A mother is driving her little girl to her friend's house for a play date.
'Mommy,' the little girl asks, 'how old are you?'
'Honey, you are not supposed to ask a lady her age,' the mother replied. 'It's not polite.'
'OK', the little girl says, 'How much do you weigh?'
'Now really,' the mother says, 'those are personal questions and are really none of your business.'
Undaunted, the little girl asks, 'Why did you and Daddy get a divorce?'
'That's enough questions, young lady! Honestly!'
The exasperated mother walks away as the two friends begin to play.
'My Mom won't tell me anything about her,' the little girl says to her friend.
'Well,' says the friend, 'all you need to do is look at her driver's license. It's like a report card, it has everything on it.'
Later that night the little girl says to her mother, 'I know how old you are. You are 32.'
The mother is surprised and asks, 'How did you find that out?'
'I also know that you weigh 130 pounds.'
The mother is past surprised and shocked now. 'How in Heaven's name did you find that out?'
'And,' the little girl says triumphantly,'I know why you and daddy got a divorce.'
'Oh really?' the mother asks. 'Why?'
'Because you got an F in sex.'
I'm working on, like, eight different WIPs right now. Seriously. And I really want to single out and focus all my attention on writing just one story. But I can't make up my mind which one to chose.
I've heard if you can't capture the reader’s attention in the first 250 words--or maybe it's the first five pages, I dunno--then they'll probably give up on it completely.
So...here are the first 250-ish words of each story I'm working on in alphabetical order by their working titles.
Be honest. Which one captures your attention the most?
If you're not curious about reading further on any of them, that's perfectly okay. Better to know a thing like that before I finish the story, huh?! And if you're one of those blog skimmers and don't want to plod through ALL eight entries, no biggie, I totally understand. I just wanted a little outside input if I could get some.
Oh, and please excuse all the errors; these are only rough drafts, after all.
#1 - CRAZY LITTLE THING (adult)
Breaking up with a woman took a certain talent, a gift in which Parker Grant had never finessed.
Closing his eyes as he dunked his head under the hot spray of his showerhead, he let out a single groan. Probably shouldn’t have let her in last night when she’d appeared on his doorstep, flashing a hopeful smile and a bag of his favorite Chinese takeout. Definitely shouldn’t have slept with her again.
But she’d come on strong, done everything she knew he liked, even modeled the new teddy she’d bought, just for him.
Sneaky woman must’ve known he’d lost interest, must’ve sensed he was trying to figure out how to drop her without making a sticky mess of everything.
He was such an idiot.
Eyes bulging when he heard a sound behind him, he glanced over his shoulder and through the glass wall of his corner shower, but the door to the bathroom remained shut. He breathed out a sigh of relief.
Thank God. Having her join him right now would only make him feel more trapped and smothered than he already did.
Too bad he couldn’t just drop off the face of the earth. She was the obsessive, clinging type who was going to take it hard, something he’d unfortunately discovered after hhe’d started dating her. But she worked for him, so…simply forgetting to call her back—ever again—was out of the question.
Parker shut off the shower. He stood passively a moment, letting the last of the water sluice down his body. After using both hands to wipe a few remaining droplets off his face, he once again glanced toward the bathroom door, stalling until he had to face her once more.
Barely 4K complete.
#2 - FARM BOYS HAVE ALL THE FUN (adult)
On a typical night around the shores of Bose Eden’s watering hole, a symphony of bullfrogs and crickets serenaded the quiet pool. Willow limbs brushed the liquid surface, lending a serene ambiance to the area, while a full moon decorated the cleared picnic spot with a dim, quixotic glow.
But the night Cooper Gerhardt’s life changed forever was anything but typical.
During this particular evening, fifty-plus teens flooded the muddy banks, drowning out the tranquil echo of nature with boisterous conversation, screams of rowdy laughter, and the new subs Milo Hendricks had recently installed in his Chevy Silverado.
Over the hubbub of a lively Keith Urban song, Cooper barely heard his name called. Frowning, he cocked his ear until it came again.
“Coop! Yo, Coop.”
After he pushed his shaggy blonde bangs out of his eyes and squinted through the beam of car headlights and people, he found the source.
Emma Leigh Rawlings grinned and waved as she lifted her longneck bottle above her head and turned sideways in order to squeeze through the horde and reach him.
“Coop!” she yelled again once she was a foot away. Beaming up at him, she swayed a moment then grasped his arm, steadying herself. Though she did nothing to soften her tone, he still had trouble hearing her over the roar as she added on a near shout, “Wild party, huh?”
He filched her beer and tipped it up for a hearty slug. “Kinda boring,” he answered on a teasing grin and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Hey,” Emma muttered, scowling and stealing her bottle back, though in doing so, she sloshed foam out the top, making it run over her fingers and dribble down her arm. “Go find your own. I had to pay Bose three bucks for this stuff.” Contorting her arm, she licked the dribbles of beer off her elbow, hoping to taste every penny’s worth, no doubt.
Approximately 33K complete.
#3 - A FATHER'S SACRIFICE (adult)
Rory Michaels loved tending bar.
In her opinion, the kind of alcohol a person ordered said more about their character than anything they wore or drove. She’d made an art of studying drinking habits and comparing them to personalities. She liked to pick a person’s brain and find out what made them tick.
There wasn’t a lot of picking going on today though. The place was near dead. Okay, it was completely dead. So maybe only hard-core alcoholics would frequent a bar at three on a Monday afternoon.
Today, even those were suspiciously absent.
Rory could only blame it on the new sports bar at the end of the block. She’d never stepped foot inside the place herself, but it boasted a flat screen television that covered an entire wall.
She snorted. There was nothing wrong with Mikey’s. She liked the ambiance here. It reminded her of Cheers.
“Norm never would’ve gone to Sports Town to get a drink,” she muttered to herself as she wiped the counter down.
At the end, a tired-looking old man stirred. “What’s that, Rory?”
Oh, right. There was her Norm. “Nothing, Milt. How’s the Stock Market today?”
A fanatic about watching the Stock Market every day, Milton Greely made sure the channel was turned to his station whenever he came in; didn’t matter what was on or who was watching the tube. “Looking, good, Rory,” he said on a nod. “Looking good. Up a hundred points from yesterday.”
She nodded and, seeing that his draft was nearly empty, poured him another. Milt always drank three mugs of Coors Light when he came in. Not two, not four. Always three.
#4 - FORGET HAPPILY EVER AFTER (adult)
The gossip columns predicted this wedding would be the event of the year. With an enthusiastic performance of Pachelbel, a small orchestra of various stringed instruments was already captivating the three hundred and fifty guests seated in the chapel’s sanctuary.
Decked out in a distinguished tuxedo, father of the bride, Spencer Farris, lingered in the reception hall by the chocolate fountain and snuck a strawberry under the fudgy stream for a quick taste. Careful not to get caught, he studiously watched the dozens of waiters and workers rush around, preparing last minute details like slipping silk covers over chairs and setting swan ice sculptures on tables.
Under the direction of the mother of the groom, four men carried a five-foot tall wedding cake from one table to the next because Mummy dearest didn’t like it in its current lighting. Spence grimaced as he watched Florence Leona waddle after the moving cake, flapping her hands in an urgent gesture and giving a winded instruction to the men.
He couldn’t say he was looking forward to sharing his daughter with her soon-to-be in-laws. But Preston Leona had been her groom of choice and Spence would’ve moved heaven and earth to get anything his baby girl desired. So if that meant putting up with Florence for the day, he’d do it and paste a fake pleasant smile to his face as he did.
For his only daughter, Spence had dished out nearly two hundred grand for today’s festivities. To witness the beaming expression he’d seen on the girl’s face almost ten minutes ago when he’d taken a picture with her and his wife, though, he had to say it was worth it. Now, his two ladies were alone in the changing room, having their final mother-daughter moment before the big I do’s.
24K in a big jumbled mess complete.
#5 - GRANDMA'S SECRETS (YA)
As Jessica Bishop’s aunt took down the curtain in the back bedroom of the house that had been her grandparents’ place until yesterday, daylight flooded the dim interior. The walls instantly brightened from a grayish, muggy brown to a cheerful pastel green.
“There,” Aunt CeCe said, her smile satisfied as she folded the old curtain and crammed the faded cloth into an already-full cardboard box. “At least we can see what we’re doing now.”
Jessie didn’t bother to answer and neither did her mother. The three of them had been working nonstop for five hours, and Jessie’s communication skills along with her good humor had melted away about three gallons of sweat ago. Glad they’d finally made it to the last room, Jessie busied herself by dragging out dusty treasures from under the bed while her mother cleared the closet.
From the front of the house, the door banged opened.
“Hey, Mom,” an all-too familiar male voice called. Heavy and hurried footsteps followed until the tall, gangly teen appeared in the doorway.
He grinned, his blue eyes--or what could be seen of them under his long, shaggy brown bangs--were alive with excitement as he held up a keychain with a single key dangling from the silver loop.
“Look what I found. The key to Grandpa’s old Impala.” He wiggled his eyebrows and his grin grew. “So… can I have the car? Please, please, please.”
Jessie’s mom let out a long, exhausted sigh. She paused to push her own sweat-damp hair behind her ear. “Well, I don’t see why not. He certainly doesn’t need it anymore.”
Jessie jerked her head up. Jaw dropping, she let out a cry of disgust. “What? No way. Why does he get Grandpa’s car?”
Less than 2K complete.
#6 - MILLIONAIRE OF MINE (Adult)
She’d go down in the history books for this, she was sure.
She could see the headlines now. Deri Crandall, first woman to be squished to death by printer paper. A noteworthy event indeed.
Deri gulped as she paused to watch the six-tiered metal shelf sway and groan after she hauled another five reams onto the second-to-top rung. Working as an intern in Harrety International for three weeks now, Deri calculated that on an average, the entire building used two hundred reams of paper each month. And it sat, stored right here on this shelf in this tiny supply closet.
Figuring as she worked, she concluded at five pounds per ream, two hundred of these suckers would put her up there at a thousand pounds. The rickety old shelf she stocked didn’t look like it could hold ten pounds much less a whole thousand.
A thousand pounds of paper. That’d be like having a half-ton truck fall on her if this baby went down. Deri lurched back and eyed the shelf anew.
There was no way this shelf could support an entire truck. She glanced at the five boxes still on the floor, waiting to be put away. Patrick hadn’t said anything about over-piling the shelves when he’d told her to stock the paper. Still, she had her doubts. With a longing look toward the doorway leading from the supply closet, she bit her lip. Temptation to flee seized her, but she remained rooted in her cheap, Payless flats, determined to proceed.
Almost 8K complete.
#7 - THE NEIGHBOR WARS (Adult)
Samantha Hardin discovered just how impossible it was to sprint in flip-flops the morning she walked outside to retrieve her paper and the neighbor’s dog decided she looked more appetizing than his breakfast of Kibbles and Bits.
“Those were my favorite pair too,” she whined, opening a small gap in the window blinds with two fingers so she could scowl out at the enormous Rottweiler. It lounged in her front yard, looking completely at home while it pinned her shoe to the ground with an equally enormous paw and ripped the strap from the sole with its teeth.
Letting out a growl of frustration, Samantha jerked from the sight, letting go of the blinds so quickly they snapped closed and bounced a few times in righteous indignation. She snatched her phone off the wall mount and dialed a number that had become all too familiar these past few weeks.
“’Lo,” her call was answered six rings later in a raspy, sleep-clogged morning voice.
“Get your…dog…off my lawn.”
There was a pause, then, “Sam?” On the other end of the line, the man yawned. He sounded sexy, warm and unbelievably male. A sudden urge to crawl through the phone and slip into bed with him to snuggle under soft covers against hard, muscled arms made Samantha want to purr. But thinking of anything of the kind, and with Tyler Bidwell at that, was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. So, she shuddered with longing—er, revulsion—instead.
Gritting her teeth against the unwanted craving, she flipped the shades open to once again watch his mongrel making a chew toy out of her flip-flops. Ire rising back to respectable levels of irritation, she said, “And you owe me a new pair of thongs.”
Close to 5K complete.
#8 - ONE NIGHT STAND BABY (Adult)
“I know we haven’t known each other long, but since the first moment I laid eyes on you, I’ve felt it. And every time we’re together, it just grows stronger. So, I’m just going to say it, and I don’t care how clichéd I sound. I love you. I am so totally and irreversibly in love with you it’s crazy.”
In answer, the baby in Brooke Delanco’s arms yawned and passed gas, snuggling deeper into her warmth.
Brooke grinned, tears of new motherhood filling her eyes. “I knew you felt the same,” she whispered to the napping infant as she smoothed her fingers over the child’s tuft of blond hair.
The hair color made her shake her head. She was a brunette herself; everyone in her family possessed dark hair. She never imagined she’d have such a light-headed daughter. But there was no denying Ava Delanco’s hair was anything but pale blond. Even her eyebrows were so light, they made her look like she didn’t have any.
Skimming her thumb over the tiny baby brows, Brooke awed over the child for about the hundredth time in the past two days since she’d been born.
When the hospital room’s door opened, she glanced up and smiled at the nurse that entered.
Pretty much what I just wrote is what I have completed, but the idea’s percolating.
#9 - NONE OF THE ABOVE. Scrap all this junk and move on, Linda!
Linda Kage: Today, we're here with author Rosemarey Gemmell. Hi Romy!! Why don't you tell us a little about you and what you write please.
Rosemary: I’ve been a freelance writer for many years, with published short stories and articles in various UK magazines, a couple of magazines in the US, and I write for a Canadian online magazine. I also write children’s stories and have two children’s novels ready to do the rounds. But now I’m writing adult novels, mainly romance, historical or contemporary. I write the short pieces under my full name (Rosemary Gemmell) but have shortened the first name to Romy for romance novels!
Kage: What happened to the first book you ever wrote?
Rosemary: This was my first attempt at a novel and I entered it into the brilliant Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer Scheme (in the UK), where they provide a full read and critique of a new novel by unpublished authors. I had a good critique, with great feedback and (more importantly) pointing out anything that I needed to check. They suggested I sent it to one of the few UK publishers who took Regency novels, which I did (first 3 chapters and synopsis). When they asked to see the whole ms, I tried not to get too excited, fortunately. I received a rave rejection. It wasn’t quite what they wanted for a first novel. So, the next few years I rewrote it off and on, moved on to other types of women’s fiction (one of which is at the agent) and forgot about it. Then I decided to look at the Regency novel afresh and do another redraft. I discovered Champagne Books by a fortunate accident and submitted the first 3 chapters and synopsis. And this is the result (yay!).
Kage:What’s your backlist and coming soon bookshelf look like?
Rosemary: Well, this is my very first novel, so I don’t have a backlist yet. I’m working on a couple of different novels at the moment and one is being looked at by an agent, so hopefully I’ll have a ‘coming soon’ list very soon!
Kage: So tell us a little about DANGEROUS DECEIPT.
Rosemary: Dangerous Deceit is a historical romance set in Regency England in 1813, with spies, intrigue and deception which brings danger for my heroine, Lydia. It also has some historic background, such as little bits about the Napoleonic Wars, and Lord Byron appears in one scene. My hero, Lord Marcus Sheldon, is a bit of an enigmatic character with different disguises.
Lydia Hetherington is uninterested in society balls or marriage, until her brother's friend, Marcus, Lord Sheldon, rides into her life to unseat her from her horse and unsettle her heart. An undercover spy for the government, Sheldon is equally unsettled by Lydia.
Complicated by a French spy, her best friend's unrequited love for Lydia's brother, James, and a traitorous villain, Lydia gradually finds her emotions stirred by Lord Sheldon. But what is his relationship with the beautiful, devious Lady Smythe and his part in an old scandal? Lydia faces an unwelcome suitor and danger before all deception is uncovered and love claims its reward.
Buy Link: Chapgane Books (Coming 5/2/11)
Kage: What would the story be rated if it were a movie?
Rosemary: Probably G, or PG – there are some nice romantic moments between Lydia and Sheldon, and the attraction builds, but I don’t go for anything steamy, although you can hopefully tell in one scene that both are thinking of more! But Lydia is still an innocent really, who is discovering love..
Kage: If you HAD to fit this story into a cliché, which one would it be?
Rosemary: Sleeping Beauty awakened by a kiss (metaphorically!).
Kage:Okay, now that we have a general idea which class to fit DANGEROUS DECEIT under, what makes this book so unique from every other book out there?
Rosemary: Regency romance is a popular genre but I wanted mine to contain a little bit of realism about the situation of well brought-up girls of that period. So Lydia is striving for independence rather than a husband (although she can’t resist Lord Sheldon for ever!). There is a scene where her maid lets slip how dangerous childbirth was for Lydia’s mother - I wanted to convey that this was a common problem in those times.
Kage:What was the easiest part to write?
Rosemary: I’m definitely a character writer, so the characters always come first. The other important part of a historical novel is the year it takes place, and that then led on to the story. I’m not a plotter so I let the characters play to see where they were going. The setting was also important as England was the heart of the Regency.
Rosemary: I love Lydia as she’s trying to be independent as much as the period would allow. Her heart is being stirred for the first time but she doesn’t give in to the attraction to Lord Sheldon too easily. She is also well read and a good horse rider, and is curious about the wider world. Sheldon is everything I would want in a hero, but his part in some of the deception adds to Lydia’s danger. He redeems himself by looking out for her, although she’s not always aware of it. I learned that even in those days it was possible to have some kind of equality between two people who fall in love – well my two do!
Kage:Romy, Thank you so much for stopping by today and gracing us with your presence. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to say to wrap things up?
Rosemary: A great big thank you to Linda for having me here today. As it’s my first novel and it’s coming out with a Canadian publisher, while I live in Scotland, it’s great to have online support like this.
Here's another fun email I had forwarded to me! I'm starting to run dry, so if anyone has some great jokes you receive on your email please feel free to forward them to me at Linda(at)Linda Kage(dot)com. I'll make sure they get posted (but they have to be somewhat clean--public forum here, remember!!).
I LOVE MY JOB!
I love my job. I love the pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss, he is the best!
I love his boss and all the rest.
I love my office and its location. I hate to have to go on vacation.
I love my furniture, drab and grey, and piles of paper that grow each day.
I think my job is really swell, there's nothing else I love so well.
I love to work among my peers, I love their jeers and leers and sneers.
I love my computer and its software; I hug it often though it won't care.
I love each program and every file, I'd love them more if they worked a while.
I'm happy to be here. I am. I am.
I'm the happiest slave of the firm, I am.
I love this work. I love these chores.
I love the meetings with deadly bores.
I love my job - I'll say it again - I even love those friendly men.
Those friendly men who've come today, in clean white coats to take me away!!!
She closed her eyes against a storm of sorrow. Instinct filtered through her hope, and in the half-second of time that passed before his other hand came up to join the first, she knew. This wasn’t a temporary goodbye. Jake intended on driving away forever. A sob bubbled in the back of her throat, threatening to strangle her.
Before it tore free, Jake’s mouth settled against hers. He nudged her lips apart, inviting himself inside. Softly, slowly, he explored. Roused her awareness until the reality of his departure gave way to striking tenderness. She responded to the familiar feeling he awakened, her body tightening with an anxious surge of energy.
He held her in place, seemingly content to kiss her until time stood still. In the quiet, she caught the hard fall of his breath. Beneath her fingertips, his heart hammered fierce. His mouth took on a more demanding quality as he slid one hand into her hair and curled his fingers against her scalp.
A sound of pleasure vibrated in his throat, and Jake drew the kiss to a lingering close. He touched his forehead to hers, then sucked in a deep breath. “Win for me, sugar.”
Before she could gather her senses and respond, the passenger’s door slammed shut. Panic flooded her. He couldn’t walk away. That kiss alone said things she’d longed to hear. He cared for her. She loved him. He couldn’t just turn his back on all that.
Jamming her hand against the handle, she shoved open the door and jumped out. “Jake!”
You just read an excerpt from:
Waiting for Yes
Buy Link: The Wild Rose Press (coming 4/20/2011)
Linda Kage: Today, we're going to mix things up a little. Since author Claire Ashgrove has already visited with us before, we decided to interview a charater in her book instead this time around. Please welcome Jake Lindsay-Sullivan, hero in Claire’s newest story, WAITING FOR YES. Well, hello there, Jake. The burning question is...who IS Jake Lindsay-Sullivan? Describe yourself in 100 words or less please.
Jake:I’m just a pretty average guy. I drive a truck for a living—well I used to. I guess you could say I’m redefining myself now. Gabby threw me for a whirlwind and the dust is still settling. Ah, let’s see. I’m six foot tall, give or take, I’ve got black hair, blue eyes, I work out now and then, and I go pretty nuts for brownies. I used to drive over the road, now… well now, let’s just say at this point in my life, I’ve got it made, and it only seems to be getting better… but it took a long time to get here. Too long.
Kage: Give us a peek into your head. What is one happy memory you have?
Jake:One happy memory, huh? I suppose this shouldn’t relate to the events that happened with Gabrielle. Hm. Well. That makes it tough. Most of my memories before her are pretty dark.
Let’s see… I remember when I was little – the first time I can remember my Mom putting me on a horse she had in training. A little pony named Sam.
He couldn’t have been much bigger than a St. Bernard. It was about a month after my fourth birthday, which we’d spent at a horse show. She put me up on his back, led me around the barn for what must have been a good hour, and then handed me a brush. “Jake,” she said, “If you’re going to have a horse, you have to take care of him.” With this beautiful smile she rumpled my hair. I didn’t get it until she added, “Happy birthday, buddy.”
I kept that pony until she died. I outgrew him, moved on to bigger more exciting horses, but I had Sam. Always had Sam and Mom.
Kage:Okay, now let’s skip to the stuff I want to hear about…this is a romance writer’s blog, after all! Before going into this story, what was your romance life like
Jake: Ah, man… You’re going to get me in trouble here.
Women came and went. There was almost Amy… but that’s about as close as it came to anything worthwhile. I was too busy, too hungry for the win in the competition ring for the distraction of anything substantial. Then when I took up driving – yeah that was more or less strangers in the night.
More often I spent the nights alone. Didn’t really want to get tangled up in any roots. And that’s pretty much my mindset when I met Gabby too.
Shh. Let’s keep that between us. I’ve already spent time on the roof in a snowstorm and I’d rather not do it again.
Kage: And now that your book has begun, who’s the woman starring in your romance? And what’s the trouble with her?
Jake: Gabrielle Warrenton. The most beautiful redhead I’ve ever laid eyes on… and the most stubborn. She’s got this dream of building an Egyptian Arabian Breeding farm out here in the middle of nowhere Kansas . Only the stallion she bought to found this dream… well… he’s got some serious issues. And somehow she’s got it in her head I’m the one to help her.
Kage: What do you like most about her? And what do you like least?
Jake: What do I like the most about Gabby… Yes, well,
there are some things a man shouldn’t tell. But that night in her kitchen?
Anyway, her determination is amazing. She took the hard road and stuck to it. I can’t help but admire her for that. That same determination frustrates the hell out of me. She doesn’t know the meaning of quit. Hell, she should have quit on me. But she just simply won’t, even when she should. That she can get me to agree to her crazy schemes is annoying as all get out too.
But as you’ll see… she’s got a certain charm. Read our story. We went through some pretty amazing stuff. It’s a wonder things didn’t end up drastically differently – Lord knows they could have turned to hell in a hand-basket easily. And this woman who took the time to document our lives, this Claire Ashgrove… I hear she’s more than willing to answer questions and would love to know what you all think. She even had the perfect replica of Mamoon in her back yard and stuck him on the cover. Can’t think of anything much more fitting. Though how she got that photo of Gabby and I in front of the fire….
Thanks for stopping by and gracing us with some eye candy--I mean, with your presence. Was there anything else you'd like to add before
getting along on your way?
Jake: Yeah well. Read our story! I’ll be here all day
if you have questions for me.
If you're curious about Jake's author, here are other places to find Claire Ashgrove on the web:
Facebook: Claire Ashgrove
He’d never tried to stop anyone from committing murder before.
It was definitely a nerve-wracking business, Drew Harper realized as he sat tense in the passenger seat of his sister’s six-year-old Honda Civic while she blew a four-way stop and careened around a corner, making the tires screech in protest.
He yelped out a curse and clutched the seatbelt strapped over his chest. “What in the world are you doing?”
“I told you not to come,” she muttered, her murderous glare fixed steadily ahead.
“Well, what do you expect me to do,” he retorted. “When I find you storming out the door with a gun in your hand and muttering something about killing a cheating witch?”
Good Lord, he knew he shouldn’t have stopped by her place to raid her refrigerator. But he’d been starving, there’d been no cash in his wallet and his own kitchen was bare of the essentials. And besides, he honestly hadn’t expected to find anyone home. His two nieces should be in school, his nephew in day care, and both their parents gone to work. Instead, he’d snuck in the back door to discover Amanda stuffing a handgun into her purse and marching determinedly toward the exit.
“Care to tell me what’s going on?” he asked, surprised he was able to sound so casual about the whole situation, when in truth his heart thumped against his ribcage, and he feared he just might have a stroke if his sister blew another—
“Stop light!” he yelled, already bracing himself.
Amanda hit the brake. The seatbelt caught him tight, ripping another stream of curses from his lungs.
“Are you totally out of your mind?” he exploded.
“Last chance to get out,” she said from between clenched teeth, sending a meaningful glance toward the curb.
“No,” he told her. “Mandy, this is insane. You’re a PTA mother for God’s sake. What’s gotten into you?”
The light turned green. She punched the gas, tearing through the intersection. “Jeffrey’s cheating on me.”
Drew sucked in a breath. “What?” He knew his brotherin-law looked at other women and occasionally flirted, but touching? He snorted. “No way.”
“Way,” Mandy growled. Her voice vibrated with emotion and when he glanced over, he realized her entire body quivered from a barely suppressed rage.
He figured arguing with her over the point while she was still in control of the vehicle wasn’t smart. So, he more calmly asked, “And you’re sure of this because … ?”
“Because I’m not stupid,” she hissed. “There’s a florist charge on the credit card bill. And that jerk never sent me any flowers. He never sent our daughters flowers. I called his mother today. She hasn’t received any flowers. He sent them to his little woman. I just know it.”
Drew blew out a breath and scrubbed his hand over his face.
Still trying to think up something logical to say to talk her out of, well, whatever she was trying to do, he sucked in a breath when she jerked the steering wheel to the right and slammed them to a stop. Clambering blindly for the armrest, he looked up, only to find them in a peacefully quiet neighborhood with trees lining the street and a pair of young children playing in the yard a few doors up.
“This is it,” she murmured, sounding too malicious for his comfort.
Following her gaze to a small light-green bungalow with white trim, he frowned and glanced toward his sister. Her eyes gleamed with an intensity that, frankly, spooked him.
Turning back, he studied the harmless-looking house. “This is what?” he asked. “Who lives here?”
“Her,” Amanda breathed the word. “Jeffrey’s mistress.”
He blinked. “How do you know?”
“Because I visited the flower shop,” Amanda answered. “Half a dozen red roses were delivered to this address … by my loving, faithful husband.”
The loathsome sneer in her voice made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. For some reason, he checked the address—410 South Elm—and envisioned the headlines. Mother of Three Commits Murder at 410 S. Elm.
“I can’t believe it’s true. I can’t believe he’s really seeing another woman.”
Drew came around to find Amanda pulling her purse into her lap and unzipping it.
He reached for the bag. “Mandy,” he said, anxiety growing thick in his voice. “Give me the gun.”
With a sigh, she shoved the entire purse at him. “Oh, stop worrying. It’s not even loaded.”
Not taking any chances, Drew checked the chamber. After popping out a live round, he removed the magazine to find it full as well. Arching a look across the seat, he asked, “Not loaded, huh? Then what do you call these? Fake bullets?”
Her jaw dropped. “That jerk. I told Jeffrey not to keep any of his guns loaded with our kids in the house. He promised he wouldn’t.”
Drew stared at the bullets, wondering what that meant about Jeff’s word, when the front door to 410 South Elm came open. Together, both siblings whirled to watch the solitary figure that emerged.
Drew’s jaw dropped. “Wow,” the word was pulled from him.
But really. Wow.
The woman was slim and small, just the size he liked. No thanks to his parents, he was a tad vertically challenged and felt self-conscious around tall women. He liked being the larger, more masculine half of a couple. But this petite female was, well,she was perfect.
She wore a pair of jean shorts that fit her slender frame nicely. Quite nicely. They were short enough to show off a good portion of her trim and tanned legs, but equally long to make him yearn to see more. Her short-sleeved top was just as conservative, not so tight he could see every dip and curve, but just enough snug to give him teasing glimpses of the goods, which were very good.
Toting a watering can, she turned her sandaled feet directly to the right after descending the front steps and proceeded to refresh a pair of rose bushes. Drew found himself leaning forward and holding his breath when she paused to bend over and tug a weed from the flowerbed. Though the view of her shorts pulling taut against her backside was too delicious to ignore, the innocent act only added to her wholesome demeanor. She was the ultimate girl next door.
“Not fair,” Amanda whispered beside him, sounding devastated. “She’s pretty.”
Drew guiltily jerked his eyes from the woman. “No,” he started loyally. But it was so obviously a lie, his sister speared him with a scowl. “Well, okay. Yeah,” he relented. “She’s … she’s really amazing.”
“Amazing?” Amanda cried in horror.
He winced. “I mean, she’s okay. I’ve seen better.” On magazine covers maybe. But even as he spoke, his eyes were drawn back to 410 South Elm.
“She looks younger,” his sister whined. “I bet she’s younger.”
Probably, Drew didn’t dare concur aloud.
“I just knew he’d find someone younger,” Mandy hissed. "The jerk.”
It had to be the ponytail she wore. As she crouched down, finding a few more weeds among the roses, the perky bob to her honey brown tresses gave her a youthful presence. She looked too young for Jeff by a good ten years.
That left her just right for Drew.
The dome light in Amanda’s civic came on and the car started to ding as if to warn them the keys were still in the ignition, which only happened if the door was—
Whirling, Drew found his sister sliding one leg from the opened driver’s side. Diving across the center console, he grasped her arm, keeping her in her seat. “What’re you doing?”
He snorted. “I don’t think so.”
“Drew.” Her tone turned authoritative. “I’m six years older than you. You can’t tell me what to do. You never could.”
“I’m not going to let you do something stupid, Mandy. If you get yourself arrested—”
“I’m not going to do anything stupid,” she snapped. “Now, let go. I just want to talk to her.”
“Says the woman toting a loaded Smith and Wesson.”
His sister threw him an annoyed scowl. When she saw the stubborn expression on his face, she growled out a frustrated sound. “Look, I wasn’t going to use it. You know me. I couldn’t actually shoot anyone.”
“Then why did you bring it?”
She gave a helpless shrug. “I don’t know. It was just … back up. That woman is a complete stranger.” She jabbed her finger over her shoulder toward flower girl who was still blissfully tending to her roses. “What if I went to confront her and she turned violent? I want to be able to protect myself.”
Drew shook his head, growing more incredulous by the moment. “How were you supposed to protect yourself with a gun you didn’t even think was loaded?”
Rolling her eyes, she muttered, “I never even planned on taking the thing out of my purse. Okay? I was only going to wave it around if she came at me.”
“Mandy,” he groaned, closing his eyes and running a hand through his hair. “Never point a gun at someone unless it’s loaded and you’re fully prepared to pull the trigger. What if she’d had her own peashooter stuck in her back pocket and decided to play High Noon? Come on, sis. Do you know how much trouble you’d be in if you pointed a gun at her? You’d be in jail so fast—”
“Drew,” she cut in, sighing as if she thought he was seriously overreacting.
“I’m not joking,” he ground out. “Not everyone’s as comfortable around firearms as we are. I bet she didn’t have a dad as big into hunting as ours. I bet her husband isn’t some avid gun collector like yours.”
“Probably not,” Amanda agreed acidly. “But her boyfriend sure is.”
And with that, she tried to exit the car once again.
“Amanda,” he warned.
“I just want to talk to her,” she repeated.
“And say what? You can’t walk up to a person and ask if they’re sleeping with your husband. She’s not going to just say, why yes I am.”
“I don’t have to ask,” she muttered. “I only have to look into her eyes, and I’ll know.”
He blew out a harassed sigh. “You’re not thinking right. This is absolutely insane.”
She turned then and sent him a look that caught him right in the gut. It was heart wrenching and miserable, and he couldn’t ignore the pain in her eyes any more than he could ignore his own arm if it’d been ripped off.
“I have to know,” she said.
His shoulders collapsed. “Fine,” he relented. “But you’re not going anywhere. I will talk to her.” He stuffed the bullets into his pocket as he added, “And I’m keeping these.”
Amanda frowned. “Just what would you say that’d be any different from what I’d say?”
Drew glanced up and down the quiet street, taking in the sight of the two toddlers outside, still playing with a set of toy dump trucks. Even farther up the block, an elderly woman rolled her walker toward a mailbox at the end of her drive. A sprinkler sprayed lazy circles in a yard across the street, and a For Sale side sat jammed in the grass next door.
“I don’t know,” he murmured aloud. But he certainly wasn’t going to let Mandy reenact her own version of The Nightmare on Elm Street.
Pushing open his door, his gaze settled on the woman. She really was something else.
“Drew,” his sister murmured, taking his arm. He paused and glanced back.
She smiled, looking suddenly grateful, and tugged him toward her. “Thank you,” she added and slapped a quick kiss to his cheek.
Shaking his head in bemusement, he patted her hand. “Just stay in the car.”
“I will. I promise.”
Drew shut the door behind him and looked both ways before jogging across the road and stepping onto the walkway that led straight to the front door of 410 South Elm.
Curious about what happens next?
Cool, 'cause my sweet romance story, A MAN FOR MIA, is available today, which means you can find out exactly what happens between Drew and the flower lady if you simply feel you must! It's available in print or ebook at Black Lyon Publishing (or Amazon).
Hope you all have a great weekend regardless.
PS: 7:20am CST update -- so far, the story is only available in ebook on Amazon, maybe later today it'll show up on the publisher's website...sorry for posting my news too early. Just call me a gun-jumper.
2:00pm CST update -- It's up on the Publisher's Page!
Next time you hear for me, I'll be sharing release information for A MAN FOR MIA. Hopefully!
Linda Kage: Today we're here with author, Drea Becraft. Hi Drea!! Why don't you tell us a little about you and what you write please.
Drea Becraft: I write mostly contemporaries and paranormal.
Kage: What happened to the first book you ever wrote?
Drea Becraft: It coming out on the 20th of this month lol. It needed a bit of work but I am happy to have it picked up.
Kage:What’s your backlist and coming soon bookshelf look like?
Drea Becraft: Its rather short at the moment actually
Live For The Todays - Is now available
The Thrice Princess - Coming 4-20-11
True Fireworks Never Fade - Coming 6-22-11
Kage: Which story are we going to talk about today?
Drea Becraft: The Thrice Princess comes out 4-20-11
THE THRICE PRINCESS
While her fate was set during the previous great wars of immortals,
Anastasia Gruff is nothing but mortal until the night she stumbles upon a
scene that turns her world upside down. Now, she struggles to adjust to
a world where nothing is what it seems, and feels more at home than
Devlin Miconis, heir to the vampire throne, is facing certain death. When
a mortal woman saves his life, and gives him back his soul, he must
figure out how to repay her. Now that she has given him something to
live for, can he protect her from those who mean her harm?
Buy Link: Secret Cravings Publishing (Coming 4/20/11)
Kage: What would the story be rated if it were a movie?
Drea Becraft: Rated R.
Kage: If you HAD to fit this story into a cliché, which one would it be?
Drea Becraft: Vampire finds mate.
Kage:Okay, now that we have a general idea which class to fit THE THRICE PRINCESS under, what makes this book so unique from every other book out there?
Drea Becraft: I think the mating marks make it unique in its own way. I don't know anything other then that.
Kage:What was the easiest part to write?
Drea Becraft: I am a panster i don't plot other then I know just about the basic of where I want the story to go. I am going to have to go with the dialog.
Drea Becraft: I love their sense of loyalty I really don't know what I like the least though.
Kage:Drea, Thank you so much for stopping by today and gracing us with your presence. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to say to wrap things up?
Drea Becraft: Thank you for having me on you blog today!
If you're still curious about Drea Becraft, here are other places to find her on the web:
Wickedly Sexy: Yahoo Loop
Wickedly Sexy: Facebook
Could innocent blood ever be washed away? Would my hands ever be clean again if I continued on this course? The gas would make them choke, gasping for breath as life was strangled to nothingness. Morphine would make them euphoric, and an overdose would put them to sleep, peacefully, with no pain. A sleep from which they would not wake, but they would be safe from the evil that awaited them otherwise.
I filled the second syringe. I thought of each child as I punctured the rubber stopper, the needle sucking up the lethal fluid filling the tube. Little Wilhelm. My treasured leader of the pack. The braces on his legs never stopped his imagination from soaring. Lara. An artist’s soul expressed with the one good hand she had. Art reflective of the beauty living in her heart. The twins. Isn’t intelligence measured with creativity? I would sorely miss their energy.
My hand slipped, and the needle grazed the knuckle of my thumb. I swore and bit my lip. Perfect. I’ll kill myself before I get a chance to euthanize my children. Then, after I enter Heaven’s gates, if He lets me inside them, God can tell me I am an idiot and a murderer.
I rubbed my shoulders. They hunched with an invisible weight that made my back ache.
Like this excerpt?
Today, I have Candace Black on my calendar scheduled to do an interview. I even found one email of correspondence I made to her to prove it. So her interview date is approaching, right, and I write her a little note, letting her know about the gig here on my blog and sending her my interview questions. But she doesn't write back.
No big deal. I wait, and wait some more. As the interview date approaches, I figure if I can't get a hold of her, I'll just talk about her behind her back, promoting her work however I see fit! And onto the researching her I went. I look and search everywhere online for a Candace Black. Don't find her.
I scratch my head.
I know I didn't make the lady up. I have a freaking email from her. At this point, I vaguely recall someone telling me they'd changed their pen name from one pseudonym to another.
Okay. Really wishing I would've saved THAT email, I dig deeper into the world wide web until, aha, I find another interview for a Candace Black about her Wild Rose Press story, Kindertransport!
So if you're dying to read an interview about this enigma of a woman, HERE's the link!
But alas, the mystery is not solved there. When I google her title (KINDERTRANSPORT) at The Wild Rose Press, I find Candace Black did not write this book, but Jennifer Childers did! And, YES, the email I kept was signed by a Jen. (so I'm thinking she really was the name-changer!)
Eureka! I think I found our woman. I hope.
From her bio on The Wild Rose Press, mysterious Jennifer lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She's been in medical profession for 25 years and volunteers guardian ad litem, and works in child abuse prevention classes. President Bush Sr. even wrote this grand lady a letter of appreciation for this work.
So there, you have her. Our unknowing guest for the day: Candace Black--er, Jennifer Childers in a nutshell! And without further ado, here is a blurb for her published novel, KINDERSTRANSPORT
One of her children, Heidi, has no visible handicap, and thereby has a small chance to escape the Nazi destruction, but for the rest, Erika must find a way to escape—or face the heartbreaking decision to give them a peaceful death by her own hand. Will she find a way out? Can she trust Rickard, when he wears an SS uniform? ===================================
And here is Kindertransport's buy link : The Wild Rose Press
Please die. Please die. Please die. Please die. CRAP! Where did you go?
Dear Osama Bin Laden,
I liked it, so I put a ring on it.
What was your power again?
What're are you talking about? There's a little diagram on the lid that tells you EXACTLY what you're gonna get.
Dear Ugly People,
Yes, we ARE making fun of you in Vietnamese.
Nail Salon Ladies
Please stop spellchecking all of my rude words into nice words. You piece of shut.
Every iPhone User
Dear girls who have been dumped,
There are plenty of fish in the sea... Just kidding! They're all dead.
I've never heard anyone say, "I don't know, let's Yahoo! it." just saying...
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.
Sadly, this is the last of my Friday Forwards joke post. I hoped you have enjoyed reading the fun emails I had forwarded to me, for they will post no more...
Okay, fine. I'm kidding. I've always sucked at April Fools. Hope you all can pull a better joke than I can't.
HAPPY APRIL 1!