Free Reads

This was a fun little Valentine writing exercise. I used a WORD GENERATOR to pick some words that I had to use in a romance story. A roll of the dice and we’re given three characters, mine were a BANKER, A COWBOY, and A BASEBALL PLAYER. I need to work in the adjectives PICKY, FAMOUS and ANGRY. And the whole scene needs to take place in a TAXI CAB. Well, okay, here’s my Valentine’s story writtene especially for my visitors. Please enjoy …

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The taxi driver set the gray-haired woman’s two oversized suitcases on the sidewalk of the Plaza hotel and handed the happy chihuahua’s leash to the doorman. She folded two bucks in his hand with a wink and a smile as if the five percent tip were an overpayment. He bent and kissed her on the cheek. “Happy Valentine’s Day Mrs. Bozeman. I hope you enjoy your second honeymoon with your beau.”

A sweet blush crawled up her cheeks. “Forty-seven years ago today Mr. Bozeman asked me to be his girl. Pinned me right there in the hallway before he went on to win the high school state basketball championship.”

He already knew that. “I suspect he’s thinking he won a whole lot more.” He bent and kissed her velvet cheek before climbing back into the taxi cabMikal rarely came to earth in human form, but today Cupid’s army worked special magic on lost souls and broken hearts. And every once in awhile they got to check on some of their most successful cases. 

“Mister, hey mister.” The young boy dressed in a cowboy outfit standing on the sidewalk and banging on his passenger window couldn’t have been more than eight or nine. “I need your help.”

He rolled down the window. “I’ve got someone to pick up, kid.”

“You can’t. I’ve got something important for you to do. Real important.” Determination furrowed his brow.

Mikal had a schedule and with only six more hours until the portal closed, he didn’t really have time for complications. He absently picked up the Starbucks cup, a double iced cinnamon dolce latte with whipped cream, his one vice whenever he had to hang out on earth. He shot the kid an indifferent look. “Where do you need to go?” Children were Gabriel’s problem, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t get this lost kid back to his parents. 

“You really drive this thing? I mean, I don’t mean to be picky or anything, but I woulda thought angels could fly or something.”

Mikal choked, whipped cream spraying on the steering wheel. “What did you say?”

He leaned into the car through the open window. “Listen, I saw your glow from upstairs. And all these people are going all gooey when they see you.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder as an angry couple stopped, looked at each other and apologized, falling into a hug and deep kiss. The kid was right. It was part of the magic he’d been gifted.

“So if you’re not an angel,” the boy said. “Then I’m expecting the Men in Black to show up any minute.”

No one but the dying and animals usually saw him. But this kid had certainly piqued his curiousity. “No aliens here. Get in.” He flipped the roof light off so people wouldn’t try to jump in with them. “What do you need?” he asked as the boy climbed into the front seat. “Are you mooning over some girl and you want her to pay attention to you at recess?”

The kid rolled his eyes. “Think I’d bother you for something stupid like that? Sheesh, it’s my parents. My mom came here to talk to my dad. He’s a famous baseball player.” He shrugged. “She doesn’t know I know. I mean, he doesn’t live with us or anything and I’ve never met him, just what I see when we watch his games.”

“But she told you about him?’

“Nah, she told me my dad and her were divorced after she became a banker. That was awhile after I was born. But the way she said it, I never really believed her. I found some letters from him last year hidden in the back of her closet.”

“You shouldn’t be snooping in someone else’s stuff.” Mikal took a deep pull of his coffee.

“I wasn’t. Honest.” The boy studied him. “You don’t have any connection with Santa or anything do you?”

Mikal swiped his mouth with the back of his hand to hide his smile. “No, different cloud entirely.”

“K, well then the truth was I was looking for something.” He shrugged. “It’s not so much that I miss having a dad, but my mom, she’s so sad all the time.”

Mikal sensed there was something the boy wasn’t telling him, but he waited him out.

“I have cancer,” he said it so quietly as if the disease were his fault. Mikal could barely hear him over the rush of the traffic in the street. “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna die and I don’t want my mom to be all alone. I went looking to see if I could find something. And I came across all these gooshy letters and stuff from a guy named Kurt. He never mentioned me. I’m thinking he doesn’t know he has a son.” He toyed with the zipper on his windbreaker. “Kurt Dittrich is my mother’s favorite Yankee. She cheers for him at every game.”

“I’m not sure how I can help.” Mikal worked miracles, but not in such a short time if they were in different cities.

“You can help by making sure they fall in love again. Dur!” He shook his hands in the air. “What’s your job anyway?”

Mikal couldn’t help but laugh. “To bring people together. But they’ve got to at least be in the same place.”

“Yeah, well my mom’s here and my dad’s on his way.”

“How do you know?”

“I wrote to Kurt Dittrich and told him I was sick and I wanted to meet him and I’d be here at the Plaza today. Then I asked mom to take me to a broadway show on Valentine’s. She thinks I’m down here talking to the doorman and getting a cab.” His small hand wrapped around Mikal’s forearm and he covered it with his own, healing flowing directly into the child. The boy looked at their joined hands and smiled. “You just gotta use your angel magic and make them fall in love. Please, you just gotta. It’s my only chance.” Tears welled in his eyes.

“Jon! Jonathon Leavy!” A pretty blond in jeans and peacoat hurried out of the hotel. “Have you seen a little boy about this tall?” she asked the doorman.

“There she is,” the kid said. “Help me, please. Don’t let her leave until he gets here. Break your engine or something.” He opened the door and hopped out. “Please.” He waved his arm toward the door. “Mom, I’m right here.”

“Jon, you scared me right to–” She started toward them and barrelled into a man with a baseball cap and sunglasses, his head down. Their collision nearly knocked the woman over, but his strong arms wrapped around her waist and held her.

The man took off his glasses, his gaze going soft. “Kate? Kate Leavy?”

“Kurt Dittrich? It’s been … it’s been a really long time.”

“Yeah it has.” He brushed the hair from her face. “And you’ve grown even more beautiful.”

Even Jonathon could see the sappy way his mother looked at the man and he was pretty sure it had nothing to do with him being a famous baseball player. The angel had done his job. He turned to give him a thumbs up, but the taxi cab was gone. And he suspected … so was his cancer.

Copyright © Nina Pierce 2017
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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY ONE AND ALL

This is a short story I wrote a few years ago. I’ve always loved it and thought I’d post it again for your holiday enjoyment. (It’s based on the “8th day of Christmas”)

Meghan dropped down in the small stool, tipped back her cowboy hat and laid her forehead against the soft belly of the Jersey, less than pleased she was here doing the evening milking—again. The youngest of eight sisters, she always seemed to get stuck finishing the barn chores. She never got to do anything exciting, like ride out into Mistletoe Canyon and find the missing cows. Resigned to her duty, she gripped a teat in each hand, rolled her fingers with a vengeance and sent milk pinging into the bucket between her feet. The cow let out a soft bellow.
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Yes I’m an author. I love writing books. It’s what I do. But as I’ve said over and over and over again, being a writer also means I am the publisher and the marketing department for my books.

It still eludes me exactly what makes a best seller in this market. It’s not only a great cover and catchy blurb. Not just wonderfully well-written story and great reviews. It’s not social media and guest blogs. You know how I know that? Because none of that is working for me. Been there. Done that. Have the bruises to prove it.

So I’m trying something again. I’m giving away one of books for FREE. That’s right, “BLIND HER WITH BLISS” is now free on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, KoboAll Romance Ebooks, and iTunes  How long will I keep it free? I’m not sure.
 
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I know, I know. I disappeared. But I had a good reason and it can be summed up with 4 simple letters. L. I. F. E.

You know sometimes it just gets the best of you! But I’m working toward a much better 2014. And until then I’ll try to bring my blog back to life! Here’s one of my favorite free reads that at some point in time will definitely require a story of its own!

Meghan dropped down in the small stool, tipped back her cowboy hat and laid her forehead against the soft belly of the Jersey, less than pleased she was here doing the evening milking—again. The youngest of eight sisters, she always seemed to get stuck finishing the barn chores. She never got to do anything exciting, like ride out into Mistletoe Canyon and find the missing cows. Resigned to her duty, she gripped a teat in each hand, rolled her fingers with a vengeance and sent milk pinging into the bucket between her feet. The cow let out a soft bellow.

“Don’t take it out on Clarabelle, it’s not her fault she needs milking,” her sister Michelle said from the stall behind her as she leaned in and begin expertly milking the Guernsey at her hands. “Besides, having you ride out at night just didn’t make any sense. Marissa and Melinda will find the cows and have them back here before Maria and Mary have trimmed the Christmas goose.”

“I’m that transparent now am I?”

Mia laughed, patting the tawny hide of the cow standing over her two stalls over. “I’m surprised you didn’t trip on that pouty lip as you dragged your skinny ass into the barn. Besides, even Santa’s elves don’t take a break from their chores on Christmas Eve until every last train is painted and every dolly packed.” Her oldest sister and her twin, Molly seemed happiest at the Arizona farm, content to tend cattle, breed horses and gather eggs for the neighbors.

Twenty-five head of dairy cattle, two bulls, twenty-seven prize thoroughbreds, a dozen pigs, countless dogs, four geese, two swans and more chickens than Perdue could cook in a month—that was the Morgan farm. Molly and Mia had been running it with a few local hired hands since their dad passed away from lung cancer five years ago when Meghan was just starting her freshman year of high school. He’d lost his high school sweetheart, and her mother, in a freak rodeo accident when Meghan was only five. Fiercely independent, her sisters had insisted on keeping the sprawling acres of land even when it meant every last minute was spent isolated from the rest of the world, earning a living.

As soon as she had enough saved, Meghan was shaking the dust of Peartree Point from her boots and heading east to some college that didn’t include “community” in its title. There was nothing that could keep her here on the family farm.

* * * *

Marissa nudged her chestnut mare, guiding her carefully down the slippery slope of Mistletoe Canyon, praying she could find the pregnant cows. Melinda’s horse nickered beside her, the billow of air pluming from its nostrils emphasizing the steady drop in temperature. The sun had set an hour ago, clouds rolling in, shrouding the full moon in a wash of black and gray.

“Molly just radioed from the other side of the canyon. She’s got nothing,” Melinda said.

“I’d hate to have those cows calve tonight out here. I’m not sure the newborns will survive the squall coming in.” As if her words had summoned them, snowflakes floated lazily from the sky.

“Tell Molly to meet us on the other side of the ridge. We’ll join up by route 17. If we don’t find them there, we’ll go home and pick up the search in the morning.”

Marissa kicked the mare into a trot and gave the horse her head. They’d ridden this section of the land so often the horse knew instinctively how to maneuver safely over the rocky terrain even in the shadowed night. Ten minutes later as the snow fell in earnest, the canyon walls opened up. She could see the lights of the gator up ahead, but Molly wasn’t alone.

A motor home loomed over the gator, her pregnant cows tethered to its grill. Oh hell no! Some yankees looking for Santa in a cowboy hat weren’t going to ruin her Christmas.

* * * *

Ayden stood his ground. In a short sleeved T-shirt, freezing his ass off, he was feeling more than a little desperate. The feisty blonde before him might be small in stature, but her attitude was rivaled only by the storm swirling around him. He hadn’t had a chance to explain himself when two horses thundered across the plain, their riders dropping to stand with the woman in front of him.

“We have a problem here, Molly?” the brunette from the horse asked.

The blonde tipped back her cowboy hat, exposing a heart-shaped face with rosy cheeks and full lips. Even pursed in displeasure, they looked damn kissable.

“No problem here,” she responded. “I was explaining to this man that the cows he’s stealing belong to the Morgan farm.”

“I’m not stealing your damn cows. I’m—”

His brother Aaron chose that moment to poke his head out the door. “Can they give us a ride Ayden? It’s fucking…”

Active splitting Aurora Borealis arcAlex plowed into him from behind, the two of them tumbling out of the stranded motor home. “I do not want to spend Christmas stranded in fucki…”

“Well, hello.”

“Please forgive my language, ladies.”

Ayden rolled his eyes as his brothers’ surly demeanors morphed into flirtatious charisma the moment they realized their rescuers were female.

“You look…” The third woman pointed first at Ayden then to Aaron. “And you…” Her finger moved to Alex. They got that reaction a lot.

“We’re triplets. Aaron, Alex and I’m Ayden Williams. And as I was saying we’re not stealing your cattle. We held on to them in hopes—”

“Their owners would rescue us.” Aaron finished.

“I’ve got the three duffles and a backpack of electronics.” Even at 20, Abraham, his youngest brother had the boyish look of a high school kid. Only his well developed physique hinted at his age. “They agree to take us to town?” he asked as he jumped down from the motorhome.

His twin Acton came down with as much enthusiasm. “Awesome, they brought horses.”

A whistle cut through the air, halting all the verbal confusion. Ayden turned back to the blonde. “One person.” She poked Ayden in the chest. “Why don’t you tell us what’s going on and why the lost cows that are keeping me from Christmas dinner are tethered to your motor home.”

Adam, Andrew and Anderson joined the rest of his brothers and he held his hand up, turned back to them and mouthed “Shut up.” He had hoped to negotiate the ride into town before his Good Samaritans realized there were eight hungry cowboys in need of rescuing.

* * * *

IMG_9207Meghan loved Christmas. The lights of the nine-foot Douglas fir standing proudly in the great room winked at her through the dining room door. Marie had started the fire while they’d been milking the cows. Presents in festive wrapping paper were scattered around the base, ready for the morning’s festivities.

“Are you sure there’s eight of them?” Marie asked, carrying the last of the crystal wine goblets and setting them around the additional place settings.

Mary balanced a tray of serving dishes, arranging them along the length of the table. “I think Mom and Dad always planned on a very big family. There’s plenty of room for all sixteen of us.”

The responsibilities on the ranch were so demanding, Meghan barely had time to do more than think about dating. Now eight men were being delivered to their doorstep.

“They’re brothers,” Mia said. “Molly said they’re buying the Fitzpatrick spread next door. I didn’t get any more than that over the radio.” Mia and Michelle carried more food from the kitchen. No one was worried there wasn’t enough to feed them all. They’d learned early on, that leftovers were never wasted. Mary and Maria had cooked enough food to feed a small country.

Footsteps pounded across the front porch. The wide door opened, the fresh scent of a Christmas snow carried in with all the men entering the foyer. Meghan would have to rethink that whole moving to the east coast thing.

It seems Santa did deliver on Christmas wishes after all.

Welcome to our annual Halloween blog hop. There are all kinds of authors to visit … all kinds of prizes to win along the way … including our grand prize of a Kindle Paperwhite. If you’ve stumbled here without jumping on the bus (or if you lose your way) click HERE to start at the beginning.

Our hop runs from now until SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21 at 3 pm EST so you don’t have to enjoy all the yummy Halloween goodness all at once.

Once again this year I accepted the challenge and let a “word generator” tickle my Halloween muse. I’ve been challenged to write a short scene using a BODY GUARD, WEREWOLF and DENTIST as my characters. I need to work in the characteristics of DRIVEN, DIRTY and LIFELESS. And it all has to take place in a THICK FOREST. Please enjoy this excerpt:

Catherine ran blindly through the night. Though a full moon hung in a cloudless sky, its light didn’t penetrate the dark forest. Branches slapped against her face and tangled in her braids. Tree roots grabbed at the hem of her skirt and the toes of her boots, but determination kept her on her feet. She had to keep moving—had to reach Elijah.

She hadn’t been in time to save Doc Nichols.

Though she’d arrived in Colorado six months earlier, Buzzard Roost’s local dentist had met their stagecoach, overlooked her dirty eastern high-society dress and her little brother’s cranky attitude and settled them into a small cabin just off the main thoroughfare. A second cousin to her late father, Doc Nichols had given her a job and a new start. Now he was dead and Elijah was missing and Catherine didn’t know if the future she’d seen in her dreams would become her reality this All Hallow’s Eve.

Catherine hadn’t believed her visions were true until tonight when she’d arrived home from town, her arms filled with local produce and kitchen staples. Discovering the cabin door ajar and the cloying aroma of an animal filling the small space, she’d known instantly the wolf she’d trusted had somehow come for Elijah. She’d run to Doc Nichols for help, only to find the first of her nightmares played out in gruesome reality.

There had been no doubt Doc Nichols had been killed only moments before she’d arrived. The stench of death and evil still hung like a moldy curtain in his small office. Blood oozed in a rusty puddle from his torn throat, his lifeless eyes and gaping mouth beseeching her to save him. But she hadn’t believed her dreams and had never warned Doc Nichols of the malevolent forces hell bent on destroying his little town. Catherine didn’t have time for guilt— nothing could undo the horror that had befallen the dentist—but there was no way she’d let the same fate come to her little brother.

Grabbing the good doctor’s spare pistol from his desk drawer, Catherine had bolted into the forest. She’d never been to Elijah’s favorite fishing hole. Didn’t know in the inky blackness if she was even on the path. Driven by love. fear and instinct, she pushed through the unfamiliar forest. Her brother was only nine. Sassy and full of anger at their circumstances—he was all she had left in this world. She’d give her own life if she could save him from the death she’d seen in her dreams.

Until this night when she’d sensed the wolf, Catherine hadn’t wanted to acknowledge the visions she’d recently experienced weren’t the nightmares of a woman on the brink of insanity. At twenty, she thought the murder of her parents and the trip across country had triggered the violent dreams. Images of torches and thick forests, angry men and vicious wolves, blood and death had filled her nights until she’d feared falling asleep.

And then just last month she’d seen the wolf of her dreams on the far side of the river as she’d been gathering water. With eyes the blue of a cloudless sky and a coat that rivaled the purest of snow, the animal had watched her every move. At the time, there had been no fear, only the overwhelming sense of peace, as if the animal were a body guard protecting her from harm. It had come nearly every night to watch her from afar and she’d taken it as a good luck omen.

Catherine wondered now if she’d invited the monster to steal everything from her.

And then she heard him howl. Not the playful wail of a wolf calling his pack, but the plaintive call of distress. Catherine quickened her pace, tripping in her haste to find Elijah, her knee coming down hard on a rock. Ignoring the pain, she followed the sound, pushing herself to save the brother, somehow knowing the wolf called directly to her.

She was out of breath and nearly panicked with worry when she finally broke into the clearing. The ebony surface of the fishing pond that had brought her brother such joy over the summer now sat still as death, its ebony surface broken only by the reflection of the moon—and the ghostly specter of the white wolf standing over Elijah’s still body.

Even in the muted wash of the moon, Catherine knew the dark shadow running across her brother’s forehead and down his cheek was blood. It had soaked into the soft chamois of his shirt, prickling her soul with dread. Instinct took over as she raised the pistol, not sure the lessons Doc had given her could bring down the animal from this distance. It didn’t matter, she had to try— Elijah’s life depended on her bravery.

The wolf sprang and Catherine closed her eyes and pulled the trigger. The bullet missed its mark and she heard the wolf land not two feet from her in the spongy moss on the edge of the pond. Bracing herself for the inevitable attack, she brought the pistol up to shoot again, opened her eyes and gasped at the sight of a man standing naked before her, his shock of white hair nearly luminescent in the moonlight.

“Catherine, I didn’t hurt your brother. I’m trying to save him—trying to save both of you.” He took the pistol from her trembling fingers. “Someone killed the dentist and tried to kidnap your brother. I—”

She pushed past the man and ran to her brother’s side. Falling to the damp earth, she cradled Elijah in her arms, tears stinging her eyes. The blood on his head had dried, but he was so still, his tiny chest barely moving. She searched for claw or teeth marks, but found none. “What did the wolf do to Elijah?”

The man knelt next to her, careful to shield his nakedness from her. “I did nothing. Men were in your cabin and I ran them off and brought the boy here. They must have knocked him out. I haven’t been able to rouse him. I knew you’d find us if I called for you.”

“You? But I thought the wolf—”

“Catherine, I am the wolf. A werewolf. Both man and beast. I’m the one who’s been watching over you. I’m not sure why fate has brought us together, but I know our paths are as connected as your heart is to your brother.”

A gunshot rent the stillness of the forest.

He took Elijah from her arms and pulled her to her feet. “And so our journey begins … run!”
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Happy Halloween! I hope you enjoyed that little Halloween excerpt.

 *** CONTEST IS CLOSED ***

So what’s your favorite part of this spooky holiday? Leave a comment on this blog post between now and SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21 at 6 pm EST and you’ll be entered to win:

A signed copy of my erotic suspense “Healer’s Garden”
goodies from my prize closet
(shipping to US or Canada only. An international winner gets a $15 Amazon gift card)

One winner will be chosen at random from all commenters this weekend. Best of luck … and enjoy the rest of the hop!

Welcome to this week’s Six Sentence Sunday where I choose six sexy sentences from one of my books. This week (since it’s recently gone free on Barnes & Noble) I’m offering a little something from my romantic suspense story, Blind Her With Bliss.

Her internal muscles surrounded him, taunted him to let go. And when he felt Julie arch and stiffen beneath him—her own climax moments away—Damon surrendered to the bliss. His world became narrowly focused on the woman writhing in pleasure beneath him. Fireworks of ecstasy exploded, filling every cell with the promise of what she’d become to him. “I love you, Julie.” The words slipped quietly from his lips even as the realization shook the very foundation of his life.

Also available FREE at Sony and Kobo.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments. Please click HERE to check out other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week.

Enjoy your week!

WELCOME to SUMMER!!

I’m celebrating the beginning of summer with 25 other authors as we join together in a sexy summer solstice blog hop, where the grand prize is a Nook Simple Touch with a glowlight.

Click HERE to join the hop from the beginning.

There are all kinds of prizes along the way including books, swag and gift cards. Participants who follow the hop all the way through between 9am EDT WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20 through noon EDT SUNDAY, JUNE 24 will be eligible for the grand prize.

This hop we were challenged to use a word generator to create a sexy scene for our readers. My story must include a popstar, salsa dancer and a news anchor. The scene will take place in a city park. And I need to work in happy, successful and drunk characteristics. And I get extra credit if I manage to work in the phrase “streaks of purple and gray“. LOL! Let’s see where this takes us. Please enjoy this summer solstice scene …

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Despite a full pot of coffee and two cans of diet cola, Kate Silva could barely drag herself to her Mustang convertible. The evening heat wafting off the sidewalk wasn’t helping the exhaustion weighing down her limbs. It seemed summer had arrived early in the sleepy town of Pinecrest. Maine didn’t usually see temperatures in the nineties until well into July. Heck, with the solstice still several hours away, summer still hadn’t officially arrived. But you couldn’t prove it by the heat and humidity making a mockery of Kate’s chignon and makeup.

Her early morning news cast had turned into an early afternoon luncheon with the governor and the nap she’d so desperately needed to make it through the evening ahead was usurped by another family emergency.

“Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry you couldn’t rest before the fund raiser tonight.” Aunt Marion locked the door to Patchouli Gardens, her spiritual supply and natural herb store. “I really thought Lucy was choking with all those yards of lanyard wrapped around her little body.” She scooped up the little wiener dog at her feet. “I just don’t know how she gets into that storage room.” Marion’s baby speak was directed at the happy mutt showering her with doggie kisses. “No I don’t. I just don’t know. You had mommy scared right out of her mind when all the boxes tumbled. Yes you did.” Her aunt leaned over and kissed her cheek and the dog snuck one in as well. “Anyway, thank you.”

“Of course you’re welcome.” Kate scratched the dog’s ears. Truth be told, she’d do anything for the eccentric woman with her Bohemian skirt and her stylish hair with streaks of purple and gray. The woman was all she had left of family.

When Aunt Marion had called to say her store was in trouble, Kate had pasted a smile on her face, accepted a job at a local television station and moved in. The six month internship had segued into a street reporting position and eventually the anchor desk. Three years later Patchouli Gardens was in the black and Kate had to admit, she’d grown fond of the little town and protective of the woman who was more like a mother than an aunt.

Dumping the oversized handbag from her shoulder into the backseat, Kate slipped in behind the wheel and wondered again why they’d asked her to be part of the summer concert series at the city park, Dancing Under the Stars, like a takeoff on the popular show. Only she was nothing more than a small town news anchor at a small town television station in central Maine. It certainly didn’t fit her definition of successful, let alone, high profile celebrity. At twenty-eight Kate had expected to be traveling the world reporting the news, not quietly living with her aunt and a troublesome weiner dog—both of whom she loved with all her heart.

As if reading her thoughts, Lucy let out a happy yip.

“This is going to be so much fun,” Aunt Marion said as she tucked Lucy in the little picnic basket at her feet and paused. “You look so beautiful, Katie. Maybe this is the night you find someone special.” Tears welled in her eyes. “That rose quartz you’re wearing calls to your soul mate.”

Kate had never believed the crystals her aunt held so much faith in would do anything, but she’d put on the beautiful necklace because it had complemented her dress. “Aunt Marion, I appreciate the thought, but you and Lucy are enough for me right now.”

“That’s nonsense, child. Everyone needs someone to complete their heart.” She laughed and buckled her seatbelt around her plentiful waist. “I guess we’ll just enjoy the evening and worry about true love later. Tonight promises to be so much fun. I can’t wait to see little Markie. It’s been years. I can’t remember the last time I saw him in a concert, let alone here in town.”

Kate pulled away from the curb, curious about what kind of popstar could have possibly grown up in Pinecrest. The whole town had been buzzing for weeks about Markie’s return like he’d gone out and made a name for himself. But Kate’s internet searches for a Mark Hood made famous had turned up nothing but a lot of articles about his high school football career and a graduation photo. The photo hadn’t been too shabby as she recalled—a handsome young man with an infectious smile, a couple of dimples and a sandy mop of unruly hair.

“You know, it is the solstice. Magical things happen on the solstice.” Aunt Marion clapped her hands together. “And how serendiptious that two of my favorite people in the world got paired together.”

From the glint in Aunt Marion’s eye, Kate was thinking—it probably wasn’t a coincidence at all.

* * * *

Mark Hood hadn’t been home since high school graduation. His agent had had an apoplectic fit when he’d turned down the gig in Chicago in favor of the Civic Center in Portland. But after the six month whirlwind tour of Europe, he was looking forward to a couple weeks home with his dad and a small venue to reconnect with his local fans. What he needed was full blown vacation. Hell, after five years of mega-hits, what he really needed was a sabbatical!

The invitation to this charity event, regardless of how lame, couldn’t have come at a better time. It was the perfect reason to step away from all the screaming fans and chaos that had become his life. He only hoped the local news anchor they’d paired him with to dirty dance to one of his own songs wouldn’t make him look like a complete dork on stage. No doubt the woman was pushing her seventies. No one retired in this town. He looked around the local celebrities hidden behind the small stage they’d set up in the park. At least he couldn’t look worse than the salsa dancers who seemed to be stumbling over each other like they were drunk.

“Excuse me, sir.”

Mark turned and looked down into the eyes of a young girl in a pink ballet tutu.

“I’m dancing tonight. I’m the middle school spelling bee champion.”

“Well, congratulations.” He bent down and whispered conspiratorially, “I’m dancing too, but I’m really nervous. I hope my partner looks as beautiful as you.”

“Thank you.” A blush crawled up her cheeks as she shyly lifted one of the programs and a pen. “I know you’re Marcus Tyrone from Radio Haze and I was wonder—”

“Marissa we talked about this.” The man in charge swooped over and stepped between them. “I’m sorry Mr. Tyrone. I asked everyone—”

“No, excuse me.” Mark gently moved the man to the side and put his hand on the slumping shoulder of the little girl. “Marissa was just giving me some advice on how to calm my nerves.” He winked down at her, took the program, signed his stage name with a flourish and bent to kiss her soft cheek. “Let’s hope we both kill ‘em out there!” The girl hugged him and skipped off happily.

He clapped the guy on the back. “Don’t worry about the autograph seekers. I don’t mind signing a few—”

“Mark! Mark Hood!”

He barely had time to register his late mother’s best friend before she wrapped him in a fierce bear hug. The familiar scent of patchouli and hair spray wrapped around his nose, sending him back to his youth and hours spent sweeping floors and stocking shelves while his mother shared tea and secrets with Marion at her store counter. He’d grown up believing the woman currently bruising his ribs was a witch. With all those crystals and herbs it was hard not to think something mystical happened in her shop.

“Ms. Marion!” He returned her hug, happy to see a familiar face. “So good to see you!”

She pushed away from him, but kept her hands firmly holding his biceps. “The fame doesn’t seem to have hurt you any.” Marion laid a hand on his cheek. “Your momma would be so proud.” The last words caught in her throat. “We’ll catch up later. In the meantime, I want you to meet your dance partner.”

The breath caught in Mark’s lungs as Marion stepped back and introduced the stunning woman behind her. The little red number she wore hugged her curves like a second skin. With the sexy waves of ebony hair falling around her face, the bun at the back of her head looked anything but matronly. As a matter of fact it left her throat exposed, her pulse hammering in time with his. He couldn’t seem to make his brain work. And from the way the stunning woman’s mouth hung open it looked like she was having difficulty as well.

Marion clapped her hands together. “Kate Silva, I’d like you to meet Mark Hood. Mark, this is my niece, Kate.”

“No …. but you’re … I mean holy shit! You’re Marcus Tyrone, from that reality show Rock Icon,” Kate stammered as she stretched her hands across the expanse as manners would dictate. “Aunt Marion never said the boy who helped at her shop was a world renowned singer/songwriter.”

“And no one mentioned my dancing partner was such a beautiful woman.” He wrapped her delicate fingers in his hand, enjoying the electric current shimmering up his arm and warming the rose quartz in his pocket. “That’s a beautiful necklace,” he whispered, cradling the glowing stone at her throat in his other hand.

“Oh, what a lovely couple you make.” Aunt Marion sighed as she gathered a wiener dog from a picnic basket at her feet. “What a coincidence you were paired together the night of the solstice. Who knows what kind of magic can happen tonight.”

Mark was thinking the same thing. “Already feels magical to me.”
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Thank you so much for stopping by. I love summer concerts in the park. It’s one of the activities Mr. Nina and I wouldn’t miss. A picnic dinner, a couple of camp chairs, a bottle of wine, great music and a sultry summer night with the man I love. What more could a woman want? What’s a favorite summer activity you wouldn’t miss?

****   GIVEAWAY CLOSED   ****

One person commenting between now and SUNDAY, JUNE 24 at noon EDT will be chosen at random to win a print copy of RIPE & READY (including my novella Divine Deception) and a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate. (Book shipping to US and Canadian residents only. An international winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card only.)

I’m hanging out today on the beach with Jane Ormerod talking about favorite authors and drinking Mai Tais.

You can also visit me at a new Logline Blog. Where they’re featuring BLIND HER WITH BLISS (which is still FREE at Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

And I don’t know if you’ve been having trouble accessing my blog and website, but there seems to be something amiss in the coding somewhere. My webmistress (whom I absolutely adore) thinks the problem is somewhere in the blog files on GoDaddy. Unfortunately she doesn’t work with WordPress and the wonderful person who did the original coding is no longer in the business. I’m working hard to find a new blogmistress. In the meantime, be patient if you can’t seem to find me. I’m still here and hopefully will have the problem corrected soon!

And in other promotional news:
DANGEROUS AFFAIRS, the Tilling Passions anthology is now available in PRINT!

Back Cover Information:
BLIND HER WITH BLISS
She’s trying to find herself. He’s attempting to hide. Together they’ll discover a truth that threatens them both…

Investigating the death of her best friend, uptight accountant, JULIE TILLING, discovers an erotic world of adult nightclubs and Internet intrigue. When shock jock DAMON COREY rocks her world in a wild night of lust, she wonders if she’s found love…or the key to solving a murder.

DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE
A woman determined to protect her heart. An agent hell bent on proving himself. One night that will change their lives forever…

Landscaper, DEIRDRE TILLING had no way of knowing that attending her friend’s party would throw her into a dangerous world of corrupt businessmen and police stings. Of course her sexual romp with undercover DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT only pushes her deeper into the drug smuggling ring running up the Maine coast. As the heat rises between Deirdre and Ayden, one thing becomes painfully obvious…their relationship has jeopardized his mission and now someone wants them both dead.

CHEAT HER WITH CHARM
He’s got a secret past. She has dreams for their future. Together they have a problem that may just kill them both…

Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?
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I hope you’ll check it out. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Since Halloween is tomorrow, I thought I’d treat you to six sexy lines from my paranormal shifter FREE READ Mating Bonds.

Medium

Jayda untangled herself from Zane and stood, brushing the moss and leaves from her bottom and thighs. In the blue wash of the moon, she knew the the man who’d discovered them in the clearing could see every inch of her curvaceous body.

“Well, there is…er…was a meeting, but the wolves kept going round and round about the same things so I sent everyone home.” Cole cocked his head, no doubt studying her as she finger-combed loose debris out of her long hair.

She stepped around her cougar mate, stalking slowly toward Cole. “Well, we’re glad you found us.”

DOWNLOAD the book. And be sure to check HERE for other authors participating this week.

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Welcome one and all. This weekend I’m doing something a little bit different. I’m participating in a blog hop with all kinds of authors offering all kinds of prizes. If you happened upon my blog first, please do start HERE and join in on the fun to be eligible to win a Kindle 4!

Since this is a Halloween blog tour, I can’t resist sharing some candy …

I have no doubt this tooshie is popular on our hop today. But isn’t he worth another look?

Ah hem, okay, back to our regularly scheduled tour … Participants were offered the opportunity to “roll” a scene generator and challenged to use the words offered in one scene. Of course working it into a Halloween theme gets me extra points. (I totally made that up! *vbg*) But here are my characters: VETERINARIAN, DEMON, BOUNTY HUNTER and I somehow I had to incorporate the personality traits SMUG, OBSESSIVE, SHIFTY and it all had to take place in a SALON. LOL! I’m always up for a good challenge. Leave me a comment to know what you think and you’ll be entered to win a set of my romance trading cards(which you can check out HERE) and an ebook of BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in my Tilling Passions series.

Please enjoy my story …

I slammed into the salon, the cheery bells announcing my arrival.

The day had dawned way too early after a night that had ended way too late. But calves didn’t arrive at the convenience of veterinarians. It felt like I’d no sooner fallen exhausted into bed when the alarm screamed at me to begin another day at my practice. I’d started my morning under a cold spray of water from a water heater my landlord had yet to fix. Add the burned toast and grinds in my watery coffee and I’d barely been coherent enough to change the flat tire I’d no doubt acquired at Old Man Corey’s farm the previous night.

“What the hell, Delanie Shepherd? You look like something one of your horses trampled. And I wouldn’t call a flannel shirt and jeans much of a costume.” My best friend, Peggy sauntered out of the back room, the sexy demon costume hugging her curves, reminding me I’d forgotten to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters who would be knocking at my door tonight.

“Don’t give me a hard time. I’ve had a crappy morning and I’m already running late. I told you I’d pick up little Oliver on my way to the office.”

“Of course I remembered. I’ve got my little guy. We’ve done some special bonding this morning commiserating about his surgery.” Peggy was obsessive about her ten cats. As responsible as she was, she always felt neutering was cruel form of toruture. “Why don’t you give me thirty minutes to work at trying to give that hair of yours a little style and maybe find you a sexy doctor’s costume you can wear for the day?”

The bell over the door rang.

“No time this morning. I’ve got shots to give and testicles to remove. Busy. Busy.”

“Ouch! I’m glad I’m not one of your patients.”

A low groan rumbled in my chest. That toe-curling Irish accent could belong to only one man. So not who I wanted to run into after I’d barely gotten two hours of sleep. But I pasted on my best I don’t care smile and turned to find Heath McTabbit in all his six-foot-something-mouth-watering glory standing there in a Hans Solo getup. The Bounty Hunter costume made the local pediatrician appear even more dangerous. The smile he flashed seemed to reach down and grab the pit of my stomach, pulling it into a hot lump in my throat.

“Are you emasculating all males you come across today or targeting specific ones?” he asked.

“Only males with shifty eyes who have no control over the libidos.” I shot back.

“Dr. Heath,” Peggy cried. “I’m so glad you could stop by this morning to pick up our basket of goodies for the children’s party this afternoon. Let me get that for you.” Peggy disappeared into the back room.

I rolled my eyes at my dear friend’s obvious attempt at matchmaking. Happily married, Peggy hated that I hadn’t found my Prince Charming. “I think Peggy’s arranging more than hair today.”

Heath stepped closer to me, the heat of his body buffeting me through the thin flannel of my shirt. The fresh scent of his cologne assaulted my nose, making my knees go weak. “I for one am glad she did. You seem to avoid me every time we’re in the same room.”

I backed up, only to find he’d trapped me between the free standing hair dryer and the wall of his body. My heart hammered in my chest and I suspected by the way his gaze dropped to my throat that he could see how he affected me. “That’s not true. I do not avoid you. I’m just…a busy woman.” A lie. There was something about my younger brother’s best friend that I found unsettling. Heath McTabbit never missed an opportunity to single me out at parties. But our five year age difference made me feel awkward and uncomfortable. In our small town, I had no desire to be the grist for the rumor mill that never stopped.

He toyed with my hair, his mesmerizing blue eyes raking my face. “Prove it. Find some sexy costume and join me at the Halloween dance tonight.”

“Heath…” I dragged his name over my tongue, trying to make my lips form the word no even as my head screamed yes.

“Stop worrying about other people, Delanie. Don’t think what’s right. Think about this.” His mouth came down hard on mine, not some soft exploration, but a full on assault that had my eyes falling shut and overwhelming me with the dizzying softness of his lips. He tasted and nipped before slowly easing back enough to talk, his breath feathering over my swollen mouth. “Say yes, Delanie.”

My lids fluttered open, my mind overwhelmed by his heat. His taste. His smell. “Yes, Delanie.”

The smug smile lighting his face, stole what little breath I had left. “Then it’s a date,” he said dangerously quiet in that Irish brogue that promised wicked tricks and sinful treats.

Peggy’s squeeing brought me back down to reality. “Well it’s about time you two figured this thing out.” She held up a basket of cookies and the cat carrier.

Peggy may have been wearing the demon costume, but when Heath winked, I was sure I’d just made a date with the devil.
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Enjoy the rest of your blog tour!

****  CONGRATULATIONS TO MY WINNERS  ****

Julia Barrett
(Blind Her With Bliss and Romance Trading Cards)

Donna
(A set of Romance Trading Cards)

****  CONGRATULATIONS TO BLOG HOP PRIZE WINNERS  ****

DJ – Grand Prize of the Kindle
Jessica Sutton – Winner of my “Bonded Souls”

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYONE WHO JOINED IN THE FUN!

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