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 …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.
&nbsp:
Continue reading

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.
 
Continue reading

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 my weekling Six Sentence Sunday where I share a little snippet from one of my books. This week I’ll give you a little snippet from my shifter series. Bonded by Need is a sexy menage story involving two alpha males and one very confused polymorphic shifter …

“Jealous, yeah, I was fucking jealous when you left with Zane,” Cole declared as he stalked back to Jayda, pulling her against the solid wall of his chest. “You’re a wolf shifter and my lover. I don’t want your cougar half to be attracted to some cat on the prowl.”

“Zane’s not on the prowl.” She breathed long and slow, willing herself to tell Cole the truth. “But something did happen between us this morning up on the ridge.”

Currently available FREE at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon

Thanks so much for stopping by this week and thank you especially to those who take time to comment. Be sure to check HERE for other authors participating this 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 …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.)

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.

Photobucket

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.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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!

I’m going to admit a couple things here.

1) I had never purchased a book until 4 years ago when my friend had her debut novel released. (I was a library kind of gal.)
2) I STILL don’t own an e-reader. I know … scandalous right? Because I can’t afford an iPad, I vascillate between a Nook and a Kindle and people who own either “think they’re the best”. Anyway, I’m currently reading e-books on my computer.

So what’s the point of “true confession Friday”? Well, I have no idea how the buyer of digital books thinks. Are they looking for bargain books and willing to try new authors and genres? Are they still only buying their auto-buy authors? And what about freebies?

Yeeeeah, what about freebies? Do thousands of people just automatically download all free books on Amazon, Kindle or Smashwords thinking they may read them and if they don’t … whatever? Or do they pick up the free book by an author thinking they may find a new-to-them author? Does that in turn entice them to go buy more books by that author?

Or are so many books being offered for free by so many authors that readers have become leary of the quality of the writing? With the instant availability of publishing to anyone with a computer the writing/story can range from fabulous to OMG! is English the author’s first language? Leaving the reader to wonder if the author knows the definition of “edit”.

Is a reader more likely to read a book if they have to pay even a minimal amount for it? Say $.99? Does even that small amount of outlay give value to the purchase?

Of course I’m asking because I currently have two sexy romantic suspense novels in my “Tilling Passions” series up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Blind Her With Bliss and Deceive Her With Desire. And now that I’m very close to getting the third book in this series published, I’m thinking about my pricing strategy.

Does giving away the first book entice people to read the second and third in the series? Or will it sit unread in the libraries of Nooks and Kindles across the country, never to be opened? I have no idea. This whole self-publishing seems to be a big fat roll of the dice all the way around.

So what about you? When you see a book on B&N or Amazon for free do you assume certain things? Do your feelings change if it’s $.99? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this because I’m currently BEYOND confused on what is best at this point.

I want to welcome all the readers who found their way here from the Summer Reading Trail. I’m so happy you’ve found me along the Flirtatious Footpath. The story I’m sharing with you is specifically a free read written for the Summer Reading Trail. The rest of the story will be posted in July.

If you enjoy it and would like to read something longer, please click on the cover of any my books on the right side of the blog and it will take you directly to a publisher’s website where you can learn more about them.

And without further adieu, please enjoy part 1 of BRIDGE TO LOVE:

In the distance the festival continued, but Vral barely heard the raucous laughter and tribal drums over the soft moans of the woman in his arms. Mahgda would be upset he’d been gone so long. It wasn’t polite for the bridegroom to miss his own promise celebration and no doubt his betrothed would be looking for him.

Didn’t matter. This whole wedding was a farce. He didn’t love the Nargien female anymore than she loved him. Though Mahgda was certainly going to reap benefits beyond her wildest dreams, Vral would save the realm, but lose his self-respect in the bargain—hardly seemed a fair exchange for the first born son of the Demekleis king.

But duty often involved personal sacrifice and Vral seemed to be paying the ultimate price.

As he hurried to his sleeping chambers, the female snuggled deeper in his arms, her porcelain face nestled in the curve of his shoulder. Human. Though it hardly seemed possible, her long limbs and slight build confirmed his suspicion.

A scholar of ancient civilization and artifacts, Vral had chosen the tiny planet in the Milky Way Galaxy for his Prothemesis. Few academics chose to receive the highest honor, but the hours poring over the ancient texts had not only kept him out of the local gangs, but had piqued his interest in Earthlings. In the end, there was very little he didn’t know about the humanoid planet—or its inhabitants. And this woman, warm and soft in his arms was definitely one of them.

But Earth was a thousand light years and countless galaxies from the planet of Cabonon. The starbridge between their worlds had been destroyed during the last great cycle. Both Earth and Cabonon still bore the scars of the apocalypse. The former had lost Atlantis, a great catastrophe for sure, but humans had prevailed and their race had continued, albeit without the peace the Atlanteans would have guaranteed. But Cabonon—his home planet–had been completely decimated.

A dark evil had descended the day the starbridge collapsed, sending Cabonon into a blackness so complete, even the light from distant stars couldn’t penetrate its atmosphere. Vral hadn’t known anything different from the heavy weight of despair all Demekleis people slogged around. Tempers were quick, insults quicker and peace between tribes something only the elders remembered.

Hence the reason for his loveless betrothal to the Nargien warrior.

On a sigh, Vral pushed aside the oversized strands of the baen tree covering his sleeping chamber, whispering commands as he passed through the sitting room. Luminescent organisms woke from their slumber, a soft, amber hue lighting the dark recesses of his simple abode. It was one of many symbiotic relationships the Demekleis people had developed with the fauna of their planet.

“Vral!”

Normally, the sound of his brother’s voice wouldn’t send icy rivers of guilt through his veins. But as Vral hastily laid her on the bed and covered the woman with a blanket of soft ferns, he implored the Gods not to let her choose this moment to wake.

“Vral, where the hell are—” Wesphel stepped into the bedchamber. “Ah, here you are.” Three years younger, his brother had not come into his male maturity. The boy was still a head shorter and his cyan skin hadn’t developed the cobalt hue of Vral’s. “Where have you been? That Nargien wench sent me to find—”

“Well you’ve found me.” Vral stepped between his brother and the bed, shielding his curious gaze. “I just wanted to…” Vral searched for some believable excuse for coming back to his chambers. “Grab my daknier.” He swiped the small knife from his dressing stand, bent and slid it into a weapon’s band beneath the leg of his trousers and slapped his beefy fist on his brother’s shoulder. “Shall we go?”

A low moan keened from beneath the covering.

Wesphel broke from his grasp and shot around him before Vral could stop the foolish boy. “I’m not sure if Father would be proud you’ve bedded one last female or displeased that you’ve broken your promise of fidelity.”

He pulled back the coverlet before Vral could stop him. The human female bolted to a sitting position, her blood curdling scream echoing off the walls. The noise startled the luminescent organisms who shut down, leaving them in total darkness.

* * * * *

Annemarie’s throat burned from screaming. But she forced herself to stop and swallow her fear. It wouldn’t do for the daughter of a naval officer to lose her head in battle. She wasn’t sure where she was, but it sure as hell wasn’t Pennsylvania. She’d had only a brief glimpse of the blue alien trying to probe her before everything had gone black.

Instinctively she jumped away from the creature, grabbing the taser from the large side pocket of her cargo pants as she went. With her back to the wall, she waited for her eyes to adjust, wondering just where she’d landed and how the hell she’d gotten there. It seemed a long way off from the crystal cave she’d been excavating.

“Hush, dear friends, safety is yours.” A decidedly male voice spoke quietly in the dark, the baritone timbre stirring something deep inside Annemarie. Not fear exactly, but a definite awareness. She hadn’t expected the creature could have such a soothing tone. It seemed so incongruous to the harsh angles of his face. “If it pleases you, we could use some light.”

She patted her pockets. Save for a wad of notes, two stubby pencils and an old stick of gum, Annemarie had nothing. “I…I’m sorry I don’t seem to have my flashlight. Matches either.” She wasn’t sure why she dared respond. The blue creature that had been in her face wasn’t any friend of hers. But when the ceiling began to glow, she suspected he hadn’t been talking to her. Mesmerized, she watched the rock above her grow brighter. The light rolled and pulsed as if the ceiling itself were alive.

“There, now if we can all remain calm.” The voice floated from a second creature, bigger, bluer and uglier, who seemed to materialize out of the shadows. There was no way in hell the small taser in her hand was any match for the monstrosity moving toward her. The scream ripping from her lungs, was all very girly, but it seemed a natural reaction to being cornered.

They were plunged into darkness once again and Annemarie dropped into a fighting stance. Even though the Tai Kwon Do lessons she’d been taking at the YMCA for the last year weren’t going to get her very far, at least they weren’t going to stick probes in her orifices without a fight.

“Seriously human we’re not going to get anywhere if you keep scaring the Photinus.”

“—I have no idea what a photo-whatever is, but I need you to stay back!”

“—Human? Did you say human, Vral? For the love of all the Gods where did you find a human?”

Her words rolled over a higher pitched voice, probably the smaller of the two. But their distress came through in the volume of their voices, the sound bouncing off the walls as if amplified by the tight quarters.

“Stop now both of you.” The honey-rich command of the bigger male brooked no argument. “The creatures living in my ceiling are Photinus. And they would happily share their light and heat if the two of you would stop scaring the living shit out of them.”

A low hum filled the air, a sweet melody of notes that wrapped around Annemarie, slowing her breathing and steadying the rhythm of her heart. Once again light filtered into the room.

“I—”

“She’s—”

“Enough,” the big male said. “Seriously, if we are plunged into darkness again, because you two fools can’t keep your voices down, I will walk from here and leave you both to fend for yourselves and find your own way out.” His gaze pinned first one than the other, both of them shaking their heads and holding their hands up in surrender. Annemarie had no desire to be lost in a dark cave with an alien species of unknown origin.

“Fine.” He shot an imposing look at the male behind him. “Wesphel, stand there and shut up.” When he turned back to Annemarie, his expression softened. “I have no intention of hurting you human.” His voice was warm and lilting, inviting her to relax. “From your reaction I suspect you’ve unknowingly opened the starbridge between our worlds and I intend to find out how and why.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’d like to read more authors on the summer trail, please click on the banner below to be taken to the trailhead.

Photobucket

SEE YOU IN JULY!

Connect