Guest Authors

J.S. Scott’s ENAMORED excerpt & giveaway

Like his brothers and sisters, Seth Sinclair went from blue-collar to billionaire overnight, and he’s decided to invest in what he knows best: construction. There’s only one thing in his way—the endangered birds nesting on a piece of prime beachfront real estate. And fighting for the birds is Riley Montgomery, a stubborn, pain-in-the-ass, drop-dead-gorgeous environmental lawyer. The worst part? Seth will do anything to keep her around—even if it means hiring her to be his fake girlfriend.

With a cause to fight for, Riley agrees to Seth’s scheme. If she keeps the superficial women away from Seth, then he’ll leave the wildlife sanctuary alone. But pretending to be his girlfriend comes with ground rules: No ass grabbing. And absolutely no sex. Ever. The problem? The sexual tension sizzles when they’re together.

Seth isn’t so keen on Riley’s rules, but he’ll keep his word, at least until she decides otherwise. But bringing Riley into his circle has brought her past back to haunt her in ways that neither of them expected. Now it’s less about broken rules and more about broken hearts, and Seth will do whatever it takes to protect the woman he loves.

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“You said you’d trade for my services,” I prompted. “But I don’t have much to offer to a man like you.”

He studied me for a moment, which made me uncomfortable.

I didn’t want anyone to know me better.

A man like Seth would never understand me.

“You have a hell of a lot to offer any guy,” he considered.

“Not exactly true,” I disagreed. “I was engaged once, but I was never enough for Nolan Easton,” I muttered, instantly wishing the name hadn’t left my mouth.

For some odd reason, Seth was easy to talk to, but I needed to guard my words better.

He whistled softly. “Nolan Easton? Head of Easton Investment Firms? The very wealthy Nolan Easton?”

“Yes,” I said tightly.

“Even so, I can’t believe he dumped you,” Seth answered.

“He didn’t,” I admitted. “I finally broke it off. He didn’t know how to keep it in his pants, and I didn’t want to spend my entire life being who he wanted me to be.” I coughed nervously. “Now can we get back to the business at hand?”

“Not yet,” he insisted. “I’m still trying to get why any guy would want to change a single thing about you. Not that I exactly love your line of work right now, but you’re passionate about it. You’re beautiful. You’re smart. You seem to know exactly what you want. Considering our circumstances, I can’t say I’ve seen your sense of humor, but I’m assuming you have one of those, too. What the hell else did he want?”

I ignored his question. “I have three older brothers,” I shared. “I have to have a sense of humor or they’d drive me crazy.”

He rested his arms on the table and leaned forward. “You didn’t answer my question, Riley. What else did he want?” His voice was low and persuasive.

“It’s not important. My engagement has been over for a while, and I’m happy. I finally found my own home here in Citrus Beach, and I’m pretty content with being alone. It’s a lot nicer here than San Diego. Quieter.”

It was a hell of a lot better than being with a man who made me feel like I was less than nothing.

“When exactly did you move here? And where are you living now?”

“Almost two years ago,” I ground out, growing impatient to get back to business. It wasn’t wise to dump a lot about my personal life to a defendant—no matter how good a listener he might be. “I had a condo, but I recently purchased your sister’s cottage. I’ve settled there now. She and Eli have the bigger home next door, so I already knew I’d have good neighbors.”

“I’m right down the beach from there,” Seth said, sounding surprised. “I’ve never seen you.”

“Like I said. It’s recent. I just moved in.”

I was squirming in my chair. I didn’t care for the feeling of being interrogated. I was usually the one asking the questions.

He shot me a playful grin that made my heart trip. “Welcome to the neighborhood,” he said jokingly.

“Thanks,” I said uncomfortably. “Now tell me what you want from me to leave that piece of property alone.”

He took his time answering, and the silence seemed to stretch out forever.

I gulped down the last of my tea while I waited for him to answer.

Was he playing with me?

Or did he actually have some kind of proposition?

Probably the former—since I really didn’t have much to offer him in the way of services. I could guarantee that Eli Stone had set Seth up with his gaggle of business attorneys. Why in the hell would he need an environmental attorney?

“If you’re playing with me, this encounter ends right now,” I said tersely.

“I’m not,” he said emphatically. “I’m just wondering how to explain what I want.”

“If it’s acceptable, I’ll write up the contract today,” I offered.

“It’s not exactly the contract I’m thinking about,” he said thoughtfully.

God, I was jittery, and I wasn’t used to feeling that way. I was pretty certain that it wasn’t the extra-large chai I’d just consumed, either.

It was him.

Maybe it was the way he studied me.

Or the way his steely gray eyes never left my face.

I couldn’t read him, and that completely pissed me off. As an attorney, I’d gotten very good at judging exactly where a defendant’s mind might be, and what their motives were.

“Just name your terms,” I said irritably. “I’ll work out the details.”

I forced myself to meet his eyes in what I thought would be a battle of wills, and then was sorry that I had even glanced his direction.

My breath hitched as I fell into a stormy gaze that wouldn’t let me go.

I was stunned at the possessive way he eyed me.

I was confused about the emotions I saw there.

And I was mesmerized by the carnal desire that flared up in his steely irises like a bolt of lightning as he held me still with a single look, unable to rip myself away from his fixed stare that was holding me in place.

I knew I was blushing like a damn teenage girl with her first major crush. My brain was begging my body not to react, but my stupid body wasn’t listening.

His voice was hoarse and beguiling when he finally said, “I need a woman, Riley. And that woman has to be you.”

***

J.S. “Jan” Scott is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous contemporary and paranormal romances, including the Sinclairs and the Accidental Billionaires series. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature, but romance has always been her genre of choice—so she writes what she loves to read: stories that are almost always steamy, generally feature an alpha male, and have a happily ever after, because she just can’t seem to write them any other way! Jan loves to connect with readers. Visit her website at www.authorjsscott.com.

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Lainey vs. Puck Bunnies in A Lie for a Lie ~ Helena Hunting ~ with excerpt & giveaway

A Lie for a Lie is a heartwarming, sexy, emotional romantic comedy. It’s a second chance romance, filled with secrets and there are definitely some exciting, fun twists. It’s also a story of empowerment, self-discovery, and independence.

Rook Bowman, aka RJ or Rookie as he has been known as previously, has recently taken on the role as captain of Chicago’s NHL team, and with that role comes big responsibility and more fame than he sometimes knows how to handle. As with any professional sport, the NHL lifestyle can often be full of excess and decadence; money, fame and an endless stream of women who will do just about anything to get into bed with them, and it’s not always easy to avoid that kind of temptation.

When we meet Rook in A Lie for a Lie we learn that he has a less than shiny past when it comes to the excess and the puck bunnies (hockey groupies). NHL players are often drafted quite young—just watch a game and you’ll notice that the rookies can often barely grown peach fuzz, let alone a full beard. They’re still teenagers when they start their careers, and Rook was no different. Having grown up on an alpaca farm in rural New York, his focus was mainly hockey and the family farm, but once he hit the pros he found himself surrounded by women who literally threw themselves at him. And being young, attractive and full of testosterone, he fell headfirst down that rabbit hole. At least until the drama found him in the form of a fake pregnancy and a social media firestorm. Because of that, and the impact it had on his relationship with his family, Rook swears off the bunnies and refocuses on his career, rather than extracurricular activities.

He meets Lainey on the way to Alaska, where he’s gone every summer since he was a teenager with his dad and his brother. He lost his father a few years earlier, but kept the tradition with his brother because he craves the escape from the demands of his life as an NHL superstar. Lainey encapsulates everything he misses about being a “normal guy.” She doesn’t recognize him or seem to even know anything about hockey, and that makes her even more alluring. For once, he can just be himself. He doesn’t have to worry about ulterior motives or being used. Lainey is refreshingly innocent, incredibly smart, genuine and overwhelmingly sweet and Rook finds himself enamored with her sense of adventure. As they get to know each other, Rook learns about her traumatic past and realizes that despite the challenges she’s faced, Lainey possesses a quiet strength and resilience. Add some insane chemistry and you’ve got a recipe for love. Unfortunately for Rook, he built their entire fragile relationship on lie he can’t take back.

***

When Lainey excuses herself to the bathroom, I rush upstairs and throw on a T-shirt. I know she said whatever makes me comfortable, but sitting around shirtless is such a douche move.

I make it back to the kitchen and pour her a fresh drink before she returns from the bathroom.

“How can I help with dinner?” Lainey drapes her sweater over the back of a chair.

And my mouth goes dry. Like I ate an entire sleeve of saltines and chased it with a tablespoon of salt. So far I’ve only seen Lainey in a giant parka or an oversize sweater. Under all that bulky fabric is one hell of a body. She’s wearing a simple white waffle shirt that conforms to her curves. A pair of dark-wash skinny jeans encase her toned legs.

I’m used to bunnies throwing themselves at me, often in questionable states of undress. I stopped getting excited about miniskirts and revealing tops a long time ago. There’s something infinitely sexier about a woman who can show off her body without actually showing it off at all.

Lainey tips her head to the side. Her teeth press into her full bottom lip. I want to do that. Suck that pouty, full lip between my teeth and bite it. I want to do a lot of other, far more explicit things than that, but a kiss seems like a good place to start.

“RJ? Is everything okay?” Her eyes dip down to my chest. I’m wearing a shirt from one of my endorsement campaigns. It afforded me the extensive renovations on this cabin a few years ago.

“Huh?” I give my head a shake. “Oh. Yeah. Everything’s good. Sorry, zoned out there for a second.”

She smiles and pushes up on her toes, her eyes twinkling—like, they legit light up, and her excitement makes her entire body vibrate. It also makes her boobs jiggle. I try to keep my eyes glued to her face. It’s not easy, though.

“I do that all the time! Sometimes my brain is busy with so many thoughts I miss entire conversations. Does that happen to you too?”

I grin. I love that she seems to say whatever is on her mind. “All the time.”

“It’s actually a helpful skill when you’re being lectured, because I can sort through stuff in my head, but it’s not so great when your supervising professor is telling you what’s wrong with your thesis.” She pulls her hair over her shoulder and finger combs it.

“I take it that’s happened to you.”

“It did. Thankfully he also emailed all his criticisms, so missing out on it the first time wasn’t that big of a deal.” She divides her hair into three sections and deftly braids it without looking at what she’s doing even once. It’s pretty damn impressive. I almost want to pull it apart so I can watch her do it all over again. “Anyway, enough about that. Let’s get started on dinner!” She nudges me out of the way so she can wash her hands. She dries them on her jeans and moves over to the fridge, opening it to check out the contents.

I kind of like that she makes herself at home. I’m used to women who expect to be catered to. It’s refreshing to meet someone who doesn’t want me to pander to her.

I start pulling things out of the fridge as she starts naming items she’ll need and set them on the counter. I manage to locate most of what she asks for.

“What about garlic? Do you have any of that?” She leans over, peering into the fridge beside me. Her braid slips over her shoulder, skimming my arm.

“Uh, maybe we could forgo the garlic?”

“Are you allergic? My oldest brother gets bloated when he eats it. It took us forever to figure out what was causing it. Sometimes I’ll still put some in when he’s coming for dinner, because it’s funny to see him look like he’s expecting.” She tips her head to the side. “Or you just don’t like garlic?”

“I like it sometimes, but it depends.”

Her brows pinch together. “On what?”

“Who I’m eating with. I mean, if I’m going out with buddies, you bet I’m gonna order the honey garlic wings, or the cheesy garlic bread, or the pasta Alfredo. But if I’m eating dinner with a pretty girl, I’m gonna pass on the garlic.”

“Oh.” She twists the end of her braid around her finger.

I hope I’m not reading things wrong and making her uncomfortable.

“Does that mean you think I’m pretty?”

That she sounds genuinely curious as to my answer is unexpected. “You see yourself in the mirror every day—what do you think?”

She averts her gaze, still playing with the end of her braid. “My eyes are too big, so I always look like I’m surprised. My nose is small, and my lips are too full, so my mouth doesn’t really fit the rest of my face.”

“Wow. I think you need a new mirror, because all I see is a whole lot of gorgeous.”

She snorts a laugh and waves me off. “Once, I took a portrait class, and we learned all about proportion and symmetry of the face. Those are just my flaws based on what I was taught.”

“Well, I’m a big fan of all your flaws, and I think they make you more beautiful, not less.”

“Thanks. I think you’re beautiful too.” She cringes. “I mean handsome. You’re very nice to look at, with or without a shirt on. When I fell in your lap on the airplane, I remember thinking, At least I fell on someone nice looking.”

“Is that so?”

“Mm-hmm.” She opens a drawer, maybe to avoid looking at me. “And as much as I was mortified when you sat beside me on the Cessna, I couldn’t complain about the view, inside or outside of the plane. That you turned out to be really nice, and just so helpful, was a great bonus.” She hands me a roll of foil. “Why don’t you wrap the potatoes? They take the longest, so we should get started on those first.”

I put the potatoes on the barbecue and let Lainey order me around. She definitely knows her way around a kitchen. When I was growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but my dad could make a mean Saturday-morning brunch. He also made great bread, which I miss a lot.

An hour later we’re seated at the table, plates full of steak, twice-baked potatoes, and crispy brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat. I open a bottle of red wine and offer Lainey a glass.

“Just a little bit? I’m not sure I like red wine.”

“Maybe you just haven’t had the right red wine.” I pour a little into her glass.

She picks it up and gives it a swirl, then sniffs it. “I’ve seen people do this in the movies, but I don’t really know what the point is,” she admits, then tips the glass back and takes a tentative sip. Her expression turns thoughtful; then she takes another, slightly more robust sip. “This is actually really nice. I like it. Maybe the red wine I had before was bad.”

“Maybe. Some of the cheap stuff tastes pretty awful.” I pour more into her glass before filling mine. I hold up my glass and wait for her to raise hers.

“To chance meetings.”

“To new adventures and great company to share them with.” We toast and take a sip, each smiling behind the rim.

***

Title: A Lie for a Lie

Author: Helena Hunting

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Montlake

Sometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.

Lainey is the perfect escape from my life. My plan for seclusion becomes a month long sex fest punctuated with domestic bliss. But it ends just as abruptly as it began. When I’m called away on a family emergency, I realize too late that I have no way to contact Lainey.

A year later, a chance encounter throws Lainey and me together again. But I still have a lie hanging over my head, and Lainey’s keeping secrets of her own. With more than lust at stake, the truth may be our game changer.

*****

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.

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The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D.  by Nicholas Meyer ~ Review

With the international bestseller The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Nicholas Meyer brought to light a previously unpublished case of Sherlock Holmes, as recorded by Dr. John H. Watson. Now Meyer returns with a shocking discovery—an unknown case drawn from a recently unearthed Watson journal.

January 1905: Holmes and Watson are summoned by Holmes’ brother Mycroft to undertake a clandestine investigation. An agent of the British Secret Service has been found floating in the Thames, carrying a manuscript smuggled into England at the cost of her life. The pages purport to be the minutes of a meeting of a secret group intent on nothing less than taking over the world.

Based on real events, the adventure takes the famed duo—in the company of a bewitching woman—aboard the Orient Express from Paris into the heart of Tsarist Russia, where Holmes and Watson attempt to trace the origins of this explosive document. On their heels are desperate men of unknown allegiance, determined to prevent them from achieving their task. And what they uncover is a conspiracy so vast as to challenge Sherlock Holmes as never before. (synopsis from Amazon)

My thoughts……5 stars

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D. was my first encounter with Mr. Meyer and his excellent rendering of a heretofore unknown Holmes case. The style is true to Conan-Doyle and sure to delight any Holmes fan.

The masterful blending of fact and fiction, approaching the “recently discovered journal” and it’s “translation” as reality, combined with historic events and peoples brought Holmes and Watson to vivid life as they interacted with these well known personages and participated in historical events.

I have to confess to having to shift gears, so to speak, when starting the book. The style is so markedly different from my recent reads and brought home to me just how much change there’s been. Reading this “old” style was such a joy…the sentence structure, word choices, all a true delight.

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D. was surprising (and scary in a way) in it’s relevance to current events;  proving in many ways, how the more things change the more they stay the same.

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D. was pure reading pleasure on every level. Mr. Meyer has a new fan & I’ll be acquiring and reveling in his backlist posthaste.

 

 

An Affair (and a Murder) To Remember with Author Mary Burton featuring an excerpt & giveaway

I SEE YOU, my latest romantic suspense, features two of my very favorite characters: Homicide Detective William Vaughan and FBI Special Agent Zoe Spencer. 

Zoe Spencer is a member of an FBI criminal profiling team dedicated to finding the most violent and prolific killers. Zoe, a talented artist and agent, specializes in forensic reconstruction. She skillfully merges her interview skills with pencil and paper to create stunning likenesses. And when only bones remain, she molds clay over bone to recreate the faces of the lost.

Zoe’s work generates a high case-closure rate, which draws the attention of the law enforcement community. Her lectures at the FBI headquarters at Quantico are often standing room only. Among those interested in her work is Homicide Detective William Vaughan.  

Detective Vaughan, divorced and raising a college bound teenager, is a man of few words and when he does comment, his observations are always thoughtful and insightful. He not only hears what is said and but sees what is communicated via body language.
The more time Vaughan spends with Zoe, the greater his desire to breach her cool demeanor. He draws upon all his powers of observation, practiced detective skills and his somewhat rusty charm to win her. Though they begin an affair, she still remains elusive.
When a charred skull is found in Vaughan’s jurisdiction of Alexandria, Virginia, he turns to Zoe. Zoe recreates a stunning clay bust that leads to the identification of a girl who has been missing for fifteen years.

As Vaughan and Zoe dig deeper, the cold case heats up when several more women, similar to their victim, are discovered brutally murdered. This killer, who has avoided capture for so many years, is still hunting women. It becomes a race against time to catch a madman who shifts his sights to his next victim: Zoe Spencer.

I hope you enjoy I SEE YOU and this magnetic couple who I’ve pitted against one of my most chilling villains so far.
 
***
 

The instant Vaughan woke, he knew she was gone. He should not have been surprised. She never stayed long, but he’d thought last night would be different.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed and instantly spotted the note on the mirror. It was written on the back of the fast-food receipt in fluid and graceful handwriting.

Called a car. Didn’t want to wake you.

Spencer. He knew how to make that woman’s body tighten with desire and how to make her moan in a way that told him she was fully attuned to his body. But beyond that, she was still a complete stranger.

He flicked the edge of the note, surprised he had not awoken. Since he had become a cop and father, he had turned into a light sleeper. Both incarnations, like a doctor on call, were summoned at all times of the day and night. His ability to shake off sleep in seconds and then think clearly was well honed. But yesterday had been long, even for him.

He laid the note on his dresser as he glanced at the pillow that still held the impression of her head. It was not like him to be sentimental, but he was sorry he likely would not see her for a while.

He showered, and fifteen minutes later he was dressed, his badge and sidearm on his belt. As the coffee brewed, he scrambled five eggs before he realized Nate was gone. He toasted a bagel and ate alone at the kitchen table.

He filled a travel mug with more coffee and was on the road by six o’clock. Moonlight mingled with the lights looming over I-395 as he looped around the beltway and headed north toward his exit. The traffic was already building, and soon it would slow to a snail’s pace.

With luck, the first wave of files from the Prince case would be in his office. He had been warned that there were a dozen file boxes, but he did not care. He also had the autopsy of the Jane Doe stabbed to death in the motel room to attend. It was going to be another long day.

Fifteen minutes later, he had parked and was in the break room, refilling his coffee. When he flipped on the lights of his office, there were six file boxes stacked in front of his desk. A green sticky note read More to come.

It was too early to call the medical examiner about his Jane Doe from the motel room, so he set his cup down and flipped through the first set of files.

He spent the next hour and a half reading through the detectives’ notes. At the time of Marsha’s disappearance, the detectives had exhausted every lead and tip that had come into the station, but in the end came up with nothing.

***

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About the Book

FBI special agent Zoe Spencer uses skeletal remains to recreate the faces of murder victims through sculpture. Though highly scientific, the process is also sensitive and intimate; she becomes attached to the individuals she identifies, desperate to find justice for each.

As Zoe examines old remains, she sees a teenage girl looking back at her—the victim in a cold case from over a decade ago. Zoe wants nothin

g more than to tell this young woman’s story and to bring her killer to justice.

Zoe’s case leads her to the victim’s hometown and to homicide detective William Vaughan, Zoe’s on-again, off-again lover. As the two become more involved in the case, they quickly realize that it isn’t as cold as they first believed: someone’s still out there hunting women. And with more women gone missing, time’s running out. Can they work together and stop this madman before he kills again?

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Mary Burton is the popular author of thirty-five romance and suspense novels as well as five novellas. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and three miniature dachshunds. Visit her at www.maryburton.com.

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Diana Muñoz Stewart’s THE PRICE OF GRACE excerpt & giveaway

Who can you trust when family, truth, and love are all on the line?

Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family’s secrets.

Special Agent Leif “Dusty” McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family’s covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He’ll use everything he’s got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family’s mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they’ll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact.

Black Ops Confidential series:

I Am Justice (Book 1)

The Price of Grace (Book 2)

The Cost of Honor (Book 3)

Author Website: dianamunozstewart.com

Amazon           B&N          Apple          IndieBound          BAM

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Dusty entered the packed club. Not an empty seat at the bar. Or an empty space around it. People pushed in hard.

Behind the bar, the club’s owner, little Miss Gracie Parish was overrun, making multiple drinks simultaneously, while she nodded to acknowledge people and instruct servers.

Only one other person helped Gracie behind the bar. A brunette in the server’s white shirt and black pants. He pulled beers and gave shots, but Dusty didn’t see him making any mixed drinks.

Never say he wasn’t a man to help a friend in distress. Even if he had orchestrated that distress in order to get close to her, use her to get to her family and uncover their vigilante activities.

He navigated his way through the crowd with care. Being as big as he was, he was well aware of his ability to intimidate without trying, so he tapped shoulders, nodded politely, and made his way behind the bar as graciously as he could.

Upon seeing him, Gracie jerked her head in surprise then smiled. Hadn’t expected that. Kind of warmed his heart.

He put up a single digit, a give me a second before you kick me out. He leaned closer. She was a good foot shorter. “Stopped by to check on you and have that drink.” He gazed around. “Looks like you’re slammed. Okay if I help? Worked as a bartender in college.”

Gracie’s face walked the line between yes please and stay the hell away, then tipped over. “I could use the help.”

She sent the obviously relieved server back into the club, opened a couple of beers and handed them to a guy across the bar. She took his cash and smiled when he told her to keep the change.

When she turned back to Dusty, her eyes ran down him like it was involuntary. That kind of warmed him too. Warm enough to start a fire.

She pointed to a notepad. “There are two parties that have a tab, try to handle those. You can just write the drinks down. We have the credit cards, so we can tally them later.”

She began making a mixed drink, efficient and calm and sexy as anything he’d ever seen. “Cash is king for you. Drink prices are there.” She pointed to a laminated document held together at a punch-holed corner with a silver hoop. She winged a slice of lemon around the drink she’d made and handed it to a woman, who handed Gracie a credit card. Running the card, she gave Dusty a quick overview of the cash register.

Basically, he had to push three buttons. He could handle that and the math. “What about credit/debit cards?”

She pulled out the receipt that had just spit from the credit card machine. “I’ll handle all people with cards.”

“Got it, boss lady.”

She smiled, and as she walked away, tossed back, “Thanks. Really.”

Lady had a great backside. “Happy to help.”

Quick to learn where everything was, Dusty hit his stride. It wasn’t hard to find people with cash or on account, so he didn’t hurt for business. For the next few hours, he and Gracie worked, brushing hotly against each other as they buzzed here and there.

But, much to his disappointment, not standing in one place long enough to talk or explore that heat. The crowd kept them hopping. A few people got handsy with him and her, trying to get attention. Nothing they couldn’t handle, until the big guy.

Dusty watched him. Impatient as hell, using his size to insert himself at the bar as if the crowd were an insult. He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled loud to get Gracie’s attention. She turned.

If it had been him, Dusty would’ve ignored the guy. But he saw Gracie’s eyes evaluate the guy and the situation. A smile on her face, she went right over. They exchanged a few words. She tapped the bar as if asking for his patience and began to turn.

Guy’s big hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. Gracie looked at where he held her, said something, smiled like it was the only warning she’d give.

The guy’s knuckles whitened on her wrist. A few people at the bar were paying attention now. Someone had taken out a cell. Gracie Parish on camera. Which meant she wasn’t likely to pull any self-defense. She surely wouldn’t want that all over the internet.

Dusty would’ve moved to help, but he was also sure the lady didn’t need it and wouldn’t appreciate him butting in. Plus, he wanted to see what she’d do.

Still smiling at the guy, she reached under the bar, pulled out a nozzle for the fountain drinks, and blasted the guy, not in the face, but directly up his nose.

Shock and the sting of it had him reeling back. The people lining the bar sprang away. Gracie backed up too but kept hold of the nozzle.

That second was all that was needed for one of the bouncers to move in for the kill. He wrestled the dude, got him under control, grabbed him by the neck. Forcing the guy’s head down, he marched the soaked idiot out.

By the time the bouncer reached the front door, Gracie was already getting bar towels and handing them to customers, apologizing for the mess and offering free drinks.

Maybe feeling his gaze, she looked over at him. He’d thought he’d see condemnation, like why hadn’t he hotfooted it over there and given her a hand, but she smiled. She smiled and mouthed, “That was fun.”

Lady was going to break his heart.

***

Excerpted from The Price of Grace by Diana Muñoz Stewart. © 2019 by Diana Muñoz Stewart. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Having earned her MFA in Creative Writing, Diana Munoz Stewart went on to write several novels that garnered awards and recognition in the paranormal, science fiction, and contemporary romance genres. A believer in the power of words to heal and connect, she blogs and provides web-content on health, writing, and social issues. Learn more or connect with Diana at dianamunozstewart.com, facebook.com/DMSwrites/, and on Twitter at @dmunozstewart. She resides in Pennsylvania.

Melinda Leigh interview, excerpt, & giveaway

1) Your newest release features two of your most popular characters, attorney Morgan Dane and P.I. Lance Kruger. While this couple has a habit of getting involved in difficult (and dangerous) criminal cases, the mystery in this book is much more personal for them. 

In Save Your Breath, Morgan and Lance aren’t working for a client. They’re looking for Sharp’s girlfriend, Olivia Cruz, who vanished from her home in the middle of the night. After Olivia goes missing, Sharp realizes his feelings for her run much deeper than he’d thought. As the investigation continues, with no trace of Olivia, the usually calm and centered PI begins to unravel. Morgan and Lance had always depended on Sharp for his insight and stability. Save Your Breath reverses these established roles.   

2) How does the personal nature of the crime affect the other characters? 

Morgan and Lance are also thrust into unaccustomed roles. In the previous five books, Sharp has been the source of stability. He is their rock. Now Morgan and Lance have to step up and help him hold it together. The book deliberately challenges the cohesiveness of the team.

3) The story starts with a terrifying scene where Olivia is kidnapped. It is raw and visceral and plays on everyone’s worst fear—being unsafe in our own home. How do you get into the mindset for crafting this kind of scene?

I close my eyes and envision the scene in my mind from beginning to end. Everyone has been woken by a strange noise in the middle of the night. We’ve all stared at the ceiling, listening for the sounds of a stranger moving through the house. Being attacked in our sleep is a basic, primal fear. That’s the vulnerable feeling I wanted to generate in the reader, so I imagined it happening to me. Basically, I’m channeling the overactive imagination that got me into so much trouble as a child. 

4) Morgan and Lance are planning a wedding and solidifying Lance’s place as a step-dad to the Dane girls, all the while dealing with terrible crimes around them. How do they disconnect from the violence around them in order to create a space just for themselves and their family?

The family demands their full attention, and in their world of chaos and crime, their home is what keeps them sane. Both Morgan and Lance operate best when they have the support and love of their family to return to at the end of the day.  

5) Can you give readers any hints of what’s next for Morgan Dane and her crew?

I wrote Save Your Breath as the final book in the Morgan Dane series, but my next project is a spin-off. The Bree Taggert Series will take place in Grey’s Hollow. Morgan and the crew will likely make appearances. 

***

When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late.

As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients.

As Morgan and Lance investigate, the number of suspects grows, but time is running out to find Olivia alive. When danger comes knocking at their door, Morgan and Lance realize that they may be the killer’s next targets.

 
Save Your Breath by Melinda Leigh
 

Her weekly dinner with her family had distracted her earlier in the evening. Her mother had served frijoles negros, Olivia’s favorite traditional Cuban dish. Olivia had overindulged, and the minute she’d left her parents’ house in Albany to make the hour drive back to Scarlet Falls, her true crime research had flashed right back into her mind and unsettled her stomach.

Chewing an antacid, she mulled over her stunning discovery. The implications of what she’d learned further stirred the black beans and rice in her belly. As a journalist, her job was to seek the truth, not play judge or jury. But should she choose to pursue and publish this truth, other people could pay the price for her revelation—possibly with their lives.

Her new book proposal was overdue, but Olivia’s predicament felt like a no-win situation. Ignoring the truth went against all her principles. Then again, so did putting other people in danger.

But how much risk was involved? Could she live with being responsible for even a single innocent person’s death?

Obsessing about her book research had translated into three consecutive nights of insomnia. Enough was enough. Olivia didn’t need to make this decision alone. What she needed was outside perspective. She brought the antacids with her into the bedroom, picked up her phone from the nightstand, and checked the time. Eleven o’clock. She sent a CALL ME IF UR UP text message to Lincoln Sharp, her . . .

The word boyfriend seemed silly at their ages. She was forty-eight. Lincoln was fifty-three. They’d been dating for several months, and they spent the night together once or twice a week. She assumed their relationship was exclusive, although they hadn’t specifically discussed it.

Labels weren’t important to either of them, but when she saw him or he called unexpectedly, the stirrings of excitement and joy in her blood made her feel like a teenager. Beyond her attraction to him, she respected him both personally and professionally.

So why had she been stewing over her decision instead of asking for his opinion?

Lincoln owned and operated a private investigation firm. As a retired police detective, his practical experience with the legal system—and his knowledge of criminal behavior—exceeded hers. She valued his insight and trusted him to keep her research confidential. If she decided to pursue the story, she would hire his firm to help with the investigative legwork anyway. She may as well bring him on board now.

She burped. Her indigestion began to burn its way up her esophagus. She chewed a second antacid, the chalky taste coating her mouth. She reached for the glass of water on her nightstand and sipped.

A few seconds later, her phone rang, and she pressed “Answer.”

“Is everything OK?” Lincoln asked in a worried tone. Her late-night text was unusual.

“Yes,” Olivia assured him.

“I’m sorry I missed dinner with your parents again,” he said. “I wrapped up my case tonight. I should be able to make dinner next week.”

He didn’t talk much about work, which was fine. She understood his professionalism and appreciated his need to maintain client confidentiality. But he had mentioned the case had involved a great deal of evening surveillance.

“They understand,” she said. “I called because I’m stuck in my research, and I’d like your opinion. Are you free sometime tomorrow afternoon? I can come to your office.”

“Sure.” Interest brightened his voice. “How much time do you want me to block out?”

“An hour should do.” She considered his associates. Lincoln’s business partner, PI Lance Kruger, and Lance’s fiancée, defense attorney Morgan Dane, could also provide useful insight on Olivia’s dilemma. Morgan’s legal advice might be particularly helpful. “I’d like Morgan’s and Lance’s thoughts as well. Could you see if they’re available?”

“Hold on. Let me check their digital calendars.” The line went quiet for a few breaths. “Lance should be here in the afternoon. Morgan has a client meeting at nine a.m. Her calendar is clear the rest of the day. How about I put you in the one p.m. spot?”

“Perfect.” Olivia lowered the phone and made a note in the calendar app. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“You know, when you texted”—Sharp’s voice deepened—“I had hoped this was a booty call.”

A little thrill rushed through her, followed by another burp. Olivia rubbed the fire behind her breastbone. “Tonight isn’t a good night. I ate way too much of my mother’s food.”

He snorted. “That happens. She’s an incredible cook. Get some rest and feel better.”

“Good night.” Olivia lowered the phone.

Satisfied he would help her make her decision, she slid into bed and picked up a book. At midnight, she still wasn’t sleepy. She set down the book and redirected her mind. Lincoln was teaching her to meditate. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on her breaths. She conjured a mental image of the beach in her mind and synced her breathing to the ebb and flow of the imaginary waves. At first she had trouble concentrating, but eventually her body felt heavy.

Olivia jolted, her heartbeat quickening, sweat dampening her T-shirt.

What was that?

A glance at the clock on her nightstand told her hours had passed. It felt as if she’d just closed her eyes, but she must have fallen asleep. She scanned the darkness of her bedroom. Her gaze passed over her dresser and chair. Had she heard something real, or had it been a dream?

She concentrated, listening hard to the sounds of her house, but she heard nothing unusual. A thunk and hum signaled the heater switching on. Hot air blew out of the floor vent and moved the sheers that hung over her windows.

The alarm hadn’t sounded. She reached for her cell phone. It was far too early to rise for the day. She double-checked the security system app on her phone. The house was secure. She needed to go back to sleep.

She shifted her legs under the covers, closed her eyes, and tried to get comfortable.

Something whooshed. Her eyes snapped open. A large shape rushed toward her. A heavy body landed on top of her, pinning her to the mattress. The weight and size of her attacker felt male. She flailed and tried to push him off, but her arms and legs were trapped as he straddled her. She was cocooned in her comforter like a swaddled baby. Her throat constricted. She couldn’t scream.

Panic sprinted through her bloodstream as she stared up at the dark assailant looming over her. His face seemed distorted, his features brighter and flatter than normal. He was wearing a mask.

With a bolt of gut-twisting horror, she recognized the character as Michael Myers from the movie Halloween.

A flash of terror shot up her spine. She inhaled, preparing to force a scream out of her tight throat.

He slapped her across the face. Pain, bright and sharp, sang through her cheekbone but faded in seconds as her adrenaline surged. The scream died in her chest.

***

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#1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a novel, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s also garnered Golden Leaf and Silver Falchion Awards, along with two nominations for a RITA and three Daphne du Maurier Awards. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate; teaches women’s self-defense; and lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats.

Ghost Towns and Romance with J. Arlene Culiner

My wandering higgledy-piggledy life has led me to many ghostly places: to abandoned mining towns in the American West; to deserted caravanserai in Turkey, once important stops for merchants of the silk trade; to a forgotten Hungarian manor lost in weedy fields, and surrounded by empty buildings where overseers, servants, farmworkers, and serfs once formed a whole village. I’ve seen the long-abandoned Worker’s Colony in Pickering, Ontario, Canada where my grandparents once lived: in some houses, faded pictures still hung on walls, and forgotten plates and cutlery sat on shelves.
Ghost towns never are comforting places to be in. Bare stalks rustle, branches scratch, and loose boards tap. I always hope I’m alone… but of course, a good ghost town should always come equipped with thrills and chills. 
The places that fascinate me most are semi-ghost towns — those rundown nowhere communities where eccentric locals are suspicious but willing to dish up a few tall tales, and where the old stories can still be heard. And because of my fascination with such places, I decided to create Blake’s Folly Nevada, a community of abandoned clapboard shacks, rusty trailers, endless wind, and scraggly vegetation. Blake’s Folly is the setting for my two recent contemporary romances, Desert Rose, and All About Charming Alice. 
 
 The hero of Desert Rose is geologist Jonah Livingstone. He spends much of his time in the area, sighting mule deer, bobcats, spotted bats, sidewinders, rattlers, and little gray lizards. Of course, there’s another attraction, too: Rose Badger. Rose is lovely and charming, but she’s also the local flirt. Never favoring any one man, keeping much of her life secret, how can Jonah win her heart? It certainly won’t be easy — especially since he’s a complicated man with quite a few secrets of his own.
 
Rose’s best friend is Alice Treemont, the heroine of All About Charming Alice. Alice is a prickly character. She loves the Nevada desert, rescues dogs, and protects snakes; my hero, Jace Constant, is an intellectual writer from Chicago, and he’s not crazy about deserts, dogs, or snakes. Neither Alice, Jace, Rose, or Jonah expect love to come galumphing over the horizon, but here it is…along with doubts, hesitations, misgivings, and bliss.
 
 Both Desert Rose and All About Charming Alice are contemporary romances, but I also had a hankering to depict Blake’s Folly as it was back in the late 1800s, with three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, many saloons, and quite a few brothels. The sort of people who lived in such western towns dreamt of making a fortune, or they sought adventure, a new life, an escape from the past. In, The Lady Piano Player, (included in the anthology Hot Western Nights) my heroine Essie has escaped a loveless marriage to a brutal husband, and although she has no idea how to survive in a boomtown, she has the guts to give it a try. My delicious hero, Matt, is a true adventurer. Restless, ever on the move, he’s always seeking new experiences. But he’s also a kind man, for experience has made him that way.
So how does all of this sound? Feel like coming to Blake’s Folly for a visit? Just to tempt you, here’s an excerpt from Desert Rose — it’s the first time Jonah and Rose meet:
Rose looked up. “You pass by Blake’s Folly from time to time? Whatever for? This is the end of the world.”
“The world has several ends, and I work in all of them. I’m a geologist.”
“Ah, I see. Well, that explains it.”
“That explains some of it,” he said, taking her in from head to toe with undisguised curiosity. “If this place is the end of the world, how did you get here?”
“The easiest way possible. I was born here.” Rose glanced out of the window at the early evening light touching up a bleak, empty landscape that would never interest a city slicker; at the gentle snowflakes drifting lazily, as though they had no intention of ever reaching the ground.
“And you stayed?”
  He was looking even more curious now — if that were possible. She couldn’t blame him. “I did leave Blake’s Folly when I was young. I stayed away for years and was absolutely certain I’d never return, that this place was the absolute pits. It’s funny: there’s nothing going on here. The greatest social event of the year is the Blake’s Folly Get-Together — and that’s just bad music, awkward dancing, and gossip mongering. There’s no cinema within reasonable distance, no shopping outside of Reno — and that’s a very long, boring drive away. Yet, this place has a strange pulling power. So I came back, decided to settle.”
“Your husband is from Blake’s Folly too?”
Rose’s eyes flicked back to his. Ah ha. So, he was interested and checking out the territory. “No husband.”
He looked surprised. “An unmarried woman in such an out-of-the-way place?”
What was he asking? If she was lonely? Desperate for male company?
Rose laughed outright. “Oh, there are plenty of men around, believe me.” There were. They were out on the ranches, or climbing over the hills, or looking for gold, or photographing, or pounding along the history trail, or doing research, or taking care of animals, or looking for fossils, or stopping at the Mizpah Hotel and Restaurant for a drink, a chat, a meal, and a little human warmth out here on the lonely flatland. She’d always had her share of admirers too, although none lived in Blake’s Folly — they’d have to be half-mad to do something like that. This place was a rusty trailer, scrapyard, abandoned car, clapboard shack, sagging old house community: a dead end if there ever was one.
He took the little gift-wrapped packet she held out, slipped it into the pocket of his leather jacket. Turned, looked out at the night, but didn’t move towards the door. Rose watched him, wondered why he was hesitating. Because he wanted to stay? Talk to her? Get to know her? Because he too acknowledged the buzz that was still hovering in the air around them, and he wanted to explore it, see where it would go?
Then he shook his head, turned back to her, the smile still playing softly around his lips.
“Well, I’d better be on my way. Looks like the snow isn’t letting up.”
“No,” Rose agreed. “There have been blizzard warnings all day.”
“Yes.” His eyes held hers. Warm eyes. Intimate eyes. Eyes that, in certain circumstances, could create havoc with a woman’s senses. “Nice talking to you.”
“Nice talking to you too.” She meant it.
He still wasn’t heading toward the door. “My name is Jonah. Jonah Livingstone.”
“I’m Rose Badger.”
He nodded. “Until next time, Rose.”
“See you then.”
He stepped out into the night, half-turned, just briefly, his hand raised in a half-wave, half-salute. Then, vanished into the falling snow and dusky evening.
Rose shrugged. Next time, he’d said? What sort of next time? This was Blake’s Folly. People always said they’d be back, but they rarely were. Why return to a pile of clapboard shacks and abandoned trailers? This was nowhere. This was the end of the line, socially speaking. This was a has-been. This was home. 
Author Biography
Actress, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and writer, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.
http://www.j-arleneculiner.com

Shannon Wray’s ONE DARK WISH Excerpt & giveaway

“Twisty plots, fantastic characters, and pitch-perfect pacing. Fabulous!” —ALLISON BRENNAN, New York Times bestselling author

Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed

Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that’s just what happens while she’s poking around cemeteries on Georgia’s Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other—and anyone who gets in their way.

Ex–Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah—or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can’t afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can’t afford not to…

Deadly Force series:

Every Deep Desire (Book 1)

One Dark Wish (Book 2)

Sharon Wray is a librarian/archivist who studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes stories of adventure, suspense, and love. She’s a three-time Daphne du Maurier® winner and an eight-time RWA Golden Heart® Finalist. Visit her online at sharonwray.com. Sharon lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, teenage twins, and Donut the Family Dog.

Author Website: sharonwray.com

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PROLOGUE 

“The man bowed.” Sarah Munro hiked her straw bag higher on her shoulder and followed the officer down the Savannah Police Department’s hallway. He held a cell phone to his ear, and she yanked his arm. “And a woman died tonight.” 

He nodded, but his deep frown, as well as his dismissive wave, told her he wasn’t too concerned about the murder. Or the fact that Sarah had found the body in the Savannah Preservation Office’s courtyard fountain. 

Was a death in the historic district so commonplace that it didn’t warrant its own investigator? Frustrated, she followed him around the corner toward the second-floor landing when her cell phone buzzed. A text from her father. Where are you? 

She halted near the stairs, her fingers hovering over the phone’s keyboard. She debated how much to tell him. Then again, he probably already knew. 

She texted, I’ll be home soon. 

Someone bumped her as they passed, and she moved closer to the vending machine that carried only rows of Coke cans. Her officer stood nearby, talking on the phone, while federal, state, and local LEOs congregated in groups around the open area. Her father had told her that the city had numerous task forces, all trying to combat the rising crime rate. She and her dad had returned to Savannah nine months ago, and in that short time, they’d both noticed the uptick in drug use and violence. 

It’s dark. I’ll come get you, her father texted back. 

No. Not only did she not want her father worrying about her, he wasn’t supposed to drive. I’m leaving soon. Drink your tea. 

I hate that tea. It tastes like sh*t. 

Despite the ache in her chest, she smiled. Yes, he hated the tea. Yet it was the only thing that helped with his recurring seizures. And if he thought that being even more cranky than usual meant she’d ease up on the herbal leaves, he was wrong. I don’t care. Drink it. 

She glanced at her officer—who was still on his phone—and debated leaving. If the cops wanted her statement, they knew where she worked. The same place where a woman had been murdered. “I’m leaving, Officer. But I know what I saw.” 

He ignored her, and she turned toward the stairs. 

“Sarah?” A male voice cut through the station’s din, ringing phones, and metal chairs scraping along seventy-year-old linoleum. 

She blinked one man into focus. Tall, broad shoulders, long blond hair tied at the base of his neck, angular face, and deep, ocean-green eyes. The kind a girl could lose herself in. “Nate?” 

Was that her breathy voice? She swallowed, and a warm flush rose from her neck to her cheeks. She wasn’t sure why, but since meeting Nate Walker yesterday, she’d felt shaky and incoherent and…restless. 

Does he know what I did to his map? 

“I heard what happened.” He touched her arm before shoving both hands in the front pockets of his jeans. His biker jacket stretched across his shoulders, the black leather rustling with the movement. “Are you okay?” 

“I wasn’t hurt.” She stared at the red-and-white vending machine and blinked. Daughters of cops didn’t cry. They endured. “This is my fault, Nate. I’d asked my assistant to do some research for me. I had no idea she was staying late.” 

“This isn’t your fault.” He leaned in closer, the scar on his cheek appearing deeper and more ragged. His pine-scented aftershave tickled her nose. “I’m sorry.” 

She wiped her palms on her chiffon skirt, relieved he didn’t seem to realize she’d secretly photographed the seventeenth-century map he’d brought to the preservation office for her to look at. The map included the only layout she’d ever seen of the remote, colonial-era Cemetery of Lost Children on the Isle of Grace. Even though the property’s owner—and Nate himself—had both told her to stay away, she was determined to visit as soon as possible. 

She was a terrible person. “My dad was a police chief in Boston, so unfortunately I’m used to things like this. I’d just hoped Savannah was safer.” 

“Nate?” A man built like a wrestler with long, black, braided hair yelled from the lobby on the first floor. “We gotta go, man.” 

Nate ignored him and kept his attention on her mouth. “I couldn’t help but overhear. What did you see?” 

She licked her lips. “You’d never believe me.” She wasn’t sure she believed it herself. Loud voices downstairs distracted her. Two military policemen in full uniform and carrying weapons had entered the station. “That’s odd. What do you think they want?” 

Nate took her hand and led her into a nearby alcove. “What did you see?” 

She pressed her hands against his chest. His heart pounded, and he radiated heat like an engine revving. “What are you doing?” 

“Nate?” The man with the braid ran up the stairs. “Time to go. Now.” 

“Please, Sarah. Tell me.” 

The MPs were right behind Nate’s buddy. 

“In the shadows, I saw a man bow.” 

She heard Nate’s sharp inhale right before he kissed her, his gentle hands on her shoulders at odds with his demanding lips. His warmth wrapped her in an erotic haze and he tasted like mint and summer breezes. 

Had she moaned? Good golly Moses. 

“Excuse me, ma’am.” 

Nate broke off the kiss because the man with the braid had taken his arm and dragged him down the hallway to the emergency exit, the MPs on their heels. Chills scurried along her arms, and she wrapped her sweater around herself. She touched her swollen lips, still stunned. Still tasting his peppermint mouthwash. Still inhaling his scent that reminded her of freshly cut grass and pine trees. 

Nate glanced at her before he hit the metal exit and disappeared. The door slammed shut with a loud reverb. Apparently, he’d locked it as well. When the MPs couldn’t force it open, they turned and ran past her, one of them brushing her skirt as they headed toward the stairs. 

What do MPs want with Nate Walker? 

“Miss Munro?” The officer who’d been ignoring her touched her elbow. “I’m ready for your statement.” 

She pulled away, her attention on the MPs racing out the front doors. She was a woman who sought the truth in both her professional and personal life. But tonight’s revelation was more than a cheap magazine tell-all. It was an earth-shattering event that stripped away the delusions she’d been carrying her entire adult life. One delusion in particular: when Nate’s lips had touched hers, she discovered she’d never truly understood what it meant to be kissed. 

“Ma’am?” 

She nodded. She’d give her statement. Then go home to her father. But as she followed the officer into an interrogation room, she couldn’t help but wonder if she’d ever see Nate again. No. If she was being honest with herself, which she always tried to be, she wondered if she’d ever kiss Nate again. 

***

Excerpted from One Dark Wish by Sharon Wray. © 2019 by Sharon Wray. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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EVE 2.0 THE ULTIMATE GAMING EXPERIENCE by Winter Lawrence YA Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Write Now Literary is pleased to be organizing a two-week book tour for Eve 2.0 The Ultimate Gaming Experience by Winter Lawrence. The book tour will run Sept 16-27, 2019. Book a tour here.
            
Genre:YA Action Adventure Fantasy | LitRPG
ASIN: B07WHZ9BJW
Book Release Date: August 27, 2019
Meet Winter
 
Winter lives in the moment and loves nothing more than being surrounded by her family, her fur-babies, and a ton of great reads! When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she’s usually thinking up far away, fantastical worlds or she’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen! Because of her love for all things literary, Winter pursued a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Professionally, she is a manuscript editor, and in her spare time, she enjoys hosting author spotlights, posting book reviews, and teaching workshops. In her private time, she is an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romances, and one day she hopes to inspire young readers in the same way her favorite authors continue to inspire her today.
 
 
 
 
About The Book 
 
Welcome to the D.O.D.A.I.S…
Just when Gwen thought she could beat any video game hands down, her boyfriend goes and gets her stuck in a top-secret government simulator named Eve 2.0. Being trapped within a couple of her favorite video games doesn’t seem so bad at first, but as time becomes a factor and the A.I. program begins to get smarter, Gwen soon realizes that winning or losing isn’t just about pride anymore; it’s about making it out alive. 
 
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Tour organized by wnlbooktours.com 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

COWBOY CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING excerpt & giveaway with June Faver

Stephanie Gayle looked at the check. “Oh, Big Jim. This is so generous. You’re going to make sure the children have a nice Christmas.”

Big Jim shrugged. “It’s the least I can do for those poor kids.” He looked around the room, his gaze falling on a little red-haired girl and a blonde girl, maybe a little older. “I think all children need to be loved.”

“I feel the same way.”

Big Jim’s face morphed from sentimental to grim. “How are those two kids you saved? The ones whose mother got killed.”

Stephanie tried to control the tremor in her voice. “They—they’re still at the children’s center. They don’t have any family members willing to take them in.”

“Well, that’s a damned shame.”

She nodded. “Rafe Neeley, the step-father…He’s been arraigned and bound over for trial.” The image of Rafe’s angry face as he screamed threats made her shudder.

“Good,” Big Jim pronounced. “I hope that sumbitch gets what’s coming to him. I can’t imagine a man hurting a woman or a child…much less murdering the woman you’re married to.”

Stephanie’s throat tightened. “Hope they put him away for a hundred years. The children…they witnessed their mother being murdered. They—they were so traumatized.”

Big Jim let out a snort and reached in the back pocket of his Wranglers. He produced a worn leather billfold, and pulled out a couple of hundred dollar bills. “Here ya’ go. Buy them two angels a little something special…and let me know what happens to them. I hope they wind up with some good family.”

She swallowed hard. “Thanks, Big Jim. I’ll find something special for them.” The words ‘some good family’ were stuck in her craw.

“Come have a cup of coffee, Stephanie.” Big Jim motioned her into the kitchen.

Stephanie took a seat at the counter while Big Jim filled two cups with coffee. He set one in front of her and leaned on the other side of the counter.

This was where Colt’s voice could be heard from the front of the house. “Hello! Where is everyone? I brought my brother from another mother.”

“Back here,” Big Jim called.

Misty and Mark led the way, both grinning. “We got him,” Mark announced.

Colton came next, followed by a tall, muscular man wearing camouflage gear. This guy appeared to be on edge, like he’d just been plucked from a battle ground. His gaze took in the entire interior and everyone in the large kitchen. When he locked eyes with Stephanie, she felt a jolt like an electric shock. He was a Garrett.

It was the Garrett eyes. Those amazing, smokey turquoise eyes, ringed with black lashes. They held her in thrall for a moment before releasing her.

Big Jim let out a yelp. “Zachery Garrett! Come here, boy!” Big Jim held out a hand, and when the newcomer reached for it, Big Jim dragged him closer and clasped him in a man hug. “Dang! It’s been a long time…and look how you’ve grown.”

“Yes, sir. It’s been forever.”

Big Jim pounded him on the back, and then pulled back to look at him. “I’m glad you’re here, son. We all are. Just in time for Christmas.”

“Glad to be here, sir.” His gaze flicked back to Stephanie.

“Where are my manners?” Big Jim asked. “This fine young man is my nephew, Zach Garrett. He’s just been discharged from the US Army.”

Stephanie smiled. Nephew, huh? Garrett through and through.

Big Jim gestured toward her. “And this lovely young lady is Stephanie Gayle. Believe it or not, she’s a firefighter.”

Stephanie gave a one-sided grin and rolled her eyes. “Why do people always find it difficult to think of me as a firefighter?”

“Because we always think of firefighters as big burly men,” Misty said. “One has to see you in action to know what a bad ass you are.”

This caused a round of laughter, all except this Zach guy. He just continued to stare at her as though he was committing her to memory, molecule-by-molecule. It was unsettling, to say the least, but there was something else…something simmering just below the surface.

Stephanie swallowed hard, something that felt like a roll of razor wire at the back of her throat. She straightened her shoulders, refusing to be intimidated by his scrutiny. Who is this guy, anyway?

“Good to meet you, ma’am,” Zach said.

Ma’am? She nodded and offered a hand, which he wrapped with a large, baseball mitt size paw that was warm and very rough.

Colton slapped Zach on the shoulder. “C’mon, bro. Let’s get you settled in.” Colt shouldered the huge duffle bag and headed off toward the room he planned to settle Zach into.

Zach hit her with his laser beam eyes again, gave a little nod, before turning to follow his cousin. Misty and Mark trailed after them.

“He’s had a rough time,” Big Jim said. “My brother died while Zach was deployed so he never got to say goodbye to his father.”

“Oh, that’s so sad,” Stephanie said.

“He’s a good boy. He’s going to be just fine.”

Stephanie agreed. Fine. That pretty much summed up the hottest guy she had laid eyes on in a long time…and she worked with the hottest men in the county.

***

Excerpted from Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by June Faver. © 2019 by June Faver. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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This cowboy’s finally coming home for Christmas

Zach Garrett is home from war, haunted by PTSD, trying to fit in to what has become an alien world. With the holidays fast approaching, his uncle Big Jim Garrett offers him a place on the family ranch. Zach isn’t sure he’s up for a noisy, boisterous Garrett Christmas…until he meets beautiful Stephanie Gale, and all his protests go up in flames.

Firefighter and EMT Stephanie Gale is ready for anything. She’s got her life under control…until she locks eyes with Zack and realizes her heart’s in a whole new kind of danger. But with a little help from Zack’s long-lost army dog, maybe he and Stephanie will be able to make this a Christmas of new beginnings after all.

Dark Horse Cowboys series:

Do or Die Cowboy (Book 1)

Hot Target Cowboy (Book 2)

When to Call a Cowboy (Book 3)

Cowboy Christmas Gold (Book 4)

June Faver loves Texas, from the Gulf coast to the panhandle, from the Mexican border to the Piney Woods. Her novels embrace the heart and soul of the state and the larger-than-life Texans who romp across her pages. A former teacher and healthcare professional, she lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country.

Author Website: www.junefaver.com

Catherine Bybee Interview & SAY IT AGAIN excerpt & giveaway

1) Sasha, from your newest novel Say it Again, is unlike any character that most readers will have encountered. Can you give us a rundown of your heroine?

Sasha is a female James Bond with all the skills that kick ass and the sexy that opens doors. She’s a master of disguises, speaks more languages than anyone should…and has a razor-sharp mind that doesn’t sleep. In all her badassery, (pretty sure I just made up that word) Sasha has a soft spot—a vulnerability that makes her want to protect the innocent. She’s a true to life superhero who walks the fence between right and wrong. She really doesn’t have any issues breaking laws to get what she wants. And that’s what makes her so fun to read, and for me to write.
2) Fans have been following Sasha throughout your First Wives series. Did you always know you wanted to write her story?

No! Not at all. The first four books in the series were going to be it. However, Sasha commanded attention the first moment she walked on the page and I couldn’t get enough of her once I dreamed her up. I was almost finished writing the first book when I decided that Sasha was not going to be a bad guy. Yes, I’m a pantser, and have no real outline before I sit down to write. I think the fact that I didn’t know she was one of the good guys made her all that more believable. I don’t even think she knew she was going to be on the side of right and justice until the end of Fool Me Once.3) While many of your novels have a mystery or suspense element, you dive head first into action and spy-games in this book. How easy was this transition for you?It was super easy and tons of fun. In fact… I think I may have a spin off of a spin off rolling in my head with all the fun characters I played with while writing this book. Neil was one of my very first book boyfriends from the Weekday Brides. And having him come back in this book just reminded me how much fun it is to write all the action and intrigue. I hope my fans love it enough for me to continue the theme with new books.

4) When AJ is first introduced he seems pretty average—just a guy looking for answers about his sister’s death. But in reality, there is nothing average about AJ. How would you describe him? 

The best picture in my mine that I can describe with all clarity is Brian O’Connor, Paul Walker (RIP), from Fast and Furious. Innocent until he isn’t.

I would say that AJ is exactly what Sasha needed to open up and accept that she too can be loved. I wanted AJ to come off as average until he wasn’t. Sasha is such a strong character that she needed someone who wasn’t going to try and overpower or overshadow her badassery (love that word). AJ does that. Yet he has some badass moments himself and that is what makes her fall for him even more. He is in no way perfect and neither is she.

5) AJ and Sasha have something in common—they are both characters with lots and lots of secrets. What makes them open up to each other? What else do they have in common?

Trust through time. That’s the best way for me to describe how they evolved in my head. There is a common respect the moment they “acquire” the other’s phone. A moment where they take notice and begin to respect the other. Honor among thieves as they say. I think the common ground that isn’t apparent until the story evolves is how they want the love of a family. AJ is much more open to it than Sasha, but they both have to fight for it in the end.

6) While you have written books with scenes in foreign countries, this story takes place internationally. Have you visited the same places as your characters? Where do you hope to take readers around the world in the future?

Yes, I have been to all the places I have written about. I was in Berlin a couple of years ago at a book signing and managed to get their by taking the train from London, through Amsterdam etc. So yes, I’m blessed to have visited these places which makes the story that much richer in my opinion. Richter, the school in the story, is from my imagination. I did some fact checking and learned that post Hitler’s Germany, military boarding schools were not welcome in the country. So I made one up and made it as great and awful as I could while still making it believable.

I have placed most of my travels, or experiences from them, in my books. And as I travel the world, I will bring my readers along…eventually.

7) Say it Again wraps up your First Wives series. What have you learned while writing these books? Will these lessons affect your writing in the future?

On a personal level, I will say that I’ve leaned to write with a great deal of personal turmoil. There have been times I’ve doubted my process and this final book in the series has told me to never do that again. I would like to always keep the door open for more books because of characters like Sasha. I love writing fast moving romantic suspense and intrigue and can see Claire, Cooper and the whole of Neil’s team as a great setting for future books. Yeah… I’m liking that idea more and more. I hope my readers do, too.

 
***
 
 

AJ was being stood up.

It was half past noon and Sasha wasn’t there.

The Brandenburg Gate was one of the busiest tourist attractions in Berlin. The square was filled with families and walking tours led by someone holding a colored flag on a stick and talking into a microphone while a line of dazed, zombie-like visitors followed behind. Aside from those in the square learning about the history of the place, there were a dozen police officers and security guards moving around. Considering the American, British, and French embassies were all within a stone’s throw of each other, AJ was surprised there wasn’t a stronger military presence.

AJ kept scanning the crowd in search of Sex on a Stick in black leather pants and a bad attitude.

Nothing.

Left without options, AJ dialed his phone number on her phone and waited. It rang twice.

Behind him, the riff of “Bad to the Bone,” his ringtone, shot through him. He dropped his hand from his ear and saw a blonde standing three feet away, her back to him.

Slowly she turned.

“Whoa.”

Sasha stared back at him, wearing white capri pants and a bright floral top. The blonde wig overdid it but completely camouflaged her in broad daylight. She took a step closer, reached out her hand holding his cell. “Hello, AJ.”

They switched phones. “How long have you been standing there?”

“Half an hour, give or take.”

He looked her up and down. She looked like a typical American housewife, minus the kid in the stroller. “Impressive.”

“I wanted to make sure you were alone.”

AJ glanced around at the passing tourists. “Is there a reason behind the cloak-and-dagger?”

She moved closer, lowered her voice. “You’ve come here to look for your sister’s killer. You think there is some connection to Richter. Went so far as to go there asking questions. You’re stalking the local pub and hitting on, not to mention stealing from, the patrons . . .” Sasha waved her phone in the air before tucking it into her back pocket.

“I’m calling pot to kettle on that last accusation.” Although all the rest she pointed out was spot-on.

“I like to go unnoticed. If someone followed me here, they lost me the second I made the city limits and went clothes shopping.”

“What if someone followed me?”

“Then I would have seen them watching in the thirty minutes you’ve been standing around looking like a lost child without a parent.” She turned and started walking toward the gate.

AJ had no choice but to follow.

“What makes you think anyone is following either of us?”

She smiled, didn’t answer his question. “I used to help your sister on her agility training,” she told him.

The mention of his sister brought his attention back to what he should be focused on. “She wasn’t the most athletic woman.” Amelia took after their mother, who didn’t grow more than five feet five inches tall and had a sweet tooth that always kept her rounder than she’d liked. At least that’s what she’d blame when she went on one of her many diets.

“No. But she held her own most of the time. Everyone at Richter was pushed to do at least that.”

“Her coworkers said she had recently started taking morning walks before work,” AJ said.

“Which explains the police report about her being murdered in the park and tossed in the river.”

AJ stopped walking. “You looked her up.”

“Only because I knew her.”

He jumped in front of her, stopped her from moving. “Then you’ll help me.”

“There is nothing to suggest that Amelia’s death is at all linked to Richter.”

AJ looked over Sasha’s shoulder and noticed a man eating an ice cream cone and staring at Sasha. The middle-aged guy turned his attention away and took a few steps in the opposite direction.

“Maybe she . . .”

AJ felt eyes, turned to his left.

No one.

“What is it?” Sasha asked.

“The guy with the ice cream, over your left shoulder.”

She grinned, cocked her head to the side. “We did this last night.”

“Yeah, only I’m not asking you to lay a lip lock on me. Tempting as that might be.” Truth was, he’d thought about that kiss more times than he wanted to admit. “If how you’re dressed is any indication, you’re the expert on all things undercover. You tell me if you feel the weight of someone’s stare.”

Sasha paused, then looked over her shoulder. “That him?” she asked, thumbing toward the guy with the ice cream.

“Yeah.”

She grabbed AJ’s hand and walked directly toward the guy he thought for sure was watching them.

“What are you doing?”

She didn’t answer. “Excuse me?” Her voice rose a full octave, her smile was sickeningly sweet. Any accent he’d detected from her voice was gone . . . or changed.

The man with the cone turned toward them. “Yes?”

“Are you American? You look American.”

“I’m, ah . . . yeah.” The guy looked directly at AJ.

Sasha kept going. “Good. Would you mind taking our picture? I can’t get the gate behind us with a selfie.”

Again the guy offered AJ unblinking eyes. “Ah, sure.” He reached for the phone Sasha was handing him.

Next thing AJ realized, he was standing beside Sasha, her arm slipped around his waist, and he was smiling like all of the other tourists surrounding them while the man he thought was spying on them took their picture.

The stranger holding Sasha’s phone, while trying to balance his ice cream cone, looked completely out of place.

“Take a second one, just in case.” Sasha giggled.

The sound of her voice didn’t suit her. The hand on his waist, however, suited him just fine. The feel of her there, the warmth, the softness he knew she would hate if he pointed it out, felt a little too right.

“Thank you so much.”

The stranger handed her phone back with a nod. “Have fun.”

She waved. “We will . . . thanks.”

And he was gone.

AJ watched the man slip away as Sasha removed herself from AJ’s side.

He missed her warmth, instantly.

“Any self-preserving spy wouldn’t have made contact,” Sasha told him.

The two of them walked toward the center of the square. “Okay,” AJ started. “Maybe I’m a little paranoid.”

“You’re a lot paranoid.”

AJ paused in the middle of the plaza and stared at the massive horses that sat atop the gate. The image of his sister at Christmas the previous year surfaced. It was the last time he’d seen her alive. “I know Amelia’s death wasn’t random, Sasha. I feel it with every breath I take.”

She sighed. “I know you do.”

He looked at her. “You don’t believe me.”

“I believe you believe.”

He lowered his head, studied the salt-and-pepper colored stones beneath his feet. “You’re not going to help.” Damn it . . . he was back to ground zero.

Another heavy sigh from the woman at his side. “I will help you.”

AJ snapped his head up. “What?”

She placed a hand in the air as in warning. “Not because I think you have anything other than grief inside you. The not knowing, or never accepting the facts, can eat you alive.”

Not ground zero. He wanted to kiss her. Not that she would be receptive to that kind of thing. “Why are you doing this?” There wasn’t anything in it for her. Sasha turned away from him and focused her attention on the Brandenburg Gate.

“Because I’m not bored.”

***


Protector-for-hire Sasha Budanov is accustomed to life as a loner. Always on the move, she’s now reached a crossroad. Looking for answers about her shadowy youth, she’s returned to the strict boarding school in Germany where she was raised. It’s also where she was trained in the stealthy, militarized art of survival. But behind its gleaming gates, Richter is a fortress of secrets, including those buried in Sasha’s mysterious past. To uncover them, she’s clinging to her first rule of defense: stay guarded.

If anyone can challenge Sasha’s rules, it’s devilishly sexy stranger AJ Hofmann. He wants answers, too. And he needs Sasha’s help. The recent deaths of several of Richter’s former students—including AJ’s own sister—have aroused his suspicions. He’s arousing something more in Sasha. Never one to surrender to her emotions, she senses something tempting in AJ. She trusts him. He’s fearless. And he kisses like a demon. Sasha’s found her match.

But treading Richter’s dark halls—and following their hearts—has its risks. As the decades-old secrets of the past are mined, Sasha and AJ are falling deeper in love . . . and into danger.

 

Author Biography
New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written thirty books that collectively have sold more than five million copies and been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series. For more information, visit www.catherinebybee.com.

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TRAPPED WITHIN ~ Jo Ann Glim’s Stroke Story & $10 Amazon GC giveaway

Please welcome Jo Ann Glim, stroke survivor. 

Ivy, I am so happy to meet you and your readers. I look forward to introducing myself and my new book, “Trapped Within” (release date Tuesday, Sep 24th).

Writing became a passion when I was very young. It was born from my love for reading. I loved to read stories about adventure like settling the Wild West as told in the children’s book “Little Britches,” or crossing the Rockies with Annie Oakley. You couldn’t keep my head out of the clouds nor my eyes off the view from the classroom window as I flew around the world with Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh. I was ten years old.

Having a grandfather who was a furniture maker, inventor, adventurer, and storyteller infused me with the bug to travel, gave me a curiosity for everything, and unleashed my imagination.

As I matured, I found my interest led to stories that conveyed the human spirit for what it is: courageous, independent, humorous, and loving. Never did I expect a near-death experience to lead to writing a book about surviving a stroke.

Trapped Within is a true story about survival, recovery, love, and hope as told through the eyes of a stroke survivor.

That day started like any other but by lunchtime, I was fighting for my very life. A stroke is like that. You don’t see it coming.

There was nothing to do but let nature take its course—no guarantee I’d live much less return to full health.

This story is written to offer encouragement to stroke survivors, hope to their family members and caregivers, and understanding to medical professionals or anyone interested in knowing what it’s like to be Trapped Within your own body.

So, be prepared to travel through the terror and frustration of paralysis to a place of peace and gratitude where life meets hope.

CHAPTER THREE
Seconds Count

I’ve always been one to remain calm in an emergency. When my mind goes into overdrive, I assess a situation and, within seconds, form contingency plans with safety first, then action. Driving back to Tropicana seemed like the most logical choice at the time. Thirteen blocks—turn right, four more blocks—turn right, a straight run past the wrought-iron gate, down the tree-lined driveway, and stop at the large double doors.

I took a deep cleansing breath. Breathe slowly, I reminded myself, in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Wadda ya think, you’re having a baby? I chided. My inner voice yelled, Just breathe!

“Huh,” I snorted. Seems like a reasonable plan.

I wondered what I would do if I were in dire straits?

Lady, it doesn’t get much worse than this!

Focus, my mind repeated in a calm mantra.

I stayed in the lane closest to the curb. The iconic, twenty-acre Red Barn Flea Market was a huge tourist attraction for Bradenton, Florida, until last week when a catastrophic fire reduced the buildings to rubble. Plan B was to drive onto the open field if I lost control.

Somebody will eventually find me rising from the ruins.

The stoplight was red at Twenty-Sixth Avenue. I slowed, hoping it would turn green before I got into the mix of traffic.

It’s okay, I tried to reassure myself. It’s only seconds.

“Seconds count when having a stroke,” I chanted over and over, moving my lips like a mime so I didn’t have to hear the garble spilling from my mouth.

“Turn green!” I shouted at the light as though that would hasten the action. I couldn’t point at it for drama like a conductor looking for a crescendo. I picked up my right arm with my left hand, turned the right hand to grip the steering wheel, and willed it into place.

“Stay!” I begged and watched in stunned silence as the paralyzed hand bounced off the console and onto the seat, settling next to my side. I could no longer feel my fingers.

People were entering and exiting Tropicana’s headquarters with that corporate stride of purpose. Did you ever notice the higher the position, the longer and slower the gait? That silly thought quickly passed as I realized: I may not be able to walk at all.

Please, God, give me strength.

I opened the trunk, grabbed a couple of boxes, and walked towards the two-story, tinted glass doors. A young man heading for the office stopped to help and carried in the rest.

My eyes turned heavenward and I mouthed a quiet “Thank you.”

Twenty-four steps on the antebellum staircase led from the atrium-styled lobby to the executive suites above. If Ron and the rest are hungry enough, they can come get the boxed lunches themselves.

I really don’t feel well.

Seconds count when having a stroke became the din in my mind over all thoughts and conversations. I picked up the courtesy phone at the far end of the receptionist’s counter and called home.

“Hello?” The sound of Bill’s voice brought an immediate flush of relief. He was my rock.

“Hi, honey,” I slurred. “I’m sick. Meet me at the hospital.” This was the message my mind tried to convey. What Bill heard sounded more like words shredded like confetti.

After an eternity of silence, he responded, “I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong number.”

“Nooo. No! No! No!” I shouted and began to cry.

I turned my back to avert the gaze of those in the lobby who heard the outburst.

I had to say something only he and I would know. What . . . what? WHAT? My jaw tensed as my stomach rolled. THINK!

“October nineteen,” I blurted out.

There was an audible gasp. “What’s the matter with you?” he asked, concern edging his voice.

I took a deep breath and concentrated on forming every vowel and consonant. The words came out thick and slowly. “I’m sick. Meet me at the ER,” I said and hung up. It never occurred to me that our community has two hospitals. I never told Bill which one.

There were two truths at that moment. First, time was of the essence if I hoped to survive. Second, if an ambulance came and people gathered round, it would cause a scene. I hate gawkers! What if I cursed like a sailor who’d dropped an anchor on his foot? I would be embarrassed beyond relief! It never occurred to me they’d never understand what I was saying anyway.

I considered the options:

  • Call 911: I looked at the car parked in front of the building. It was steps away. The engine was still running.
  • CALL 911: People now filled the lobby as lunchtime waned. I liked the employees at Tropicana. I wanted to be asked back, if I survived this crisis. The hospital was less than a mile away. There was plenty of open land.

I decided to go for it.

Trapped Within is available from booksellers everywhere. Just ask for it by “Trapped Within,” or give them the ISBN 978-0-9888129-9-4 (print) or ASIN B07WXKBQB9 (eBook) number. For more information visit: www.JoAnnGlim.com.

Jo Ann is giving away a $10 Amazon GC to one lucky commenter. Winner will be chosen at random, contest ends 9/28/19. Good Luck!

 

That day started like any other but by lunchtime, I was fighting for my very life. A stroke is like that. You don’t see it coming.

There was nothing to do but let nature take its course – no guarantees I’d live much less return to full health. So, be prepared to travel through the terror and frustration of paralysis to a place of peace and gratitude where life meets hope.

This story is written to offer encouragement to stroke survivors, hope to family members and caretakers, understanding to medical professionals, or anyone interested in knowing what it’s like to be Trapped Within your own body.

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Ann Glim was born in Chicago, Illinois to a military family and raised in Anacortes, Washington in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest in a three-generational household.

After finishing high school, Glim’s career followed three paths: media as a disk jockey/copywriter; communications with a forty-year freelance portfolio; business management working as the Human Resources Manager for a Fortune 500 company. 

Jo Ann now lives in Florida with her husband, Bill, and their Scottish terrier, Lucy. Her passions are writing, photography, and travel. She loves thin-crust, Chicago pizza, and is happiest when traveling with her hubby, playing handbells, or on hiking trails with her camera and dog.

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