My WIP, Sinners’ Waltz

Since I’ve been bad and didn’t prepare a post for today, I’m going to subject you to an excerpt from my WIP.  I’ve signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press on Sinners’ Opera, the book of my heart. Sinners’ Opera is Morgan’s story. He’s my favorite hero. He’s a classical pianist, an English lord…and a vampire. Sinners’ Waltz is the prequel to Sinners’ Opera.  I’m waiting for the rights on the sequel (Sinners’ Obsession) to revert to me, and it, too, will go to TWRP.

Sadly, with the re-release, this cover will no longer be used. My son did this for Double Dragon Publishing at the time of first publication.

If I have writer’s block, most often, I can write something in Morgan’s POV.

Sinners’ Waltz is about Morgan’s mortal life and the first years of his life as a vampire. Here’s a brief excerpt. Comments (including criticism!) welcome. 🙂

A soft voice in my ear assured me, “You’re mine forever now. You’ll never dare love another.” Dominique opened her mind, as she’d opened her body. The onslaught of her thoughts subsided in the instant they invaded.

“We now share like no mortal can ever share. Outside earthly bounds.” She glided up and down… “Do you feel it now? You know how sex is for me, and I know how it feels to you.”

The transformation of Morgan D’Arcy into the vampire Morgan D’Arcy was agony, but the pleasure Dominique gave me diluted the terrible experience with passion. Drowning in new sensations, I was wise enough to know that I was no longer lord of my own fate. As the mortal surrendered to the immortal, every particle of me changed. I became a different creature. I did not die but came incredibly alive, every sense magnified. Gradually, while she rode me, the pain left me in the throes of desire such as I’d never known. We battled each other, and I felt her release building. The moment came to both of us at the same time, and I released on a cry as she, too, cried out at the intensity of our coupling.

She hauled me up and stood me before one of the many mirrors littering the walls and floor. I was afraid of the young man staring at me from the looking glass. Could that really be me? His blond hair gleamed, and his blue eyes glowed from within. Something was wrong. I leaned nearer. My eyes had changed, the pupils vertical slits. I smiled at my reflection. Small, efficient fangs dented my lower lip.

I spun, gripping Dominique’s arm. “What’s happening to me?”

“You wanted eternity. I gave it to you.”

Church bells tolled, their peals echoing around the city. A deep sadness welled inside me. It was Christmas. I’d become a vampire on the holiest night of the year.

~~~~~~~

Have a beautiful day!

Linda

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Immune Boost: Getting ready for the winter…starts with Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV

IMMUNE HONEY

Fall is here and winter is not far behind. That said I want to share my go to Immune booster.

This past winter I had my three granddaughters down with bad colds, at the same time the two grandsons were diagnosed with Strep Throat. Imagine 5 kids, 1-11 all coughing, hacking, and filling the air with germs.

As their caregivers I couldn’t afford to get to get sick; so I mixed a fresh batch of my Immune Honey and I swear taking this mixture daily was the ONLY reason I didn’t get so much as a sniffle, sneeze, or cough.

I realize folks have various food allergies and such, so please be cautious and know what you’re allergic to and be safe.

Immune Boost

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart jar and lid, cleaned and sterilized
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons local bee pollen
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 8 oz honey (you can use any honey, but if you’re going for the best, use Manuka Honey)

Directions:

  • Add Apple Cider Vinegar, lemon juice, bee pollen, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, and turmeric to the jar and stir
  • Add honey and stir again
  • Store in the refrigerator

Dose:

  • 1/2 teaspoon morning and evening for three days
  • then 1/2 teaspoon every day to maintain

Note:

  • I like to add lemon slices and diced/peeled ginger to this mix.
  • If you have a sore throat or feel a cold coming on add 1 teaspoon to a cup of your favorite hot tea, plus a slice of lemon and ginger

If you have any questions or comments be sure to let me know. Here’s hoping this recipe keeps you as healthy as it does me.

Have a great day!

Deb

 

 

 

 

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Two Upcoming Giveaways (and the Dangers of Multiple Choice)

I lovTRR Year End Splash Poster 500x750e participating in giveaways. There are lots of fun prizes for the participants and good exposure for my books, too.

The Romance Reviews are having their big Year End Splash in November, so of course I signed up. The problem was, I had to think up a multiple choice question about my book, The Redemption of the Shrew. Which was sort of fun, except that the wrong answers were more interesting than the right one, because I’d already written that story. The wrong answers got a whole bunch of what ifs churning in my brain. What if Gloriana’s best lacy bloomers had been stolen? What if she went out naked at midnight not to seduce the hero, but because she’d made a bet she could swim across the lake? What if the absolutely awful villain was a hero at heart?

That’s the problem with the imagination. It has no limits. Anything goes, and anything can make a story. Well, except the bit about the villain. Unlike Gloriana, he is completely beyond redemption.redemptionoftheshrew200

Anyway, just to set the mood for partying, I’m participating in Collette Cameron’s party on Facebook this week. She’s celebrating her 24th book!! The party lasts from Oct 18-21, so there are plenty of chances to win prizes. My half-hour slot is at 7:30 pm this Friday, Oct. 19th — just two days from now. I’m not sure what I’ll give away. A copy of one of my books for sure, and maybe a gift card, too.

Here’s the link to her Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

That

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Class Reunion 1961 and M&M

I attended my high school class reunion two weekends ago and Georgia Romance Writers conference, Moonlight and Magnolias, the weekend after that. I had a blast both weekends.

My brother and sister were at the reunion, since the reunion included 10 years of classes. I even ran into one of my students from 1966!

20181015_191410 Me and Lawanna

She married one of my brother’s friends. It was a fun weekend!

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At M&M my bestie Pam Varnado won a Maggie, first place in the unpublished Maggies for Romantic Suspense. (first place!) She won a Golden Heart this summer! Doesn’t she look elegant!

More photos will be on  http://www.MaryMarvella.com and MMMayfield,Author.wordpress.com

DON’T FORGET HER DECEPTION ON PREORDER THIS MONTH.

Patrice has learned her husband orders hits on people. She plans her escape from the home she has shared with him.  Would he kill her if he knew she overheard him?

Excerpt:

Next she added to her false trail.

At a fast-food restaurant she slipped into the restroom to change her khaki slacks for the tight skirt and her tan blouse for one with a lower neckline. In the car she removed her tasteful pumps and pulled on the high boots. She drove toward the jewelry store where Hugh had bought the bracelet.

She parked. After teasing her hair, she added heavy blush and red lipstick. The extreme nails took five minutes to apply, time to get into the new persona. By the time she popped a couple of sticks of gum in her mouth, she was good to go. With the bag in her hands she strutted down the block and into the jewelry store.

“Can I hep you, ma’am?” the baby-faced salesman drawled.

“I do hope so.” The sunglasses stayed on. She couldn’t risk showing her eyes, even with the street-walker makeup.

“I’ll certainly try.” He leaned on the glass counter and looked straight into her cleavage, naturally generous, and even more impressive in a pushup bra.

“See, my boyfriend gave me a bracelet from this store. I told him we were havin’ a baby…” Her voice quivered

She licked her lips, a slow, practiced movement of her tongue around her mouth, then pouted her lips. “He said he was married and I couldn’t prove a thing.”

“What a shame, ma’am, that man is scum.”

She held a hand over her stomach and tried to hint at a belly. “He gave me money, but I can’t wear this bracelet where me and my baby’ll live.” She handed the man the bag, popping her gum twice for good measure.

He was solicitous, but explained he could only credit the credit card number on the receipt.

Her voice came out tremulous. “But then he’d get the money back. That won’t buy food for me and my kid.”

“I’m real sorry, ma’am.”

Faking tears she took the sack and left. No way security shots would look like her. Now she could pawn the expensive bracelet downtown.

Her mind raced as she drove into Atlanta. She stopped in a shopping center parking lot, parking as far as possible from the other cars. She put the seat back, removed the boots, and, after scanning to be sure no one was close enough to get a good look at her, she shimmed out of the tight skirt. Cool air reminded her to move quickly as she donned a pair of jeans.

I haven’t changed in a car since my stripping/student days. Another quick glance around showed no one nearby so she yanked the low-necked blouse over her head and replaced it with a tee shirt. She pinned her hair up and put on her black wig, then added a Braves baseball cap.

After dropping her briefcase, her suitcases, and the cash at her apartment, she hopped on a bus to go for her fake ID.

https://mmmayfieldauthor.wordpress.com/

http://www.MaryMarvella.com

Reading my own novels for the 5th time looking for mistakes isn’t easy!

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Sneak Peek Chapter One Excerpt- Sweet Peppermint Kisses

Hi Everyone,

I’m so excited to be part of Sweet Christmas Kisses 5!

Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 brings you contemporary romances that celebrate the joy of the season around the world, including snowy Maine and the sun-kissed skies of Florida, the mountains of Colorado to small-town Illinois and Virginia, New York to San Francisco, and even the glittering lights of Paris and the old-world charm of Florence. The Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 bundle features all-new, standalone novellas that will make you smile and warm your heart with the Christmas spirit.

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Chapter One of my contribution, Sweet Peppermint Kisses:

Chiara Johnson sat on a chair near the chrome table in her kitchen, inhaling the enticing scents of vanilla and almond wafting from the oven as her cookies baked. Sighing, she peered around her modest apartment. Although she categorized the first day of December as the beginning of the holiday season, it didn’t feel much like Christmas.

“Sugar cookies,” her mother had always said, “were the answer to all life’s problems.”

Well, maybe they were.

Nostalgic images of baking with her mother and sister brought misty tears. These pangs of nostalgia erupted at the oddest moments, although in December, homesickness was justifiable.

Of course, she would volunteer at the women’s center. Chiara believed in giving back, especially to an organization that had indirectly affected her. Adeline, one of her co-workers, had been homeless for a while until she secured a job. The shelter had enabled her to get back on her feet.

Besides, Chiara thought, volunteering gave her a sense of purpose.

It was just … well, … she hadn’t imagined herself still living in Turning Point, Virginia after three years.

Sure, she’d made friends. Adeline had even launched a book club that met in town every Friday evening, and the women were a delight to be around. However, with Chiara’s work schedule, she had attended only a couple times.

She turned the volume louder on her cell phone as “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” the 1943 version sung by Bing Crosby, came on. One of her favorite holiday tunes, she sang along to the last few bars: “If only in my dreams.”

Dabbing the tears from her eyes, she stood to check on the sugar cookies.

Her cellphone rang and she answered, recognizing the incoming caller’s ID.

“Hi, Emma,” she said as she settled back in her chair.

“Are you sure you can’t move home by Christmas?” her younger sister asked.

“You read my email? Yes, I’m positive.” Chiara cradled the phone to her ear. “I accepted a full-time job for December to help pay off my last tuition bill.”

“Couldn’t someone else in your nursing agency work instead of you?”

Emma was a typical nine-year-old girl. She had a lot to say about every subject, couldn’t see any side of the story except hers, and regarded Chiara as the world’s best sister.

Chiara smiled. It was wonderful to feel adored.

“Everyone else in the agency either has a significant other or children or both,” she replied. “And they all had holiday plans. I didn’t, and I was available. Plus, the agency was scrambling to fill the position on such short notice.”

“Mom and Dad said you’re an awesome nurse. They say you genuinely care about people.”

“Thank goodness parents put us on a pedestal, right?” Chiara laughed. “Between classes and other expenses, I’ve worked hard to make ends meet. Right now this job is necessary.”

Wasn’t that the understatement of the year?

Obviously, she couldn’t ask her parents for money. Due to the recent economic downturn, they struggled financially. The Midwest had been hit particularly hard.

However, Chiara was determined to succeed. She’d studied hard to earn her RN degree at a high-quality Virginia university and planned on securing a stable, well-paying position.

“So, you start your new job right away?” Emma asked. She was chewing on something, presumably a fruit snack. The little girl ate fruit snacks endlessly.

“Monday is my first day, and it’s a live-in position above a garage, so I’ll be saving rent money,” Chiara said. “My client is a woman recuperating from a fall and a concussion.”

“Did she trip or something?”

Chiara went to the sink to run water into the mixing bowls. “She was riding a horse. The woman lives on a horse ranch.”

“Horses? Lucky you! I want a brown and black pony for Christmas.”

“Umm, horses are way too big for my liking and can be extremely dangerous. Also, it’s not my ranch, and I won’t be riding any horses.”

“Maybe Santa will bring me a horse from the ranch. Tell him.”

“I’ll be staying in a guest apartment over the garage, and I probably won’t run into Santa.”

Chiara wondered if the over-the-garage apartment would be an improvement over her current home. The bland beige walls in the galley kitchen screamed for a colorful face-lift, and the bland vinyl flooring was outdated. A dose of Christmas decorations should have been on her to-do list. Unfortunately, between her classes and home-nursing appointments, she was beyond exhausted.

“Doesn’t Santa come to Virginia?” Emma asked.

“I’m sure he does, although I’ve never seen Santa ride a horse.”

Emma paused. “Do you think you’ll see one of his elves?”

“You never know.”

“Well, one of his elves riding a horse is almost as good as the real Santa.”

“I agree.”

“Just in case, I’ll tell Santa I want a pony when I see him at the mall.”

Chiara chuckled. “You do that.” Homesickness welled again. She blew out a breath and kept her voice light. “I’ll Skype all of you on Christmas Day, okay?”

She envisioned her parents and Emma attending the festival of lights exhibition in Kansas City. Oh, how her family delighted in the festivities, marking off the four Sundays before Christmas on the Advent calendar, skating every weekend on the city’s outdoor rink. Emma would be the first one on the ice, gliding fearlessly, not afraid to fall.

Her chest squeezed. Family togetherness was the most significant part of the holidays, and she’d once again miss those days with the people she treasured most.

As she listened to Emma’s excitement about the cool Harry Potter book she was reading, Chiara opened the oven to an eruption of heat. According to the recipe, the cookies were done. According to her eyes, they weren’t. However, the last time she baked cookies, she had burned them until they were unrecognizable.

To be prudent, she removed the raw-looking cookies from the oven and set the trays on the stove. Hopefully, they didn’t taste the way they looked.

“Are you still there? Did you hear what I said?” Emma asked.

“Yes. I’m overjoyed you’re liking the Harry Potter books.” Chiara nodded into the phone. “I’m baking sugar cookies for my agency’s holiday party and had to take them out of the oven.”

“Remember how we try out different recipes for our gingerbread houses?” Emma giggled. “And how they always collapse?”

“We’ll experiment with another recipe this year, an easier one.” Chiara bit into a cookie before realizing it was burning her tongue. Gingerly, she chewed, swallowed, then groped for a glass of water. “Royal icing will stick the pieces together like cement.”

“When? If you’re not here, we won’t be able to build a gingerbread house.”

“I’ll be home by New Year’s Eve. This nursing gig is only for December.”

If she lasted that long. The last wealthy family she’d worked for had treated her poorly. She remembered them well—five people residing in the same home, each settled into their separate spaces and hardly conversing with one another, disregarding her as nothing better than invisible hired help. Defensive, she’d managed her job professionally and kept to herself.

What gave some people the right to be so dismissive to others just because they had money?

She pushed away the memory and finished the cookie. It had hardened already and tasted delicious even without icing and sprinkles.

“Promise?” Emma was asking.

“Absolutely.”

“And if you see Santa at the horse ranch—”

“I’ll mention your pony request.” Chiara glanced at the clock. “I should get ready for my agency’s Christmas party, so we’ll talk soon. I love you.”

“I love you too and I’m giving you a cyber cuddle.”

This was Christmas, Chiara wanted to say. She needed more than a cuddle. She needed to be with people she cherished.

“Be good and tell Mom and Dad I send my love.” She returned Emma’s blown kisses and then ended the call.

That squeeze in her chest again, an ache of loneliness. Lips pressed tight, she moved to the counter where her laptop sat and switched her computer on. Quickly, she scrolled through the job listings on the nursing agency’s website.

There it was. Her one-month gig.

Home Nurse. Temporary live-in position assisting a woman with self-care, companionship and everyday tasks. Immediate opening.

The agency’s report stated the patient was recovering from a concussion and broken ankle after missing a vault in a high-stakes horse competition.

Just like Kevin.

Despite her efforts to never think about him, her mind brought up an image of her ex-boyfriend. Of course, his concussion and broken wrist hadn’t been the result of a horse show. It had been the result of a bar fight.

Why, why, why were his violent tendencies so clear in hindsight? Fortunately, he’d never hit her. But if only she’d had that knowledge beforehand, had understood that a man’s online dating profile didn’t necessarily reveal who the man really was. Despite her parents’ reservations, she had left home and relocated to Virginia to be near him. A few months after their relationship began, she realized he wasn’t the guy for her and broke it off.

Although she longed for all things Kansas, by that point she’d enrolled in a nursing degree program and had secured a full-time job.

So here she was, three years later. Overdrawn on her bank account, in a town she didn’t consider home, not so much as a hint of a boyfriend, and celebrating Christmas by herself.

Focus on the future, not the past, her favorite pastor had once preached, and bring your views on life into context. A home was more than a building, more than a place. A home was where she was a participant, not a consumer who followed from the sidelines.

As she contemplated this, a message popped into her inbox:

“Miss Johnson, a change in plans. My sister has a late morning doctor’s appointment. Please report for your position on Monday afternoon after lunch.”

“Is four o’clock okay?” she quickly typed. “It would be better for me and give me more time to pack my things.”

She pressed send, then felt her body freeze in place.

Since when did a person who’d just gotten a job tell her employer what hour was best to meet?

An immediate reply appeared.

“Make it five. The front gate will open when you drive up. Thanks. Vance Thatcher.”

Sometimes the best gifts are hiding right under your heart.

Pre-order your ebook copy of Sweet Christmas Kisses 5 today. Only $.99!

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Breaking News! Update on the Houston Robot Brothel

No way! Nope, nope, not in H-town.

The Houston City Council voted unanimously to change a city ordinance, relating sex businesses, to block the opening of the robot brothel.  After Toronto-based Kinky S. Dolls announced that the first robot brothel in this country would be opened in Houston. The ordinance prohibits an individuals from having sex with an “anthropomorphic device”. Who knew a robot was an anthropomorphic device!

At the brothel, (if the brothel were going to be) customers pay by the hour to sample the life-like dolls’ wares. A sort of test drive because the dolls are also for sale at the hefty sum of $2,500

Forbes Magazine said that presumably Kinky S. Dolls had chosen Houston because of its lack of zoning laws.  Sorry, didn’t work out Kinky S.

Texas has a history of regulating  “obscene devices”.  In 2007, Texas amended its obscenity law to include the sale of sexual devices, such as—well, you know. This law stood until 2008 when the Fifth Circuit Court overturned it. They were legal in the home, but selling them could win you a hefty fine or jail time.

So, no go on the Robot Brothel in Houston, Texas.

~~~~~

My fascination with these anthropomorphic devices stems from my book Love For Sale.  The hero is a sentient, fully human-like android programmed to love the heroine. (it has nothing to do with brothels or sex-trafficking or any of that!)  It’s a sci-fi romance.  Here’s the book video created by our own Toni V. Sweeney.

Amazon

Have a fantastic weekend!

Linda

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Once Upon a Christmas Kiss…

It’s that time of year again… Christmas is coming, so why not put yourself in the mood by reading a bunch of historical holiday novellas? 9 novellas for 99 cents by USA today and bestselling authors is a great deal. Here’s the author list: Catherine Kean, Cathy MacRae, Anna Markland, Amanda McCabe, Hildie McQueen, Laurel O’Donnell, Lana Williams, and last of all me, Barbara Monajem.

once-upon-a-xmas-kiss-3d

I have a duet of novellas in Once Upon a Christmas Kiss. They were previously published in separate anthologies that no longer exist, but they actually belong together, because characters in both stories have an unusual ability: they can send erotic dreams. It’s a talent which can be both a blessing and a curse.

But Christmas + romance = very happy ever after, so it definitely ends up being a blessing!! Here are the blurbs of my two stories. For a complete list, hop on over to Amazon.com and read them all.

Yuletide Nights, a novella duet by Barbara Monajem

Book One, The Reluctant Seductress: Forced to work as a spy due to her mysterious seductive powers, Lettice Raleigh emerges from the war with her virginity intact and her reputation in tatters. She hasn’t a hope of marrying—but she doesn’t reckon with the very proper Lord Hadrian Oakenhurst, who has one besetting sin: curiosity.

Book Two, Love at First Dance: Sir Colwyn North’s uncanny skill as a lover made him an excellent spy—but it also gave him the worst of reputations. His only hope of winning the hand of the very proper Lady Jane Dew is to trick her into marriage. By way of seduction. While in disguise.

Happy Early Christmas!

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia

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Sneak Peek Excerpt: A Love Song To Cherish

A Love Song To Cherish, my inspirational novella and the first book in the Cherish, SC, series, is available now.

I am a professional musician, and the heroine is a concert pianist. She is also recovering from an opiate addiction.
The hero is an opera singer.:)

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of A Love Song To Cherish:

Dorothy Thompson had vowed to never set foot in Cherish, South Carolina again. She didn’t want to come back here. She couldn’t face it.

Sure, she’d lived in the tiny town all her life. And she’d felt alone, despite her popularity, her cheerleader friends, her football player boyfriend. Her mother had orchestrated Dorothy’s status, keeping one eye on the stylish girls and the other eye on Dorothy.

“Everything will be perfect once you meet the right man, provided he’s rich,” her mother had explained. “A poor man does no more good than an eyeless needle.”

Nonetheless, everything hadn’t been perfect. Dorothy’s wealthy boyfriend had cheated on her, and she couldn’t compete with the stunning platinum blondes and redheads once she entered high school.

She’d told her mother she didn’t care a cow-eatin’ cabbage about who liked her and who didn’t, although she knew it wasn’t true. Her popularity had mattered very much during her tumultuous teens.

All this went through her mind while she parked her Ford Escort rental in front of Memorial Street Church. She regarded the church’s white-painted exterior, the high-arched windows with their beautiful stained glass depicting scenes from the Bible and the ornately carved heavy wooden doors. Memories whispered of her singing beloved hymns in the church choir and memorizing Bible verses in Sunday school in the church’s basement.

So many memories for one little town.

She leaned her head against the driver’s seat, no space in her mind for anything except sleep. The previous month, she’d endured the acute stage of opiate withdrawal along with the palpitations and tremors that came with it. And now Dr. Gantori, Dorothy’s physician, had said the post-acute withdrawal stage could last two years.

She rubbed a hand over her puffy eyes. She was exhausted, and no wonder. With a sigh, she reached for the bag of chocolate chip cookies she’d purchased at the train station. The bag was surprisingly light. Had she mindlessly eaten the entire contents on the drive?

She rummaged in the bottom of the bag for one last cookie and chewed slowly, vowing to eat healthier tomorrow. The Cherish Hills Inn, the rental she’d booked for the week, boasted a kitchen, so there were no excuses. Besides, she was a good cook.

Dusting her fingers on a napkin in the glove compartment, she grabbed a bottled water and scooped up her leather briefcase stuffed with music.

Her palms were sweaty. She hesitated.

Fear of what might go wrong stopped her from getting out of the car. It had never occurred to her to let Dr. Gantori know she’d be traveling to another corner of the country. What would happen if she ran out of pain medication or experienced a panic attack and her hands froze to the piano keys?

Get back in the game. Keep God as the priority.

She lowered her car window and gazed outside, focusing on deep breaths in and out.
A fold of sleek silver clouds drifted across a robin’s egg blue sky—a typical spring day in South Carolina. She knew the weather by heart. The air was mild, blowing a slight breeze against her cheeks. A hound dog lay basking on the sidewalk in the bright noonday sun.
Relax your muscles. Think positively.

She wiped her palms on her tweed skirt. There were pharmacies everywhere, she assured herself, and Dr. Gantori was merely a phone call away. Still, a knot threatened to take up residence in her stomach. What if the doctor didn’t answer when she called?

Her brows puckered, her thoughts scattered. No, no, no. She bridled her panic. The task of chastising herself was growing thin as frustration poked through her anxiety. Undoubtedly, the doctor used a twenty-four-hour answering service.

She was back in Cherish for her brother, not herself. It was high time she rearranged her priorities. There was more to her story than failing to become a concert performer. Through her difficult year of wrist pain when she’d become angry with God, she’d wanted to run away from her problems, disengaging from friends, social media, and to be truthful, from life.

If only her carpal tunnel hadn’t been so excruciating, if only she’d hadn’t become addicted to pain relievers …

If only … If only …
But she had, and she’d become an addict.

However, she’d come through the storm intact and had learned to keep her trust in God, because He had her name on something else. But she didn’t know what. She only knew it wasn’t a concert career.
“Everyone has doubts after a poor performance,” Dorothy mumbled, lifting a brief prayer. “What matters is how we react to them.”

Holding that thought, she drew her shoulders straight, grabbed her canvas quilted jacket, tasseled purse and briefcase, and stepped from the car.

Her gaze landed on the top step of Memorial Street Church and a rollicking laugh gave her pause.
“Dorothy Thompson, is that really you?” Marge Addyson, the church’s associate pastor and the clergy person elected to officiate the wedding ceremony, greeted Dorothy with a flash of a smile that could pass for heat lightning. “Why, you’re all grown up. I haven’t seen you since your parents went to be with the Lord.”

“It’s been five years since their funerals.” Dorothy gulped air as she replied, that familiar despondency stabbing her heart. Her parent’s car accident should never have happened. Her father had always been careful when he drove, mindfully watching the speed limit, and only twenty miles outside of Cherish on the highway near St. Luke’s hospital … no one could have predicted a fatal accident where the other driver was strung-out on drugs.

“When did you arrive in Cherish?” Mrs. Addyson asked.

“Just now.” Dorothy gazed heavenward, grateful for the change in subject. “I rented a car at the Cherish Central train station.” Her proper black pumps echoed across the pavement as she made her way up the church steps. “Where’s Pastor Steven and his wife, Christina?”

“They’re taking a well-deserved vacation. You’re sure to see them both when they return in two weeks.”

She wouldn’t be staying in Cherish for two weeks, Dorothy thought, although there was no need to share that information with the kind associate pastor.
When Dorothy reached the church’s entryway, Mrs. Addyson embraced her in a warm hug. “I’m happy as the bluebonnets blooming in spring that you could come back for Nicholas’ wedding. I hope it wasn’t difficult taking time away from your prominent concert engagements.”

Prominent concert engagements? A distant memory. Paying the rent on her expensive apartment in New York City? Not so distant.

“No worries.” Dorothy fingered the corners of her worn leather briefcase. “I’d never refuse my big brother anything, nor miss seeing him and Alice get married.”
Nicholas and his fiancée, Alice, had insisted that Dorothy play piano for their wedding. They’d requested contemporary music, although Dorothy had also brought along her favorite classical pieces. What wedding guest wouldn’t be stirred to stand when they heard J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” for the bride’s processional march?

Mrs. Addyson stepped back. “And you’re still tall and as pretty as a peppermint parfait. You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Thank you.” Dorothy ran a hand down her brown braid. “You haven’t changed either.”

Kindness beamed from the elderly woman’s crystal blue eyes. “I’m ten years older and infinitely wiser.” Her salt and pepper hair had grown a little grayer, had been cut a little shorter.

Dorothy shaded her eyes and peered toward the street. “Did the music store close? When I drove by I noticed the building was vacant and a ‘For Sale’ sign was on the door.”

“Yes, Musically Yours went out of business about a year ago.”

Dorothy well remembered racing into Musically Yours on Saturday afternoons, fingering the darkening edges of well-loved classical pieces that emitted a scent of paper and leather-bound volumes of first edition music.
All the memories brought a sense of familiarity. In Cherish, people knew your name. She’d missed those things because she found city folks indifferent and uncompromising.
The comfortable warmth of the South Carolina sun hit her face, and her heart felt full for the first time in a long time. She gazed at Memorial Street Church’s magnificent steeple with the cross on top, and sadness flickered, disrupting the fullness in her heart. She’d hoped to become so much more than a panic-stricken performer who’d relied on opiates for pain. Despite her brief fame, she’d come back to Cherish with her solitude bigger than ever.
It serves you right, her conscience chattered. You were a fake in high school, forever seeking approval from your classmates to ensure your popularity. Music became your life, your escape, although you’re not great at making music anymore, either.

“Don’t bring your issues to church; bring them directly to God,” one of her favorite pastors had once said.

She pushed the steely composure of a seasoned performer into place as Mrs. Addyson hooked an arm around Dorothy’s shoulders and led her inside. “I always told your late mother you had an ear for music, honey.” She gestured upward to the shiny ebony grand piano in the choir loft. “Is Ryan meeting you here so you two can rehearse?”
Dorothy hesitated. “Ryan who?”
“Ryan Edwards. He and your brother were good friends in high school. He’ll be singing the Ave Maria at the wedding ceremony during the offering of the gifts. You’re his accompanist.”
Dorothy’s mouth trembled with surprise.

Ryan Edwards.
She tipped her head back and briefly closed her eyes, visualizing Ryan’s skinny build, his quiet demeanor, his booming operatic voice which had prompted his high school classmates to snicker. Often he’d accompanied her to Musically Yours, tendering kind support, encouraging her appreciation of Bach and Beethoven and Mozart. And when he would visit her house, Ryan would bring his precious LP’s he’d kept hidden in his room and play Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo recordings for her.
Their friendship had grown, and by the time she’d reached her early teens, she’d had a mad crush on him. He’d never known because she’d kept a cool demeanor around him. He was the high school nerd, and her popularity was at stake. In hindsight, she was glad she’d never let on how she felt about him because by her high school sophomore year, he was gone.

“He’s become a well-known opera star in Europe and has flown all the way from Italy at your brother’s request. Imagine, two famous musicians in our Lord’s house.” Mrs. Addyson gave Dorothy’s shoulder a slight bump and added a mischievous grin. “When he was younger, that boy got into just enough mischief to make him interesting. Bless his heart considering his family was so poor, his Sunday supper was little more than fried water. We’re mighty proud of all he’s accomplished. He’s a few years older than you, so you may not remember him.”

“He was my best friend,” Dorothy murmured.

A Love Song To Cherish is available in ebook and paperback. Snag your copy today!

 

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Me, Myself, and My Imagination

This gallery contains 4 photos.

People keep asking me where I get my ideas and I really don’t know how to answer them.  “They come out of my head” or “I just make them up out of whole cloth” just doesn’t seem to satisfy anyone. … Continue reading

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To Return to Stripping or Not!

Last weekend I attended my high school class reunion. Photos and details will follow next week.  Thursday I will attend Moonlight and Magnolias, the Georgia Romance Writers conference. Photos will come for that, too!

Bargains begin now and end soon!

Protective Instincts and Protective Deception will be on  sale for 99 cents until October 9. These two books are part of the Protective Series.

Her Deception

“Get the job done before next Friday or forget the price we discussed. If that man is alive to go to trial, we’re all dead. I don’t pay for screw-ups.”

Patrice swallowed the gasp that rose in her throat. She couldn’t believe the hateful words she heard coming from her husband’s home office. No one had come into the house so he had to be alone.

Hugh ordered someone killed? Who? Why? Should I pick up the phone and listen in? No. He’d know. Shock rooted her to the spot, though her gaze darted over every inch of the hall, searching for intruders, spying eyes. I’ve never heard him so enraged. The pain in her chest reminded her to take a breath.

Hugh’s voice grew sharper, more insistent. “We don’t pay you to think. Kill the sonovabitch and make it look good, as always.”

Hugh mustn’t guess I overheard.

Patrice eased down the hall from the office, careful not to make a sound, praying he wouldn’t appear in his door and catch her. With each step the heaviness in her heart grew. She hadn’t come to get Hugh from his home office in a year. She wished she hadn’t come for Hugh this morning. How had she missed this scary side of him?

Bargains begin now!

Protective Instincts and Protective Deception will be on  sale for 99 cents until October 9. These two books are part of the Protective Series.

 

 

Posted in Contemporary, Mainstream, Romance, Suspense, Uncategorized | 4 Comments