Jan 292011
 

I lowered the price of Cattitude in November from $2.99 to $0.99 for the holidays. The holidays are past, my tree is down, our decorations are put away :sad:, and it’s time to change the price back to $2.99. I’ll wait until Sunday. Except for Smashwords, it takes a day or two to show up on the different places. So if you want to buy it for the lower price but never got around to it, now’s your chance.

I’ll have other news on Monday, something I’m excited about. Today, I’m going to a chapter mate’s house. A bunch of us are going to brainstorm/write/chat/eat. Since we usually have an overload of sweets, I’m bringing marinated mushrooms. This is the recipe I used. I’ve made it before and it’s very good. The allrecipe site is the best!

Yesterday, my CP sent me her ms. I’ll read it on my Kindle during the writing period, with a pad of paper to write down impressions. I can make notes and bookmarks on the Kindle, too, so I’m good. For the brainstorming, I already have an idea for my 2nd book in my Haunted Hearts series. I’m happy every time I think about it.

What are you up to this weekend?

Jan 272011
 

I’m pleased to welcome back Dale Mayer. Dale is one of the remaining 4 finalists in the Brava/Romantic Times Writing For The Stars contest with her romantic suspense Tuesday’s Child. You can see by the excerpt why she was chosen.

Here’s the description for Tuesday’s Child:
Samantha Blair, a psychic with a terrible gift, is forced to work with Detective Brandt Sutherland, a cop on the hunt for serial killer, in order to save not only her sanity but also the women falling victim to an unusual killer preying on their small town.

Here’s the excerpt:

The shepherd’s low growl warned her halfway.

“It’s okay, boy.  It’s just me.  I’ll be taking care of you.  Give you food, fresh water, and friendship.  The things that help us get along in life.”  Although she kept her voice quiet, warm, and even toned, the growl remained the same.

She couldn’t blame him.

He might be able to get along without friendships, but she wanted them.  She’d never had that elusive element that others took for granted.

Sam approached the dog’s cage with care.  According to his chart, he’d had surgery to repair internal bleeding and to set a shattered leg.  On top of that, he’d suffered several broken ribs, a dislocated collarbone and was missing a huge patch of skin on both hindquarters.  Written in red and circled were the words – aggressive and dangerous.  The growling stopped.

Sam squatted down to stare into his eyes.  The dog should have a name.  He didn’t give a damn.  But a name gave the dog a presence, an existence…an identity.

“How about…” she thought for a long moment.  “I know, how about we call you Major?”

The dog exploded into snarls and hideous barking, his ears flattened, and absolute hate filled his eyes.

“Jesus!”  Sam skittered to the far corner of the room–her hand to her chest–sure her heart would break free.

“Is everything okay back here?”

Sam turned in surprise to see one of the vets standing behind her, frowning.  “Sorry,” she yelled over the din of the other animals that had picked up the shepherd’s fear.  She waited for the animals to calm down before continuing.  “I’d thought of a brilliant name for the shepherd, but from his reaction, I think he hates it.”

The vet walked over and bent down to assess his patient.  “It could have been your tone of voice or the inflection in the way you said the name.  He’d been abused even before this accident.”  After a thoughtful pause, he added, “I’m not sure, but it might have been kinder to have put him down.”

“No.”  Sam stared at him in horror.  “Don’t say that.  He’ll come around.”  At his doubtful look, she continued, “I know he will.  Give him a chance.”

That she seemed to be asking the vet to give her a chance hung heavy in the room, but she didn’t think he understood that.

He stared at her, shrewdness and wisdom in his eyes.

Then again, maybe she’d misjudged him.  She shifted, uneasy under the intense gaze.

“We’ll see.  We’ll have lots of opportunity to assess his progress as he recuperates.”

Sam had to be satisfied with that.  She knew the dog was worth saving and so, damn it, was she.  Her salvation and that of the dog’s were tied together in some unfathomable way.  She could sense it.  She’d fight tooth and nail to keep him safe.

In so doing, maybe she could save herself.

You can find out more about Dale and her books at her website.

To read about a secondary character from Tuesday’s Child and from the other contestants’ books, click on the Vote For Dale button.

Jan 262011
 

I’m lucky to have phenomenal friends who are great writers. And I’m happy because two of them have new books out right now! Yesterday was the release day for DEADLY HEAT by Cynthia Eden. It’s her first straight romantic suspense! On Feb. 1st, it will be available in e-book. That’s when I’ll probably get it, unless I get to a bookstore before then. She’s blogging at Magical Musings today, and she has a giveaway!

Another book that I’ve been waiting to be released for months is SAVE MY SOUL by Zoe Winters. As of yesterday, it’s available at Amazon, with other digital outlets coming soon. It’s only $2.99 for a limited time, and then will go up to $4.95. (Which is still a bargain!) You can read the blurb here and the excerpt here.

Tomorrow I’ll post an excerpt from TUESDAY’S CHILD by Dale Mayer. Dale’s one of the last four finalists in Kensington Brava / RT Book Reviews Writing for the Stars contest! In her blog at Magical Musings yesterday, Amy Atwell called Dale a Real Life Heroine. I agree!

And I want to give a shout out to the Green Bay Packers and all their fans!!!!! They’re going to the Super Bowl!!!!!!!

Congrats to the Steelers’ fans, too. It’s going to be an FANTASTIC game!

Jan 242011
 
A delightful contemporary romance that will touch your heart.” -Minding Spot
Full of lively characters, a unique plot and unforgettable one-liners, Act Like We’re In Love is sure to be a big hit for romance fans.” -Suite 101
I would recommend this book for a cold winter day when you need to cuddle up with a good, steamy book.” -Mind Fog Reviews

~~~~~

When two people make beautiful music together onstage, can their love survive once the curtain falls?  Linnea Larson is willing to do anything to keep her family’s Minneapolis dinner theatre from going under.  Anything, that is, besides accepting a date from the Hollywood hunk her father hired to inject a dose of star power into their production of Guys & Dolls.  It’s a toss up whether his greatest claim to fame is playing a superhero on screen, or a super stud off screen.  Neither fact convinces her he’s got what it takes to share her stage.  And thanks to a life long pact with her best friend, she never dates actors.

Luke Powell has fame, fortune, and an endless string of women, but also a lingering dissatisfaction with his picture perfect life. Looking for a change, he escapes to his theatrical roots.  What he finds are wary cast mates, a nervous best friend convinced the show will ruin Luke’s career, and an adorable costar who stubbornly refuses to go out with him.  Suddenly singing and dancing aren’t the only challenges he’ll tackle over the summer.  Far from the spotlights of Hollywood, can he find happiness in the footlights of a tiny theatre?

Despite Luke dragging her into his daily paparazzi nightmare, Linnea can’t deny her mounting attraction to his irresistible charm. And even if she’s crazy enough to chance getting involved, their fling would have a guaranteed expiration date.  He’s leaving at the end of the run, and she’s tied to her family’s theatre.  Why risk the inevitable heartbreak?  Their job is to act like they’re in love, but will they decide it’s worth the leap to fall in love for real?


Luke exhaled a long, measured breath. “Have I mentioned how good you are at cutting me down to size?”

“If you can’t handle the reviews, get off the stage.”

“Thought you were supposed to have my back, partner.”

He’d pushed the wrong button. “And I was under the impression we were on a date last night. Looks like we’re both laboring under misconceptions.”

“Aha!” A look of triumph washed over his face. “I knew you were pouting.”

How dare he? Pouting? For goodness sake, she wasn’t a five year-old whimpering over lost candy. “Don’t be ridiculous,” Linnea said stiffly.

Wow, couldn’t she do any better for a comeback? Her brain must have a charley horse. She tried to shake free a pithy zinger, but came up with nothing.

Luke scooted closer and took her hand. “Look, I’m told I didn’t handle things as well as I could have last night.”

Flabbergasted, Linnea shook off his hand. “Someone had to point it out? You didn’t put two and two together when I left the restaurant without you?”

“I clued in you were upset. Doesn’t automatically make it my fault.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve seen the light.” Linnea kept her tone cool and light. He’d acknowledged his mistake and she would be big enough, mature enough to move on. No need to dwell on her deep levels of both humiliation and disappointment at the way the night turned out.

“Not what I said. Being gracious to fans, taking the time to speak with them is a big part of what I do. I don’t apologize for it.” Luke enveloped her hand again in both of his. “However, I am sorry I upset you. Should’ve asked you to come with me to the mayor’s table. Now I know for next time.”

Whoa! Could he really be so blind? She certainly hadn’t hidden her bruised feelings. His self-confidence was severely overinflated if he harbored any misguided presumption she’d go out with him again. Well, she’d happily set him straight on his nonexistent chances.

“Don’t hold your breath. The basic prerequisite for a second date is for the first date to end well.”

Luke flashed a watered-down version of his devilish smile.  “It started well. Middle was good too. Doesn’t that count for something?”

So much for not dwelling on it. Linnea gathered her tattered pride and let the sad facts rush out. “Luke, you walked away from me. Left me all alone without a word. Pulled up a chair and sat down at another table!”

“Okay, but you could’ve given me more than five minutes to deal with the situation. It’s not as if I planned to go home with the mayor.”

Linnea bit her lip. His words echoed Ingrid’s. Perhaps she’d wallowed in her misery too deeply to fairly assess his actions.  Luke was still in the doghouse, but maybe, just maybe she’d been too hasty in her exit.

“Give me another chance.” Eyes, darkened to deep emerald, beseeched her, and his grip on her hand tightened. “I won’t screw up again—at least, not in the same way. I always learn from my mistakes. Please, Linnea. Don’t cut off the array of possibilities between us. We burst into flames when we’re together. And I’ve never been so enchanted and intrigued by a woman before. Let me try to be a better man.”>

Her heart skipped a beat. Until today, she’d thought it a fairytale cliché, not a physical reality. But the funny little flutter in her chest said otherwise. The sheer romance of his speech knocked Linnea right off her self-pity pedestal.

“Sky and Sarah, get in your places for the end of the song. We think we’ve got the lighting ironed out.” Her father’s voice shattered their intimate bubble. Linnea stood, pulling Luke with her.  His movements were tentative, as though testing to see what hurt the most. She found the spot slightly left of center stage where they’d left off.

“Sarah, why don’t you take it from the last line where you do your drunken twirl?” At Kurt’s direction, the house lights dimmed and the piano gave her a few bars of intro. One white hot spotlight targeted Linnea while the other stayed on Luke an arm’s length away.

Linnea opened her mouth and began the best part of every day, singing. “‘Ask me how to describe this whole beautiful thing. Well, if I were a bell I’d go ding, dong, ding, dongding.’” At this point in the show, her character, Sarah, had gotten drunk for the first time in her life, and let it all hang out. She moved with the music, arms swinging overhead to the left and right as she twirled in a giant circle around Luke. On the last note she collapsed against Luke’s chest and he deftly twisted her into a dip.

As scripted, his mouth covered hers while the piano barreled through to the end of the song. Linnea told herself to be true to the scene and her character. After all, Sarah Brown, the missionary, although drunk, had never before kissed a man, or wanted to.  One swift peck should do it, and then they could move on to the dialogue.

But nothing in the stage directions covered what happened next, Linnea thought, with the tiny corner of her brain that hadn’t fogged over with lust. Moments ago Luke could barely move, as agile as an eighty-year-old with creaky joints. Now his arms were like steel around her; she’d never felt so secure. One leg braced most of their weight, its support rock solid against her legs and butt.

One hand cupped the back of her neck so her head didn’t fall backwards under the pressure, no, the assault of his kiss. Linnea knew his lips moved against hers, but the sensation went far deeper.  Lightning flicks of heat started at her mouth, or maybe her heart? Hard to tell when she felt his touch everywhere, all at once.

A moan caught in her throat when he slanted his mouth for better access. Luke bent her even lower, bowing her over his knee till her hair swept the floor. His kiss deepened, tongue tracing and learning every exquisitely sensitive inch of her mouth. Her tongue twined around his with eagerness, because as wonderful, as sweeping as his kisses were, she couldn’t get enough. Luke set off a craving in her body which intensified with every nip and lick he gave.

Loud applause broke through the haze of pleasure clouding her mind. Why did she hear applause? The scene hadn’t ended yet. And since when did the cast ever applaud during rehearsal? Luke noticed it too, because he swung her up and stood her on her feet, one hand still around her waist for support while Linnea’s head continued to spin.

“Finally!” Kurt sounded jubilant. “Luke, my boy, I’ve spent all day telling you to be bigger. Bigger words, bigger expressions, bigger gestures. I said go so big, even the people in the last row can see you. Well, damned if they didn’t see that kiss in the last row of the theatre two towns over.” He chuckled good-naturedly. “Any bigger and I’d ask exactly what your intentions toward my daughter are.”

Nothing like being kissed into a puddle right in front of your father. Why, Linnea wondered, had she spent most days since meeting Luke in a state of perpetual embarrassment?

You can find our more about Christi Barth and her books, including where to buy them, at her website: www.christibarth.com

Jan 232011
 

I’m working on my next book, so I decided to skip #SampleSunday today. If you’d like to look at my excerpts, here’s one from Dead People that was posted last week at the Author’s Den by Dana Taylor. I posted this one from Cattitude for the second Sample Sunday.

For tomorrow (Monday), I’m posting an excerpt from Act Like We’re In Love by Christi Barth. This is from one of its many rave reviews:

Full of lively characters, a unique plot and unforgettable one-liners, Act Like We’re In Love is sure to be a big hit for romance fans.” -Cheryl’s Book Nook

On Thursday, the talented Dale Mayer will return with another excerpt from Tuesday’s Child. Dale is one of the last four finalists in Kensington Brava / RT Book Reviews Writing for the Stars contest! I posted a different excerpt last Thursday. You can vote for your favorite by clicking on Vote for Dale button.

And I have to talk about the 5 cup review that I got from Laurie at Coffee Time Romance. I love reviewers!

I’m not a huge football fan, but I live in Wisconsin and will probably watch at least part of the Packers/Bears game. Go Pack!

Will you be watching the games? Who are you rooting for?

Jan 202011
 

Dale Mayer is one of the remaining 4 finalists in the Brava/Romantic Times Writing For The Stars contest with her romantic suspense Tuesday’s Child. She’s a fabulous writer, as you can see by her excerpt.

Here’s the description for Tuesday’s Child:
Samantha Blair, a psychic with a terrible gift, is forced to work with Detective Brandt Sutherland, a cop on the hunt for serial killer, in order to save not only her sanity but also the women falling victim to an unusual killer preying on their small town.

Sam has always lived a lonely existence on the fringe of society – and was content to stay that way until Brandt boldly steps into her life and then her heart, reminding her that shadows don’t exist if you live in the circle of love.


Lying in bed that night, Sam couldn’t sleep, her overwrought mind refused to let up.  The tantalizing possibility that she was meant to do something with this gift worried the frayed edges of her mind.  Depressed and unsettled she fell into a fitful sleep, her dreams dark and disjointed pieces of past visions.

Screams jarred her from a deep sleep.  Confusion turned to fear when Sam realized the horrific sounds were coming from her own mouth.  Even worse, she had no idea where she was.

Terror overwhelmed her.  Her fingers spasmed in a death grip around a strange steering wheel as the car she drove careened further out of control.  Still trying to toss off the remnants of sleep, Sam yanked hard on the wheel in a futile attempt to turn it.  The mid-sized car plowed through a steel barricade to hang suspended in midair before plummeting to the rocks below.  Screams ripped from her throat and she reefed on the useless steering wheel, helpless to stop the deadly impact.  Her foot pounded on useless brakes.  The front grill of the car crumpled and metal buckled upward.  The car plowed into the first of the rocks below, snapping her forward into the windshield.  Agonizing pain shattered her spine.  Grinding metal, exploding glass and continuous crunching sounds filled the air as first the bumper flew off, then the rear window shattered outward.  Twisted metal ripped and groaned, flying to land beside the crash site.  The car tumbled, smashed on a huge rock, careened to the left and flipped end over end before coming to a hard landing on its wheels at the bottom of the cliff.

Then utter silence.

Sam trembled.  Shock and pain pulsed through her veins even as her blood dripped out one beat at a time onto the shredded seat beside her.  God, she didn’t want to die.

She wanted to live.  Please, dear God.

Someone help!

Blood streamed over her face, her spine…where a shearing heat set off continuous stabbing pain.  The steering wheel jammed into her ribs.  The front dash had crumpled into a mess of twisted steel and plastic, the famous Mercedes emblem now hung drunk in mid air over the remains of the once beautiful cream leather seats.

Sam couldn’t feel her right arm.  And wished she couldn’t feel her left.  She closed her eyes, willing away the image of bone shards that had sliced through her sweater, a few loose strands of wool clinging to the ends.  Heart wrenching sobs poured from her throat, tears coated her cheeks.  She was alone.  And dying.

A brilliant flash of light engulfed the car as the fuel from the pierced gas line flashed into flames.  Heat seared her lungs and scorched her hair, the strands melting against the inside of her car window.  Panicked, she screamed as flames licked at her feet, burning, and cooking the flesh right off her bones.

Agony.  Pain.  Terror.

A voice whispered through the blackness of her mind, so odd, so different it caught her attention.  She strained to hear the words.

“Let go.  It’s time to let go.”

Sam stared through the flames, stunned.  Let go of what?  She couldn’t hear over the roaring fire and could barely see, but knowing that someone was there stirred her survival instinct, and she started fighting against the seatbelt jammed at her side.  She was saved.  Just another minute and they’d open the door and pull her free.  She’d be fine.

“Please hurry,” she cried out.

“Let go.  You don’t need to be in there.  Let it all go, and come with me.”

She peered through the golden orange windshield to see a strange male face peering at her through the flames.

He smiled.

“Come with me.”

“I want to, damn it.  Can’t you see I’m trapped?” she screamed, her vocals crisping in the heat.

“Release yourself.  Come with me.  Say yes.”

The pain hit a crescendo.  She twisted against it, hearing her spine splinter.  The car seat melted into her skin.  So much pain, she couldn’t breathe.  Blackness crowded into her mind, blessed quiet, soothing darkness.  She reached for it.

“Let it go.  You don’t need to go through this.  Hurry.”

She started.  Why wasn’t he opening the door or getting others to help?  He should be trying to save her.  Shouldn’t he?  Sam, so confused and so tired, she could barely feel the pain overtaking her body.  Where had he gone?  She tried to concentrate.  His face was now only a vague outline that rippled with the heat waves.  A soft smile played at the corner of his mouth.  The flames burned around him, weird as they centered him in the warm glow.  She wanted to be with him.  To live.

“Here, take my hand.”

Dazed and on the brink of death, Sam focused on the hand reaching for her.  She struggled to raise the charred piece of flesh that had been her arm and reached out to grasp his.

She was free.

Overwhelmed, cries of relief escaped.  She turned to hug her savior, her head just reaching his shoulder.  He stood beside her, the same radiant beaming look on his face.  His blond hair glowed, and he had the brightest teeth.  She sighed.  This beautiful man pointed to her right arm.  Confused, Sam glanced down at her burned arm, realizing she could feel none of her injuries.  Just like her other one, her broken arm had miraculously healed – whole, smooth and soft.  Her skin hadn’t looked this good in ten years.

Realization hit.

She spun around to find a massive fireball below.  What the hell?  She had to be dead.  But instead of the horror or shock, she expected to feel, she felt good.  In fact, she felt great.  She turned to the ever-smiling stranger.

“Let’s go sweetheart.”

Sam didn’t know why he’d called her that, but she bloomed under his loving gaze.  Honestly, she was so damned grateful to be out of the car, she let him get away with it.

Holding hands, they floated higher into the cloudless blue sky.  Then when the crash site below had become a tiny speck, Sam felt a hard flick on her arm and the words, “Thanks, but I can take it from here.”

And she woke up.

You can find out more about Dale and her books at her website.

To read about a secondary character from Tuesday’s Child and from the other contestants’ books, just click on the Vote For Dale button.

Jan 192011
 

Rapier wit, good-hearted interference on all sides and eccentric characters make Daille’s entry a first-class romantic read.” -RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars TOP PICK

Talented author Barbara White Daille blends several scenarios with the ups and downs, twists and turns of a roller coaster, entertaining her readers with smooth flowing dialog.  I guarantee FAMILY MATTERS will be devoured in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed by all. -CataRomance, 4.5 stars


The setup: Every time hardheaded, by-the-books lawyer Matt Lawrence and free-spirited high school art teacher Kerry Anne MacBride meet, their anger ignites. Putting the two of them together in a small vehicle for a long ride is probably not the best idea. But that’s exactly where they are in this scene.

As the silver-tongued attorney tries to learn more about the feisty redhead with the infuriating family, he discovers she’s managing to get more out of him than he’s willing to give. Maybe more than he’s even willing to admit to himself….

Matt has just asked Kerry about one of her most promising students, and her responses take the straitlaced lawyer by surprise.

“His craft’s still crude,” she admitted, “and his knowledge isn’t as extensive as it could be.”

“The masters have to start out somewhere.  They don’t all begin by painting ceilings, right?”

She chuckled.  “Some of them, like J.J, jump into painting ceilings, walls, mailboxes, anything that will stand still.”

“Graffiti’s illegal.”

“Yes, Counselor.”  He didn’t look but knew without a doubt she had rolled her eyes at his obvious statement.  “But, done in the right places, it’s both legal and a method of artistic expression.”

He snorted, then hoped the traffic noise had drowned out the sound.

“And,” she added loudly, probably indicating she’d heard, “sometimes, it’s a way of communicating with the world.”

“Communication?  As in, defacing public property—often to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the manpower and materials needed to clean it up?”

“As in, reaching out in the only way some of these kids know how.”

He shook his head.

She exhaled an exasperated breath.  “Just because you grew up in comfort—and continue to have all the advantages in life—doesn’t mean all kids do.”

“I didn’t—”  He clamped his jaw down on the words.  Again, she’d come close to pushing one of his hot buttons.

“Yes, I know.”  Her voice had suddenly grown flat, drained of all energy.  “You didn’t mean to imply anything negative.  You know those kids are disadvantaged.  You know they need help.  I’ve heard it all before.  From people who don’t believe—or intend to follow through on—a single thing they say.”

“You don’t know enough about me to know what I believe and what I don’t.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

“I’ve heard the cliché.  What’s your justification for quoting it here?”

She exhaled twice as forcefully as before.  “It’ll be justifiable homicide here in a minute,” she muttered.

Despite his anger, he had to swallow a smile.

Buy the book: eHarlequin, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells

Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest, where they don’t mind the lizards in their front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.

A writer from the age of nine and a novelist since eighth grade, Barbara is now an award-winning author with a number of novels to her credit.

When she was very young, Barbara learned from her mom about the storytelling magic in books—and she’s been hooked ever since. She hopes you will enjoy reading her books and will find your own magic in them!

Find out more about Barbara and her books at her website.

Jan 172011
 

I’m still posting excerpts but not every weekday. Two or three times a week is more reasonable. As the blog title says, I have stuff going on. First, I wrote an article on Self-Publishing Basics for my monthly How To Write Shop column. Writer friends have been asking me questions about self-publishing. The next time I get asked, I can send the link.

I have an excerpt up today at Fiction For Dessert, posted by the talented Karen Cantwell. Karen’s book, Take the Monkeys and Run, is #9 on the Kindle Bestsellers for mysteries/woman sleuths. PW says it’s “an outright treat.”

I’m also on Magical Musings today asking “What stops you reading a book?” What stopped me recently was thick thighs. There’s a giveaway, and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow morning. So anyone who comments before then is eligible.

HUGE NEWS!!! Dale Mayer is one of the last four remaining finalists in Kensington and Romantic Times‘ Writing With the Stars competition. She’s a terrific writer and person. To vote for her (and I hope you do!), click on the Vote for Dale button:

So what stuff do you have going on?

Jan 152011
 

This book is filled with laughter, heartbreak, mystery, cranky ghosts, and most importantly, love. The depth of which Ramer is able to put into her characters is fantastic. It doesn’t get much better than this.” -Aimee Coffee Table Press

It’s not easy to find a book that has it all: Love, Danger, Mystery, Romance, Sorrow, Happiness…I could go on and on, the point is that you can name any number of emotions or aspects that makes up a great book and Dead People has it!” -Evie Paromantasy

Dead People has a lot of intense scenes, but I felt like posting something lighter today. If you’d like to read something more intense (and sensual) from Dead People, you can read an excerpt at the AuthorsDen.

The air in the county hall’s building permit office smelled oppressive, stale. Standing in front of a wood-framed window, Cassie waited for the brunette with gray roots to cross out Wednesday on her flip-over calendar.

Cassie glanced at the utilitarian clock on the wall. 11:10. Just another county worker who loved her job.

The clerk looked up finally.

“I’m looking for the records of a house—”

The clerk slid a clipboard with a form across the wooden counter. “Fill this out, sign and date it.”

Cassie sat on a vinyl-covered chair with metal legs and started scribbling. When she brought the form back, the clerk squinted at the address line, tiny lines raying out from her pursed lips.

“We don’t have records for this house. It must’ve been built before 1870. That’s when the old courthouse burned.”

“How do you know?”

“Not because I was living then,” the clerk snapped. She took off her sweater, her face glowing.

Oh-oh. Someone woke up this morning on the wrong side of a hot flash. “You answered so quickly. Were you born in Bliss?”

“Nope. New York City and proud of it. Someone requested the same information last week.” The clerk tapped the side of her head. “The short-term memory’s still oiled and running.”

Cassie leaned forward, trying not to show her eagerness. “Do you remember who asked for the information?”

“Yeah, I do.” The clerk smirked and peered at another form on her side of the counter, obviously enjoying her game of making Cassie ask for information.

“Was it the owner? Luke Rivers? Thirtyish with dark hair?”

The clerk glanced up. “If that was a man, he’s the best looking cross-dresser I’ve seen. A cheerleading cross-dresser.”

“Tricia Windmeyer.” Not a question, an answer.

“If she’s too blonde, too pretty and too young, it must be her.”

Cassie stepped back, already turning away. “Thanks for your help.”

“Helping people is what I’m here for.”

Buy the book : Amazon AmazonUK Barnes & Noble Smashwords

Jan 142011
 

The games they play can lead them to love or ruin.

Melanie Dubois detests her family’s casino business. The way this addiction destroys people has her on a tear of magnificent proportions. Then again, this young lady has been put through a train wreck of her own design. She distrusts everybody except for the people who are determined to use Melanie as a poster-child for zealots.

Mike Mercer has spent nearly a year in a deep cover mission for the FBI. The one fly in the ointment of completing his objective to take down a group of dangerous anti-gambling zealots is a fiery-tempered, blonde-haired woman named Melanie DuBois. Worse than that, she’s got a passion brewing just beneath the surface that’s an even deadlier attraction.

Fighting for your life is never easy when the odds are stacked against you.

October 17

Mike Mercer stood to the side watching Melanie Dubois talk to the news media. She was a piece of work, but he had to admit she had a hot body. He sighed crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned against his dark blue sedan, trying to blend in with the crowd. He wasn’t here to seduce her; even though her feistiness appealed to him, making him wonder what kind of lover she’d be. He was here to get her away from these people.

He would have to question her motives in front of the picketers and the media, so if she decided to go with The Opposition Group, Janet Batten and her followers, she wouldn’t be suspected of collusion with him. The confrontation might be fun, but more than likely he was going to get a tongue lashing. His lips curled up at the thought.

Hopefully, his cover hadn’t been discovered. He didn’t need these fanatics knowing he was FBI. A sloppily dressed journalist glanced toward Mike. Here was his opening.

Mike heaved himself away from the fender and strode into the center of the crowd. Once he reached Melanie, he grasped her shoulder, saying, “What the hell are you doing here? This is no place for you.”

Mel whirled around, jerking away from his touch. “Just who are you telling me what I can or can not do?”

He grinned down at the spitting feline image of tawny blonde hair swirling around her face. “Well, it sure looks like someone should take control of you,” he said. Pausing, his gaze roamed down her body, before he added, “But for your information I’m not telling you how to behave, I’m asking a question.” What he needed was an excuse to get her away from this bunch, but there wasn’t one.

“What I’m doing here is none of your business.”

“What is your connection to Melanie Dubois?” the journalist asked, sticking the microphone in front of Mike’s face.

“The only link between us is that I’m on the board of the Odyssey casino.” He glanced at Melanie. “There’s no way your family would want you here.”

“Why would I care about someone who doesn’t love me?”

“I doubt that’s true.” What made her think that? Surely, she didn’t believe all the crap her father told her about her mother having an affair and that she was the result of that fling. “Don’t you even want to know what’s happening with your sister?”

“It’s all over the news, how can I miss it?”

Janet moved up beside them, putting her arm protectively around the young girl. “Stop harassing her, or I’ll call the police.”

Melanie didn’t know everything that was going on because the FBI told the media only what they wanted them to know. What would the younger woman think if she knew the FBI had used her sister as bait to catch the serial killer terrorizing the area? Her hostility would be nothing compared to what it would be if she learned that detail.

There was nothing he could do right now, Batten would use Melanie for her own ends until the older woman had no further use for her. He glanced behind him, noticing people closing in on him. Even though he saw Dan Travis, the light brown-haired ATF agent, there wouldn’t be any help there. He’d never break his cover either.

Hell, he’d better get out of here.

“You’re a big girl; you can make your own decisions.” He gazed into large blue eyes filled with distrust and shaded by long black mascara covered lashes. It saddened him to see her wasting her womanhood on their cause because they weren’t after the same thing she was. She wanted to save people, and they wanted to destroy them. “‚I just hope you don’t regret those decisions later.”

With a nod at the journalist and one more glance at Melanie, he turned and leisurely walked toward his car. He kept an eye on the man with the scar. That guy was a bad ass, and he had a record as long as his arm to prove it. Al Slavery was the dangerous one in the bunch. The others were nothing but drones.

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