happy.”

She shrugged. “Like I said, I’m not doing it for him.” It seemed she was going to be spending Christmas with family this year after all.

Santa has a strange sense of humor.

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